Teaching Children to Think Using Children's Literature in the Classroom
Introduction • Children today come to the classroom facing many challenges. Teachers need to be competent to handle their questions and concerns, and using children’s literature in the classroom can help. • To feel comfortable using children's literature, teachers should first examine their own knowledge, attitudes, and prejudices through self-reflection and collaboration with others.
Introduction • Children’s literature provides the opportunity for the emergence and development of linguistic, strategic and literary competence besides a sound morality and social skills. • Effective exploitation however is crucial. • Children’s literature can also be useful in intercultural communication and make the young readers tolerant and knowledgeable about other cultures and people.
Importance of children’s Literature • A CONTEXT to Teach, PRACTICE and THINK • Improving all Language Skills besides Grammar and Vocabulary • Useful in teaching Argumentative Techniques • Exposure to other Cultures • Helps in Value Education
Selection Considerations • Objective Dependant/ Purpose • Type of Literature (poems, stories, plays, etc.) • Length of the material • Content of the material • Desired impact/ Effect • Interest based
How to effectively incorporate Literature in the language classroom? • See literature as an integral part of language • Incorporate literature in language teaching right from the childhood years • Introduce the BOOK effectively to the child which will also inculcate the reading habit and motivate children
How to effectively incorporate Literature in the language classroom? • Provide necessary background information about the author, his times, cultural aspect, etc. • For younger students illustrated materials are recommended to spark interest and aid comprehension • Use a variety of genres (short story, plays, essays, novel, poetry) to break monotony and add variety
Strategies/Activities to encourage student response • Avoid asking very general questions about a text such as, ‘Do you like it?’----these can be too vague and intimidating • Ask students to free-associate /brainstorm around a central theme or title of a text before they read it. How do their own ideas compare with those in the text? • Give students the bare outline of the situation in the text, for example, ‘My first day at school’ Ask them to recount their own experiences of this situation before reading the text. • Provide students with a questionnaire about some of the issues or situations raised in the text and ask them to discuss their own views or responses to the questions before or after reading the text.
Strategies/Activities to encourage student response • Ask students to imagine that they themselves are certain characters in a text. What would they do in the situation of the characters in the text? They could even write a letter of advice from one character to another. • Ask students to complete sentences which will lead them into the main themes or topics of the text. An example can be one / two poems on age and youth. Before they read the poems they can asked to write two sentences of their own beginning: • Children___________________ • Old people__________________ • Provide students with a guided fantasy linked closely to the setting of the text. Students are told to close their eyes and imagine the noises, sight, sounds, feelings, etc. that they might experience in their setting.
Types of stories to use Folk stories, fairytales, legends, fables: start by using stories from the culture of the children. They may know the stories in their native language and this will promote understanding and self-esteem among the learners.
For Speaking skills Storytelling with objects. Use objects such as toys, forks, cups, to trigger stories. For example, divide learners into groups of three to five, and distribute four to five objects to each group. Ask each group to make up a story that includes all of their objects. Storytelling with pictures. Use pictures in the same way as objects were used in the first activity. Distribute four to five pictures to each group, making sure each person has one picture. Ask each group to make up a story that includes all the pictures. Each person adds to the story using ideas suggested by his or her own picture.
For Listening skills • Read or tell simple stories to the students. You can use pictures or small objects. • Choose one person to start re-telling the story, then call on others to continue the story, letting each child say one to three sentences until the whole story has been retold. If a child gets confused and misses something important, or remembers it wrong, the teacher can make a correction. • Dictate short stories. To improve listening skills and help students practice their spelling, dictate short stories to the students.
For Reading • Find a version of a story that the children can read. • Read the story aloud the first time, or let the learners read the story silently the first time. • A third option is to let the students read the story aloud, with each child reading one sentence. This provides an opportunity to help students with pronunciation. • After the first reading, ask comprehension questions to find out what the students understood. Help them with parts of the story they do not understand.
For Writing • Have the learners draw or paint a scene or character from a story and then write at least one line from the story under the picture. • Use a variation of the speaking activities above (storytelling with objects or storytelling with pictures). After the learners create the story, have the group dictate it as one person writes it down. Once the stories are complete, this can be turned into a speaking activity, with each group reading/telling its story to the class. • Have students each write their own story, using objects or pictures. Then they can compare their stories within small groups.
Combining skills: Enhancing critical thinking and creativity • Students retell the story. Through oral retelling, students can demonstrate their comprehension of a story. Help students by emphasizing the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Then have students, working in pairs, retell the story first to each other and later to the entire class. • Use Total Physical Response (TPR). Select four verbs from a story and place them on index cards. Say each word and model its action. After the students know the first four verbs, add more. • Make a story timeline. Have students list the events of the story in the order in which they occur, using simple words. Assist the students by asking questions such as: "What happens first?" "What happens next?"
Combining skills: Enhancing critical thinking and creativity • Create a story board. Have students do simple line drawings of the story in time sequence such as is found in an animated movie or comic book. • Teach sentence patterns. Again using a book that features repetitive speech, write the sentence patterns on the board. Then have the students create new sentences to fit the patterns. Some examples are: “Who is sleeping in MY bed?” (from Goldilocks and the Three Bears) • Create story cards. Take short stories, such as fables, and put them on cards or construction paper. Have students, working in pairs, read the stories and then tell them to their partner.
Combining skills: Enhancing critical thinking and creativity • Do jigsaw reading. Separate a story into four equal parts. Number each part and post each one in a different corner of the room. Divide the students into groups of four and have students in each group number off from one to four. Then ask students to go to the corner that matches their number and silently read the story piece there. They then return to their seats and write down from memory what they recall of the story. After they finish writing, in numerical order each student tells the others in the group his or her part of the story.
A Sample Poem The Star Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in a sky. Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!
Questions The Star • Where do the stars shine? • What is the shape of the star? Draw and color it. • Describe some of the color images used in the poem. • Write about some things that you wonder about.