As much as I loved all my traveling to different schools and libraries for Book Week, it is absolutely fabulous to be back at my wonderful school with my little Year Ones again.
I wrote a sequel to one of my poems! I’ve never written a sequel before — it was exciting! Billy and his doubting Mum are back in Bear Beneath the Chair.
Billy ran outside shouting,
“There’s a BEAR beneath the chair!”
Billy’s mum said,
DON’T BE SILLY!
There’s no bear beneath the chair!”
“There is a bear beneath the chair!
He escaped from the circus in the town!
He’s dressed up like a very scary clown!”
Read Croc Around the Block before Bear Beneath the Chair to familiarize your children with the format of the story. It’s a great opportunity to compare the two and it’s an incredibly easy story to innovate if you’d like to create a writing task around it.
Remember: the art of listening is an acquired one. It must be taught and cultivated gradually — it doesn’t happen overnight.
-Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, pg. 73
Our children build up their ability to sit still for and listen to stories over time. The more you read to them, the more their listening endurance will grow and the greater their attention spans will become. A child that has a greater attention will learn more than one that hasn’t developed the skill. It’s like a muscle that needs daily exercising to improve.
The trick to building listening endurance is to make sure that you pick books that are appropriate for your child’s/children’s LISTENING level. If you’ve been reading picture books to 6-year-olds for months, move onto small chapter books. Don’t get stuck thinking that because they’re little they need big, bright pictures on every page. If you’ve been talking to them, teaching them and reading to them consistently at a high level all their lives, you can be guaranteed that they’re listening level is way beyond their current reading level.
A listening level is the level that your child is able to understand the things that you say and read. A 7-year-old who reads at a 5-year-old level may listen at a 12-year-old level. Keep cultivating their listening level by reading to them daily and their reading skills will eventually catch up — guided-read, shared-read, predict, relate, discuss, question, role-play, innovate, rinse and repeat!
Have a fabulous weekend and happy reading!
Hello Amazing People,
A very special welcome to all the amazing educators and parents I met during Children’s Book Week! Thank you for bringing your children to join in with some ridiculous stories.
This week's read-aloud poem is about a Duck who falls desperately in love with a Horse. Duck tries his best, but it just doesn’t work out for him…
“Oh four-legged lady,
How happy you’ve made me!
Let’s marry with rings,
And have a family of horslings!”
All Horse heard was, “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!”
But she couldn’t speak Duck so she couldn’t speak back.
I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure about the themes in this one. Will primary school children have the emotional maturity to understand love and loss? My guess: probably. Explore Duck’s feelings and motivations with your kids. It’s definitely an attention grabber.
“There are really only two efficient ways to get words into a person’s brain: either by seeing them or by hearing them. Since it will be years before an infant uses his or her eyes for actual reading, the best source for vocabulary and brain building becomes the ear.”
- Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, pg 5
Today there is tremendous pressure for children as young as 4 to start decoding and reading. I’m not going to debate the validity of this pressure because it stems from educators’ and parents’ deep and sincere desire for their children to excel academically. It makes sense.
The problem is that some children will simply NOT be ready to read until they reach age 7 or 8. These children are considered ‘under target’ in terms of their school’s reading goals. The standard solution for the situation is to put them in intervention classes where they’re exposed to an extra dose of the same techniques that have FAILED to inspire them to read in the first place. What’s the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?
I’m completely aware of and respect the research that tells us that some children need the word ‘and’ flashed to them 20 times to cement it into their brains and others need it 1000 times to make it stick. What I’m saying is why not try a different approach to provide real motivation for reading? Stick with the sight-word/phonics flash card drills because they work, but include a shared read-aloud where a reluctant reader can finally experience some reading success.
With a shared read, they can finally feel the joy of being an accomplished reader. It inspires. Phonics doesn’t inspire — no one has a favourite digraph or consonant blend.
Have a fabulous week!