Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fun with Filling in the Blank

One thing I have done with my children beginning when they are toddlers is to give them a chance to "fill in the blank". When I read a familiar story or sing a familiar song, I will pause periodically, allowing them to supply the next word or phrase. When they are very small (or when the story is less familiar to them) I might be met with silence, so I'll just say the word myself and continue. I have always been amazed, however, at how soon they really can supply missing words, and all three of my oldest children have really enjoyed the "game" as toddlers.

This is a great way to encourage memorization at a very early age. It also increases the interactivity of stories and songs (making them more enjoyable and memorable), points their attention at the connection between spoken and printed words, and heightens awareness of individual words, phrases, and language patterns (such as rhyming).

I just had to share a humorous experience we had with this technique recently, though. B chose this story for bedtime reading:

We went through the first two-page spread, with him "filling in the blanks" as follows:

Me: "Come, be my . . . "
B: "friend,"
Me: "and together we'll . . . "
B: "play."
Me: We'll be happy and . . . "
B: "busy"
Me: "all through the . . . "
B: "day."

We turned the page and came to this:

Me: "Together we can . . . "
B: "swing from a tree,"
Me: "we can . . ."
B: "EAT BUGS!!!"

Now THAT's true friendship!

We all (including B) laughed so hard when he said it, that we couldn't even finish the story. It was the most memorable bedtime we've had in a very long time. I guess it shows that this fill-in-the-blank technique can encourage family bonding as well!

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