Alphabet A-Z at Lunt School


Teacher’s Name: Rachel Roberts

Class Grade Level(s) & School: 1, Lunt School

Class Subject: Special Education

Number of Students in the class: 2-3

Lesson/Project Name: Alphabet A-Z at Lunt School

A.  Pre-Reflection

1. What are your own teaching goals going into this?  Please list at least 3.

I hope to be prepared before going outside, including appropriate pre-teaching of the activity, by having a clear goal in mind, and checking for understanding through asking questions. I hope to be flexible with my plan and allow for changes in my plan, or as Broda (2007) explains, “view the unexpected as a bonus, not an annoyance,” (p.73). I want my students to do as much as they are able without assistance and let them generate ideas as to how they want to sort objects by beginning sound (putting a purple flower in /p/ category or /f/ category, depending on whether they want to identify the object as “purple” or “flower”).

2.  What are your goals for students going into this?

a.  Process/skill goals: I hope for my students to learn how to follow outdoor learning rules and to understand it is not “recess” time. Broda clearly states that it is important students understand the difference between going outside for instruction and going out to play (2007). I would like each student to have a clear goal in mind and fully understand the task he/she has when going outside. On page 70, Broda says, “To maximize instructional time outside, students need to understand very clearly what specific tasks are to be accomplished there…have a definite purpose in mind for going outdoors (2007).” I like to ask my students, “What’s your job?” before going outside, and also as redirection throughout the lesson.

b.  Subject/content goals: My goal is for students to find objects in nature to gather and then sort according to beginning sound when they get inside (same day or sometime within the week). I would like students to generate their own ideas for sorting, but will give guidance if needed. I want each student to try to find a variety of objects in nature. I am also very flexible to changes in my plan.

B.  The Plan:

1.  Materials

-plastic bags for each student gathering nature objects


-large paper for sorting according to beginning sound

-smaller paper for gluing pictures onto poster


-printed pictures

2.  The Class/Project

a.  Prep before going outside: (5-10 minutes)

Prior to prep, one student will get a large piece of paper with a teacher from the paper rolls and divide it into 26 sections (using a marker), then label each section from a-z. I will explain, “Today we are going outside on the trails. Each of you will have a plastic bag (hold up plastic bag). You will pick up different things you see outside. You can pick up pinecones, grass, twigs, or anything else you see that can fit in your bag. What can you pick up outside? (give time for answers). Some things you will see that you cannot fit into your bag, like a tree. I will bring a camera and take pictures of things that you cannot fit into your bag. If you want me to take a picture, just ask.” If it is nice out, I will give students an option of wearing his/her jacket. If it is chilly, I will tell them to get jackets. “You need to stay on the trails and you need to stay with a teacher. When we come back inside, we are going to sort the objects on this paper (hold up alphabet poster) according to beginning sound. What is the first sound you hear in pinecone?” (/p/)

I will then ask clarifying questions:

What is your job when you go outside? (to find objects to put in the bag)

Where are you allowed to go? (stay on the trails, stay with a teacher)

What if you find something that is too big to put in your bag? (ask a teacher to take a picture)

What are we going to do with the objects? (sort by beginning sound)

Students will line up as we walk outside.

b. Outside: (30-40 minutes)

Students will walk outside together on the trails in the woods. They will each have a plastic bag. They will pick up different objects in nature and/or ask a teacher to take pictures. If students are having a difficult time locating a variety of objects, teacher may ask questions (“Can you find a nest? Can you find a hole in something?” etc.) If students pick many objects of the same type (all branches) teacher will redirect by asking a question, or by requesting that the student stop picking up branches and find something else.

As students are finding objects, teachers will ask what the object is, and what the first sound is that the student hears in the word. Finishing time will depend on energy level and attention of students.

  1. c. Classroom follow-up: (20 minutes: 15 minutes sort, 5 minutes glue pictures)

Classroom follow-up will most likely occur the next day, or sometime in the same week that objects are collected. Students will sort objects found on the alphabet poster.  When all objects are sorted, students will glue pictures of objects (already printed by teacher) on a smaller poster. They will also write the name of the object or the word that is related to the object (ex. purple) in the box with the corresponding letter sound. Poster of pictures will then be laminated and displayed in the school. Objects will then be returned to the outdoors.

Once poster is completed, I will ask students questions related to the activity and the poster.  We will talk about what we liked about the activity, what was difficult, etc.

C. Reflection:

The response to this lesson was positive, although there were some things that could have been done differently. I was pleased with student participation for this lesson with the outdoor aspect. The students were eager, excited, focused and helpful. They showed understanding of the lesson by following teacher directions. They were not very interested in the rest of the lesson, once inside, with the exception of one student.

My expectations for this lesson would change if I chose to do it again. I would have each student make an individual chart and I would have different expectations for each student. As IEPs reflect individual goals, strengths, and challenges, so should each lesson. I should not have expected all three students to have the same product at the end of the lesson.

I had hoped to find more in nature to fill up the alphabet chart. We did not fill the alphabet chart and student interest decreased after a few days. The product was not completed.

What worked well: Students found different objects in nature. When requested by teacher to “find a web” students were able to look and find requested item. Students also asked teacher to take pictures of items that could not be put in a bag.  Students stayed with teacher, as pre-taught.

Things that did not work well: Plans for each student should have been individualized instead of expecting the same results from each student.


Broda, H.W. (2007). Schoolyard-enhanced learning: Using the outdoors as an instructional tool, K-8. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

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