Early childhood education majors are usually preparing activities for young children at an annual day-long Learning Centers Fair during this time of the year. This semester, students enrolled in ECE 420 have been contributing to a new project instead: a YouTube channel called “Lions’ Literacy Story Time.”
Susan Sawyer and Jill Barry, instructors in the department of teaching and learning, are the two instructors for the class. Sawyer shared what the event normally looked like in years past.
“Typically, the students prepare learning centers and activities based on a piece of children’s literature for three to six-year-olds during a day-long event where about 100 children and adults come during field trips to experience the learning centers,” said Sawyer.
The idea spawned from videos faculty had seen on Facebook. Sawyer also detailed what inspired them to use the idea for a project.
“During those first weeks online, what I saw online from the Early Childhood community touched me and inspired this project,” said Sawyer. “What we were seeing on school Facebook pages were simple videos of teachers reading children’s books to their classes, and then we came up with the idea of having each teacher candidate do a read-aloud, videoing themselves and plan and demonstrate an at-home activity that families can do following the story.”
Since the project’s first upload on April 22, the channel has garnered over 900 views.
Sawyer described the attention the videos have received from local educators.
“Most schools were eager to get them and said that they would be sharing them with families and their children via Facebook,” mentioned Sawyer. “In addition, many of our former Early Childhood graduates are currently teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten. Several of them have shared the links with families of children in their classes.”
Junior Felicia Payadue’s reading of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” currently has the most views on the channel with over 300 views.
Payadue explained her motive behind choosing the book.
“It’s a fun book,” said Payadue. “I’ve been in the field of education for many years, whether it be Daycare, Head Start, Teacher Assistant or even as an education major, and this book is one that most, if not all, children are familiar with and love.”
Another student, senior Lauren Eure, shared the goals she set for herself going into the creation of her reading of “Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes.”
“I think my main goal for my video was to give the students something they can do outside,” said Eure. “I wanted the students to go outside and play with the sidewalk chalk. My other goal was to not mess up too bad on making the video. My last goal was to have fun because when the students watch the video they will be able to tell if I did or didn’t.”
The situation these students find themselves in is unlike previous ECE classes. Sawyer reflected on what has made this alternate assignment a student favorite.
“I have to admit, it isn’t the same as interacting with students in person,” said Sawyer. “But currently, virtual teaching is taking place all over the world. Then, they warmly read their stories with smiles and questions, just like they would in a ‘regular’ classroom. They turned out really well, especially since this digital aspect wasn’t initially something we planned to do this semester.”
Payadue highlighted that the videos can bring a sense of normalcy to childrens’ lives during these strange times.
“Education is so important, and with this new way of life right now I believe young learners still need some kind of normalcy,” expressed Payadue. “I know teachers are missing their students, and students are missing their teachers.”