by Diane Larson and Tari Querin
I Can Read notebooks or anthologies are a collection of poems, songs and finger plays that have been learned at school and can legally be copied to put into the children’s notebooks. They are a very powerful teaching tool in our classrooms. Both the students and the parents really enjoy and appreciate them! Many of the pages we use are from the Nellie Edge Anthologies.
We keep ours in three-ring notebooks or binders, one for each child Because we have two kindergarten classes sharing the same room, we color code them. The morning class has red notebooks, and the afternoon class has blue notebooks. You could use whatever colors work for you. These colors of notebooks are readily available each year. We are able to purchase them at large office supply type places for 69-79 cents each (i.e. Staples, Office Max, etc.)
The language of a selection must be very well known to the children orally before they receive their own personal copy. We play with the language in it by using different voices, acting it out, coming up with adaptations or new verses, etc. Next, we "connect it to print" either with a big book or a copy of the selection on a large chart. The teacher "tracks" the print on the chart, as the children recite it. After we’ve done this several times over several days, the children are ready to receive their own personal copy for their I Can Read notebooks. Each child writes his/her name on the back of each page that goes into the notebooks. That way if pages fall out later (and some always will!) you know whose page it is. We keep a supply of reinforcements in the classroom to repair holes that rip in the pages. Each child illustrates his/her page before putting it in the notebook.
Taking the notebooks home – everyone takes their notebooks home on Fridays. They are also welcome to take them home any other day that they wish, as long as they bring it back the next school day. Some children choose to take them home everyday, and just leave them in their backpacks so they have them on the days they need them in class. Children may not take loose pages home. If we do a page(s) and their notebook is not at school, they must leave that page at school until they bring their notebook back to put them in.