With a barrage of information flooding our students daily (sometimes hourly), the teaching of critical literacy has become crucial. When do we start teaching critical literacy? How do we teach this skill? Between the ages 3-7, children develop the onset of meta-linguistic awareness, meaning they realize that people don't always mean exactly what they say. (i.e." I am too busy to do that" really means that I don't want to do that at this time.) So, this is a great age to begin the navigation through literacy and to teach some guiding questions. In our Christian school, this is even more important. We strive to teach our children to be aware of what is going on around them and to be discerning leaders.
Senior Kindergarten students each brought in a piece of environmental print from home for show and tell a few weeks ago and we had a look at these simple, yet very interesting forms of literacy. We had a big variety of cereal boxes ( Fruit Loops is popular ), O.J. labels, pizza boxes, chip bags, chocolate wrappers and a John Deere license plate. I asked some guiding questions about each piece. " Who wrote the text? " ," What did the writer want us to see?"," Was it true?", "What was the writer trying to say? " And very importantly,"What was the writer not telling us?"
We had an excellent discussion. Some students admitted that they wanted Fruit Loops or lucky Charms because of the pretty box. They came to the conclusion the Toucan Tom (or Sam) on the front had actually nothing to do with fruit loops or that there was nothing really magical about Lucky Charms. They noticed information on the side of the box that showed nutrition information and we compared the boxes. They noticed the words, "Family Size ". We found out that this did not always mean there was more food in those packages.We discussed what was missing in the information. Are fruit loops good for you? In the end everyone agreed that OJ was probably the best option for breakfast. And,
we all agreed that we need John Deere to help get food to our table!