Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Early Literacy Messages in Action

Let me start off by saying that I am not a parent.  I am an early childhood expert who is also a children's librarian.  Whenever I do story time presentations around the state, one of the biggest questions that I get is how to incorporate early literacy messages into programs.  We know that we SHOULD be doing it, but finding the HOW is more difficult.

First, as a manager, I view early messages as vital to story time.  While story times are edutainment, they serve a purpose in young children's literacy development.  Also, as we plan our departmental goals, early literacy factors big into the discussion as we talk about 0-5 year olds.  When I meet with the library's management team, I push our early literacy initiatives.

As for the how, I started off in a low-key way by dropping into our baby play times.  This gave me a chance to meet the kiddos and talk to the parents. I was able to quiz them as to what they liked about our services and promote new ideas.  Think of it like a focus group!  In this setting I was able to grow my confidence in my messages and get immediate verbal and visual feedback from parents, rather than the wall of faces that you see at story time. Here are some sample messages and when I used the:
  • Have you seen this new toy?  This is why we chose it.  I really like how it does ______.
  • Let's try building a wall while playing with blocks. Then we'll play we'll play the Three Little Pigs.  Who wants to be the Big, Bad Wolf and say "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your wall down?"  Then we'll knock down the wall.  I love to play this game over and over as we are retelling the story while playing.  You can see here all of the fun words we are using, such as huff and puff, as we play.  This all builds language development.
  • While playing with letter magnets, look for the letters in your child's name.  This helps them to learn that letters have meaning.  Another fun thing to try is to identify names of people you know that start with different letters.  For example, if you found a "G", you could talk about Grandpa.
Once I got comfortable promoting early literacy, I started adding my messages to my story times.  I am not someone who needs to put the message in the same place every week, similar to an opening or closing song.  I fit them in wherever it feels natural.  Here are some examples:
  • As we sing our bubble song today, let's listen for all of the "b" sounds in the song. When we sing songs, it slows down the words so we can hear individual sounds.
  • With our scarves today, let's wave them in the shape of an "A".  What letter does your name start with?  Can you make that shape?  By writing our letters in the air with scarves, we are learning our letter shapes.  This will help us get ready to write.
  • Today we're going to read the book Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.  You'll notice as we read the book that there are no words written on the page.  We are going to tell the story using only the pictures!  The next time you sit down to read a favorite picture book, try having your child "read" the pictures to tell you the story.
  • It's time for our next rhyme and we are going to use our fingers to show the actions.  Activities like this that use our fingers are like exercise, which helps to strengthen our fingers to get ready to write.
For more great early literacy messages, check out the round-up that will be appearing on Jbrary at the end of the week!


1 comment:

  1. Love your idea for the scarf letter activity and slipping some early literacy ideas into play time: brilliant!


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