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Read! Move! Learn! Active Stories for Active Learning

By Carol Totsky Hammett and Nicki Collins Geigert
Gryphon House Books
www.ghbooks.com

PO Box 207
Beltsville, MD USA 20704
301-595-9500


Do you have active preschoolers or kindergarteners who sometimes need to "shake their sillies out"? Would you like them to be learning at the same time those sillies are shaking? Read! Move! Learn! Active Stories for Active Learning can accomplish both. This 232-page book uses popular children's literature to promote early literacy and physical activity.

The authors know that young children love to move, so they created a curriculum that makes a connection between physical movement and beginning reading skills. They believe that reading and movement have similar attributes, such as "rhythm, sequencing, co-ordination of movement, memory, and when to start and stop." In capitalizing on a young child's natural desire to move, they introduce literacy and believe that it will be encouraged through the movement.

In addition to literacy, the authors have chosen "to address the issue of the health and wellness of young children." With childhood obesity rates on the rise, they have created a curriculum that would be not only academic but healthful as well.

Here's what a typical lesson looks like: Introduce the book, its author, and its illustrator. Talk about any unfamiliar words or concepts; then have the child makes some predictions about the book. Read the book aloud at least once, sometimes more. Allow the child to ask questions or make remarks then ask a few comprehension question of your own. Point out any particular skills the lesson focuses on. Finally, let the fun begin! Music and movement games are suggested that complement the story.

In addition to the directions, each lesson includes a synopsis of the book, lesson objectives, action vocabulary words, and a list of needed materials. There is also a list of concepts explored within that particular lesson. For example, the lesson on Monkey See, Monkey Do explores the concepts of right and left, among others. If your child needs to work on right and left orientation, you can easily find a lesson that covers that concept.

Also included is a list of themes in which the lesson would fit. In other words, if you're learning about animals, you might choose to incorporate the lesson on The Snail's Spell. Finally, in each lesson there is a list of other books and music you might use to enhance the learning time.

You should have no trouble finding a book or two to interest your children since lessons have been created for 74 books! A few of the titles include Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr., Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow, and In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming. I was familiar with many of the titles and have actually read most of the books to my children over the years.

An appendix at the back of the book includes a glossary of terms, music and early childhood resources, references, and websites. There is also a list of lesson materials, along with tips on making some of the materials yourself. And finally, there are five different indexes: by book title, by author, by recorded music, by theme, and a general index.

Written with the schoolteacher and classroom in mind, most of the activities give ideas on how to separate the children into groups to make activities safer. However, most of the activities are meant to be completed individually, so they would adapt well to the homeschool environment. There are some activities that require more than one child to complete, such as charades and a mini game of tug-of-war.

I found many reasons to enjoy this book. First, I loved the unique approach to literacy. I also found the movement activities to be very engaging and meaningful for young children. Children will enjoy the lessons and improve their motor skills. I also found most of the books to be worthwhile pieces of literature. Last but not least, I liked how easy it was to use.

Boys or girls, outgoing or shy--I can't imagine a child who wouldn't enjoy the fun-and-games approach in this book. The only concern I might have is finding all the book titles. I didn't research to see if all the books are currently in print, but many of them are very familiar titles. I would think that most good library systems should have enough of the books to keep your little ones moving for quite a while!



Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, October 2007


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