When little children learn to talk they are learning the most important first step to becoming good readers. They are learning what words mean. While the alphabet and phonics are important next steps to reading, without comprehension, a child misses the whole point of reading, which is to understand.
The Gift of Words conversation starters offer parents many ways to teach children what words mean. If teachers and parents in a classroom use The Gift of Words together, children will hear, repeat and remember more new words. It doesn’t take more time to develop a big vocabulary; it takes more words.
TEACHERS – PARENTS WORKING TOGETHER CAN
Week 1: Read the book with children and try using the conversation starters at home and at school.
Use one conversation starter a day.
Let the child choose the conversation starters you talk about.
If your child is not interested in any of the book starters try a topic you see him interested in.
Notice which conversations a child likes the best. Return to those topics.
At school keep a chart of conversations tried at home and at school.
Week 2: Choose one of the book’s conversation starters to spend time with, e.g. #8 Cook it, Eat it, Clean it up.
Ask parents to look at the book and choose a kitchen conversation every day for a week. Say-what-you-see your child doing.
Keep classroom charts or a book at sign in for parents to write three food words they saw their child understood at home.
Teachers use the family’s words with each child in group or kitchen play.
Add real things children and moms talked about at home to the school eating, cleaning or cooking curriculum.
Show each child a photo or a drawing in a book of one of the words they talked about at home.
Post the pictures on a chart and say the word when the child is looking at it.
Compare the real object with the photo or picture of it, e.g. real table/photo of a table.
Week 3: Each parent choose one focus: cooking, eating or cleaning and talk all week about it.
Talk about the pictures in The Gift of Words using that focus, e.g. “What is the girl in the red dress taking out of the refrigerator? What is she holding in her hand? What will she cook with them? Or The girl in the red dress is taking milk out of the refrigerator to put on her oatmeal for breakfast. Do you think she likes brown sugar on her oatmeal? Do you like oatmeal?”
What new words does your child like to say?
What words did the parent repeat a lot?
Think of different ways of repeating a word to make it fun (say it in a whisper, sing it…)
Week 4: Moms with cell phones can video the child trying to talk about something. Post it on classroom website or on PlaySmartLiteracy site.
Often the mom is the only one who can understand her child’s talking, so she can translate on the video what her child is saying.
Email the video to the teacher or use website of Play Smart :Literacy.
Teachers video in school any child whose family does not have a cell phone.
Week 5: Teachers or other adults show the child the video that his parent emailed to her.
Talk about what you see the child trying to do or say in the video.
Write down what the child says in or about the video or does at mealtime or in the play