It is a well-known fact that fluency is a big predictor of reading success. Recording the voice of a reader will help him understand what he sounds like, and increase fluency. I used the free program Vocaroo for several years in middle-school and, as an experiment, I tried it with my preschoolers. It was a HIT! They love reading and listening to their own voices.
Take a listen to these preschoolers at work…The girl just turned 4 this week and the little boy is 4.5 years old.
All good reader’s have similar habits: they choose books based on their likes, they skim to see if the book matches their taste, and they read a few pages to make sure it’s the book they’re after. Good reader’s question their books and make connections.
Preschoolers modeling the habits of good readers.
We can do that in preschool too! I model the habits of good reader’s by picking up books off the shelf and making observations in front of the children. I skim the pictures to see if it is interesting; I preview the book by looking at the cover and reading the inside dust jacket and the back of the book. In this manner, my preschoolers are starting to make decisions about what they read too. I also give them one piece of invaluable advice: If you hate the book, you DON’T have to read it:)
Learning the habits of good readers is an upper-level skill and makes for a great day at preschool.
Questioning and Making Connections with literature are very valuable skills for creating better readers, I’ve always known that, but did you know they are great for pre-readers too? Yep! Here’s how I approach those techniques in my preschool class:
Introduce a text (We just read Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown so I’ll use that as an example).
As we flipped through the book before we started, (a pre-reading skill that works to entice readers into the story) the children noticed that the illustrations looked like Goodnight Moon. Ahhh! Very observant children!
I asked the children to generate some ideas about what the book was about. Why would a bunny run away? What would his mom or dad do?
As I read, the children immediately started making connections (I’ve seen a mountain before! I have been fishing! I have seen a sailboat!) and so we rolled with that for several minutes.
When we did finish the story, there was such a sense of satisfaction among the kiddos! They were very invested in the ending.
The Runaway Bunny…a great text for upper-level reading techniques!
As I finished the book, not one child was left without some personal connection to this book. Now, how many children do you think were personally invested in this story? EVERY LAST ONE. How many could retell the story without difficulty? EVERY LAST ONE. How many could “write” a reflection or use this as a mentor text for a personal narrative? EVERY…well, you get it!
Upper level skills with tiny tots…a GREAT day in preschool!
I thought I’d share with you a few of the ways we have been learning our numbers in preschool. My children (ages 3 and 4) can all count to about 20…the problem is, they didn’t recognize many of the numbers. So, that has been my direction for a week or so; to teach my kiddos how to recognize and then write their numbers. Here are a few of my methods.
I used a permanent marker on snap blocks to match numbers to numbers written on sticky notes.
The children used numbered wooden blocks to match sticky note numbers. They then pulled out the bears to count.
We sorted a deck of cards by numbers (I pulled out the non-numbered cards).
The children put foam numbers into the hopscotch pattern.
The children then played hopscotch…FUN with numbers!
If you’ve read my blog, you know I am PASSIONATE about writing. And, my move from secondary ed to Pre-K did not dim that passion. I have, however, had to make many changes in my methodology. This week I am attempting to have my kiddos write their own book…i.e., The Book of Carter. Here’s my reasoning behind the task and how it turned out…
My kids love to tell me about themselves; and I love to hear about them. I thought that this natural conversation would be an easy walk into writing. It was! You can see by my pictures below that my kids had a TON to say about their lives! I encouraged three areas to write about: Their favorite colors, their favorite animals, and how they like to spend their time. As you can see, two of my kiddos can write letters, while the others are still in a more symbolic stage. You’ll notice that I also incorporated some fine motor skills in the lacing (binding) of the books. It was F-U-N and I hope this continues to encourage writing in my little ones.
3 year old student lacing his book…his letters are on the bottom right.
4 year old binding his book…his name is clearly written (twice!).
4 year old…she wrote “I love you” on the back of her book.
4 year old student…she wrote “favorite” and then displayed her favorite colors.
Recycling and reusing. We hear this ALL the time, but I’ve realized that it is now my mantra as a preschool teacher! These kiddos use resources, and A LOT of them. Here are just a few ways I utilize reusing objects from my everyday life to teach children:
Fine motor skills; using an old baby formula tub and scoop. The children loved scooping rice from the container into an old ice cube tray.
An old frame without the broken glass was reused to take our “First Day” pictures.
