We continued Read Across America Week this week by having our annual Storybook Parade and Celebration.
We started our day with 2 guest readers in every classroom. They read favorite books from home as well as books from our library collection. It’s always a great way to get kids excited about trying out some new stories in our library.
Next, we held an assembly in the cafeteria. This was our chance to come together as a school for a story and to see each other’s costumes.
Dressed as Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady, I read aloud Everybody’s Favorite Book by Mike Allegra. Since I was reading to 600 students, I wanted something that could be a bit interactive, and this book has some great moments for choral reading, laughs, knock knock jokes, and saying yes or no. I projected the book up on the screen so students could follow along as I read.
I kicked off our parade with our 5th graders as we marched down the sidewalks by our school, the UGA athletic fields, and Lumpkin Street. Students chanted “Read More Books” and added in some rhythm along the way too. We loved seeing families waving along the route as well as UGA students walking to class or cars driving down the road. It is a great way to make our school and reading visible in our community.
Our 5th grade stopped by the Dooley garden to have some lemonade and donuts while the rest of the parade passed by. Many group photos were taken based on themes of costumes.
Once we returned to school, grade levels held their own activities in their classrooms. As with any schoolwide event, it takes a village to pull this off. This tradition is one that students always look forward too and remember for years to come.
Each year, we hold a Storybook Parade to celebrate our favorite books. This is a long-standing tradition at our school. Students choose a favorite book, dress up as that character, and parade down the sidewalks near our school to advertise their books to the community.
Classroom teachers do a wonderful job of supporting students in making costumes if they are unable to do that at home, but this year, I thought our February makerspace theme could be about costumes so that students could get a jump start on preparing for the parade.
Ahead of makerspace, Gretchen Thomas had her UGA students practice making their own costume pieces based on book characters to get warmed up. I made an introduction video for February’s costume theme and a Google doc signup for teachers to signup students at 11, 11:30, and 12:00 on Tuesdays & Thursdays.
I also went through our makerspace and gathered possible materials that students might use for costumes: felt, fabric scraps, yarn, cardboard, plastic tablecloths, various glue, pom poms, beads, and more.
I pulled several costume and fashion books from our makerspace genre section of the library as well as a few possible examples of books that could become character costumes.
When students signed up, they were signing up for a 3-week session on costume making to meet on Tuesdays & Thursdays. If students finished early, they could take their name off the list to allow others to come, but if they needed all 3 weeks, they could come. Each week, a different group of UGA students came to support our makers in grades 1-5.
During week 1, I met with all students on the carpet to set the stage for our time together. We looked at past storybook parade photos to see the wide variety of costumes people had. I also held up some of the picture books I had pulled and we brainstormed together some possible costume pieces that could be made for each character as well as what we could use that might already be in our closets.
At our tables, I put paper and pencils for students to do some planning as well as all of our costume/fashion books for ideas. Our goal was for each student to have a costume idea before gathering materials from the material table. From past experience, we’ve seen students just grab everything they see because they like it rather than think about what they truly need. We wanted students to be conscious of our makerspace materials and not creating excess waste.
As students gathered their materials with help from our UGA students, they spread out in the library at tables to start working. It took a lot of energy from all adults in the room because every student was creating something completely different. However, it was amazing to look around and see the collaborative creativity between our young makers and our UGA helpers. Many hidden talents and problem solving skills began to emerge.
We watched as cardboard became hats, ladybug wings, ninja swords, and candy bars.
Plastic tablecloths became dresses, skirts, and shirts.
Scraps of fabric were tied together into ninja clothes.
Felt and construction paper became cheetah spots and Little Elliot polka dots.
Cardstock, construction paper, and pipe cleaners became masks.
We all learned how to be resourceful with the materials we had and all worked together to figure out how to be costume designers with limited experience.
With so many works-in-progress, our storage room is a bit of a mess. We have costume pieces drying and stored on every shelf, table, and corner. As students return each day, they locate their own items with assistance from adults and continue the process. Students are allowed to take their costume pieces home, but I’m encouraging them to keep them here at school until our parade on March 8th so that they don’t get lost.
This was our first try at a costume making makerspace. It could use some fine tuning. It’s always a challenge to have so many different projects going at once where every student needs different materials and skill sets to create. However, our extra hands from UGA helps this part a lot. I would love to have a better plan for getting students started and gathering the materials that they each need. Maybe each student needs a box or a tray where they could keep their items. Then these could be stacked on top of one another. I’m not sure, but I would love to debrief the experience with our students and the UGA students to get ideas for next year.
We can’t wait to see these costumes on parade very soon!
This year, I shook things up by moving our annual storybook parade and celebration to the week of Read Across America. Traditions are hard to change, but it’s fun to try something new every now and then to see what we can learn from it.
We begin our day with 2 guest readers in every classroom. These are organized by amazing parent volunteer, Kim Ness. I pull a variety of books for them to choose from or they are welcome to bring their own. Students escort the readers to classrooms. We love having these community readers in our school. Many are parents, athletes, and leaders in our community.
Next, we have our storybook assembly. I try to keep this brief but meaningful. Sometimes we have a storyteller, skit, or shared reading. This year, I was listening to Matthew Winner’s Children’s Book Podcast, and heard the authors of the book Festival of Colors talk about the Indian celebration of Holi.
I loved the themes of this celebration where hate goes out and love comes in. This year Holi was on the same day as our storybook celebration, so I knew it was the perfect fit for our assembly. Our ESOL teacher, Ms. Childs, helped me reach out to families in our school who celebrate Holi to see if they would be part of our celebration. Two families agreed to help.
