Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Literacy Play...Again

I know I've been blogging a lot about literacy play recently. But I've been seeing a lot of it happening in my church kindergarten class. Maybe it's the nature of my class - different from their school classrooms. We are not focused on reading and writing and phonics and all that important literacy stuff. Maybe they just have more opportunities to play with words and follow what interests them instead of doing whatever lessons are the emphasis for the day.

This week we had out of white boards. I sat at the table while a boy was writing and drawing. He carefully printed his first and last names at the top of the board. I narrated, as usual. "You are writing your name. You wrote your first name and your last name. You printed the letters neatly...."

He drew and we talked about what he was doing. Then he began to write some letters at the bottom of the board. I watched carefully, trying to discern what he was writing. I've gotten pretty good at deciphering kindergarten spelling of unfamiliar words. But this had me stumped. (I'm pretty good but often have lapses!) I started at the seven letters. I had no clue what this word, phrase, or sentence could be.

"I wrote my name backwards," he said. I looked again. His name, the letters written in reverse order.

"You did," I said. "Your name is backwards."

Then he started writing again. This time he wrote his name in mirror image - letters in reverse order and all the letters flipped in reverse, too.

He began to erase letters from other words he had written. "What does it say now?" he asked. I would read the words--as best I could--with only the remaining letters. He would giggle and then erase something else.

After the board was clear, he wrote his name again. Then he erased the first letter and wrote a different initial letter. I read his "new" name. He giggled, erased, wrote another letter. This went on for a few minutes. He continued to play with letters and words before he moved to play with blocks.

I think my friend thinks about letters as he does the blocks. Let's put them together, see what we get, rearrange them, remove a few, replace others. He's learning how to build words in different ways and what happens when letters are shuffled.

And it was fun!

I wonder how more kindergartners, first graders, all kids could explore and play with language like this. Reading class...writing time...language instruction could be so different. Let's figure out how to do it.

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