5-Minute Film Festival: Literacy Starts with the Alphabet
Learning the ABCs is critical for early literacy. VideoAmy has collected some fun alphabet videos and resources to use with students — from the youngest beginners to older readers.
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 first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Exploring the Alphabet, topic page from Sesame Street
- "The Best Sites For Learning About The Alphabet," by Larry Ferlazzo, from Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day
- "Top 10 Pinterest Boards that focus on the ABCs," from Scribble, Doodle and Draw
- "Back-To-School: 6 DIY Alphabet Projects," by Mari Richards, from Handmade Charlotte
- "Phonics Instruction for Middle and High School ELLs," by Kristina Robertson, from Reading Rockets
- "Why H Is The Most Contentious Letter in the Alphabet," by Michael Rosen, from The Guardian
- "The Origins of ABC: Where Our Alphabet Came From," from I Love Typography
- Lesson Plan: Calligraphy, Handwriting and the Alphabet, from Oregon Public Broadcasting
- The Alphabet is Historic, four lessons from EDSITEment
- The History of the Alphabet [PDF]," by Judy Ross (Free E-book)
- "Activity: The Secret World of Codes and Code Breaking," from NRich Mathematics
- "Simple Alphabet Codes to Solve: Printouts," from Enchanted Learning