WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Williams Elementary-Middle School (WEMS) students were treated to an afternoon of games and books at the Family Literacy Night Dec. 2.
Students and parents were encouraged to attend the event that was organized by kindergarten teacher Louise Durant.
"We're just trying to think of as many ways to engage kids to just love reading," Durant said.
Durant worked with a First Things First coordinator and other teachers and formed a committee. They brainstormed about literacy projects and organized the event. The two were looking at ways they could encourage reading and get more books into student's homes.
"Literacy is so important," Durant said. "We want to get kids reading young and as soon as possible. We also want the parents to be connected with reading."
The group designed activities and games for the students to play where they could earn tickets for books.
"We want to get as many books into kids hands as possible," said WEMS Principal Carissa Morrison.
Books were donated to the school by the Williams Kiwanis Club and Scholastic books.
Another component of the event was parent breakout sessions. Durant, and fellow teachers Jennifer Cardenas and Patty Jackson, met with parents to teach them how to build comprehension, decoding and fluency with their children.
"With the new state standards or Common Core, the idea behind it is to get kids to think critically," Durant said. "It's not just doing the math, doing the reading. It's 'What are you reading? Why are we doing this? How does it connect to my life?'"
Durant said they love for parents to read with their children at home, but are hoping parents will do even more. She said they want parents to help children connect reading with their lives. They want students to understand whether they are reading for entertainment or information.
"They can absolutely do that at this age," she said. "I do it everyday. I think parents are kind of surprised you can actually ask these questions and have them answered by these little minds. They are just so intuitive, it's exciting."
The event also consisted of several literacy activities. Glenna Christiansen led games in the library. She led a game with story cubes, which are basically a story starter where students roll dice with pictures on them.
"If it's an eyeball, you could say 'The man saw a walrus,'" she said. "And then the next person rolls the dice and adds to the sentence. It's like the game when we were kids but its giving them a little boost by using the dice."
Fit kids coordinator Tara Lowe led a cake-walk type game that had kids moving around a circle and then reading their cards when the music stopped. She would read out a sight-word and whoever was on the word would be awarded a ticket for a book.
The group is hoping the literacy event will become and annual event. They are eager to get books into kid's hands.
"We had a good turnout for the first one and it being so close to the holidays," Durant said.