We had read this book together before, but she didn’t remember it. She looked through the book on her own, first. Then, she read a few captions that she found interesting. The captions she chose to read on her own, were underneath pictures she recognized. As we were reading and talking about the book, she made connections with several different experiences we’ve had as a family. She saw an actual photo from the story of the whales, trapped in the ice, in Alaska and commented on how it looked just like it did in the movie. She connected the pieces when the book said the people were able to save two whales from the ice. She talked about how sad it made her that the baby whale didn’t make it out alive.
She looked at the picture of an orca whale and compared the size to a blue whale. As she was looking at the pictures, she was talking about going to Sea World to see Shamu, and how enormous we thought Shamu was! If Shamu was big, we couldn’t even image how it would feel to see a blue whale.
The comparison, in the book, of orca whales to blue whales, led to a discussion about facts she’d learned while watching her favorite tv show. Wild Kratts is a show on PBS Kids, where the Kratt brothers go on different animal adventures. It’s part animated and part real video, but ALL educational! My daughter has learned so much about animals from watching this show.
Whether the experiences came from first hand viewing of whales, or watching a video, she was connecting her experiences to her reading. The book she was reading was making sense to her because she had background knowledge. She had schema for whales that she didn’t have a year ago. Our literacy development is the product of our experiences. Make those experiences count and then make the connections!