Have you tried bringing a Literacy Unit into your Fall Thematic Unit?
It’s what I have been doing for the past year and I love it!
What makes a Literacy Unit different then just reading a book during your thematic unit? And why should you be incorporating Literacy Units?
Let’s look at bringing a Literacy Unit into your Fall or Autumn Thematic Unit.
Many times when we have a thematic unit around fall or autumn we focus on reading themed books. The books might revolve around apples, pumpkins, leaves, and fall in general.
We also bring that thematic flair to the art center by adding leaf and pumpkin cut-outs. Or, we bring Autumn into our sensory tub with leaves and acorns. We tote in pumpkins for the science center and we might even bring Fall into our Drama Center by creating a Pumpkin Patch!
In addition to thematizing the centers, our lessons also focus on the theme at hand. It might be opening an apple, taste testing it and graphing. Or, it might be creating a leaf collage from fallen leaves.
Whatever we do, it’s generally on theme.
Now, don’t get me wrong here… I like themes. Especially Fall ones…#pumpkinspiceeverything
But, when it came to Literacy and Read Alouds… I felt something was missing.
I wanted to go deeper than just reading the story aloud and maybe asking some questions at the end.
I wanted to add more literacy to the fall unit.
Again, don’t get me wrong- read alouds alone are powerful. I was just ready to get more out of that time.
So, I set out to find an age-appropriate way to introduce these things…
- Author’s Purpose
- Writer’s Craft
- Story Element
- Art Element and/or Phonological Component
- Reaction/Connection to Read Aloud
- Extension Activity
As a former first grade teacher, I know how hard we worked on learning some of these amazing things when it comes to reading, comprehension and creating a love of books.
So, why not bring them into the preschool classroom – BUT in a bite-sized, introductory kind of way.
Last year, that is exactly what I did. And I loved it. Why? My students were learning SO much about literacy. But, the best part- they were falling in love with books, book series and authors. Creating this love of literature at a young age makes my heart so happy!
So, I wasn’t giving up my thematic unit. Instead I was adding to my read-aloud time.
So, during that read-aloud time each week I would focus on one book & author.
Yes, one book for the entire week – the benefits of re-reading a book is also important.
But, each day that I read that book, we focused on something different.
So, for the Fall Unit we read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. We first did a prediction activity before reading, read the book and then did a simple discussion on our reactions to the book.
The second day we re-read the book, talked about the purpose of the book and we also ‘met’ the author.
The third day we re-read the book and focused on the author’s craft (in the Leaf Man book it was the italics she used as a text feature) and the illustrator’s craft (in the Leaf Man book it was the cut-outs on the pages).
The fourth day we re-read the book and focused on a story element (in Leaf Man we talked about the setting) and learned new vocab from the book.
Finally on Friday, we re-read the book (which students could now recite parts of with me) and we learned of other books written by the same author. We also did an extension activity (for Leaf Man it was going outside and collecting leaves to create our own Leaf Man).
I limited the read aloud time to no more than 10 minutes a day.
Remember, I was just casually introducing these concepts. I was doing a lot of ‘noticing aloud’. Like when you might say, ‘Oh look at how author made these words look slanted. That is called italics. I think she did that because it was a repeating part in the book. Look it’s on other pages too.’ < That’s it. Mentioning it aloud, perking up the interest and noticing things they would not have noticed before.
It sounds simple, because it is. But, lemme tell ya- after you help your littles look deeper into that book – they now will start doing it with other books. That love for finding the details in books isn’t just about reading- it’s also about writing.
Writing? Yes. Writing.
No, not handwriting, writing writing.
Story writing. We learn how to construct stories by reading stories.
We learn that authors write the stories. We learn that authors are people, we see a picture of them, we learn about them. We too can be like them and write stories.
We are setting the foundation for our kids to be confident little story tellers.
Now, that is what I call a HUGE benefit!