Share a Story, Shape a Future: Literacy the First Five Years

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This week we celebrate Share a Story, Shape a Future. The theme this year is, “Literacy: The First Five Years.”  As part of Day 4, The ABC’s of Reading and Writing,  I share the following post: 

“Discover”-ing Baskets of Hands-on Learning

Children learn through curiosity.  Touching, feeling, and exploring; in essence play is children’s work.  We can encourage and promote inquisitiveness in children through hands-on learning.

Discovery Baskets

Discovery Baskets provide hands-on learning experiences that help build background knowledge, which is essential to comprehending texts.  Consider creating a Discovery Basket to help build your child’s background knowledge prior to new experiences.

Discovery Baskets are made up of items related to a topic.  Items that can provide a hands-on experience for a child, as well as texts related to that topic (both fiction and nonfiction) are placed in a basket.

Using Discovery Baskets

  1. Allow your child to immerse himself in the hands-on experience.  Feel the item(s), play with the item(s).  Talk about the item(s).  What is its purpose?
  2. Read about the topic.  Provide both fiction and nonfiction books.  Use the nonfiction books to help answer any questions your child may have.
  3. If possible, tie the items to the books chosen for the basket.
  4. Discuss the topic.  Ask your child to make connections to the books read and to the information learned.

Here is an example from our family from several years ago:  Prior to making our annual beach trip, I wanted to build my kids’ background knowledge about the beach.  Our Discovery Basket included: shells, a bag of sand, several books about shells, and a custom made inflatable beach ball.  Our Hands-on Experience included feeling and discussing the different shells, counting the shells, and sorting the shells by size (a sneaky math lesson!).  We put our hands in the bag and felt the sand.  We discussed how it felt.  We also created a craft.  We bought an inexpensive wooden frame and then I hot glued the shells on to the frame.  We then had a frame for a picture from our trip.  Then we moved on to reading about shells.  Finally, we discussed how our shells were similar or different from the shells in the books.  We used the beach ball to toss back and forth.  The ball had comprehension statements to help us connect our background knowledge with our book knowledge.  If I had a beach bucket large enough to fit hard cover books, I would have used that as our “basket.”

Create a Discovery Basket

Here are a few ideas for creating Discovery Baskets to build your child’s background knowledge:

    • Family Trip – prior to taking a family trip, create a discovery basket about the place you will be visiting.  Consider something specific to the area.
    • Museum Trip – prior to taking your child to a new museum, create a discovery basket about something that your child may see or experience there.
    • School  – prior to your child beginning school, create a discovery basket about school and the types of things that one might do or see there.
    • Art Museum – prior to taking your child to an art museum, create a discovery basket about a specific artist or time period of art.
    • Gardening Basket – provide seed packets (children can sort by vegetable, herbs, flowers, etc.), a few gardening books: Wiggling Worms at Work, Carrot Soup, Growing Vegetable Soup, And the Good Brown Earth
    • Chicks Basket – provide plastic eggs (sort by color, numbers, etc.), make a chick craft (pom poms and googly eyes), sort pictures of baby animals, a few resources: Animals (Baby Touch and Feel), ZigZag: What’s in That Egg?

Discovery Baskets are a fantastic way to combine reading with hands-on learning.  Providing Discovery Baskets for your child provides a natural connection to his own curiosities about the world.   Having background knowledge about topics helps children comprehend what they read.  By building upon the world knowledge of your child now, you are setting a foundation that will only serve to guide them as they become independent readers.

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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World Read Aloud Day 2013 is Here!

Imagine a world where everyone can read…

Today is World Read Aloud Day, an awareness day advocating for literacy as a human right. Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to “Read It Forward” on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read.

World Read Aloud Day creates a community of people advocating for every child’s right to learn to read and to have access to books and technology that will make them lifelong readers. Everyone can change the world and Read It Forward, creating a ripple effect that resonates around the world with the power of story and shared words.

How did you celebrate World Read Aloud Day? REVISION

Today, we were supposed to celebrate World Read Aloud Day with author Jacqueline Jules at my school!  However, a little storm named Saturn changed our plans. Instead, we have a snow day and we are not in school.  So, today, in honor of World Read Aloud Day, my children will read aloud to each other.

My son is reading Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray by Nick Bruel and my daughter is reading Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parrish.

 

We have rescheduled Jacqueline Jule’s visit for next week and I’ll share our celebration then.  Best laid plans. . .

 

 

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What Will You Do for WRAD13?

Imagine a world where everyone can read…

In one week, the world will celebrate and advocate. . .

March 6, 2013, is World Read Aloud Day, an awareness day advocating for literacy as a human right. Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to “Read It Forward” on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot yet read.

World Read Aloud Day creates a community of people advocating for every child’s right to learn to read and to have access to books and technology that will make them lifelong readers. Everyone can change the world and Read It Forward, creating a ripple effect that resonates around the world with the power of story and shared words.

Visit litworld.org/wrad to join the Read It Forward movement. Register your participation, and rally your friends, family, and networks for March 6! LitWorld, the organization that founded World Read Aloud Day, offers free downloadable activity kits full of ideas for children, teens, families, educators, and professionals at litworld.org.

This year, I will celebrate World Read Aloud Day with the students in my school.  We have invited author, Jacqueline Jules to share the evolution of her books (Zapato Power series, Unite or Die, among others) with our staff and students. Check back on March 6th to see our fun day of community and celebration of literacy!

