Learning from Home Ideas: Pop-up Storybook to Stimulate Children’s Interest in Reading

Global pandemic has affected various aspects of life, including in education sector. In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo conveyed on March 15, 2020 the policy of handling the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia. Among them are policies on the learning and working process from home, and improvement of COVID-19 testing and treatment services. “With this condition, it’s time for us to work from home, learn from home, worship at home, … We want this to become a community movement so that the COVID-19 issue can be handled optimally,” said President Joko Widodo.

Policies related to the teaching and learning process during the pandemic were issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture on March 24th through Circular Letter No. 4 of 2020 concerning the Implementation of Education Policy in the Emergency Spread of Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19). The learning from home policy (BDR) has also been implemented by the government for all educational institutions in the country. In facing the situation, teachers also need to be more creative in delivering their lessons on various subjects to their students. The role of parents is no less important in supporting the learning process of their children during this circumstances. In literacy learning, one of the ideas that can be done by teachers as well as parents is creating pop up scrapbook. A primary school teacher in Probolinggo, East Java, Yulia Rahmawati, S.Pd, shares her ideas.

In Probolinggo District, East Java, teacher in SDN Krejengan Yulia Rahmawati, S.Pd has this learning idea to help improve student’s literacy skills, particularly in the early grades.

According to Yulia, learning to read in the first years of primary school her main goal. Students need to develop their knowledge, skills, and experiences needed for reading comprehension as it is critical for retention and success in future grades.

Previously, Yulia was only fixated on ways that could make her students able to read, especially since some students had difficulty identifying the ‘a’ to ‘z’ letters. Sometimes, frustration made her scolded her students which she hoped would make her students to learn more at home.

This kind of teaching practice continued when Yulia taught in the early grades since the 2017/2018 school year, in which she was assigned to teach in the early grades at SDN Krejengan.

However, her methods of teaching gradually changed after she joined the literacy program implemented by INOVASI and Kolaborasi Literasi Bermakna – a coalition of four organizations (IniBudi, Keluarga Kita, Kampus Guru Cikal, and the Center for Education and Policy Studies/PSPK) with a vision to improve the quality of Indonesian children’s education through collaboration and capacity building of stakeholders particularly teachers, parents, and local governments. Through the program, Yulia learned many things including knowledge related to the concept of guru merdeka belajar, classroom agreements, positive discipline, and teaching meaningful literacy.

From the training conducted through the Kampus Guru Cikal activities, Yulia also found creative ideas to create her own teaching aid to help stimulate students’ reading interest. As a result, students became more interested in reading, and eventually can learn to understand the story. ‘Moveable Book’ is the name of the teaching aid created by Yulia, a pop-ups storybooks with interesting pictures to bring reading to life and give interactive reading experience.

An easy to make pop-ups storybooks

To make this pop-up storybooks is very simple and does not require complicated materials, only office stationeries such as, buffalo paper, masking tape, double-sided tape, scissors, glue, pencils and interesting pictures. Yulia created her own story, where each paragraph is illustrated with pictures. The pictures can be made or even from the internet.

After all the materials ready, it is important to make sure the pictures can literally pop out from the book. To do that, first cut the rectangular buffalo paper which is then folded on both sides. Secondly, cut out the middle section of the paper in a rectangular shape, the folded part is given a double-sided tape, then stick it to the inside of the book. When turning the pages, the pictures would be able to pop out just like watching a live performance.

Positive Change in the Classroom

Although this media is very simple and inexpensive, but the experience made the reading lessons in Yulia’s class change significantly. Students who were initially reluctant to learn are now enjoying reading, and are more enthusiastic, they even requested more stories to Yulia.

“What makes me very happy is that my students are very enthusiastic listening to the stories that I read to them. They also can’t wait to read together the stories in the pop-up storybook. I noticed that students who are still not fluent in reading are actively involved and interact with their friends if they can’t identify a letter, word, or even the flow of the story,” said Yulia happily.

Seeing these changes, Yulia believes that creativities are needed in the learning process and teacher must always try to understand what the interest of the children. This is in order to get children’s attention, attract their interest in reading, make the learning process easier for children to learn to read, and stimulate children’s thinking and reasoning.

