Sharing Early Literacy Learning Journeys

Posts tagged ‘Young children’

Starting School Series, Part 7: How many ways did I read today? A child’s perspective

Perhaps I was spurred on by my husband’s question, “So how many times do your children read on the first day? Have you ever done a tally?”

Maybe I was nudged by Frank Smith’s powerful words, “A child can only learn to read by reading,” (1975).

Or was it spending time with our first grandchild, developing in so many ways, so rapidly, that all I want to do is stop and gaze in wonder. She gives me a second chance to see the early years again – and to grasp how precious and fleeting those first years really are…  She inspires me to take another look at what parents and teachers do with children to build their oral language and later, their written language in reading and writing. 

So how many times do the children read on the first day? I count each opportunity to read in the previous two blogs and find 28 (15 in the morning, 13 in the afternoon). The number sounds like a lot but doesn’t give any other details. Ah! Why not describe the reading opportunities through the eyes of a child? To find out not just how many times s/he reads, but who was reading (individuals or group), what was being read and when it was read. After all, I’ve lived that first day with children for many years as a teacher.

There’s no time to waste. Let’s walk through the first day in a child’s shoes and read through a child’s eyes…

How many ways did I read today?

1.When I found the class list on the message board and read my name, I knew I was in the right room

2.I read my first name tag and stuck it on my shirt

3.I read my second name tag and stuck it on the backpack shelf

4.I read labels of things I played with in ‘activities’, Stickle bricks, Our Block Area…

First day, boy playing with stickle bricks

5.I read ‘Mrs Swan’ after watching her write her name on the whiteboard

6.I read my name on the name cards and stood up so kids would know me

7.I read the names on the big class list on the whiteboard, with the other kids

8.I read rhymes with the other kids after Mrs Swan read four action and nursery rhymes to us

9.I read my name on my name card again, then drew a picture of myself on it

10.I read the ‘class rules’ with the others after helping make the list and watching Mrs Swan write the list on the whiteboard

11.I read signs around the school like Boys and Girls at the toilets and Library

12.I read the titles of Little Critter Goes to School (Mercer Mayer) and Spot Goes to School (Eric Hill) when the teacher pointed to the words before she read the stories to us. She said that when we start ‘home-reading’ next week, we can take these books home to read with our families

13.I read action rhymes with the other kids and then we got to jump up and down in the Jump rhyme

14.I read the class news with the others after helping make the sentences and watching Mrs Swan write the sentences on the whiteboard

15.I read a new rhyme with the other kids as Mrs Swan put the words in the pocket chart for 1, 2 buckle my shoe

We had lunch

16.I read the book titles of No David, Boo to a Goose and Where is the Green sheep? when Mrs Swan pointed to the words before she read the stories – these books are for ‘home-reading’ too!

17.I read the days of the week with the class when the teacher told us how the ‘calendar wall’ works. She said we’d do the calendar first thing each morning morning

18.I read action rhymes with the others and got to stretch in Tall as a House

19.I read my name on a prepared name page and then drew a big picture of myself on it for Our Class Book of all our names

20.I read the names in Our Class Book with the other kids

21.I read the class rules (or ‘behaviours’) with the others before activity time. I read some books and then played with the teddy bear counters

22.I read the ‘Teddy Bears’ label on the maths shelf with my friend Harry and put the ‘Teddy Bears’ container in the right place

First day, girl drawing

We had afternoon tea

23.I read the titles of six easy books with the teacher and the class. I read some words in the easy books like ‘is, I, piggy and horse’ – more ‘home-reading’ books

24.I read my name after I wrote it on my ‘journal’ paper then drew my dog and wrote some words about playing with him at home. I like drawing and writing about my dog so I hope we do journals again tomorrow

25.I read my writing about my dog to the others in sharing time

26.I read the ‘Insects’ label on the maths shelf after the teacher told me, and then put the container of toy ‘insects’ in the right place

27.I read the names in Our Class Book again with all the others

28.I read the words and sang All the Fish…with Mrs Swan and the kids just before my dad came to pick me up

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I can’t wait to come back tomorrow to play in the Block Area, to sit on the big red cushions with a book in the Reading Corner, to start drawing and writing in my ‘real Journal book’, to see if I can read the Shared Writing that’s still on the whiteboard, to read the new message on our Message Board, to read Our Class Book again, to begin writing the letters on our small, individual ‘whiteboards’ and to see how the Calendar Wall works first thing in the morning.

Quiet reflections

Reading – still something of a mystery. How did I learn to read?

