Learning begins with language, building words upon words. The more words children hear, the more they learn, and the better they do in school. All of this leads up to reading readiness. So, if I can give children hundreds and thousands of words in a variety of ways, they will have a head start.
How do I do this?
When we have a guest visit the class, or we want to ask someone questions, or we want to tell our own story, we write a giant letter. In that way, I am helping children to visualize what is on their minds. But there’s more; children need to touch and feel to ‘cement’ an idea or a concept. I have them decorate and draw on the big letters. The words are reinforced and children feel as though they have written the words themselves. Often, they add their own writing. This week we wrote a letter to our Pen-Pals:
Children have much on their minds. They’re constantly learning, soaking up information at a rapid clip. In late September I ask each child what they like to do in school. This is not a casual question; it’s the first time their teacher has asked, one-on-one. First, they have to think. I can almost visualize a fast-forward movie playing in their brains. With no other prompting or questions, I get “the story”. Each child watches as I write his / her exact works. I have not only put their thought into a written image, I have validated that what they say is important. Because it is. Next, each child draws a picture of their story. I mount the story along with their photo and hang it in the hallway. Of course we have a field trip to the hallway to read aloud everyone’s picture story. As the year progresses, I have children write more picture stories. Yes, we are learning about dinosaurs!
Note the detail in the drawings and expressive, thoughtful vocabulary.
I tell stories for two reasons: hearing words without an image requires brain work and concentration. It is much the same with chapter reading. Children make the images in their head and vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds. Secondly, telling classic fairy tales with voices and animation is a favorite, along with Jennie Stories (true stories of my childhood), as it connects the children to me. There is the element of love, that intangible feeling of wanting to be part of the story and also part of the teacher who was once just like them.
And what does all this language do, along with reading a gazillion picture books? It gives children the skills to learn to read! There is both visual and auditory processing at work, plus making all those connections with what they hear, what they see, and what they write. This also translates into focusing- learning and listening at school in all areas.
Children are natural storytellers. After they hear stories, and after they write their own picture stories, they are ready to tell a story, as a group. This is big, because it’s a group collaboration.
Of course the children told a dinosaur story. It was detailed. The words filled the entire chart paper! I wrote every word. The story is hanging alongside the picture stories in the hallway.
Finally, it is fun for children. When the big chart paper comes out to write a letter, or when they hear the words “It happened like this”, or when the lights go out for chapter reading, children are excited and engaged. Words make all the difference in the world.
Reblogged this on Skaionline.
Introducing children to a variety of words at an early age is so valuable. Using big words like brachiousaures is an excellent way to help them pronounce words too. Such a great start in life.
It makes a difference. Thank you, Darlene.
This is all wonderful, as you know, Jennie.
Many thanks, Norah!
What a delightful post, Jennie. You are giving these kids such an important start in life. Thank you!
Thank you, Dan. I think I get as excited as the children. Yes, it’s such an important start in life. One of my former students is in 2nd grade and stopped by school today. He was the child who loved being read to, yet struggled with words and writing. His mom told me today that a few months it all came together and he is in the top reading group. She has a hard time getting him to turn off the light at bedtime and stop reading. So, in front of his mother, I said, “Collin, get a flashlight and sneak it into your room. Then you can read under the covers and Mom will never know.” I think that’s as good as it gets.
I loved reading what sort of dinosaurs they would be, and what they would do.
‘Drink people for my drink’. Hilarious. 🙂
Best wishes, Pete.
Lucy was laughing her head off when she told me her story. She thought it was so funny. Yes Lucy, it was! Every time we do picture stories, they are creative and thoughtful- and sometimes funny. Thank you, Pete.
Oh, I love the letter writing idea! There is nothing that makes us ask ourselves, what we really think as much as having to put it down on paper. Have a blessed week!
Well said, and than you!
Oh so smiked at the child wh wrote if they were a dinosaur they would catch someone and eat them for dinner lol
Love children’s imagination.. And wonderful that you put an importance upon allowing them to express themselves freely.. So important.. 💕
I loved these stories as much as the children did. Imagination is the key to creativity, and creativity is the key to learning. Gee, I just said that! When children can express themselves freely, they become confident adults who contribute to society. That’s huge! I will always champion for children and their self expression. Thank you, Sue.
