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

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

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.

Teaching young children how to add or subtract should be fun and hands on!

For many of us, our first memories of computing addition and subtraction problems come in the form of isolated numbers without any meaning attached to it. We would simply receive a “naked number sentence” (3+3=__) where no context or scenario was presented and we were asked to find the answer using a pencil, paper or our fingers.

When we think of our students now, we can certainly teach them other techniques so they can visualize the act of joining and separating quantities and we can integrate these learning opportunities throughout the day.

Want to know how to create meaningful opportunities to teach your students how to add and subtract? Come join us for a MAKE AND TAKE…

2+2=4? What does addition and subtraction look like in Pre-K?

Dec 6th, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Workshop ID FA1737691


Register here – https://ecampus.esc13.net/

To see all of our offerings, download our Fall & Spring Flyer



FREE – Edcamp R13 is coming up on December 2

Energy, enthusiasm, and collaboration! Everyone at Edcamp is there to ask questions, share passions, and learn from each other. Sessions are participant-driven, encouraging sharing and collaboration among everyone who comes to the session, whether it is a few people or a large group. Teachers share their best practices, their challenges and their passions, each listening for key information to enhance their personalized professional development. There is no single expert in the room! Participants are empowered to have voice and choice at Edcamp and encouraged to subscribe to the “Rule of Two Feet,” staying for sessions that meet their needs and politely leaving ones that do not.

Don’t know much about EdCamp – Check out Edcamp.org 

Register Here – https://goo.gl/86oW5o


Coaching is the Universal Language Between Change and Learning

Rider 78 aims to increase quality in all Pre-K programs across the state. One of ways to ensure that we provide a high quality Pre-k program is looking at the Teacher Qualifications and the preparation that they have received in addition to their teaching certificate. Rider 78 includes 7 options by which a teacher can be consider highly qualified. Option 6 and 7 include the important role that coaching and mentoring can play when supporting teachers in their classroom.

TEA will be hosting a webinar on Mentoring and Coaching on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am CST.  Click here to register.

Please note that LEAs will be required to submit how each teacher is consider highly qualified, along with all other Rider 78 components, during their Summer PEIMS submission.

If you are not able to watch the session live, a recording will be available at a later date on the Educator Resources page of the TEA website along with previous webinars.

TEA will continue to host webinars to support teachers and administrators in understanding all the Rider 78 components. To receive their latest updates sign up HERE.

To learn more about Teacher Qualifications in Rider 78 please visit the TEA website. Also, be sure to visit their FAQ website for the most up-to-date information.