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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Great Literacy Idea for Black History Month

Many years ago, I took my kindergarten students on a field trip to our downtown public library.  They had an amazing storytelling program that was not to be missed.  During this particular field trip in February they featured an "African Story Vine" and I thought it was an amazing concept that I could adapt for my classroom,  Ever since that time, I have included it in my February curriculum as a means of sharing some amazing literature with my students.  And if I was not in the classroom teaching, I've convinced a colleague to give it a whirl.

So what is an "African Story Vine"?  A story vine (rope/necklace) was often worn by tribesmen and storytellers as they traveled around from community to community and village to village.  The vine was adorned with objects that represented various stories. These stories were shared aloud with groups of people by moonlight and were passed down from generation to generation.  At that time, I decided this could be an amazing way to share this tradition as well as some amazing literature with my students.

Once I fell in love with this strategy, I decided that this would be a unique product to share over in my TPT store.  I adapted it so you could use it in your classrooms as well because why should I be the only one to have this much fun?  Now, let me tell you some more about how this actually works. Included with this product, you will find a list of some amazing picks to use as read alouds during February. The stories are either African tales, stories with African American characters, or stories about famous African Americans.  You will find included  amazing stories such as "The Snowy Day", "Anansi and the Magic Stick", "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain", "The Story of Ruby Bridges", "The Other Side","Flossie and the Fox", and so many more.  And if you have some of your own favorites, you can adapt this to include those titles as well.

You will also find a set of tags, one for each story  is included.  Each tag includes a picture that represents the story but students do not know what the title of the book is from looking at the tag.

Each tag should be duplicated on card stock and then attach them to your story vine. I used these cute polka dotted ribbons to attach them, but you can use curling ribbon or even just a paperclip.   Each day, your read aloud (the tag) is picked off the vine by your students. Then that is your story to share on that particular day. You continue this daily until all your tags are removed from the vine. You can discuss the imagery on the tag, how it pertains to the story, and then read the story. Here is what my vine looks like. You can dress up your favorite bookshelf or string your vine along below your dry erase or Interwrite Board.  The vine can have as many of the books as you would like to read during the time designated time period you have chosen.

After reading the story, there is a "journal" in which your students can respond to the story in anyway you see fit.  Your students can write the main idea of the story, a brief reflection, a lesson learned, or any other ideas or concept that works for you. You can adapt this to meet your needs. You can copy this as a packet or as mini booklets as a reproducible cover is included as well.   Here is an example of what the journal pages look like. 

Here's what Emily, a first grade teacher has to say about using this product...

"My first graders have loved choosing tags from our story vine each day throughout February.  When their name is called to make a choice, they are so excited!  It's a time of our day that we all look forward to as we anticipate what new book we will read that day!  As a teacher, I love the follow up portion of it where we can extend our learning from any other part of our day into story time and respond to our reading.  This activity gives my students a broader idea of "Black History Month" and helps us enrich our learning during the month of February."

So are your wheels turning yet?  I think this is a great way to incorporate some great stories into your month and to provide meaningful information about Black History Month in a great context.  After all, reading aloud a great book to my students is one of my favorite things to do....especially when it's a tried and true home run. Hop on over to my TPT store and take a closer look at this packet.  I really think you will love it and the concept as much as Emily and I do.  

Until Next Time,

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