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Florida Institute of Education

Early Literacy and Learning Model/Plus (ELLM/Plus)

ellm plus logo - early literacy and learning model

ELLM/Plus "Come Along, Sing the Alphabet"

The Early Literacy and Learning Model/Plus (ELLM/Plus), third edition, is a theme-based, comprehensive literacy-focused curriculum designed to encourage children’s creativity, curiosity, and persistence. Monthly instructional packets, high-quality informational and narrative children’s books and a host of support materials provide teachers with the resources they need to ensure children gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in school. ELLM/Plus is

  • Designed for three-, four-, and five-year-old children
  • Research- and evidenced-based
  • Aligned to state standards
  • Cutting edge, easy to follow, and extensive

ELLM/Plus uses conversations to build children’s vocabulary knowledge, extend their language skills, and increase their knowledge of the world around them. Explicit whole group instruction in each program component is extended through practice in teacher-led small group activities and independent use at learning centers. ELLM/Plus is full of songs, poems, and games that help develop children’s language and communication skills.


 pink star - every child enters school ready to read, ready to learn and ready to succeed

  • Translate research findings into information that teachers and others involved in the care and education of young children can use
  • Develop the literacy and language skills children need to become successful readers
  • Increase children’s use of higher-order thinking skills to promote success in content-area learning
  • Increase achievement of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children, including those at risk

Program Components

  • Emergent Literacy

    Reading Aloud and Emergent Comprehension

    Reading aloud to children reinforces their understanding of print and provides opportunities for them to see letters and words, and hear the sounds that the letters make. Reading aloud helps children develop vocabulary skills and comprehensive skills as well as knowledge of story structure.

    Print Concepts

    Print concepts help children understand how language looks in written form. The teacher introduces print concepts and models strategies for children to use as they learn about print through reading and writing.

    Oral Language, Listening, Vocabulary, and Concept Development

    Oral language influences early acquisition of literacy. It provides children with an opportunity to understand how to access their knowledge in a way that will help them understand the words in a text.

    Letter and Sound Knowledge

    Letter and Sound Knowledge is the ability to recognize the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Children learn the names and sounds of letters by working with a cluster of letters. Letter clusters are created by assessing children’s recognition of upper- and lowercase letters. Children are provided with explicit instruction in letter recognition. Both upper- and lowercase letters are taught at the same time to improve children’s recognition of letters and their sounds.

    Phonological Awareness and Phonics Connections

    Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear, focus on, think about, recognize, and manipulate the phonemes of spoken words. Children move through the levels of phonological awareness by starting at the beginning levels (Levels 1-6) to gain a solid foundation, and then moving through the more advanced levels (Levels 7-12) as they demonstrate success. Phonics connection activities are provided to give children opportunities to connect phonological awareness with print.

    Emergent Writing

    For children to become successful writers, they must have opportunities to write daily. Children begin to write by scribbling, drawing, and writing letter-like formations, strings of letters, and then words. Teachers help children move through the characteristics of writing by participating in daily writing experiences.


    Engage children in non-literacy-related activities
    for two hours throughout the day. 

  • Mathematics
    To prepare children to become problem solvers, critical thinkers, and independent thinkers, the mathematics portion of the ELLM/Plus curriculum provides daily whole-group and small-group teaching episodes to engage children in using number concepts, shapes, patterns, and mathematical processes to question and contribute ideas to solve real-world problems.
  • Science
    To continue children's development as problem solvers and independent critical thinkers, the science portion of the ELLM/Plus curriculum provides teachers with whole-group and small-group teaching episodes in the areas of earth science, life science, and physical science.
  • Social Sciences
    To prepare children to be productive members of our diverse society, the ELLM/Plus curriculum engages children in daily social studies activities and discussions about people from different cultures and from different periods of time.
  • The Arts
    The ELLM/Plus curriculum engages children in daily activities to help them understand, appreciate, and express themselves using these different art and music forms.
  • Motor Development
    Gross motor activities involve movements using the entire body or large parts of the body. The actions that children develop include moving with balance and control and coordinating movements to perform simple tasks. Fine motor activities use the small muscles of the body and its extremities. Development requires dexterity, precision, and manipulative skills.
  • Physical Health
    The physical health component addresses excercise, nutrition, physical health, dental health, auditory and visual development. Comprehensive physical development and health programs offer great potential for enhancing the capacity of children’s minds and bodies.
  • Rituals and Routines
    Rituals and routines help to provide a classroom environment that fosters children’s curiosity, creativity, persistence, and problem solving. Routines are regular or repeated ways of doing things. Rituals are more symbolic in nature, creating a sense of belonging and community. When rituals and routines are used children can anticipate what will happen next, feel nurtured, and move smoothly from activity to activity.
  • Learning Centers
    • Listening Center
    • Letter Center
    • Writing Center
    • Independent Reading Center
    • Word Wall Center
    • Exploration Center (Mathematics/Science)
    • Housekeeping/Community Center (Social Studies)
    • Art and Music Center and Dramatic Center