We literally crafted with trash! We first looked for the recycle symbol and learned that many things can be recycled. We decided to reuse in this instance though and made crafts from trash:)
We reuse old cookie sheets as magnetic letter holders…I had an old one and found a few at yard sales.
We have reader’s and writer’s workshop in preschool everyday, just as I did in my previous life as an 8th grade Writing Teacher. I think it is so important that even the littlest students have exposure to TONS of great literature and then have time to explore their thoughts on the literature through writing. It really has been a pleasure to watch my students hypothesize and synthesize through writing…I know what you’re thinking…writing? Three and four year old children writing? Yes…W-R-I-T-I-N-G!!!
A response to literature…
In the picture above, the children are writing their own interpretation of the book, Small Green Snake by Libba Moore Gray. My students were answering my question about what they thought was about to happen as the book ended. This picture book was perfect because, using our super-power of prediction, we knew that Small Green Snake and his brothers and sisters were about to get into mischief. With our tools readied, we began writer’s workshop for the day and ended up with GREAT responses to our book. The children used markers, paint, yarn, and glue to explain their thoughts.
Though the responses to literature are much different with my Pre-K babies, they are still logical and thoughtful responses. And, what else could I ask for?
In trying to teach figurative language, I usually run into the problem of metaphor. Middle school students have a horrible time with metaphors, much less the DIFFICULT assignment of extended metaphors. Metaphors are so abstract that their brains have a hard time processing them, so I’ve decided to start with something I call simile strings. I define a simile string as several similes all related to one topic…much like an extended metaphor, but a little easier because kids can still rely on “like” or “as” which for some reason, makes them more comfortable.
To introduce the concept of simile strings, I use these two songs (country music is un-matched in using similes=):
Both of these songs use simile strings in their chorus’. I then put the kids to work on creating their own simile strings with these specifications:
~One Topic (Love, School, Mom, Anything as long as it is ONE topic)
~5 similes about that topic
~A finished product using Picnik to graphically illustrate their strings
I’m knee-deep in word choice with my 7th and 8th grade writers, and I’ve learned one thing…even though they’ve learned about figurative language since 3rd grade, they still DON”T GET IT! Ugh!
So…here’s my plan for attacking their boring writing and spicing it up with figurative language:
I introduce only 3 terms at a time: Simile, Personification, and Alliteration. I showed these videos to start off our conversation:
~Simile (and metaphor)
Next, I introduce Curriculum-Based Reader’s Theatre with a sample script called “American Word Idol”. The greatest benefit of this technique is that the students are playing with the words, repeating them, defining them, giving examples, and personifying the words until their script is complete…it’s harder to NOT learn these words through the process than TO learn them! (Below is an example from last year, with different words.)
I then give constant reinforcement through modeled writing…a great example is Ralph Fletcher’s picture book, Twice Comes Twilight. Each page is rich with examples of personification, alliteration, and simile. I borrowed copies from my department and have one book for each pod…the kids are responsible for identifying the figurative language on each page, and we then write and illustrate our own (usually one-page) story modeling Fletcher.
Finally, I assign a piece, to be beautifully written out of the minds of my brilliant students, rich with figurative language–ahhhhh! I love it=)
Out of all the writing traits, I think Word Choice is most important to my young writers and that is where I love to start the new school year. If your students are like mine, they have to be taught about the traits first (my 7th graders had to re-learn what a trait was!!!), but then we are ready to go.
Here are a few of the lessons I have/will use during the next 9 weeks to make sure my students have Word Choice. They are in order of difficulty and expectations:
The Diamante Poem- This is the most basic of lessons and I used it on the 3rd day of school…not only do you reinforce the term Word Choice, but you also hit synonym, antonym, noun, verb, adjective, and gerund. Talk about a two-for…this is a great start.
Six Word Memoir- This is a collection of media that I use for this powerful piece of writing…I used the free program Picnik to upload images, edit, and add text. It was an absolute hit. Even your non-writers will excel using this lesson and Picnik…Word Choice shines here=)
My Name- I use this vignette from Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street to teach Word Choice, emphasizing figurative language. I use BabyNames.com to look up my students names (those who don’t have traditional names get the meanings from mom or dad) and we mimic Cisnernos’s style. We focus on using figurative language, talking about our names through Word Choice. The figurative language in this piece includes: metaphor, simile, alliteration, repetition…all great Word Choice models.