With the pressure of standards and testing data, it seems teachers often times have a hard time letting go and allowing kids to explore and discover new learning through play. Understandable as sometimes we feel administrators might not understand the process behind our instructional strategies and expect to see a purely academic focus. However, it is so important for our students to have lots of language experience.
If you’re not sure where to begin, try using puppets and a puppet theatre. It’s easy to make and incorporate into your teaching if you’re just now starting out or even if you’re an experienced teacher.
A puppet theatre doesn’t need to be expensive. I picked this tri-fold up from the school supply room, used a razor blade to cut out an opening, and colored it using markers and crayons! The kids love it.
While raising the level of interaction in group activities is important, some stronger results are most frequently seen from informal interactions between teachers and children, showing the importance of elevated language experiences during times such as directed play.
It only takes one short whole group lesson to demonstrate how to use your puppet theatre. Then, spend the next day during your language arts block of time calling small groups to participate retelling the story you read when you first broke it out during your whole group lesson. Engage your students in conversations and retellings that enrich their language using puppets or paper puppets laminated and hot glued onto tongue depressors. Finally, allow them to use this often for a richer language experience.
The Gingerbread Boy is a terrific beginning book. It has a repeating storyline that children are sure to remember along with an emotional ending they never forget!
If you give your kiddos the proper modeling and direct instruction how to retell a story, collaborate with each other in small groups, and interact with engaging stories, your students and their language ability will start to improve dramatically. And as a plus, you will be teaching the required standards and they will be mastering them through play.
Use words & phrases acquired through conversations, reading & being read to, & responding to texts.
Participate in collaborative conversations within diverse partners about kindergarten topics & texts with peers in small & large groups.
With prompting & support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose & understanding.
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