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March 14th, 2016

by Ann Saylor

originally printed in the Pleasant View Post

Local schools celebrated the national Read Across America week February 29 through March 4, 2016, in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Sycamore Middle School Librarian Starr Hardin says, “This is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child, in every community, to celebrate reading.”

Sycamore Middle School (SMS), Sycamore Academy (SA), and Pleasant View Elementary School (PVES), hosted student dress-up days to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ creativity. SMS students wore animal prints on “If I Ran a Zoo day,” and silly socks on “Fox in Socks!” day.

On a more reflective note, for “Oh, the wacky wed saPlaces You’ll Go” day, students were invited to wear something to represent a potential career that they would enjoy.

During library time, PVES 4th grade students read The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Be Dr. Seuss by Kathleen Krull. They talked about Dr. Seuss’ career, and then children took a mini-career assessment.  Librarian Reka Tabb said, “Since we were investigating how a famous author found out what his calling in life was, I thought that the kids might enjoy seeing some of the careers that matched with their interests.”

Younger PVES students read the unfinished Dr. Seuss book, “What Pet Should I get?”, and used their imagination to draw and name the pet that might have been designed for the book.

Schools also added academic components to the week-long event.  For example, SMS students answered daily Dr. Seuss trivia questions, and PVES hosted a Vocabulary Parade, where students dressed as an unfamiliar vocabulary word (such as archaic or peculiar), in order to increase language skills.

Sycamore Academy students enjoyed reading Dr. wacky wedSeuss books each day of the week, while children in younger grades celebrated with a green eggs and ham party.

Pleasant View children are fortunate to attend schools that celebrate and encourage reading through creative and fun activities.


(the two pictures are from Wacky Wednesday at Sycamore Academy)

Classic Children’s Books

April 13th, 2015

The library is so vast, that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start looking for good books.  Check out this list of classic youth stories from my friend Mary Young:

Where the red fern grows
Wrinkle in time
Island of the blue dolphins
My side of the mtn.   The Hobbit
Chronicles of narnia
Treasure island
Swiss family Robinson
Robin hood
Black beauty
The black stallion
Treasures of the snow
Little house on the prairie
Little women.
Johnny tremain
Little men

Finding Great Books for Kids

March 16th, 2015

“Find out what the kid really loves, and help them find a book, magazine, or any kind of text about that love. Without judgment. The subject can be sharks, volcanoes, bodily functions, the Guinness Book of World Records, fighting ships of World War II. And they can read about this love for as long as they want.” – Jon Scieszka

Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

February 2nd, 2015

Character is an ageless hot topic for educators, parents and youth workers.  We all want to nurture character development in children, but sometimes we don’t know where to start.  And we don’t know how to find time amidst standards, tests and group dynamics.  We worked with educational experts to develop some creative strategies to build character.

Title: Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

Description:  How do you teach character to children? You play games; you act out storybooks; you let them paint. And while they’re having fun, you weave in conversations about positive values. Explore and learn creative and playful methods for teaching character and literacy from the book, Building Character from the Start and from the guidebook “Tales Told Twice.” Collect ideas and learn how to get a free copy of the Tales Told Twice! (adaptable for grades k-12)

Audience:  k-12 educators and youth workers

Time: 2-3 hours

Schedule: 615-262-9676 or

Sharing a Love for Books

June 5th, 2014

I love the 4 ideas shared in this blog!  Click through the article to read more about each idea:

1. Send your books on a journey

2. Make your library mobile

3. Build a tiny library

4. Have a book exchange party

Here’s the full article:  Love Your Books? 4 Ways to Share Them With Others

Tackling Illiteracy as a Family

May 8th, 2014

Sometimes it may not seem like there’s much families can do to combat illiteracy in the community, other than ensuring their own kids can read.  But there are things that families can do together to promote the love (and need!) of reading.

Here are 4 ideas to start you thinking about how your family can promote and support literacy:

Share your favorite stories.  Pull up the computer (IPAD, tablet or phone) camera, have each person talk about their favorite book and why other people should read it and post it on YouTube.  It’s a simple act of kids telling other kids about good books.  Be a peer influencer and use social media to share a simple message.

Camera shy? Then share your favorite books face-to-face.  Find out when the elementary school in your neighborhood has reading time in the library or check out the after-school programs of agencies you trust and see if you can come and read books to – and with! – children.

Use books and short stories to promote literacy in your family.  Skype with grandparents or cousins and have a reading time each night before bed. Simply reading 2-3 short stories each night can have a great impact on building children’s vocabulary and understanding of language.

