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10 Ways to Use Tumblebooks to Accelerate Literacy Skills

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Aug. 15, 2011, 5:24 p.m.

TumbleBook Library is an online collection of animated, talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading in a format they'll love. www.tumblebooks.com/library

Many public libraries have made the resource available on their website for library members. Schools may purchase a site license for a minimal fee.

You can use this resource is a variety of ways to motivate readers and provide accommodations for struggling readers. Be sure to share this website with the parents of your students!

Here are a few ideas for how to use this vast resource in your classroom.

  1. Listening Center — Allow students to select texts for listening and responding to during independent work time. You can pre-select texts and place on the playlist or favorites page on Tumblebooks. Remember that playlists are specific to each computer.
  2. Explicit Vocabulary Instruction — Select one mentor text per week. Select 3-5 rich words from this text. A rich word is a word that can be used in many different contexts such as “enormous” and can replace an overused word. It has a rich, more visual meaning.
    Day 1: Project the story on a white board or screen and play the entire the story before discussing vocabulary words. Afterwards, discuss the words you’ve selected and post them in the classroom.
    Days 2–4: Discuss the words and use them in as many different situations and contexts. You do not need to reread the mentor text, but you can make it available as an option in the listening center. Make sure to review words from previous weeks and compare word meanings.
    Day 5: Assess the student’s level of acquisition using yes/no situations, have students define and use words in sentences, or asking students to select the word that best fits a specific situation.
    The goal is for students to use these words in everyday conversations and written compositions.
  3. Literature Circles — Select 4-5 texts and add to the playlist feature on Tumblebooks. Explain to the children that they can select 1 of the texts to listen to and read along. After completing the text, students prepare for a discussion with other students who have also chosen this text. Using Tumblebooks allows students to read and participate in literature circles using texts that are not at the student’s independent level for accuracy, but can be comprehended when read aloud or read along. Preparation can include writing a summary, making connections to personal experiences or other texts, analyzing character actions, feelings, or motives, and determining a theme or author’s purpose. Be sure to give students a specific date for each literature circle meeting so that they have time to read and prepare for a rich discussion.
  4. Compare 2 texts — Select 2 texts and have students compare characters, problems, events, themes, or authors’ view point on a topic. You can use a Venn diagram, double bubble map, or T chart to record ideas.
  5. Author Studies — On the index page, there is a list of authors on the right. Click on any author to see texts that are available on Tumblebooks. After selecting an author pose questions that students can answer using all of the author’s stories. Also, be sure to include a link to the author’s website and biographical information.
  6. Build Fluency — Use the method of repeated reading (Samuels, 1974, 1976) to build fluency and comprehension of a selected Tumblebooks text. You will need a hardcopy of the text or turn off the sound when reading the text for the first time. If you have a built-in microphone, the student can record the first and last readings. Use a graph to record and monitor words correct per minute. For practice, have the student read along with text 2-3 times. Then have the student read the text without the support of the recording. To monitor comprehension, after each reading, ask the student to complete a different comprehension question. Repeat the process as needed until the text is read with 98-100% accuracy and is within the grade level fluency range.
  7. Book Talks — Have students select a book from Tumblebooks to use in a book talk. A book talk is a 1 minute book review presentation that includes:
    1. Showing the book (using a projector, interactive whiteboard, or a hardcopy of the book).
    2. Start with a good lead-Why would other class members want to read this book?
    3. Tell the author, title, and genre.
    4. Explain why you chose the book.
    5. Tell a little about the book, but don’t give away secrets. Show several of the illustrations.
    6. Mention other books by the same author or other books in the series.
    This is very similar to a Reading Rainbow book review. Here is a link to a Youtube videothat will provide your students with a great example of a book talk.
  8. Theme Studies — Identify 3-4 books on Tumblebooks with a common theme. Have students read each of the book using the Tumblebook Library or a hardcopy of the book and complete a language chart. Click here to download a theme chart.
    Theme Study: Being Different Makes Us Special
    Select books with main characters who are “different” from the norm.
    Suggested Tumblebook Texts:
    Ruby’s Wish
    Marsupial Sue
    Little Oink
    Create the theme chart on butcher paper and provide each student with a copy.
    Have students listen to the story on Tumblebooks and complete the chart. After students have had a chance to listen to the stories, gather students in whole group to complete the class chart. Be sure to compare and contrast the stories. What does the author want the reader to learn from this character? What is the theme (moral or message)? Why do you think the author wants us to learn this? How are the authors’ purposes alike?
    This is a great activity for building vocabulary and critical thinking skills.
  9. Academy Awards of Tumblebooks — “Nominate” 5 texts from Tumblebooks library. Add the titles to the computer playlist. Create a wall chart for class votes.
    Have students read and vote for their favorite book. At the end of the rating period (you determine a set amount of time), the class votes are tabulated and the winner of the “Best Tumblebook” is announced. You can add award categories such as Best Non-fiction Book, Best Book by the Author…., Best Character Development, etc.
    Here are some titles of books by Robert Munch that you can use on Tumblebooks:
    Stephanie’s Ponytail
    Purple, Green, and Yellow
    Something Good
    Mud Puddle
    After listening to all texts the student places a “star” to vote for his/her favorite book. The book with the most stars wins.
  10. Create your own “Tumblebooks” — Have students select a book not on Tumblebooks. The student will practice the book until he/she has expression, phrasing, accuracy, and appropriate rate. Then the student records himself reading the text use Audacity, Garageband, or another type of voice recorder. The student can use PowerPoint or Moviemaker to add pictures from the book to be displayed while reading. Upload the text reading to a podcast site or place the podcast on your class website.

Happy Teaching!
Kelly Harmon



Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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