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Early Years Bulletin

Summer 2014 vol 1, no 4

Learning To Read Naturally:


The Martin Model of Reading by Michael Sampson, Ph.D., Dean, School of Education, Southern Connecticut State University Language works in chunks of meaning. Reading aloud deposits literary and linguistic structures in children. Developing a love of reading and books is the key as we share books with young children. Reading skills are developed in the same way speaking skills develop— through meaningful transactions.


hildren in a literate society are fascinated by books and reading. From the toddler years, children are drawn to a parent’s or caregiver’s lap by the call of rich, predictable, melodic story books. Reading begins through the ears and through the eyes, as children hear the melody of language and see the beauty of the picture book art. Reading aloud to children creates a loving and pleasurable atmosphere for children. Love, repetition, art, and language are key factors for positive read-aloud sessions with children.   Just as children learn to talk naturally, they can learn to read naturally as well. Bill Martin, Jr.’s model of emergent reading shows us how. It’s simple, really. If what

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Children’s Books p. 6 Perspective Through Fairy Tales p. 11 Action Research/ Evidence-Based Practice p. 15 Suggested Books on Friendship for Infants and Toddlers

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Communicating With Parents About Socialization Concerns Teachers and child care providers spend many waking hours with young children, and are uniquely positioned to notice and recognize socialization concerns. It is important to address these issues with the child’s parents and other caregivers. This way, everyone caring for the child can work together to respond to any issues. Below are a few tips for talking to parents about socialization issues: • Be respectful, explain your concerns gently, and encourage parents to watch the child’s interactions and see if they notice the same issues. • Make sure to set aside some time for this conversation, and a quiet place to talk. Parents often rely on caregivers’ expertise to notice issues like these, but the conversation may be difficult for them. • Avoid using labels or technical terms. You’ll want to convey information about your observations in a way that is easily understandable to parents. Source:

Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 1 comes into the ear of the child touches the heart of the child, it will soon come out the lips of the child. The child progresses from listening, to participating in the story, to independent reading. Within the highly repetitive and modeled storybook environment, children develop both their receptive and expressive language abilities in response to Martin’s melodic, predictable, and developmentally appropriate storybooks. From the first read, children will want to possess the book. With subsequent readings, children will begin chiming in on the lines with you. Soon after, they will read it by themselves as you turn the pages. The initial stage of reading is reading from experience— from their mind—and not from the page. Anticipating and memorizing the highly predictable language structure allows the child to read the book without knowing specific words. As children develop in the reading process, they will begin connecting what is in the mind to what is on the page. The key is not to rush the child, but rather realize that with each repeated reading, the child is depositing the literary structure and sentence patterns in his or her linguistic storehouse. But how do children move from being read to, to reading the book independently? Martin

Summer 2014 shows us how, through his interactive model of reading. Martin’s books demonstrate his conviction that language works in chunks of meanings. Words do not exist by themselves, but in groupings. For example, “Once upon a time” is processed as one word, or one chunk of meaning. The jagged right margin of Martin’s books comes from breaking each line where there is a break in meaning or a break in rhythm. Initially, the break shows the parent or teacher how the story may be read while also modeling the phrasing for the child. This encourages the young reader to focus on clusters of words—words that sing together and demonstrate meaning together. A child learns to read the same way they learn to talk, from listening to and interacting with other language users.  In learning to read, children begin the process by receiving language input through the ear. Later, after they have internalized language and stories, they begin to understand that the art, words, and phrases carry meaning and tell a story. As children read these words and phrases, they develop an awareness that letters, sounds, and patterns of letters are repeated in words, and they begin to internalize phonics.  This phonic knowledge is then applied to new words, and the child soon bursts into independent reading.

Children’s Books

Angela Wiseman, North Carolina State University

Andreae, Giles & Parker-Ress, Guy GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE: Number Rumba Counting Book. ISBN 978-0-545-63996-5. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2014. 12 pp. $7.99. Children will delight as Gerald and his friends dance their way through numbers 1 to 10. This board book features humorous illustrations, with each character peeking over his or her page. By pairing the animals together, the authors introduce children to number sense concepts beyond just counting. This text will also be perfect for introducing young children to one-to-one number counting. Children can easily turn the pages and have the pleasure of seeing the characters all over again when they finally get to number 10! Ages 0-4.

Becker, Aaron. JOURNEY. ISBN 978-0-7636-6053-6. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2013. 40 pp. $15.99. A young girl uses a red crayon to create a world full of adventure and wonder. Her journey involves adventures on land, at sea, and in the air. She even gets captured as she tries to save a beautiful purple bird. There’s no need to worry, though, because they both escape and fly through the air. Eventually, the bird leads the girl to a purple door; on the other side, she finds a boy who has been drawing adventure, too (fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon will smile in recognition). At the end, the reader is left knowing the two children are going to use their imaginations for even more fantastic creations. Even


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Early Years Bulletin

without words, the award-winning illustrations give readers the sense that anything is possible and inspire children (and adults) to be creative and explore their imaginations. Ages 2-6.

and continue to make their guest feel welcome. Children will giggle at the wallpaper peeling off the walls and the chaos in the house as the children are trying to help their guest out the door. However, this T-Rex is polite, and invites his hosts over to tea at its house. They go with eager faces and are greeted by T-Rex’s dinosaur friends. Young readers will enjoy these tea-time adventures and be ready to try them out at home. Beware, because they just may want to invite a dinosaur too! Ages 4-6.

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin TULIP LOVES REX. Il. Sarah Massini. ISBN 978-0-06209413-1. New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books, 2014. 32 pp. $17.99. Tulip dances her way through her home, neighborhood, and local park, where she meets Rex, a dog who loves dancing, too. Rex has a tag asking for a good home, and Tulip’s parents agree to let him come home with their family. Tulip and Rex show that being unique should be embraced with joy! This book will have children twirling and whirling and possibly even asking for a Rex of their very own. Ages 4-6.

