Some children preparing to enter kindergarten at Central Elementary School in Lexington, Va., have received a helping hand from teacher education students at Washington and Lee University.
During the University's winter term, nine W&L students created 25 kits for at-risk children and their families to use during the summer in order to help develop early literacy skills and reading motivation. The kits consist of materials, activities and instructions to parents.
The project was part of the teacher education class at W&L taught by Laura Tortorelli, visiting lecturer in education. "I was surprised at how little I needed to direct the students," said Tortorelli. "They knew exactly what they wanted to do and did a terrific job. They put high quality thought into what the kids and their parents would need at home to be successful with the kits. They included colorful items to make the kits appealing and laminated some items so they wouldn't get destroyed by young children.
"A major focus of my class was early intervention to prevent reading difficulties, so we spent a lot of time talking about what kids need to know to be successful in kindergarten. Kids come to kindergarten with different levels of skills and that can affect their progress in reading development once they get to school."
Tortorelli added that the literacy kits are a real world application of what she has been teaching in class and very similar to the type of work W&L students will be doing in the classroom; applying what they know to create activities for children.
The literacy kits consist of:
- A Dr. Seuss book with read aloud tips for parents
- "The Very Lonely Firefly" and a CD of an audio reading of the book
- A name writing board (laminated) with instructions to parents and white board markers
- Letter cards, both upper and lower case with a key picture for each letter sound and instructions to parents about games and activities to use with the letter cards.
- Copies of several beginning sound picture sorts, with instructions to parents about using the sort and safety scissors
- A make-your-own book project with crayons
- Several easy phonemic awareness activities
- Magnetic alphabet letters