Our interactive Alphabetical Order Lesson Plan presents the steps necessary for alphabetizing. Students will apply these steps to place words in alphabetical order with lots of demonstration and physical activities. Engage the analytical and critical thinking skills of young students by making observations about when using alphabetical order is important (dictionaries, for example!), and what happens when a letter is missing or if there are two of the same letter in the alphabetical list.
Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction
- Since this lesson covers a range from 1st through 2nd grade, you may need to differentiate the types of words given in order to account for reading abilities.
- Announce to your class that you intend to call them together, but you will want them to sit together in a special order. It is called alphabetical order. Ask for students who have names starting with A, B, C, etc. Write their names on the board as they sit. When two or more students have the same initial, such as Mary and Megan, write the names on the board side by side and ask students how to determine who is first, alphabetically. Guide students through the process of examining the first letter, which is the same, and then moving to the second, third, etc. until it is determined who has the next letter that is earliest in the alphabet. In this case it would be Mary, because Ma in Mary would come before Me in Megan, as A is before E in the alphabet. In the case of students with the same first name, look at last names or middle names, whichever is preferred.
- When the list is completed, have students look at it and make observations. Ask them if they notice the letters are in order of the alphabet, even though some letters might be missing. For example, you may not have a student in your class whose name begins with F or Y, etc., so the next nearest letter would be used as you make a list in alphabetical order.
- Ask students why they might need to use alphabetical order. Listen to suggestions and give some practical ones of your own. State “Alphabetical order, also called alphabetizing, is how records are often kept in big offices, doctors’ offices, banks, and governments so information can be found quickly. The school and nurse use this system to keep track of all the emergency numbers and records of students. Imagine if every student’s paperwork and parent information was just thrown into a big pile, and then 2 Classroom Procedure: you got sick at school, or missed the bus and we needed to call your mom or dad. It might take hours to find that information, but not if it is alphabetized. Also, when you read books, look up recipes in cook books, or visit the library, you will find items in alphabetical order.” At this point you might show an index in a nonfiction book or the index in a recipe book. State “You will also need this skill as you get older and have to organize information and find information in your reading and writing assignments, especially if you are going to complete research for science or do a history project. It will also help you if you need to look something up in a dictionary, because dictionaries are in alphabetical order!”
- Now that students understand a purpose for the skill, have them brainstorm on chart paper or the board, a list of steps for alphabetizing. You can use this list as an example, or re-write it verbatim. 4. Have students review the steps for alphabetizing. Pull five to ten items that are easy to spell for your students (such as a book, a bag, a pencil, a ball, a cup, and paper), and set them on the carpet or front desk. Have students name the items to make sure all are clear (cup, not mug, or book, not novel, etc.).
- Have students go back to their desks with partners while keeping the items visible. Have them work together to put the words in alphabetical order using Activity Page One. If students do not already have an alphabet strip on their desks, provide them with the one below for easy checking.
- Check the list as a whole class, calling for volunteers to supply the words one at a time in order until the list is complete. Correct any errors.
- The homework page can be assigned anytime after the activity pages have been completed.
Common Core Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.B, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.2.3
Class Sessions (approx. 30 minutes): 2-3 class sessions, depending on the ability level of students and amount of time allowed for student discussion, explanation, clarification, review, etc.
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