Young children love to talk about, and hear about, when they were “little”.  Here’s a series of activities I like to do with young ones to talk about how they’ve grown.

First of all, create a T chart. Don’t worry if that doesn’t sound familiar, I know you’ve seen one before.  Just create a huge T on your chart paper.  Either side of the up and down line is its own column.  Above the cross line you label the columns.  Remember now?  So on the left side, write “Then”, and on the right side, “Now”.  Place a picture of each child (taken in the first few days of school) on the “Now” side.  Then, after sending a note home for parents to send in a baby picture, help the children individually tape up their baby picture in the “Then” column, right across the dividing line from their current picture.  I usually help with this task during our free choice time, giving me the opportunity to talk to each child about the changes we can see between the two pictures.

As you gather for a large group time, look at the completed T chart.  Refer to it as a T chart and point out how the pictures have been organized.  (Using graphic organizers help children with comprehension, and also model organized thinking.)  Talk a little about how they’ve changed.  You might even pull out a baby picture of your own and we talk about how much you’ve changed.

Depending on the age of your group you may want to make another T chart with the same “Then” and “Now” labels and either brainstorm and write changes (Then: Crawled or Was Carried  Now: Walk and Run) or, especially with younger children, you may want to create pictures to sort and tape onto the chart.  (Baby food vs ‘real’ food, baby toys vs big kid toys, baby car seat vs big car seat, no hair vs lots of hair, etc.)  Talking about these changes builds self-awareness as well as the science skill of observation.

After this discussion, I love to do this book activity in a large or small group:

Read When I Was Little by Jamie Lee Curtis, a humorous look at life from a four year-old’s perspective.  It basically makes the same comparisons you just did in your T chart.  In fact, you could lead with this story if you prefer, to help get the children in the groove.  After reading the story, do a Whole Language activity.

For a whole language activity, I like to type a question at the top of the paper.  After reading and discussing the question to the group, I have the children dictate their answer to me and then illustrate it.  As I write their responses, I call attention to what I’m writing, helping the children to recognize that the words they’ve spoken are recorded in writing.  (Check out this post  for more ideas on writing with children.) 

For a Whole Language activity with this book, I pose the question, “What can you do now that you are ____(3, 4,5)?”  Their answers are never dull!  These Whole Language activities are great for building literacy and also make wonderful keepsakes!  You may want to collect them all in a three ring binder as a journal.  Some day when these little ones are even more grown up (7 or 10 even!), they’ll look back at this entry and remember when they were “little” once again!

 Top photo by Iwan Beijes.



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