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Storybook Characters Come To Life At Silver Mesa Literacy Night

May 05, 2016 02:27PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com

Sandy - Walking through the classrooms at Silver Mesa, students may have bumped into Mary Poppins, Billy Goat Gruff, Willy Wonka or even Santa Claus. 

Severeal teachers and community volunteers dressed up in characters from beloved stories March 24 as part of Silver Mesa’s annual literacy night. About 200 students and their families took part of the evening activities that included 16 stories that were read about every 15 minutes, American Sign Language storyteller Ann Fife signing “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and award-winning illustrator Sam Ricks sharing how he illustrates books.

“It turned out to be a really fun evening at the school,” said Mary Ann Curtis, who was the Parent-Teacher Association literacy night coordinator. “Literacy is more than reading. It can capture their imaginations and enlarge their worlds and we wanted to have them visualize it, use their senses, to enlarge their world.”

Curtis said the activities were designed so they would listen, read, tell and write stories.

“Literacy isn’t just reading, but it’s understanding, telling and relating the stories,” she said.

Some of the activities that evening included a note and story-writing station, a puppet craft, a stage where students could tell their own stories, a walk and reading storybook maze, a book exchange and a chance to make an eye patch and listen to a pirate story sponsored by the Salt Lake County Library system that tied into the school theme of a treasure hunt. 

A treasure map created by parent Jacquelyn Wallenberg directed students throughout the school’s activities.

Students and their families were encouraged to read “Treasure Island” together and log their monthly reading time.

“Many students and families said reading together was one of their favorite activities. It was a month-long reading challenge. Those students who completed the challenge got $5 to spend at the book fair. There were books for other students. We were brainstorming themes and wanted one that was flexible and fun when we came up with this and thought it would be fun to show the movie as well,” Curtis said.

Curtis said that to follow-up reading “Treasure Island” together, the Muppet version of the movie was shown March 25 for families to enjoy.

Older children appreciated seeing adults dressed up as characters, such as a pirate, Cinderella, Dr. Seuss and Pocahontas.

“They thought it was really fun to see their teachers and the librarian all dressed up. The readers could pick their own stories and dress up to match them. Some kids dressed up as well; we mostly had princesses, superheroes and pirates,” she said.

A poster, created by parent Lynne Burns, helped attract community members’ attention to the school event. Parent-Teacher Association President Stephanie Pursglove invited Fife and Ricks.

“Ann Fife, the ASL storytelling, was so animated telling her story. The kids just stared with their mouths wide open as she acted out the expression and physically climbed the beanstock with lots of effort. It wasn’t read, just signed, but the students followed along and could understand and became more aware to others who sign,” she said.

She said Ricks, who illustrated the “Eerie Elementary” series, shared students about his illustration methods. He received an award for his illustration of “Don’t Throw It To Mo.”

When students participated in five different activities during literacy night, they could choose a prize from the treasure chest, Curtis said. The prizes were coupon donations from Papa Murphy’s and Jamba Juice.

“We had a good turn-out and because we spread out the activities, it wasn’t too crowded. The readings were often enough it was intimate and fun. We’re already brainstorming themes for next year,” Curtis said.

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