In Part 1, I talked about writing thank you letters to the people in our neighborhood, our community helpers. As a group, we planned the words, and children decorated the letters. This was fun! They felt excited and proud. They knew the importance of words, their words. They also knew the importance of saying thank you.
It is one thing to come up with words in a group. It is another thing to tell your own words, your own story. No one is there to help you. Children wrote stories about their own neighborhoods. Imagine being three and four years old, and your teacher says,
“Tell me about your neighborhood. Tell me your story.”
This isn’t answering a “W” question (who, what, when, where, why) which has a place to start. That takes words, but you have a directive to build upon. This is the deep end, not the shallow end.
We’re more than halfway through the school year, one hundred days in fact. I have read aloud more than two hundred picture books, and we’re finishing our fourth chapter reading book, pouring words into their brains. They’re ready for the deep end.
“I have the sun, a big pool, lots of dogs. Julie and Katy are in my neighborhood. They have chickens.”
“I have lots of cats, two dogs, one dorm, and a pool next to Brady’s. I have friends.”
“I have one dog, lots of houses and trees. My house is very gray. There are friends, too.”
“I have trees but no pools. There’s a big road. There are kids and one baby.”
“I have trees, a bouncy slide, a mom and dad, a backyard, and houses.”
Aren’t these stories remarkable for very young children? In order to get to this point – to be able to think, visualize, process, and execute – a child has to hear hundreds and thousands of words. You see, the hearing vessel in the brain must be filled before it overflows into the speaking vessel.
So now, after a hundred days of school, children have conquered bravery, vocabulary, detailed words, and critical divergent thinking. Words are the golden key, and the surest way to give children a plethora of words is by reading aloud. I still find it amazing that children who know the most number of words do the best in school, in all subject areas. All.
I am raising future readers, and thinkers, in my classroom.
“By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life.”
-Jean Baptiste Girard-
Stay tuned for Part 3.