Summer reading reaps rewards

August 14, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - Most teachers and some studies agree that summer vacation can erode reading skills, especially in younger children.

At the Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, an idea was hatched to open the school every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon for a summer reading program for students in prekindergarten through second grade.

The program was the brainchild of Erin Wolford, student achievement specialist. Beth Berry, media specialist, and Lucinda Line, first-grade teacher, volunteered to lead the program each Tuesday.

On a Tuesday morning in July, 32 children participated in the lively series of activities. The theme that week was "Treasures Await in the Library."


"We just wanted to make sure the children were still reading over the summer," Berry said.

Also helping out were Berry's children, Nick, 11, and Molly, 8, both of whom volunteered their time.

Bennett LaRue, 17, said he came because he wanted something worthwhile to do during the summer.

Berry and her fellow volunteers agreed that it was a rewarding experience, for them and for the students who attended.

"It's also a positive image for the school," she said.

Line, who is back to teaching after 12 years off with her own children, said she has loved the experience.

"It's fun and the kids are worth it," she said.

Any child was welcome to participate in the free program. The volunteer teachers even picked up the supplies at their own expense.

In addition to storytelling and crafts, children were allowed to borrow books, which they carried in colorful book bags, also provided by the teachers.

Some of the reading adventures were held in the cafeteria. Art projects were done at tables where the youngsters eat their lunch during the school year.

On that July morning, the children were painting watercolor fish. Later they constructed "Yummy Aquariums" with Jell-O and gummy fish.

With the adults handling the hot water, the Jell-O was mixed while each child took a turn reading one line of the recipe aloud. Hands were raised as the children clamored to read the recipe, measure the ingredients and pour cold water and gummy fish into pitchers.

Later they were dubbed "The Jolly Jell-Oers," in line with the theme.

Other events were in the library, which was already open for summer school activities, Berry said.

Susan Berger is principal of the school at 23 Funkstown Road.

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