Bedtime stories are a sacred ritual for many children and families around the world. As families snuggle up to enjoy stories together, caretakers become critical teachers of literacy habits, strategies, and skills for young children. Our shared reading instruction in the classroom though the use of big books is modeled after this very important experience.
I recently began to consider the tools we now have at our fingertips, and how we can use them to support, and in some ways even elevate these special literacy learning moments. This year I have been playing with Flipgrid as a mode of family connection and communication. We have a password protected grid that is open only to families in our current class. I introduced our Family Learning Community as part of our Back to School Night experience.
This month, I began exploring the idea of Flipgrid bedtime stories. I surprised children over the weekend as I posted our first bedtime story, and introduced our new "Squirrel Theme" basket that they would find in the classroom library on Monday morning. I chose to read a short little story from the basket to the children, and asked them to respond to the story.
As families become more comfortable with the idea, responses have slowly trickled in. Children's responses are probably the sweetest Flipgrid responses out there! They are tucked into bed, snuggled up in their PJs, and sharing their thoughts on the story that their Kindergarten teacher just read to them. If that is not innovating play magic at its best, I don't know what is!
Since not all families are comfortable with new digital formats, I have also tried to open up options for responding and connecting using other tools. I posted our Flipgrid in Seesaw so that children may choose to add an audio comment to share with their friends. I also offered the option of an email, or even a paper written response done side by side with their grown up at home. Giving families options helps to support the idea that a balance of tools provides the best way to reach everyone. At the same time, we can support families on their journey though the ever changing world of education by guiding people to step outside their comfort zones as well.
We are still in the early stages of our Bedtime Story Flipgrid project. I thought it was worth sharing so that other teachers might begin to explore use this strategy as a way to reach young children and support family learning.
If you work with young children, and have a role other than a classroom teacher, here are some ways that you might use Flipgrid for creative family connection:
Reading Specialists: Use Flipgrid to read stories to model fluency or teach families about new strategies that you are working on to support their children.
Music Teachers: Share a new song or instrument with families. Play a song and ask the children/families to respond or identify it in some way.
Art Teachers: Share different pieces of art with families and ask children/families to share observations or reactions.
Physical Education Teachers: Teach families a new game or activity that they can practice together. Have them share their reaction to trying it out!
Librarians: Offer some family book talks to support book choices and inspire reading at home! Invite kids/families to share and review their favorite bedtime stories.
Innovating play is about looking at the amazing things that we do with our children within the context of the time and space in which they live. Imagine how special it would be to be tucked in at night and hear your teacher's voice read to you? The possibilities for meaningful connection and extension are profoundly exciting, and potentially world changing.
If you have ideas for Flipgrid family connections, or are a family that is loving using it in this way, please share using the hashtag #innovatingplay on Twitter. Let's inspire each other!
Heart & Soul,