LaRochelle, David MOO! Il. Mike Wohnoutka. ISBN 978-0-8027-3409-9. New York, NY: Walker Books For Young Readers, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. Who knew one word could say so much? Readers will enjoy trying out all of the exciting ways to say, “Moo!” This crazy cow shouts, “Moo,” when it drives away and “moos” as much as possible when trying to explain its crazy antics to the police officer after an automobile accident. Young children will laugh at the cow’s expressions and share in its joys and sorrows as they view the cartoonlike illustrations that capture movement and excitement, much to everyone’s delight. Ages 0-4.

Hills, Tad DUCK & GOOSE GO TO THE BEACH. ISBN 9780385372350. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade. 40 pp. $17.99. Duck and Goose love the meadow they live in more than any place in the world. But one day, Duck has an adventurous plan. They should go to the beach! Goose is a bit hesitant, but agrees to come with Duck. Along their journey, they meet different animals. When they get to the beach, they discover that the beach has hot sand and waves! Children will enjoy reading this beautifully illustrated book that explores the excitement and nervousness that can occur when experiencing new places. Ages 3-7. Hills, Tad ROCKET’S MIGHTY WORDS. ISBN 978-0385372336. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade, 2013. 22 pp. $10.99. This large board book features the adorable dog Rocket, who wants to learn to read. Yellow Bird teaches Rocket sight words such as “d-o-g” and “n-o-s-e”. This book focuses more on introducing words than telling a story. Readers who enjoy this book will also enjoy How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story. Ages 2-5. Idle, Molly TEA REX. ISBN 978-0-607-01430-9. New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers Group, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. Tea time is an adventure for two little ones and their friend, T-Rex. The chair might not be quite right, and the snacks may go too quickly. Nevertheless, the hosts use their manners


Morales, Yuyi NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD. ISBN 978-1-59643-6046. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2013. 36 pp. $16.99. Nino pretends to be a luchadore (wrestler) and defeats many terrible foes. Then, his sisters wake from their naps and prove to be his ultimate challengers. They jump and twist as only siblings can do. In the end, however, they decide to join forces as Los Tres Hermanos. This new trio is ready to take on anyone! The rich use of Spanish language will introduce English-speaking children to new vocabulary as well as the dramatic style of wrestling, lucha libre. All children will be able to use the rich illustrations to help understand how the story develops and will appreciate the vibrancy and excitement of luchadores. Ages 4-6. OHora, Zachariah NO FITS, NILSON! ISBN 978-0-8037-3852-2. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013. 32 pp. $16.99. Amelia’s friend Nilson might just be a stuffed animal, but he’s capable of monster-sized fits. These two pals get in and out of trouble together. Sometimes, Amelia can keep Nilson from throwing a fit, but sometimes they end up in trouble. Through a series of real-life scenarios, like running

Early Years Bulletin

errands with a parent and waiting in long lines, Amelia’s (and Nilson’s) patience is tested. There is a close call at the ice cream truck, but a compromise saves the day. With themes like sharing, friendship, and self-control, adults are sure to keep this book on hand for children who will keep coming back to watch Nilson and Amelia in their big city adventures. Ages 2-6. Ondaatje, Griffin THE CAMEL IN THE SUN. Il. Linda Wolfsgruber. ISBN 978-1-55498-381-0. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood Books, 2013. 32 pp. $17.95. As a lonely camel toils day after day, he suffers in silence, until the Prophet feels his pain. Then the camel’s tears seep into the ground and into his master’s dreams. His master, Halim, begins to empathize with the camel and regret his mistreatment of the animal. The story ends with redemption as the previously harsh master demonstrates compassion and patience for the old camel. The mirage-like illustrations suggest the power of the desert and the emotions that accompany peace and regret. These themes are well-represented in the story and can be easily communicated to children through the words and images, despite their complex nature. Ages 4 and up. Pendziwol, Jean E. ONCE UPON A NORTHERN NIGHT. Il. Isabelle Arsenault. ISBN 978-1-55498-138-0. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood Books, 2013. 32 pp. $17.95. While a little boy sleeps, the world outside his window is filled with the nighttime beauty of nature in winter. The night sky transitions from a blank canvas to a vision of twinkling lights. This same artistic vision is repeated in the landscape. Initially, the winter world looks bleak, but the author and illustrator show that it is really full of life, beauty, and hidden color. When the boy is awakened and looks out his window, white light fills his room, and the reader knows, just like the boy, that warmth and love can surround us even in winter. The rhythmic language of the story is sure to lure children in closer, making the story even more exciting for everyone involved! Ages 4-6.

Summer 2014

heartwarming tale demonstrates how one family comes together to celebrate their past, present, and future. Readers will get a glimpse into how slavery influenced generations of those living in Africa and the U.S. as they learn about the real-life family of Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player. The family comes together to celebrate Bibi’s 85th birthday in Tanzania and, like the reader, is reminded that families are always connected, even when distance separates them. Themes of unity and love will help young children see the strong bond that families can have across generations, and the realistic illustrations are captivating. Ages 4-6. Shea, Bob UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT. ISBN 978142315952-0. New York, NY: Hyperion Books, 2013. 40 pp. $15.99. Goat is jealous of Unicorn’s skills and frills, but it turns out Unicorn admires Goat’s general “awesomeness.” Together, they learn to appreciate each other’s differences and find the strength to defeat imaginary bank robbers. These new friends show how even when we’re different, we can all get along. This powerful message is sure to hit a home run with adults and children who need a reminder that everyone is special. Ages 2-6. Snicket, Lemony THE DARK. Il. Jon Klassen. ISBN 978-0-316-18748-0. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. The dark scares Laszlo. It hides behind corners and door during the day and surrounds him at night. He always runs from it, until one day his night light burns out. Laszlo conquers his fears and realizes that even though the dark is always there, it is nothing to be afraid of. In an interesting series of illustrations, Klassen does not belittle children’s fears. His images capture the essence of the lurking dark that scares children. However, with tricks of light and interesting uses of white and dark spaces, this book will be a go-to resource for nights when youngsters are afraid of shadows and creaks. Ages 2-6.

