The importance of prior knowledge and the life experiences of a child play a significant role in the learning of new concepts. When a child can connect what they already know with new ideas and vocabulary, they can better grasp new concepts and take more interest in the subject matter. Strength in language arts is vital to learning any text whether it is mathematics, science or social studies. What can educators do to incorporate text to bring more meaning to a child's learning experience? Guillaume suggests several ideas which reflect the literature on content area reading and learning. One idea is to access and build prior knowledge with the use of manipulatives and multimedia presentations.
In order to encourage discussion in the classroom display several meaningful real life objects, artifacts, models, photographs, etc. The children will have the opportunity to observe these objects and ask questions. Comparisons can be made between what they are seeing and what they already know.
Experiments such as making a volcano with household ingredients can demonstrate to a child the action of a live volcano thus bringing interest to text referring to changing landforms. Use a salting process so the students can witness the corrosion of metals. These experiments have much more impact on a child than the simple reading of text. They now have prior knowledge to relate to the concept.
Guillaume, Andrea M. (1998). Learning with text in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 51, 476-486.