ABC and 123: Teach Mama: Oral Language & Read-Alouds

Monday, June 7, 2010

Teach Mama: Oral Language & Read-Alouds


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Oftentimes, our days are so packed with activities that we overlook the importance of shared storybook reading with our little ones. It's easy to jump from one activity to the next without taking time to sit still, breathe, and enjoy a richly written children's book together. And when we do get the opportunity to read, sometimes we're so tired, we zip through the book without thinking about the great chances for learning it offers.

For this series, I'll highlight some easy ways to develop vocabulary, oral language, comprehension strategies, phonological awareness, and concepts of print in super-simple--but very worthwhile--ways, all during the short span of a book read together.

Here are just a few ways of developing Oral Language during read-alouds:
  • Oral Language Development: Before, during, and after reading, we have a captive audience during read-alouds. Why not use this time to model the use of rich and descriptive language?
Oral Language can--and should--be developed at all times of the day, but it's especially important to work on oral language development during book reading. We really don't want to get into the habit of interrupting the flow of a story with a "teachable moment" comment every other page. But we can make meaningful comments and share our observations using "rich and descriptive language".

You can develop Oral Language by saying:
  • "I notice that the little girl in the picture is not playing in a safe way. She should sit down on her swing" instead of "That girl needs to sit!"
  • "Arthur's family looks like they are very prepared for their vacation with all of the supplies they have packed in their car" instead of "Look at all of the stuff they shoved in their car!"
You can also:
  • ask open-ended questions to your child, repeat his answer, and build upon them by adding or expanding their response;
  • use follow-up questions to help your child expand her response if she answers with a one- or two-word response;
  • model active listening by giving your child ample time to answer your questions.
Developing Oral Language during read-alouds--or any time!--is easy. All we have to remember is that even though our children are young, they can still benefit tremendously by hearing the use of rich and varied language.

Many thanks to Beauchat, Blamey, & Walpole's "Building Preschool Children's Language and Literacy One Storybook at a Time," in September 2009's The Reading Teacher for inspiration on information in this post.) So let's start noticing words--and keep talking about it!

Next up: Comprehension Strategies During Read-Alouds

You can find more on this topic and others over at teachmama, where Amy shares the ways she sneaks a little bit of learning into her children's every day. . . or as often as she can with a 6, 4, and 3 year old. Or join her--and many other ABC & 123 friends--at we teach where they're chatting up a storm, sharing ideas, and learning a little themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reminder! With four kids, it seems that too often I'm just trying to get through the read-alouds as fast as possible so I can move on to the next thing on my list. This is a good reason to slow down and remember to treasure this time with my littlest ones.

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