May 13, 2012

I originally heard about this book online somewhere:  Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchinson. (I’m online quite a bit and don’t always realize how important something’s going to be.)  From the description (wherever it was), I decided that I wanted my own copy (you’ll see why later) rather than a borrowed copy from the library.  So I ordered the book online and waited.  When it arrived, I took it in to school right away since summer’s coming and we’re quickly running out of time. 

It’s not a book to be read to a class since there are no words to read.  The pictures tell the story of a man and a woman who build a house for themselves using unit blocks. When the house catches fire in one corner, they dismantle the opposite corner to build a fire truck. Then the house is re-built into a truck that drives them to the shore.  The truck becomes a boat and across the water it is turned into a train. Eventually, as the story ends, they use the blocks to build another house.

So our journey with this book began as a literacy exercise, a pre-reading activity.  The kids told the story rather than having it read to them.  It came out pretty close to the same story I would have told.  We try to do this at least once a week; instead of reading a story, we make and read a book, I tell a story, we “read” a wordless book, etc. It builds their vocabulary, explains story structure, and teaches them the parts of a book.  It helps them learn to take turns, to appreciate others’ contributions, and to really listen to the story so far so they can make an educated guess as to what comes next.

Then when the story is done, the book goes into our wooden block center where it can further inspire them…this time in their building.  One of the points of the book is that blocks can be anything.  You can even take one thing apart and use its elements to build something else. There’s a good reason blocks are such an important preschool toy.  Books and posters can enhance that…books like Changes, Changes.