For years my brother and I took turns reciting, “God is good, God is great, Let us thank Him for this food. Amen.” at the dinner table. We were so proficient at reciting the words to this prayer we would race to see who could recite it the fastest, much to my mother’s dismay. She would have liked for us to have placed more value in our words. 🙂
I am sharing with you this story from my youth because of the moment of inspiration I had in my own reading development when I first saw the words to this prayer written on paper. We were in Sunday School and the teacher was sharing a list of dinner prayers. I was following along with the class as she read the words to us from the paper. When she read the prayer I had verbally recited for years I remember becoming overwhelmed with emotion. Two things had simultaneously become evident to me: 1. I could read and 2. What I was saying had meaning!
WOW! This was such a powerful moment in my development that it is permanently etched in my brain and stored as a vivid memory.
I had not brought this memory out of the storage shelves in my mind until a conversation with one of our Reading Recovery teachers forced me to dust it off and think about my reaction as a child to this learning moment and how I want my own students to have these same reactions to their reading experiences.
My peer had recently attended a seminar where an aspect of reading success was related to singing songs along with the song sheets for children to read. She referenced the speaker’s website during our conversation.
We both took the time during the past two weeks to make a conscious effort to incorporate this into our reading instruction, thus making it very purposeful. My class had read and sung Frosty the Snowman from their poetry folders and I had already seen how powerful linking the words to music was as well as their overall engagement. I then chose to take it to the next step. We used You Tube to find the Disney sing a longs that we use to own on VHS. You might recall the ones I am referring to. The words are along the bottom of the screen with mouse ears bouncing over them as the music plays. Due to it being the holiday season, it was easy to find some just right for the weeks leading up to winter break. 🙂
As you can probably guess, my class of first graders were very engaged in their learning during our sing a longs. What impressed me the most is they did not get “lost” in the moment of the video. They were pointing out words to me as we went along…which went back to making the learning purposeful and meaningful to them.
Along with poetry sheets and music videos, there is a great series of books out by Alan Katz. One is Take Me Out of the Bathtub.
In these books, he creatively puts words to his own poems to well known songs such as, Take Me Out to the Ballgame. The kids have always loved it when I read them these and they have sung along…but now I will always make the point of putting the words in front of them as well so they can connect to the text on the page.
Keep singing and reading and promoting literacy success for all of your students!
Thank you to Discovery Education for the clipart used on this blog post.