Robinson, Sharon UNDER THE SAME SUN. Il. Ag Ford. ISBN 978-0-54516672-0. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2014. 40 pp. $17.99. This


Stills, Caroline MICE MISCHIEF: Math Facts in Action. Il. Judith Rossell. ISBN 978-0-8234-2947-9. New York, NY: Holiday House,

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Early Years Bulletin

2013. 24 pp. $16.95. Demonstrating a deviation from more traditional counting books, this story counts the numbers from 1 to 10 forward and backward. Children will be captivated by the mischievous mice, but also interested in the number sentences on nearly every page. For example, when “7 mice wash” and “3 mice spin,” the number sentence 7+3=10 is there to help young children develop their number sense. It’s also fun to watch how the mice clean up after themselves, only to make a mess again. There will be lots of laughter and counting with this book as children watch these silly mice get in and out of jams! Ages 0-6.

print and emotional illustrations, children can help adults read this story and find ways to talk about those times when “a big guy” takes your toys! Ages 0-6.

Wiesner, David MR. WUFFLES. ISBN 978-0-618-75661-2. New York, NY: Clarion Books, 2013. 32 pp. $17.99. Mr. Wuffles refuses to play with his toys; instead, he toys with an unidentified flying object that landed in his house. After being tossed about by Mr. Wuffles, the aliens decide to leave their spaceship and investigate more closely. Eventually, they find help from other creatures that have been bullied by Mr. Wuffles. Despite language barriers, these new friends unite to save the spaceship. Mr. Wuffles is left to wonder what really happened to the spaceship. A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, this story is sure to excite children’s imaginations with its tiny green aliens. Non-readers and readers alike will delight in guessing what the animal and alien language symbols might really mean. This story teaches us all that we can work together to overcome any challenges and defeat bullies once and for all. Ages 2-6. Willems, Mo A BIG GUY TOOK MY BALL! ISBN 978-1423174912. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2013. 64 pp. $8.99. When Piggie loses his ball to “a big guy,” he depends on Elephant to get it back. Unexpectedly, Elephant thinks the “big guy” is too big and does not know what to do. It turns out Whale just wants a friend to play with, and these animals learn quickly that size is a matter of perspective. Through sharing and understanding, Elephant, Piggie, and Whale find a way to play together regardless of their differences. These themes will help children who might not feel like they fit in understand that others have shared those same feelings. With big


Willems, Mo PIGEON NEEDS A BATH! ISBN 978-1423190875. New York, NY: Disney-Hyperion, 2014. 40 pp. $16.99. Pigeon desperately needs a bath, but he needs some convincing to clean up. The bus driver, a regular character in the Pigeon stories, helps readers convince the bird to take the plunge. As the story progresses, Pigeon realizes that he is filthy and should do something about it. He finally concedes, but it is hard for him to get the bath water “just right.” When he finally takes the plunge, guess what? He loves it! Readers of all age will delight in the story, told through the Pigeon’s speech bubbles. Ages 3-5. Young, Cybele OUT THE WINDOW. ISBN 978-1554983704. Ontario, Canada, 2013. 28 pp. $12.95. Whether children are reading this book backwards or frontwards, they are sure to be delighted by the unique format. As children unfold each section in the story, they will see the main character bounce and jump as it tries to see more of the world. When they flip the book over, the outside world is revealed to be a marvelous place full of exciting images and activities. Just when you think the book is over, it reads, “Time to turn around.” And children will do just that, time and time again! Ages 0-4. Zuckerberg, Randi DOT. Il. Joe Berger. ISBN 978-0-06-228751-9. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013. 32 pp. $17.99. Using clever wordplay and beautiful illustrations, Zuckerberg and Berger remind children and adults that “tagging” can happen outside as well as on the computer. Dot uses technology to complete a variety of tasks, but when her mother sends her outside to play, she finds herself doing those same activities with friends in nature. She’s no longer swiping an electronic tablet; instead, she’s swiping paint while making a mural with friends. In the end, Dot and her friends use a mixture of technology and good old-fashioned outdoor activities to show everyone how to enjoy being unplugged as well as being plugged in. Ages 4-6.

Early Years Bulletin

Summer 2014

Focus on Pre-K and K editors: Jennifer Baumgartner & Cynthia DiCarlo

Beyond the Big Bad Wolf: Using Fairy Tales To Explore Perspective With Young Children by Debby Shulsky, University of Houston Clear Lake Donna Kirkwood, National Program Director of HIPPY USA

If you want children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. ~Albert Einstein

another child a friend. During this time, they are also developing self-control and self-regulation, and begin to understand the perspective of others. These early relationships can be filled with turmoil, especially as young children learn to control their strong emotions and temperaments. It is not unusual for two children to go from best friends to worst enemies within the course of a day, but preschool children are capable of solving problems in nonaggressive ways, especially with the help and understanding of a trusted adult. This article will explore ways that teachers can use fairy tales to help children explore multiple perspectives, and learn about social justice and critical thinking.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the kindergartners were enjoying some extended time on the playground. Jamari ran up to Mr. Kravitz crying, “Melody pushed me down!” Mr. Kravitz comforted Jamari and then sat down with both children to figure out what happened. Jamari insisted Melody had pushed him down on purpose, but Melody was adamant she had not even been playing with Jamari. Mr. Kravitz said, “Melody, I saw you and some friends running around pretty fast, do you think maybe you ran into Jamari on accident and he fell down?” Melody nodded. “Jamari, I don’t think Melody meant to hurt you. She accidentally ran into you and you fell down. I know that hurt and you are really mad.” It was hard for the children to understand what Mr. Kravitz was saying, but these were conversations that happened all the time in their classroom. Mr. Kravitz worked regularly to try to help his students understand each other’s perspectives, to understand the concept of social justice, and to think critically, but he wondered if he could do more to help them understand that everyone in every story has a unique perspective. He remembered the book titled, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (1996) and thought that would be a perfect place to start a new unit on perspectives in fairy tales.