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My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives

Written by: Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

Published by: Harper Collins

Date: September 4, 2012


My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives is a celebration of first times and key moments in a child’s life that help shape who they are.  This book reminds us to celebrate the extraordinary everyday bravery of trying new things, for first times are all about learning and growing.

This is the tenth in the Books to Grow by series.  I believe I’ve stated before that I tend to go to picture books to help when my children may have an issue they are facing  These books are helpful in that role. My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives is a great guide in helping children to understand the key moments in childhood that are momentous, exciting, and sometimes a little bit scary.  As an educator, I can also envision using this book in grades 3-5 to help students determine author’s message.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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A Flower in the Snow

Written by: Tracey Corderoy and Sophie Allsopp

Published by: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Date: December 1, 2012


Luna and Bear were the best of friends living together in the tundra.  Everything they did, they did together.  One day, something most unusual pops up, a dancing, yellow flower! Bear carefully picked it and gave it to someone special — Luna.  But, when the flower inevitably wilts and the last petal falls, nothing can make Luna smile again.  Bear knew he had to bring back Luna’s sparkly smile, so he set off to find another sunshine flower.  Bear traveled high and low looking for a special flower, all while Luna was at home sadly missing Bear.  Does Bear find a sunshine flower?  Do Bear and Luna reunite?

A Flower in the Snow is a heartwarming reminder of the the meaning of true friendship.  I tend to go to books to help me when parenting.  This is a sweet book to read aloud to your young children when they have problems with their friends, to remind them of the true meaning of friendship.  Or, to read aloud to students to build a classroom community at the beginning of the year.  What does true friendship mean?

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review by the publisher

©2013 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

 

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Infinity and Me

Written by: Kate Hosford

Published by: Carolrhoda Books

Date: August 1, 2012

Uma feels small when she looks up at the night sky.  She begins to wonder about infinity and what it is/means.  Uma asks her friends and family what infinity means, but she has to find out what it means to her. 


Do your children ever ask you the hard questions?  Like, what is infinity?  Newly published, Infinity and Me is a perfect book to read in order to discuss this difficult concept.  Inspired by children who love to ask questions, Hosford makes this seemingly difficult concept approachable and engaging.  Just as Uma must determine what infinity really means to her, encourage your own children to inquire and think about what it might mean to them.

If you would like other ways to work with your child or students on this concept, look for a lesson idea on Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  Additionally, Hosford has a curriculum guide to match the book at her own website, www.khosford.com

Other books by Kate Hosford include: Big Bouffant and Big Birthday

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book for review by the author

©2012 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Sky Color

Written by: Peter H. Reynolds

Published by: Candlewick Press

Date: August 28, 2012

The third book in Reynold’s “creatriology,” Sky Color celebrates the creative process and demonstrates that thinking outside the box is sometimes all that we need. 


Marisol is a creative soul who has the opportunity to share her talents by painting the sky in a class mural.  When there is no blue paint to be found Marisol must think about her definition of the color of the sky.  The sky is always blue.  Or is it?

Unfortunately, I have not read the first two books (The Dot and Ish) in this “creatriology” even though I’ve heard fabulous things from my friends on Twitter and Goodreads.  I will purchase the other two books to complete my “creatriology.”  If the other two books are like this one, the creatrilogy is a fabulous set of books to buy for a creative child or one who needs a little encouragement to think outside the box.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday

Written by: Mike Allegra

Published by: Albert Whitman and Company

Date: August 1, 2012

The story of how Sarah Joespha Hale fought to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, going all the way to the top – the President of the United States.   


One hundred and fifty years ago, Thanksgiving was not an official holiday.  To Sarah Josepha Hale, a trailblazing writer and magazine editor, Thanksgiving was an important time to recognize the good things in life.  In the 1820’s, different states observed the holiday on different days, and not everyone observed it.  To Sarah, the holiday wasn’t about Pilgrims and Native Americans, but more about what the feast meant.  Sarah dedicated her life to writing about Thanksgiving in her magazine and writing to four Presidents before finally being heard by the fifth, Abraham Lincoln.  In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln thought Thanksgiving was just what the country needed.

This is a fantastic book to share with children during the Thanksgiving season, to remind ourselves the meaning of the holiday and how it took one woman to work so hard to make it a national holiday.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Can We Share the World with Tigers?

Written by: Robert E. Wells

Published by: Albert Whitman and Company

Date: August 1, 2012

Part of the “Wells of Knowledge Science Series”, Wells shares his scientific knowledge of extinction in this latest book in the series. 


Most of the land where Bengal tigers used to hunt is now taken up by farms, towns, and roads.  In Can We Share the World with Tigers? (Wells of Knowledge Science), Wells studies ecosystems and their struggle for survival as a result of humans making changes to the environment.  Many species are at risk of extinction and Wells outlines steps we can take to help share the world with the plants and animals of the world.

Like his other books in the series, Wells strikes a nice balance between cartoonish illustrations and scientific content.  I like the “Learning Circles” sporadically placed throughout the book that typically gives a brief definition of vocabulary.  This book is a good read aloud to children at home to discuss ways we can help the environment or a great supplement to a science unit on ecosystems.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher.

©2012 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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