Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adding a Little Drama to Reading Time

The bedtime ritual in our house pretty much always includes reading. When I had my first baby, a wonderful doctor told me how she read to her sons for 10-15 minutes before each nap and bedtime. She advised me to try it as it made naps a time children would look forward to, rather than dread. It has worked famously! My kids willingly run to the bedroom to choose their story before an afternoon nap. And they are verrrr-y disappointed when we get home too late at night and have to kibosh their story time.

We began this nap/bedtime routine by reading simple board books to our babies when they were 11-12 months old. Now with our two older children, we sit on the floor in their bedroom and read before bedtime. I don't think any of us will outgrow it anytime soon!

Having this routine in place helps this Not-so-scheduled-Mommy make sure we get around to giving our children those 20 valuable minutes of daily read-aloud time. Now with a more laid-back summer calendar, it's great to add a little more reading time some days. Especially with rewards offered through Summer Reading programs at the local library!

I was reminded this week of some dramatic enhancement I could bring to reading time. Most college notes have been long-since tossed, but one file I saved was from my Drama with Children class. Incorporating drama with children's literature helps children better understand and interpret what they are reading or hearing. There's lots more in my notes, but just know it's helping with Important Life Skills. I promise.

This is an easy technique that can be done with any short story that has several characters or important elements. You choose 3-10 words in the story (depending on how many participants you have) and make up a short phrase or action for each. Then assign each action to a child (or group of children). Have a practice time for them to respond to your Cue words with their parts, so they will be ready when you read the story.

We tried it with the story of Joseph in the Bible. I gave each of my kids a character, had them practice their lines, and then read the story aloud while they each did their part.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers – Genesis 37

Joseph hold pretend coat lapels, say “The Lord is good”
strokes beard, shakes head saying “Oh, my sons”

cross arms, scowl, and say “Not fair!”
Reuben shake finger, say “No, no, no”

point finger, say “Carry this, carry that”
Coat of Many Colors (ALL) stroke sleeve, say “Ahh, nice”

The book of Genesis tells the story of a man named Jacob who
had many sons. He loved his son Joseph the most and gave him a coat of many colors. The other brothers hated Joseph because Jacob loved him more. Joseph even had dreams that his brothers bowed down to him. When he told his brothers, they hated him even more. One day, Jacob sent Joseph out to check on his brothers, who were out in far-off fields watching the flocks. When his brothers saw him coming, they made plans to kill Joseph. But brother Reuben heard the plans, and he stopped them. Reuben told them to not kill Joseph, but rather to put him in a deep pit. When Joseph came close, they pulled off is beautiful coat of many colors and threw him down in the empty pit. Later, when the brothers sat down to eat, they saw some Ishmaelite people traveling by on camels on their way to Egypt. “Come, let us sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites,” they said. So they sold him for 20 pieces of silver. When Reuben later returned to the pit to rescue Joseph, he tore his clothes in sorrow, for the boy was gone! The wicked brothers then took the coat of many colors and dipped it in the blood of a young goat. They brought the coat to their father, Jacob, who thought an evil beast must have eaten his son. He did not know that Joseph had been taken to Egypt as a slave and sold to one of Pharoah's officers. But God knew, and He had great plans in store for Joseph.

This could be a fun technique to implement next time you are watching a group of children or teaching a class. For some helpful, easy-to-implement tips on guiding and improving your child's reading skills, check out the School Marm.

Bring on the drama, kids!

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