A few pictures of how I set up our group time area last year.
1. Pick the Right Books AHEAD of Time.Sometimes a book that is popular in a general education kindergarten class, is not going to be appropriate for students with autism or special needs. Our students find it hard to focus on books that seem to last a lifetime. When I do research for good books for story time, I use the library! Read about how I use the library to "research" my books before I buy them for my class. I'm documenting my picture book "research" through my blog! So far, I have 3 weeks of Back to School Books I love and next I will be doing Apple books for our Apple Theme.
2. Get students excited about books with the element of surprise.
This is something new for me. I read about it online at this website and fell in love with the idea. My students LOVE unwrapping gifts (who doesn't). I plan on writing different school staff on the tag throughout the months of August/September so we can use that as a learning experience. For example, the first book we read will be "from" our principal. We will be briefly talking about WHO our principal is and what she does. Thankfully, I can easily pull up our school website and we can view her picture. I might even plan a quick visit with her after story time is over so she can ask the students how they liked her book. I think this routine will really get the kiddos excited about story time!
3. Review Print Concepts during EVERY Read Aloud.We work on these ALL.YEAR.LONG.
Where is the front of the book? Back of the book?
Where is the title?
Author? What did he/she do? (wrote the book - briefly look through and point to the WORDS on the pages)
Illustrator? What did he/she do? (drew/took the pictures - look through the PICTURES of the book)
For the following questions, I always make sure I have visual supports for my students to point to, such as the ones pictured below for Pete the Cat.
WHO/WHAT do you see on the cover of the book?
Predictions: WHO do you think this book is about? WHAT do you think this book is about?
4. Use Visual Supports.I use visual supports for EVERYTHING, especially for story time. For those of you that have Boardmaker, Symbolstix, or Smarty Symbols, pulling up visual supports for books can be easy! Another option is to use google as a quick reference on the iPad and pull up visuals on google. I also have visual support packs for my favorite back to school stories in my TPT store right now if you are looking for something easy to print and use right away.
5. Use a Story Map to Review Key Details about the story.
6. Get Books into Students' Hands.For a while, I was SUPER over protective of our class books. Bottom line is, if our students love something, they look at it daily. Daily wear and tear will happen and you just have to let it go and be HAPPY that your little friends are loving books! If I know a book is going to get lots of use, I buy the paperback version, take it apart, laminate the pages, and then put it back together. This makes the books more durable and will save you money down the road. Below is an example of how we prep books for our reading center.
Here's a look at our reading center from last year.
7. Spread the weekly Literacy Theme throughout the whole classroom.
We love using whatever our weekly theme for story time in all other subjects and centers. See below how I incorporated Pete the Cat into various different activities we did throughout the week, as well as in different stations such as workboxes.