Move! Groove! Read!

Greetings Royal Readers!

It's Jennifer here from Stories and Songs in Second to share some ideas on how to incorporate literacy learning into outdoor activities during the summer!

While my current summer days are slow-paced and slightly sedentary,  I often find myself thinking back to my childhood summers when hours were spent outdoors riding bikes, roller skating, playing Kick the Can, jumping rope, and running through the sprinkler.  Chasing after the music of the ice cream truck was the highlight of our afternoons, and running in pursuit of lightning bugs was the highlight of our evenings.

I also remember the alliterative, rhymed poems my friends and I used to call out while we jumped rope or hopped over our Skip-Its.  I remember the rhythm sticks we tapped together at Girl Scout camp while we sang songs around the bonfire or marched along the trail.  

Raise your hand if you remember twirling your jump rope as you chanted....

Strawberry shortcake!
Huckleberry Finn!
When I call your birthday,
please jump in!

Smile if you criss-crossed, hand-clapped, and knee-slapped with a partner to.....

Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack!
All dressed in black-black-black!
She jumped so high-high-high!
She reached the sky-sky-sky!
She never came back-back-back!
'Til the 4th of July-ly-ly!

Nod knowingly if you drove your day camp bus driver crazy with countless renditions of.....

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!
That's my name too!
Whenever I go out!
People always shout!
There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!

Sigh happily if you remember reading Bruce Degen's Jamberry  over, and over, and over to your toddler--like I did.  It was one of my daughter's favorite books.  I read it aloud to her so many times that I know it by heart.  We used to do a simple "patty cake"-like clap to set the beat or cadence....

One berry
Two berry
Pick me a blueberry

In my canoeberry

Under the bridge
And over the dam
Looking for berries
Berries for jam

In her book entitled, Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites, Marcia L. Tate recommends incorporating physical movement activities, along with chants like these and a variety of alphabet books, in lessons designed to reinforce initial consonant sounds and familiar rhyming patterns. She cites research by Marzano (2007), saying that physical movement increases student energy, and therefore enhances their engagement.  She reminds us that according to Markowitz and Jensen (2007), movement also triggers memory.

She recommends having students jump rope while reciting verses from  A, My Name is Alice written by Jane Bayer and illustrated by Stephen Kellogg, to reinforce initial consonant sounds and rhyming patterns. A mini-trampoline would work as well!  She suggests having students write their own original rhymes to jump along to as well.

She cites this example:

B, My name is Barbara.
And my husband's name is Bob. 
We come from Brazil.
And we sell balloons.
Barbara is a bear.
Bob is a baboon!

You can see and hear this delightful book {HERE}!

My challenge to you--if you are a parent--is to  pull out  or go buy these "old-fashioned" toys and share them with your young children.  Then read or teach the favorite chants, stories, or poems you remember--or that I've shared here--to go along with them....and  SHA-ZAM!  You have an outdoor summer literacy lesson that is more fun than work!

My challenge to you--if you are an educator--is to keep these "old-fashioned" toys handy in your classroom and invest in the books I've recommended here.  Use them often to help reach those readers who are kinesthetic and benefit from the sensory input that jumping, gesturing, twirling, and tapping provides.

Be sure to stop back this Wednesday, June 24th, for the second installment of  The Reading Crew's SUMMER BLOG PARTY.  Our topic will be phonics fun, and I hope to have an animal-themed alphabet book activity to share with you then.  I'm in the process of creating some writing templates that students can use to compose their own tongue twisters like those in A is for Alice.  

Just think what a wonderful reader's theater presentation or puppet show performance could evolve from their original compositions!  Imagine the possibilities!

Until next time, thanks so much for sharing my story!  May your summer be full of good books, good times, good stories, and good rhymes!


  1. What a wonderful post Jennifer and it fits in perfectly with discussions we have been having in the QLD teachers' Prep Facebook group, so I have shared your post there :)
    Many thanks