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December 4, 2017

Strategies That Foster a Love of Reading — With or Without Books

By Sandra Carrillo
Grades PreK–K

    "When their minds are engaged, children become motivated to better understand why literacy is important and how it serves to function in their day-to-day activities, and their lifelong pursuit of learning." (Nurturing Knowledge by Susan B. Neuman and Kathleen Roskos)

    I think we can all agree that reading is a vital skill that every child needs to develop and grow. Reading provides a critical foundation for success in school and in life. From a very young age I was instilled with the love of reading. I have fond memories of taking monthly field trips to the library with my mother and younger brothers. I couldn't wait to get home, snuggle up on the sofa, and let my imagination take me on a journey to discover new places and meet new characters. I was fortunate.  

    As early childhood teachers, our job is to create opportunities where children are exposed to books throughout the day.  We must remember to be "planful" and purposeful — and playful.

    Neuman and Roskos have created a list of Five Essential Early Literacy Practices. Read on as I share ideas for using these practices to transform your classroom environment into a place where children are encouraged to discover, question, and invent new ideas that will enable them to become successful readers as well as foster their love of reading.  

    1. Create a Supportive Learning Environment

    Environment matters. The organization of the classroom is essential to encourage children to explore, learn, and communicate. At the same time, it should give them a sense of well-being. Everything should have a purpose. Materials should be accessible to children. 

    Once the classroom is organized, the task at hand is putting literacy into activity settings in the learning environment. "The activities and the materials placed in the centers must stimulate thought and action and confront the child with the wonders and puzzle of the world." (Neuman & Roskos, p. 28). Remember that the settings (centers) in the classroom can be powerful promoters of language and literacy.   

    "The thoughtful arrangement of your space gives it an identity that helps children make connections. Different spaces encourage different kinds of thoughts, language, and action." (Neuman & Roskos, p. 22)

     

    Below are pictures of a math center. The students have been studying about animals, including how to care for them, where animals live, what animals do in their habitats, etc. This math center has materials accessible to children. Note the blue caddy that has a variety of books focused on animals and math concepts, as well as a variety of writing materials.

    In this activity from the December issue of My Big World, children will practice math and reading skills by placing the correctly colored bear counters in the "caves" that have the color written on them.

     

    2. Shared Book Reading

    Shared book reading is one of the most powerful ways to promote vocabulary and comprehension. When children are given the opportunity to interact with one another as well as with the teacher during read-alouds, they are in turn practicing communicating their thoughts and ideas using words in books. Supporting very young children in building their oral language and comprehension skills will create a solid foundation as they move through the upper grades.

    The following activity helps children conceptualize what they have read in Bear Snores On.

    Materials:

    • A variety of blankets, or any other material that you can drape over furniture to create a den.
    • Books and bear ears (you can find the Bears Ears template on Scholastic Teachables)

    To enhance their experience with the book, let the child pretend to be a bear and crawl into the "cave." Make sure you have the book on hand or any other books that are popular in your classroom.

     

    Please check out fellow Top Teaching blogger Shari Carter's November blog post where she shares some "beary" cute activities to help extend the book Bear Snores On

    3. Songs, Rhyme, and Word Play

    One of the best and most important ways to engage children in the sounds of language is through singing, rhyming, and word play. By providing children with various opportunities to listen and play with words, the more they will be able to hear the sounds of language.

    Here are two versions of We're Going on a Bear Hunt: one with Dr. Jean and another with Greg and Steve. Play the video and have your students sing along with it. Dr. Jean's video includes body movements and gestures and the Greg and Steve video offer instructions for animating the story.

     

    4. Developmental Writing

    It is always important to remember that reading, oral language, and writing go hand in hand in hand. Writing allows children to develop their ability to think and symbolically represent their ideas. Children should have access to writing materials in all spaces of the classroom.  

    Below in this ABC center, children have access to a caddy filled with a variety of ABC books related to the theme being taught, writing materials, paper, and whiteboards. 

    5. Literacy-Related Play    

    I cannot emphasize enough how important play is to early literacy development. When children are given ample opportunities to engage in play situations, they are able to develop their oral language skills, build relationships with others, and become problem-solvers. 

    Also keep in mind that children learn best through thematic units. So, there should be evidence of a clear theme being studied through the linking of art projects, printed materials, and books throughout the classroom.

    In the pictures below you will see that the Pretend and Learn Center has been transformed into a veterinarian's office.  Children have been talking about how to care for animals and pets. This is a great opportunity to build vocabulary and oral language skills by allowing children to role play and see themselves as veterinarian's and pet owners. You will notice again there is a caddy filled books related to theme and variety of writing materials.

    Materials:

    • Clip board to sign in
    • Chairs for the waiting room
    • A variety of stuffed animals
    • Stethoscope
    • Empty plastic medicine bottles
    • Other materials that can be taken from a play doctor's kit

    If children are to make personal connections with the theme being taught, they should be exposed to real-life experiences where they can use any new vocabulary terms that they have learned.

    It is critical for us as early childhood educators to truly process how our environments are creating knowledge-building language experiences focused on both literacy and writing. These are only a few examples of how to engage children in day-to-day activities that focus on these skills. I hope to share more with you in my upcoming blogs. 

