Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Leaning into Literacy Studio

Sparks connect together like a vine but the big pink flower is the idea that goes through the picture. The flowers grew together in my yard and one of them grew really big. It’s like the idea that grew from the others. The flowers naturally grew together because they sparked. And there was a big, huge idea that came out. Joy, happiness is flying everywhere. Birds fly together side by side–all together. This is a picture and you can get the idea from it. You can read it without the words. – SM, age 8

In Story Workshop, our preschool through second graders use materials to remind them of stories, inspire them, and engage them with language. We use materials and the languages of the arts to allow the power of play to carry them into a vision of themselves as authors.

Now, as third graders, they are ready for more. How will we use the languages of the arts and the children’s own experiences and skill with those languages to help us grow big ideas together?

Here are some of the ideas we’ve been thinking together about this month:

What is reading? How is it thinking and imagining and wondering?

What happens when you read… and what happens when you read in your brain? (Is that the same question? Is one of those questions better than the other?)

When you read, how do you stop and think, so you can stop and write?

What kinds of things that you think after you read cause a “spark” that makes you want to share and talk? Why does it seem that the topic of relationships seems to be the most “sparky”?

Is it possible to read things other than books and words? When you listen to a story, are you reading?

What is a community?

Is beautiful a feeling of connection?

How does a story come into the world?

We use materials during Literacy Studio to help us grow these ideas bigger:



SS abd CW read the flowers cut from the Fall garden. They said that they were sad, tired, lonely. And then stories began to fall out of them — the spontaneous experience encouraging us to reflect on the relationship between reading and writing — how one can so easily inspire the other. This is an important concept to learn in Literacy Studio, and the experience with the flowers brought it about in the most authentic way.

There are open explorations of materials as well. This week the children are exploring what wire can do and also what recycled tubes and boxes can do. ED was very engaged with the distinction between finding out what wire can make and what it can do — the question: What can wire do that other materials cannot? had him exploring and thinking deeply with DR and MB.


NW reported that the small tubes were really useful in building. He had made a box move across the floor on those tubes like a train.

CW explained that she had been thinking about the question — How does drawing help you read an object? — and she described that she connected a picture of the flower in her mind “so I could see what it could look like so I could put it on the paper.”

And AB said, “Oh! So the flower went into your mind and became a picture on the paper — like NW’s train!”


SM observed that her picture came first — and the words came after when she was thinking. Which lead to a new question to explore: How does a picture connect to words?

A community of thinkers, inventors, and authors is blooming in Opal 3!