The day before fall break is always a special day at our school. It is our annual Storybook Celebration. Organizing this day takes a tremendous amount of work, but the students have such a great day. Students and teachers are encouraged to dress as any storybook character.
We spent about 2 weeks ahead of the event advertising various costume ideas on our morning broadcast. I wanted to encourage students to think about how they could use things they already had around their house or things they could make in order to create an awesome costume. Some of my BTV crew chose books and shared some simple ideas for creating an awesome costume. An example was Max from Max the Brave where you could just dress in black and tie a red cape, blanket, sheet, or towel around your neck.
Students poured into the library for the past 2 weeks to ask for assistance finding a book for the parade and costume ideas. We had students coming in right up until the parade actually started, which was definitely a little crazy without much help.
Also ahead of the event, I sent out a Google spreadsheet to all of our resource and specials teachers to offer special opportunities during the day for classes to have literature-focused activities and a chance for teachers to have a planning time. Resource and specials teachers blacked out times that they weren’t available and teachers signed up for the rest.
My volunteer coordinator, Courtney Tobin, created a Signup Genius to recruit 2 guest readers for every classroom to kickoff the day. This was sent out to grade level parent representatives who encouraged people to sign up. I also shared the link with my own list of past guest readers as well as CCSD board members and district leaders. I also published it on our library Facebook page. We didn’t quite reach our goal of 2 readers per class, but every class had someone to share a great story with them at the start of the day. These readers gathered in the library, chose from a selection of books, took a photo, and were off to classes to read.
After guest readers, we gathered in the cafeteria for an assembly. We broadcast students onto the big screen as they entered using Google Hangouts.
Evan Bush from the Athens Clarke County Public Library came and told several interactive fall stories to almost 600 students. I loved how he took the energy of the crowd and got them all snapping, clapping, and sharing parts of the stories. It kept them focused. I reached out to Evan about 2 weeks before our event, and he graciously agreed to come. I love that he gave our students a great storytelling experience and also one more connection to the public library and what it can offer.
After Evan, each class stood up twirled around to show off costumes, and sat facing the back of the cafeteria. This prepared us to go out on our actual parade as well as gave students a chance to show one another their costumes.
It was during this time that I found out all my preparation for the parade route suddenly had to be changed. I was so organized this year and provided maps of the parade route to families and community ahead of time. However, Georgia Power had to do some work and closed part of the sidewalk on our route. I had to make a last minute change, but it all worked out.
We took off into the community shouting “Read More Books!” and showing off our costumes. It was fun to see community members, families, UGA students, construction workers, and more cheering us on along the way. Our 1st-5th grade took a longer route and our Prek/K took a shorter route around the school.
Our 5th graders have a tradition of stopping along the parade route for a special treat, and for the past few years we have stopped at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education for hot chocolate. Mimi, our family engagement specialist, organizes this piece for us by having the cafeteria prep the hot chocolate and taking the hot chocolate to setup. Students have some time to just hangout, talk, and enjoy their treats before heading back to school.
Finally, back at school we go to our special classes as well as do more literature activities in class. In the library, we focused on pirate stories since I was dressed as Captain Hook. I also used the great pirate video from All the Wonders.
Students moved to tables and colored a pirate sheet or designed their own pirate using Chromville augmented reality.
Somehow in all the craziness, we also organized a big book giveaway. In the back corner of the library, there were tables of books that had been donated or weeded out of various collections and needed a good home. Courtney Tobin and other volunteers helped get the books put out, and teachers brought classes or small groups of students to pick out new books. It was fun to glance over and see so many students excited to add books to their home libraries. We will keep these tables going next week since there are still books left.
It seems that each year something new comes along for storybook celebration that makes it a little more special. This year I loved seeing so many creative costumes: Little Elliot, the Bird Woman from Circus Mirandus, Minecraft creepers, Martin Luther King, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and more.
I loved seeing our reflection in the glass of the UGA coliseum.
I also loved that our public library was involved in the day and I want to think even more about how community is represented on this day.
Until next year…