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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

I'll admit, as the mom of a toddler I may be excessively preoccupied with the alphabet. But truly, letters are the building blocks of the English language and early literacy. Since November is National Novel Writing Month, I indulged in sharing a few of my favorite ABC videos. I started this playlist just for fun, and quickly found that the constraints of the 26-letter sequence provide a great framework for engaging lists of all kinds. As an exercise for your students, little and big, ask them to use the letters of the alphabet as a structure to get creative around a topic -- just see what they come up with!

Video Playlist: Alphabet Soup

Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.

  1. Alphabet of Nations - They Might Be Giants (02:15)

    Quirky rockers They Might Be Giants have released several albums for kids around educational themes. The band collaborated with The Global Fund For Children to make this geography video; it includes crowd-sourced photos from around the world!

  2. Zellers "Everything from A to Z" (00:31)

    A catchy Canadian commercial for a department store that shows letters built from objects that start with that letter. I could see this as a fun video production project to assign to younger kids.

  3. Elephabet (09:03)

    A portmanteau is a new word made from two other words -- and this adorable stop-motion film by artist Hilary Pfeifer is filled with them. Check out the precious Elephabet Flickr group, where admirers can share their own pachyderms made with her downloadable template.

  4. Refraction - The Alphabet (02:31)

    I had to include this one for sheer coolness factor -- this filmmaker used oil and water to refract images of letters through a lightbox, and then mixed it with hip music and Richard Pryor reciting the ABCs. Whoa.

  5. Ministry of Letters Alphaphonic Orchestra (01:32)

    While there are a million apps designed to teach phonics to little ones, Ministry of Letters is my absolute favorite. Youngsters can make the snappily-dressed letters sing various jazzy combinations of their sounds.

  6. The Human Alphabet (04:56)

    Inspired by a book of photographs of the amazing dance troupe Pilobolus, students from the Maywood Fine Arts program in Maywood, Illinois performed acrobatic feats to become a human alphabet.

  7. The ABC of Architects (01:38)

    Studying design? Architecture buffs will rejoice at this beautifully animated alphabet of the most important international architects with their best-known buildings. Produced by Ombu Architecture.

  8. Sesame Street: Madrigal Alphabet (01:33)

    No list of alphabet videos would be complete without an offering from Sesame Street. Hard to choose, but I was captivated by this charming vintage animation from 1973. Search for more Sesame ABCs here.

  9. ABCinema [Ep1] (00:59)

    This is the first in a series of five animated segments by Atlanta-based motion graphics artist Evan Seitz, designed to test your movie knowledge. How many films can your students identify? (Hint: Full list here.) Caution: some of the audio clips contain profanity, preview before using in the classroom.

  10. ASL Alphabet (01:24)

    Simple but powerful, this covers the alphabet in American Sign Language. There's actually a treasure trove of pop song videos interpreted creatively in ASL hidden on YouTube, if you do a search for ASL songs.

More Resources for Learning About the Alphabet

Whether you're teaching preschoolers the basics, or working with English-language learners (ELLs) who might need different and engaging ways to connect with a new language, you can find loads of resources out there for alphabet activities. I tried to find a variety of angles to explore below, from the history of the alphabet to code-breaking lessons that connect the alphabet to mathematics. A novel starts with a single letter -- it's as easy as ABC!

Comments (6)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kat's picture

Thank you. I remember watching Madrigal Alphabet on Sesame Street when I was little. What a great memory! And that Human Alphabet was amazing. I have done The Letter Dance with my little ones but nothing near as impressive.

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia
Staff

Thanks Kat! It was really hard to pick just one video from Sesame Street -- they have so many fantastic ones!

Nat's picture

Classroom use alert! ABCinema [Ep1] Number 9 on the list has profanity!!!

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia
Staff

Thanks for the heads' up, Nat! I usually try to put a warning in the description when there's questionable language; but missed this one. I've gone back to add a note of caution.

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