I remember sitting on the floor in the first grade classroom at Hopetoun Primary School, reading sentence cards: long, white, cardboard cards with black print and small coloured pictures. The sentences were about a small boy ‘John’, his sister ‘Betty’ and their pets, a dog ‘Scottie’ and a cat, ‘Fluff’. I remember that the sentences on the long, white cards were the same as the sentences in the first Reader: ‘This is John.’ ‘This is Betty.’ ‘John can jump.’ ‘Scottie can jump.’ And so on.

I remember the day in the group when I boldly said, “John can run,” for the card that looked like this: John can run. Mrs Tidey smiled and called me a “good girl”. So this was reading!

Soon, I was allowed to take home the real book that had all the sentences in it – the thin, reddish-orange, soft cover book with off-white glossy pages. I read my ‘John and Betty’ book – but I have no recollection of special delight or praise from anyone. This is so unlike my students today with whom I celebrate loudly and lavishly when a child realises s/he is really reading.

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Starting School Series, Part 6: Reading and writing on the first day – afternoon sessions

It’s easy to forget how quickly the ‘new children’ finish drawings, yet how slowly some eat their lunches. Such a contrast to the ‘end of year children’ who, just six weeks ago, took time with detailed drawings and gobbled their lunches so they could race to the playground.

Middle session: 11:30 – 1:30

Returning to the classroom
After lunch play, the children put hats in their bags, have drinks and move to the mat area.

Storytime
Children settle and listen to funny read alouds. These read aloud books are first day favourites – the stories are humorous, contain delightful illustrations, use lots of rhyme and big print makes it easy for the children to see the words: Mem Fox’s Where is the Green sheep? Boo to a Goose and David Shannon’s No David and David Goes to School

The children love David Shannon’s ‘David Goes to School’
and laugh at David’s antics (pg. 10-11, here).
One first day we read it 4 times!

Introducing the calendar wall¹
Reading, writing and number are key ingredients of the calendar tasks: from left to right… date, day, attendance and number of days at school. Children are actively involved: e.g. girls stand to be counted and boys stand to be counted for attendance. After the first day, the calendar routine is first thing in the morning and by week 4, the children take turns to be the ‘calendar person’ and lead the class through the calendar tasks.

The calendar wall is in the mat area for all to see and participate in.

 

Transition from Calendar to Class Book with action rhymes

Draw name pages for Class Book²
On the mat, the children read their names on prepared A4 papers. Each name is in big print at the bottom of the paper. The children draw large, colourful self-portraits on their papers. The completed pages go into an A4 display book to become a Class Book for shared, independent and home reading. Children are excited to read a Class Book about themselves, on the first day!

One teacher extended this strategy by putting the completed pages into youblisher for the children to read from the IWB. A great idea!

The children draw pictures of themselves
on the prepared pages

All the name pages/pictures are put into
an A4 display book for class reading.

¹Dates with the Calendar, p. 22,  and ²First Day Names and Portraits, p. 34, are detailed in Teaching Strategies for Literacy in the Early Years 

Activity time
Before free play ‘activity time’, the class reads the ‘expected behaviours’ on the board, that were compiled in the morning. The children practise the behaviours as they ‘play/work’ at blocks, duplo, pattern blocks, magnetic letters, small whiteboards, home/drama, puppets, collage, drawing, writing and reading.

Go slowwwww… to establish the routines for packing up. I help the children read the labels and put materials back in the ‘right’ places on the shelves.

Outdoor play and toilet break
Establishing orderly routines for line ups and exits helps keep children safe . Walking quietly to the playground helps the children understand their responsibilities in not disturbing other classes en route. Children play on the playground equipment (15 minutes), have drinks, go to the toilets, wash hands and walk back to the classroom.

Journals: drawing and writing (or as a Prep colleague says, ‘driting’)
To ensure the children write on the first day, I introduce ‘journal’ writing on A4 papers. Children write their names and draw and write about an experience or item of interest. It’s a perfect time to observe which children tackle drawing and writing with confidence.

On ‘sticky notes’, I record names of children who write their names and/or attempt writing words and sentences – and tuck the ‘sticky notes’ in my pocket for use later.

(The Botany books that become Journals, aren’t unpacked yet. Children will start using them tomorrow).

Sharing time
Some children volunteer to share their ‘driting’ with the class.


A child’s free drawing and writing


Some children draw and I scribe their stories.

1:30 – 2:00 Afternoon Tea: snack and play outside
Starting 10-15 minutes early helps establish the routine of children getting their food and going out for afternoon play.

