This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here for more posts from her or check out her blog!
It’s the fair season and I can hardly wait to visit our local fair! The Evergreen State Fair is just a few miles from my school and a lot of kids will be going. This is the perfect opportunity to help kids activate their schema about the fair and animals, let them engage in retelling with some fun props, and read a book featuring one of my favorite characters… MRS. WISHY-WASHY!
Sharing Our Schema
Many of my students will have just gone to the local fair by the time we start school, so Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair from the Joy Cowley Collection will be the perfect book to introduce the idea of schema.
When I introduce schema, I start by telling the kids that our brains are like a big filing cabinet. Everything we read, experience, or observe goes into that filing cabinet. I use the example of hot air balloons because we live by a hot air balloon field. I tell the kids that I’ve read books about hot air balloons and I’ve filed that information away. I’ve seen hot air balloons taking off and landing, which I’ve also filed away. One thing I have never done is ride in a hot air balloon. I don’t have schema for that, but someone else may and that is what makes our schema different from one another.
Back to the concept of the fair, I ask the kids to tell me what they know about the fair to activate their schema before reading the text. More specifically, we focus in on the competitions they have at the fair. Some kids in our area participate in 4-H and may be able to share exactly what the animal competitions are all about. After we’ve activated our schema and shared things we know about animal competitions at the fair with our classmates, we’re ready to read the book. I usually stop during reading and ask the kids if they have schema to add.
Retelling With Props
A few plastic animals, a spray bottle, and a plastic bin (so water doesn’t get everywhere) are all you need to create this retelling station. Some kids will be able to easily pick up the props and start reenacting the story, talking out loud as they go. Other kids will quietly spray an animal but won’t tell the story out loud. This is a great opportunity to jump into playtime and listen, model, and encourage. Adding some of the language in the story and talking with kids about the meaning behind different words is a great idea as well.
Mrs. Wishy-Washy is always a favorite character in my classroom with my kindergarten students. I imagine this year will be no different. I can’t wait to hear about my students’ fair experiences and share Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair with them!
To learn more about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and see Joy Cowley's books, you can click here to visit our website or click the Joy Cowley Collection series image below to download an information sheet with key features.