Bilingual storyteller enhances preschool’s sing time
Author: Tammy Lane • First Posted: Thursday, February 02, 2012
Music, motions and movement intrigue children in Jennifer Nagle’s Early Start classes and even more so now that they sing in both English and Spanish.
Thanks to a mini grant from the Blue Grass Community Foundation, a bilingual storyteller expands the preschoolers’ sing time with myriad rhythms and rhymes, patterns and lyrics.
“It’s a fun way for them to develop language and their literacy skills,” said visiting artist Amy Olson, who leads “Bilingual BoogieBeats” at James Lane Allen Elementary.
From “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, she holds the kids’ attention throughout each half-hour session. Her approach weaves in grammar lessons, counting, fresh vocabulary and elements of story sequence using familiar tunes and new songs they quickly memorize.
“It’s all tied in,” said Olson, who brings along a bag of soft puppets, illustrated pop-up books and simple shaker instruments. “I try to do it through an imaginative way so they’re enjoying it.”
Nagle was among 16 teachers in Fayette County Public Schools to receive mini grants this year. Her proposal grew out of a desire for students to develop basic music skills as well as bond with each other since her two classes include preschoolers with disabilities and Hispanic children just learning English.
“I’ve picked up some songs I love that I’ve incorporated into daily story times,” Nagle said. “If I can sing some songs in Spanish, it makes them feel better and feel more comfortable here.”
Olson, who will visit every other week for a while and then weekly in May, agreed that “Bilingual BoogieBeats” can bridge gaps among diverse students.
“They’re able to explore the social aspect of being in the classroom together. It makes them stretch their boundaries as well,” she said. “Kids pick things up very early. The earlier they hear something different than what they’re comfortable with, the more comfortable they are and the more excited. It’s a good way to expose kids to other cultures and other experiences.”
Nagle thinks the musical story time will also help her youngsters learn to focus and pay close attention to instruction.
“Especially at this age, they love music and songs that involve finger play and anything that keeps them active and moving. When their body’s moving, they really think about it and remember it better,” she said.
“You never know what’s going to appeal to certain children,” Nagle added. “Some love to sit down and read; others love the music. I just try to give them as many experiences as I can.”