April 2018 -

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Ben Throop

Making a Storyboard to increase child engagement while reading a book


               When I was student teaching a few years ago, I had heard from a colleague about a tool called a “storyboard.” This tool was explained to me as a visual support to provide a child, or group of children, a way to interact and engage with the story being read. I was eager to try out the concept of such a tool since our preschool curriculum (“Read, Play, and Learn”, http://www.readplaylearn.com/) contained a strong emphasis on storybooks and play.
                The storyboard is simple. It is a small piece of foam core board made to fit in a child’s lap. On this board are two horizontal rows of Velcro. The Velcro holds pictures of important events or parts of the story that are sequenced in order from beginning to end, left to right. The number of pictures depends on the child’s functioning level and the story itself, but often ranges from 4-8 pictures. On the back of the board is a slim envelope that is large enough to hold all of the story pictures. When it is story time, this board (already sequenced with the pictures on the front) is given to the child. As the story is read, the child listens and looks at the book to see when the next picture on his board occurs. Once this event or picture occurs in the story, the child then removes the picture and slips it into the back “all done” envelope.
                I found this idea fascinating as it seemed like a great way to engage those children who had trouble attending to so much auditory information and text. In my mind were a few children in particular, who had the cognitive and motor ability to match the pictures to events in the story being read, yet struggled to pay attention for the full duration of the story when not individually engaged.
                I decided to try out this tool with one child first. I often saw him during story time looking around, playing with his shoes, and fading in and out of attentiveness during story time. I also knew that he was a strong visual learner. I took photos of and laminated key pictures in the story that I was going to read the next day.  The next day I gave him the story board and showed him how to use the first picture. He quickly understood. He independently “found” the remaining five pictures on the storyboard by himself, his eyes glued to the story, as I read the book to the class. I was very surprised to have seen such a quick increase in engagement. During subsequent days, I gave him a storyboard for every story time and he quickly began attending for the full duration of the activity. He would smile each time he “matched” or noticed that the page of my book matched the picture on his board. I noticed with each story, that he would take off the picture, put it in the envelope and look right back to the story, eager to find the next picture. Not only did his engagement increase, but he soon began to answer more questions about the story (especially with repeated readings) and to sequence the stories with higher accuracy. By the end of the week, he was now first to sit on his little carpet square, storyboard in hand, and ready!



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