03 Nov, 2016
10 : 00
In celebration of reading, literacy, and vocabulary, the YCIS Beijing Primary School Library recently held a Vocabulary Parade. Inspired by the popular children’s book Miss Alaineus, Vocabulary Parades are a popular learning tool employed by schools across the US to help students discover the fun and entertainment that can come from learning new words. Sora Lim, Primary School Teacher Librarian and the mastermind behind this year’s vocabulary parade, discussed the lessons leading to the costume parade and the benefits that students receive from this activity.
How did students prepare for this activity? What special lessons did they participate in in class?
In advance of the parade, teachers held mini lessons in class to encourage kids to pick interesting words, either through their own thinking or by using a thesaurus. They then created costumes that reflects the word they’d chosen. We encouraged them to write their words bilingually or to reference their own mother tongue.
Our student library monitors also participated in the lead-up quite a bit, helping to input ideas as well as MC’ing the event itself. They also lead word-based games during recess and break times to improve their classmates’ reading and literacy.
What do students learn from these lessons?
It’s really focused on creativity. Students get to create their own costumes, think about how to describe other kids’ costumes, and so on. This was also a great opportunity for kids to dress up and have fun in a non-commercialized way, as they are forced to think about how to create their own costumes rather than just putting on some premade costume they have sitting at home.
It also helps to improve vocabulary. There’s a set of about 20 words that every kid references, especially adjectives, and it’s often hard to get them to work beyond that. This activity forces the words to stick with the students more because they’re creatively thinking about the words, creating a costume, or looking at other kids’ costumes; it’s a very visceral experience. That’s the main impetus, besides creating a fun event!
How does the vocabulary parade and related activities encourage students to read?
While it doesn’t necessarily actively encourage them to read, it definitely empowers them to do so. A lot of the time, students learn through flash cards and it’s all quite phonetics-based and mundane, but if students are able to learn more words and say these large words, which they are able to more easily through fun activities like this one, it lowers their fear of looking at different kinds of books and expands the range of topics they can explore.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We’ll be doing some parent workshops for YCIS Beijing parents in the coming month. The first one, titled How to Make the Most of Your School Library, is about the resources available to parents through the YCIS Beijing school library. While these online resources are normally quite expensive, by being YCIS parents, they can get access to these for free.
After that, the Chinese Librarian Julie will be preparing a Chinese-language workshop based on how to read with your child targeted at ECE and Year 1. Stay tuned for more details on that one!