How to Use the Emergent Literacy Storytime Planning Sheets:

Template for Pre-Readers (4-5)
1.      Select a content  theme: For this age group, when choosing a general content theme, also choose a letter to 
highlight that goes with the theme. The best letters to use with this age group are consonants that make only one sound.
(B, D, M, N, P, S, T, etc.) For this example, I’ll choose the theme  “trains,” and I’ll also plan to highlight the letter “T”. 
·        Choose two-or three books with a train theme to read during the hour here are a few suggestions, and
there are many more in the catalogue:

o       Crews, Donald, Inside Freight Train
This board book with moving doors expands on Crews's picture book, Freight Train.

o       Aylesworth, Jim, Country Crossing.
This story has great pictures of a train at nighttime, and a rhythmic text.

o       Merriam, Eve, Train Leaves The Station.
Bright saturated color illustrations bring Merriam's poem to life.

o       Voake, Charlotte, Here Comes the Train.
Dad and the two kids watch a train from the top of an overpass.

o       Neitzel, Shirley, I’m Taking A Trip on a Train.
Rebus pictures and a cumulative text make this a storytime winner.  

2.      Select a concept  theme to think about when you write your learning statement: The concept theme is a point
 about child development that you will emphasize for parents. For the purpose of this sample, I’ll select as my concept 
theme the idea of phonological sensitivity, and I will write a learning statement based upon this concept. For this age 
group,(4-5) phonological sensitivity is the primary skill to emphasize, so you might wind up talking about it often. 
3.      Write your learning statement: This is what you will tell parents during the storytime. You will reinforce this through
 the games and activities you do.
Phonological sensitivity is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Many children who have 
difficulty reading have trouble recognizing these small word sounds called phonemes. You can help your child 
develop phonological sensitivity by playing word games. Rhyming games are great, and so are games in which you 
take apart words and put them back together. We’ll be playing a few games like this today.
4.      Start storytime by saying, “I’m going to tell you a story today, but some of the words will sound a little different. I’m 
going to stretch out some of the words so that you can hear all of the sounds in the word. Your job is to put each word back 
together, so that I can keep telling the story. Let’s try a word for practice. Ready?  T- RRR- AY –NNN. Did you say Train? 
Great! You put that stretched out word back together for me. Thank you! And guess what? The stories we’re going to read 
today are about trains….”
5.      Read one or two stories, stretching out a few strategic words and letting children put them back together. Remember 
to also read dialogically—asking lots of open and closed questions (e.g. have you ever been on a train? What color is the train 
in this story? Ask children to predict what will happen, ask them to recall with who, what, where, when, why questions, etc.)     
  1. Say, “The first sound in the word Train is the ‘T” sound. What sound does the letter ‘T” make? Good! If we take the  “tuh” sound out of the word train, do you know what we’d have left?  You’re right! We’d have Rain. I ‘d rather ride the train on a sunny day, wouldn’t you? Let’s listen to a song about the sound that the letter T makes, and then we can make a train of our own. While we’re listening to the song, I’ll hand out the train tickets. (Tickets should be shaped like the letter “T,” of course.)


  1. Play the “Tt” song from the Greg Whitfield AlphaSongs CD


  1. Invite children to make a train. Have them hand in their ‘T” tickets, and ask parents to help them organize themselves into a line. Teach them to make a train sound using the “tuh” sound. “Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh, -- tuh, tuh, tuh, tuh…etc.” As they softly make this sound while snaking around the room like a train (you lead), sing or chant:
                             Freight train, Freight train, goin' so fast,
                        Freight train, Freight train, goin' so fast,
                        Please don't tell what train I'm on
                        So they won't know where I've gone.
Stop the train and ask children where they would like to go on the train. Take one of their suggestions, and adapt 
the song/chant accordingly: (Make sure you ask them to make the “Tuh” train sound before you start the train, and  if the 
destination is far away, tell them they need to go a little faster!) 
                             Goin’ to Florida, goin' so fast,
                        Goin’ to Florida goin' so fast,
                        Please don't tell what train I'm on
                        So they won't know where I've gone.
Take a few more suggestions and go to a few different places on the train, then go “home” (back to storytime seats).
9.      Read another story.
10.   To finish the session you could do a craft with a T theme (paste pre-cut train cars onto a sheet of paper and 
decorate them with stickers, for example, or glue and paste cut out shapes to make a tulip, tree or Teddy Bear).  If you 
have a snack, try to make it a “T” snack. – Teddy-Grams would be easy. 
11.  Copy the ‘T” sheet from your Letter Play Sets and send one home with each parent and child. Tell them that if 
they do some of the activities on the sheet with their children during the week, it will help to reinforce what was learned 
during storytime.
*Freight Train is a simple folk song, which, some of you may know. It’s easy to sing if you are so inclined, but if not, it works 
just fine as a rhythmic chant.