For many, summer is a time to set out in a vehicle and explore opportunities. Even though the students attending Skyline Elementary Reading Camp don’t have a license to drive, they are “On the Road to Reading.”
The 45 students and three teachers have already covered a lot of miles in their reading discovering and with a week to go before the classes end the students are ready and eager to learn what is awaiting them around the next path in their trip according to Jeri Perkins, Title I Reading Recovery and Early Literacy teacher.
“The kids really seem to be enjoying their time this year and they have been getting in there and learning like crazy,” Perkins said. “We’ve been having a great time planning the activities for the students because with our theme there is so much that we can do.
“The whole purpose of the reading camps is to encourage them and teach them to read in whatever way they learn best,” she added. “We been using a lot of cross-curricular activities throughout the session that the kids have loved.”
Brandi LaCasse, who is working with the kindergarten students, helping them to develop their letter names and sounds, blending sounds and sight words, has been using road maps to help the students study regional authors.
It is also a way for the students to begin to learn develop basic map skills.
Rita Fry works with the first and second grade students.
“Rita is bringing the students a step up by working with their reading fluency and writing skills.” Perkins said. “She has been building on the idea of the regional authors and exposing the students to different writing genres.
“I have the third and fourth graders and we have been working on developing their reading comprehension skills and the skills of comparison and contrast and sequence and logic,” Perkins added. “We also look at drawing conclusions and how to stay on topic, especially in their writing.”
Perkins commented that even everyday acts, such as reading the paper and meals are learning opportunities for the students.
“I read the Democrat to my students every day and they really like to hear the police reports,” she said with a laugh. “One day there was a report of a man who broke into a house and I said, ‘It sounds like a mystery story to me,’”
“I started to tell them a made up story about what I had read and a little one said, “I went downstairs just in time to see a shadow commit a crime,’” Perkins added. “It was completely different from the way I was thinking and we took a different direction but we sat down and wrote a poem together from the police report I read to them.”
Perkins commented that some of the students from the high school who volunteer to help at reading camp wrote the poem on a poster board and illustrated it for the class.
“We read the poem out loud to the students and on the last day we will let her take the poster home,” Perkins said. “WE do that anytime a student writes a poem and it’s like gold to them when they see their work illustrated like that.
“You really couldn’t give them a better prize or reward,” she added. “They are so proud to hear and see their work be shared with others.”
Breakfast and lunch are also learning opportunities on the reading road Perkins said.
“I can’t thank Sue Foster and her staff at the Open Door Summer Lunch Program enough,” Perkins said. “They provide two meals for the students each day and they are good nutritious meals that the kids want to eat.
“The introduce new foods to the kids, even things as simple as a fresh peach a lot of the students have never had before,” she added. “One of the students asked if it was okay to eat because it had fur on it so we talked about where peaches are grown and about different kinds of fruits and vegetables.”
On the final day of reading Camp, the students are given a meal that has become a tradition for the last seven years.
“One of my former students, Joe Stewart, of Pizza Hut provides a Pizza Party on the last day for the students.” Perkins said. “It’s not just about the pizza though, he takes the time to talk to them and tell the how important reading and writing are in his job and that they need to develop those skills no matter what their line of work is.
Other visitors have encouraged the students to develop a love of reading and writing as well.
“During the first week we had a race car driver come to the school with one of his cars and last week was farm equipment week when we had a John Deere tractor at the school,”
“We have some first responders from the police department who will be here next week and we are working on some other surprises as well,” Perkins added. “The students don’t know when the vehicles are coming so they are always trying to figure out what may be next.”
Last week even Perkins was surprised when one of the students who helped her with reading camp, Tyler Shepherd came back for a visit.
Shepherd, spent last year teaching in Taiwan came back to encourage the students about the importance of their education and the path it may take them.
“Reading Camp really is a special thing,” Perkins said. “The bus doesn’t pick these kids up, their parents have to provide the transportation but the kids want to come.
“There is a magic to it and I think both the little ones, and the oldest student and adults how come back and help all feel it,” she added. “That’s why they come back year after year to be a part of this.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484