Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
First grade students at Cartoogechaye Elementary School celebrated Halloween in style. During a program called “Orange You Glad You Can Read,” first grade students dressed up in orange and read their favorite book with comfy blankets, stuffed animals, flashlights from home, in an atmosphere with dimmed lights and quiet places for reading.
The first grade teachers organized this activity, as they have done so in past years because it promotes positive learning experiences, while still allowing students to have fun. Instead of being “sugared up” from sweets, this event promoted a calm learning environment.
The color orange was chosen because it was a play on words, “orange you glad you can read” and it takes place on Halloween, a traditional pumpkin holiday. The teachers chose to have the kids dress in orange rather than in their costumes since many families don’t celebrate the occasion, but most are keen on acknowledging reading.
Snacks were brought in by the students and staff and they all had to be orange in color. That was not too difficult a task, so there were cheese puffs, Doritos, cheddar potato chips, goldfish, orange peeps, and more.
Teachers prepared the students a week in advance as they discussed the importance of reading and how they could use Halloween as a day to promote reading. Students “book shopped” in the classroom and filled their book boxes with stories of their choice the day before the event. Students were also encouraged to bring books from home, if they so desired.
The children read for 10 minute increments until lunch. The teachers also got involved in reading one on one to students. After 10 minutes of reading, the class came together again until the next 10 minute segment of reading. This was a great way for students to build up endurance for reading longer books. By reading for 10 minute increments, students could have easily read for a full hour during the activity, a task that is difficult to accomplish at such a young age.
The teachers involved in this activity feel that it was a huge success and plan to implement it again next year. Kayla Schulte, one of the first grade teachers said that “any time you can use an activity in the classroom to foster a love of reading is richly rewarding for both students and teachers.”