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Sandy Journal

School literacy activities propel students into reading this summer

Jul 07, 2023 09:03AM ● By Julie Slama

During Midvale Elementary’s literacy night, kindergarten teacher Olivia Warren helped students fold fans symbolic of those used in Spanish flamenco dancing. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

This summer, kids may be sitting under a tree reading a good book, thanks to several elementary schools holding literacy events before the end of the school year.

This spring, Sandy, Midvale and Silver Mesa elementaries were amongst the schools that held literacy events.

Sandy Elementary

Michelle Seguin’s two boys—first-grader Calvin, who enjoys Mo Willems’ books, and fourth-grader Jamison, who likes to read about World War II—were anxious to check out the books at Sandy Elementary’s literacy event.

“The kids are huge readers,” she said. “That’s important because reading opens doors to all things; you can’t really learn anything without reading first.”

Sandy Community Schools Facilitator Isa Connelly agrees.

“Reading is fun and amazing,” she said. “We’re helping build our students’ home reading libraries so they can stop the ‘summer slide’ or forget things that they’ve learned. Our focus is to make our students scholars so we’re wanting them to have books to read all summer.”

During the event that stretched from before school into the evening, students in second and third grade received donated books. All students could learn how to check out e-books on devices as well and look at the book fair where families could buy one book and get another free. 

“We made it fun with Popsicles and different resources, literacy games, a reading nook with Jordan PLT (Peer Leadership Team) and after-school reading with Alta PLT,” Connelly said adding that the school will have free books for students available during summer lunch times.

School PTA President Bree Dietz said there was a lot of excitement for reading generated from their literacy event. 

Before school, her own daughters wanted to take off their shoes and curl up in the reading nook with books. First-grader Lynnley just finished her first chapter book, “Love Puppy,” and her second-grader, Everley, is into the Magic Tree House series.

Mallory Boggs, who is the school’s PTA president-elect, helped organize the event.

“We decided to make it an event to bring the community together at the school to support literacy and learning,” she said, adding that her boys, Quinton and Zeke, are into Lego, Minecraft and Harry Potter books and “I’m sure they’re both excited about Popsicles.”

Silver Mesa Elementary

Since 2017, black robes, cauldrons and wands have appeared in the spring at Silver Mesa to capstone the monthlong Harry Potter-themed reading activities. During the month, students earned points through literacy activities for their houses, named after those in the Harry Potter book series.

Parent Tracy Madsen brought her kindergartner Jack, who loved following Silver Mesa’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry map to explore adventures from journalism with Rita Skeeter to the wizards’ duel, as well as third-grader Eleanor, who was a fan of learning about potions since “it’s like mixing up ingredients like cooking,” and fifth-grader Hadley, who has attended every year it has happened while enrolled at the school.

“It’s a really fun tradition and they just they love it,” Madsen said. “It’s magical; they love Honeydukes (wizard candy) and the magical creatures.”

In the potions class, Professor Severus Snape (aka parent volunteer Ryan Shaw) was teaching the students how to make slime.

“In our world, there’s so much emphasis on STEM that sometimes reading gets a backseat,” he said. “But they’re intertwined, they need to read to learn more about science. So that’s what we’re doing here. They’re doing a science experiment, but they need to be able to read the directions to do the potion.”

Shaw said that students aren’t just excited to do all the magical activities, but also to read more.  His son was reading the entire Harry Potter series to earn points for his house.

“He’s just obsessed with earning points for his house that all he wants to do is read—and that’s definitely a good thing,” he said.

Fourth-grader Ryker Remy, who was selected as a Gryffindor, said he picked an owl as the creature he thought was most powerful in What’s Your Patronus? session.

“It feels like it can fly and help you out of dangerous situations,” he said.

His mother, Becca, said she liked the activities as it gets him “pumped to read more.”

“It’s magical how this comes to life every year; the words on the page just transform into reality,” she said.

Whitney Crocket, mother of preschooler Archie, first-grader McCoy, third-grader Lincoln and seventh-grader Zane, agreed.

“We never miss it,” she said as they readied to go to Spanish karaoke room. “They’re excited; they love the Harry Potter theme, and the activities they do here all tie into literacy. It’s well done.”

Her third-grade son, Lincoln, was the top reader in the Slytherin house.

“I love everything here,” he said. “I love reading.” λ