for Preschoolers: The Blue’s Clues Way
Dr. Alice Wilder
is literacy for preschoolers (ages 2-5)? They can’t “read” in
the way that adults think of literacy. Yet so much of what a preschooler
does everyday involves literacy-related skills.
Experimenting and making meaning out of everything that they do
•Absorbing new vocabulary words and using them
• Observing and learning sequences of events
Understanding and thinking about others’ points of view
At Blue’s Clues, we understand that these sorts of literacy-related
skills are important to a child’s future success as a reader.
Blue’s Clues has two basic philosophical tenets when it comes
to literacy for preschoolers. First, it is essential to expose
children to stories, conversations, and the value of books and
writing as well as provide a rich and stimulating language environment.
Second, children need a balance of whole language and phonics
instruction in order to learn to be a reader—one has to want to
read in order to sit down with text, and one has to be able to
sound out words in order to decode that text.
Every episode of Blue’s Clues includes elements of literacy that
model these two basic philosophical tenets.
Blue’s Clues is a book (take another look at the beginning
of the show)
• The Handy Dandy Notebook, a book in which we write down and
remember all of our clues
• Looking for Clues demonstrates the logic of problem solving
• Blue’s Favorite thing to do is to read, and so she reads many
stories with us
• Mail time encourages writing and telling stories and conveying
it to others
Rhyming—in scripting, we play with words whenever we can
In addition, we have written a number of episodes specifically
designed to encourage preschool literacy skills and a love of
Words, Words”: This entire episode is spent with a big bag of
words with which we play. There are words all over the house,
all visually supported by the object that they represent. Each
time a word is pulled out of the bag, the object that word represents
appears in front of the viewer, demonstrating the power of words.
For example, Blue pulls out the word ‘Lion’ and a lion appears
in front of us.
Book Nook”: We are playing Blue’s Clues to figure out what Blue
wants to read about. Throughout the episode, Blue and her friends
show us that books serve different purposes; some are for information
while others are stories that can be interactive. In addition,
we help our librarian, Marlee Matlin, find a book in the library.
Train”: In this 26 letter episode, we help Joe and Blue make an
alphabet train. Each letter is a box on the train. Throughout
the episode, the preschoolers help Blue as she looks for an object
that goes in each letter box. To figure it out, we sound out words,
match written letters, and “read” words.
Preschoolers are highly literate, but just to be sure that our
intended message for Blue’s Clues is being conveyed to preschoolers
we test every episode three times during its production by showing
it to the preschoolers themselves.#
Alice Wilder is Director of Research & Development/R&D
Producer for Blue’s Clues.
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