Memory Exercises: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

As I was taking time to finish my post on the iron giants, I found this video in the deep recesses of my drafts folder.  c was around two and a half years old when this video was taken.  I think this makes a good Throwback Thursday post.

Several months after this video was taken, c’s speech has improved and so was his delivery of the story.  It has improved a lot that some people who saw him in real life running his finger under the words as he “read” aloud the story actually commended him for being able to read.  It sure looks like it, but no. C was not yet really reading at two years old.  It was all memorization.  How he came to memorize the whole story was an interesting development for both of us.

To begin with, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is one of our all-time favorite stories.  He would make clay figures of a caterpillar and the food it ate.  He would draw or re-enact a scene from the story using his toys.  And of course, he would ask me to read the story to him all-through out the day.  I know many parents will agree with me that reading aloud the same thing several times a day everyday can become a wearisome task.  So at one point I thought I could do something to keep me interested in the activity.  Or rather, it was not do something.

I asked c to finish the sentences for me.  It then became like a game for us.  It was a joy for both of us when he got the word right.  As days go by I asked him to fill in more.  And day by day I am reminded how amazing children are.  Young as c may be but he was able to learn every word of his favorite story.

What started with …
RAT: In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a 
CAT: leaf!

turned to …
RAT: In the light of the 
CAT: moon
RAT: a little 
CAT: egg
RAT: lay on a
CAT: leaf

and then it became
RAT: In the light of the
CAT: moon a little egg lay on leaf

Eventually, it wasn’t I who was “reading” aloud anymore.  I would run my finger under the words and c would bring those words to life.  He has memorized the whole story – every word of it and quite expectedly every pause and intonation I do when I read the story to him.

I’m really happy how it turned out for c.  I could see how pleased he was with his accomplishment.  I was even happier upon learning later on that what we did was somewhat an application of the whole language approach to reading. I learned there are other ways to teach and learn reading.  It was not just through phonics.  The memory exercises we did have actually helped him learn to read.  c was able to recognize the words by memory and by context, and has gained confidence in reading.

Moving on from the beloved caterpillar, I attempted to do the same activity using another one of his favorites – Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  The first few pages were quite okay but with all the repetitions, I myself got confused.  Hahaha! So I replaced the book with a locally published favorite – The Moon is My Friend.  I remember c was doing fine with that story.  Unfortunately, I was not able to follow through.  I can’t remember why.  Maybe things got busy for us.  Maybe I was intimidated by the length of the story and forgot about not underestimating a child.  Maybe… One thing for sure though, this summer is a great time to bring this activity back in our daily grind!  c is already a good reader now.  He’s been reading a lot by himself.  But I am sure there are more benefits to memorizing a book.  How cool is it to know one’s favorite story by heart, right? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s