TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, June 25, 2012

We Are Readers goes for the gold!

There's one big thing on everybody's mind this summer: the Olympics! The 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London, will start on July 27, 2012 and the whole world is going to get worked up over their favorite events. TRC has gotten in the spirit by making the Olympics the theme of this year's summer reading program, We Are Readers.

Phelps' book, published in 2009,
is full of impressive facts about
his impressive deeds: for example,
the total of 60,000 meters that
he swam in training for the Games!
From kid-targeted memoirs by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to the history of the ancient Greek games to learning more about favorite sports, the topic of the Olympics takes the energy surrounding the games and transforms it into reading fun.  

Our Olympic themed Read-Aloud at ARHA Ruby Tucker Center, which was the final one of three Read-Alouds in our kick-off week, will be repeated twice more at our other summer reading sites--but the Olympics don't start until July 27th and this theme could be reused at other sites before or during the Games!

Olympics! is a great intro to the
Games, giving an overview of the
structure and philosophy-
the emphasis is on teamwork
and good sportsmanship!
Our Read-Aloud
We opened our Read-Aloud by talking about the Olympics and discussing what events are held and where it will take place this year. Then we got the reading started with B.G. Hennessy's Olympics!, a picture book with limited text that explains Olympic traditions and history. After the story, and a little time to read more Olympics and sports themed books in smaller groups, we truly gave We Are Readers a kick-off by holding our own opening ceremonies!

The running of the Olympic torch is such a beautiful tradition and even more fun when you bring it to life. We introduced the kids to the idea and then represented it with a relay race with a "torch" of our own. Here's how we made it--it's a simple craft involving a 20 oz drink bottle wrapped in aluminum foil and a little bit of red, yellow and orange construction paper. Our relay was non-competitive. 

A runner in our torch relay
After the relay, we continued our opening ceremony by lighting the Olympic torch in our Read-Aloud stadium. Our Read-Aloud tracker this summer takes the form of a giant Olympic torch poster, and everybody gets to add a flame with his or her name on it for every ten minutes he or she reads for fun, all summer! We paraded our readers around the room, each holding a mini American flag (printed out and stapled to a straw) as the Olympic theme played. The march ended at the torch tracker, where one-by-one our readers taped up their first ten-minute flame before moving on to the give-away book box. 

Make it Yours
Adding flames to
the tracker torch
We made our torch in advance, but here's another, even easier version of a torch if you're interested in having kids at your Read-Aloud make their own as a craft! Other Olympic themed crafts could include making olive branch crowns, origami Olympic rings or making a medal tracker.

The Olympics theme could also easily be taken as an opportunity to do a Read-Aloud about other countries and cultures. Talk about geography and show a map, and name athletes from other nations. Have kids design their own flags with markers and construction paper, popsicle sticks and a little bit of tape. Have them make up a story about their country and what sports they're really good at. What events would each kid love to participate in, if they could pick? Use the Olympics as a starting point and plan a Read-Aloud that will best engage the kids at your site.

Book Suggestions
Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull
Babar’s Celestville Games by Laurent de Brunhoff
Books about various sports or ancient Greece

To read about the other Read-Alouds in We Are Readers' kick-off week, visit the Summer Reading sidebar of our Arlington Kids Read page.

Post by The Reading Connection intern Anna McCormally.

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