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Elementary literary festival a Young 5s fairy tale

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.” 

Preschool teacher Ashley Johnson claps out syllables with Grace Walsh and her brother Michael at the Literary Festival, with their parents, Mallory and Brian

Read more from Caledonia: 
Making friends via silly socks  
Communication device enables students to share thoughts, even trash talking

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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