Our young students highly benefit from having concrete items that represent abstract ideas. In the Kinder and First grade classes at KBE, we use a set of reading strategies that are linked to animals; like Sliding Serpent - who teaches us to slide our finger below the words as we read, Brilliant Owl - who always asks questions as she reads, and Jumping Grasshopper - jumps over unknown words and then jumps back to the beginning to reread. This grant will provide 11 different small plush animals for each of our 7 K/1 classrooms. These 77 "Strategy Buddies" will represent the strategies and deepen students' connection to and understanding of them.
$770 - 77 plush animals (see attached file for pictures)
Benefits of Program (10 points)
All of our Kindergarten and First grade students, for many years to come, will benefit from this grant as they work their way to becoming fluent and energetic readers. There is a large body of research showing that young children learn best when they can touch, manipulate or act out stories with objects that attach to new vocabulary and concepts. These plush animals will serve as an anchor for the reading strategies. Students can hold them as they read and use them to relate the strategies to real life. They will help very active minds stay focused on reading, and encourage reluctant readers to keep trying. In, Integrating Language arts and Content Areas: Effective Research-Based Strategies, Lapp, Fisher and Flood state that when students use real objects to connect with new learning, the vocabulary and ideas become part of their schema because they have touched and discussed the concrete objects. These items will especially benefit struggling readers and at risk students, who tend to lag behind their peers in reading skills.
Success of Program (10 points)
The success of this program will be in the increased, sustained effort in understanding and practicing the reading strategies. When students can name and remember the strategies because they have connected with the animals, and then use the strategies as they read, we will be successful. Students who have a good understanding of these 11 strategies will be on the way to being powerful readers. Students should move more quickly from emergent to fluent reading by reading with the Buddies.
The items are available now on Amazon, but may not be at the time the grant is due, so I have rounded the prices to the average price of $10/each. Some may be available for less or some can be bought in bulk. This is the maximum amount that we would spend, but the total may be a little bit less.
Implementation (10 points)
Since we are already using these reading strategies, the animals can be used immediately upon receipt. They will be used daily to impact the power of using the strategies in read-alouds, shared reading, guided reading and independent reading. Students will be more engaged and excited about reading with their Wild Reading Buddies! They do not need any additional materials or upkeep. They will “live” in a basket that can be stored near the reading area in each classroom so that students will have access to them as they read.
These animals should last for many years. It's conceivable that there may be some loss or theft of an animal or two over time, but if we teach the students of their value to the larger group and have good procedures for their use, care and maintenance, then they may last indefinitely. The teachers could use future classroom funds to replace any as needed.
Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?
Since the students read in each class daily during much of the school day, we cannot share a set of animals between classes. The use of the animals by all classes will ensure equity across the classes and grade levels, and help students as they move from Kinder to First grade. They will be seeing familiar faces in all classes.