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A NORTHERN ALPHABET Grade: 1-2 Topic: alphabet, reading, vocabulary, Canadian culture, Canadian history, Canadian


Grade: 1-2

Topic: alphabet, reading, vocabulary, Canadian culture, Canadian history, Canadian geography, Canadian regionalism, stories and identity, unique perspectives

Allotted Time: 45 mins - 1hr


Ted, Harrison. A Northern Alphabet. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2009.

BC Curriculum Connections Big Ideas

- Stories help us learn about ourselves and our families.

- Stories can be told through pictures and words.

- Everyone has a unique story.

Learning Standards:

- Use play and other creative means to discover foundational concepts of print, oral, and visual texts.

- Begin to use sources of information and prior knowledge to make meaning.

- Use play and other creative means to discover foundational concepts of print, oral, and visual texts.

- Use age-appropriate reading, listening, and viewing behaviours and strategies to make meaning from texts.

- Engage actively as listeners, viewers, and readers, as appropriate, to develop understanding of self, identity, and community.

- Recognize the importance of story in personal, family, and community identity.

- Show awareness of how story in First Peoples' cultures connects people to family and community.

- Exchange ideas and perspectives to build shared understanding.


LESSON OUTCOME What will students learn?

SOURCES OF EVIDENCE What product or action will show what students have learned?

CRITERIA What will you look for in this evidence?

Discover foundational concepts of print, oral, and visual text.

Listening to and viewing the story (oral). Observe and reflect on bolded words.

Actively participation in discussion of the text.

Use sources of information to build knowledge.

Define words by drawing knowledge from the illustrations. Use dictionaries.

Interpreted meaning through the illustrations and using dictionaries.

Use creative means to practice foundational concepts of print, oral, and visual text.

Both in listening to the text being read and illustrating their own texts students will practice print, oral, and visual text.

Produce page of written and illustrated text using vocabulary linked to their experience/community and letter.

Practice and engage actively in listening, reading, and viewing.

See above.

See above.

Awareness of First People's culture.

Book presents aboriginal perspective.

Discuss and respond to questions informing aboriginal cultural awareness.

Exchange ideas and perspectives and build shared understanding.

Create their own sentences, stories based on their perspectives.

Well composed complete sentences depicted in colourful illustration.


* Ensure every student is attentive and can hear you. Show the front cover of the book. Ask students what they think the subject is? What can they guess about the author? What do think the setting for the book is? (5 mins.)

* Give brief introduction to Ted Harrison and his background. Explain he is both the author and the illustrator of this book. Introduce his aboriginal perspective. (5 mins.)


* Read book on elbow projector. Have students identify new or unfamiliar vocabulary by tapping their head when they don't know the word. Ask students who don't know the word to guess what the word might mean. Clues should be in the picture (most unfamiliar words in this book are illustrated). As you read explain that the author wrote the book so that every letter, every page, is the start of a new story. (20 mins.)

* After finishing reading the book have students draw a letter from a magic box containing all the letters of the alphabet. If there are not the exact right number of students in the class let every child choose one and then hand out the remaining letters quietly to stronger students.

* Briefly review the structure of each letter story and explain that they are going to write a story page for the letter of the alphabet they have drawn. Explain that together we will make an alphabet book for the class which we can will laminate and have in our reading corner. Ask the students to illustrate their pages with the letter they are using and bright pictures that reflect the words they are using. They should fill the entire page with pictures and include a sentence beginning with their letter and using at least 2-3 words beginning with their letter. Explain how the author used words and images that were familiar in his community and experience and have students to do the same. Brainstorm ideas with the students. Have students prepare a draft and circulate helping them correct their draft sentences before having them write the version they will include on their book page. (25-30 mins.)


* Have the students mount their pictures/book pages on construction paper (the paper handed out for the book pages will be smaller than the construction paper so that the pages glued to construction paper will be framed).

* Have students share their pictures and read their sentences to the rest of the class.

* Have the book pages laminated and bound.

* During class story time after the book is bound (another day) read the book from start to finish.

Resources, Material and Preparation What resources, materials and preparation are required? - Ted, Harrison. A Northern Alphabet. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2009.

- [online link to information on Ted Harrison]

- Elbow projector.

- White board (or smart board)

- Blank paper for illustrations (cut to size for mounting on construction paper)

- Lined paper for writing sentences (cut to size for mounting on construction paper below illustrations)

- Pencils for writing sentences

- Construction paper for mounting illustrations and sentences

- Pencil crayons, crayons, pastels, felts, or paint for illustrations (depending on targeted art learning standards)

- Laminating and binding supplies

Further Thoughts / Activities

* If students are unable to complete their page in the allotted time they can put it in their portfolio and it could be continued at another time (this lesson would also fit the big ideas and learning standards for social studies and fine arts and could be continued during those class times).

* You could divide this activity between english and fine arts. For the language arts component:

- Instead of helping the students find the definition of unfamiliar vocabulary through conversation while reading the book simply write down on the white board every word that they indicate that they do not know. After reading the story have them copy these

words into their personal dictionary journals and ask them to find the definitions of these words. They could work in pairs and share the information that they find. (Learning standard: Begin to use sources of information to build understanding and knowledge.) - Another alternative english language arts activity could then have them begin by writing their assigned letter in creative typography and then write a sentence beginning with their letter and including at least two words beginning with their letter. Explain to the students that their sentence should be the beginning of a story. In the next language arts class have students continue their stories with 2-3 sentences on lined paper (assist weaker students and challenge advanced students to write more). Prepare drafts of these sentences and then good copies. The students could cut out their continuing sentences and glue them to construction below their original page. If you are using this activity ensure that the the original paper children use is an appropriate size to leave room on their construction paper for their sentences. Complete the illustrations in fine arts class. This activity is suggested by the author, Ted Harrison, in a prologue at the beginning A Northern Alphabet. - You can complete the illustration component of these activities in fine arts focusing on particular fine arts targeting the appropriate particular curriculum learning standards. * If using the above combinations of language arts and fine arts this activity could take place over multiple days. Perhaps over the course of a week.


- Have students work in teams to balance weaker students with stronger students.

- Create the sentences together as a class and then have individual students copy and illustrate one sentence and continue the story with 2-3 sentences of their own.

- Allow/encourage students to write their sentence in a creative font.

- If the class has computer lab time have the students first write their sentences during their regular class time and then

type and print their sentences during their computer lab time. You could allow them to play with size, font, bold, italic,

underline, etc

construction paper for their sentences).

(Ensure that their font is not so large that the sentences will not fit in the allocated space on the

- Allow weaker, struggling students to write fewer sentences.

- Have all the students prepare a draft of their students which you will circulate and help them correct prior to them writing their final copy. This will be of particular benefit to students who may struggle with sizing and spacing of letters, reversals, punctuation and spelling.

- Special needs students who may be lagging and reading and writing could dictate their sentences to a scribe and then copy these sentences.