Starting with the activity and ending with the book in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on June 27, 2011

in Developmentally Appropriate Practices, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, The Value of Play

I have almost always started our day with circle time in preschool. I choose a great children’s book along with other conversation sparkers that ultimately branch out into a variety of other content areas like art, math, and so forth…

But lately, my three year old nephew, Wy, has been teaching me to rethink my approach a bit and to be more willing to “teach outside of the box”….

The other day, I posted a sweet little activity you can do with the book “The Mixed Up Chameleon” by Eric Carle. After preparing all my pieces, I set everything up and placed the book out on the carpet all ready to share with Wy. Wy had come to spend the night and I always prepare activities to do with him when I know he is coming over…

When Wy came into the preschool studio, he immediately started pointing at all the chameleons I had in the room. I invited Wy to come and sit with me so we could read about the Chameleons first but he was not interested. He ran from chameleon to chameleon and shouted, “Look!”…

So I just sat down on the carpet next to my book and went with it! As Wy pointed out all the chameleons, I played along and said things like “Oooh, you found a red chameleon!” Wy would run and bring me the Chameleon then I would say something like, “What happened to the chameleon? It isn’t red anymore!”

After Wy found most of the chameleons, he wanted to go outside so he picked up all the chameleons (scrunching them up in his arms) and took them outside…

After a bit, we brought the chameleons back inside and Wy began placing some of them on my little homemade easels….

And it was then that Wy discovered the book. He recognized the chameleon from his earlier play and sat down to explore the book. I sat down with Wy and together, we read the book and explored the mixed-up chameleon. We talked about how the chameleon changed color and how it was so hard to find a chameleon and how the chameleons all looked different when we moved them around the room…

All this is to say, that I am learning that there are definitely times when it is better to let children explore the materials first and then sit and read the story together. It is from the morning of discovery and play that Wy and I were now able to sit and have a meaningful conversation about the book – to have a meaningful “circle time” experience…

I thought I would use the book to introduce Wy to the concept of a chameleon and its changing colors but instead, Wy brought to circle time his own thoughts and understanding of chameleons that he had discovered through his morning time of play…

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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