What do recycling, Play-Doh, and reading have in common? Find out!

Earlier this year, in conjunction with the launch of the statewide Read to be Ready Campaign, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation gave a $1 million gift to the department to award for summer reading programs over the next three years. This spring, the department received over two hundred proposals and selected 12 summer programs from across the state to receive funding. In this series, you will learn about the work being done by the grant recipients to help rising first, second, and third grade students develop a love for reading over the summer months.

By Delaney Brown, Communications Intern

AGiles3t Pulaski Elementary School, 27 rising first, second, and third grade students are having a blast while mastering important literacy skills at the Read to be Ready camp. Each week has a different STEM focus, and this week the theme centers on helping the community. In one classroom, students participated in an interactive read-aloud with the book 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh. The students were eager to share stories of how they have helped the world in their own way and discussed actions they can take to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” in their homes. Their teacher helped them draw connections to resources in the community by describing the location of the local recycling facility. She also seized opportunities to make cross-curricular connections, like explaining the production of oxygen by plants and telling the students about the origin of paper.  After reading the book, the students took a nature walk to see some of the concepts they read about in action.

Later in the day, students had fun drawing their vocabulary words in shaving cream and spelling sight words with Play-Doh. They sat on rugs and settled into bean bags in the school library’s “reading nook” to take advantage of all the new books provided by the Read to be Ready grant. The rising first grade students spent time reading “knock-knock” jokes from their new books to anyone who would listen; and, to them, each joke was impossibly hilarious. They laughed together and had opportunities to help their classmates if they couldn’t sound out the answer to “Who’s there?”

Giles1Through the Read to be Ready summer camp at Pulaski Elementary, activities that seem silly and fun to the students are reinforcing the literacy skills they are learning. The teachers there are helping instill a lifelong love for reading in their students. One teacher reported, “I’m enjoying seeing these kids’ enthusiasm. They love coming, and some of these kids are ones that don’t always love coming to school.” At the end of the day, after one more period of free time with their friends and their new books, the students packed up to go home. “Can we come back tomorrow?” one student asked, just to make sure that the fun wasn’t really over. To that, her teacher responded, “Of course!”