Thursday, March 14, 2013

We LOVE Dr. Seuss!

We're currently in the middle of a month long Dr. Seuss extravaganza in my classroom! Our Dr. Seuss unit quickly became one my very favorite units to do with my students. Last year was actually the first year that I even attempted more than just a few days of Dr. Seuss books and activities due to a awful experiences in my past...

Years ago, when I tried to introduce Dr. Seuss books to my deaf/hard of hearing students, they HATED them! Looking back, I think know that the failure was my fault... I didn't really think it through very well. Seriously, Seuss books are complete nonsense; to a child who can't hear and is struggling to learn to listen and talk, just to simply make sense of their world, listening to a Dr. Seuss story could be torture!

Last year, I rethought my approach, my goals, my story choices, my teaching style -- well EVERYTHING! The very first thing that I changed was my overall goal for the unit - since I'm working with deaf/hh students in an auditory/oral program (i.e we're working on listening and talking and do not use sign language) we always we have extensive speech and language goals integrated into every aspect of every activity - including vocabulary (expressive & receptive), comprehension, listening, oral language and the list goes on, with different and very specific goals for every child. My primary goal for every child became simply to have FUN; enjoy the stories, books, silly pictures, the 'sound' of the books (rhyme and rhythm) etc. I had to approach a nontraditional type of literature with a nontraditional approach to goal making...

The next thing that I did was choose books with a story line as my primary focus - books like 'There's a Wocket in my Pocket' just wouldn't cut it; they were too nonsensical and the kids, might listen to them, but I wasn't confident that we could do much more with them. My favorite books for my preschool students usually include: "dGreen Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat," "Mr. Brown Can Moo," and "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back." Some of these books get a little lengthy, but surprisingly, even my most fidgety students will usually sit for the entire book! These books include a reasonably familiar and fairly useful set of simple words (for vocabulary goals), not too much nonsense, silly pictures that go with the story and sequential related events (i.e. first, then, next, last). Picking the right books was half the battle...

I also altered how I read these books. The first time I read, I usually read right through without asking questions or stopping to point out pictures; I just want them to listen to my voice, the rhythm and the rhyme. The second time that I read, I often will read the words on the page and then follow with a short and simple explanation of what all those rhyming words meant - "All we could do was sit, sit, sit, sit. We did not like it, not one bit." - followed by " There was nothing to do- just sit. They didn't like it." Sometimes I simplify further for students who struggle with understanding more than a couple of words at a time -- "they are sitting" I'll read it several times with my simplified explanation before asking students any questions about the book; they need extra time to let it sink in and need to hear it many times before I can begin working on comprehension at any level. We might pick up the book and name pictures together, then I might ask them to name a picture or identify a picture - eventually, we get to more difficult comprehension questions (i.e. who, what, where, how...) I have to be on my toes and alter my questions for each students current level of understanding.

To make this long story - short, my deaf/hh preschoolers LOVE Dr. Seuss! Here are some of the fun activities that we're working on:



Circle Time Tree - Dr. Seuss Theme

Our Dr. Seuss Tree which hangs over our circle time corner. The kids love this tree; we decorate it for whatever theme or time of year it is. Soon we'll add flowers and green leaves for spring; we just took down snowflakes that were hanging in it.


The Cat in the Hat Bulletin Board

Up close of our bulletin board... all the things the cat in the hat does silly tricks with in the book. These are just hand drawn with sharpie marker, painted with liquid watercolors and laminated. They've been moved around several times and used for multiple activities. We've worked on receptive language (i.e. following directions "go get the cake and the cup"), prepositions (i.e. having students tell me where to put them up on the bulletin board on, under, next to, beside etc.) and silly pictures with the kids laying on the floor and the items positioned like they're balancing them just like the Cat in the Hat did in the book.

Some of our work trays/centers right now include:

Cat in the Hat Sensory Bin

One Fish Two Fish Counting Mats from Lakeshore

Gruff Tails - Fine Motor, Counting, Sorting & Patterns

Sand tray and sandpaper letters

Dr. Seuss Mini Felt Board Playset


ABC Magnet Match

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