One of the things I love the most about kindergarten is that I get to set up a wide variety of experiences for the kids. I don't simply want to introduce new concepts through books or video, but I want the kids to actually experience new things every day. I truly believe that the sum of our literacy lives is made up of experiences we all have. Kids make deeper connections to books about trees when they have had time to experience, learn about, and observe trees. If a child has been to a pumpkin farm and learned, first hand, how the pumpkins grow then they will be able to make connections to the books about pumpkins that other kids may not be able to make.
The big idea of experiences making up our literacy lives connects to writing as well. How many times, as a child or even as an adult, have you been assigned to write something and it seems like that blank page is staring you down. It looks back up at you and you look right back at it, not knowing even where to begin. Having experiences in the classroom or at home will help kids gain ideas to write about, but also learn to add details to their writing. Instead of simply drawing a picture of a pumpkin growing in the pumpkin field, kids might draw a mucky farm and show themselves wearing sturdy rain boots. These are all details that they may add to their picture because it is something they actually experienced, and in turn be able to add to their writing.
The header of my literacy blog is filled with pictures of baking, art, and running through the hay fields. These may seem like strange pictures to represent the big idea of literacy, but it all comes back to experiences. Yes, I want my students and my own children to learn to read and write, but the best way to enhance their reading and writing is to provide as many different experiences as possible. It's all about playful learning and everything we do, each and every day, is bringing us back to learning!
Happy playing, learning, and growing!