Reading Pool

Okay, as promised yesterday, I am going to tell you about our reading pool. This actually started out as a fluke idea of mine about 6 years ago, and since then I have taken it with me everywhere I go. At the time, I had a huge blowup pool in the yard that was a pain to blow up and deflate every time we wanted to use it on a hot day. I also had a huge futon cushion that I kept outside for a reading area. One rainy day, we threw the futon into the pool and pulled it under the porch area so that the cushion would not get ruined and the pool wouldn't fill up. And so it began...Before we could re-set it up the next sunny day, the children had already climbed in with some books, took their shoes off, and spend 30-45 minutes just reading! It was a perfect place! We slowly added some smaller pillows to lean on and blankets to cuddle up in. Teachers would sit in there with them and read to them, sing songs, and just talk.

I have been a different centers since then, but I am sure to set up this reading pool (or one like it) at each place I go. It has been a hit each time. I usually use an old pool that we aren't using anymore, and then make sure to have plenty of cushioning. Right now we are using large pillows from Lakeshore. They are very durable and easy to wash when dirty.
Things to remember:
The children will have to be reminded that this is a quiet place to read and hang out. There's no jumping around (someone might get hurt).
It helps if there are blankets as well so cuddle up with. It is also nice if they are allowed to take off their shoes while they are in there. I usually have a place just outside of the pool where they can line them up or put them (one place I had a large basket even). The rule then is that if you want to leave the pool, you need to put them on. (I am actually a huge advocate for allowing them to play without shoes, but I always lose this argument. That darn toe safety and the bikes always wins out!).
Make sure that there are plenty of books available. One's that they are familiar with and are interesting to them. Also, rotate them out. Leave a few of the same ones in, but bring our new ones as well.
It's always nice to have a teacher sit in the pool and read with them as well. But, be aware, the teacher who is in the pool has to have "global awareness". Can he or she read and watch the area surrounding the pool as well? This teacher will probably get "stuck" in the pool for a long while; maybe even the entire outdoor time. That's is perfectly acceptable! Children need to be read to, encouraged to read to others, and just plain need to feel important! This accomplishes that to no end.

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