The pre-K students in the Cats and Rabbits classes experienced what it’s like to be authors and illustrators. During meeting, we used The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to teach us the sequencing of a story. Our students knew this book very well and remembered many details from it. As they shared what happened in the story, we thought about when that part of the story took place. For example, a question we asked to further their thinking was, “When did the caterpillar become a butterfly?” As the children volunteered details of the story we categorized them into three sections: beginning, middle and end. We also asked children, “What are ways stories start and finish?” And they replied “once upon a time” and “the end.” We also identified the character of the story, the caterpillar, and noticed that Eric Carle wrote about the caterpillar throughout the whole story. Then we discussed the illustrator’s role in matching the words with the pictures. We used the first page of the story as a reference and noticed that Eric Carle’s words matched the picture.
Our meeting was the foundation to teaching sequence and giving the Cats and Rabbits tools to write their own stories in partners or groups of three. The prompt was to write a story about their class animal (cat or rabbit). During work centers, each group was invited for a turn as an author and illustrator. We first discussed who would write the beginning, middle and end of the story. This experience allowed the students to listen to each other’s ideas and come to an agreement about what their story would be about and who was responsible for each part of it. Once a teacher wrote down their words, we emphasized the students’ role as illustrators to match the picture to the words and their part of the story. The stories varied from cats being in a forest finding their way home to rabbits going to have lunch at a diner. The Cats and Rabbits loved this book-making experience! They saw a physical copy of last year’s publication and were excited to see their own stories printed.
After our book-making experience, we read a picture book about books! How This Book was Made by Mac Barnett provided insight to the author’s writing process. It gave each child a friendly glimpse into what it’s like being a writer and coming up with ideas. It took us on a journey of how the book was made by following the book from its early drafts to it being sent to the editor, then to the illustrator, then being printed, waiting on a bookshelf and then being picked up by a reader! This story also taught us how much books need readers and let us see how our stories would be turned into a physical book, which will include a collection of pre-K student’s stories and illustrations. The Avenues Parents Association helps gather all stories in order for them to be published. The Cats and Rabbits will be thrilled to see the printed version of their stories so that they can share them with more readers!
Our writing experience lays the foundation for pre-reading and pre-writing skills. The most important aspect of this process is finding meaning and joy in literacy. Each child had a role in creating a story and learned that they have a story to tell that can be transferred to paper. Witnessing their stories come together and having their words read back to them will hopefully inspire them to continue telling their stories orally, through pictures or in written form.