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 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
- 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?
- Read about the topic. Provide both fiction and nonfiction books. Use the nonfiction books to help answer any questions your child may have.
- If possible, tie the items to the books chosen for the basket.
- 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?
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