Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mouse books and Lent and literacy readiness

The title may seem to indicate that I am somehow going to connect the separate topics into one cohesive post. Sorry, can't do it. The title is merely a list of the things which will appear in this post. First, Lent, which begins today. I only mention it because I wanted to draw your attention to past posts about what we do for Lent. I am still planning on writing more about observing the liturgical year, but this is not that time. If you are interested in reading more about the Lenten tree that we use or the readings which go along with the tree, just click the embedded links.

Now onto our morning's project. As I have mentioned before, we are working on writing books (and tangentially learning how books are made and what authors and illustrators do, etc.) One of my readers let me know about the book, Library Mouse, which I immediately put on hold at the library. It arrived yesterday and so we were able to read it today. It is a very cute story about a mouse who lives in a library, reads all the books, then decides to write his own. What is wonderful about it is that at the end every single child was gung ho to start writing a book. So, like the mouse, we first made little mouse-sized books, and everyone started writing like mad. (I think the beauty behind the small books is that they are so less intimidating to fill them up. It is a defined space which is not intimidating.) 

Even the little girls got into the act.

For TM, the making of the books was as interesting as the writing.

K. writing away.

And while I watched my little girls busy with their writing, I had some thoughts.  These little girls are three and a half. For all of that time, they have been surrounded with language and stories and books and writing. They have breathed it in with the oxygen in the air and have learned so much without anyone 'teaching' them. They know that squiggles on the page mean something. They know that people can put their ideas on the paper and other people can read them. (L.'s story was a sad one about a panda. G.'s panda story was much happier.) They have a sense of how letters look, even if they cannot yet replicate them. And they have ideas in their heads that are unique and that they want to share. They have a sense of story... beginning, middle, end... from hearing so many in their short lives. They are primed to be readers and writers when they are old enough to work the mechanics.



H. also wanted to join in. This is all new to her. She enjoys stories, but her experience with them is very limited. It will be a long time before she even catches up to the little girls in sheer number of stories listened to. (She is talking more and more about China. Just a few weeks ago she drops this into my (figurative) lap: "We had books in my China. But we not look at them. We watch movies.") And the learning/teaching she experienced was nearly all rote. (Yes, I know that is a cultural norm.) But those experiences all combined along with everything else don't leave a lot of room for facility in any language or a readiness for literacy. We have a long way to go and I have remind myself that every baby step counts.

K., who is much farther ahead at this point than I ever expected he would be, was busy writing and wanted to know how to spell the word, 'rocks'. So I spelled it for him. H. is very aware of what her younger brothers and sisters are doing, so immediately wanted to know how to spell 'rock' as well. So I spelled it and she wrote it. (Don't think I take this accomplishment lightly.) She then proceeded to do her work they only way she knew how. Repeat the word 'rock' over and over. I did ask her to draw a rock, which stymied her for a moment, but I helped her understand what a rock was and (this is actually new) was willing to try to draw one. Here is her work.

Seeing this makes me happy and sad all at the same time. I tell you I've spent the year being a mess of conflicting emotions. Joy at each new thing she accomplishes while at the same time mourning that her circumstances have delayed her accomplishing it until now. This piece of adopting an older child is one that I was not expecting at all.

1 comment:

sandwichinwi said...

And how awesome that she has a mother and teacher will to climb those baby steps with her at her pace!

Beautiful post!


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