Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/17/13
Opening Activity & Welcome Message
When the kids came in, each one got to select two pictures from a selection of clip art flannel board pieces I had laid out on the table. While they waited for everyone to be signed in, the kids started to spontaneously tell stories to each other using their pictures, which was great. Once everyone was settled, we read the welcome message:
Today we will read two stories from Frog and Toad Are Friends. We will look for a button and read some mail.
A couple of the kindergarteners were able to read most of the message, so I let them help me, and only filled in the words they didn't know. Then I circled two of the words - "Frog" and "Toad" and asked the kids to tell me what letter they each started with. We made the "F" and "T" sounds together, then the kids took turns coming up to the flannel boards I had set up to put their picture under the right letter. Some of the pictures started with other consonants, and I had those on hand to match up as well.
After I chose Frog and Toad are Friends as my book for this week, I realized it was far too long for us to read the whole thing, so I selected two stories. I read this first one, "The Lost Button"," to the kids. Things started unraveling at this point. No one wanted to listen; everyone complained that someone else was blocking his or her view, and a mom complained when the kids - who insisted on sitting on the wooden steps instead of the floor - started kicking their feet. Then her child kept raising her hand to tell me her mom didn't like the kicking. It was kind of chaotic, and I tried to regain control, but the kids would not listen. I was thankful when it was time to play a game.
Button Guessing Game
I have Flannel Friday to thank for this wonderful game. I borrowed it from 1234 More Storytimes. I glued colored buttons to a piece of poster board, then hid each one behind a word and image representing one of the places Toad searches for his button in the story (meadow, river, etc.) I brought in my own little Frog and Toad stuffed animals from home, and each child got to hold frog when it was his or her turn to guess a color and a location. Only one child didn't know his colors (preschool story time might have been a better choice for him) and for the most part, they did okay with taking turns. There was one cheater who peeked to find out what color was hiding behind Frog, and all the other girls immediately freaked out, but otherwise, it was a good game.
This second story, "A Letter," was the read-along portion for the day. The younger kids were totally lost the entire time because the kids who can actually read insisted on repeating every word after I said it, or sometimes reading it before I said it. They were offered the chance to have a turn reading, but refused and would not allow me to just read the story. I think the solution for next time might be to choose an easier easy reader where some of the newer readers might know the words, and to also provide more information for the kids on how they are supposed to participate.
Reading Favorite Characters' Mail
The final activity of the day was to read some letters from literary characters to their friends. We figured out who the letter was for, based on their names and pictures on envelopes, then guessed who might have written it. I called on some of the kids to open the letters for me, then read them aloud. You can read more about this activity in my Flannel Friday post for this week.
To finish things off, we sang my usual goodbye song. The kids left, saying they had enjoyed themselves, and I went off to collapse into a chair at my desk. This story time is fun, but I think it's going to be a few weeks before I feel like I have it all under control.