Phonological Awareness isn’t the only early literacy skill that can tie in with singing songs! Here’s a way to work in a little print awareness while you sing. When you add a comment to the parents, it will help them understand the connection between labeling objects and early literacy skills.
I worked out a design for a Song Cube made out of a square tissue box, clip art, and book tape, and my friend and colleague Virginia put it together! Inspiration for this idea came from Andrea’s Song Spinner and the “Storytime 911 Shuffle Mix” at Storytiming. Thanks ladies!
Use an empty tissue box and stuff it with newspaper, or go ahead and use a full one. Either way the box will be sturdier filled than empty. Find clip art that represents simple, familiar songs, and print it out with a short word that goes along with. On my box, I have these words and images:
spider = a spider for “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
star = a star for “Twinkle Twinkle”
bus = a schoolbus for “Wheels on the Bus”
sheep = a black sheep for “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
boat = a rowboat for “Row Row Row Your Boat”
hands = two hands for “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
Then in storytime, tell the kids it’s time to sing a song, but you don’t know which one! Show them the Song Cube, and show them that there is a picture on each side that stands for a song. Look on each side, showing the picture, pointing to the word as you read it, and saying what song it represents. Then tell the kids you’re going to roll the cube on the floor, and whatever song is on top is the song you will sing! Go ahead and roll the cube, but wait to see if the children can tell you which song is facing up. Most of them will make the connection with the picture, of course–that’s developmentally appropriate and exactly what we expect.
When you respond, though, make sure to point to the word again, to draw their attention to the print as well as the picture. For instance, say, “Yes! You’re right, we’re going to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle!’ Look, here’s the picture of the star, and here’s the word ‘star.'”
Then sing the song together! You can do this a few times in a row. Before you move on to your next activity, tell the grown-ups, “When you make labels for things at home, your child learns that the squiggles on the labels stand for words they hear and recognize. Making that connection between spoken language and written language is a first step to reading.”
Ed 7/9/12: I *knew* I didn’t invent this idea, but had no idea where I picked it up. I still don’t where I saw it first, but I came across it today on this neat list of ideas on Storytime Songs.