Reading Camp Finale!

     Last I reported, my oldest squirt and I along with our buddies completed week 2 of Reading Camp.  The hub escorted our daughter to week 3, and we played hooky for week 4.  Thus, the final week, class number 5, met today.  Although sitting next to our child was preferred, I was banished by my daughter to the seat behind her for which I was happy to oblige considering I felt she was asserting her independence (a change from the usual Momma’s girl).  Class began with the optional sharing of homework (under Miss Rebecca’s direction) before the class (aaaah, the days when it was exciting to stand in front like the teacher) followed by thunderous applause after each student’s presentation.

     Enthusiastic cheers, “I have this book at home!  I’ve read this book!” rang out once Miss Rebecca passed out the day’s reading, Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat.  Again, the young students were given autonomy over their learning by handling the book themselves and being in charge of the turning of its pages.  My daughter graciously gave me the thumbs up after I requested (yet again) the seat next to her in order to follow along.  Yes!
    After the oral reading, Miss Rebecca reviewed the story by selecting a page from Cat in the Hat, reading orally to the students again, yet this time omitting some key words much like the cloze technique.  The four and five-year-olds then shouted the missing vocabulary word at Miss Rebecca’s pause.   Thus, they “knew” the story nearly verbatim without literally being able to read using their memories and the pictures as guidance.  The pride at knowing the correct word emanated from their faces, a joy to see.
    The final activity of the day consisted of a spelling game where the teacher handed each student two letters.  She then wrote a word on the board.  If a student had one of the letters in the word, he/she was to move to the front of the class and place himself/herself in the correct letter order in relation to the other students at the front of the room.  Thus, not only were students asked to identify the words on the board, but also recognize which letters comprised that word and in what order those letters needed to be placed in order to mimic the word on the board.  Thrilled at the recognition of his/her letter in a word on the board, a student would hurry to the front of the room in order to participate in the spelling.
     Thus, Reading Camp came to a close.  Although a storybook as a token of “graduation” would have seemed appropriate (considering the tuition amount), we walked away without even a certificate symbolizing all of our intended hard work.  What matters, though, was the memorable experience facilitated by a young, motivated teacher determined to make a difference in the lives of her students.

Reading Camp Rocks- Week 2

     My oldest squirt and her buddy attended Week 2 of Reading Camp offered through Saint Louis University.  We barely were able to finish the homework in time for class due to the fact my squirt was attending camp during the evenings and sleeping late throughout the mornings, and, to be honest, she felt it was “boring,” a new term she had learned and embraced wholeheartedly from some of the older girls at camp.  Anywho- workbook pages were completed, CDs were listened to, and a dramatization of a picture book completed.  Mistakenly, I had her watch with me a video intended for parents, to be fair, which was “boring.”  I loaded her into the van with her final words, “I am never going to Reading Camp again,” escaping the sliding door.  While buckling my seat belt, I assured her that one week was already down with only four more to go.  Really only three more to attend if she considered “today” as a completed Reading Camp day.  Besides, Miss Rebecca (the young, energetic teacher) would miss her . . . .
     Arriving at the high school and following last week’s route through the building, we discovered that our class was to meet in another room due to ACT testing being offered concurrently.  Thus, with both squirts leading the way by following the arrows, we made our way to the new classroom.  We decided potty breaks were needed, so all four of us hustled down towards the bathrooms so as not to miss the beginning of class.  Again, my inner immaturity (since being in a high school setting) eventually found its way out when I wet a paper towel and threw it into my friend’s stall (hey- at least I didn’t throw it up on the ceiling).  Stifling giggles, I listened closely for her reaction, but heard nothing.  When she opened her door and exited her bathroom cubby,  a mere, “Did you do that?”  She had figured her son had performed the act in question.  I suppose being out of high school for twenty plus years along with motherhood does and should mellow or mature most of us (or at least make us better examples for the youth of today . . . as my daughter watched my actions with wide-eyed amazement).
     Class started promptly on time, and questions were asked of the 4 and 5 year-old students.  Excited hands were raised, and before we knew it, it was story time with Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab.

Each student was given a copy to “read along” with the teacher.  After the reading, Miss Rebecca discussed the story with the students and then wrote a short story of her own on the board and drew a house to her liking- red with green stripes.  Students then were asked to narrate his/her original story to his/her parent with the parent writing the story verbatim- taking no grammatical liberties.

  Rhyming and phonetic work ensued before class ended with a reading of Audrey Wood’s big book,  King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, an entertaining read with beautiful illustrations where each page takes on a color scheme of its own.

Class was dismissed for the week, and we plan to have our student squirts take part in a homework session together to promote the “fun” of reading and working together.  Of course, today is Tuesday, class is Saturday, and we have yet to crack the books.  Aaaaaaah . . . the humanity!!!!!

Reading Camp Rocks- Week 1


     My soon-to-be kindergartner and I enrolled in a Reading Camp (the name I assigned in order to create excitement) or more formally termed a summer reading program offered by Saint Louis University and taught by the Institute of Reading Development with a friend and her son.  This being a parent/child class, I am sure it comes as no surprise that we, the parents, were much more motivated by the anticipated learning of teaching strategies and learning skills.  Our squirts, on the other hand, were moved by our hopeful promises of, quite simply, fun (see picture below, but ignore the mess in the background).

Reading Camp here we come!

     Thus, with GPS in hand and hyper children in tow, we made our way to Reading Camp which happened to be housed in a local high school.  What ensued was a stimulating 90 minutes.  A young graduate student facilitated the class and brought us to attention by teaching us attentive faces (wish I had thought of that when I was teaching)- large eyes and small mouths. 

Attentive Face

Being in this secondary classroom, my inner immature desire to fool around just a bit behind the teacher’s back was immediately quashed, and I was soon modeling excellent behavior by sitting up straight in my chair.
     The icebreaker involved students telling their names (after being called upon) with the teacher circling the coordinating letter on the board that begins the name.  I was giddy when a young student announced her name was the same as mine only with a different spelling (okay, I am a big kid at heart).  What was endearing, though, was remembering the pride at this age associated with one’s name (before wishing for another name-aaah, how I longed to be “Melissa” for years) as well as the self-confidence one gains when knowing how to spell his/her name.
     After some rhyming activities with eager participation, the teacher read us Caps for Sale as we “followed along” at our seats.  After a retelling of the story, students chose a character from the book he/she wished to enact, and a dramatization was soon in full force at the front of the classroom under the teacher’s guidance.  A goofy smile spread across my face as this activity brought to mind my own fond memory of my half-day kindergarten eons ago when we acted out Goldilocks and the Three Bears on what seems to me now a daily basis (a shout out to Mrs. Ziegler!).
     Camp ended with a telling of our homework assignments for the week.  Stay tuned for more Reading Camp Rocks as well as an upcoming Book Partay.