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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Henry Reads to Succeed!

This week on Sid the Science Kid we are revisiting one of my favorite cycles on the show: Tools and Measurement. Sid and his buddies explore charts, science tools, estimation, and measurement. And as a bonus, the episode where Sid and his friends learn how to be engineers will also air. I love the activities this week because they are so hands-on and concrete. And kids need to learn these basic ideas as a foundation for science learning. I wish I better measurement skills, believe me. I am a measure 5 times cut 3 times kind of girl.
The episode about charts got me thinking about how far Henry and I have come in our use and understanding of charts. As I wrote in a blog last year, charts for us were mainly based on rewards and stickers, and not so much about gathering information or keeping track of learning. Now that Henry is in Kindergarten our relationship with charts is starting to change.
In Henry’s classroom his teacher, Mrs. M, regularly uses charts and introduces the children to all kinds of recording tools such as tally marks, check marks, color bars, and pictures to represent numbers. The kids use an elaborate name/stickie chart to figure out what “job” they have in the afternoons. When I volunteer in the classroom I count on the kids to tell me where to go. Charts are visual learning tools and I believe they also provide a measure of independence for kids as with the jobs chart.
One of Henry’s great accomplishments this year is his growth in reading and reading comprehension. As an educator and a mom, I am fascinated by the process and challenge of learning how to read. Decoding words and learning word families keeps Henry engaged and the reward is instantaneous: I can read that word! Henry was thrilled when the school provided an opportunity for kids Kindergarten to Grade 5 to earn a ticket to Magic Mountain amusement park through reading. The children had to read and keep track of reading for 6 hours to earn their ticket. They could read on their own or be read to, as long as we kept a list of what was read and for how long. We had 5 weeks to accomplish this feat. Easy peasy!
Henry, Leo, and I read for at least 20 minutes every day at bedtime. Henry and I decided to use this time for our Read to Succeed tracking. The first few nights Henry and I would read and in the morning we I would write the books and the time on the log provided by the school. But Henry didn’t understand what 6 hours meant for us. Every day he wanted to know when our tickets would arrive. I needed a way for Henry to understand how much time 6 hours represented. So I made a chart. I based it on the fundraiser thermometer concept and broke up the 6 hours into 20-minute intervals. I posted the chart in the kitchen so that every morning he could color in a section and see how much farther we had to go.
Henry loved the chart. He could see his progress and it motivated him to read more and more. He had to remind me several time to log our progress and keep up with the chart. The chart also helped Henry understand time on the clock better as he could see it took three 20-minute reading sessions to make an hour.
When it was time to turn in our log Henry brought the chart to school to show his teacher. Mrs. M displayed Henry’s chart for the class and I thought his face would burst from the smiling. Henry was so proud of himself. I am not ashamed to admit that I was proud of us too, and a bit misty eyed. There are few things more important to me than giving my kids a love of reading and books. I think we are well on our way.
How do you use charts with your preschooler or Kindergartener? How do you use charts as learning tools?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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