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Be a Detective - Is it a Letter or a Word?

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Kindergarten
Reading: Foundational Skills Standard 1

Time Frame

1 class periods of 15 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups


Grace Wayman


Using a word/letter finder children will identify and differentiate letters and words. This is a beginning of the year Kindergarten activity.


Background for Teachers

As the teacher reads Big Books etc. to children, identify letters and words. Show children where the word starts and where it ends.

Explain that we know it is a word because of the spaces. Also show children letters and how we put letters together to make words.

This lesson is designed for a one day, 15 minute activity, however, it should be used with students until they can tell identify and discriminate between letters and words. This may done in small groups or individually.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to identify and discriminate between letters and words.

Instructional Procedures

Before Activity:

  • Copy the magnifying glasses on card stock.
  • Cut one rectangle in the center of one magnifying glass to help children find words.
  • Cut a smaller square in the second magnifying glass to help children find letters.
  1. Show the children a single alphabet letter. Slide the letter magnifying glass across the line (left to right) telling them that when we read, this is the direction we always go.
  2. Explain to the children that a letter is a single symbol, and that a word is usually more than one letter or symbol.
  3. Slide left to right again to find an upper-case letter. Discuss the difference between upper-case and lower-case letters.
  4. Using the letter magnifying glass (the one with a small square hole about the size of the letters) have the children place it over the first row on the handout. If it is a letter and fits the magnifying glass, have the children circle the letter.

    Be sure to model on the board or chart paper.

  5. After completing all the letters, use the second magnifying glass that has a hole about the size of a three to four letter word. Have the children repeat the activity and draw a line under the words. Remind them that they always slide left to right to find the next word.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

This activity can be adapted to identifying letters and numbers, upper and lower case letters, letters and words, etc.


Some students may be able to write a letter and then a word. This could be done a dictation type activity or an independent activity.

Assessment Plan

Teacher observation of student responses, and the results on the activity page.

Created: 08/02/2005
Updated: 02/05/2018