Pre Reading Stories are tales that help students focus on elements of comprehension without the mechanics of reading getting in the way. This entry deals with the concepts of Scope and Sequence.
Scope means the way the story is laid out from the beginning and how it builds to the end. Learning to sequence means understanding how to look at the events of a story in the order in which they occurred.
Most children in the Pre-K through Second grade don't have any sense of how to put the events of a story into sequence or even why they belong in that order. If you ask a kid to tell you what happened, they will often start with their favorite part, skip to something funny, recall a movement or sound, tell you the end, and only then mention how it all started.
If a person cannot understand the scope and sequence of a story, then the material has no form. There is no sense that the piece will ever end or that it is going anywhere. This explains the kind of stories you often get from this group of youngsters. As they get older, students work out the idea that there is some sort of shape or form to the literature or stories they encounter, but some kids don't make that leap by themselves. It has to be pointed out to them.
Repetition for this age group is essential. We've always known that this group of listeners loves repetition. They love being able to join in with the presenter and repetition allows for that. There is something deeper going on there in terms of comprehension.
An example of how it hits the audience can be seen in the telling of a story like Sody Saluradus, which is the name for baking soda in this tale. The mother runs out of baking soda and sends her son off to the store to get some more. On his way home, he is eaten by a bear. The bear jumps out and scares the day lights out of the audience.
The Pre -K jump when the bear appears, but since they don't have any idea what happened or that it might happen again, they will go back to passively watching the story.
The Kindergarten jump when the bear appears, but they have no idea where the bear came from or what happened. Unlike the pre -K they have enough familiarity with stories to suspect this might actually be one of those scary stories they've heard so much about or been exposed to from their siblings. Many of them stick their fingers in their ears just in case.
The first graders jump when the bear appears, and they stare about in amazement. They think, hey, she was talking a long time before that bear jumped out. What exactly was she saying? This time I will listen and see if I can work out why this occurred.
The second graders get it and they anticipate that it may indeed happen again.
The sequence begins again when the mother sends out her daughter. This time, the Pre - K jump and some of them put their fingers in their ears because it happened twice and it might happen again. The Kindergarteners say, wait a minute! There was all of this talking that happened before the bear appeared. Maybe if I listen I will be able to figure out the sequence. The first graders get it and the second graders are getting ready to play the whole sequence with you.
By the end of the story, the sequence is played out three more times. The entire audience, even a few of the Pre K are playing with you and doing all of the movements and sounds. The best part for most of the kids is the very end when a squirrel, which was introduced at the beginning of the story and not mentioned again until the end, saves the day. He speaks squirrel, sings in squirrel and then is rewarded with biscuits and peanut butter. The sequence remains the same, but that final change, the squirrel, is enough to make the story hold its shape.
I get emails and comments from parents who are amazed that their children can remember the entire story, tell it, sing it and get the order right all the way down to the squirrel. I take the credit, of course, because a girl has to eat and feed her ravenous hoard of children, but the truth is that the power of this tale lies in its structure.
Without the ability to scope and sequence, students cannot remember what they've read, answer cogent questions about the characters or understand why the events in the story had any meaning to the characters. They also have trouble identifying rising action, crucial events and why those events impacted the characters in particular ways.
Much of the ability to get beneath a story is learning how to look at its scope through the unfolding of the events of the tale.