Thursday, October 25, 2012

Play to Learn-Nursery Rhymes

This month's program followed the theme of nursery rhymes.  I really like using nursery rhymes with young children because of their songlike quality.  When you use songs, you slow down the language, which helps young children to hear word parts and understand what you are saying.

Station 1: Making Nametags
I had precut 5 shapes with our AccuCut machine (kitten, cow, lamb, teddy bear, and pig).  The shapes were the closest animals that I could find to represent various nursery rhymes.  The kids could pick out their shapes, write their name on them, and attach them to their shirts with tape.  To assist the kids in writing their names, I typed out all of their first names on a piece of paper and ran a couple of copies to put at this station.  This way they could also recognize their name from the list and try to duplicate the letters if they aren't quite ready to spell their name on their own.

As librarians, we know that learning to read and learning to write go together.  At this station, the children are learning to recognize letters and how they are formed.  They are also strengthening their hand muscles as they write (kind of like exercise) so they can eventually write smaller letters and longer sentences.

Station 2: Which is Your Favorite?
I took the 5 shapes from above and wrote out the nursery rhyme that goes with them on each shape.  Then I stuck them to the wall above a piece of blank paper.  As kids come to this station, we asked them to read the rhyme and choose their favorite.  When the chose, we asked them to write their name on the paper by the shape.

This station was easy to put together, but it was very important because it put a lot of our ECRR2 skills together.  First, the parents are reading the rhymes, which promotes a love of reading.  Because of the songlike nature of the rhymes, the language is slowed down so children can hear all of the parts of the words.  As they choose which rhyme is their favorite, they are using letter knowledge to write their name.  As an added bonus, we are using early math skills by looking at the papers and seeing which rhymes the kids like the most (graphing skill).

Station 3: Make a Book
I used the Hey Diddle, Diddle mini-book that is in Literacy Centers and Activities for Nursery Rhymes, Volume 1.  The kids colored the pages and stapled the book together.

By completing this book, the kids were working on their comprehension skill.  This means that they are learning that words have meaning.  The illustrations match the simple text so you can see that there is a cow jumping over the moon right next to the words "cow jumped over the moon".  Coloring is also an exercise which develops strength in the kids' fingers, which helps them get strong enough to write.

Station 4: Baa Baa Color Sheep
We started off by providing a sheep pattern run off on cardstock.  This made it sturdier when the kids carried their creations away from the station.  We had colored tissue paper grass left over from a previous collage craft event that we used as the wool.  A little bit of grass will go a long way with this craft.  The kids glued their "wool" onto their sheep, then wrote the name of the color in the blank space.

If you use the grass, you will want a vacuum cleaner on hand to help clean up when the program is over.  If you would like to make this craft less messy, try using colored paper shapes, such as circles or squares.  While I preferred using the grass because of its sensory quality, not everybody can handle the mess that comes with it.

By using a glue stick to glue the "wool" on the sheep, the kids are working on their fine motor skills.  This also is exercise to help their hands get ready to write.  As the kids write the color name in the blank, they are learning that words have meaning (the wool should match the color name).

Station 5: Little Miss Muffet Magnet Rhyme
This station came out of  October/November 2008 issue of The Mailbox.  Little Miss Muffet was written out with the "t" dropped from the word tuffet.  We put magnetic letters on the board and had the kids add those letters to the rhyme and sound out the new word.  It helps if you pull out only consonants, such as b, p, or s.

At this station, the kids learned that letters have sounds and that those sounds are parts of words.  By playing with the word "tuffet", the kids were able to play with those sounds while having fun.

Station 6: Read the Story
We put this station in the same area as Stations 7 and 8 as a lot of the activities go together.  First, I gathered up a lot of our nursery rhyme books in a variety of formats.

Then we made many of the folder stories in Literacy Centers and Activities for Nursery Rhymes, Volumes 1 and 2.  The kids had a lot of fun with these because many have flaps or movable parts.

The kids practiced reading at this station, which encourages them to learn how to read on their own.  By sharing reading with their children, parents were helping them to develop vocabulary and comprehension, nurturing a love of reading, and motivating their children to want to learn to read.
Station 7: Baa Baa Shape Sheep
This flannelboard activity came from Making Learning Fun. (Note-if you aren't familiar with this site and work with children, bookmark it!)  We put out the flannel sheep and the rhyme and the kids had a great time playing.  Not only would they recite the rhyme, they would sort all of the sheep (another math skill!).

Station 8: Stick Puppet Theater
I created a bunch of the stick puppets from Literacy Centers and Activities for Nursery Rhymes, Volumes 1 and 2.  Then I created a puppet theater for the kids as seen here.  What was fun as that a lot of the times the parents would sit on one side and the kids would sit on the other.  Then they would each put on a show for the other side.

I do have to say that this Play to Learn took a lot of work to put together.  Our library system is starting to put together kits so we can trade throughout the branches.  This became the first one.

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