The Ready-Set-GO! English Picture Book Reading Club website is for teachers and parents. I have used these materials and this format in Japanese kindergartens to help parents read English picture books to their children. Doing this as a club means that every family needs to buy only one book, but is able to share the books that the other club members buy, too. And everyone gets to share in the fun of reading picture books with their friends.
I hope you'll give it a try!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The BRC Meeting

The BRC meetings are a time for the mothers to learn how to use their paired vocabulary cards at home, as well as a time for me to teach the children. After some trial and error, and requests by the mothers, my BRC meetings settled into a regular format:
  • Materials: kamishibai/storyboards with Karuta prints for all; warm-up materials (books to read, props for songs, etc.)
  • While doing some warm-up activities with the kids (usually something active to get some of the steam out of the kids), mothers cut the Karuta papers into cards, one set for themselves and one for their child. The Karuta papers are A4 prints with 15 words & pictures which I cut into 1/3s (5 pictures on each) with a paper cutter before the meeting. The mothers then use scissors to cut the papers into 15 cards.
  • After the warm-up, everyone lays out a 4X4 Bingo grid with the prepared Karuta cards face-up on the floor, with one open ‘Free’ space. In Round One, call out the picture name/word, and everyone repeats and points to the picture in their grid without moving it. Next, play Bingo: call out the word and everyone turns over the picture in their grid. This is a listening activity to introduce the names/sounds of the words/pictures.
  • After Bingo is finished, all of the mother’s and child’s cards are left face-down, and the pairs play Memory, or in Japanese, Shinkesuijaku. This is a speaking activity: encourage the mothers and the kids to say the words each time a card is turned over. Since the paper is thin, the kids can easily see what the pictures are on the other side--this makes early success a sure thing for the kids.
  • The last game is Hebi Janken (Snake Rock-Papers-Scissors) in paired mother/child groups. It is a speaking activity- encourage the mothers to help their children who have not yet learned the vocabulary; it’s not a test! Two sets of cards are laid out in a line on the floor. A mother and child make one team. Beginning at each end of the line of cards, a member from each team points to and says aloud the word on each card, one-by-one. When the players meet, they stop and play Janken (RPS). The winner continues from that point, and the loser moves behind his/her teammate, who begins reading the cards from the beginning of the line again. Play continues until one team reaches the opposite end of the line of cards.
  • Next, to preview the story before reading the storyboard, the students all gather in front, and each is given one of the Karuta cards. While flipping through the story (but not reading it), a child calls out when they see their picture/word on the storyboard.
  • Finally, read the storyboard. This can be followed-up by reading the storyboard again and having the children repeat after you, or one or more of the children reads the story out loud -in English or in Japanese- while you flip through the cards.
  • The mothers were very keen on me reading the books they had purchased aloud, and usually brought them to the meeting. As time, and child patience, allow, finish the meeting by reading several of their books aloud.