Lately, she’s taken to “The Runaway Cookies” which is a seven-stanza poem about naughty cookies who escaped from their cookie jar one night.
The cool thing about this poem, thanks to her teacher, is that it was sent home with all of the poem’s pieces so that she, or someone else, can act out her poem as she reads.
It’s awesome, and poem-recitation (or memorization–it doesn’t matter!) is a great tool for emerging readers.
- Runaway Cookies: This poem, and a few others, was sent home with Maddy a few weeks ago. “The Runaway Cookies” is from Paul Anderson’s Storytelling with the Flannel Board (gasp! 1963), and although the poem and characters are almost 50 years old, the story is timeless.
The poem, “The Runaway Cookies,” the cookie jar, and the gingerbread man, bunny, lamb, duck, and bear are here to download. (Click on the poem title.)
The reason I went through the trouble of re-typing the poem and scanning the sheets is because I knew I didn’t have the patience to create felt characters; for me, printing out the pieces onto cardstock and having Maddy color them and cut them out saved me time and gave her some ownership over her precious cookies.
the poem and poem pieces before they’re cut out
After I printed out the pieces, Maddy colored her cookies, and I attached the cookie jar lid to the cookie jar with a tiny gold fastener. That way, when she reads the poem and has the cookies jump out, she just opens the lid and it stays open.
We cut out the pieces, and whoever is nearby while Maddy’s reading the poem gets to act out the poem. Like any flannel board–or felt board–story, it comes to life when the cut-out cookies can actually move and jump along with the words.
Sure, at this point, after twenty or so readings, it’s mostly memorization, but when emerging readers can re-read familiar texts, they get to work on fluency—reading the words smoothly, accurately, and with proper expression while understanding what they’re reading (National Reading Panel Report, 2006).
Here’s a little more about why poem reading–and re-reading–is muy importante:
Poem reading is a fantastic way to help emerging readers increase their fluency and confidence in reading. Pat Cunningham recommends that teachers read a poem to students first, pointing out the words on a big chart as they go. After children learn to “say, chant, or sing it,” the progression to reading is a natural one. Children soon develop the “of course I can read” self-confidence once they see the words of the poem on big chart paper or on a handout. (Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing, 2000).
We’re already seeing this confidence in Maddy as she prances around reciting her poem. It’s seriously awesome and makes this teacher-mama smile–big.