A few weeks ago was our Read Across America spirit week. At our school, each day was a new day to dress-up and read some great books. I read a variety of silly and new books to keep my kids entertained and show how reading for pleasure, in my opinion, is the best reading of all.
A few months ago I had signed up for a freebie from Angie at Lucky Learners, the creator of Toothie Math. Since then, I’ve gotten periodic emails about things she does in her classroom, and when I got the email blast about Camp Reads-a-Lot, I knew I needed to do it in my classroom. She used it as a culmination of Read Across America week and I was thrilled to do the same.
I brainstormed and collaborated with my two classroom paras about how we could make this day a day to remember for the kids. And I think it was.
Before they got there, I turned and rotated and reorganized the desks to have seven different campgrounds. My paras made a paper towel roll fire and I put my flexible seating options around the campfire. The door was closed and a sign was outside the door saying, “Welcome to Camp Reads-A-Lot! Kids enter with camp counselor.”
When the bell rang, the Littles walked in. I saw one drop her bag to her sides and go “oh. my. goodness!” Priceless.
We started our day with a morning campfire as students designed their camp names and read the different sites they could go to. After reviewing the camp rules, we got to work. I put up a fire on the board so they could work as it crackled. Then, it was time for our first surprise.
We hadn’t had gym for approximately four weeks due to snow days, winter vacation, and teacher work days so I arranged for us to go to the gym when no one else would be there. We did relay races and yoga until it was time for a second surprise.
My dad! Super cool because not only a) was my dad here but b) he was reading the same book he’s read in my mom’s classroom for the past twenty-some-odd years. Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. My kids were super engaged and listening (even though 99% of them had no idea what a steam shovel was). We even had enough time to read another book and then show my dad We’re Going On A Bear Hunt!
Then! Surprise number 3! Our assistant superintendent came and read another book to the whole first grade. After lunch, recess, and technology surprise number 4!! Our fifth grade buddies came into our classroom (usually we go to theirs) and spent a full half hour reading to them. Although a touch crowded, it was so nice to see the fifth graders helping out my little ones with tough words and enjoying the Camp. We even got them to do a GoNoodle video with them (of course, my favorite, Milkshake!!).
I felt like I blinked and the end of the day came! To round out our camp experience, my phenomenal paras made “s’mores”! They warmed up chocolate in the microwave and made little cups of hot chocolate as my students sat around the campfire and watched some books on Epic.
The best part of it all was seeing their faces after we got them with surprise after surprise. One of my Littles, at the very end of the day, asked if we could go around and say our favorite part. He went first and began with, “first, I’d just like to thank the teachers for everything you did today.” And cue heart melting. That single sentence is why we put all of those shenanigans on. The kids being so appreciative and having such a fun time makes me want to do it again even though I got my workout done before they even got there from rearranging the room.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of my paras. It was quite the team effort, and I am so so happy we did it. And I think the Littles were too. Because they deserve it.