Last week, I arrived at the state university where I am a part-time instructor. I walked into the office of the elementary education department and the Head of the Department greeted me by name. I have only seen her three times since I began working at the university and she greeted me by my first name. Even as an adult, I am caught by that skill - intention - that teachers at all levels try to offer: the idea that each person is recognized and acknowledged, my face and name having been filed away in the Head of Department's memory.
"Hi, Jeanne," said the Head of the Department as she casually glanced up to see me, To See Me.
We spoke for a few minutes, standing in the office doorway, about final grades and next term's courses.
I started making my way down the hallway to the Co-chair of the Department and as I arrived at her open door, she looked up from her desk and said, "Hi...I thought I heard your voice down the hall..." We chatted for a few minutes about the semester, upcoming courses, and her sweet dog Lucy who was in her office.
I thought about how these same ideas are abundantly important in the early childhood classroom.
The most basic LITERACY: Young children know others by face and sound. This is how they "READ" and engage and connect. They see others and hear others, they discriminate details of how things look and how they sound. Young children are making meaning of their world bit by bit, face by face, sound by sound, voice by voice.
Classroom Games & Books:
1. Make class books of close-ups of parts of children's faces (you can take a regular portrait of the child, then crop in editing for Just Eyes, or Just Mouths, etc). Put the book in the Reading Area and children will love identifying their friends by these small clues!2. If you don't have a tape recorder to make a "Sounds Like" tape/CD to play, you can make a Sounds Like book! Have the children make a drawing of their own favorite sounds and create a class book. Perhaps someone loves Truck Sounds or Wind Sounds or Jingle Bell Sounds! Friends can identify their friends' favorite sounds in their drawings!
3. You can play Sound games at your meeting/circle time. Children can say Good Morning or any other phrase using a different kind of voice - a mouse voice, a booming voice, a high or low voice. They can make up lots of ways to play with their voice!
4. You can play I Spy Describing Games for eyes or hair..."Do you see someone who has long, brown, curly hair? Who could it be?"..."Do you see someone with big green eyes? Who could it be?"5. You can read Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle's : Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?