Read Aloud Mini Unit Study
This month let’s visit a mom and her young children getting ready to read-aloud from The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. First let’s settle one thing about this young mom. She has set aside time to read aloud to her children each day. She has done her homework and understands the power and influence of a beautifully written novel. This particular mom has strengthened her educational convictions about how best to inspire a love for learning in her children. She often rereads portions of Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook to stay encouraged to keep reading aloud to her children every day. In its eighth edition, Jim Trelease refers to the 1985 report by the U.S. Department of Education that states “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children and it is a practice that should continue throughout the grades” (Trelease 4).
Before she calls the children for read aloud time, she cuts up a few apples for the children to enjoy at the coffee table during read aloud time. She also drags in the blocks for the little one who can play with them during this precious time. If she can, she grabs a few colored pencils and paper and invites the children to draw while listening to the novel. She does not make them draw; she suggests it. She knows full well in the years ahead, particularly in high school, there will be plenty of time to enforce more stringent educational requirements. But that’s the beautiful part of this homeschool journey. By the time her children reach high school she will have read wonderful books to her children and she knows that they will be inspired and motivated in the later years to set their own educational goals.
She is ready to read aloud now! Each time she sits down to read, she shares with her children that there may be new ideas that will spring up in her mind as well as her children’s minds and they will create the projects together! Perhaps, the whole creation of the project will be half of the enjoyment of this special book.
As the mom opens to the first chapter of The Trumpet of the Swan, the children are swept up into a creative story about a trumpeter swan that is born without a voice and a young boy who assists the swan to overcome his disability. But wait, there is so much more in this novel! I reread this book a week ago and began to jot down all the ideas that a young family can participate in while reading this book. I think it is best to list a few and my guess is that if I get to meet you someday, you will add on to this list with your own ideas that will be so inspiring to my heart. A well written book has this effect on all of us. We start getting jumpy over the creativity that a well written story will percolate in us! Here is my list, but again it is not exhaustive! Please understand that there are times a read aloud book is merely just listened to and enjoyed by everyone. However, my intent is to show all of you that a well written novel can create fun projects that are way more effective than workbooks.
- Pull out your map of the United States and track where the swan lives and travels to!
- Look up the capitols and states that are mentioned in this book.
- Watch a video about a trumpeter swan and its large nest.
- Take a nature walk like Sam.
- Go to the zoo and take photos of birds.
- Buy a compass and learn about how to use it.
- Study the composers mentioned in this book
- Learn about jazz or trumpets
- Make a short video of each child sharing about his favorite part of the book. Don’t overdo it. Affirm each child and show the videos after dinner. (You might want to film them away from the other children so it’s more fun to watch each other’s videos.)
- Finally, suggest…yes suggest … one of the children keep a daybook about his life. This idea comes right from pages 6 and 7 in the novel. I love this idea and may need to do it myself just for fun!
- Finally, throughout the novel, Sam the young boy ponders what he will be when he grows up. Gently share with your children that they were blessed with gifts and talents by God and how wonderful it will be to see how God unfolds His plan for their lives. This conversation will be shared over and over again throughout the short eighteen years they are under your roof. It is an exciting part of parenting!
Trelease, Jim. Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook. eighth ed., Penguin Books, 2019.
White, E. B. The Trumpet of the Swan. HarperCollins Publishers, 1970.