Caledonia — Five-year-old Michael Walsh and his younger sister, Grace, faced an obstacle course when they walked into preschool teacher Ashley Johnson’s classroom one recent evening after school.
Before they could travel through the course, there was a word on a sign they had to sound out and clap for every syllable.
“How many syllables are in the word ‘illustrator?’” Johnson asked the siblings.
Grace clapped along with her brother and yelled, “Four!”
Fairy Tales and Phonics
In the few hours after students left school at the end of the day, Duncan Lake Early Childhood Center teachers and staff transformed the school into a magical fairy-tale land for the Literacy Festival.
Each classroom’s teacher chose a story such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Ugly Duckling” as inspiration for their decorations and activities.
It was the first time the school hosted the event since 2019.
“Schools closed (due to the coronavirus pandemic) the day before we were supposed to have our Literacy Fest in 2020,” Principal Whitney Krusniak said. “Our teachers voted on the fairy-tale theme and came together with the YMCA and Great Start Readiness Program staff to make it a reality.”
Young Fives teacher Tammy Geene themed her classroom after “Jack and the Beanstalk,” paired with a letter-sorting game.
“The Literacy Festival is our form of a carnival, with literacy-themed activities created by our teachers,” she said. “Some classrooms are making crowns, practicing rhymes and story sequencing.”
The festival also featured the center’s first Scholastic Book Fair, and a book raffle with every student’s name entered.
“We wanted to make sure everyone left here with a new book,” Krusniak said. “I also hope events like this help instill a love for reading in our kids.”
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