An Excessive Alphabet: Avalanches of As to Zillions of Zs by Judi Barrett is a fun, multi-use picture book for many ages. (It’s always a delight to find a good book or resource that can be used for kids of varying ages and ability levels! These are super helpful for classroom teachers and homeschooling parents.) The illustrations in An Excessive Alphabet are intriguing and help further discussion and exploration of literary topics.
Because summer is right around the corner, I am going to categorize suggested activities for “Younger Readers” and “Older Readers” rather than distinguish between ideas for parents and teachers. Chances are, these will be used at home or in an alternative setting given the season! Whatever the case, I hope that you are able to take one or two of them and try them out. 🙂
Plus, families with kids in a range of ages can do these activities simultaneously!
Best Ages: pre-k and up
For Younger Readers:
- While you read, ask your child to name items in the illustration that begin with the letter of the alphabet represented on the page.
- Using sidewalk chalk, go outside with the book and choose a few letters of the alphabet to work with. (Maybe use your child’s initials or the first letters in his/her name.) Then practice writing the letter in lower and/or upper case before finding words in the illustration that begin with the same later. Draw those words and any others you think of!
- Choose a handful of the nouns used to describe an amount of letters in the book (for example, “dozens of Ds.”) Find items in your household to represent those amounts so your child can visualize each amount and make a connection between the text and the real world.
For Older Readers:
- Using sidewalk chalk, challenge your child to think of a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Guess what each picture is before your child goes on to the next letter and picture. (I recently did this while having a 7 year old over for the day and we had a blast!)
- Vocabulary expansion: have your child find definitions in a children’s dictionary that are seen in the book. For example, the adjective “excessive” in the title of this book, as well as nouns used on each page to describe the number of letters like “avalanches of As.” Then allow your child to create a vocabulary book. I personally have used something similar to this one as a teacher and found it highly engaging and effective!
- Design a poster to make an alternative illustration for the book using one word of the alphabet. Encourage him/her to think of additional words or even verbs they could illustrate in addition to the ones featured in the book.