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My Special Letters

Words come alive, just wait and see.
There's so much more than A, B, C.


  • marker
  • safety scissors
  • old magazines
  • construction paper
  • glue stick
  • a snapshot or digital photo of each student
  • a hole-puncher
  • yarn


Nancy F. Castaldo is the author of many books packed with inspiring ideas for childhood discovery and learning. In addition to the three titles above, Nancy has written activity guides for teaching children ages 6 to 9 about the ocean, rainforests, deserts, and rivers. All of these titles are published by Chicago Review Press.

Click here to learn about these books and others by Nancy Castaldo.

Explain to students that their initials are the first letters of their first, middle, and last names. For example, if a child's name is John Stanley Greene, then his initials are JSG.

Ask each student to identify his or her initials.

If your students are very young, you might have collected this information in advance from your students' registration cards.

Challenge students to cut out of old magazines pictures that begin with the sound of the first letter of their first names. Have them draw the letter nice and big on a sheet of construction paper and then glue all the pictures they find around the letter.

If you teach young students, you might have prepared the pages in advance or cut out bulletin-board style letters for them to paste to their pages.

Have students do the same thing for each of their initials. The result will be a book of their "initial sounds."

To make a cover for the book, have students use letter patterns to trace their initials on a piece of paper. Then have them glue their photograph on the cover.

Punch holes in the cover and the pages and tie them together with a piece of yarn.


If students can spell their first names, they might make a book with a page for each letter in their first name.

Invite students to work in pairs or small groups to make an alphabet book. Each student can take certain letters of the alphabet and cut out pictures that begin with those letters' sounds.

Look at some alphabet picture books in the library. Pigs from A to Z by Arthur Geisert and Amazon Alphabet by Tanis Jordan are just two alphabet books that are wonderful to read to students.


This activity is excerpted from Nancy Castaldo's Rainy Day Play, which is published by Chicago Review Press. This lesson idea is one of more than 65 imaginative activities from Rainy Day Play that are sure to inspire children as they discover and learn.

About the Author

A native of New York's Hudson Valley, Nancy Castaldo earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Marymount College and a Master of Arts from the State University of New York. As an environmental educator, author, and Girl Scout volunteer and board member, Castaldo has led numerous children's workshops. Her school programs include workshops on ocean creatures and other nature topics, creative writing, and pizza making/Italy. She has conducted programs at the Boston Children's Museum, Atlanta Zoo, and Tennessee Aquarium. Castaldo's books include River Wild: An Activity Guide to North American Rivers; Oceans: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9; Deserts: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9; and Rainforests: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9. She is also author of a historical-fiction picture book, Pizza for the Queen. To learn more about Nancy and her books, check out her Web site, www.nancycastaldo.com.

Article by Nancy Castaldo
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