Lisa is a first grade teacher who has taken my early literacy program to the east coast. Read on to find out how she brings Teacher’s Creatures Phonics Puppets to life in her classroom and uses them to engage her students. Thank you, Lisa, for choosing Monaco Lane curriculum, and for taking the time to write about it.
Teacher’s Creatures: First Grade Style by Lisa Cavanaugh
I’ve had trouble deciding what to write because I have SO much to share about this wonderful program. I am a First Grade teacher at Hampden Elementary/Middle School #55 in Baltimore, Maryland. Our school has a phonics program I may use (but I am not required). My students, having come from this program in kindergarten, were scheduled to receive instruction on all of the consonants and short vowel sounds as a review. I was thrilled that this allowed me to use Teacher’s Creatures and the Monaco Method from the very start.
Something that has evolved throughout the school year is the way I include and speak about the puppets in my every day instruction. The students love it; their eyes light up, they are more engaged and it helps reinforce the skills we learn during the very quick pace of our phonics instruction.
For example, I may pretend there’s a little bit of friendly competition between the short and long vowels. When I introduced Aimee the Ape, I said “Aimee is so excited to meet you today. I overheard her say ‘Look out, Antoinette! There’s a new A in town!’ But Antoinette was quick to point out we still had a classroom with plants and maps and a lamp, so she’s not sad at all!” (throughout I emphasized all of the short a sounds).
When I introduced and explained the silent e “telling the vowel to say its name,” I said “Look at Evelyn up there, thinking she’s hot stuff! She gets to be in the word and doesn’t have to say anything at all. She just gets to tell the vowel what to do…”
Even when I am not in the middle of phonics instruction, the puppets are part of our classroom culture. I may introduce a vocabulary word for a read aloud: porch for example. And I’ll say “Charley is sooo happy I chose this word!”
The way I see it, those who need it get constant reinforcement and those who don’t are entertained by my silly stories about puppets talking to the students and each other.