I have a very strong belief that a child’s words are valuable and that when they realize it, they will take ownership of them and discover a new found pride in them. One way that I do this is through Sticker Stories. I take a brightly colored 8 1/2” x 11” piece of paper and cut it in half. I then provide some stickers, usually about a theme we’re studying or something that’s been particularly interesting to the kiddos. This past summer we did a whole month on Dinosaurs and there was LOTS of interest. When we did sit down with lots of stickers they had prior knowledge about dinosaurs, so it was also a great way to check their comprehension of what we had been learning. Each child chose three stickers and placed them at the top of the paper. I had the child sit beside me, since I’m right-handed, I had them sit to my right so I they could see the letters being formed correctly as I wrote the words. I then wrote down what they said EXACTLY as they said it. If the mispronounced words or used incorrect grammar, it didn’t matter. The important part was writing EXACTLY what they said, thereby reinforcing how valuable their words are. It’s also important for the adult to write in their best teacher/preschool print so the letters look like the ones the children see in the environment and in books. After they concluded their story, I read it back to them, running my finger under the words. This is a great way to show them the left to right progression of words in the English language.
You will notice that I only capitalized the proper words and all other letters are lowercase. This is something that is VERY important to do with small children. Sadly, many parents and other adults write children’s names with the letters in all caps. This can confuse children when educators try to show them how their name looks in writing. They are convinced that all caps is the correct way. It would be a much easier progression in the learning process if we could all get on the same page.
When we have group time I place the letter carpets out for the children to sit on. I place them so that children walking up to the group will see each letter right side up. It’s just another way to ensure they are learning the correct orientation of the letters.
Back to reinforcing the value of their words, at our last group time of the day I have each child come up to the front of the group, if they are comfortable doing so. Prior to this we have discussed the role of an author and an illustrator. I tell the children that this child is the author of this story. The child stands there as I read their story to the other kiddos. When the story is complete we all acknowledge it with a polite golfer’s clap (small and quiet claps beside the face). You should see the pride and joy on the face of the author during this time. Another level of this activity would be for either the teacher or the child to choose other kiddos to be the actors in story as it’s being read.
Recently we’ve added a new dimension to the activity. Over the summer I visited the beach and acquired some smooth stones. I brought them home, washed them, then placed stickers and fabric pieces on them with Mod Podge. You can see the variety on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=262539450524262&set=a.184452911666250.34612.170943436350531&type=1&theater
I then placed them on a raised wooden plate and put them in the writing area.
Today the kiddos began asking about them. I explained to them that they could take 3 to 5 stones of their choosing and tell me a story that I would write down for them. After they finished their story and I read it back to them, I took a photo of the stones they had chosen. We’ll read the stories and share the photos at group time, but I also plan to post them in the room and make them part of their portfolio.
Another thing I do that reinforces the value of words is our photo of the month. I take LOTS of photos!! I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear that. lol At the end of each month, I choose one photo of each child, print it out in a 4x6 format, and mat it on an 8 1/2” x 11” piece of cardstock. Then I sit with each child and ask them to tell me what they were doing in the photo. I write down whatever words they say along with their name and the month and year. The next month I do the same, just flipping the cardstock over to use both sides. These pages are displayed in sheet protectors on the back of our shelving units for families to enjoy and are sent home in each child’s portfolio at the end of the year. This not only shows their physical growth, but allows the parents to see the growth of their language skills, as well.
As you can see, I’m very passionate about instilling a sense of ownership of their words to each child. Words are powerful and what a great way to impress that power to them at such a young age.