Early learning is filled with repetition and play. Classic tales lend well to story retelling activities and are often repetitive in nature. These stories help build vocabulary, teach important life lessons, and entertain young readers.
Classroom teachers and parents can think beyond the book to help children fall in love with reading. Not only can children gather on the rug and listen to the teacher read, but they can also interact with the story in meaningful ways. Integrating mathematics, dramatic play, and science explorations strengthens early literacy experiences.
Here are three ways that parents and teachers can easily enrich their young learners reading experiences.
- Build a Prop Box
A prop box or basket is filled with the story and concrete objects from the story that children can use to interact with the story. These interactions help children develop language skills through role playing and communicating with classmates. They can act out the story from the book or create their own using the materials from the story.
Often, prop boxes are set near the dramatic play area or next to the literacy center. The story Little Red, retold by Pam Schiller is a modern day twist of Little Red Riding Hood. Teachers could include the following in a Little Red Themed Prop Box for their classroom.
- Picnic basket
- Checkered napkin or tablecloth
- Pretend food
- A red fabric rectangle or a red cape
- A puppet or stuffed animal wolf
- Story Sequencing Cards
- The book Little Red Riding Hood
- Cell phone
- 911 number card
A Little Red Hen Pop Box could include:
- The book
- Character magnets
- Chef hat
- Bread Loaf Pans
- Other baking supplies
- Stuffed animal or puppet hen, dog, cat, and goose.
- Pretend gardening supplies.
- Burlap sack
For extra support: Teachers could model how to use different voices to represent the characters. The wolf may be a gruff sounding voice, whereas Little Red may use a higher pitch voice. The cat may be a little bit whiny when it says, “Not I.”
For advanced learners: Consider adding written out phrases from the story for the children to read.
- Connect Literacy With Math
Students learn in a variety of ways and story interactions can be adapted many ways to allow for differentiated instruction. Extend the language experiences to the math center with this easy to build gray shape wolf.
Gray Shape Wolf Math Activity Connection for Little Red
Gray felt or construction paper
- Precut the shapes for the children. You will need:
- 1 long grey rectangle for the body.
- 4 small rectangles for the legs.
- 1 trapezoid for the head.
- 1 triangle for the ear.
- 1 slender diamond for the tail.
- Talk to the children about the name of each shape. Explain that they will be building a gray wolf. In the story, “Little Red,” and many other classic tales, the wolf is often portrayed as the villain. Discuss the names of the wolf’s body parts and which shape would be best for each.
- Have the children assemble the wolves without glue on the paper.
- Then, let them glue their gray shape wolf to the paper to take home.
FUN Facts: The gray wolf can be found in the wild of North America. Some people also call them Timber Wolves. In the wild they hunt for deer in packs, or groups of wolves.
- Enrich Literacy Experiences with Science Explorations
Children are naturally curious about the world. Early science experiences help children ask questions and find out more about the world around them. Science should be an everyday experience for young learners. Traditional tales can easily be enriched with science connections. Here are just a few ideas for your classroom:
- Many classic tales talk about packing a picnic or making home-made bread. Many children today may not have these experiences. Time and resources permitting, create a shared experience with your class by making bread together.
- Gather a large blanket and head outside for a snack picnic. Talk about the influence weather has on picnic plans.
- The science center for classic tales can also be as simple as a container of wheat with a magnifying glass. The book, “Little Red Hen” could sit nearby for children to re-read.
For more ideas on how to integrate traditional stories into your classroom and enrich children’s learning experiences, visit your online teacher manual for the Frog Street Pre-K Comprehensive Curriculum teachers’ guide.
Are you a school, head-start center, or child care facility interested in purchasing our early learning curriculums, please contact us at 1-800-884-3764
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Author Bio: Amanda Boyarshinov is an experienced teacher and practiced parent to three active children. She has her Masters Degree in Reading Education K-12 and her National Board Certification in Early Childhood. She enjoys inspiring parents and teachers through her creative and inventive articles.