Category: Learning Through Experience

Becoming the story: Reading aloud with Shakespeare

One of the best, and most fun, ways to get kids actively engaged in reading is through drama. For older readers, reading stories and plays aloud– and acting them out– helps master the finer skills needed for true literacy. It also encourages a love for the sound and rhythm of the words. We see this firsthand at Sunflower in our We Love Shakespeare! class.

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Reading on their own timetable

Both of my children, now young adults, went to Seedlings. I loved the fact that there was no academic curriculum, that they spent all morning in creative play. I knew that between the upcoming twelve years of school and four of college (and, perhaps, grad school), they’d eventually get plenty of instruction in math, history, science, and, of course, reading. Others around me, however, were more alarmed, especially about the lack of formal reading instruction…

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Audiobooks: Learning to listen

I found it most interesting that in my daughters’ teen years, when they talked about a book, they always said, “when I read…” Sometimes they had read the book, sometimes I had read the book to them, and many times they had listed to the audiobook. My daughters saw no distinction between reading the book and listening to the book. As adults we make this distinction. As a culture we value reading more than listening. Maybe because most of us can hear when we are born, but we have to learn to read. But hearing is not listening any more than word-calling is reading.

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Read me a story? As you wish.

Long summer days– when daylight stretches into nighttime and people and schedules are more relaxed– are the perfect time to get lost inside a book. But what good’s an adventure if you can’t share it?

For this series, we chose to talk about reading aloud, specifically, because it combines two of our favorite things: reading, of course, (and all that comes with it: language, literacy, expression, exploration) and community. Join us throughout the summer as Sunflower Blog explores reading aloud in all its forms and benefits, from the tangible to the more magical.

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A family of plastic horses and two 3-year-olds (child-led conflict resolution)

There are some days at Seedlings when we get to witness some amazing, completely child-led events. Sometimes it’s the fort to beat all forts, and other times it’s a simple interaction between young children that blows you away. On this particular day, I was roaming the playground with a camera and I came across two young boys playing with a pile of sand and a plastic animal menagerie. It was the first time I got to see the conflict resolution skills we talk about all the time in action.

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Positive Spaces

From the green middle of the park I follow the sidewalk all the way around with my eyes, like tracing a line. It occurs to me this is one of the few times I’ve explored the grassy areas and rough edges of this particular park… which is ridiculous. Usually when we come here, I’m running or biking, or my daughters are scootering. We hardly ever leave the sidewalk!

But the real life is in the middle, beyond the edges, in the “negative space,” to borrow a term from art class, that lies outside that concrete line that circles the park. And it occurs to me (in light of recent research) that young girls in particular, like mine, could benefit from going off trail and exploring outside the lines a little bit. All it takes is a little extra encouragement.

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Give them time (a story of watercolors and preschooler theoretical physics)

I was walking through the room headed off to do something important somewhere else, with no intention of stopping or even lingering to listen, but something about the intensity of their conversation drew my attention. As I stopped to listen to the three young girls chatting as they painted each others’ faces and arms, I thought that they were simply enjoying the beauty and wonder of creating living art. It turned out I was selling the situation and the learning experience very short…

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