Sharing Early Literacy Learning Journeys

Today promises to be hectic. With only two days before children start, there are hands-on materials and books to gather and organise. The Resource Room is open for the first time and there’s scarcely an hour to get into it before our Professional Development (PD) session starts at 9 am.

8 am… First stop: Resource Room

It takes three trips to cart the books and hands-on materials to my room:

* Big books (and small copies of big books: Sing a Song, Mrs. Wishy Washy, Jigaree)

* Levelled books  (colour-coded, levels 1-10, Prep; levels 6-20, Yr 1 to start)

* Hands-on literacy materials (puzzles, magnetic letters, giant foam letters, letter-word cards)

* Hands-on maths materials (100 number board, large plastic clock, pattern blocks, solid shapes, geo boards, sorting/counting toys)

* Class maths box (containing unifix cubes, popsticks, small clocks, laminated 100 grid boards, egg timers, stop watch, ‘fan’ numbers, large and small dice)

* Hands-on science materials (fish tank, magnifying glasses, magnets, shells)

* Children’s whiteboards (larger and stronger than class set already in room)

* A
ssorted bottles of paint (for easel painting)

* Assorted art materials (oil pastels, dry pastels, charcoal sticks, plasticine)

Big Book with small copy

One of my favourite big books for the big-book stand and
a small copy for children to take for home-reading

Colour-coded 'levelled' books
Colour-coded ‘levelled’ books
for independent reading and home-reading

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Maths shelves for ‘hands-on’ materials:
shapes, insects, bears, pattern blocks,
polyhedrons, beads, number and alphabet ‘cars’,
geo boards, frogs, straws, blocks and counters.

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Puzzles and maths shelves:
jigsaw puzzles, nuts and bolts, plastic chain links, calculators,
number bean bags, dinosaurs, dominoes,
puzzles and floor puzzles, polyhedrons and unifix cubes (at right)

Going to the Resource Room can be mind-boggling for teachers new to a school. Knowing what you’re looking for really helps. In my case, it’s big books, levelled books and lots of hands-on materials:  literacy, maths, science and art; that’s what my physical environment is set up for and it reveals what I believe about how children learn.

9 am – 1:30 pm: Professional Development
1:35 pm…. Next stop: school library

Time to gather books from the library. Lots and lots of books. Armloads of books. It takes three trips to get them all to my room: a broad mixture of ‘start-the-year’ books, ‘easy-reads’, ‘flap’ books, old favourites, ‘classics’, books with rhyme, non-fiction books, alphabet books, number books, poetry books…

???????????????????????????????Two sides on a triangular bookshelf:
two sides for books and two spaces for reading cushions.
 Four of my starting-school favourites: Boo to a Goose (rhyming words),
No David (funny), Spot (flap) books, Hairy Maclary (rhythmical language).

2 pm… last stop: my library

Books are gathered from around the room and sorted:  books about children starting school, books to read on the first day, books with rhyming words, alphabet books, number books and books by authors like Dr Suess, Mem Fox and David Shannon. Some books go on shelves, some books go in boxes and baskets – in the mat area, in the reading area….

Having our own personal library of children’s books is vital to our becoming better early childhood teachers and it allows us to share our love of books with the children in our classes.

In these three blogs I talk about 22 favourite books in my personal library:

My top ten ‘must-have’ picture books
Ten Special Picture Books
Two more Grug books

Quiet reflections

It’s late afternoon. Professional Development for today is finished. My head is swimming with information. Ahh, home…

It would be impossible for me to imagine living without books, especially children’s books. It was during the first weeks of Teachers’ College many years ago, that I started buying children’s books for my future classrooms. Over the years I’ve collected children’s books from bookstores, second hand stores, garage sales, school fetes and discarded book sales at libraries.

Eventually I had enough books for every occasion: a new baby, a loose tooth, a birthday, co-operating, sharing, imagining, finding a green tree frog, caring for tadpoles and competing in the ‘bush’ Olympics.

I remember reading ‘No David’ (Shannon, 1998) to the class on the fourth day of a new school year, when one boy said, “You sure do read a lot of books, Mrs Swan. This is the sixth one you’ve read today!” “You’re right,” I laughed, “I just love children’s books! And we’re going to read hundreds and hundreds of books this year.”

Coming next: Starting School Series, part 4: Finishing touches

Copyright

Comments on: "Starting School Series, Part 3: Gathering ‘hands-on’ materials and books" (2)

  1. I am not an educator but can readily appreciate your valuable suggestions. Thank you.

    • Thanks Gerry,
      Organising materials and books for children to use and read are exciting times in preparing an early years classroom…
      Coral

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