Monday, March 25, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13 
Like I did last week, I skipped the welcome message at the start of the session and just jumped right in with a poem to help them get their wiggles out. I found it totally by accident, as it happened to be on the reverse page of a poem I read earlier in the week at a class visit. The title is Somersaults, and it's by the inimitable Jack Prelutsky. (Find it in Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young.) The text talks about turning somersaults and stretching and bending, and I just read the words and let the kids act them out. 

Read-Along Mad Libs
My husband and I had several discussions about how to improve this story time, and he mentioned Mad Libs. I knew it would be too hard for the kids in this group to name specific parts of speech, so I came up with a generic story where they could plug in colors, articles of clothing, and parts of the body. I did allow them to use "butt" but when one little girl tried to put "vagina" in the story I told her we had to pick something that was more polite to talk about at story time. I was pretty sure she used that word just to get a rise out of me, but it didn't work, and none of  the younger kids or parents in the room even flinched. The entire Mad Libs activity that I created can be downloaded here. I recommend covering the pages with contact paper so they can be erased. By doing that, I made it possible for us to do two versions of the story, which kept the kids engaged that much longer and stretched their brains to think of more words.

Find the Pom-Pom
This idea came from Pinterest. I labeled three cups with words from the same word family - wear, bear, and tear, then hid a red pom-pom under one of them. The kids had to guess  by reading the word, if they could - where the pom-pom was hidden. This game worked fine, and all the kids wanted to take a turn, but there was a lot of cheating and some of  the kids intentionally took a long  time hiding the pom-pom to give their friends time to peek or run around or whatever. This is a good one-on-one activity, but I don't think I'd do it again with a group.

I read two short picture books: Chicken Butt by Erica Perl and Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black. Though the kids enjoyed them - and they also enjoyed passing around the chicken who said, "Guess what? Chicken butt!" every time they squeezed him - I felt really uncomfortable promoting all this toilet humor at story time. I know kids think it's funny, and they love the opportunity to talk about butts and poop and all of that, but I don't know if that is really a good reason to encourage it. I'd rather get them hooked on something else than give into what I have always thought is disgusting to talk about. The adults weren't upset when t hey picked up their kids, but I did get a few looks that sent a message similar to "Seriously? I send my kid to story time and you taught him a butt joke?" I don't want to be that adult. So my goal now is to find out what else they think is funny so they can have this much fun again, but I can also feel like I'm teaching something of value.

Writing Activity
We drew on aluminum foil with markers. This has been a successful craft in the past, but they got bored of it quickly and crumpled up the foil and left it on the floor.

This was a much better program than the last two or three, and I think it was because of  the variety of activities and the high level of the kids' involvement. They still have this idea that this is a place to fool around, whereas when the same kids come to preschool story time, they sit silently. I would love for them to at least take turns and sit when they're told to sit, but if there has to be chaos, I'll take the chaos of this session over what has happened previous weeks.

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