Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Letter J Activities
When building literacy skills, it can be helpful to approach the alphabet one letter at a time. This lets students explore the various uses of letters in actual language, including the sounds they produce. For these activities, your students will be using creative and unique methods to explore the letter J. These activities are intended for early-middle elementary students with some existing literacy skills, but are also designed to be easily adaptable for students of pre-early or upper elementary levels.
This activity combines literacy and geography skills. Students will try to think of at least 5 places that start with J (Japan, Jamaica, Jacksonville, etc.) as well as several nouns that start with the letter J. Give students 7 pieces of blank paper. They will write a short story in which they go to each of their 5 places and describe seeing an object, animal, person, etc. that starts with the letter J (i.e. I went to Japan and saw a janitor). Students will draw this scene on that page. You can ask them to write as little or much as you want, depending on grade and literacy skills. For the remaining two pages, students will start the story by explaining how they started taking a ride on a magical jet that only goes to J places, and end by explaining how they got back home.
- Materials: Blank sheets of paper, writing utensils, art and craft supplies as desired
Make a J
Distribute poster paper to students, and help them trace the faint outline of a large letter J onto the paper. Students will then take time to reflect and list out as many words as they can think of that start with the letter J. Students will ultimately fill in the outline of the letter J by writing in these words. This can be a fairly straightforward project that results in a neat, stylized J or you can make it more artistic. If you do, ask students to experiment with different colors, letter styles, and letter sizes as they write/draw/paint their words within the J outline. In either case, remind students that the words must fit entirely within the outline. Once students are done, you can either have them hang up their posters or cut out the J and hang those up.
- Materials: Poster paper, art and craft supplies as desired
Divide the class into small groups or teams, depending on class size. Each group will come up with a word that starts with J, or a common phrase containing a word that starts with J (you can expand this to let them use any word that contains J within it, not just as the first letter). The teams will then draw a series of boxes onto a poster/large paper equal to the number of letters in their word/phrase, leaving clear spaces between words. It's basically a Wheel-of-Fortune setup.
At this point, teams will try to guess each other's word or phrase. Team 1 will guess a letter and Team 2 will reveal if that letter is on their board, writing it in. Then Team 2 will guess a letter on Team 1's board, and so on. The only letter that teams are not allowed to guess is J (they will have to figure out the J word without seeing the letter on the board). Each team will guess 5 letters, and then have to guess the word or phrase.
- Materials: Poster paper or other large paper, markers, rulers/straight edge tools
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