By Samantha Lopez, April 27, 2021
In collaboration with the University Library, Cal Poly Pomona’s Early Childhood Studies students are leading an engaging storytelling series called Children’s Story Times with interactive activities to improve language and literacy development.
Readings and activities are tailored to newborns through to 8-year-olds in a virtual group Zoom setting of up to 15 participants. The free 30-minute series is open to the public and the department encourages parents to join their child’s session to foster a supportive environment for them to thrive in.
Kelly Garcia, a third-year business administration student, was pleasantly surprised when she saw her 6-year-old daughter participating during the Zoom session.
“Since the pandemic hit, she’s really had trouble focusing one thing at a time, whether it be for school, learning and pretty much anything,” Garcia said. “Watching her be so attentive, excited even, to the read-aloud and activity was an overwhelmingly happy sensation for me as a parent.”
The early childhood studies students sign up for dates and times to read to participants using age-appropriate picture books with thought-provoking themes, including diversity and mental health.
After the storytelling session, students engage in activities that support their literacy development, including matching games where they match upper and lowercase letters and point out items on a whiteboard that start with a letter in the alphabet.
Other activities include craft projects that children can complete with their parents to reflect the reading message. The recommended supplies for each activity are listed prior to the sign-ups for parents to consider and prepare.
With each session, the readings and activities are different, including how the student instructors build an inviting environment for the participants by keeping them involved in conversations and asking their opinions on issues relating back to the reading.
Reference and Instruction Librarian Sally Romero said that this initiative was first launched in summer 2020 when the stay-at-home order affected practicum courses, like ECS 2100 and 4100 clinicals, which prevented students from attaining their required hands-on fieldwork training hours.
“It went so well that other early childhood studies faculty wanted to be a part of it,” Romero said. “This series is a way for our early childhood studies students to be able to work with children hands-on and develop these skills learned through their courses.”
According to Romero, early childhood studies courses that promote oral language and literacy development are implemented in this activity as an assignment for students to practice what they learned to solidify their knowledge.
The professors and mentors learned something new as well through this circumstance, according to Soon Young Jang, an assistant professor at the Early Childhood Studies Department. Jang shared that the pandemic provided them with a unique experience to utilize technology to reach out to children and their families.
“We learned the importance of connecting children and families,” Jang said. “Parents are always with children so there was an opportunity to connect with families too. Although they don’t show their faces on the computer, they’re there if they need something. We are continuously coming up with new ideas to utilize this opportunity to involve our families in our children’s learning.”
The Children’s Story Times series will continue for the remainder of the spring semester until May 7. More information about the session’s dates and times can be found at https://libguides.library.cpp.edu/storytime.
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