Adapting familiar poems and chants with pictures/words can help prepare children with language difficulties for the major hurdle of applying their language skills to the task of learning to read. By using visual supports of pictures, it will allow the following:
FAMILIAR: Children learn and benefit from the poems and chants because they are familiar with the rhythm. Repeated word patterns become like carrier phrases, easing memory load.
NEW: New vocabulary and concepts are introduced in a known framework.
SUCCESS: The pictures increase the children's success in matching voice to text. They can touch each picture as they say each word. Even non-readers can "read" the poems and begin practicing the reading behavior of matching voice to "print".
DISCUSS: The pictures help children to discuss metalinguistic concepts such as first word and last word in a sentence, as these are now easily visualized. Likewise, word patters are quickly recognized as the symbols for the words make up columns of repetitions of the same picture.
DISCRIMINATION: Children's awareness of change, and place of change, can be heightened. The picture provides visual support for listening for auditory change.
AUGMENTATIVE COMMUNICATION: The poems and chants can be used by all class members, including the child with alternative/augmentative communication needs. This allows all children to be involved with language arts material tied to the classroom themes.
"This Little Piggy Went to Market" can be changed to fit a winter theme. Pictures can be added that are hand drawn, clip art, or commercial products (Picture Communication Symbols by Mayer-Johnson). Here are the New Words...
This little snowman is eating.
This little snowman is happy.
This little snowman is walking.
This little snowman is sleeping.
This little snowman says, "I'm cold", all the way home.
This great early literacy and language idea was submitted by Kathlyne Smith.