Archive for the ‘background knowledge’ Category

Building Background Knowledge with America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney

July 15, 2010

This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share resources to help parents explicitly teach their child comprehension strategies when reading.  Good readers use these strategies without even thinking about it.  It is our job as parents and educators to teach our children how to use these strategies so that they become second nature to them as they read independently.       

Building Background Knowledge

Building background knowledge is the act of providing information for your child about a specific topic.  Children are building their background knowledge every day with their day-to-day activities in the world around them.  Providing children with diverse activities, day trips, or by reading aloud specific books also helps build their background knowledge.  It’s important to build background knowledge for children because they haven’t had the opportunity to experience what adults have.  When we read, we draw on our background knowledge and experiences to help us make connections that help us understand what we are reading.  The more background knowledge we have, the easier it will be for us to comprehend what we read.

As this month is the anniversary of the birth of our nation, I recommend reading America : A Patriotic Primer to help build your child’s knowledge of the principles on which our country was founded.  Written for ages 4-8, this book provides brief information related to renowned individuals (Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr.), milestones in the country’s history (The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence) and more generic terms (heroes, oath, patriotism).

Read aloud this book to your child and answer any questions he may have related to the content.  Discuss the terms and ideas conveyed throughout the book.  Provide real-life examples in language your child can understand to explain some of the more complex ideas.  Just talking with your child helps build background knowledge of topics. Building background knowledge at a young age will help your child as he becomes an independent reader and needs to draw on that knowledge to understand text he reads.

If you would like a specific lesson idea related to building background knowledge using America : A Patriotic Primer, check the post I wrote last week at Picture This!  Teaching with Picture Books.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Discover Hands-On Learning

February 11, 2010

My kids are interested in Presidents (particularly my 3 year old right now) and with President’s Day around the corner, I thought it was a great time to have a little fun with Presidents.  The Blizzard of 2010 hit the DC metro area with a vengeance and left just under 3 feet of snow in its wake.  Reminds me of the Blizzard of 2003, when my son was born, but that’s a story for another day. . . and I’m thankful I’m not pregnant this time around!  He was born on President’s Day that year, and so learning about Presidents while we are snowed in, just seems to fit!

I like to put together Discovery baskets to help build my kids’ background knowledge about topics.  Discovery baskets are baskets (buckets, tubs, etc.) that are filled with items that provide a hands-on experience and books related to a topic.  My 3 year old wanted to learn more about Abraham Lincoln, so I filled our Discovery Basket with two pictures of the Lincoln Memorial, a picture of his family’s log cabin, a few pennies, and some Lincoln logs.  Then we explored.

After exploration, we discussed what we knew about Abraham Lincoln (he’s on the penny) and what was new to us (he lived in a log cabin – what’s a log cabin?).  Then, I read aloud Abe’s Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln by Jen Bryant about Abe Lincoln’s childhood.  I chose this book because I tied it into another activity after we read.  My daughter enjoyed the book, but it is probably more appropriate for the 5 and up crowd.

I tied in an activity I found on No Time for Flashcards – a fishing game.  Abe Lincoln goes fishing in the story to catch dinner for his family.  Allie created the fishing game to practice fishing for letters.  My daughter knows her letters already, so I changed it a bit. . . we went fishing for letter pairs.  She had to match the upper case letter with the lower case letter – we are still working on recognizing lower case letters.  I think this game can be adapted to sight words as well.

This seems like a lot for a three year old, but we did all of this in about twenty minutes.  She has a little more knowledge of Abraham Lincoln and we spent some quality time just talking and reading.  Sometimes, that’s all we need. . .

Other books to consider:

A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler

Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers by Karen B. Winnick

Abe Lincoln’s Hat (Step into Reading, Step 3) by Martha Brenner

**Note: Typically, I include a mixture of nonfiction and fiction books in my Discovery Baskets, but I wanted to keep this activity short and focused.**

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.