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It is good to introduce new vocabulary, but make sure you are not featuring too many new words at one time. Books with rhymes or repetitive phrases are good for class participation. Librarians are wonderful resources to help you find good, moti- vating literature. Read with Gusto When reading to children, be expressive and en- thusiastic. Make sounds for the fire alarm, quack like the duck, and use a deep voice for the lion or bear. Even though you might feel silly, you will discover how this dramatic presentation holds the attention of your class. Children will remember you for these antics (and I have discovered other teachers waiting outside my door to hear how a story ends). Whenever possible, memorize the book you are going to read to the children. When you do this, you can pay attention to children’s reactions, make eye contact, and help refocus their attention when needed instead of keeping your eyes on the text. Tell the story slowly and clearly, avoid rush- ing through it. Add Variety Figure out different ways to tell the story as you go through the week. Make your own flannel board pieces or find items from the story to bring out as you read. There are also many commercial prod- ucts that go along with books. Audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, and MP3 files offer different ways to share the story with your students. Puppets and stuffed animals are always a hit too! Give an ani- mal to one child and have her pass it on every time you turn the page. This helps the children to pay attention to the story. Share the wonder of literature with children. They will pick up on the joy you feel while you’re reading books. This creates a solid foundation for love of reading throughout their own lives. Activ ity 4 Make Snacktime Count! Snacktime is a prime opportunity to teach children social skills and manners while refining their con- versational abilities. In addition, the children can practice passing items, pouring drinks, and mak- ing requests. They can also learn the importance of washing their hands before eating or handling food. Talk to them about germs and how they can be transferred from our hands to our food. Teach Language Skills Children should use language to ask for food items, glasses, straws, and napkins. Help them use complete sentences when making requests. Remind them to use “please” and “thank you.” As children become comfortable with snacktime routines, have them take turns distributing food and pouring drinks for their classmates. Pouring drinks is a great fine-motor skill that takes prac- tice to master. While children are serving food, they are also conversing with their friends and learning how to use one-to-one mathematical correspondence to make sure each person gets a snack, cup, or napkin. Introduce Science Concepts Connect snacktime to science: talk about different parts of food, such as the skin and seeds. Have children share their ideas about where foods come from. Where do we get bananas, milk, or carrots? How do foods smell and feel? What colors do the children see? Does the food’s color change when they cut it in half to see what is inside? Other learning possibilities abound during snacktime. Many of the lessons are useful for a lifetime. Children can learn about good eating habits, discriminating between healthy foods and those that should be eaten in moderation. They can learn about food categories, such as dairy, fruits, and vegetables. Help them try new foods at snacktime, knowing that it often takes many trials for them to acquire a taste for certain foods. Classroom Structure 5