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Building Language Throughout the Year: The Preschool Early Literacy Curricum / Edition 1

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For children from low-resource backgrounds, a literacy-rich preschool experience with a skilled and engaged teacher can make all the difference—it can offset risk factors and lay the groundwork for lifelong academic success. Now schools can ensure effective early literacy instruction with this field-tested, research-based curriculum for children 3 to 5 years of age.

These 41 one-week lessons—each built around a theme with associated vocabulary lists and fun activities—are just what teachers need to enhance children’s phonemic awareness and vocabulary development throughout the year. This proven curriculum

  • Helps teachers succeed by explicitly showing them how to deliver curriculum content effectively.
  • Engages children through structured and unstructured activities—including dramatic play, art, and music—that reinforce new words and concepts.
  • Specifically addresses the needs of children from low-resource backgrounds and helps them catch up with their peers.
  • Aligns with every part of the Head Start Outcomes framework, so teachers know their curriculum is addressing the right areas.
  • Is easy to use with existing programs and makes use of inexpensive supplies most teachers already have on hand.
  • Helps parents continue the learning at home with reader-friendly sheets that explain what their children are learning and include easy activities for encouraging literacy development.

For each of the one-week lessons, teachers will get everything they need: a general lesson plan for the entire week, an overview of language concepts and goals, and detailed lesson plans for each weekday. “From-the-trenches” vignettes share other teachers’ success stories, and the useful observation forms help teachers track the growth and variety of children’s vocabulary and prove that students are making progress.
See which domain of school readiness in the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework this book addresses.

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Editorial Reviews

Angela Notari Syverson

"A wonderful resource [with] fun, flexible and proven activities that emphasize vocabulary and conversations —two especially important aspects of children's early literacy development."
University of Virginia - Laura Justice
"An excellent resource for teachers who want to improve the quality of children's language–learning experiences in their classrooms."
Midwest Book Review
"…promote[s] early literacy through encouraging the development and exercise of reading skills which are an essential foundation for lifelong academic success . . . Building Language Throughout the Year will prove to be useful, practical, effective, and time-saving."
Brief Reviews Education Review
"[Curriculum forms] are not only useful, they underscore the deliberate nature of language and literacy development activities and capitalize on opportunistic moments for learning within preschool classrooms . . . The use of deliberate planning and careful implementation of lessons is based on noted research in emergent literacy development and provides an appropriate framework for the text."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557667809
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Format: Spiral Bound
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 436
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Armstrong began working at Leap Learning Systems in 1998, after completing her Clinical Fellowship Year. She received her Master of Arts degree from Hampton University in 1997, with an emphasis in communication disorders in multicultural and diverse populations.

Dr. Armstrong has been a Language Specialist and training coach with Leap programs, helping to develop programs and write curricula. In that capacity, she has carried out a variety of innovative programs in ethnically and economically diverse Head Start settings. She also has participated in a number of other Leap programs, including the innovative Language for Scholars Program and Vocabulary Improvement Project. Dr. Armstrong is a participant in curricula development and played a major role in developing the Building Language curriculum. She is an accomplished presenter, having made a number of presentations at national conferences including the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and National Black Child Development Institute.

Dr. Armstrong left Leap to pursue a doctorate from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Her interests remain strong in the area of language and diversity issues.

Dr. Gottfred received her doctorate in speech pathology from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, in 1979, and founded Leap Learning Systems in 1988. She has teaching and clinical experience and has held numerous positions in the field's state and national associations; a few of note include President of the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Legislative Counselor to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Council on Professional Ethics and Ethical Practices Board. She also served as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Vice President of Governmental and Social Policies. Dr. Gottfred is extremely active in professional and community affairs in the areasof language, multicultural education, and ethics. She serves on the boards of the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation, the Chicago Charter School Foundation, the Advocate Charitable Foundation, and DePauw University's Board of Visitors, and she is a former member of the Executive Board of the American Speech and Hearing Association. Dr. Gottfred was the 2007 President-Elect of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

As the Curriculum and Research Director of Leap Learning Systems, Dr. Lybolt oversees early childhood language enrichment program development for Leap partners in Chicago and across the country. He directly supervises Leap Learning Systems staff members and teachers involved in language-based curricula. During the past 10 years he has developed language- and literacy-based curricula that have had a direct impact on Head Start teachers' professional development at a variety of Chicago area sites. He has been instrumental in building collaborative relationships with public school administrators, Head Start administrators, site directors, and teachers by leading teacher-training seminars in the areas of language and literacy.

