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Teaching Expository Comprehension Skills in Early Childhood Classrooms

Culatta, Barbara PhD; Hall-Kenyon, Kendra M. PhD; Black, Sharon MS

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0b013e3181ff5a65
Original Article

Purpose: This pilot project implemented and evaluated a theme-based unit designed to teach expository comprehension skills to young children in four preschool classrooms.

Method: The program and the unit were collaborative efforts of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and early childhood educators. Within topically related units, 71 children ages 4:1 to 5:0 engaged in first-hand experiences related to narrative texts, adapted expository texts, and mapping tasks within large group, small group, and class routine contexts. Data sources consisted of expository compare/contrast and problem/solution tasks, classroom observations, teacher and parent interviews, and parent surveys.

Results: During instruction most of the 71 participating children made gains in both the compare/contrast and problem/solution tasks. They spontaneously applied problem/solution strategies in noninstructional settings. Teachers and parents reported that children were motivated by and engaged in the playful but systematic instruction.

Discussion: Although there were limitations in the study, results suggest that preschool children are able to benefit from expository instruction that is explicit, purposeful, and focused on topics of natural interest to young children. The study should be replicated with refined measures and a more diverse population.

Communication Disorders (Dr Culatta), Early Childhood Education (Dr Hall-Kenyon), and David O McKay School of Education (Ms Black), Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Corresponding Author: Barbara Culatta, PhD, 301 McKay Building; Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins