From books, to mending, to singing…
I have so many books in my classroom for children to access all the time. Books are the doorway to learning. If they’re available for children at all times, reading becomes exciting. It certainly is in my classroom.
Every September, our books become torn, “well loved.” The good thing is children are constantly reading books. Reminders of taking care of books often go out the window when school begins. In an effort to bring taking care of books into a hands-on lesson, I decided to set up a book mending table as an activity. Children brought me any and all books that needed mending. They watched me carefully tape rips so that words and illustrations matched. They were fascinated. More importantly, they got a big dose of book care. There’s nothing better than hands-on learning.
What happened next was a surprise. Thank goodness I always go with the flow.
I mended a favorite book, This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie.
Children love this book. The illustrations are so detailed that we often have an impromptu history lesson, from the Grand Canyon to Manhattan Island. Interestingly, the cover of the book refers to the pictures as paintings, not illustrations. That speaks to why children are drawn in. We love singing the song, the words to the book. My goodness, it was nearly on its last legs, so there was a lot of repair work involved. As I taped the pages I couldn’t help but sing the words to myself, quietly. The children who were with me, watching the mending, must have felt like a warm blanket had covered them. They snuggled in and looked at the page. They began to sing, too.
Music is the arrow that pierces the heart. Books are the doorway to the heart. The combination of the two is remarkable.
Singing a book makes the words come to life. Well, music and singing makes life come alive. I sing at school all the time, and rarely is it structured. The playground and the bathroom have been the best places to sing, because it just happens. A look, a hug, a sad face… that is a recipe for singing. It doesn’t matter what I sing, it only matters that I sing.
Music is a stimulant to the brain. Movement is a stimulant to the brain. Put the two together, and children learn! It was only natural that I pulled out the autoharp to sing “This Land is Your Land” after our book mending and singing. With the autoharp we stood, belted out the song, moved and jumped. It was a good thing.
Read with no boundaries and stop at every word or moment. Sing with no agenda and stop to rhyme or be funny, or to help a child.