Repetition with Variety

Sometimes, when you are stuck thinking of something you can do in therapy, to highlight literacy, or simply in play, you may think you have to come up with something new but read on to find out why you don’t and why repeating the same things can be beneficial for all learners.

Repeating things we’ve done before and maybe making them a little different is called “repetition with variety” and it’s a very important, research-backed technique that helps learners of all ages learn, understand, and retain new information, concepts, etc. A really simple way to think about it is: that repetition with variety is doing the same thing while also making it different. Sound confusing? Let me explain…

My favorite way to explain and use repetition with variety is with a book. It’s as simple as: 

📚 read an engaging book

📚 engage in an extension activity related to the book

and then in the next session:

📚re-read the book 

📚engage in a different extension activity related to the book

Here’s another example: 

  • Read “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”
  • After reading, learners can share their favorite type of cookie through a predictable chart with the stem: “My favorite cookie is _____.”
  • Next session you re-read the book.
  • After re-reading, learners can review the chart and then graph the different types of cookies to see which one is most liked. 
  • Additional extension activities could be: 
    • Sequencing the story
    • Tasting cookies
    • Making cookies
    • Creating your own “if/then” scenarios to add to the book or write your own
    • So many more!

As you can see, you can repeat the cycle – using repetition with variety – as many times as you want. Through repeating the reading of the book you are helping build literacy confidence in the learners and I promise they aren’t bored reading the same book. In fact, as readers become more familiar with the text through the repeated readings they may start to join in on reading the story with you! 

Any questions about repetition with variety? Drop them in the comments on this post.

Until next time – happy reading!

~ Megan


Storybook Sessions: Garrett Morgan

Storybook Sessions: Garrett Morgan

Storybook Sessions: Garrett Morgan

In each Storybook Sessions post, I highlight a book that I have used, or plan to use in therapy as well as associated, extension activities that can be paired with the book to increase vocabulary comprehension, provide opportunities to express yourself verbally, written, creatively, etc., sensory exploration, fine motor practice, gross motor movements, etc. Some extension activities will focus on all of these components while others will focus more specifically on one area.

Garrett Morgan

Author: Megan Stewart

Illustrator: Symbols by Boardmaker 7

Do you ever have an idea for an activity to do, book to read, etc but can’t find exactly what you are looking for? Anyone else, or is it just me?

This happened to me while I was planning for my February sessions. I knew I wanted to highlight a famous black person from history to celebrate Black History Month with my students but while looking for a book to lead my activity/session, I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for. I will say that there are a TON of great kids books featuring and highlighting famous black people, however I waited too long to put these on hold or check out from my library, so I decided to create my own.

My Book Creation Process

I chose to highlight Garrett Morgan, who added the yellow light to the stoplight as we now know it, within my lesson. With a quick Google search to find a picture of him, and learn a little more about him and his inventions, I took that information, opened Boardmaker 7 software and got to work! Using the printable book template, I was able to easily add in pictures, symbols and text that told the story of who Garrett Morgan was, why we need to learn about him, what his invention was (Mr. Morgan did invent items other than the stoplight, (i.e., the gas mask), but I thought this invention was most appropriate to highlight for my PreK students), and how it has affected our world. Here’s a sneak peek of the book: 

Now What?

Now that I had the book, I needed to decide on the extension activities to continue our learning after we read the book. I chose activities that focused on color, shape and number recognition & labeling, spatial concepts, fine motor skills, bi-lateral (both sides) hand coordination, sorting, following directions, and gross motor skills. 

Creating A Personalized Stoplight

In the first activity, the students create their own stoplight.

First, I cut black construction paper into rectangles and drew 3 circles down the center with a white crayon. 

picture of black construction paper in a rectangle shape with 3 white circle outlines drawn down the middle of the paper and red, yellow and green circle stickers

Stoplight template and stickers

Second, I cut color coding stickers from Avery into strips of yellow, green and red. 

Each student was given a stoplight template and, after a model from an adult, placed all of the colored stickers onto their stoplight template. Hopefully the students placed the stickers in the right place based on color, but if not, that’s ok too – I am all about fostering independence and creativity and this is not a test!

black construction paper rectangle with 3 white circles drawn down the center with red stickers in the top circle, yellow stickers in the middle and green stickers at the bottom

Student Created Stoplght

black construction paper rectangle with 3 white circles drawn down the center with red stickers in the top circle, yellow stickers in the middle and green stickers at the bottom

Student Created Stoplight

Additional Skills Addressed While Creating the Stoplights

While the students were making their stoplights, we were able to focus in on the topics of: 

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Location words (prepositions)
  • Quantity (numbers, more, less)
Don’t forget all the Core Vocabulary!

And of course we used our core vocabulary communication boards to chat, modeling words, individually and in short phrases, such as: 

  • Put  
  • On
  • More
  • Where
  • Help
  • Want
  • Like
  • Not
  • Different
  • I
  • My
  • You
  • Finished
  • Here
  • That
  • Again
  • Next
  • See
  • All
The Fun Doesn’t Stop There!

After students finish their stoplight you can:

  • Play “Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light” to help get the wiggles out. You can use these visuals to further show students if they are to “GO”, “SLOW” or “STOP”. 
  • Play with cars and other vehicles, using your traffic light to tell the cars to “GO”, “SLOW down” or “STOP”
This Sounds Great! Where Can I Find These Resources?

If you are interested in doing these activities and/or reading the book about Garrett Morgan to your students I have linked them here for you to download: 

image of Garret Morgan book, sorting template and stoplight activity template

Garrett Morgan book and activities

image of Garret Morgan book, sorting template and stoplight activity template

Garrett Morgan Printable and activities

If you create stoplights in celebration of Garrett Morgan and his invention, I’d love to see it!







Post pictures in the comments below or tag me (@senseableliteracy) in posts online!

Until next time – Happy Reading!