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.
Every year, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with guest readers reading his words in every classroom in our school. This year, we had enough readers to send 2 guests to every class. Many brought their own books, but we also had a big collection to choose from in the library.
We thank so many members of our Barrow and local community for coming into our school to share stories with kids. It’s important to see people sharing the power of words at every grade level. Days like these remind us that you are never too old to enjoy a great picture book, have fun with words, and laugh out loud with friends when you get all tongue-tied.
Some of our readers this year came from UGA’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. This was the fraternity that Dr. Seuss was a member of at Dartmouth.
In addition to being readers, the fraternity brothers brought us some Elephant and Piggie books to add to our collection. Each copy they donated was a Geisel Honor Book. What a great way to honor Seuss and support literacy. Thank you!
In addition to readers and having lots of Seuss books available to kids, I unboxed our latest book order from Bound to Stay Bound. It was packed with graphic novels and many other fantastic books. It didn’t take long for our ravenous readers to check out pretty much every graphic novel I ordered. Some kids even returned a 2nd time to check out more. Happy Read Across America!
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.
March 2nd is always a special day for our school. We have a long tradition of having guest readers for all classrooms in honor of Read Across America and the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The goal is to have two readers for every classroom. This allows more connections to the community, more books to be heard, and also more people in case we have people who are unable to come.
Courtney Tobin is a parent volunteer at our school who organizes my library volunteers. She also creates a Signup Genius for events like this one. She puts 2 slots for every class, and we start sending it out asking for readers. The link is put in my library newsletter, library facebook page, and grade level parent representatives send it out to lists of parents. I invite district leadership including our superintendent, public relations, and board of education members.
As the event nears, we always have empty spaces still left, so we repeat sending out the link and send it to additional places like the UGA Athletic Association. Usually be the day of the event, the list is full and we have people who show up who didn’t even get to sign up.
It takes a whole community to pull off 2 readers in every class.
We gather in the library, and readers check in with Kim Ness, another wonderful parent volunteer. She does this while I’m helping with morning broadcast. Readers select a Seuss book from our library collection and my personal collection and socialize and practice reading. We gather for a group picture and a huge thank you for taking time to celebrate reading with our students.
It’s always fun to race around the school to try to catch a glimpse of the smiling faces in every class and the community readers having such a great time sharing stories.
For the remainder of the day, we continue our Skype connections with other schools around the country. This is a continuation of our World Read Aloud Skypes.
Today, we connected with:
Shannon Hyman in Glen Allen, VA and her 3rd grade students to read Be a Friend and Mother Bruce. Their teacher was a big UGA fan!
Lisa Lindeman in Babylon, NY and her 5th grade students to read Snappsy the Alligator
Terry Freyou in Coppell, TX and her 5th grade students to read Be a Friend
Sarah Staudt in Mason City, IA to read Mother Bruce
Donna MacDonald in South Burlington, VT and her 1st grade to read Snappsy the Alligator
Dana Susko in Santa Barbara, CA and her Prek to read The Day the Crayons Came Home
Carol Scrimgeour in Essex, VT and her Kindergarten to read Snappsy the Alligator
It is always a magical day connecting on Skype because the kids share a story across the miles and make connections with another school. I love pulling up a map and talking about how technology not only lets us see and talk to people in other places, but it helps us literally connect the dots between our locations and know in real-time how long it would take us to get there. We’ve talked about tolls, traffic accidents, construction zones, megabus, and alternative routes along with our celebration of great stories.
We’ve also encountered technical difficulties. One school had to cancel due to the internet being out in their school, but it was a life lesson that when something doesn’t work, you just carry on. When we connected with Lisa Lindeman, we could not get Skype to connect us. We tried multiple times but communicated in the chat. We finally decided to give Google Hangouts a try. She had never used it, but she was willing to try. It worked like a charm, but more importantly it showed our students and teachers in both states that we weren’t afraid to fail, back up, and try something else. Life isn’t smooth, and things don’t always work out, but we can’t just give up easily when something is frustrating or hard.
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.
Today was the beginning of a very exciting week in the Barrow Media Center. Each year on March 2nd, we schedule guest readers for every classroom in the school. These readers select favorite Dr. Seuss books to share with our students. It is amazing to see our community come together for this event. Each time we celebrate, there are new faces that join our readers.
Courtney Tobin helped me this year to organize readers. She created a Signup Genius and parent leaders in each grade level began sharing the signup. It was also shared with our regular library volunteers and on our library and PTA Facebook pages. By this morning, we had almost 2 readers for every classroom.
Readers gathered in the library, chose their books, and socialized before we took a group picture.
Then, students escorted them to their classrooms to read. I quickly ran around to as many classrooms as I could snapping pictures. It was so special to see students circled up on the floor listening to the words of Seuss spoken into the air. There were also special memories shared as readers brought in their own copies of books that they had read to their children or had even owned as a child. My wife, Denise Plemmons, shared a copy of Green Eggs and Ham with my daughter’s PreK class and she was able to show them where she had written her name in the book when she was a child.