Monday, July 24, 2006

Colour Your World

Date: 22 July 2006
Class: IIB
Attendance: 8/9

The children carried on with the colouring of their drawings of animals from last week. Those who had completed their colouring were given simple handout comprising a puzzle and a P2 english sentence matching exercise.

As planned, I decided to break the children into two groups. S, R, WR, YX were coached by me while K helped to take care of LM, C, NZ and J. Z was not here today. We got the children to read the book in turns this round as compared to the normal class story reading session to break up the monotony and to give the children a chance to read.

My group had only 1 good reader while the others needed more coaching. What touched me today was S's performance. She is a delightful child, full of smiles and very fun loving. Her favourite thing in kidsREAD is not reading but drawing on the whyteboard when she has the chance! Today was different, I coached her a little more intensively on her reading while alternating with the 3 boys and found she actually tried very hard to read although some of the words were beyond her. Her weak vocabulary means that she needs plenty of coaching for polysyllabic words. I could detect the interest in her to learn if it was made interesting to her!

While reading the book, I corrected their pronunciation and tried to inject life into the passages by varying my voice for the bits of dialogue in the story. It's a bit of a challenge to get them to read the story with life since getting them to read the sentences without a mistake was a big achievement at their level (Primary 1).

Once we were done with the book, I got them to do a simple spelling exercise based on the words found in the book. Interestingly enough, S was quite enthusiastic and even wanted more words to spell once we were done with the initial 5 words. That really motivated me to try to give her even more attention as I think she is starting to show more interest in kidsREAD.

The volunteer-student ratio in my class now is 9:2 with the help of K. Thanks K for going an additional hour beyond the 10.30 am class! I will approach HM to see if I can wrangle 1/2 of the JC students to help in my class!

Volunteering in kidsREAD surprises me each session with something new I learn about myself or the children. I leave you with this poem!

Monday, July 17, 2006

kidsREAD History




KidsREAD: MRT Read & Ride

kidsREAD Community in Singapore

The power of search engines and the internet!

Here are some of our counterparts doing kidsREAD in CDAC centres:

CDAC kidsREAD Links
[1] Woodlands SSC has their own Yahoogroups here:
[2] Jurong SSC's own Yahoogroups
[3] CDAC HQ's webpage on kidsREAD

National Volunteer and Philantrophy Centre Website (NVPC)
Community Involvement Program (CIP)

kidsREAD Experiences by Individual Volunteers or Institutions
[1] Republic Polytechnic's kidsREAD session in their RP library
[2] Yayasan Mendaki gets started on kidsREAD in their May 2004 newsletter article
[3] Whispering Hearts Student Care Centre kidsREAD programme
[4] Girzilla blogger's experience with kidsREAD
[5] My personal experiences with kidsREAD at Jurong Student Service Centre (CDAC)

Mama Do You Love Me?

Date: 15 July 2006 Class IIB

Today I had C to help me with the class which has now grown bigger.

The book that I chose today was "Mama Do You Love Me?" by Barbara M. Joose and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee. The more I get into the kidsREAD program and read more children's books to my class, the more I realise that illustrations play a very important role in children's reading. While adults can read a novel consisting entirely of words, words and more words, young children need to have some visual stimulation through pictures, graphics and illustrations to help give them visual cues in which to build their imaginations.

The same goes for blogging to some extent. Blogs on serious issues that are persistently non-political require the exercise of the little grey cells we have in abundance in our head. However, the blogs that literally catches our eyes more are the ones that have pictures or images that capture our attention. Human beings are for the most part visual creatures and we react to visual cues the fastest.

But I digress... :-)

This books tells the reader about how much an Inuit mother's love for her daughter transcends all the naughty things the daughter can think of doing e.g. dropping eggs on the floor, messing up her mother's clothes etc. The setting is based on Inuit (aka eskimoes/natives of Alaska, Artic region) culture where they touch on ptarmingans (a type of small artic fowl), walruses, whales, musk-ox and the like. Good illustrations but the book is not very big so the group has to be relatively close to be able to see the illustrations clearly.

I think most of them enjoyed this book which has a simple message, i.e. 妈妈的爱是最伟大的!(mother's love is the greatest!) in a non-patronising way to the children.

After reading the book to the children, I moved on to playing some simple logic games by asking them to match the animal in the book to a phrase e.g. a puffin - eats fish, a wolf - howls at the moon. We then spent the remaining 25 minutes asking the children to draw their favourite animals that were found in the book.