“After all, the world of children is a world of play, we as teachers must provide students with a teaching and learning process that are meaningful, memorable, and enjoyable,” said Yulia.

Improving Students’ Reading Comprehension and Communications Skills through Storytelling

Storytelling can be a fun activity for children. This activity is also often done by parents for their children. At school, children are also presented with interesting learning and fun story books for them to read and teachers have long made storytelling as part of their teaching strategies.

In Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara, reading stories or storytelling is not quite common in the community and at schools. The absence of appropriate learning aids such as story books and teachers who have not adequately trained in such method are some of the reasons this practice has not yet become part of learning in schools. Not surprisingly, elementary school students, especially in the early grades, have a relatively low interest in reading.

However, positive changes have begun ever since the early grade literacy program was implemented through the INOVASI program in several schools in Sumba. The schools assisted by the program have begun to try various learning strategies to overcome this challenge.

In West Sumba for example, first grade teacher of SD Negeri Lokory, Apliana B. Awang develops her own teaching aids in the form of big books. She does this because the existing story books do not fit Sumba context, making it difficult for students to relate what they learn with what they experience in their daily lives.

At first, Apliana and her fellow teachers developed 20 different big books with themes reflecting the daily lives of Sumba children especially in West Sumba, such as family tree and tradition, traditional clothes and houses, and local fruits.

Later, Apliana created 14 other big books. This time, the contents of the books are not stories but vocabularies commonly found and used in daily communications of the students such as animals, fruits, Sumba culture, and so on. Each page consists of only one vocabulary but comes in bahasa Indonesia and the local language. Despite this, when using the books, Apliana tells stories that contain the words students are learning and help them recognize the words. The stories are usually related to Sumba people and culture.

Based on Apli’s observation, combining the use of big books and storytelling has made students more motivated to study and easier to memorise the vocabularies they learn. Oftentimes, students even beg to substitute their teacher to read out the vocabularies in the big books. This method helps students acquire vocabularies faster and read sooner.

In East Sumba, fourth grade teacher of SD Inpres Laipori, Itha Lape uses story books as a medium for reading aloud in a child-friendly library. This library is a collaboration between INOVASI and TBP (Taman Bacaan Pelangi). During the reading aloud activity, the teacher reads the story by emphasising expression. The children sit on the carpet provided while the teacher sits in front of them.

“Hauunnnnnngggg!” Itha exclaimed, expressing the roar of a tiger in the story she read. No sound was heard from the children when Itha began to read stories. They enjoyed the expressions presented by their teacher and couldn’t wait for what would happen next. “Usually in KBM (learning and teaching process) in class, they (students) are very difficult to manage. But it comes to an activity like this (reading a story), they immediately sit neatly and quietly,”said Itha.

Earlier this month, a number of delegates from the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan visited SD Inpres Laipori and had the opportunity to see how Itha conducted the reading aloud activity. They were amazed by the way Itha read the story full of immersion.

“I have never seen this (the way the teacher read the story) before. She (Itha) was really immersed when reading the story and the students felt like they were the characters of the story,” said Shafiullhaq Rahimi, Deputy Chief of Party of Afghan Child Read Program who joined the team of the Ministry of Education.

Itha says reading stories that way increases the focus and attention of the students, making them easier to remember information from the stories and to comprehend the stories. This is evident from the ability of the students to retell the stories that they have just read or to answer questions about the stories.

Big Books in Mbojo Language

Indonesia has more than 652 local languages which are spread from Sabang to Merauke. In Indonesia, the constitution mandates Bahasa Indonesia as the sole language of instruction in formal education – a decision driven by national unity and identity. Although the constitution does allow for local languages to be used in a supplementary sense during the early grades, few teachers are trained in appropriate teaching methodologies for second language acquisition. Language transition strategies must be well designed. If students’ mastery of the language of instruction is low, it will certainly have an impact on their learning outcomes. In Bima District, West Nusa Tenggara, INOVASI supports teacher by strengthening the language transition process in Bima classrooms.

