One Sunflower

teaching the classics

on February 28, 2010

Two years ago I presented a session to early childhood teachers about supporting literacy in second language learners.  A key piece of my presentation was focused on what I believe is an important responsibility of mine: to familiarize my students and their families with fairy tales, fables, classic tales and nursery rhymes.   It is especially important for my ELL students because their families may not be familiar with these stories that have become such an important part of what we call “American culture.”  My students will encounter references to “the big bad wolf” and “slow and steady wins the race”  for the rest of their lives and I want them to be able to identify those references and make the connections.  Besides, there is a reason why they are “favorites,” children love them.

At mid year I begin using nursery rhymes instead of songs to gather the students at circle time.  I find I have more success with them if I begin later in the year.  I think my ELL students need their ears “warmed up” to hear the rhythm and rhyme.  I begin with nursery rhymes that have stories that make sense – in other words, I begin with Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty, not Old King Cole.  This year I’m drawing the stories out as another way to demonstrate drawing people, scenery, etc.   The kids are begging for them, which is fun!

The past few weeks have been spent exploring versions of The Three Little Pigs and learning some real facts about pigs.  We’ve been drawing houses and pigs,  and building houses with blocks, legos, dominoes.  It has been a great way to cycle back through techniques for drawing and making houses, something my older students achieved 4 months ago but my 3-4 year olds need to practice.  I also shared a book about The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig.  The kids enjoyed the contrast – my boys especially love the picture where the big, bad, pig blows up the wolves’ concrete house with dynamite.

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