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Literacy night filled with magical creatures, divination and activities

May 07, 2018 12:23PM ● Published by Julie Slama

Learning about magical creatures, with help from Scales and Tails, delighted Silver Mesa students during their Harry Potter-themed literacy night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Jaren Brooks came to Silver Mesa Elementary School with his daughters — second-grader Alta, first-grader Mila, and 4-year-old Maisy — for the school’s annual literacy night.

But his girls’ elementary had transformed into a school of witchcraft and wizardry as a way to inspire the more than 600 students and families who came to engage in reading activities.

“We thought this would really be fun,” said Brooks, who had recently moved to Utah. “We’ve liked the sorting hat, the magical creatures and are now trying to figure out the fortune tellers. It’s a fun way to bring stories to life and to engage in activities that promote reading at school.”

Following Silver Mesa’s PTA Harry Potter theme for the year, students participated in several activities that tied into the books such as visiting Ollivander’s fine wand shop where they could select from 450 homemade wands created from pencils or learn about magical words from local author and actor Gale Sears.

In the care of magical creatures, students learned from Scales and Tales that lizards, snakes and spiders are part of witchcraft and wizardry, while in charms class, students could test their pronunciation and spell-casting skills to try to levitate objects. Students also could have their handwriting deciphered to learn their fortunes.

Families, like those of Eloise Johnson, could also browse the book fair. 

“I’m here with my grandkids and I love that reading opens their minds up to everything,” she said about fourth-grader Elliot Hodson and first-graders Libby and Oliver Hodson.

Literacy also included learning about reading music, said instructional assistant Patty Smith, who coordinated the session featuring the performance of some Hillcrest High student musicians.

“Kids here have the opportunity to learn violin, but they don’t learn about the instruments in high school band,” she said. “It’s a part of literacy to read music, learn Italian phrases and become fluent in a different form of language. It was also an eye-opening experience for some kids to learn from older kids.” 

Mary Ann Curtis, who coordinated the event with Alecia Falk and Liesel Gonzales, said the event wasn’t a single night, but part of the weeks leading up to it.

“We love to inspire and build the excitement for our students to read,” she said.

Earlier the students were divided into four houses and received house points for completing literacy-related activities, such as reading a book before watching a movie or writing their own play, outside of their daily homework. They also earned points for reading, with some students reading two and three hours per day.

“They did about 400 percent of what we expected,” Curtis said.

Teams also got points for answering daily trivia questions correctly as well as for the Quidditch tournament, coordinated by parent Jeni Larsen.

“We have so much fun playing Quidditch,” she said about the second year the school has hosted the tournament. “Unfortunately, we don’t have flying broomsticks so we have a modified version with soft dodgeballs as bludgers and quaffles and a bouncy ball as our snitch. It’s pretty chaotic. The players are running, diving, passing and scoring. They play pretty hard, but the best part is the cheering. The students turned into a bunch of screaming fans as they cheered on their friends.”

Earning the house trophy was a goal that excited all the students, Falk said.

“They were so excited and had so much fun,” she said. “Last year, we had the same theme and the students liked it so much, we repeated it. It just makes literacy night magical.”

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