Author: Mem Fox
Published: 1989 by Scholastic in Australia
Shoes from Grandpa’ by Mem fox can be used as a resource in the early phase of learning (Brace, Brockhoff, Sparkes & Tuckey., 2006) whilst teaching kindergarten students about ‘How families differ’. This story shows many different family members, including both close and extended family. ‘Shoes from Grandpa’ is set during the summer months in suburban town. When the main character’s father, (Jessie who is a young girl) decides to hold a barbeque and invites the entire family. When her Grandfather sees her, he notices that she has grown up and decides to buy her a new pair of shoes. The other family members decide they can each buy Jessie something to go with her new shoes, but Jessie does not want all these new items, she just wants a pair of jeans. The plot enables kindergarten students to relate to familiar family concepts in a humorous way, therefore this is a good book that will help them to develop their literacy skills within their own comfort zone. This is particularly important to children in the early phases of learning, as children interact best in structured play learning situations that they can relate to their own personal experiences “When students are discussing topics that matter to them, their contributions will be meaningful and they are more likely to engage in extended opportunities. These opportunities help students to develop their abilities to express ideas, opinions and feelings” (Brace et al., 2006 p.82). This story exposes students to both familiar and unfamiliar language using a typical Australian family situation. There are many opportunities for students to communicate in whole class discussions using this text. This can be done by reflecting on past experiences that have occurred in their day to day lives, thus allowing them to connect to the story on a personal level.
By providing a text that supports student’s families and cultural situations, the text becomes meaningful, allowing the teacher to challenge student’s literacy skills. This can be done by promoting group discussions and allowing each individual to come to their own conclusion about how their own family would have acted in a similar situation. When a child can make their own personal connection to a lesson, they are more likely to retain and apply this new knowledge and give them the opportunity to improve “It is through these experiences that students develop the skills needed to interact with others in order to meet a variety of purposes.” (Brace et al., 2006 p.85). For example the story starts off with a family gathering during one summer’s day and when Grandpa sees his granddaughter he initiates the conversation by saying “My, how have you’ve grown”. For most children this phrase is common. Through these familiar situations teachers can help students to further explore language functions and gain understanding of language by allowing students to recount their own personal experiences with similar situations “Children learn the skills of speaking and listening as they participate as active members of society through interactions with family members and members of the wider community” (Brace et al., 2006. p.2)
The repetitive phrases throughout the story place an emphasis on vocabulary and language structure. Each time a family member speaks they say “I’ll buy you a …….” and then they go on and say “to go with…………..” all the previous items that each family member bought Jessie. Each time the students hear these repetitive phrases, they draw on them to create and understand language concepts, allowing them to make predictions of what could come next in the story. This is important for Kindergarten students as it gives them opportunity to actively participate in reading and enhance their listening and speaking skills. This in turn will provide students to indirectly develop an understanding of tone and volume in their speaking