Tools Teachers Love: Letters Alive

An educator’s classroom perspective on the usefulness of a learning tool.

GUEST COLUMN | by Mary Lirette

CREDIT Letters Alive Plus.jpgI’m a first-grade teacher, and I teach every subject to my diverse class of kids, so I am always looking for interactive tools that I can use in whole-group and one-on-one instruction.

One of my current favorites is the augmented reality kit, Letters Alive Plus, from Alive Studios. The kit includes 26 letter cards, 97 sight-word cards, and 84 word-family cards.

Each card is interactive and triggers multiple 3D animations depending on the word or sentence that I create.

Initially, I had to work on familiarizing myself with all of the different cards available and get everything organized in a way that worked for my class. I found a way where I use the program with the whole group, and also have my students use it independently in learning stations.

Something to Scream About

Every year when I introduce the program for the first time, my students all scream when they see the animals move and hear their sounds. They are so excited and want to see the animals over and over again. They love how the cards are interactive and how the verbs cause the animals to eat, fly, etc. The color changing is always a big hit, too!

I love to use this tool to reinforce correct sentence formation.

A capital letter automatically appears when you make a sentence complete, and it is a wonderful tool for practicing using periods and question marks in “asking and telling” sentences.

We work on this in a video I took with a previous class of kindergarteners.

In 1st grade, we focus a good deal on nouns and verbs. The action verbs come to life in the sentence, and this provides a visual for students who are struggling with identifying verbs.

An Imperative For Learning

I think it is imperative to actively engage students in the learning process.

This sort of tool provides me interactive opportunities to make learning meaningful and fun at the same time. My students are much more interested in building words and sentences with this than they are with letter tiles. It provides the needed hands-on experience as well as the interactive technology they love.

Using this tool in my classroom has been beneficial because it appeals to my young learners and helps them grow academically at the same time.

The students adore the different animals and truly love watching their letters, words, and sentences come to life on the screen.

My students look forward to learning together.

The program is easy to use and lends itself nicely to whole-group and small-group instruction—or even independent activities.

This kind of technology provides meaningful opportunities for student-led learning that keep my students engaged and happy.

Mary Lirette is a 1st-grade teacher at Woodland Presbyterian in Memphis, Tennessee. Write to: mary.lirette@yahoo.com

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