Language and Literacy development is the foundation of how well the child is going to be at school, in communicating and socialising with others, developing independence, working and many more; hence, it is an important part of a child’s development (Morrow, 2012). A child must play with building blocks to further their literacy skills which includes the ability to understand, listen, watch, speak and draw. The development of learning language starts as a new-born when a mother starts non-verbal communication with a child. As a child progresses with their age, they further their language and literacy skills through the spoken words and the connection between the letters of the alphabets; but this development is possible if a child has been exposed to plenty of experiences with letters, words, sounds, pictures and objects – this includes how the words are chosen and talked about with children, how are the letters’ sounds, names and patterns and how the words rhyme, start and finish with similar alphabets, how their broken into syllable parts and so on (Ashton et. al., 2013). Providing children in early years with quality resources is very vital as it is will build the foundation for their children’s development and will further their learning to be ready for school.
HOW PHYSICAL AND AESTHETIC CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR RESOURCE MAKE IT A SUITABLE EDUCATIONAL ARTEFACT
The educational psychology refers to an ‘artefact’ as a lasting and materially present constructed resource to make learning and gaining knowledge as its central motive – this could be in the form of sculptures, models, books, paintings, board game, poem, dance, song and many more. The physical and aesthetic characteristics of any form of an educational resource contributes to the child’s development and their way of learning through it (Gorard et. al., 2004).
During my 20-day placement at an early childhood centre, I noticed behaviours of the children; some of them would cry when they are upset, some were scared of their educators, some were shy, some were very energetic and naughty at times, some would stay quiet and sit in a corner if they felt scared, some of them got angry and sometimes, they would just come to an educator for a cuddle to make themselves feel better. I approached every child and took the time to speak to them independently away from other children and tried to know why and what made them feel the way they did – some of them replied with, “I don’t want to talk to anyone”, “I’m scared of the teacher”, “I am sad”, “I want mommy, I feel sad”, “I feel very angry because he (or she) took my toy”, and many more. They expressed their emotions through the ways they knew best, and I tried helping them in every way I can. During Show and Tell in the class, some of the children would not like to come at the front and would start crying because they would feel embarassed, the educators would tell them that it’s fine if they didn’t want to come at the front. Therefore, the educational resource that I graphically designed is for the children (particularly from ages 3-5) who feel all these emotions and to send the message across that “it’s okay to feel the way they feel” in form of different colours. I, Monica Sokhal, am the author and the illustrator of the book titled – “It’s Okay… Roarie!”. “It’s Okay…Roarie!” is a colourful book which will be attractive to children and they would want to read it; it has simple illustrations, exciting and funny monster drawings, and have simple and easily understandable literacy elements like lines, shapes and colours (Lopatovska et. al., 2016). Vygotsky (cited in John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996) quotes that “sociocultural process that manifests itself through language that is supportive of children’s artistic intelligence” hence I have designed self-explanatory illustrations, say for example – when a happy emotion is being talked about, the happy monster is drawn and it’s similar for the other emotions mentioned in the book. The children can easily understand and identify through the drawings itself (Danko-McGhee & Slutsky, 2011), as they are still in the process of learning how to read. Furthermore, cut outs of Roarie (book’s character) have been pasted on popsicle sticks to be raised to the children while they read the book – these props will add excitement as children learn quickly through multi-sensory learning (Pugh & Girod, 2007) which also makes my self-designed book.
ITS EDUCATIONL POTENTIAL THAT WOULD MAKE IT A VALUABLE LANGUAGE AND LITERACY ARTEFACT
I believe that my book, “It’s Okay…Roarie!”, is a valuable language and literacy artefact as it possesses educational characteristics required for a child’s learning and development; most importantly, to make a child understand that it is fine if they are feeling a particular emotion. This will not make them lose their confidence and motivation, instead, they will feel safe, secure and confident and will trust their educators enough to share their feelings. This book is engaging as at every page, it says, “Let’s all say…’it’s fine to be sad, Roarie!’”, after “Let’s all say…”, children will say it out loud. This will not only make them interested in knowing what’s next but also will personally pass on the message to them that we are like Roarie too, who sometimes gets sad or upset and it’s fine. I had related the colours to emotions which will allow their cognitive conceptual development to grow and which will be a primary tool for children’s language comprehension as they see the colours, hear the words and repeat accordingly (Neuman & Wright, 2010).
To deliberately catch children’s attention, “It’s Okay…Roarie” will be read by an educator to the children with a high-pitched voice and exaggerating the intonation to help further their zone of proximal development which will support a child’s existing knowledge while building up on emergent literacy after reading the book (Levine & Munsch, 2010). Before reading the book to them, the educator may start with open-ended questions like, ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘Does someone want to share anything that has happened to them today?’ – questions like these will help bring out a child’s emotion and then they could read the book to understand that we all have different emotions and it’s importance of sharing it with our elders. Barclay (2010) demonstrates how a child learns patterns while a book is being read to them pointing the words out as the educators speak and Chow & Mcbride-Chang (2003) underlines the importance of reading a book to a child as they learn language and literacy through learning the sound of letters and words, how they are put together and their meanings; reading will also promote a child’s vocabulary (McLachlan, 2007).
AN INDIVIDUAL CHILD
I can read the book, “It’s Okay…Roarie!”, to a child individually and engage myself in one-on-one conversation with them to know more about their perspective, how they feel sometimes, if they can relate to the character in the book and to help them build a trust with their educators. Their language and literacy learnings will be scaffolded through pointing out the words as they are read to learn sounds and to put the letters of the alphabet. The book will be read repeatedly to build on their memory further extending their learning (Snell, Hindman & Wasik, 2015). Whitehurst et. al. (1988) demonstrates the importance of open-ended questions while reading a book to extend a child’s language and literacy development as it will allow them to critically think and analyse, in this case, the children will most likely share their feelings in relation to Roarie’s – the more they speak, the more they will build up on their language.
SMALL GROUP (2-6 CHILDREN)
The props (single cuts of Roarie) could be used in either small group of children or a large; these props will engage more children and will be interested in reading the book as they see the physical Roarie (out from the book) raised up as they read. This will encourage their literacy development through pointing out the words as they read and will further their language learning as they repeat what the book asks them to say, after “Let’s all say…” (Konza, 2011). After the book is read, the educator can ask, “Who feels the same way as Roarie feels?” or “Does someone wants to share any feelings?” – questions like these will not only help them in developing their language skills but it will help the educator observe and know how the child is doing emotionally, talk to their parents about it and if there is any way the child can be helped by both the parents and the educator collaboratively.
LARGER GROUP (7+ CHILDREN)
The way I will use this book is very similar to how I will use it with a small group – the props will be used to engage children; open-ended questions will be initiated by the educator to further a child’s language development and to know more about them emotionally. Apart from these, I can use the props as a role-play in a larger group of children; the book speaks about six common different emotions a child goes through so six children can be chosen at a time to enact Roarie through short dialogues, like an Angry Roarie can say, “ARRRRRGGGGH! I’M AN ANGRY ROARIE!” – this will not only make learning fun but will also help them to understand the sounds and tones that we normally use while having different emotions.
The early childhood (birth-5 years old) learning stage is very critical to help and support children’s learning and development; most importantly, their Language and Literacy skills is essential as it helps them understand words and alphabets, what they mean, what their relationships are and how they should be spoken. This will not only advance a child in the academics but will also help a child have the knowledge of what’s around them – both abstract (emotions and feelings) and concrete (matter) – and will start comprehending, critically thinking, analysing and using their imagination.
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