Will post up some of their pictures up here once I get them scanned in.

Overall, another reasonable class though I need to ramp up my preparation for the classes more and make use of the kidsREAD volunteers' reading guide and select one of books from the guide.

Next week, I will break up into smaller groups for group reading as I have been doing a number of story-reading sessions with them. Some of the children are itching to be able to read and I think I need to spend more time on the students who are not reading as well as their peers.

Monday, July 10, 2006

kidsREAD grows!

My class has grown since the June holiday break and now I have 9 children in my class compared to 6 previously! Welcome to YZ, LM and C to Class 2B!

I took the class through the Book "Once in a Blue Moon" (can't remember who is the author). The story is about a lady auntie Floydie who forgot to plan her birthday party and felt sad but her friends the mailman, the countess and the mayor, got together to throw her a surprise party and she was so happy!

The class enjoyed the book as the illustrations of the characters in was colourful and exaggerated, like a cartoon. The illustrations allowed me to draw the children's attention to the details of the characters and allowed them to learn phrases such as "dressed to the nines", "once in a blue moon" and "foot in the mouth".

Following the story-reading, we played word games using the alphabet flash cards with alphabets and pictures of things starting with the letter e.g. A - picture of apple, W - picture of watch. We wrapped up the session by getting them to do pages 1 and 2 of the kidsREAD workbook.

I am starting to get the routine better organised as we will use the 1st half-hour to carry out the story reading followed by the 2nd half-hour focussed on activities or games. This allows the 1 hour session to proceed with very little time for the children to be bored or restless though at the starting of the book, not all the children were fully engaged in the book as some were day-dreaming.

Next week's lesson will see a change as I will get them to read now especially the newer children to get a feel of their reading proficiency. I plan to do some group work if I can snag one of the JC volunteers over to help in my class.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines...kidsREAD on 1 July 2006 11:30 am Session

Those of you who have played the arcade game "Daytona" will remember the announcer making this statement prior to the game starting.

I felt as if I was walking back into the "battleground" of hyperactive children clamouring for attention and to be fed the ultimate antidote to the illness of "boredom"!

Yes, kidsREAD! starts again at Jurong Student Service Centre and I found myself leading the neighbouring class as some of the regular volunteers were not available. HM felt that as my regular class was slightly less hyperactive than this bunch, she suggested that I take on this challenge. This class had about the same number as my class except they were more active in some aspects. After surviving 9 months of the program, I was more prepared and led them through the book, "If you Give A Pig a Pancake" by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

I chose this book partly because during one of the National Library Board's training sessions for kidsREAD! volunteers, the trainer had used this book to illustrate the techniques for reading to children. As most of the children had read the other books, I decided to use this one as I could still recall some of the elements of the story.

I gathered the children in front with their chairs facing me in a loose type of semi-circle and launched into the story-reading session. This is one of the recommended books in the kidsREAD program and I can see why. The illustrations of the cute pig and the adventures she goes through with her owner are attractive and easy to follow. How I do the story reading is to start off by asking the children - who likes pancakes or even knows what is a pancake. This gets the children interested about finding out more of the relationship between the pancake and the pig.

The book leds the readers along a journey on each step, i.e. if you give a pig a pancake, she will want syrup to go with it. That leads to the syrup - which is sticky - leading to the pig asking for a bath...and so on and so forth. It teaches the children to follow a certain sequence of events and at the same time helps them remember sequence of the facts. Of course, being a children's book, the illustrations make it fun to follow and I use the pictures to ask the children - do you see the syrup ? Who has tasted syrup before?

I learnt from my kidsREAD experience that story reading has to be interactive to children as reading to them like a newsreporter will result in a very fidgety and bored audience. By asking them questions, asking them to point out objects in the pictures and asking them to repeat certain words and phrases, they become more interested in the story and start to use their listening skills, speaking (repeating words and phrases). Also, allowances can be made for the children to interrupt as some will want to share their experience e.g. "Teacher, I have eaten pancakes at McDonalds before."

Most of the children responded well to this book and I concluded the session after spending about twenty five minutes on the book. After that, we broke up into smaller groups as there were two new potential volunteers who were helping. Thanks for your help! We played some word games with the children such as "Hangman" and "Guess the murderer" (though I am not sure how that game is played as the other volunteer was leading his group).

Pretty soon, the one hour for kidsREAD was completed and the children quickly packed up to go home. Another good session of kidsREAD where I practiced my story reading skills. Onward to next week's session on the 8th July 2006!