Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why? Wednesday: Making Meaningful Connections

It's BEACH AND OCEAN WEEK at our house. So WHY am I talking to my son about lakes?
Very simple. I'm helping him make connections between something he knows very well, lakes, and something he has never experienced, oceans.
Logan's grandparent's have a lake in their back yard and we have visited a few lakes near us. Logan has experienced riding in a boat, fishing, a lake beach, and a few small waves. He has never experienced the vastness of the ocean, the creatures you find in and around the ocean, a large, sandy beach, or rolling waves. Therefore, I need to help him connect what he already knows about water and lakes to a new concept, such as oceans and beaches.As we are reading this week, I am modeling making connections. You might also hear this called a "think a loud."
As Logan and I share books we generally pause or deviate from the text to talk about what we are reading or seeing. As we are doing this, I can help to focus him by saying things like:
Remember when you and Grandpa caught the fish in his lake. There are lots of fish in the ocean, too.
What else might live in the ocean?  Logan said, "Cats." Hmmm, no. Cats don't live in oceans or lakes. Can you think of anything you saw in the water with daddy? Logan, "crawdads". That's right! Crawdads live in the creek. Look at the picture of a crab. It lives in the ocean.
Here are some Tips for Making Meaningful Connections with your child:
  • Try to have a conversation with your child without using TOO many words.
  • Find natural places to pause in the reading. You don't have to make a connection on every single page.
  • Build on what your child knows (his schema). For example, when Logan started learning animal names he called every 4 legged animal a doggie. I built on that by saying, "Hmmm, that does look like a doggie but it is much bigger. That is a horse. It says, "neigh, neigh." Can you say "neigh, neigh"?
  • As your child grows and sees you making meaningful connections, he will probably begin making his own connections. So, point out to him the strategy that he just used and praise his attempts!
  • With an older child, you could invite the child to create a drawing or write an explanation of how their story connected to past experiences or how a new piece of information connected to previous concepts that they knew. This can help make a read aloud multi-aged and multi-leveled!
Why is this important?
Ketch, A. (2005). Conversation: The comprehension connection. The Reading Teacher, 59, 8-13.

Readers make connections as the respond to text. These connections help build their schema and help the readers to remember what they have read.
Making connections helps readers identify with characters or situations they have experienced. This enhances comprehension.


  1. I think it is great that you are teaching him this. :)

  2. Thanks for visiting us at, I think you might like books as much as we do. I wanted to share with you that we have several post about the ocean and better yet some free printable books. Click on (Print This Free),scroll down,click on "I Went to the Beach"(Free printable book.),"Senses at the Seashore:going beyond the book(Free printable book and song). We love the beach and ocean about as much as we love books so we have a lot of post about the ocean. Under (Out in the World we have a post called "Sand Castles or A Million $$$$". Hope these items help make the ocean come alive. Joyce :)

  3. Your so sweet, thanks for the tips!! =)

  4. You are so smart. I know I always say that, but I just love it. I learn so much from you.

    So, remember, you can come see our ocean anytime! :) It is amazing how quickly Kellen has adopted all the ocean terminology. He is always talking about harbors and lighthouses and sailboats and kayaks (he says kie-''s really cute). He asks to go see the boats in the harbor almost every single day. So strange to think that if we stay here, he will never remember life in the Midwest.

  5. Hi! following you from Bloggy Moms! (I'm one of the photoless followers). Come visit and follow back!