Let’s Chat with Personalised Alphabet Cards

Last October, Sally Clendon and I ran a literacy course at Currumbin Community Special School. The school were fabulous hosts – and while we were there, we were able to see many of the great resources they use.

One which particularly impressed us was their personalised alphabet cards. They credited me with this idea – but if it was my idea then I have to give them the credit of making it so much better!!

At this stage, each staff member has made their own personalised alphabet cards. For each letter of the alphabet they choose an item which is most meaningful to them – and illustrate the card with a picture of that item. For example, if the staff member loves flowers, then this might be the illustration on their Ff card.

Example of some personalised alphabet cards

Once they have made them, they wear them throughout the school day – some staff have them on a lanyard, others wear them on a keyring – and they are used in a range of ways.

Personalised Alphabet Cards on a ring

The most obvious use for the alphabet cards is for literacy activities, both explicit and incidental, and they are definitely used for this. A staff member might talk about a letter – and then show her card for that letter. Or as they are talking about a student’s name, they might use the cards to discuss the letters.

But the school’s deputy principal, Bex Nicotemo, explained how they have also become a great communication tool. Students might use them to initiate a discussion with staff on a favourite topic or to resume a discussion. Some students will use a photo of a staff member’s family to initiate a discussion about their own family – or use a photo of a holiday to ask a staff member about what they are doing on their upcoming holiday. They have been a fabulous communication tool, providing options for initiation and discussion particularly in less-structured times, such as walking between rooms.

Some of the students also have their own personalised alphabet cards now – and the school is working on more and more students having their own. In many ways, this reminds me of the chat photo albums or photo books I have made for students in the past – and how these became such a good support for building social closeness.

I’m really keen to try using these myself, and with our Australian schools starting the new school year very soon, I have made my own personalised alphabet cards to wear. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go! A copy of mine is below in case you’d like to have a chat with me 🙂

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And if you would like to make your own in a similar way, I have made a template document in Word that you can download below:

Happy chatting and alphabetting!!

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Comments (6)

  1. Bex Nikotemo


    We always love seeing a new personalised alphabet – I would definitely want to talk about your letter ‘P’ & letter ‘X’! Hope you experience as much interest, feedback and wonderful chatting moments as we all do! Glad to be part of the ‘Revolution’ alongside you!

  2. Reply

    Good idea. Staff are likely to use them if they care about them. Better idea, Karen Erickson’s keyword idea of connecting something kids care about to alphabet. Even better idea, I think, merge the two. Take Karen’s classroom level keyword strategy and your staff’s personalized alphabet cards and make personalized alphabet cards for each kid you work with.

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