Facilitating emergent literacy skills: A literature-based, multiple intelligence approach

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Educators have continually sought to achieve a balance between a phonics-based, code-emphasis program and a more holistic, meaning-based approach to emergent literacy instruction. This article describes an integrated phonics and literature-based approach to developing children's emergent literacy skills. These skills included alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, phonics and nonsense word competence, and language usage. Using Howard Gardner's (1983) theory of multiple intelligence, the program's literacy activities addressed children's interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, musical, naturalistic, and visual-spatial abilities and interests. Stories from children's trade books were told in a variety of storytelling methods, such as draw talk, character imagery, felt board, group role play, and chant. These approaches were matched to children's interests and multiple intelligence areas. All of the storytelling sessions were followed by related activities that incorporated the children's emergent literacy skills. Results from this study of 13 inner-city children indicated that this integrated, seven-week program resulted in significant gains in phonemic awareness, nonsense word competence, and word usage fluency. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) was used as a pretest and a posttest to assess children's initial and later competence on the basic emergent literacy skills. Implications for further research on this integrated approach are discussed. © 2006 by the Association for Childhood Education International.

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Journal of Research in Childhood Education