Mo Willems Pigeon Literacy for Pre-Kindergarten

Young learners love the Pigeon series written by Mo Willems.  I wanted to integrate his books into my learning activities.  In this “Mo Willems Pigeon Literacy Unit” the letters “YyMo Willems Pigeon Literacy and Qq” and Dolch pre-primer words:  go, to, find, little are introduced.  The mini unit includes follow-up games, writing and craft activities.


Modeled Reading

All alphabet letters/sounds and sight words begin with using a popular literacy selection used for modeled reading.  In this set of lesson plans, the selections “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Pigeon Loves Things That Go”! are used.


Shared Reading Follow-Up

The companion emergent reader “Where Are You Going Yak Family” would be used as a follow-up to model the reading process and to introduce the following:


Alphabet Letters:  Yy and Qq


Sight Words:  go, to, find, little


Transportation Emergent Reader Transportation Emergent Reader 2






Alphabet and Rhyming Literacy Center Games and Activities

Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound represented in the picture they landed on.


Draw and Print

Students draw a picture card and print the letter of the focus initial letter sound represented in the picture.


Picture Mnemonic Printing Activity

Students will be involved with focus letter picture mnemonic printing activities as displayed in the photograph below.


Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness and Rhyming Activities

Rhyming, phonemic and phonological awareness activities are always addressed within the units.  This unit includes suggestions and activities in relation to developing these skills.

Literacy Center Games Transportation

Sight Word Literacy Center Games and Activities

Spin and Print

Playing partners spin and print the sight word.


Roll and Print

In this game focus sight words are printed on a blank die.  Students roll the die and print the focus sight word on the templates provided.


Roll, Move and Say

Playing partners take turns rolling a die and moving their game players accordingly and must say the word landed on.


Draw and Say

Playing partners take turns drawing a word and saying the word displayed.  They get to keep the card if it is read correctly.

Transportation Sight Words


Writing Activity

All lesson plan units include a follow-up writing activity. The students could write about what they think the pigeon is saying to the queen in the emergent reader “Where Are You Going Yak Family”? They could also do the writing activity about what the pigeon is saying on the bus as displayed below.

Transportation Writing

Simple Follow-up Crafts

In this craft activity the students would cut the frame and add the pictures of things that go.  In the second craft activity, I copied the bus template on yellow paper and cut it out.  The students cut the window, colored the pigeon, added the beak and eyes.

Transportation Crafts

Where Can I Access These Resources?

You can access the resources from the link below


Mo Willems Pigeon Series Literacy Unit for Pre-Kindergarten


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A Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan

Balanced Literacy Model

Balanced Literacy Model

I have always been a big fan of integrating key learning concepts and subject areas in my language arts daily lesson plans.  This allows me to be more efficient in meeting the curriculum outcomes.  All my plans take a balanced literacy approach to teaching these concepts.  More information on a balanced literacy approach can be found in the link below:


Balanced Literacy Approach to Teaching Reading


Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan for November

The focus theme for November is on Pets and How Animals Prepare for Winter (Science Connection).  Outlined below is how I follow the balanced literacy approach to teaching reading.  Following this model makes my planning so much easier.Wanna Iguana


Read Aloud

This year I chose to use the book “I Wanna Iguana” as my read aloud to introduce this theme.  Within the theme unit (Pets Theme)  there are a number of suggestions but this is the one I chose.  This is a great book to use to understand the power of persuasion.  It also introduces the concept of the responsibilities involved in looking after a pet.  In the link below is a video reading of the book.


Video Reading of the Book “I Wanna Iguana”

The Best Pet Reader

The Best Pet Reader


Follow-up Shared Reading

I will be using the color version of the reader “The Best Pet” as a shared reading experience which is a follow-up to reading the book.  I will project it on the Smart Board for all the students to see.  I will introduce letters and their related sounds within the context of reading it  (Dd for dog, Cc and Kk for cat and Ii for iguana).  Any focus sight words could also be introduced.


