Apologies, I think this is the longest post I’ve ever written here!
The idea from “Growing Readers” came originally from Hi Miss Julie and her Beginning Reader Storytime. I began writing a grant for the program shortly after reading her post, with the idea that I would rely heavily on Every Child Ready to Read’s five practices to plan the program if I received the grant. In the summary below, I’ve added in which ECRR practice I think the activity supports.
Growing Readers Outline
Name Tags (Write)
As kids come into the library and check in, I get them started on doing their nametags. All of our programs at my library are advertised at starting on the hour, but we hold patrons upstairs until five minutes after. This works marvelously well at cutting down on late-comers and being able to start as a group. (Not perfectly, mind you!) I decided to have nametags because it encourages them to practice writing their names — names are a great way to start writing!
Once we’re in the storytime room, I do my typical, “Good afternoon, everyone! My name is Miss Katie if you don’t know me. What’s your name?” and then let the kids either tell me their names or hold up their name tags. We sing “Clap and Sing Hello!,” like I do at every storytime. Afterwards, I’ve been asking get-to-know you questions. For letter L, when we read “The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza,” I asked everyone what their favorite pizza topping is. Last week, since it was Halloween, I asked them what they were dressing up as. Each kid gets a moment to shine and get comfortable.
Mail Envelope (Talk/Read)
This WONDERFUL idea came from Youth Services Shout-Out, Wisconsin’s wonderful YS collaborative blog, where Amanda Struckmeyer guest-posted about using mail to introduce her storytime themes. Instead of using a brand-new flannelboard every week, I’ve been re-using my Letter Puzzles. So far, after three weeks, the kids are still squealing when I pull out mail addressed to them. Like Amanda, I read them the addresses that I write and I’ve been using my collection of outdated stamps (I’m still finding $0.23 stamps in my house!!) to give the letters some authenticity. Inside of the the envelope, I write a message and include the Letter Puzzle pieces. We put the puzzle together on the flannelboard and the kids announce the letter of the day!
Letter Tubs (Talk)
These Teaching Tubs from Lakeshore Learning are my absolute favorite thing that I’ve purchased for Growing Readers. (I love all the literacy activities and supplies, but these tubs are mostly for me to use, so that’s why they’re my favorites!) I use these tubs as vocabulary builders, and to introduce the sound of the letter. I let the kids guess what I’m holding and re-enforce, “Yes, it’s a sun! S-s-sun.”
Word Cloud (Write/Talk)
Then, after all of that, we build a word cloud together. I let the kids tell me what words to write and I do a lot of talking, “Yes, lake starts with l. L-a-k-e. That’s how we spell lake! Do we have a big lake nearby?” This is my favorite part of storytime because the kids come up with GREAT words and I get right down on the rug next to them to do the writing. I love when they remember the names of their Growing Reader friends and tell me to write their names down. We had great conversations about capital and lowercase letters, rhyming words, and sounds at the word cloud. After the storytime, I hang it up in the room. I’ve also gotten a lot of parents who ask what the word cloud is and how they can go to *that* program with their kids.
Then comes the book part! At this point, the kids are ready to listen since they’ve been all talked out from the opening. At this point in the program, I’m about at the fifteen/twenty minute mark. I make sure to introduce the book by saying the title and author. I remind the kids to keep an eye out for any Letter of the Day words to add to our word cloud. This past week, I read “Scaredy Squirrel” with the kids. I love this book! After the book, we added “Scaredy Squirrel,” “shark,” and “spider” to the word cloud. Since the kids brought up “shark,” I wound up transitioning straight to “Baby Shark.”
I do a quick rhyme/song, something to bring us back together as a group. I’ve done “Who Stole the Cookies From the Cookie Jar?” and “Baby Shark” so far. This is the one area that I can trim down if I need to for time. I try to end the first portion of the program right at the thirty minute mark.
After that, it’s time for the table activities to begin. And you’ll read more about those in the coming weeks!
Any questions? Feel free to send me an email if you want to know more or drop a comment!