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Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Little Reader's Not-A-Box

I pulled Not A Box (Antoinette Portis) off the shelf this week and have been reading it with My Little Reader. We read this one last month in Literacy Launchpad. And I didn't really have any plans to do a Literacy Launchpad at-home lesson with My Little Reader with this particular book. I simply wanted to read it with him. But when I saw how much he loved it, the wheels turned.

As you may know, Not A Box is a story about a rabbit that imagines that his big, cardboard box is anything but a box. "It's not a box!" Instead it's a car, a robot, a burning building, a hot air balloon, a rocket...

My Little Reader is moving into that stage where he is memorizing text from the books we read over and over, and he will "read" the books with me. Not A Box lends itself well to this, because "it's not a box" is repeated over and over throughout the book. Very simple text. I love congratulating My Little Reader when he reads with me. " What a good reader you are," I tell him.

"Wanna go see if we have a big box to play with?" I asked My Little Reader. Oh boy, did he ever! He waited very impatiently as I dug through the garage looking for a couple boxes. I had an idea.

My Little Reader loves play houses*, and I was pretty sure I could concoct one out of a couple large boxes. Turned out to be pretty easy (doesn't hurt that My Little Reader isn't very particular about most things yet). I used an box cutter to make a door and a window, and then a little bit of tape to hold my boxes together and... voila!

He's been having a blast coloring the inside and outside of the box. All this fun has been keeping him busy, which is an added bonus. And I'm thinking we can still transform the "not-a-box" into something else after he gets tired of imagining it as a house!

* We were at the park this week and there were little house-like structures built around the all the garage cans. My Little Reader kept wanting to go in the "house." Ugh! Yuck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Fairy Tale unit is wrapped! I know I have a lot of favorites, but there is nothing I don't like about exploring fairy tales with my students.

"The Three Billy Goats Gruff" was the story we heard last week. I used storytelling with this one again and utilized magnetic story board pieces with my storytelling. The kids love the story board pieces! It's always fun because there's usually at least one or two students that express some disappointment at the start of the story because I'm not reading from a book with pictures. But once I pull out the troll story piece and use my funny troll voice, they are sold!

My favorite thing about this story is making the students jump in surprise when I use the troll voice for the first time. That switch from the sweet voice I use for the goats to the harsh voice I use for the troll always gives them a startle. And then they all laugh at the fact that they got so startled!

When I finished telling this story all my students immediately wanted to act it out like they did with "The Three Little Pigs." I thought that was great! So I of course let them do that. They all took dibs on parts (we had multiple children playing each role, but it worked), and we had a blast with it.

The kids also got their own story board pieces to color and take home and use to tell the story! It's always tough to make sure each student keeps track of all their pieces. Hopefully they all made it home with their complete set of pieces... but I'm not sure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's NOT the process... and an Update

I'm sorry I haven't been real on the ball (AGAIN!) with posting lately. This adoption is just rocking our world. It's full of twists and turns and the unexpected. And frankly, even when I have the time to post on this blog, sometimes I just simply can't think about anything other than my kiddos in Ethiopia.

So onto your regularly scheduled programming... err, posting... :)

My Literacy Launchpad classes consist of stories and activities to promote literacy skills and reading motivation. The activities I plan for class are not designed to teach art skills or fine motor skills; sometimes these are a residual effect, but they're never my goal.

Also, my Literacy Launchpad classes are only 30 minutes long (we run long some weeks). My students do not have the time or the attention span to sit for long periods of time doing elaborate arts and crafts activities after sitting and listening to a story. And again, nor is that helpful in working my students toward my goals for them in Literacy Launchpad.

I tell you this because I have had to explain this to some of my students' parents in the past. I have received questioning for pre-cutting and/or pre-assembling some things for our class activities.

But in Literacy Launchpad, when it comes to our learning activities and projects, it's not about the process of making. It's about the process of playing!

It's not so much about this...

It's about this!

It's not about this...

It's about this.

I'm more concerned about them wearing their headbands... not how they make them.

If we spend all our time making stuff, then there's not time for this:

I still want my students to be part of the creative process when it comes to our activities, but it can't only be about that, or we miss the point entirely.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jack and The Beanstalk

Our fairy tale adventure this week was "Jack and The Beanstalk!"

I do storytelling with this one, instead of reading from a book, and I bring in fun props to use with it (see photos).