One family read the book and shared examples of the powders used in Holi. Another family, including a Barrow student, spoke about how they celebrate Holi here in Athens and the many meanings behind the festival.
I loved that we were able to learn from families right here in our school and discover a festival that many of us don’t celebrate or know about.
Following this, we formed into a line and marched down the sidewalk, around the school, and around the UGA practice facilities chanting “Read more books” while we showed off our costumes and books. Our 5th graders enjoyed some lemonade in the Dooley Garden across the street.
Many teachers in the school including gifted, early intervention, and specials all offered literacy-focused sessions for teachers to sign up.
I can’t wait to hear feedback from students, teachers, and families about the new time of year for storybook celebration. We’ll use this feedback to make decisions about next year.
What remained the same was that it was a day filled with celebrating stories in their many forms. Hooray for books.
Traditions. We have many. The annual storybook parade is one that has been around for a long time. Each year we try a few new things, but the hear of the storybook parade is celebrating books by dressing as our favorite characters, carrying the book, and showing off our costume and book to the community.
Trying to document the day. (Photo Credit: Paul Lee)
The day begins with guest readers in every classroom. Janice Flory, our volunteer coordinator, sets up a Signup Genius to recruit 2 readers for each classroom. They gather in the library, select a book, take a group picture, and then get escorted to a classroom by a 5th grade BTV crew member.
I was really excited about the selection of books they had to choose from this year.
Next, the whole school gathered in the lunchroom for an assembly. Since October 27 was Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, I read aloud The Bear Ate Your Sandwich and recorded approximately 675 listeners to the story.
When we were a smaller school, we took time to walk across the stage and show off our costumes, but it is a challenge as we have grown. Now, we simply stand by row, do a little twirl, and then sit down facing the back of the cafeteria. The costumes this year were amazing. I really pushed for students to think about characters they connected with and dress as that character.
At this point, we head out on our parade. Our route this year was the entire block of our school.
I loved seeing the designs that students came up with in both experiences. It was a fast-paced session that pushed students to be creative, work together, problem solve, and innovate. I hope that many will continue to explore littlebits beyond this fast session.
As always, this day was tons of fun but exhausting. It takes the whole community to make the event successful. Thank you to every student, teacher, family member, and community member who helped us make this day a success.
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.
Our annual storybook celebration was another huge success. I often get questions about how our storybook celebration is organized and what we do throughout the day.
Planning for this day begins in early October. It takes multiple steps and multiple people for this day to be successful.
Storybook celebration begins with guest readers in every classroom. To organize readers, we create a Signup Genius to easily share the signup as well as send out updates and reminders to those who have signed up. My volunteer coordinator, Courtney Tobin, from PTA helped with this. She created the signup and she and I began sharing it. She contacted parent representatives at each grade level to also send out the link to families.
On the morning of storybook celebration, guest readers arrive in the library between 7:30-7:50. They sign in at the counter and select a book from 2 tables that are organized by books for PreK-2 and 3-5. All of these books are pulled by me ahead of time. Some readers bring their own book.
While readers wait to go to classes, they mingle, pre-read their books, and find a place to sit in the chairs that are ready for a group photo.
At 7:55, we all gather and I give a quick welcome.
Then we take a group photo.
My morning BTV crew escorts readers to classrooms by grade level, so I have a sheet with all of the readers and their assigned classes that I give to each crew member.
Once all readers make it to their rooms, I race around the school to take pictures of as many readers as I can. There are about 2 readers for every classroom. They read and talk with the kids about their book. Some even leave the book in the room so that kids can keep enjoying it during the day, but most bring the book back to the library.
At 9:00, we gather in the cafeteria for the assembly. This year, we tried some new things in the assembly, which required some organization in advance. We had an assembly guest reader. Our family engagement specialist helped a lot with the assembly. She contacted and organized Dan Coenen, a UGA professor and community member. He read The Book with No Pictures and had the kids laughing and engaged.
We also had a skit performed by teachers. It was written by the teachers and reviewed many of the Daily 5 strategies that kids use in class. One again, Mimi Elliott-Gower, our family engagement specialist, got this organized along with Carrie Yawn, 2nd grade teacher.
In the past, all students have walked across the stage to show off their costume. This has been very time consuming, so this year we tried something new. Each row of students stood, twirled, and sat down facing the back of the cafeteria. We did this until every student was facing the back.
Then we were ready for a parade! The parade is outside on the sidewalks of our community. I send out the parade route to families in my newsletter and via facebook. Our principal emails UGA and lets them know so that they can come out of their buildngs and wave.
Taking almost 600 kids on a walk is a big task, and safety is one our biggest concerns. I drive around to make sure that the route we plan to take is all clear before we decide the way to go. Our family engagement specialist contacts the police and they help us cross streets and watch for unsafe drivers to pull over. We talk to the kids about staying away from the road while they are on the sidewalk and we want them to walk in a single line.
I lead the parade so that we make the right turns, but I communicate the route to all of the teachers as well so that they know where we are going.
The kids chant “Read more books!” as we go down the sidewalks and we usually get lots of waves and honks as we walk.
Our 5th graders break off of the parade route and stop at the GA Center for hot chocolate while the rest of the parade returns to Barrow. Once again, several people help with buying, prepping, and pouring the hot chocolate. This is a special treat for our 5th graders’ final storybook parade.