The supply list for this activity is pretty short: index cards, two different colored markers, a lollipop, and a print-out of the entire alphabet. My son knows the alphabet, but I wasn’t sure how he’d do alphabetizing; I decided to find out. On 14, 3- by 5-inch index cards, I wrote a series of simple words, each starting with a different letter, in black marker. I underlined the first letter of each word.
Then, I put them in alphabetical order and on the back of each card, wrote one word of the following sentence using a colored marker: “Red, orange, or blue – which lollipop will you choose? I have one for you.” (I wrote the words in two different colors so he wouldn’t get confused about which words to alphabetize.) Then I shuffled the cards.
When my son got home from school, I gave him a printed page with all the letters of the alphabet and two of the shuffled index cards. He read the words on each of the two cards and then I asked him which letter at the start of the words came first in the alphabet. After finding the letters on our ‘cheat sheet’ and putting the words in alphabetical order, I gave him another card … and another … and another. (I think you get the picture.)
Pretty soon, he had index cards stretching from one side of the kitchen table to the other. When he had them all alphabetized, I asked him to flip the cards over and read the surprise message on the back. He was thrilled! The tootsie pops were inexpensive and definitely worth every penny to have my son read 28 words without argument.
My son's reward was a lollipop, but mine was when he asked if we could do “Alphabetize Surprise” again tomorrow. Success!