What's so fun about this one is playing up the magical elements in the story. I tell the story, then we discuss, then we play with the story props... Then we plant our own "magic" beans (given to me by Jack himself)! My students are never quite sure if they should believe that my beans came from Jack... or that they're magic. Some of them get a little nervous about the idea of giant coming down their beanstalk, usually nervous enough that I assure them that there are no such thing as giants. So we brainstorm other things that we might find at the top of our beanstalks instead!

Some of my students were such believers in the beans' magic that they expected to see their beanstalk start growing before we had even finished with class. "Hey," I reminded them, "even Jack had to wait one night for his beanstalk to grow!"

I'm sure I'll be hearing about the progress of their beanstalks next week. I'm looking forward to it! In the meantime, I'll be cooking up my next magical story!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Literacy Launchpad For Parents

Now that My Little Reader, Isaac, is getting a little bit bigger (he's still not 2 yet), I have decided to begin doing some of my Literacy Launchpad activities at home with him. I will also be working on coming up with some literacy activities designed especially with him in mind, that correlate with some of his favorite books at home (that I don't necessarily use in class).

I'm really excited about this. And it's good motivation to push me out of my normal play routine with him.

Today I pulled out some Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! stuff to play with. He loves this story! I actually checked out the audio version from the library a few weeks ago and he wore that CD out! We listened to it at every meal. And, man, it made my life a lot easier on many days. One particular day, that audio book was what got him to eat his dinner after a very stubborn, drawn-out refusal. "Let's listen to Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! while you eat some bites," I suggested. Once we turned the book on for him, he cleaned his plate without us having to say another word about it to him.

So when I pulled out the stuff for us to play with today, Isaac was thrilled! We used the glue to assemble a couple bunnies. He was all about the glue! I did have to use the stapler too though, since he didn't have the patience to let the glue dry (and neither did I).

Happily gluing away... and snacking. Notice his crackers sitting there next to him in this shot.

Isaac played with the vegetable pieces a little bit, but I was having a hard time getting him as excited about, and as engaged in, that part of the fun. He got kind of stuck on the glue. What's great about doing these activities at home though is that I could leave the pieces out all day and let him play when it struck his fancy.

When we ran out of T.P. rolls, he glued bunny heads onto plain paper. Then he had the bunnies talk to one another... while his kitty looked on.

The whole goal behind this activity (at home and at school) was to retell the story told in the book in a meaningful and engaging manner. I wanted them to really get into the story, focus on the various parts of the story and the structure of it as we retold it.

Isaac did pick up the bunnies and the garden pieces on his own after dinner and as I watched from a far, I could hear him telling the story aloud to himself (his own version of the story). He had the bunnies eating the veggies and then falling asleep in the garden (with snoring sound effects and all).

It made me so happy to see him coming up with his own little narratives. What an important step on the road to literacy! I'm excited to see this skill mature and develop more fully. It has really only begun to bud at this point. But with the way Isaac likes to talk... I think there are many more narratives I'll be hearing in the future! Can't wait!

And I can't wait to share more of these activities with you. I think I will change to a simpler formatting in future posts of this kind, but thanks for bearing with me on this one!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Once Upon A Time...

Our fairy tale unit has begun! We kicked it off with James Marshall's The Three Little Pigs. The end of this Marshall's version is a bit odd to me, but the kids seem to really be drawn in by it, so I've stuck with this version for a few years now.

After our reading and discussion, we put on a "play." And we of course, had to make "costumes." My, how easy it is to make preschoolers happy. I love that! They were thrilled to get to play the parts of the wolf and the pigs. They got to choose what character they wanted to be. Most of them wanted to be "the pig that made his house out of bricks." So I had to be creative in making our play work with a bunch of "actors" that all wanted to play the same part. But it worked out.

In this last photo, this student was acting out the part where the pig rolls down the hill in a butter churn... I told you then ending was a bit odd. I didn't suggest that the students act this part out. She came up with it on her own, and thought it was great fun!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Celebrity Literacy Launchpad Graduate

Click HERE to view a video of one of my former Literacy Launchpad students delivering the Herb Brooks Miracle speech at Fenway Park. Funny stuff!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Weekend Literacy Moments

My niece doing an expressive read aloud.

Isaac and his Easter basket writing loot.

Playing Boogle Junior... by himself.

My sister and nieces cuddling up with a book on Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Not A Box!

This week our especially playful unit wrapped up with Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. We had a lot of fun with this one. Can you tell?