Clara Maria Fiorentini
The Invitation: Setting the scene for a new read-aloud with a Story Box
To quote the great Mem Fox, 'There is no exact way to do it, reading aloud is in fact an art form!' (Reading Magic, 2008)
However, there are lots of simple and effective ways we can increase opportunities for interactions before, during and after the read-aloud experience. In this post, we explore opportunities to build interactions and set the scene for a new read-aloud by capitalising on 'the invitation' into the read-aloud experience.
The invitation into the experience sets the tone. If it's a new text you are planning to read multiple times, then why not use a story box? Include some props, prompts, characters and clues - objects connected to the story which will build opportunities for discussion, prediction, inference and vocabulary development.
If it might be something you are planning on trying with younger children, then a little rhyme or jingle might help. Like this:
Download a free copy of my Story Box Rhyme:
What to include in a Story Box:
For example, if I am introducing Owl Babies and we are going to spend a few days reading, revisiting and re-reading the text; then, in my Story Box you might find.
- Twigs, leaves, pine cones, feather (think of objects which might give clues about the setting)
-A star or moon (something to give clues about the time of day)
-Puppets, stick puppets or story spoons of the character(s)
-Visual(s) / flashcard(s) of some key vocabulary from the text (e.g. trunk, Ivy)
-A small format / board book version of the book
Have you heard about The Babbling Book Club? A fabulous small Irish business run by Mum of two and Speech & Language therapist, Suzanne. Suzanne has a wealth of fantastic books, story resources, props, puppets and an entire range of exciting 'Babble Boxes' for sale on her website, all aimed at getting children chatting about and loving books. Suzanne stocks lots of incredible materials to match many of the most popular children's picturebooks. See for yourself! (Not an ad!)
Ideally, you would invite children to close their eyes and pick out an object from the Story Box and discuss!
Discussing each object individually is a really useful way of pre-teaching and reinforcing some of that unfamiliar vocabulary that might appear in the story.
Invite children to hold the objects during the read-aloud and hold them up as they are mentioned or as they appear in the story.
Keep the materials in a space accessible to the children so they can interact with them outside of the reading experience independently or as part of play!
Let me know if you give it a go!