Reading and Dancing with Bilingual Preschoolers
By: Ana Lucia Divins
Visiting the Bilingual Preschool of Holy Comforter “La Escuelita” is always a treat. We have been working with the children, teachers and families of this bilingual preschool since the beginning of the school year. From weekly bilingual music classes to a full production of a bilingual play that was presented at the “Día de los Niños Día de los Libros – Children’s Day/Book Day” celebration on April 28.
Last Monday was the last bilingual music class of the school year with this great group of children. I stepped into the classroom and the first thing I hear is a choir of little voices singing “Los pollitos dicen, pio, pio, pio…” . This is one of the songs they’ve learned and performed during our time together, and the cutest thing is that nobody was prompting them to sing the song, they just began to sing as soon as they saw me. Just a perfect way to start the week!
I’ve decided to introduce the book “Bouki Dances the Kokioko” by Diane Wolkstein, Illustrated by Jesse Sweetwater. This is a very fun book to read aloud and bring to life with the little ones.
I use several bilingual techniques while reading, dancing and acting this book. TPR (Total Physical Response) is my favorite, because at the same time I am reading specific words or phrases I assign a movement to it.
The best part of the book is when everyone dances the “Kokioko”. I’ve created a little melody to go with the dance and it was a “hit”. Everyone had a great time dancing to the beat marked with my voice and their clapping hands; and we all danced the “Kokioko” several times:
“Kokioko, Oh Samba, la, la, la, la… Kokioko, Oh Samba, la, la, la”
At the end of the class, I introduced them to a few Latin American rhythms and they all danced in a circle, taking turns to do a “solo” dance in the middle of the circle.
It was a great class, not only because dancing and singing the “Kokioko” was a lot of fun, but because this was a beautiful way to say “Hasta luego y nos vemos pronto – Good bye and we will see you soon”.