In this video segment from Between the Lions, storyteller Karen Kandel tells an African tale about some surprising speakers. An introduction sets the stage. Props and sound effects help build word knowledge, a catchy refrain encourages the audience to chime in, and the short "a" sound is highlighted throughout the story.
Like reading aloud, storytelling helps tune a young child's ear to language and its possibilities. From birth to age six, the brain is in a critical period of language development. Stories are important during this period because they go beyond the boundaries of ordinary conversation and use language in a more sophisticated and literary way. They impose a structure—a beginning, middle, and end—on experience. In addition, the world of stories provides a gateway to the world of the written word. Children who are attuned to stories develop habits of listening that will ease the transition to literature and whet their appetite for the work of learning to read.
Stories also help children discover that language can forge connections across time and place. By telling the stories of different cultures, we keep those cultures alive, and stories told from the imagination show children how to tap their creative powers.
Oh, Yes, It Can! begins before the story is told, with an introduction to the culture and context of the narrative. Master storyteller Karen Kandel sets the scene for her audience by explaining the origins of this tale, talking about the Ashanti people of West Africa, dressing in traditional African garb, and displaying props, all of which engage children's interest and help them understand things that may not be familiar to them. This investment in "building background knowledge" is highly recommended before launching into any story or book that may be a departure from the here and now.
Kandel's dramatic performance models how sound effects can bring a story to life and the mesmerizing power of language. This story features rich language and vocabulary. For example, instead of repeating the word "said" in her story, Kandel uses near-synonym substitutes like "yammering," "gasped," "commanded," and "yapping," whose meanings can be inferred through her tone and sound effects. Props help illustrate other unfamiliar words, like "yam" and "fabric."
The catchy refrain is essential to the tale. Kandel points to each word on a sign as the audience chimes in. This is one example of how an adult can enable children to contribute to a read-aloud or storytelling experience. Chiming in is a sign of emergent reading, an important early step in the process of learning to read. Moreover, the word "can" in the refrain is a key word whose short "a" sound echoes through the story in many other words such as "man," "commanded," "yam," and "yammering." These words are shown on screen with the letter "a" highlighted in the text to build awareness of the short "a" sound. Introducing letter sounds (phonemes) in a meaningful context helps anchor this basic phonics skill in a child's memory.
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We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.