Word Study

The Literacy Centers outlined in the link below all incorporate the the Word Study Component of the balanced literacy approach.


Daily Literacy Centers


Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Guided Reading

I use the interactive black and white versions of the readers (same one used for shared reading).  At this point, the students are still learning to track words and recognizing few sight words.  They absolutely love completing the interactive component of the readers and this adds a comprehension and fine-motor element to their reading.  The students are to cut and paste the correct pet that is mentioned in the text.  They can match the underlined word with the word printed on the picture.  This is a good visual discrimination activity.

Independent Reading

Once the students have read the reader during shared and guided reading, many of them will be able to read it independently.


Research and Vocabulary Development – Would An Iguana Be A Good Pet?

Since many of my students would not be a familiar with what an iguana is, we will need to do more research and add this to their vocabulary background.    I have used the videos below as a base for this research. This will help them to decide if they feel and iguana would be a good pet.

Information Videos About Iguanas


Modeled, Shared and Interactive Writing

I will model  writing what pet I would like or have as a pet.  After, I will model what the students dicate on chart paper.  As I am writing we often “share the pen”.  If they know a beginning letter sound of word that I am going to print, I will allow them to come forward and print it.


Guided Writing

Guided Writing

Guided Writing

After, the students will complete their own writing with guidance.  Could provide a template for this.

I want a __________ for a pet.

I have a ___________ for a pet.

I would like a ___________.


More Ideas for the Pets Theme

This is just a small sample of what activities you can engage your students in within the Pets Theme.  In the link below you will find more ideas.


More Ideas for Pets Theme


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Pre-K Literacy Lesson Plan

This blog post outlines how I introduce a new letter, related sound and the follow-up Literacy Centers related to these.


Phonemic Awareness Warmup

Phonemic Awareness Warmup

Phonemic Awareness Warm-up

At the beginning of the school year many of my students do not understand the concept of beginning sound nor can they hear it.  The activity below really assists in developing this skill.

I use a puppet named Slow Speaking Sam as a base for doing phonemic awareness activities.  Slow Speaking Sam says sounds in words very slowly (CVC words).  The students must first guess what word he said.  After, three students come forward representing the sounds found within the word. We discuss the sound heard at the beginning, middle and end of it.  After, I attach letters representing these sounds and the students hold these letters.  Since the first phonics lesson focuses on the letter “Ll” and its corresponding sound, I will use words beginning with this sound (lap, leg, lip and log).AtSchoolClip


Introducing Letter During Shared Reading – Focus Letter “Ll”

I always introduce a letter sound in context of print during shared reading time.  I will be using the emergent reader At School to introduce the focus letter “Ll” sound and the reading process (left to right progression and what a word is).  I will display the reader on my Smart Board for all students to view as I model the reading process and focus on the sound of “Ll”.  If you do not have a Smart Board, copy and cut the pictures and place them in a pocket chart along with the text printed on sentence strips.

The reader is found in the All About Me theme.


All About Me Theme


Smart Board Activities

I use the Smart Board activities demonstrated in the video as additional practice for students to hear and associate the letter “Ll”  to its corresponding sound.  If you do not have a Smart Board, practice using the Literacy Activity Centers outlined below as a whole group.


The students touch the spinner board and print the letter that represents the sound it landed on.  The other game requires the students to sort the beginning sounds.


View Smart Board Activity on YouTube

Practice Printing the Focus Letter 

The students practice printing the focus letter on each others back, in the air and in the palm of their hand.


Literacy Centers

The Litearcy Centers are meant for the students to practice the skills they were taught in a fun and interactive environment.  Most of the games are meant to play with partners which I select in terms of personality and ability.  I have the students rotate from station to station (usually ten minutes per station).


Literacy Center One – Printing the Letter

Students practice printing the letter in their printing booklet found in the link below.  If the letter is a more difficult one to print, I will have them practice on small dry erase boards first, until they have mastered how to print it.