Young Children and Perspectives During large group time, Mr. Kravitz read the Three Little Pigs (Marshall, 1989) and then led a group discussion about the story. Most of the children were convinced the Wolf was bad and deserved to get in trouble. At one point, Stephen shouted out, “They need to call 9-1-1 and get the police to make him wear handcuffs!” Mr. Kravitz asked the children if they could think of any reasons why the Wolf would have blown down the Pigs’ houses. The children could not think of any reasons. Mr. Kravitz created a graph so the children could indicate which characters in the story were “good” or “bad.” Not surprisingly, the children all thought the Wolf was bad and the Pigs were good. Later in the day, Mr. Kravitz read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (1996). Some of the children were confused, but they began to make the connection. Tamiko said, “That’s like when people accidently knock down your blocks and you’re so mad, you think they did it on purpose and then you get in trouble!” Mr. Kravitz replied, “That’s EXACTLY what it’s like!”

Background During the preschool years, children begin to develop and value relationships with other children. They enjoy playing with other children and are proud to call


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Early Years Bulletin

When Mr. Kravitz got out a set of Three Little Pigs puppets, he was surprised to see how the children built on the story and took turns being the Wolf and trying to explain what happened.

Young children who have a strong, emotionally secure foundation begin to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. In order to help children develop these important relationship skills, teachers are encouraged to have regular conversations about feelings and perspectives with children. Teachers can talk about their own emotions and perspectives regarding classroom activities. The emotions and perspectives of the children in the class can be explored through routine affective questioning about academic and social activities within the classroom. Children can be taught to consider the emotions and perspectives of characters in books through role play. In the example above, Mr. Kravitz helped the children to see both sides of the story by reading The Three Little Pigs (Marshall, 1989), and then reading The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Scieszka, 1996). While reading the stories, Mr. Kravitz asked the children to look at the characters’ faces to guess how they were feeling. He also encouraged the children to try to think about how they would feel if they asked to borrow something and nobody would let them, or if someone destroyed something they made. They talked about how they felt when they did something accidentally, and other children thought it was done on purpose. This discussion provided children with a realistic and meaningful example of perspectives and emotions. When reading stories, teachers can ask children to guess the emotion of the characters based on the illustrations, then ask the children to demonstrate different emotions with their own facial expressions and body language. If we expect children to understand and appreciate the emotions and perspectives of others, we have to show them how to do that, and practice it repeatedly. The class kept talking about the Three Little Pigs for several days. There were quite a few debates about the wolf and the pigs. Then one morning, when they were on the playground, Jasmine and several other children were making a castle in the sandbox. They were just about to show their masterpiece to Mr. Kravitz when a soccer ball flew across the playground and landed right on the top of the castle. Joseph and Jamari ran across the playground and through the sandbox to get the ball.

The castle was ruined. Jasmine screamed, “You broke our castle! You’re going to time out!” After Mr. Kravitz helped everyone to settle down, he took this opportunity to apply what the children had been learning about perspectives to this situation. When they came inside Mr. Kravitz had a class meeting so everyone could share their side of the story. Interestingly, each child had a different perspective, but all were concerned with what was fair.

Social Justice Preschool-age children are surprisingly good at understanding moral dilemmas because of their sensitivity to the feelings of others and desire for fairness. Children at this age make advances in their understanding of values and expectations, and are developing consideration of others, a conscience, and a sense of right and wrong. This is an excellent time to work with children to help them understand and work toward social justice. The ability to consider the world from multiple perspectives is a preliminary skill required for students to be able to identify issues of social justice. Social justice is a big idea for young learners, but such abstract concepts can be explored and linked to meaningful experiences. In the case of Mr. Kravitz’s class, the exploration of the Wolf’s side of the story meaningfully connected to the incident on the playground. By connecting the lived experience of the students on the playground with a piece of literature, Mr. Kravitz laid the groundwork for his students to begin to build an understanding of social justice. Although the term “social justice” may be abstract for young learners, their experiences can help them self-define the ideas behind the concept. For young children, the experience of being accidently pushed by a classmate, or being blamed for something they didn’t do intentionally seems unfair, just like the seemingly senseless destruction of a pig’s house. The discovery of the idea of fairness and the ability to question things that appear unfair is a powerful first step toward understanding the more complex ideas behind social justice. After a class discussion, Mr. Kravitz decided the children needed more practice understanding and thinking through all sides of a story. He read the story of The Three Bears (Jacobs, n.d.) to the class. After reading the story, he asked the children to think

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Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 7

Summer 2014 Classroom Applications

about who was “good” and who was “bad” in the story. Melody said, “Are you trying to trick us again?” Mr. Kravitz laughed and said, “Of course not. But I’m glad you made that connection. Remember how the Wolf had a story? Do you think Goldilocks has a story? How could we help the Bears understand why she ate their food and slept in their beds?” Mr. Kravitz brought out a set of Goldilocks puppets and asked the children to act out the story from different perspectives. Mr. Kravitz was amazed to watch the stories they created. They even asked if the Pigs and Wolf could be involved in their new story.

