For our last day with Very Last First Time, we concentrated on language arts. Alex acted out the story as I read, which gave us a great opportunity to focus on some of the vivid and less-familiar action vocabulary in the book. What exactly was Eva doing when she pried mussels from the rock or heaved at the ice? It’s easy to skip past those words without wondering what they mean beyond the approximation you get from context – but not when you’re having to act them out. This is a Five in a Row technique that I really appreciate.
I wanted to see if she could tell a story about her first time doing something. She said she couldn’t remember any of her first times, which I suppose is reasonable for a five-year-old who hasn’t had very many dramatic experiences. Together we considered and rejected several topic ideas, such as her first visit to Colonial Williamsburg and her recent experience with a significant speaking role in a church service. She settled on her first time reading a chapter book. I helped with a few of the details (my record book gave the date, and I was also able to remind her where the book came from) and she dictated her story. For the record, I don’t remember it happening quite this way:
It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall of 2010. I was shopping with my mom in the thrift shop.
My mom said, “Oh, I’ve been looking for these books ever since you started reading!”
I said, “Why, Mom?”
Then she said, “I thought you would really like them.”
I thought, “I have never read a chapter book before. Which is the first one?”
She held up Dinosaurs Before Dark and said “This one.”
I said, “Which is the second one?”
“The Knight at Dawn.”
So I told Mom, “I can’t read a chapter book, I’m not a grownup yet!”
And she said, “You have to learn! Practice makes perfect! You can’t just read easy-peasy double-easy words like in Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day.”
I felt like, “Well, now she’s gone wild.”
When we came home, I picked it up and started reading to her like crazy. It seemed to be super-hard at the start, but then it got easier and easier, and easier, and peasier. Then it got double-easy. And the further I went, the easier it got. Until I was finished with Dinosaurs Before Dark.
I picked up the Knight at Dawn, but Mom said, “No, we are done with reading time.” But I begged and begged until she finally let me read it.
When we were finished, I said, “Just one more chapter?”
From then on, I loved reading.