As promised, I am referring to another article from the current issue of the NAEYC magazine. This article about the benefits of oral storytelling reinforces my belief that we can build literacy skills, listening skills, imagination, communication skills, and participation all through oral stories. In my preschool classes here at Acorn, I have a long-standing tradition of oral storytelling, particularly at mealtimes.
With all my kiddos sitting around the table, we designate one child as the “starter” and they get the privilege of beginning the story however they want. Usually the child refers to the old standby “Once upon a time” and then there was a princess or a dragon or monster doing something exciting…and then onto the next child who gets to continue the story however they want, until we’ve gone all the way around the table. In the past we’ve had a couple kids whose contributions are always the same and that becomes like a personality trademark for them. For example, one student of mine always said “and then a volcano exploded” when it was his turn. He took such pleasure from adding this same bit to each story. All the other students remember him saying that to this day and they are now in 2nd grade.
One of my favorite moments in all my years of teaching arose from these mealtime oral stories as well. I had a little girl in my class who was incredibly shy and anxious about being the center of attention. For almost an entire year, when it was her turn to contribute to the story, she would ask to be skipped which of course, we complied with. (Please never force a child to participate in activities like this.) But one day, at the end of the year, as the story came around to Rose, and I anticipated the usual pass, she belted out “and then the princess waved her wand and turned the dragon pink!”, as if she had been holding it in for weeks and couldn’t wait for her turn. All of us were stunned and Rose looked as if she had just conquered that dragon herself, which metaphorically of course, she had. From then on, Rose participated in every storytelling session, even frequently requesting to start them.
To this day, the parents of that class of children tell me the mealtime story is a rite of passage at their homes, as it is in my own. I still incorporate this tradition in my classrooms now and encourage you to read the article attached below. Introduce some version of this in your own rooms and see what amazing imaginations these little ones have.
This article about peer-mediated conflict resolution is such a brilliant idea that I’m hopping on this bandwagon asap for my own preschool class. How many times as a teacher do you have to mediate the same issues between children? Don’t children, and most adults for that matter, always learn better when they do things for themselves? As these two teachers in Vermont discovered, “Changing the problem-solving role from adult-led to child-led has created a classroom where there are fewer problems, problems are resolved more quickly, and there is less stress for everyone.” Do yourself and your students a favor and check out these solution cards….
This is a great video! An expansive explanation of why open ended play and creativity are so important in developing the whole child and thus adult.
Let us know what you think!
Articles like the one attached make me want to scream from the rooftops! As informed parents and educators I believe more strongly everyday that it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to promote play and physical activity for our children. The “push-down” approach to academics for children as young as 3 years old is an absolute crime. The article from the Washington Post states that many preschools receive pressure from parents to keep their children from “vigorous” play in order to avoid injury and allow for more time spent on academics. On what planet would it ever be okay for a child to spend time working on their letters when they don’t know how to skip across the playground yet?? PLEASE if you’re following this blog, you’re clearly at least interested in the emphasis on play for our children, if not already a proponent of it; help spread the word that PLAY is what they need at this age! As one of our favorite mentors, Lisa Murphy, states, we should be “honoring childhood for it’s own sake, not just as training ground for all the things that might be coming next.”
I will fully admit to being in a dry spell sometimes when it comes to writing posts for this blog. As I was driving to school this morning I was stressing a little bit about some new material, but my worries were relieved the second I picked up the mail. If you or your school do not already subscribe to the NAEYC magazine, I strongly encourage you to go to their website (link above) and begin an unending subscription. In this month’s issue alone, I tagged 6 articles that inspired me enough to pass along to either my student’s parents, this blog, my fellow teachers, or just file away for future activities. So there will be several posts this month that arise from this most recent issue and to prove that what goes around comes around, just as I’m singing the praises of NAEYC, there’s an article on page 13 encouraging teachers to start a blog:)