In the early part of each year, we host a literacy night. This collaboration involves working with the school librarian and reading specialist along with other interested professionals from our school district.
This winter we held a family shark party on February 4, 2014. This theme idea was shared at a Grassroots meeting by Kelly Kneisler at the Weyauwega Public Library. This is a lesson to pay attention at those idea swaps--you never know what will come in handy!
Here were some of the components:
- A friend and I acted out the The three little fish and the big bad shark by Ken Geist. We used puppets and a puppet stage.
- We showed this YouTube video on the library Smartboard :
- Then I read aloud the book Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton & Tom Lichtenheld.
- While having the Smartboard on we showed some of the kids’ digital stories that were on the school website. (The school librarian had alerted me to this possibility!)
- Crafts included shark “headgear” and sharks made from blue balloons and added features. Also, we made shark masks. Http://masketeers.com/ was my source for these. I just ran off the pattern in color. Kids cut them out and stapled them to headbands.
- For snack we had cookies that participants could paint with red frosting that looked like blood!
- At the end of the evening there was a raffle for 5 free books and the shark puppet that was used in the play. The raffle slips were either shark or train die cuts.
- There were reading stations set up with fiction and non-fiction books (about sharks) for families to read together.
We took pictures of participants sticking their head through a shark cutout. The evening was reinforced when those pictures were posted both at the school and in our library. Because of the large numbers (and our limited space) we rotated three groups through stations. We had extra staff working to handle new library card applications and additional checking out.
Publicity for the event involved a few signs in the library. Primarily, the schools handled this through their channels. That was immensely helpful and effective.
These literacy nights are aimed at elementary school children. What is neat is that younger siblings are usually in tow. Everyone has a great time in the name of reading. I love that a good, happy, creative time is associated with our wonderful library!
I encourage readers to get to know your school staff and see if they would like to work together on something similar. This has become a part of the pattern of the school year. Folks look forward to see when the night will be and what the theme is.
It is really cool for folks to see that the school district and their public library are concerned about the reading skills of their children. I am also pleased that at least one administrator makes appoint of attending this night. What a positive message of support that action sends!
Elizabeth M. Timmins, Library Director & Programmer
Muehl Public Library, Seymour, WI
Images provided by the author