Critical Thinking Connecting children’s experiences with classroom learning is a starting place for educators seeking to nurture the practice of critical thinking. Creating classrooms grounded in the teaching of thinking routines is essential in establishing a classroom of critical thinkers. A first step in this process is to cultivate the young learner’s ability to listen with understanding and empathy, a foundational skill required of critical thinkers. The activities in Mr. Kravitz’s class encourage the use of this skill through exploration of multiple perspectives in a variety of scenarios (or stories). In addition, young learners can build their capacity to think deeply through exposure to activities that encourage them to: 1) question and sense problems, 2) identify relationships between ideas, 3) organize and summarize information, and 4) reach evidence-supported conclusions. In the case of the perspectives lesson on The True Story of the Three Pigs (Scieszka, 1996) and Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Jacobs, 1990), Mr. Kravitz exposes his students to this process of inquiry as it relates to a real-world problem (the incident on the playground). He regularly offered them opportunities to listen to and try to understand multiple sides of real and fictional situations in order to determine what is fair. When thoughtful educators provide for open discussion and ask probing questions, students strengthen the connections they make between the curriculum and life experiences. With practice, students can discover new ways of thinking about their experiences and the experiences of others. Eventually, we hope students are able to apply these thinking skills independently.


As the year progressed, the children still had disagreements and skirmishes; with the help of their teacher, however, they were better able to understand that things aren’t always as they seem. They worked hard to understand that everyone has a side and that other children usually aren’t trying to hurt them or their belongings. One day, when several children were arguing over some supplies, Mr. Kravitz overheard one of the boys say, “It’s just like Goldilocks, she didn’t mean to take your crayons!! She thought they were hers.” He was thrilled to see the children were able to apply the lessons themselves and help their friends solve problems without his help.

Fairy tales offer countless opportunities to help children understand and appreciate how the world works. In the example provided, Mr. Kravitz used the concepts from two fairy tales to help his group of young learners understand how complex concepts related back to their lives and their classroom. The following section provides examples of stories and guided questions educators can use to explore perspective, social justice, and critical thinking with young children. Perspective Most fairy tales (and other stories for young children) have characters in opposing positions. These stories offer a unique opportunity to discuss differing perspectives in a safe environment. Because fairy tales have been around for so long, there are often multiple versions available, allowing students to hear the story told in many ways. When reading fairy tales, teachers can help children understand why the characters act the way they do, how the characters feel, and why their initial impressions might change as they begin to understand the characters more deeply. By asking thoughtful guiding questions, teachers can help students study the characters in a story, and develop their ability to see different perspectives at the same time. The Lion and the Mouse. Before reading a story like The Lion and the Mouse (Pinkney, 2009), where the visual image of the main characters provides a very distinct impression, teachers might want to start with showing a picture of the characters to the students. After the students have a minute to build an impression and before reading the story, the teacher can ask questions like:

Summer 2014

Early Years Bulletin

• What words can you think of to describe the lion? The mouse? • Do you think that these two are friends? Why or why not? • What do you think is going to happen in this story? • Who do you think is stronger? Weaker? Why? • If the mouse were in trouble, could the lion help him? • If the lion were in trouble, could the mouse help him?

fair and what is not. Early childhood is the beginning of a long road toward a full understanding of social justice. Fairy tales can be used to explore fairness in a nonthreatening way, and can help children see that fairness looks different to different people. When reading fairy tales, teachers can lead discussions regarding what is fair to each of the characters involved. These stories can be particularly effective when different versions of the story are available. In the Three Little Pigs tales, the During and after the story, the following questions can idea of fairness in the story appears differently in each be addressed: version. Does fair mean that everyone gets the same thing? Does it mean that everyone is happy? Does it • How do you think the mouse felt when the lion caught mean that everyone gets what they need? By exploring him? these topics through fictional works, we can help • Do you think the lion is going to set him free? Why or children understand what “fair” looks like to different why not? people. • Why does the lion laugh when the mouse says he will The Little Red Hen. The Little Read Hen (Pickney, be “forever grateful”? 2006) is a story to which many children can easily • How do you think the lion felt when caught by the trap? relate. Before starting the story, teachers might want • Do you think the mouse can help him get free? Why or to lead a discussion about situations in which children why not? felt like they did more work than another person, or • How do you think the lion felt when the mouse helped another person had something they would have liked to him to get free? have. Another way to open this discussion is to ask the • How do you think the mouse felt when he helped the children who does most of the work at their house, or in lion to get free? their classroom. These discussions can prepare children • Do you think the lion and the mouse are friends now? to think about how the story relates to their own • Who do you think is stronger? Weaker? Why? experiences. Before and during the story the teacher • What does it mean to be strong? might ask: • Can the mouse be strong in a different way than the lion is strong? • Did you know it takes that much work to make the bread? After completing the story, the teacher can revisit the • Who did the work? children’s original answers to see if they have changed. • Did the other animals help? By recording the answers before, during, and after the • What do you think the other animals were doing while story on a flip chart or white board, children can see the the hen did all that work? different perspectives of the characters. In addition, they • How do you think the hen feels? can see how their perceptions evolved as they learned • Should the hen let the other animals have some bread? more about the characters. Other fairy tales, such as Why or why not? Rumpelstiltskin (Zelinsky,1996) and The Ugly Duckling (An- • Why do you think the animals think they should get derson, 1999), can be used to foster discussions on persome bread when they didn’t help? spective with young children by asking such questions • What do you think the animals would do now, if they as, “I wonder how he feels,” “Has something like that ever knew that they weren’t going to get any bread? happened to you?,” and “What would you have done?” After the story, the following questions may be adSocial Justice dressed: Young children have very distinct ideas about what is continued on p. 10 . . .


Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 9

Summer 2014 vinced of something but found out that another person was tricking them or was, themselves, misinformed? By helping children recognize how it feels when you know that something doesn’t sound correct, we can help them learn how to form independent beliefs based on their experiences and any facts or evidence they see. Before beginning the story, the teacher might ask:

• Have you ever felt like you did more work than someone else? • Why did you do more work than the others? • How did that feel? • Was there anything you could have done to convince other people to participate? • Have you ever wanted something that you didn’t get? • How did that feel? • Was there anything you could do or have done to earn the thing you wanted? After completing the story, the teacher can review the children’s original answers to see if they have changed their perceptions about what is fair. The teacher can then discuss classroom situations that may seem unfair, and see if the children are able to understand or articulate how the fairness changes depending on the situation and the people involved. Other fairy tales, such as The Three Bears (Jacobs, n.d.) and The Tortoise and the Hare (Wildsmith, 2007), can be used to foster discussions about social justice with young children. Questions like, “Does that seem fair to everyone?,” “Do you think that seems fair to ___?,” or “How could the author make it fair for the characters?” can help to start these conversations. Critical Thinking Young children are naturally trusting, and can be easily convinced of things that may not be true. Many fairy tales involve characters who are misguided, dishonest, or who deceive other characters for their benefit. These stories offer a distinctive opportunity to help children practice critical thinking skills on behalf of storybook characters. When reading these stories, teachers can help children practice using thinking skills to know if a character is being honest or dishonest by asking if what the character said seems right or makes sense, and if they are being deceptive on purpose or by mistake. Teachers can also address how we can form an opinion based on evidence. Chicken Little. Stories like Chicken Little (Asbjornsen, n.d.) provide opportunities to help children use their “inner voice” to decide if something sounds right or true, or seems like a good idea. Teachers can start the conversation by asking children if they’ve ever thought something that ended up being wrong. Have they ever been con-

• Have you ever been told something that just didn’t seem right? • How did that feel? • If I told you it was snowing (or raining, or sunny) outside how would you know if I was telling the truth? • What if I told you that someone very smart told me it was snowing (or raining, or sunny) and so it must be true? Would you believe me? Why or why not? During and after the story, the following questions may be addressed: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Do you think the sky is falling? Why does Chicken Little think the sky is falling? Why does she want to tell the king? Do you think the other animals will believe that the sky is falling? What could the other animals do to find out if the sky is falling? Does anyone ask Chicken Little how she knows the sky is falling? Is her answer true? Is she being deceptive on purpose? Are the other animals being deceptive? On purpose? Why does the fox tell the animals to run to his den so that he can tell the king? Do you think the animals should go to the fox’s den? Why do they go to his den?

After completing the story, the teacher can review the original conversation where children shared times when they were misguided and ask what they could do to make sure they are making good choices using their thinking skills. Using stories like The Emperor’s New Clothes (Anderson, 2004) or Stone Soup (Brown, 2004) to discuss thinking can help children practice using these skills in everyday circumstances. Discussions like this can


continued on p. 16 . . .

Summer 2014

Early Years Bulletin

Focus on Infants & Toddlers

Action Research/Evidence-Based Practice in Early Childhood

editors: Laura Hooks & Nur Tanyel

by Cynthia F. DiCarlo, Ph.D., College of Human Sciences and Education, Louisiana State University


ntentional and reflective teaching requires that teachers assess students’ learning and progress as well as the effectiveness of the teaching methods implemented. Developmentally appropriate practice begins with observation of what children know and are able to do. These observations, along with knowledge of developmental principles and individual characteristics, can guide the design of individually and developmentally appropriate learning activities. The creation of a dynamic and appropriate learning context ultimately produces an enduring environment of industrious transformation. Examining the impact of these practices on children’s learning is a critical part of the teaching-learning-assessment cycle. Research is the process of inquiry, collection, and examination of evidence in order to reach an answer. Teacher research is designed to examine a problem, concern, or question from several perspectives in order to inform practice. The skills required for careful inquiry and careful data collection and analysis are important for early childhood educators because their research can inform instructional changes. These skills and competencies have been recognized as essential for teachers by many professional organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), NCATE, and the Division for Early Childhood of the Council of Exceptional Children. While teachers acknowledge the importance of these skills, they often report a lack of comfort with engaging in teacher research. Recommended practices in early childhood education include the integration of skill development within field-based contexts and the provision of multiple opportunities for learning and success. In an effort to increase both student comfort with teacher research and the development of skills required of teachers


for the practice, one could develop an action research project. The Action Research Project Skills associated with assessment overlap with those necessary to engage in action research. The process of identifying questions, developing tools to collect information, and analyzing information are the same. The action research project helps teachers synthesize what they have learned by implementing the NAEYC Standards of Professional Practice in assessment. Prior to undertaking this project, teachers will have had multiple experiences engaging in the teaching-learning cycle through their use of published assessments of programs, children, and families. As an initial experience with assessment research, the objectives of the action research assignment are to encourage teachers to use their knowledge of the child and program to create their own assessment of a particular skill. The project is completed within the context of a classroom experience and the results are used to inform instructional practices within the classroom. It is our belief that through this process, practitioners begin to perceive teacher research as an integral component of their teaching. The action research project involves identifying an academic or behavioral concern, designing an assessment tool to measure the identified behavior, conducting a review of literature/collaborating with others to design and implement an intervention, and evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. The following discussion outlines the steps in the research process using examples from one teacher’s project.

continued on p. 12 . . .

Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 11 Identification of the target behavior. The first step of the action research project is to identify a behavioral or academic problem. Asking important questions and engaging in critical thinking about possible answers is not only a vital research skill, but also is helpful in all aspects of teaching. Lila and her mentor teacher Janice observed Jack, who has a diagnosis of Down syndrome, engage in a game of peek-a-boo with one of the teachers in the bathroom. While, initially, Lila recognized and recorded this interaction in her journal as positive, over time she noticed that these types of interactions predominated Jack’s social interactions in his inclusive classroom; he seemed to prefer playing with adults rather than his peers. Through her observations and conversation with Janice, Lila decided to target Jack’s peer-to-peer interaction for her teacher-made assessment project.

