Here’s a fun activity to engage your students in reading.
What is Kindergarten Day?
Kindergarten Day is an idea from Susie Gross and it’s where the teacher reads a children’s picture book out loud to their students just like teachers do in elementary school.
I love to do this activity whenever I feel my kids need a break from the routine. It’s still comprehensible input, but just in a different way and since it feels different to my kids, they think of it not as work.
How to Do Kindergarten Day?
Choose a Book
You’ll first want to choose a book appropriate to the level that you’re teaching. Keep in mind that children’s books are more difficult than they first appear because they contain vocabulary that native children would know, but students may not.
So choose a book that is going to be of high interest, has lots of vibrant pictures, and has simplified text to start with.
Although, I don’t teach with themes, I do teach colors with a series of books that I have for my level 1s. It’s a series of 4 or 5 books that focus on different colors in each of the books. There is the “Blue Turtle,” “The Red Rhino,” “The Yellow Hippo,” and others. By the time I’ve finished reading the series, by kids are pretty fluent in the “Crayola 8” box of colors.
Other than that series, I just pick books that I think my students will enjoy and have limited text. Generally speaking, many of the “Clifford” and “Berenstain Bear” books are too difficult for most language students.
How to Read Kindergarten Style
For true beginners, I like to start by reading the book “infant” style.
This means that instead of reading the text on the page, I’m simply describing the pictures of the book.
This is what I do with the “Blue Turtle” series. I just talk about each animal and ask them what color everything is.
As students’ proficiency levels increase, you can summarize the longer text pieces into language they can easily understand. I generally will stick to any dialogue that is written, but any other text pieces I will paraphrase to make it more comprehensible.
For my more advanced students, I can read the simple text on the page as it is written, just defining any new words on the board.
One key aspect to the process is questioning. As you read, you’ll want to constantly ask yes/no, either/or, and question word questions about the content of what you’re reading.
We do this so that students hear the patterns of the language over and over again in a natural way, and it also helps students stay focused on the story long enough so they can acquire some of the language.
I can easily spend only a minute or two describing the picture or reading the text, but then spend five or more minutes asking questions about what we just read.
Remember, as in all things comprehensible input, the goal is not to get to the end as quickly as possible. We go slowly, at the pace of our students’ comprehension to maximize the impact of the lesson.
If it takes me more than one day to read a children’s story, then it takes me more than one day to read it. As long as we’re in the target language and I’m being comprehended, then all is good.
Make it Fun!
One way to spice up this activity and make it even more enjoyable for students is to allow them to bring in a snack to eat and a stuffed animal to hug. Even in high school, my kids loved bringing in their raggedy stuffies to snuggle with as we read together. And what kid doesn’t LOVE to eat in class?
My kids know it’s a special time as I don’t generally allow food in class. This makes the whole activity one looked forward to by my students.
So that’s Kindergarten Day, short and sweet! Have you done Kindergarten Day in your class before or something similar? Let us know in the comments below! I’d love to hear all about it.
Also, you can download our FREE Kindergarten Day Guide using the link below.
Happy Comprehensible Input!