March 2nd has traditionally been a day for celebrating literacy with Read Across America. In fact, it may be one of the biggest literacy celebrations in our country. Literacy is something to celebrate, and in this post, I’d like to share schoolwide celebration ideas you can use to spotlight literacy in your school.
Why Schoolwide Celebrations are Needed
Schoolwide celebrations are used as a way to involve your families. After all, we know the importance of family involvement in children’s academic programs. These events get families on your campus and get them involved in something positive. You’re not sharing bad news or giving them something to do. You’re often feeding them and entertaining them. These events make literacy “feel good”.
Many schoolwide celebrations highlight favorite books, authors, and work to build a culture of reading within the school building and more importantly, with families.
schoolwide celebrations we’ve hosted:
Family Favorites Books Wall
Jen from An Adventure in Literacy shared this great idea with me. Her school created a Featured Books Wall. Each family in her school was asked to share their favorite books in a book jacket decoration contest. The book jackets were displayed on a wall in a collage like fashion outside of their library for students to peruse as they went off to pick books for the week. It’s such an easy to implement idea, right?
Parade of Floats
Last year, as a culminating activity at the end of the Virginia Studies tourism unit, our fourth grade classes created “floats” out of tissue boxes, cardboard wheels and two pencils as the axles. It got me thinking that it’d be great to apply this idea for book projects too. Imagine a float for the book, Enemy Pie or Mercy Watson. The supplies are not hard to find, and I could see this being lots of fun to do as one of our schoolwide celebrations.
We’ve done other book projects in the past. I loved using trifold display projects for a unique “book fair”. Here are a few projects from that event.
Camp Read A Lot, my favorite of our schoolwide celebrations
In the fall, camping is loads of fun, but even if the weather isn’t just right, you can host a camping themed event with ease. Just bring in tents, sleeping bags, and pillows, make s’mores and hot cocoa, and have a few featured readers share favorite books by your fake camp fire. You might even sing a few campfire songs and come up with a make and take keepsake for your night. Each fall, we do this as our kick-off event. The whole family comes for a cookout dinner, storyteller, and great music. It works well in making the initial contacts with the family and setting the year off to a great start.
schoolwide celebrations of poetry: coffee House night
We can host a celebrate poetry and writing along with our favorite books. One idea I always wanted to try was a Coffee House Night where parents hear readings of children’s poems and other writing pieces. Teachers can display written projects in the hallways, and small groups can share reader’s theater or writings in their classroom too. Of course you can
Pajama Day or Night
For younger children, one very easy activity you might try is a pajama night. Kids come in their PJ’s and bring a sleeping bag to sit on as stories are shared. You might have popcorn as a snack or cookies and milk afterward. It’s simple, but so special too.
schoolwide celebrations and Classroom Celebrations
As a classroom teacher, you may be involved with planning a large schoolwide celebrations as part of a committee. However, there are ways you can involve your parents right in your classroom. Smaller, more intimate events may be most appealing to parents who do not like large group events. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
A Bad Case of Stripes
A Bad Case of Stripes is a great book for elementary especially at the beginning of the year. One activity that highlights literacy and accompanies the book well is to build striped hats as a reading incentive. During the week, students add a stripe to their hats with each book they read. By the end of the week, students look forward to seeing who has the tallest hat and all of the titles. These Abe Lincoln style hats are displayed in the hallway to show all of the books they’re enjoying.
The hats are easy to make. All you need is the hat base and strips of paper for the students to write the book titles on. Choose the colors you like best and the project is complete. If you’d like a comprehension activities to go with this book, I have this Boom Card deck that can be projected for class discussion.
Skype for Reading Buddies
Back in the day, many of us had penpals from other countries or from other states. I really enjoyed that and always looked forward to receiving the next letter from my friend from England. Well, enter the invention of Skype and then Zoom. Wow, who knew 20 years ago that we’d be able to see each other through the computer. Now, it is a huge help if you’re traveling internationally as you can avoid the expensive of calling too. However, it’s also a great way to pair two classrooms too.
My friend Julie, The Techie Teacher, paired her class with another via Skype. Her students each had a book buddy to read with. They dialed them up in the computer lab, and the students took turns reading the same book with each other. Imagine how fun that would be? You can also do this via Zoom with other students and with grandparents in another state. Imagine the possibilities
Therapy Dogs and Stuffed Animals
Do you have reluctant readers? Well, [this post] from my friend, Emily over at Curious Firsties reminded me of a project we did at a few years ago. We had a wonderful retiree who happened to have the most adorable dog (Koby). Well, Koby was a cuddle up lapdog who loved to be read to, and several of my students looked forward to spending time with him each week.
Sometimes live animals are not available or workable if you have a child with allergies. Instead, you could also bring in furry stuffed pets for reading time too, and one addition you might include is a slipper wall, a place where the children’s slippers are stored. Jillian Starr shared this last week on Facebook, and I love the idea. Nothing says cozy like a pair of slippers. Just hang your shoe rack up, and bingo…you have a slipper wall.
Book Bins for Building Stamina
A while back, Jen from An Adventure in Literacy also shared options for book bins, and I wanted to emphasize how wonderful these are for organizing your readers. Each child has his/her own book bin and keeps a variety of books in it. They can be the library books they’ve chosen, magazines, and/or books from the classroom library. The reason for the bins is to keep things portable.
One easy way to involve your families is to use these portable bins for reading time with a family friend. Kids can take their bin with them during this independent reading time or when work is complete to a cozy spot you’ve set up in the room or in the hallway. It’s a great motivator too to let the kids decorate their bins too. You might even set up a few extra cozy spots and rotate through for those coveted spaces. Kids love that privilege.
Book Conferences and Graffiti Walls
Do you conference with your students or have sharing time where they can recommend books to each other? If not, that has been shown to be an effective motivator. You can have your students create commercials or dress up as the main character. Parents would enjoy seeing these.
Another fun and easy way to highlight great books is with a graffiti wall. You can give kids index cards to decorate with the book’s information and have them staple it to your wall (like a collage), but you might also be surprised to learn that graffiti walls are a great tool for classroom review before a big test. Search graffiti wall on Pinterest for more uses. Here’s an example of what one might look like if kids share their favorite books.
Schoolwide Celebrations for Literacy Event Board
I’ve shared quite a few ways to celebrate literacy, but there are many other options linked on the Pinterest board I built. Parental involvement is so important to student achievement, and it is up to us to make our parents feel warm, welcome, and valued. Check out these options for your next schoolwide or classroom event.
Other Related Posts:
- Five Schoolwide Parental Involvement Activities that will Hook Them In
- Helping Your Readers Love Literacy
- The Research on Parent Involvement and Why It Matters
I am sure if you sit for even five minutes and think, you will probably come up with many more schoolwide celebrations or ideas for in your classroom. Remember though, it is the little things we do daily that make the difference with our students. Although it’s important to host schoolwide celebrations, the celebrations that are most important happen right in your classroom. If you have hosted events that have worked really well, be sure to share them in the comments. Together, we can make a difference each and every day.