Reading aloud is a major part of Primary class time and I use picture books to spark interest in a new subject, to deepen understanding, or just to be silly. Lately, I’ve been exploring using read-alouds as a tool to shift energy in the classroom.
One day, the students came in from a PE where there had been some conflict. Their hurt feelings carried over into the classroom and the endless he-said-she-said began as soon as they got in the room. One student curled up and wouldn’t say a thing except and occasional “no I didn’t!” at the top of her lungs. Communication had broken down, and aside from endless processing and forced apologies, not much was going to fix it right in that moment.
We had been studying trees, and I had planned a tree-related science activity for the last 30 minutes of the day, but I could tell that was not going to go smoothly unless we could resolve our hurt feelings. Then I remembered The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – a story about a tree that stays with a boy throughout his life and ultimately gives all of itself freely to the boy until he is an old man. It is a touching story of generosity.
I suggested that we take a break from all the talking and read a story. It’s a pretty long story, and the students seemed relieved to get to just listen. Slowly the curled up student uncurled herself and listened. By the end of the story, the students had forgotten their arguments and were calmly sitting, ready to work on the science activity. As the students engaged in the activity, I checked in with the students who were involved to see if we needed to discuss what had happened in PE. It was a calm and clear and easy discussion.
What books have you found that your child loves? How can they be used to shift their energy?