Why is a letter wall one of the most important features of the room?

Check out what the Children’s Learning Institute says about the importance of Letter walls in the Pre-K classrooms and join us for a NEW training –

 Taking the Letter-Wall Beyond the Wall* (Includes a make and take!)
March 27, 2018              1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
SP1836947                      $50                             Register here 

Want to come for the full day? Then check out our Math training in the morning.

NEW- Clap, stomp, clap, stomp! Pattern Skills and more*
March 27, 2018            9:00 am – 12:00 pm
SP1837694                   $50                             Register here

Letter walls are an important part of early childhood classrooms as they help transform classrooms into print-rich environments. Children are able to reference the words when writing, which gives them independence and problem solving skills. Letter walls also help teach the alphabetic principal by visually displaying each letter of the alphabet with a key word picture. This interactive tool exposes young children to a variety of concepts throughout the year and helps emergent readers and writers become aware of:

  •       Letter forms
  •       Letter names
  •       Basic letter-sound correspondences
  •       The idea that words can be written down
  •       The concept of words
  •      Beginning letters in familiar words

Letter walls also help enhance children’s vocabulary development. This is an effective and useful way to organize words and help children reference vocabulary they’re learning in class. Preschoolers are at the beginning stages of understanding basic concepts about text and sound/symbol relationships. According to Piasta & Wagner (2010), a child’s knowledge of letter names and sounds is the best predictor of reading and spelling abilities.

When discussing the letter wall, there are several things that need to be remembered to make the letter wall a successful learning tool.

  • If children are not interacting and involved with the letter wall, it becomes a decoration.
  • Children will only learn from the letter wall if it is meaningful to them.
  • Children’s interest will be sparked when new games and activities are introduced.
  • Make the games and activities fun, playful, short, and interactive.

The letter wall should be used daily and can be used in a large group, small group, or one-on-one settings. Children need to be able to access the letter wall, so that it can be easily used as an interactive tool. Make sure to find a space large enough for the entire alphabet. Ideally this space would be located in or near the circle time area and at their eye level. If there is a lack of wall space, some other options include:

  • Portable boards such as science project boards, sewing/cutting boards, shower boards, etc.
  • The back of shelves
  • The space below chalk boards

Research shows that teaching students to recognize and manipulate the segments of sounds in words and linking those sounds to letters is necessary to prepare children to read words and comprehend text. As soon as students can decode simple words, they should have opportunities to practice reading new and familiar words or word parts in connected text (Foorman et al., 2016).

When used as a tool to support instruction, letter walls can be a planned, purposeful, and playful way to teach activities in the preK classroom, allowing for meaningful learning to occur.


  • Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., … & Keating, B. (2016). Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Educator’s Practice Guide. NCEE 2016-4008. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
  • Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 105, 324-344.

FREE Registration for Conscious Discipline Trauma Webinar ends at midnight

The faces and stories are haunting. They stay with you.
Fear. Rage. Confusion. Hopelessness.

Trauma isn’t new; it’s as old as time itself.
What is new is the knowledge we now possess about
how trauma shapes the brain, and what we can do to heal it.

If you’ve had enough, and you’re ready to take action. Learn how to heal today’s children so we can prevent tomorrow’s tragedies.

Conscious Discipline is hosting a new 3-session webinar series; Understanding Trauma: Reaching and Teaching Children with Trauma

Registration is FREE until midnight! Offer valid March 1-2, 2018 only. Regular price $75.

Register NOW

FREE PBS Edcamp for Early Childhood Educators

You are invited to the first PBS Edcamp for Early Childhood Educators! Join us Saturday, February 17, 2018 at the Child Inc. offices for your chance to be on the cutting edge of professional development practices at this “un-conference”.

  • Professional development hours will be awarded
  • Lakeshore doorprizes and fun swag!
  • Light breakfast and full lunch provided
  • Opportunity to network with other Early Childhood educators

You can REGISTER online easily to save your spot. Download their flyer HERE

February 17, 2018


Child Inc. Head Start Offices

818 E. 53rd Street Austin, TX 78751

Children’s Learning Institute – CIRCLE Preschool Foundations Training

Last call to register! CIRCLE Preschool Foundations Training is a two-day training that includes two interactive fun-filled days of learning where you will be engaged in a variety of ways to teach:

  • Learning Centers
  • Mathematics
  • Book Reading
  • Written Expression
  • Letter Knowledge
  • Phonological Awareness

This training provides preschool teachers with an overview of early language and literacy development in young children and strategies to implement this information in their classrooms.

