So two nights ago as I was reading a chapter of Debbie Miller’s Reading With Meaning, I realized I have overlooked something so simple but so powerful….singing in the classroom. This year I hit the ground running with the curriculum load on my shoulders, hurrying through my day while trying to fit everything in. There aren’t enough minutes!
From Chapter 3 of Reading With Meaning (you must purchase this book!), Real Reading from the Start, Debbie says,
“…once they know the words, laminated copies go into their baskets and plain copies are sent home. In addition to their repetition, rhythm and rhyme, my reasons for choosing songbooks and singing songs are many: *They’re fun! *Children are instantly engage and motivated to learn and read the words… *The words and tunes are easy to learn; children read along right away and feel part of the “reading club” almost immediately. *Children love to take them home to share… *Repeated readings increase phonemic awareness and build sight word vocabularies.
A light bulb instantly went off…why, oh why, wasn’t I already doing this?! I had at one point but lost it in the muck of trying to do everything. It’s hard to slow down the pace of what is expected to think about what is needed.
So the very next day I was able to incorporate it into a center I call library time. Usually the students have a short task and then move on to free reading time. Today I printed of copies of a favorite song, Baby Beluga by Raffi and A Hunting We Will Go. I also pulled copies of CD’s and placed them at the center. It was a hit! My fragile students begged to go there. While listening and singing, they actually pointed to words, using one-to-one correspondence (gasp), and afterwards they were able to read some words to me (YAY!). AND they were able to sequence the song (which is a skill we’ve been working on) and tell me about the characters and setting.
It’s so easy and simple but it covers so much of what they need. So I complied a song book containing 14 songs and made a smaller version to print out for students. I even sung my little heart out to record the songbook into a CD (no I can’t sing very well but I know my kids won’t mind). I plan on keeping the song book around for a while making sure they are familiar. Then I bet I will be on to songbook 2!