Printing Booklet I Use 


Litearcy Center Two – Sorting Objects and Picture Cards

Sound Sorting

Sound Sorting

I have three sets of partners at the this station (table). I am fortunate to have multiple objects that I hide in rice tubs and the students dig and sort these according to if they begin with the letter “Ll” sound.  If you do not have these objects, use the picture cards found in the theme unit.  The students will be sorting the objects or picture cards according to if they begin with an “Ll” sound or not.  I will only be using picture cards and objects beginning with “Ll and Hh” sounds.


Spinning Board Game

Spinning Board Game

Literacy Center Three – Spinning Top Game

Again, I have three sets of partners playing this game at a table.  Each partner takes a turn spinning a top (good quality one) and must determine if they hear the letter “Ll” at the beginning of the picture the top landed on.  If they hear the sound, they must print the letter.

Note:  I place the board in a pie plate to control the path of the spinner.


Literacy Center Four – Alphabet Ordering FREEBIE

Alphabet-Ordering-PicAgain, I have three sets of partners playing this game.  They draw a letter card, say the letter name (if they know it) and place it on the game board in the correct order.  You can access this game from the link below:


Alphabet Ordering Game


Sight Word Practice

Sight Word Board Game

Sight Word Board Game

At the beginning of the school year I do not focus on sight words but phonemic awareness activities as this is really what my students need.  They would learn sight words incidentally through reading the emergent readers during shared and guided reading. However, in the theme unit there is an activity that can be used if you wish to start introducing sight words.  The sight words found within the reader At School would be “I and am”.  The blank sight word roll the die or spinner board games could be used for this purpose.


Music Connection

Each day my students sing the interactive alphabet song video found in the link below


Interactive Alphabet Song Video


Letter “Ll” Focus Sound – Leo the Lion on Alpha Tunes Action Download

On the Alpha Tunes Action Songs download the students can sing and act out the song “Leo the Lion”.  If you are a member, login, click on the link Song Book to access it.


Guided Reading

I will also be pulling small groups of students for guided reading.  We will be reading the black and white version of the emergent reader At School.  I will be focusing on the left to right progression of print and what a word is.  I will have the students circle the words found on each page.  They will be taking the reader home to read to their parents.


As always, I hope you find these ideas helpful.


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Phonics Lesson

Printing SequenceWhat Order Is The Most Effective In Teaching Beginning Letter Sounds?

This is a question I often get asked.  To be honest, I have found it difficult to follow a specific sequence as this can vary depending on what skills I am working on or theme. Since I introduce correct letter printing formation at the same time as introducing the letter name and its corresponding sound, I try to follow the sequence our occupational therapist suggests.  However, this sequence does not necessarily start with the sounds that the students find the easiest to hear.

This is the letter sequence in which I will be introducing the letters of the alphabet (this year I decided to start with the top to bottom and diver letters first and the ones used most frequently in daily writing):  l, h, r, f, n, a, t, s, p, d, e, m, c, u, i, b, p, o, w, j, g, k, z, q, y and v


Printing Sequence

The link below is the suggested printing sequence my occupational therapist suggests.  I Printing-Bookintroduce lower-case letters first and will concentrate more on upper-case when we start writing sentences.    I have found introducing the lower-case first has worked successfully for me.   I don’t spend a great deal of time on printing the upper-case letters because the students have seen both the lower and upper-case letters together during our alphabet and word wall work that it is very easy for them to print the upper-case with very little instruction after practicing the lower-case first.


 Printing Sequence


Newsletter Freebie – Alphabet Printing Booklet

Each newsletter I offer a freebie.  In this newletter I have included the alphabet printing booklet that I will be using.  My students fill the upper white part of the booklet with letter and picture stamps (representing the letter sound).