Workshop ID: SP1837759

Meeting Dates:

February 13, 2018, 9:00am – 4:00pm

March 7, 2018, 9:00am – 4:00pm

Cost: $170

Participants must attend both days to receive full-credit from CLI (Children’s Learning Institute).


For more information please contact:
Liz Gaestel, Program Assistant

FREE CLI Engage Webinar – Engaging Parents, Lesson Planning and Intentional Teaching, and more!

The CLI Engage Training Calendar features information about upcoming webinar sessions available for FREE for all CLI Engage users. Browse the calendar to view upcoming sessions and register for FREE! They add more webinars to the training calendar throughout the school year. All sessions are recorded; view previously recorded sessions here.

Upcoming Sessions (click to register!):

February 6 at 10:00 AM: Engaging Parents

February 13 at 3:00 PM: Lesson Planning and Intentional Teaching

February 15 at 3:00 PM: A Closer Look at CIRCLE Progress Monitoring Classroom Data

Recently Recorded Sessions (click to view!)

How to Start Self-Paced Online Professional Development

Coaching Competencies

Coaching Strategies

Also be sure to check out their new webpage on CLI Engage that details lots of great family engagement resources that you can easily download and share with parents. CLI Engage Family Engagement Resources

TEA will be coming to Region 13 to talk about Rider 78

Many of you are aware of the new high-quality requirements (Rider 78) for all districts or charters that receive PK funding. TEA will be coming to Region 13 to provide districts more information about Rider 78 and how to comply with this new requirement.

Workshop ID: SP1838871
Date: Monday, February 26, 2018
Workshop (Part 1): High-Quality Prekindergarten Components (expectations of Rider 78)
Time: 10:15 – 12:00
Lunch (on your own) 12:00 – 1:30
Workshop (Part 2) – Evaluating your Prekindergarten Program using
the High-Quality Prekindergarten Self-Assessment tool
Time: 1:30 – 3:30

Register HERE: https://ecampus.esc13.net/

We recommend having one to two participants per district (space is limited).

Check out what’s coming up 2018!

Join us for a make and take day focused on the Math & Science Guidelines! Each session is three hours in the morning and/or afternoon with an opportunity for you to make it a full day PD or just take a half day off.

How Tall? How Short? How Heavy? Measuring in a Pre-K Classroom*

January 23, 2018                                                        9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Workshop ID: SP1837689                                     $50

Discovering Physical Sciences Through a Child’s Eye*

January  23, 2018                                                        1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Workshop ID: SP1836647                                      $50

Register Here: https://ecampus.esc13.net/

Check out our Spring 2018 and Online Courses Here 

Save the Date! Conscious Discipline is coming to Region 13 – July 9-11 for a 3-day Summer Institute. More details to come…. 

Free Books For Read Across America Day is February 12th, 2018

The Literacy Empowerment Foundation, a nonprofit organization, invites your school or other literacy project to apply for FREE books for Read Across America Day. During the past year, LEF has distributed over 3,000,000 books to schools all across the country for Read Across America Day and other literacy projects.

These books are FREE. Educators only pay shipping and handling.

Orders must be received by February 12th, 2018.

Free Books for Read Across America Day: Order Form at http://www.lefbooks.org

Click here to see a preview of the books or to use these books online http://www.wilbooks.com/free-resources-free-online-books

Please share this information with your fellow educators!

*Resources are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Language Building Strategies That Work!

*Recent article posted on Texas School Ready Connect

Sign up for their updates HERE

The focus for this month’s newsletter is scaffolding and narrative talk, two language building strategies that teachers can use to help build young children’s vocabulary and oral language skills. There are several intentional opportunities to provide language support within classroom routines and instructional time. The National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) reported oral language instruction is best delivered in small group or on-on-one with children (National Center for Family Literacy).

Scaffolding refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move children progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process. This temporary framework is used as a support until the child demonstrates success of the task.

