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Topics in Early Literacy

*Suggestion: The times listed next to the activities are approximate. Each activity could take more or less time. This module is designed to be completed over a period of time rather than in a single sitting.


View the Topics in Early Literacy -   PowerPoint presentation. (5 minutes)

Like all teachers of young children, TK teachers recognize that the classroom environment is an essential component of the instructional experience for young children. It is “the third teacher.” Read what experts say -  about room environments that support children's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

After reading the brief article, conduct an Internet search for images of TK or kindergarten classrooms. Browse through the images, and select several that provide evidence of the teacher's understanding of the role the environment plays in supporting children's literacy development.

Create a Glogster poster, Animoto video, or PowerPoint presentation and prepare to share and discuss your images and reasons for their selection with peers. Post your creation on the course discussion board. (25 minutes)

Based on the two topics you selected while viewing the PowerPoint presentation (#1 above), go to the appropriate sections of this Module Guide and complete the activities.

Once you have completed the activities, go to the “Final Thoughts” section of this Module Guide to reflect on your experience.


Choice 1: Informational Texts in the Tk Classroom

Select six books appropriate for young children from your personal library, a classroom library or public library, or a local bookstore: three informational books and three storybooks. Examine the books and generate a list of ways informational books and storybooks differ. What features and structures do you observe in the informational books that you do not see in the storybooks? What features and structures do you observe in the storybooks that you do not see in the informational texts? Save your list for future reference. (15 minutes)

Read the paper Informational Text in the TK Classroom -  for an appreciation of the importance of sharing informational text with young children, an understanding of the features and structures of informational text, and to learn how to share informational text with young children. Respond to the questions embedded in the paper and be prepared to discuss your responses with peers in class or online as directed by your instructor. (45 minutes)

Select a quote from the article that strikes a chord for you. Write it on a course discussion forum and include a brief explanation of why you selected it. Read and respond to your classmates’ postings. (15 minutes)

Choice 2: Phonological Awareness

Review notes and materials related to phonological awareness from your literacy methods course. Specifically, review the definition of phonological awareness, its relationship to literacy development, and approaches to teaching it.

Then, view the following:

Keep the standards and foundations readily accessible.

(15 minutes)

Read the article Phonological Awareness is Child’s Play! Activities are discussed throughout the article. Select four activities and identify the kindergarten standards and/or preschool foundations they support.

List the activities and corresponding foundations and/or standards on the Phonological Awareness Article Guide

(40 min)

Young learners should be offered classroom environments in which they have many opportunities to engage in playful manipulation of sounds.

View each of the following brief videos:

Consider the following:

  • Does the teacher explain the phonological manipulation?
  • Does the teacher model the phonological manipulation?
  • Is the activity engaging? Is the activity likely to ignite additional experimentation with sounds?

Share one of your reactions to the videos with a classmate.

(20 minutes)

Choice 3: Writing and Young Learners

In Literacy Module 1: Overview of Early Literacy, you viewed the preschool foundations and kindergarten standards in language arts and literacy. Return to the foundations -  and the standards at and reread the foundations for writing and language use and conventions and the standards for writing and language. What do you observe about the different expectations for preschool children and kindergarteners? Think about the implications for TK teachers.

(10 min.)

You read about the importance of the classroom environment in the introduction to this module. All classroom environments, and especially TK and kindergarten classroom environments, should provide many opportunities for writing in a variety of contexts. Think about the early childhood settings you have visited, perhaps in your fieldwork or student teaching. How was writing supported through the environment (or how could it have been supported)

Brainstorm a list of five ways teachers can create an environment that encourages writing throughout the day and across the curriculum.

Share your ideas with a classmate.

(10 minutes)

Depending upon which methods courses you have completed to date, this activity may be a review or new information. Go to the Reading Rockets -  site. You will see that there are colored tabs for pre-k through 3rd grade near the top of the page. Click on the pre-k tab. You will find five samples of writing by young children.

Read about and look closely at each. (Notice that if you move your cursor over the speech box on the sample, you learn more information about a particular feature of the child’s writing.)

After viewing the five pre-k examples, click on the kindergarten tab and view the five kindergarten samples.

Select one of the pre-k or kindergarten samples to print. Add your own notes (beyond what was provided at the website) to the sample.

Be prepared to discuss your thoughts about the sample with a peer.

(25 minutes)

The California Preschool Curriculum Framework -  (Volume 1), offers principles and strategies for supporting young children's learning in several domains. Read the section on writing (pages. 158 - 167 - ) to gain an understanding of the developmental nature of learning to write, classroom interactions and strategies that support writing, and how to engage families in children's writing experiences.

Keep a running list of key words from the text as you read.

(20 minutes)

Review your list of words. Why did these words stand out for you? What important information do they convey about teaching emerging writers?

  • Write each of your words on a different small piece of paper. Fold your papers so you cannot see your words and shuffle them.
  • Randomly select four papers. Open them, read your words, and do a quick write of three or four sentences in which you use all four words. Underline the four key words in your quick write.
  • Select four different words and complete another quick write.
  • Email your two quick writes to a classmate. Read your classmate’s quick writes and comment on them. [Or, post your two quick writes to the Writing Discussion Forum. Read and comment on your classmates’ ideas.]

(10 minutes)

Choice 4: Oral Language Development

Oral language is the foundation of literacy. View the PowerPoint presentation entitled Oral Language Development - : Five Principles in Rhyme.

Complete the Oral Language Development Power Point Guide and be prepared to discuss implications for TK in class. Also, consider whether the principles apply to fostering the development of both native language and an additional language.

(10 minutes)

View the three virtual tours ("Classroom Previews - ") of classrooms.

(No need to watch the corresponding “Meet the Teacher” videos, although they are interesting.)

Tips: Use the arrows on the image to move around the classroom. Use the Zoom icons to zoom in and out. Notice the small orange dots in each classroom. When you hover over a dot, text appears that identifies a topic related to that area of the classroom. Clicking on the dot opens a brief video.

Click to view several language-related topics classroom.

Respond to the Virtual Tour Guide - .

(30 minutes.)

In the Oral Language Development: Five Principles in Rhyme PowerPoint, you read about the value of reading aloud to young children, but effective read-alouds do not just happen. You must plan for them.

  • Read The  Power of Planning: Developing Effective Read Alouds - 
  • Then, select a favorite children's book and develop a list of questions you might ask and vocabulary you might highlight as you read it aloud. Be prepared to talk about the rationale for your questions and vocabulary choices. Post the book's title, author, questions, and vocabulary. Your instructor may ask you to engage in a read-aloud with a small group in class.

(25 minutes.)

Final Thoughts

Do one of the following:

You now have some expertise in two of the four topics addressed in this module. Revisit your notes, any guides you completed, and the work you posted. Identify one "big idea" for each topic and share them with classmates by completing the following sentence twice, once for each topic: "One important thing every TK teacher should know about (your topic) is ..." Post your two sentences in the appropriate forums on the course discussion board. Read classmates' postings.

-- or ---

Develop a one- or two-item survey (using Google Forms or other survey tool) related to something you learned in this module, and administer it to your classmates. For example, you might ask classmates to rate their level of interest in several subtopics you explored (e.g., reading aloud, pretend play, writing centers) or to identify the genre of their favorite children's book (poetry, story, informational). You decide! Post the results.

(15 minutes.)

Approximate total time: 5- 6 hours