Wow, that phrase should be recorded as a quote Jennie, lol 👏👏👏 have a great week with imagination, creativity and expression 😀 💚
Thank you, Sue! 🙂
I lived through most of this with my parents. It helped to mould me into the woman I am today. Engaging a child is perhaps the most important step someone can take. An engaged child will become an engaged adult and that can only benefit us all.
Pam, you hit the nail on the head. And you were lucky enough to have parents who understood and gave you freedom, stories, and encouraged you to write. That freedom is the spark to engage a child. And an engaged child… you said it so well. Thank you!
We love getting the children to tell stories! And also to get them to think of alternative endings to favourites!!!
This is wonderful. I love alternative endings to favorites!
It really gets their imaginations going!
Love seeing your students’ writing and artwork, Jennie!
I’m so glad. Thank you, Becky!
Another school year almost complete!
Words, words, wonderful words! ❤ Thanks for all you do to share the wonder, Jennie. Kudos to you and your wonderful students! xo
Thank you so much, Bette! 💕
I think that last story is the second one they’ve written featuring the effects of eating too much? (I remember one about pancakes.) As I read this post, the thought occurred to me that the language activities you’re doing with the children should help develop their visual literacy as well, which is increasingly becoming a critical life skill. (Six pages of visual literacy standards from the Association of College & Research Libraries!)
Yes! All of this is helping their visual literacy. The secret is making it fun for children so they’re interested in participating.
I’ll bet your students learn a lot more than if they were lined up in neat rows doing worksheets (ack!).
Doesn’t it make you sad to think that is happening in some schools?
Very sad. That’s not how transformative learning works.
Reblogged this on NEW BLOG HERE >> https:/BOOKS.ESLARN-NET.DE.
Thank you, Michael!
I need an appointment at your class, Jennie! 🙂 xx Michael
You are welcome anytime! 🙂
Lovely post Jennie, the dinosaurs are great teaching helps! It all reminds me of the Flintstones!
Yes! Thank you, FR.
Any opportunity for kids to use their imaginations when writing is worthwhile. I love the idea of writing a community letter. We occasionally wrote a letter like yours to another class on large chart paper. Part of the fun for the kids was then making a large envelope for the letter. That meant opportunities to learn how to address an envelope. Then we’d “deliver” the letter by having as many children as possible carry it over to the other class at a prearranged time.
I got home today, Jennie. It’s great to be home, but that was one of the best trips ever. Your students will be hearing from me soon.
Hi Pete! You are so right. The community letter or story is a favorite with children, and it gives a wealth of opportunities for imagination. I love how you wrote a letter to other classes and also made an envelope. ‘Delivering’ is the frosting on the cake.
Welcome back home, Pete. I’m truly glad it was one of your best trips. The children will be thrilled to get your cards!
These are wonderful stories, and great lessons they’re learning. I bet it doesn’t feel like it though. Your class seems like it’s fun, fun, fun! 😀😍
When learning is fun it’s a big win! Thanks, Deborah. 🙂
you are such a natural at this and why the kids love letters and words, too! (I think I see a Mac note in there))
Yes, there is a MAC letter in there.😀 I hope your kids enjoyed it. I will be writing another Pen-Pal post, as Ritu’s class in the UK sent cards and we opened them today. Our Pen-Pal wall has now become a full. corner. It is wonderful! Writing stories is so important and fun for children. Thank you, Beth.
So wonderful, we loved everything about it!❤️
I am so glad! The children loved making the letter. The illustrations speak volumes about how much they cared. ❤️
Your students are learning and don’t even realize it. You make it so much fun for them. I do not think I thought much as a child. You are teaching them to think! Brilliant.
Many thanks, Marlene! 🥰
Pingback: Picture Stories, Storytelling, and Writing Letters – Nelsapy
Hi Jennie, thank you for another wonderful example of teaching!
Thank you, Charles!
Jennie, Is your reblog button working? I cannot reblog your post for some reason.
Hmmm… I will check.
I guess it works.
Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
Here is another example of excellent teaching from Jennie!
Many thanks, Charles!
Jennie, the issue with reblogging was on my end. I was finally able to do it.
I just saw that. 🙂
Wonderful, Jennie. Another great way of creating interest in reading and writing, Jennie.
Thank you, Robbie.
1. very nice. 2. on ‘if i were a din…’ …gosh!
Pingback: Picture Stories, Storytelling, and Writing Letters – Site Title
Language is everything
Just beautiful ❤
Thank you, Debby. 💕
Omg , I wish someone told me how to tell a story, teacher didn’t thrust me…