Family Model

ELLM/Plus recognizes that while families are children’s first and most important teachers, they are no longer doing the job alone. Preschool teachers also have an important role in helping every child enter school ready to read and learn.

There are five components to Family activities forming Home/School Partnerships that include: Offering books from the classroom library to encourage daily reading at home, inviting families to participate in four school-based events, sending home ELLM/Plus Monthly family Tips, encouraging the use of the Family Engagement Materials in the curriculum, and sending home the ELLM/Plus Take-Home bracelets. These family activities will help your child succeed in school.   

ELLM/Plus Family Model Overview

Family Involvement Resources

  • Take-Home Bracelets (English and Spanish)
  • Monthly Family Tips (English and Spanish)
  • Classroom Book Lending Library

Web Site Instructional Support

  • Monthly Family Tips (English and Spanish)
  • Take-Home Bracelets (English and Spanish)
The ELLM/Plus Monthly Family Tips provide families with suggestions for becoming involved. The monthly Family Tips can be downloaded. Communication between home and school takes place as parents are informed of important dates and school events for the month. Simple learning activities such as songs, poems, and finger plays are provided for parents to do at home with their children.

Each ELLM/Plus story comes with an ELLM/Plus Story Take-Home Bracelet. Each bracelet, which the teacher staples around the child's wrist, provides a visual cue to initiate a conversation between parents and students about a piece of children's literature that the child heard at school. The intent is for the parent to read the bracelet and then discuss the story with his/her child.  Take-home bracelets are printed in both Spanish and English. (PDF here)

Each ELLM/Plus classroom is required to have a Classroom Book Lending Library with at least 100 books available for check out. An attempt should be made to have books in several different languages, as well as in English. The library should be easily accessible and available for parents to use as they please. The goal is to provide a system for families to have access to a variety of books in the home. Parents are asked to read to their children for between 15 and 30 minutes each night. It would be unfair to ask this of parents without providing them with a resource of reading materials. The Book Lending Library provides an opportunity for parents to perform.

Another facet to the ELLM/Plus Family Component is School-Based Literacy Events. Each school site is expected to host four literacy-focused events during the school year. The successful family involvement program in Rochester, New York  includes family workshops with activities for parents and students to do together (Kirschenbaum, 1999). Epstein (1984) reported that teachers who invited parents to workshops at school were more likely to ask parents to become involved in all types of home-learning activities. A publication by the Iowa Department of Education (1998) included a suggestion that schools have at least one opportunity each month for families to get acquainted with the school. Monthly meetings at each school site will be an effective method for maintaining parental involvement.


The ELLM/Plus curriculum recognizes that children’s development and learning progresses on a continuum, that growth is often uneven and takes place in “fits and spurts,” and that learning takes place through interactions with adults and other children in many different kinds of settings rather than working in isolation.

The ELLM/Plus curriculum is designed to provide children with multiple opportunities to engage in explicit instruction. ELLM/Plus also provides additional assistance and practice with emerging knowledge and skills. The ELLM/Plus curriculum helps teachers reach all children by giving them reasons for what they are learning, giving them information, letting them try new skills with support and feedback, giving children opportunities to practice, and letting children teach what they have learned to others.

The ELLM/Plus Informal Assessment Guide for Classroom Teachers provides a set of tools designed to help caregivers and teachers (a) gain important information about children’s progress that can be used to plan future learning experiences and shared with parents, (b) create learning-rich environments in their classrooms, and (c) think about their own teaching and consider ways in which it might be strengthened. The tools are not designed to identify children with special needs, determine the effectiveness of early childhood programs, nor make high-stakes decisions about individual children or teachers.