The use of local language is a key feature in daily Bima community life, with children speaking it at home, to their parents, and in the community. The strong prevalence of local language poses a challenge for teaching and learning activities in the classroom. Children still experience difficulties understanding the lessons, often due to a lack of mastery of Indonesian – the formal language of classroom instruction.

Khaerunnisa, an early grade teacher in SD IT Wihdatul Ummah, Bima District, West Nusa Tenggara, also experienced this challenge. However, her teaching approach began to change when she participated in INOVASI’s Bima pilot, focused on mother tongue-based multilingual education (a pilot known locally as GEMBIRA). Not only when it came to using language, but also in the use of learning materials that can support the teaching and learning process.

One of the training materials in INOVASI early grade literacy program is Big Book. Through training conducted in the Teacher Working Group (KKG), Khaerunnisa is now trained in developing early grade students’ reading and writing skills. The term Big Book itself is used to describe shared reading books used in classroom activities.

Literacy learning in the early grades requires teaching aids that can help teacher improve students’ reading and writing skills. Teaching aids is an effective method to attract students’ attention and interest, for example Big Books that Khaerunnisa utilises in her classroom with short stories that she created in both local Bima language as well as in bahasa Indonesia. The Language Bridge method is applied by first explaining various concepts to children using the Mbojo language, and then gradually introduce in bahasa Indonesia language.

One of the Big Books she created is titled ‘Kucingku’ (My Cat). The story is also available in Mbojo language with title ‘La Manis Ngaoku’. Like any other Big Books that Khaerunnisa made, this bilingual Big Book also features illustrations that appeal to children. Some illustrations in the story are made by herself, some are from the internet.

How is the teaching practice in the classroom? The shared reading activity uses the language bridge method where Khaerunnisa began the activity by reading ‘La Manis Ngaoku’. The children will sit listening to the the story in Mbojo language. After that, children are given the opportunity to ask questions. The whole process is carried out in the local Mbojo language.

Furthermore, Khaerunnisa will continue to the next session in which she retell the story using Indonesian language. The process will be similar; Reading the story in Indonesian language, and once finished children will have the opportunity to ask in case there are words or terms in Indonesian language that they do not understand.

The activity then continued with story sequencing. For this activity, a paper clipping containing a piece of the story in Indonesian language has been prepared. The children were also asked to reconstruct the story which had previously been read together. This activity is carried out in groups so that children can discuss with each other and provide input.

The teaching techniques and methods obtained through INOVASI’s pilot have helped make Khaerunnisa’s classroom atmosphere different. The experience with INOVASI program has opened her creativity, bringing new ideas in teaching her students.

EAST JAVA: Effective School Leadership

Sri Winarni is the head of primary school SDN Sumbergondo 2, located at the eastern end of Batu City, near the foot of Arjuna mountain in East Java.

When she began her role as principal, Sri faced a serious challenge. Teachers were less disciplined, lessons felt more like lectures, and students were not enabled to learn well.

Facing these challenges, Sri has sought to improve the quality of human resources, cooperate with external agencies, and involve parents and the broader community in the implementation of school programs and learning.

EAST JAVA: Strategies for Principals to Improve Student Literacy in Schools

Primary school SDN Punten in East Java has been working to improve student literacy and reading ability, thanks to efforts from its principal. In addition to providing reading corners at various locations around the school, there is also a school magazine and school libraries. At least once per month, teachers are required to use the library as a learning resource with their students.

EAST JAVA: Big books improve student reading ability

In an effort to spur teachers’ creativity, and improve the ability and interest of children in early grade reading, teachers from primary school SDN 2 Kebondalem in East Java began to create ‘Ledgers’ – Large books made by teachers using materials and photographs from the local environment.

EAST JAVA: Creative learning techniques for school supervisors

School supervisors play an important role in supervising academic activities, and in coaching teachers to improve their teaching quality in the classroom. In the Bondowoso area in East Java, primary school supervisor H. Sujito, MM, has been driving new and creative learning techniques. This includes strategies to improve student understanding of literacy in the classroom.