Children cozy in pajamas warm up to reading program

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Primary school teachers Kris Shreffler, seated, and So Marvich wore pajamas to school during a First Steps to Learning program. Youngsters from the community joined them for activities related to embracing reading before entering kindergarten.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District First Steps to Learning Committee hosted its first program of the school year on Dec. 6 and 8. First Steps to Learning is a district-sponsored program for families with children from birth to school entry. The goal of the literacy-based program is to help parents to help their children with language development and early reading skills so that they enter school ready to learn to read.

The theme for the evenings was “Warm up with a Good Book”, and all of the activities were focused on the importance of reading aloud and how to make that a more meaningful experience. One of the most popular times for reading aloud to children is bedtime, so families were invited to come to the primary school in their pajamas, where they were greeted by the First Steps Committee all wearing their PJs.

After a brief introduction in the cafeteria, the crowd was divided into smaller groups and sent to several classrooms for the activities. Teachers modeled a read aloud of “The Mitten” by Jan Brett, involving the children in the story using pictures of the characters. They led the families in songs and poems related to the winter theme of the book. A retelling and sequencing activity of the story was demonstrated and families were given a copy of “The Mitten” and a take-home resource packet so that they could do the same activity at home. Parents also received a copy of a parent resource, “Talking Toddlers: Language Development Through Reading”.

For each child who attended the program, parents could complete an informational form so that a personalized book could be prepared for the child to receive at the First Steps to Learning program in the spring. These books will feature a story that includes the child’s name and the names of other important people in his/her life. The books are provided through the sponsorship of local businesses and organizations.

This is the 13th year the district has offered First Steps to Learning programs. The district provides the materials, but teachers volunteer their time to plan and conduct the programs. Members of the committee are: Kirsten Brewer, Amy Daly, Ronda Hoover, So Marvich, Jen Rife, Alicia Runshaw, Deb Shank, Kris Shreffler, Amy Wilson and Molly Moran. Lori Clopper provides all of the clerical assistance for the program.