Designing an Assessment Tool. The second step in the process is to design an assessment tool to measure the identified behavior. In order to systematically investigate Jack’s play, Lila assigned definitions to each behavior category (called behavior definitions) to guide the data collection. A good definition provides an accurate description of the behavior to be studied: it should be objectively stated (e.g., looking at a peer while they are talking vs. “listening”), unambiguous (e.g., manipulating materials vs. “playing”), and have clear boundaries of what is included (e.g., touching a toy) and what is excluded (e.g., kicking a toy). Definitions for Lila’s target behaviors for Jack were as follows. Teacher play was recorded when the child was observed positively interacting with the teacher (i.e., playing hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo). Peer play was recorded when the child was interacting with other children. Examples of peer play included acting out scenes in dramatic play, building something in a group, or participating in a conversation with other children. Solitary play was recorded when he was interacting with materials by himself. Parallel play, playing near a peer, was still recorded as solitary, due to the absence of interaction among peers. Teacher prompting was recorded as solitary play if the nature of the prompt was to provide assistance and was not reciprocal in nature. Measuring the Target Behavior. Single-subject re-


Summer 2014 search design allows teachers to measure what is currently occurring in the classroom (see Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007; Kazdin, 2011; Schloss & Smith, 1998, for more information). In single-subject designs, individuals are compared to themselves instead of to other groups. In contrast to quantitative studies, which sample large numbers of individuals prior to and following an intervention, single-subject research designs examine the performance of individuals before and during an intervention. Experimental control is demonstrated by implementing the intervention across settings, people, or behavior at different periods in time and observing the same outcome. In order to capture the type of play in which Jack engaged, a momentary time sampling was used to record teacher play, peer play, or solitary play. When using a momentary time sample, behavior is recorded at the beginning of a specified interval; in this case, Lila recorded play behavior each minute. This type of data collection captures a “snapshot” of the child’s behavior, and is easy to do in the classroom while supervising and interacting with other children. Data were collected for 3 days to capture an overall picture of Jack’s typical play behavior. This overall picture is called a baseline observation. Typically, baseline observations are conducted until a stable pattern of behavior is observed. This can take as little as 3 observations if the data follow a predictable pattern, but can also take many more. The length of baseline observation is determined by the behavior that is observed and cannot be decided ahead of time. Lila collected data every day, and then added it to her graph to see what it looked like. This is called visual analysis of the data. For the study of Jack’s play, Lila created a data collection system to measure how frequently Jack played with teachers, peers, or by himself. Lila watched Jack during the free choice center time when children had access to all centers and were free to interact with each other. She sat in an unobtrusive location and scored the type of play observed from Jack. She noticed that 50% of Jack’s play was with teachers. She began to consider what she could do to encourage him to show interest in his peers.

Baseline observations revealed that Jack was engaged in teacher play during 50% of the observation sessions, peer play during 20% of the observation sessions, and solitary play during 30% of the observation sessions (see Figure 1). This graph shows that teacher play was on an

Summer 2014

Early Years Bulletin

upward trajectory, while peer play was on a downward trajectory. With this information providing a clear picture of the problem, the next step in the process is to design an appropriate intervention. Designing and Implementing an Intervention. The results of the teacher’s baseline research impacted future instruction; it was determined that if Jack were redirected to play with his peers, he may play less often with the teacher and may begin to seek her out less. (This is called adult facilitation in the literature; see Snell & Brown, 2000.) The intervention was focused on having the teacher redirect Jack to play with his peers when he approached her. The steps in the intervention were as follows. The teacher was to 1) get on Jack’s eye level, and 2) provide him with a verbal instruction, paired with sign language, to play with his peers (“Where is John? He would really like to see that tower you built.”). This intervention was carried out each and every time Jack approached the teacher to play. Solitary play was deemed at an appropriate level for his developmental age and, therefore, no attempt was made to limit, impact, or interrupt the child’s choice of solitary play. The same data collection procedures described in baseline were used during the intervention.

to determine if the intervention was effective. Students were instructed to interpret mean, level, trend, and variability. Each day, Lila entered her data on her graph (see Figure 1), creating a visual representation of the data before and after the intervention. For this student’s project, the graph displays a decrease in teacher play to 23% of observation sessions (a 27% decrease from baseline) and an increase in peer play to 47% (a 29% increase from baseline). Because the intervention was never applied when Jack was engaged in solitary play, his levels remained constant at 30% across baseline and intervention observation sessions. The sound of happy laughter drifted from the block area where a group of children were moving blocks with trucks and knocking down towers. In the midst of it all was Jack. Lila smiled as she observed Jack interacting with peers playing in the block area during morning free play. By redirecting Jack toward peers, he was now engaging in peer play almost 50% of the time!

By applying a relatively easy teacher intervention, the amount of teacher play decreased and the amount

continued on p. 14 . . .

The first morning of the intervention, Jack approached Lila to show her a truck; she immediately said, “Wow, that’s a big one you brought. Why don’t you show it to Molly?,” then guided him toward a peer. Jack happily complied. This continued throughout the morning, with Lila and Janice redirecting Jack’s invitations to play toward other children in the classroom.

Determining the Effectiveness of the Intervention. Graphing data is an important part of the action research process. Hojnoski, Gischlar, & Missal (2009) suggest that “organizing child performance data into graphic displays can promote the systematic use of data in educational decision-making, which enhances outcomes for all students” (p. 34). Student teachers were taught what to graph (usually the behavior you are trying to increase)

Figure 1 Percentage of observed intervals of teacher play and peer play prior to and during the teacher prompt intervention.


Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 13 of peer play increased. The take home message for teachers is that with the right tools, they already have the skills required to make data-driven decisions to positively impact learning. Reflection on Teacher Research It is important for early childhood educators to use a variety of instructional practices to ensure that they are meeting the needs of the children they teach. To stay current in the field, teachers must evaluate their own practice, which includes both curriculum evaluation and child progress. The important elements of such a project are that it is integrated in practice field experience, and that it includes an assessment that connects to instruction. Strategies for Conducting Action Research in Your Classroom Identify a target behavior. Define the target behavior in a way that is observable and measureable. It should include both examples and non-examples of the target behavior. Design an assessment tool. Determine how you will quantify the target behavior during a specified period of time. Measure the target behavior. Use your assessment tool to determine how frequently the behavior is occurring. Continue your data collection until you have a stable, predictable pattern that represents the child’s general performance of the target behavior (a set of baseline observations). Design and implement the intervention. Look to the literature to find research that has addressed your target behavior to design the intervention. Determine the effectiveness of the intervention. Continue to use your assessment tool to measure the target behavior once the intervention has been introduced. Revisit the intervention if the child’s target behavior does not improve. Resources Alberto, P. A., & Troutman, A. C. (2013). Applied behavior analysis for teachers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Cooke, N. L., Heward, W. L., Test, D. W., Spooner, F., & Courson, F. H. (1991). Student performance data in the

Summer 2014 classroom: Measurement and evaluation of student progress. Teacher Education and Special Education, 14, 155-161. Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merril Prentice Hall. Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs: Serving children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Epstein, A. S. (2007). The Intentional Teacher. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Stecker, P. M. (1991). Effects of curriculum-based measurement and consulatation on teacher planning and student achievement in mathematics operations. American Education Research Journal, 28, 617-641. Henderson, B., Meier, D., & Perry, G.,(2004). Teacher research in early childhood education. Young Children, 59(2), 94-100. Hojnoski, R., Gischlar, K., & Missall, K. (2009), Improving child outcomes with data-based decision making: Graphing data. Young Exceptional Children, 12(4), 15-30. Kazdin, A. E. (2011), Single-case research design. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Moore, R. A., & Gilliard, J. J. (2008). Preservice teachers conducting action research in early education centers. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 29, 45-58. Sandall, S. R., Schwartz, I. S., & LaCroix, B. (2004). Interventionists’ perspectives about data collection in integrated early childhood classrooms. Journal of Early Intervention, 26, 161-174. Schloss, P. J., & Smith, M. A. (1998). Applied behavior analysis in the classroom. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Schwartz, I. S., & Olswang, L. B. (1996). Evaluating child behavior change in natural settings: Exploring alternative strategies for data collection. Topics in early Childhood Special Education, 16, 82-101. Snedecor, G., & Cochran, W. (1989). Statiscal Methods (8th ed.). Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. Snell, M. E., & Brown, F. (2000). Instruction of students with severe disabilities (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall. Stremmel, A. (2002). Nurturing professional and personal growth through inquiry. Young Children, 57(5), 62-70.


Summer 2014

Early Years Bulletin

Suggested Books on Friendship for Infants and Toddlers Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship By Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Help! A Story of Friendship By Holly Keller

Making Friends By Fred Rogers

Where Is My Friend? By Simms Taback

Where Are You Going? To See My Friend By Kazuo Iwamura and Illustrated by Eric Carle


Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 10 help them get in the habit of asking themselves, “How do I know that?,” “Why do I think that?,” and “Does that make sense?” Conclusion Under the supervision of trusted adults, young children can tackle big issues in age-appropriate ways. One way to help children understand perspective, social justice, and critical thinking is to read and discuss fairy tales. These stories offer rich examples of concepts that children experience regularly in their own world and offer them the opportunity to practice and develop skills that are beneficial to their social and emotional development. By asking guided questions and allowing the children’s answers to evolve over time, teachers can help children develop their ability to see and understand perspective, social justice, and critical thinking during story time. Then, when related situations arise in the classroom, teachers can refer back to the stories and help children apply these skills to their own experiences. Resources Anderson, H. C. (1999). Ugly duckling. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Anderson, H. C. (2004). The emperor’s new clothes. New York, NY: Sandpiper. Asbjornsen, P. C. (n.d.). Chicken little. In T. dePaola (1986), Favorite nursery tales. New York, NY: G. P. Putman’s Sons. Bilmes, J. (2012). Beyond behavior management: The six life skills children need. New York, NY: Redleaf.

Summer 2014 Brown, M. (2004). Stone soup. New York, NY: Live Oak Media. Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Gartrell, D. (2012). Education for a civil society: How guidance teaches children democratic life skills. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Hyland, N. (2010). Social justice in early childhood classrooms: What research tells us. Young Children, 65, 82-87. Jacobs, J. (n.d.). The three bears. In T. dePaola (1986), Favorite nursery tales. New York, NY: G. P. Putman’s Sons. Marshall, J. (1989). The three little pigs. New York, NY: Dial. Noisch, G. (2012). Learning to think things through. Boston, MA: Pearson. Pinkney, J. (2006). The little red hen. New York, NY: Dial. Pinkney, J. (2009). The lion and the mouse. New York, NY: Little Brown Books for Young Readers. Scieszka, J. (1996). The true story of the three little pigs. New York, NY: Puffin. Seefeldt, C., Castle, S., & Falconer, R. (2010). Social studies for the preschool/primary child (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. Thomspon, R. A. (2006). The development of the person: Social understanding, relationships, conscious and self. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., pp. 2498). New York, NY: John Willey and Sons. Wade, R. (2007). Social studies for social justice: Teaching strategies for the elementary classroom. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Wildsmith, B. (2007). The tortoise and the hare. New York, NY: Oxford Children’s. Zelinsky, P. (1996). Rumpelstiltskin. New York, NY: Puffin.

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Early Years Bulletin, ISSN 2333-6226, is published quarterly by the Association for Childhood Education International, 1101 16th St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036. Articles published in Early Years Bulletin represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions taken by the Association for Childhood Education International. Copyright © 2014 by the Association for Childhood Education International. No permission is needed to reproduce materials for education purposes.


Early Years Bulletin, Summer 2014  

The Early Years Bulletin, published four times a year, brings together the voices of practitioners, administrators, researchers, and advocat...

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