Printing Booklet I Use


Rainbow Fish Retelling Alphabet Sight Word Reader

Rainbow Fish Retelling Alphabet Sight Word Reader


Research demonstrates that in classrooms where phonics is taught in the context of rereading favorite stories, songs, and poems, children develop and use phonics knowledge better than in classrooms where skills are taught in isolation. Similarly, phonics knowledge is developed by encouraging and helping emergent writers to spell by writing appropriate letters for the sounds they hear in words (for a summary, see Weaver, 1994b).  It is for this reason I created the “Alphabet Program” where the alphabet letters and related sounds are introduced within the alphabet sight word readers.  In the link below you can preview these readers:

Alphabet Sight Word Readers

Animated Alphabet Song Related to Using the Readers



In conclusion, whether you introduce letters and their corresponding sounds in relation to your morning message or use another program similar to the “Alphabet Program” that I developed, I strongly feel that initial letter sounds should be introduced in context to print.


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Sight Word Activities

Does knowing a specified amount of sight words constitute a child being considered a good reader?   There seems to be so much emphasis and effort placed on the students knowing  10-100 or so sight words (which varies considerably depending where you live) that providing a rich literacy environment seems to get lost in this mission. It appears that the students are being continously drilled on these. I feel that students should be introduced to sight words, alphabet letters and sounds within a meaningful context.  A child’s ability to associate print to meaning should always be a priority. The alphabet letters and sight words have little meaning for a child when taught in isolation.  I have taught many different grades; struggling readers are generally those students who have difficulty making sense of what they read.  These are students who know their sight words but are unable to decode a word because print is not meaningful to them.  Rote learning of sight words is useless if the child is unable to transfer this knowledge into meaningful context.

My students generally experience the same shared reading selection at least six times (emergent readers found on the site).  These emergent readers are usually related to a literature selection I have read to them.  We read it together as a class about two to four times (projected on the Smart Board), in a small group during guided reading and then the students take the selection home (where they may or may not read it again to their parents).  Since many of my students are four years of age when they enter kindergarten, it is not an expectation that we work on the sight words found within these readers for the first part of the year.  My main focus was on them understanding the reading process, how print carries meaning, phonemic awareness, identifying letters and their corresponding sounds and printing the letters.  Even though I have never focused on specific sight words, they are starting to use them when they write.  They just learned them from continual exposure in a meaningful context.

I am very fortunate that my kindergarten curriculum here in Canada is very flexible, this allows me to move at a comfortable pace that aligns more with my students.  I know many of you have to align your plans with your core standards rather than the needs of your students.  It is a sad reality.  In reviewing the common core standards which states:  “Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., theoftoyoushemyisaredodoes)”.  These standards do not specify what words or how many.  This does leave room for flexibility, however, it appears some states are taking this further and imposing these specifics (not fun).


Core Standards for Sight Words


Valentine Writing Activity

Daily writing is an opportune time for students to practice specific sight words.  I have two different types of writing in my classroom (journaling and directed writing).  In journaling they can write about anything they want.  I encourage them to use what they know about letters, sounds and sight words but the focus is on them expressing themselves through drawing and writing.  They have the choice of me scribing what they wrote and to share with others.  In directed writing, they are required to write a simple sentence including a specific sight word(s) and use inventive spelling.  They must also draw a picture illustrating what they wrote.   There is a considerable amount of modeling done prior to completing this task.  This is also when I introduce the correct formation of upper-case letters at the beginning of sentences and in names.  The first sight word sentences would be about students in the class.


Anna is _______________.


CVC Word Activities

Literacy Centers

I do believe that it is still necesssary for the students to practice skills in isolation but only after these have been introduced in a meaningful context first.  Literacy Centers offer a fun and productive way for students to practice these skills.  Creating Literacy Centers that are fun and productive for students can be a challenge and a considerable amount of work.  I have many, many Literacy Center ideas posted on my site but I have to admit, they are rather disorganized.    They are dispersed throughout all the different theme units and this is not very user friendly if you are just searching for Literacy Center ideas.   It is my mission from now until the end of the summer to organize and expand on these ideas.  In the link below you can see some of my ideas and how I have broken them down into specific skills.  I am in the process of continuallly adding to these ideas.


Literacy Centers


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