I love reading chapter books to my classes. Every year I choose different books based on who the kiddos turn out to be. I started out this year reading Charlotte's Web. Now I can tell right away that there are some students who are read to every night by their parents, and some that are not. It takes a while to learn how to listen without relying on illustrations. To use context clues and figure out vocabulary that is unknown to them. But we got into a groove and I would look out and see all these engaged faces listening to the trials and tribulations of Wilbur and Charlotte. We read about a half of a chapter a day. When I read the last line of the book (one of my all-time favorite lines from any book by the way)-"it is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." I am actually holding back tears as I read. What a meaningful story of friendship and kindness. And then I ask the kids to write about the Big Idea of the story.
Let's just say this choice might have been a little bit over their heads. I am sharing their responses anyway, because I think it's important for teachers to admit that a lesson may not have gone as planned and reflect on how it could have been better. Big Idea is hard for little ones to grasp to begin with-they really have only short-term memory. When I ask them at the end of the year what they learned in Kindergarten, most only relate to what we did that day. So asking them to see an ongoing theme in a story may have been a bit much.
But here is what they came up with: