Home-to-School Communication:

Connections with Wordless Picture Books

Amanda Jones, Monett Elementary School, Monett

Home-to-School Communication:

Introduction

The Monett community has twenty plus different languages or dialects spoken here. Newcomer families from other countries are on the rise, and there is a constant need to help students learn English as a second language. The purpose of this project is for students to practice their language skills at school and at home by using wordless picture books. These books are an impactful tool that can provide students a way to express their literacy skills. These books can build a child’s confidence while providing visual support. Wordless picture books encourage storytelling while using imagination and rich vocabulary to stimulate language development. 

 

This project has two primary goals:

  • To drive language discussions at home with families.
  • To enhance literacy skills with classmates while building vocabulary.

Step-by-Step Plan

  • Order a variety of wordless picture books, a mobile storage rack, and book pouches to transport books from school to home.
  • Organize the supplies in our English Learner (EL) classroom.
  • Create a multilingual flyer to share with staff and parents on how to best utilize wordless picture books. 
  • Let teachers know that supplies are available in our EL classroom. 
  • Create a “check-out” system to keep track of books.
  • Send books and informational flyer home with our newcomer families.
  • Follow-up with students to see how they used the books and if they enjoyed practicing their language skills with them. 

Timeline

Summer- Research the needs of EL department by reaching out to EL director. 

September- Purchase popular wordless picture books based on the needs of newcomers and emergent bilinguals.

January- Organize materials and set up display.

February/March- Create a flyer for staff and EL families on the ways they can use wordless picture books in the classroom or at home. Send home books with EL families.

April/May- Obtain feedback from teachers, families, and students.

Ongoing- Monitor student language acquisition progress. 

Budget

www.reallygoodstuff.com 

Mid-size mobile storage rack with picture book bins (1 rack, 4 bins)              

Large clear book pouch cool and calm (4 pack) 

Medium clear book pouch cool and calm (36 pack)

 

www.amazon.com 

10 Minutes Till Bedtime Rathmann, Peggy 3-6 

A Ball for Daisy Raschka, Chris 3-6 

A Boy, A Dog, and a Frog Mayer, Mercer 0-3 

Ball Sullivan, Mary 3-6 

Beaver Is Lost Cooper, Elisha 3-6

Brave Molly Boynton-Hughes, Brooke 6-9

Chalk Thomson, Bill 6-9

Field Trip to the Moon Hare, John 3-6

Flashlight Boyd, Lizi 3-6 

Float Miyares, Daniel 3-6 

Flora and the Penguin Idle, Molly 3-6 

Flotsam Wiesner, David *6-9 

Fly! Teague, Mark 3-6 

Fossil Thomson, Bill 6-9 

Found Newman, Jeff and Day, Larry 6-9 

Good Dog, Carl Day, Alexander 3-6 

Good Night Gorilla Rathmann, Peggy 3-6 

Gopher Golf Beckstrand, Karl and Brun, Jordan 3-6 

Hank Finds and Egg Dudley, Rebecca 3-6 

I Walk With Vanessa Kerascoet 3-6 

Journey Becker, Aaron *6-9 

Lines Lee, Suzy *3-6 

Little Fox in the Forest Graegin, Stephanie 3-6 

Mr. Wuffles Wiesner, David 3-6 

My Friend Rabbit Rohmann, Eric 3-6 

Once Upon a Banana Armstrong, Jennifer 3-6

Pancakes for Breakfast dePaola, Tommy 3-6 

Penguin Sets Sail Evans, Jessica Linn 3-6 

Professional Crocodile Zoboli, Giovanni 6-9 

Red Sled Judge, Lita 3-6 

Rosie's Glasses Whamond, Dave 6-9 

Sector 7 Wiesner, David *3-6 

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes Hoban, Tana 6-9 

Shine Griffin, Dagny 6-9 

Sidewalk Flowers Lawson, JonArno & Smith, Sydney *3-6 

Small In the City Smith, Sydney 3-6 

Snowman's Story Hillenbrand, Will 3-6

The Farmer and the Clown Frazee, Marla 3-6 

The Girl and the Bicycle Pett, Mark 3-6 

The Lion and the Mouse Pinkney, Jerry *3-6 

The Red Book Lehman, Barbara 3-6 

The Secret Box Lehman, Barbara 6-9 

The Snowman Briggs, Raymond 3-6 

The Typewriter Thomson, Bill 6-9 

The Wanderer Van Den Ende, Peter *6-9 

Time Flies Rohmann, Eric *3-6 

Tuesday Wiesner, David *3-6 

Unspoken: A Story for Underground Railroad Cole, Henry *6-9 

Wallpaper Lam, Thao 6-9 

Waltz of the Snowflakes Mackay, Elly 3-6 

Wave Lee, Suzy 3-6 

Where's Walrus Savage, Stephen 3-6 

Wolf in the Snow Cordell, Matthew 3-6 

What did it look like?

Sustainability

These books can be used year after year. I ordered book pouches so that the books would be protected while transporting them from school to home. Students and staff members can check out the wordless picture books from our EL classroom. These books have been organized by our ELA themed units. My plan is to apply for additional grants, so that we have a variety of themed books for classroom teachers. At school, wordless picture books will provide our EL students with extra background knowledge that coincides with our vocabulary. For home use, these books will promote future family engagement and literacy. 

Reflections

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved reading books. When I had children of my own, I took them to the library a lot, and joined book clubs that mailed books to our house. When I was brainstorming several types of projects, I knew I had to choose something that involved books. 

I love the idea of wordless picture books being flexible for each student. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to read these books. Children are using their imaginations and having fun while enhancing their literacy skills. I bring several of these books into my classroom each week. My students think they are so cool and are excited to utilize them. The best part is seeing my EL students’ increased confidence as they share them with other students in the class. 

Even though I have been a teacher for many years, this is my first year of having a newcomer student in class. At first, I was very intimidated about the idea of trying to communicate with a student who had limited English proficiency. Over the past few months, I have seen this student excel in class. During our small group time, I use the wordless picture books to practice her literacy skills. The visual cues have kept her engaged. When she first walked into my class, she was so scared. She came in with tears running down her face. I will never forget that moment. My heart broke for her. As a teacher it is so important to help our students feel loved and supported.

Over the past year I have learned so much about our multicultural families. I have learned that they want to help their children learn and excel at school. They are extremely family oriented, but they do not always know how to support their children academically. Often there is a language barrier where the parents are struggling to learn English themselves. The power of wordless picture books is that they are stimulating the child’s language development whether they are using their home language or practicing their second language. Books without words give valuable visual cues and motivate students to use prior knowledge that helps improve their comprehension. These types of books are great for all ages and academic levels. The student can successfully “read” to their parents, siblings, or other family members.

 

Resources

Gonzalez, V. (2020, April 29). The potential of wordless picture books for English learners. https://seidlitzblog.org/2020/04/29/the-potential-of-wordless-picture-books-for-english-learners/

KY3 News. (2021, September 13). Monett schools accommodate 20 different languages present throughout the district.https://www.ky3.com/2021/09/13/monett-schools-accommodate-20-different-languages-present-throughout-district/

Reading Rockets. (2013). Sharing wordless picture books.https://www.readingrockets.org/article/sharing-wordless-picture-books

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