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Friday, November 9, 2012

How Craft Projects Help Early Literacy

Each week at Literacy Launchpad we do an activity of some sort. Often it's a game that goes along with whatever literacy skill we are currently practicing, and often it's also a craft project that correlates with the story we read that week.

The idea behind the craft project is usually to give the students something fun to do that will help them remember the skill we worked on, and/or remember the story we read. It gives them a token to take home to be excited about and, to act as a conversation starter between them and their parents, so my students can share what they did in class that day.

I have had some parents get confused about why I prep a lot of the parts of our craft projects. For example, they wonder why I might pre-cut the parts of a construction paper animal. The reason for this prep is so we have enough time to actually complete the project within our 30 minute time frame for class. Also, the point of these projects isn't to teach my students fine motor or art skills. If I get too hung up on that stuff, my students miss the actual point of the projects we do in class together. 

What I have discovered over the years of teaching Literacy Launchpad is that our class projects also serve as a catalyst for great class discussions. It's tough to keep preschoolers' focus for an at-length discussion of our story, but give those busy hands something to work on and they will chat and chat and chat! The ideas and opinions they will share - amazing! The projects serve as a great jumping off point for lots of great discussions about the week's book, or about the skill we're working on. The best is when the discussions get really deep, or go in an interesting direction I didn't anticipate.  

So whether you're a teacher or a parent, consider a project to go along with your stories sometimes. But don't let the process of the project itself become the focus, use it as a way to get your kids thinking and talking! Keep the wheels turning as they are gluing and coloring and arranging... And see what brilliant ideas your kids start sharing!

What are some of your favorite projects that go along with stories you read your kids?

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