Literacy, Language, & Phonemic Awareness

The cornerstone of the literacy component is the importance of student access to books. The school library contains over 9000 books for the teachers to use during they daily literacy activities.
The titles cover diverse topics which include, but are not limited to, books with rhyme and repetition, Spanish books, alphabet books, color and number books, character education books, books about families and growing up, and an extensive non-fiction section of books that introduce science topics ranging from life cycles, animals, seasons, life science, physical science, and the human body, as well as board books. Each title in the library contains 20 copies of the book. This way, during each session of story time (beginning at 12 months of age), EVERY child holds his or her own copy of the book.

Children gain an early understanding of the correspondence between the pictures in books and the written words.  By having the opportunity to hold their own book, children learn at a very young age a respect for reading books, parts of a book, and turning the pages as they follow along.  This also gives the teacher several opportunities to do picture walks and extend the learning experience.

Another aspect of the literacy component is the school’s lending library.  On a daily basis, children are encouraged to choose a book to take home and read with their family.  The next morning, the book is returned to the shelves and the child can choose a new book at the days end.  Age appropriate books are available for nightly checkout for elementary age siblings.  This helps to extend the message of the importance of nightly reading for the entire family.  Additionally, each month, every child receives a free book as a gift from the school to teach children that Literacy is a gift.  The free book is given out at a monthly FAMILY READING NIGHT AND PAJAMA JAM.  At this event, children are invited to return to school at 7pm in pajamas to read two stories with the Director and their family.  Milk and cookies follow the activity before taking the new book home.  Children who do not attend the event receive their free book the following day in their mailboxes.

Additionally, every child leaves the school with his or her own published book.  In the book, the child is pictured as the main character with props in photographs on every page of the book.  Books are printed in color and laminated pages are placed in hardcover board books for ages 1-4 and hardcover paper page books for Pre-K4 children.  There is a different book for each age level.

1 year olds: My Book of Colors (10 pages)

2 year olds: My Book of Shapes (10 pages)

3 year olds: My Book of Senses (10 pages)

4 year olds: My Number Book (10 pages)

Pre-K 4: My ABC Book (27 pages)

My Book of Position and Space (27 pages)

When the children take their book home, they are able to read the book to their family.

An integral part of the language experience is the teaching of letter names, their sounds and how they relate to literacy.

Each child is encouraged to “sign in” each day in their class sign in book. At the beginning of the year, these books consist of dotted representations of the child’s name.  The child begins the year by tracing the letters to form their name.  As the year progresses, the dots are replaced with their name in solid letters for the child to copy on a line below their printed name. This gives the child a small amount of daily practice in letter formation. Letter names and sounds are typically introduced in circle time each morning with an emphasis each week on a particular letter and words which begin with that letter.  Words are added weekly to a word wall graph and student names are also added to the graph with the corresponding letter.

Throughout the child’s day, various activities are done to teach awareness of letters and the sounds they represent.  Some such activities include, but are not limited to reinforcement activities such as Letter and Sounds Bingo, board games (FROG Publications) and other manipulatives such as Versa Tiles, and Funthinker games and activities that allow students to use their senses to explore letters. Students also write in individual student journals both independently and guided by his or her teacher.

Furthermore, each day a child is chosen to write the Daily News. This is an opportunity for the child to dictate a thought to the teacher and illustrate and share its meaning with the class.  Other opportunities are available through group activities for students to participate in writing as a form of creative expression.

Additionally, to further support the home/school connection, Hands On Minds On provides opportunities for families to work together as an extension of the school program.  Each preschool class (as well as many of the younger classes) has a designated “take home pet”.  The stuffed animal takes turns visiting the home of the children in the class.  Each night children take turns taking home the stuffed animals and their traveling portfolio or journal.  At the end of the animal’s stay with the child, parents are asked to write down what the animals did in the child’s home in the animal’s journal.  Parents are also encouraged to take photographs of the animal depicting their adventures out of the class.  These photos are glued in the traveling journal and are shared the following day during circle time.

Another home/school connection activity involves the use of Book Pouches. Each Monday – Thursday a child is selected to take home a Book Pouch. In the pouch, is a book, crayons or markers, and paper. The child is asked to read the book with their family and when finished, draw a picture depicting a part of the book. The pictures are shared with the class in circle time.

A final home/school connection is in the participation of the Book It Beginners Program offered by Pizza Hut. Starting in January, each child is given a weekly homework packet to help prepare them for the concept of doing homework in Kindergarten. When they finish their nightly activity, students are encouraged to read with parents or siblings.  Each night they read, they can color in a box on a chart.  Every time the child colors n 10 boxes, they are rewarded with a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

Hands On Minds On  Literacy, Language, & Phonemic Awareness
VPK Standard Correlation

IV. Language and Communication

A. Listening

A.1. Gains meaning by listening

A.2. Follows two- and three-step directions

B. Speaking

B.1. Speaks clearly enough to be understood without contextual clues Benchmark: Child’s speech is understood by both a familiar and an unfamiliar adult.

C. Vocabulary

C.1. Shows an understanding of words and their meanings

C.2. Uses an expanded vocabulary to describe many objects, actions, and events

D. Sentences and Structure

D.1. Uses age-appropriate grammar in conversations and increasingly complex phrases and sentences

D.2. Connects phrases and sentences to build ideas

E. Conversation

E.1. Uses language to express needs and feelings, share experiences, predict outcomes and resolve problems

E.2. Initiates, ask questions, and responds to adults and peers in a variety of settings E.3. Uses appropriate language and style for context

V. Emergent Literacy

A. Emergent Reading

A.1. Shows motivation for reading

A.2. Shows age-appropriate phonological awareness

A.3. Shows alphabetic knowledge

A.4. Shows understanding of text read aloud

B. Emergent Writing

B.1. Shows motivation to engage in written expression

B.2. Uses letter-like shapes, symbols, and letters to convey meaning

B.3. Demonstrates age-appropriate ability to write letters

B.4. Shows knowledge of structure of written composition