The ELLM/Plus Informal Assessment Guide for Classroom Teachers includes two sections. The informal assessment tools in Section I focus on tools teachers can use to assess children’s progress. Section II provides teachers and caregivers with ways to carry out informal assessment of their own teaching and the environment in which they teach. Assessment instruments and directions for use are included in each section.

Section I: Charting Children’s Progress includes four tools: (1) Learning Progress Chart; (2) Readiness Progress Snapshot; (3) Journal Writing and Learning Portfolios; and (4) Classroom Letter Recognition Kit. These tools rely on caregivers’ and teachers’ observations of children in a variety of settings.

Section II: Creating Learning-Rich Environments is made up of two components: (1) the physical space of the classroom and (2) the kinds of learning experiences teachers plan and implement with their children. The accompanying tools include: (1) Classroom Environmental Checklist, (2) Guided Learning Center Checklist, (3) 4 Targeted Instructional Strategy (TIS) Checklists, and (4) Thinking About My Day: A Review. These tools can be used by caregivers and teachers to create learning-rich classroom environments.

Assessments are designed to guide and support teacher understanding of the different learning needs of children. Results of children’s informal assessments, observing children at work and at play, and talking with families about their children’s development and learning should guide planning and implementing daily instruction.

Teacher reflection instruments help teachers ask and answer the following questions:

  • What do I need to help children learn, individually and as a group?
  • Did my children learn the skills and knowledge I taught?
  • What do I need to do to ensure children are learning?
  • How do I adapt the curriculum and/or my teaching to address the needs of children experiencing difficulty or the child who is ready to move forward?

Assessment of young children is an ongoing process that requires (1) careful observation of children at work and at play, (2) listening to children as they work and play together, (3) taking notes or using informal checklists, (4) reflection on instructional practices, and (5) using this information to chart children’s progress and decide how to best help children continue to learn and thrive. Teachers and caregivers can support children’s learning and development using assessment.

Order Forms

ELLM/Plus Replacement Materials

ELLM/Plus 11-Month Kit

For ordering information and pricing, please contact Howaida Mousa or call (904) 620-2496.


Do I have to buy the whole curriculum?

No, the curriculum can be purchased monthly or as needed. All materials can be purchased separately.

Are there any discounts available?

We do not offer discounts.

Does the cost include training?

No, training is not included in the cost of the curriculum. However, training is available for teachers, assistants, directors, and coaches.

We currently have a one-day training, which is a brief overview, a two-day training which is more in-depth and includes practice and feedback. We also provide customized training to address the needs of individual organizations/groups.

Do you have online training?

No, ELLM/Plus training is interactive and conducted in person by the authors of the curriculum.

Do you take credit cards?

We do not take credit cards; we prefer payment by check.

Can I pick up my order?

Yes, orders may be picked up during business hours (9 am - 5 pm). When you pick up your order, shipping fees are removed. Handling fees still apply at 7.5%.

Does it come with a lesson plan?

No, lesson plans are not part of the curriculum. However, we do include suggestions for planning and implementation throughout the curriculum, including a daily schedule, instructional routines, and making the most of transitions.

Is ELLM/Plus for three- and four-year-old children?

Yes. We have several levels of daily small-group activities: PreK 3, PreK 4, and Extension activities. Teachers select the level of instructional activities that best meets the needs of their children.

Is it easy to use?

Yes. ELLM/Plus instruction follows a daily routine, helping teachers to plan and implement instruction. FIE researchers are available by phone or email to answer any questions.

Are the materials available online or paper only?

The curriculum is only available as a hard copy. Our Come Along, Sing the Alphabet song is available Youtube:

Does the purchase of the curriculum come with supplemental materials, books, and such?

Yes, the kit is a complete curriculum, and you do not need or buy other curriculum materials if you purchase the kit. Activities often include classroom manipulatives such as crayons, glue sticks, construction paper, pocket charts, rulers, magnetic letters, writing paper, and magnifying glasses often found in prekindergarten classrooms.


Dr. Heather MonroeAssociate Director for Program Development and

Howaida Mousa, Senior Grants Specialist,

Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida

Adam Herbert University Center

12000 Alumni Drive

Jacksonville, Florida 32224

(904) 620-2496