KinderGals: Building Brain Power through Role Playing and Storytelling

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Building Brain Power through Role Playing and Storytelling

Since I retired, I have slowly gone through 30 years worth of “teacher hoarding.” You know, those things that we might need so we just can’t throw them away?  Over the last 3 years, I have either given away or thrown away a lot of stuff!!  Once I retired, I admit, I had an emotional attachment to many of the things, thus making this process very difficult. Like how cool was it when I found these photographs of my son Tyler that I once used in a lesson to show how babies grow? This was when he was in kindergarten!!!
Or how about these photographs of my children role-playing “ Little Red Hen”, taken more than 20 years ago,  that I had made into a handwritten book. 20 years ago we did a lot of “playing” in kindergarten.
Soooo many of those activities have gone by the wayside in many rooms in sake of preparing kids for the “test”! But stop and look at each chapter in this book and you will once again see the power of those activities that grow smarter kids!!!
Marcia says, “When learning is physical, it is more motivating, engaging, and likely to be extended.” Here are a few ideas using these strategies in our classrooms to teach math concepts:
I taught my kids this song “Five Cute Dalmatians” sung to the tune of “Three Little Angels.” We used the puppets that I made from dog food scoops (I made a set for Megan’s room using the tiny dust pans that come with the little brooms.” After singing the song just for fun, we pulled the puppets back out during math. We were working on the idea of “one less.”
I made a set of chef puppets using these splatter guards that I picked up at the dollar store. We used the puppets to sing our song “ Five Little Chefs” sung to the tune “Three Little Elephants.”
While 5 kids were role playing, other kids were manipulating chef clip art as they sang along. We were working on combinations for the number 5.
CAUTION: One thing that really made me think that was in Marcia’s book was this quote: “Although students can find role plays or enactments very engaging, they can take a great deal of time and are not as effective if the teacher does not have students explain the important concept enacted.” So here’s what I think that means…We must be sure that the standard is clear and evident. That the children are able to state what they are learning and that all are aware of the learning outcome.
We used these frog hats to role play the song “Five Little Speckled Frogs”. I made a log from brown towels for the kids to sit on as we sang. Marcia’s book states: “It can be a very engaging and highly effective activity to have a group of students act out or role play a word problem.”
I also found these bag clips that I could use. I made each child a set of frogs and a log with the recording page so that all children would be engaged. You can get that as a freebee (here).
The dramatic play center is a great place to teach math concepts through playing store. Here the kids are counting pennies onto tens frames to make purchases. A great way to develop that mental image of a number, develop 1 to 1 counting, to identify how many more to make a ten, to compose and decompose numbers 11-19……
And here are a few examples of using these strategies to teach language arts:
How fun to retell “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by wearing the hats and crawling into the old lady’s mouth that I spray painted on the sheet?!?! To say they loved it would be an understatement!
Then, we can role play the story using our reader’s theater script!
How about using these splatter guard puppets for role playing “The Three Bears?” So why does the brain like this? “Role plays use visual, spatial, linguistic, and bodily modalities, and, therefore, not only access students’ emotions but also enable students to comprehend at much deeper levels than a lecture would.”
Here two kids are retelling the story “The Mitten” using a mitten they made. Or as in the photo above, I just stapled a mitten to a plastic bag and the kids used the pieces to retell. “Stories not only allow students’ brains to relax but also they help them have an easier time of retaining the newly acquired material.” Teaching children that authors often sequence characters is a special order that  help us retell a story, is a strategy that kids can use on future stories, not just for the sake of retelling this particular story.
Here’s where the kids use the Peter puppet to retell the story. “Children naturally develop a sense of story and the brains fascination with story continues throughout their lives.”
Love, love, love these puppets one of my little cuties made in the art center. Then, they made up a story to go with the puppets!
And here are a few example of using this strategy to  teach science.
During science we were learning about the balance of life in the ocean. This game of predator/prey helped the kids to understand that concept. To play, some children stood behind the wall and threw “predators” at the “prey” in the ocean. If you were hit, you had to leave the ocean.
We role played being whales as we shook our film cans trying to find the our family. I put different items in the cans, making 4 of each. As the kids shook their can, they found their family and hooked elbows. (Whales can locate their families through the sounds they make.)
chapter 14-15

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Sue H. said...

Love your frogs on a log! However, the "free" link doesn't work for me. Just thought I'd let you know.

kinder-gardening said...

Another wonderful post. I'm old and remember when role playing and story telling were a big emphasis in kindergarten. I believe in these two very important skills and incorporate them every chance i get. I loved reading all of your wonderful ideas and seeing the adorable puppets to support the stories and songs! So talented!

Kim and Megan said...

Oops! Here is the freebee

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