Dr. Lybolt has taught classes in language development and has been instrumental in developing speech and language classroom curricula for National-Louis University in Chicago. An expert in the area of school-based speech and language instruction, Dr. Lybolt has been a contributor in teleconferences presented by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He has presented at national, state, and local conventions on the need for trained urban and rural preschool teachers in the area of language and literacy. The language- and literacy-based preschool programs that he has developed have been used in Head Start sites in selected Chicago Youth Centers, by child-parent centers in Chicago Public School

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 2 of Building Language Throughout the Year: The Preschool Early Literacy Curriculum, by John Lybolt, Ph.D.,CCC-SLP , Jennifer Armstrong, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Kristin Evans Techmanski, M.A., CCC-SLP, & Catherine Gottfred, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Copyright © 2007 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Building Language Throughout the Year: The Preschool Early Literacy Curriculum provides a framework for children to learn through exploring, making maximal use of materials in the classroom, interacting with peers, and teacher modeling and input. The weekly grids may seem daunting at first, considering the daily suggested enrichment words, the subcategories of the weekly themes, and the daily dramatic plays. Some creative teachers have stretched a major theme across 2 weeks; other teachers have repeated activities that are related to earlier themes or have even eliminated one or more of the daily themes. Many, however, have used the curriculum as written, making personal changes in a few specific activities. The Building Language curriculum is meant to be used as a guide for teachers. The lessons should be adapted as necessary to meet the needs of all children. What should be maintained is the frequency, complexity, intentional conversing, and problem solving between the teacher and individual children, within small groups, and in peer-to-peer interactions throughout the classroom day.


Hart and Risley (2003) discussed implications of a vocabulary gap that affects many 3-year-old children on entry into preschool. Their follow-up analysis documented how a vocabulary gap at age 3 magnified its negative effect on learning skills through age 10.They recommended an intensive effort be undertaken before preschool to help caretakers reduce the size of the vocabulary gap. For children not reached by a high-quality early learning program, Hart and Risley’s analysis makes it clear that the instructional time available to preschool teachers should be dedicated to providing rich language experiences. These language-based experiences should be supported with materials that allow children’s exploration and creativity to blossom. It is critical that teachers attempt to narrow the potential academic impact of the vocabulary gap described by Hart and Risely (2003) in the 2 years before children transition to kindergarten. The Building Language curriculum provides teachers with specific tools that can help them in this effort. The techniques that are suggested and described in Building Language include “the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions . . .by integrating clinical (and early childhood) expertise with the best available external evidence from systematic research” (Sackett, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson,1996, p. 71). We have chosen techniques that are widely reported in the language intervention literature. Using studies examining the actual behaviors of preschool teachers, we have developed recommendations for how these techniques might be successfully implemented in a preschool classroom. We have used quasi-experimental and correlational studies to determine whether teachers using the Building Language curriculum change their own classroom behaviors while positively affecting the learning of children in their classrooms. We are planning a well-designed randomized, controlled study examining the efficacy of the teaching methods of the Building Language curriculum. We describe below how teachers can use Building Language techniques to supplement their own training to best serve children in their classrooms.


Beginning any new program or curriculum can be a challenge for

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Table of Contents

About the Authors


  1. Introduction to the Building Language Curriculum
  2. Using the Building Language Curriculum
  3. The Role of Parents in the Building Language Curriculum
  4. Monitoring Progress


Lessons and Take-Homes

Week 1: School Days
Week 2: Family
Week 3: Alphabet
Week 4: Personal Places
Week 5: Seasons
Week 6: Food
Week 7: Animals
Week 8: Fall
Week 9: Community Helpers
Week 10: Colors, Shapes, and Sizes
Week 11: The Great Outdoors
Week 12: Thanksgiving
Week 13: Winter Wonderland
Week 14: Our Senses
Week 15: Movement and Music
Week 16: Transportation in My Neighborhood
Week 17: Our Bodies, Ourselves
Week 18: Numbers and Counting
Week 19: Fables and Fairy Tales
Week 20: Solar System
Week 21: Black History
Week 22: Shopping
Week 23: Weather
Week 24: Feelings and Emotions
Week 25: What Lives Under the Water?
Week 26: Beauty of Spring
Week 27: Science
Week 28: Dinosaurs
Week 29: Young Child's Arts and Crafts
Week 30: Water Fun
Week 31: Transportation for Traveling
Week 32: Plants and Flowers
Week 33: Nursery Rhymes
Week 34: Mama and Me
Week 35: Later in the Spring
Week 36: Health and Safety
Week 37: Animals and the Environment
Week 38: Insects and Spiders
Week 39: Daddy and Me
Week 40: Vacation and Summer Fun
Week 41: Get Ready, Get Set, Go


Outcomes Assessment for the Building Language Curriculum

Instructions for Using the Building Language Curriculum Forms

Blank Forms for the Building Language Curriculum

Books and Music for the Building Language Curriculum

Suggested Readings
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