As Dr. Seuss says, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” As teachers, I love how so many are constantly in the pursuit of information. Whether it is strategies to help with teaching things like science or math, or handling challenges with children or parents, most teachers that I come across in my training and teaching are ones looking for answers.
Dr. Seuss can be a powerful influence in our own lives too. He felt that imagination was one of our most amazing gifts and encouraged adults everywhere to make sure that they did not lose sight of its importance.
How can Dr. Seuss’ books support your teaching in the classroom? In a variety of ways. According to Simon Adorian who wrote an article entitles, “Classroom Guide to Dr. Seuss”, “The appeal of Dr. Seuss’s books lies in the zany energy of their language and story lines, and the way in which the tension and humor build relentlessly:
The Cat In The Hat brings more and more chaotic mess to the house until it seems impossible that things could ever be sorted out.
In How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the list of stolen goods being packed into the Grinch’s sack grows unfeasibly and the pictures become busier and more chaotic. This mounting tension is reflected in the rhythms of Dr. Seuss’s sentences as the pace accelerates towards the climax.
His books are a delight to read aloud: it’s almost impossible not to join in those punchy sentences with their repeated phrases and inviting rhymes. At a time when there is much concern about finding “boy friendly” texts to support the teaching of early reading, the robust and crazy world of Dr. Seuss is worth exploring.”
For all of these reasons, it might be important to consider using Dr. Seuss as a theme or unit in you classroom. To accomplish literacy goals, you might think of his works in the following ways:
Rhyming – as I mentioned with nursery rhymes, there is solid research connecting the ability to distinguish between words that rhyme and literacy. According to an article entitled, “The Process of Becoming Literate” by bdyslexic Learning Simplified of Dorset, England:
Phonological development is linked with perceiving sounds. It is vital that Foundation children are immersed in the following activities:
- Explicit awareness of sounds, including environmental sounds.
- Rhythm and rhyme
- Awareness of syllables in words
- Awareness of single phonemes
- Ability to blend and segment phonemes to make words
- Ability to manipulate phonemes in words to change their meaning
- Ability to match sounds to letters
- Alphabetic knowledge
Research psychologists cannot seem to agree of the order or hierarchy of skill acquisition, so it is probably wiser to give children a wide variety of activities. In my experience, it is more successful developing sound and phoneme-based skills before you introduce letter shapes.”
Fantasy – no question that Dr. Seuss books encourage imagination. With children glued to technology these days, it’s refreshing to find sources that encourage imagination rather than stifle it. Content – many of the messages contained within Dr. Seuss books prompt people to show care, tolerance and respect for others. Many of his books, such as Horton Hears a Who and Lorax could be used to teach character education concepts as well.
So dig out those favorites and gather up unknowns and engage your children in the world of Dr. Seuss!
Words of Wisdom!
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.”
““Think and wonder, wonder and think.”
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