Books now come in different forms as technology advances, but the stories in it will always be something we fall back on. Starting a session in a childcare centre with a storybook is a common way to introduce a new topic to the preschoolers. It’s not only a good way to bring in the language and literacy aspect of the topic, but it is also a good way to pique their interest. Here, we share some activities childcare teachers do that you could also do at home.
Incorporating them in routine activities
It’s never too early to start reading books, therefore we could start while they are still infants. At this stage, the storybooks are mostly filled with textures or pictures coupled with simple phrases. These simple phrases could be made up of rhymes and repeated sounds where you could explore different variations of tones and rhythm or they could be made up of action words where you could act it out, maybe with them. Your baby may not be repeating the words after you as they are still unable to make the sounds out accurately but you could still make use of it outside of storytime so that they get to hear it more. Incorporating appropriate rhyming words or action words during different routine activities is one of the ways to continue that exposure and make use of the words from books. They can be useful too as they help to make it a fun process and start to develop into a pattern for your baby to understand that hearing these sounds means it is time for a certain activity. This could continue as they grow older into the playgroup stage. When they are older, they may even be the ones to take the initiative and use these rhymes to inform you that it’s time!
Explore the language through rhymes
Talking about books with rhymes, you could have a mini competition with them to come up with as many rhyming words as possible (apart from those words that are already found in the book). Sometimes, teachers also bring in non-existent rhyming words (words that rhyme but have no meaning). This is an activity for younger preschoolers that are able to make out sounds properly and are at the phase of exploring the different phonetic sounds of our alphabet. There is no need to restrict rhyming words to actual words at the moment as long as the sounds of these words still make sense. For example, they could say “lub” as a word that rhymes with “tub”. You can then tell them that there isn’t such a word but it’s fine as that isn’t the purpose of this activity. While coming up with the rhyming words, you would probably come across actual words that are new to your child. You could then take the opportunity to introduce the meanings of these new words to them, further expanding their vocabulary. As they grow older, you can then start to restrict it to actual words. You may increase the difficulty by asking them to continue the story with a rhyming phrase instead of just focusing on the rhyming word.
Emotional and social development
As much as stories are a literary device for cognitive and literacy development, they can also be a platform for emotional growth and social development. Books are a good way to introduce social-emotional pointers to young children and teachers do use them as tools to address certain behavioural issues. This activity would be more appropriate for preschoolers who are old enough to express themselves. At this age, you will be able to introduce them to books that have a simple storyline. After the storytelling, it is good to check in with them about how they feel about it. You could talk with them about the parts of the story that made them feel excited or scared or use it as an opportunity to talk more in depth about the moral of the story or link it back to something they experienced. Give them “what-ifs” scenarios based on the stories and let them think about what they would do if they were in the same situation. This could even extend to be a role-play situation which children love. Pretend play helps them to develop empathy and have understanding of different perspectives in a safe environment.
Letting them take charge
After the first few years of exposure to storybooks and words, you can let your preschooler take charge. You have been the one reading to them all these while and it is now their turn to read to you! They may not be able to read out the words in the book, but the emphasis here isn’t about reading. Moreover, they probably remember the stories of their favourite books. Even if they do not, let them have fun with the storylines based on the illustrations. There are also picture books with no words where the storyline would be up to anyone’s interpretation and you could use them to let your child’s creativity flow. Preschoolers have great imagination and creativity and this is a great platform for them to explore. Another way to let them take charge is for them to extend or change the story. They could also come up with their own story if they wanted to. Even though they may not be able to write about it, they can start with telling you through drawings or putting pictures together. So, it could start as a picture book without words and you could choose to fill in the words for the story for them after they are done.
A storybook doesn’t always have to be a leading activity to bedtime and there are follow-up activities that you could do with your child even if you have not finished telling the story. As technology advances and screen time becomes readily available to infants, toddlers and preschoolers, let’s not forget about our good old books and the possible off-screen activities that we can do.
After all, parents and teachers alike, are the authors of your child’s early years.
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