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

     

    Warmly,

    Sandy

    "When their minds are engaged, children become motivated to better understand why literacy is important and how it serves to function in their day-to-day activities, and their lifelong pursuit of learning." (Nurturing Knowledge by Susan B. Neuman and Kathleen Roskos)

    I think we can all agree that reading is a vital skill that every child needs to develop and grow. Reading provides a critical foundation for success in school and in life. From a very young age I was instilled with the love of reading. I have fond memories of taking monthly field trips to the library with my mother and younger brothers. I couldn't wait to get home, snuggle up on the sofa, and let my imagination take me on a journey to discover new places and meet new characters. I was fortunate.  

    As early childhood teachers, our job is to create opportunities where children are exposed to books throughout the day.  We must remember to be "planful" and purposeful — and playful.

    Neuman and Roskos have created a list of Five Essential Early Literacy Practices. Read on as I share ideas for using these practices to transform your classroom environment into a place where children are encouraged to discover, question, and invent new ideas that will enable them to become successful readers as well as foster their love of reading.  

    1. Create a Supportive Learning Environment

    Environment matters. The organization of the classroom is essential to encourage children to explore, learn, and communicate. At the same time, it should give them a sense of well-being. Everything should have a purpose. Materials should be accessible to children. 

    Once the classroom is organized, the task at hand is putting literacy into activity settings in the learning environment. "The activities and the materials placed in the centers must stimulate thought and action and confront the child with the wonders and puzzle of the world." (Neuman & Roskos, p. 28). Remember that the settings (centers) in the classroom can be powerful promoters of language and literacy.   

    "The thoughtful arrangement of your space gives it an identity that helps children make connections. Different spaces encourage different kinds of thoughts, language, and action." (Neuman & Roskos, p. 22)

     

    Below are pictures of a math center. The students have been studying about animals, including how to care for them, where animals live, what animals do in their habitats, etc. This math center has materials accessible to children. Note the blue caddy that has a variety of books focused on animals and math concepts, as well as a variety of writing materials.

    In this activity from the December issue of My Big World, children will practice math and reading skills by placing the correctly colored bear counters in the "caves" that have the color written on them.

     

    2. Shared Book Reading

    Shared book reading is one of the most powerful ways to promote vocabulary and comprehension. When children are given the opportunity to interact with one another as well as with the teacher during read-alouds, they are in turn practicing communicating their thoughts and ideas using words in books. Supporting very young children in building their oral language and comprehension skills will create a solid foundation as they move through the upper grades.

    The following activity helps children conceptualize what they have read in Bear Snores On.

    Materials:

    • A variety of blankets, or any other material that you can drape over furniture to create a den.
    • Books and bear ears (you can find the Bears Ears template on Scholastic Teachables)

    To enhance their experience with the book, let the child pretend to be a bear and crawl into the "cave." Make sure you have the book on hand or any other books that are popular in your classroom.

     

    Please check out fellow Top Teaching blogger Shari Carter's November blog post where she shares some "beary" cute activities to help extend the book Bear Snores On

    3. Songs, Rhyme, and Word Play

    One of the best and most important ways to engage children in the sounds of language is through singing, rhyming, and word play. By providing children with various opportunities to listen and play with words, the more they will be able to hear the sounds of language.

    Here are two versions of We're Going on a Bear Hunt: one with Dr. Jean and another with Greg and Steve. Play the video and have your students sing along with it. Dr. Jean's video includes body movements and gestures and the Greg and Steve video offer instructions for animating the story.

     

    4. Developmental Writing

    It is always important to remember that reading, oral language, and writing go hand in hand in hand. Writing allows children to develop their ability to think and symbolically represent their ideas. Children should have access to writing materials in all spaces of the classroom.  

    Below in this ABC center, children have access to a caddy filled with a variety of ABC books related to the theme being taught, writing materials, paper, and whiteboards. 

    5. Literacy-Related Play    

    I cannot emphasize enough how important play is to early literacy development. When children are given ample opportunities to engage in play situations, they are able to develop their oral language skills, build relationships with others, and become problem-solvers. 

    Also keep in mind that children learn best through thematic units. So, there should be evidence of a clear theme being studied through the linking of art projects, printed materials, and books throughout the classroom.

    In the pictures below you will see that the Pretend and Learn Center has been transformed into a veterinarian's office.  Children have been talking about how to care for animals and pets. This is a great opportunity to build vocabulary and oral language skills by allowing children to role play and see themselves as veterinarian's and pet owners. You will notice again there is a caddy filled books related to theme and variety of writing materials.

    Materials:

    • Clip board to sign in
    • Chairs for the waiting room
    • A variety of stuffed animals
    • Stethoscope
    • Empty plastic medicine bottles
    • Other materials that can be taken from a play doctor's kit

    If children are to make personal connections with the theme being taught, they should be exposed to real-life experiences where they can use any new vocabulary terms that they have learned.

    It is critical for us as early childhood educators to truly process how our environments are creating knowledge-building language experiences focused on both literacy and writing. These are only a few examples of how to engage children in day-to-day activities that focus on these skills. I hope to share more with you in my upcoming blogs. 

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

     

    Warmly,

    Sandy

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