Last session: 2:00 – 2:50

I’m at the line up area early to reassure children they are at the right spot.
Children put hats in their bags, have drinks and move to the mat area.
Mozart wafts from the CD player as children cool down and relax on the floor for 5-10 minutes.

Storytime
The children settle on the mat for read alouds of ‘easy read’ books. Beginning readers and those already reading, usually join in and read. Children’s comments about sentences, words and letters reveal their understanding about written language. Four ‘easy read’ books, with big print, rhythmical and/or repetitive language include: P. Horacek’s What is black and white? Strawberries are red, Flutter by, butterfly and Bruce Deegan’s Jamberry. Then children hear the repetitive sentence pattern in Mercer Mayer’s Just for You.


Children join in the repetitive sentence pattern of:
‘I wanted to….    but I was too… ‘

Maths activities at tables
Children explore and play with pattern blocks, beads, geo boards, puzzles, buttons and plastic chain links. They count/sort plastic coloured bears, dinosaurs and insects. They sequence numbers on a small 100 board. And they build shapes with plastic coloured polyhedrons.

Go slowwwww… to establish the routines for packing up. I help the children read the labels and put materials back in the ‘right’ places on the shelves.

Getting ready for home
Children sit on the mat with backpacks and check they have their hats, drink bottles and lunch boxes. We re-read the Class Book revising the children’s names. If there’s time, we finish up with a read aloud story and/or sing familiar songs, reading the words from charts.

2:50 Happy children meet their happy parents at the door after their first day, talking, reading and writing in Year One!

Quiet Reflections

Doing lots of reading, writing, drawing, talking on the first day allows me to begin to know the children: their interests, personalities, maturity, creativity, confidence and which children struggle with making sense of print.

At home this evening, I make notes in my reflective journal…
– use big book ‘Where’s Spot?’, struggling readers can take turns to lift the flaps (active participation)
– start small group ‘Co-operative Show and Tell’ to get George talking
– invite Dorothy to tell her ‘story’ to the whole class to curb her incessant commentary (a time to talk, a time to listen)
– model positive language to get Peter to talk nicely
how do I get Christopher to do anything? (see Guidance Officer)

 The first day always reminds me of starting over again…

Coming next: Starting School Series, Part 7: How many ways did I read today? A child’s perspective

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Thinking of teachers on your first day…

“Every day comes bearing gifts. Untie the ribbons!”
(R. Schumacher)

To all the Australian children and teachers starting school tomorrow, or next week, for a new school year…

Have a wonderful first day! I’ll be thinking of you.

And to Northern Hemisphere children and teachers, I hope your new semester is going well.

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‘Give them wings…’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

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Grandma and toddler sharing New Year’s morning at the beach.

The sea is galloping…

I feel like Christopher at the beach today,
in A.A.Milne’s ‘Sand-between-the-toes’…

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with the shouting sea…

and the galloping sea…

with sand in the hair…

and sand between the toes…

and nobody else is out!

It is a super dooper poem to read with children
and with thanks to All Poetry, here it is:

Sand-between-the-toes

I went down to the shouting sea,
Taking Christopher down with me,
For Nurse had given us sixpence each-
And down we went to the beach.

We had sand in the eyes and the ears and the nose,
And sand in the hair, and sand-between-the-toes.
Whenever a good nor’wester blows,
Christopher is certain of
Sand-between-the-toes.

The sea was galloping grey and white;
Christopher clutched his sixpence tight;
We clambered over the humping sand-
And Christopher held my hand.

We had sand in the eyes and the ears and the nose,
And sand in the hair, and sand-between-the-toes.
Whenever a good nor’wester blows,
Christopher is certain of
Sand-between-the-toes.

There was a roaring in the sky;
The sea-gulls cried as they blew by;
We tried to talk, but had to shout-
Nobody else was out.

When we got home, we had sand in the hair,
In the eyes and the ears and everywhere;
Whenever a good nor’wester blows,
Christopher is found with
Sand-between-the-toes.

© A.A. Milne.  All rights reserved

Weekly Photo Challenge: The sign says it all…

In different locations, the sign says it all…

Tower 1
Three girls suggested this sign and
wrote their names beneath the precise instruction

Picture and text sign
Are the pictures enough or are the words necessary?

Trawling for ‘t’ words?

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Two tall tulips

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Two turtles talking, on a tyre

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Into the future
with digital literacy…

Young child before school in Hong Kong embracing technology. Will he take the family business to the future PM edit

A young child before school in Hong Kong embraces technology.
Will he take his family’s noodle shop into the future?

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