Scripts of experience provide us with windows into children's personal stories. Adults tend to sit down and share conversations about events, concerns, happenings. Young children don't really do this at a conversational level. Instead, they participate in life at an experiential level. So the way to get to know children's personal stories is not so much through conversations but by observing how children relive the stories of their lives and thinking about how children make meaning through them. It's both a process and an experience.

All Through the Day

Scripts of experience are everywhere! In your dramatic-play area, children invent and play out their own scenarios. In the art area, children are drawing and painting pictures of their families on vacation. Who and what they include reveal personal scripts. Block buildings may also provide insights into how each child is personally constructing the story of his life.

Building on Personal Stories

Children bring to school artifacts that are symbolic of their scripts of experience at home-actual pieces of their life stories. A new lunch box may represent many new stories. So we as teachers need to be great observers and pay close attention even to small symbolic differences and additions in children's lives. Then, as insightful observers, we can enter into their stories and help children make even more meaning from them.

Collecting and Recording

When you collect observations and keep a running record of the kinds of activities going on in your room, you can use your findings to help plan ahead. For example, in the dramatic-play area, you can add new props based on what children have been exploring in their play. Rather than plan themes by picking books that build the topic, we have to be open to how children surprise us, to what they come up with. Then we can use their comments, experiences, and enthusiasm to take all kinds of literacy learning and exploration in the exciting directions they are showing us.

Connecting Experiences

Not only do children replay the same experiences over and over again, but they also make "intertextual" connections that can involve experiences they've encountered either in their lives or in print. For instance, you're reading children a story about a lost puppy that can't find its way home, and one of your children says, "I had a puppy!" That is an intertextual connection-an example of how a child may connect a real-life story with printed text. Another child, who has heard the "Three Little Pigs" again and again, is listening to a new story in which the main character gets in a paper boat and the boat sinks. Her comment: "He should have made that boat out of bricks." She has taken a problem and solution from one story and applied it to another.