Although children may be able to sing the “ABC” song, letter recognition requires them to identify letters in various contexts, both individually and within words. To help support their acquisition of letter knowledge, expose them to different print materials, including books, poems, rhymes, labels, and signs. Allow them to use manipulatives such as magnetic letters, letter stamps, and letter tiles. They can use these tools to practice identifying and sorting letters.
When teaching the letter “m,” it is helpful to have it displayed in the room where children can refer to it. This can take the form of alphabet posters or individual alphabet charts that children keep at their tables or desks. Provide them with opportunities to participate in letter hunts, use flashcards, and create the letter “m” using playdough.
When teaching children how to print the letter “m,” focus on beginning the letter at the appropriate point and the motions needed to complete the letter. Learning to print letters properly will assist children with both their legibility and their speed. With practice, they will gain automaticity with printing, allowing them to direct their focus to the content of their writing.
It is helpful to teach children verbal pathways that they can say aloud or think in their heads as they print. These pathways cue children with what direction to move their pencil in. For the lowercase “m,” teach them the phrase, “Pull down, up, over, down and up, over and down.” For the uppercase “M,” teach them the phrase, “Pull down, slant down, slant down, pull down.” Model how to print the letters, slowly and deliberately, as you recite the verbal pathway. Provide children with opportunities to trace the letters before moving on to printing them independently.
Beyond traditional paper and pencil activities, children can practice printing using materials such as whiteboards, chalkboards, fingerpaints, and sand or salt trays. For a kinesthetic experience, they can use juggling scarves to make the writing motions in the air.
To teach children the sound the letter “m” makes, help them associate it with familiar items that begin with “m.” For example, they can relate “m” to mops, money, and maps. Have them fill a block letter “m” with pictures or drawings of the objects. Similarly, you can have them create their own alphabet book with a page for each letter. Include the uppercase and lowercase formations and have children add pictures of objects that begin with the letter. They can refer to these visuals to help them recall the sound the letter “m” makes.
Letter sounds can be practiced using matching activities where children match the letter “m” to the correct objects. They can also complete coloring tasks where they color only the items that begin with “m.” (e.g., Color the mermaid. Do not color the dolphin.)