Narrative talk simply means adults and children are having conversations. Adults respond to a child’s question by asking for more information, as well as giving the child new information. Teachers should plan conversations that introduce new vocabulary words that relate to the topic of learning and enrich children’s language throughout the day. Narrative talk allows adults to provide examples of words and their meaning within a context in which the words have an understandable real-life application.

Even before a child begins to talk, there are ways to use narrative talk. Some examples include modeling early words, parallel talk, labeling items, and self-talk. Modeling early words refers to when a child babbles early sounds (such as saying (“ah”), and the caregiver makes eye contact with the child and responds by repeating the sound and introducing a second sound (/m/), then combining the two sounds to say a simple two-syllable word, ma-ma (Hamilton, 1977). In parallel talk, the adult describes what the child is doing or seeing. The adult can be thought of as a broadcaster, watching the action and describing it to the child, without expecting a response. Labeling involves naming concepts, objects, and actions for the child. Finally, practicing self-talk involves the adult thinking out loud and describing what he or she is doing for the child.

As children begin to talk, more scaffolding activities can be added to build their language. Adults can expand on a child’s simple word utterances. For example, when a child says “gog” (referring to a dog), an adult would respond by saying “the dog barks” or “furry dog.” (Robertson & Weismer, 1999). Another activity is recasting. In this strategy, the adult will add more information, for example when a child says, “I want eat,” and the adult responds, “What do you want to eat?”

It is also beneficial to continue to scaffold and use narrative talk by restating sentences, repeating important words, using gestures, and responding to children’s comments. Asking open-ended questions that build higher-level thinking skills, and having reciprocal conversations throughout the day, will help develop new vocabulary and enrich a child’s language.

It is also important to add complex sentences when communicating and to provide increased opportunities for conversations with adult scaffolds to continue to build oral language learning. Providing these opportunities for children to practice oral language, speaking, and listening is crucial in the early years of language development.

teaching tips

Language building strategies are ways to expand and extend language heard and used by children.

Strategies include:

Label: name objects, concepts and actions.

Describe: tell how something looks, sounds, tastes, feels and smells.

Explain: tell how something works or why we do things.

Compare: tell how items are the same or not the same.

Link: make the connection between new objects, ideas, or concepts children already know or have experienced.

Find specific strategies to support language building in the CIRCLE Activity Collections for Pre-K/K. Here you’ll find numerous activities under the domain Language and Communication that support Listening and Comprehension, Social Communication Skills, Speaking and Expression and Vocabulary.

Learn more about increasing children’s oral language skills in the eCIRCLE online courses: Setting the Stage for Children’s Talk and Building Vocabulary.

notable news

  • Register now for FREE webinars in December and January. Check out the webinar calendar here.
  • TX-KEA will offer middle-of-year (MOY) literacy and math items in January.
  • New FREE online courses covering the Infant, Toddler, & Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines are now available! After logging into your CLI Engage dashboard, find the courses under Full Course Catalog.
  • Interested in using the Classroom Observation Tool to set teaching goals and track improvement? We’ve posted an introductory course to using the tool and sample COT video resources here.
  • Part 2 of the Read with Me: Promoting Early Literacy Skills course series will be available in January! This course is the latest in a free series designed to support infant and toddler teachers. Read more about the series here.

recommended resources

What Works: An Introductory Teacher Guide for Early Language and Emergent Literacy Instruction. National Center for Family Literacy. www.famlit.org

Robertson, S. B., & Weisner, S.E. (1999). Effects of treatment on linguistic and social skills in toddlers with delayed language development. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 42(5), 1234-1248.

Hamilton, M.L. (1977). Social learning and the transition from babbling to initial words. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 130(2), 211-220.

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Children’s Learning Institute Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)

Building Emergent Literacy Skills with Dr. Laura Justice

Check out our newly released Laura Justice Videos in the PPCD Gallery:

Dr. Laura Justice was in the studio this summer sharing her expertise around building emergent literacy skills with our young children.

Topics discussed include:

– Preschool “Readers”

– Precursors to Skilled Reading

–  Effective Interventions for Quality Read Alouds and more!

You can also check out our free expert interviews on our Region 13 You Tube Channel.