Create a little free, neighborhood library.  Host a library shelf in your home and encourage book swaps in the neighborhood, or build your own self-run library and place it in a prominent place where others can take advantage of getting and leaving books – a library post next to a bench in the park; one set up at a bus stop or one set up in front of your home.  Wherever you place it, just stock it up, spread the word and let the exchange begin.  For ideas on how to start your little free library, go to

Host a book party.  Invite your children’s friends over and ask each one to bring a book they’ve read and enjoyed but no longer want.  Make sure they wrap them.  Have everyone draw numbers, select books and each person gets a new book to read.  If the books are fast reads, pick one or two to read together, discuss and share opinions.  You can do this fun activity as often as you want (monthly, quarterly, or however often you want).

Whether the action you take is big or small, you can impact a love of reading by making books available, reading together, creating your own books and talking about the books you read.  What will you do improve the love of books around you?

Create a Buzz about Literacy

May 5th, 2014









Reading.  Books are such a big part of my life, I just can’t fathom not being able to read a book and let its story whisk me away to far away places, crimes to solve, princesses to rescue for dragons and ogres to defeat.

And yet, literacy remains of high concern for us as a community.  Whether it’s the joy of reading a bedtime story or the simple ability to navigate life – reading and writing one’s name, a job application, a driver’s license test or doing papers for a loan, so much depends on being able to read and write.

At our Service Station booth focused on literacy at the Ensworth Social Issues Conference, we asked students and teachers to share their favorite books for teenage girls, teenage boys and younger children. Together, they shared 285 of their favorite books that they think everyone should read.

Fortunately, the sharing doesn’t stop there. The banner of book titles is being delivered to local libraries for them to hang up as an exhibit and an invitation for others to write on the “book wall” their favorite books, too.

If literacy and a love of books is something you want to share, check with your local library to see how you can get involved. They have opportunities for adults and teens to be involved.

Great Melissa and Doug toy for girls

March 28th, 2014


I love these magnetic dolls from Melissa and Doug . Girls love to be creative , dressing the girls in different outfits and taking them on adventures. I think you could also use them as a creative writing prompt, inviting girls to write stories based on the characters. I also think you could use it as a learning tool, where girls could read to their dolls, teach there doll science, or practice flashcards with their dolls. Melissa and Doug create such great products!

Favorite Read-Aloud Chapter Books

March 12th, 2014

Looking for some good books to read outloud to children?  Here is a list of Some of our favorite read-aloud chapter books from Simple Mom.  She has some super cute books on her list!

Word searches and literacy

March 10th, 2014

If you’re looking for a sneaky way to practice reading and spelling, try word searches. You can even find apps with easy word searches, if you’re kids love to learn and play with technology.


Sneak Peak into our book – Building Character from the Start

February 10th, 2014

AnnS_color image










How do you teach character to children?  You play games; you act out storybooks; you let them paint.  And while they’re having fun, you weave in conversations about positive values.  The children will be so busy looking for treasures or balancing on one foot that they won’t realize they’re learning conflict resolution, responsibility, and other life skills.  That’s what our book, “Building Character from the Start“, is all about.  It’s chock full of resources for teachers, parents and other caregivers that want to help build character through play with young children.

It is divided into three  easy-to-use sections:
• Creativity – Kids are prompted to finish  coloring pages with their own ideas and dreams.
• Literacy – Synopses  of nearly 100 books include follow-up questions and ideas for taking the  book’s lessons even further.
• Play – word games, community-building  games, team-building games, and more! Ideal for teachers, day-care  providers, and after-school program providers.

Get a free sneak peek into the book on this is a really cool website that lets you preview books. Click here to see more.

Q/A from a Reader – Common Ground and Candy!

January 8th, 2014

Question: I’m planning a luncheon and we need a fun game idea for table groups. There will be 60 people – 10 tables with 6 chairs at each table. Anyway, are you able to share any ideas with us?

My answer:
I think the Common Ground game would work really well for your luncheon. Here are the details:

Ask each table group to compile a list of as many things as their whole group has in common as possible. Give them 3-4 minutes to make their lists on a piece of paper. Then ask each group to submit outloud one answer for each of the following questions. Award mini prizes for the group with:
• the most commonalities
• the funniest commonality
• the most creative commonality
• the ‘deepest’ commonality
• the most adventuresome commonality
• the most memorable commonality
• whatever else you think of…

If you would like to have a conversation started sitting on the tables when people arrive, you could let table groups do the Candy Quiz together. It’s a good way to get people to start talking, by working on a common project.

1. A famous swashbuckling trio of old ___________________
2. Elmer Fudd’s sleight of hand or magical maneuvers ______________
3. Places of interring enemies of those who tend & drive cattle and who are usually mounted on domesticated, large, solid-hoofed, herbivorous mammals ____________________
4. A broad, luminous, irregular band of astral lights that encompasses the stellar sphere ___________________________
5. Crimson-colored libidinous cravings ________________________
6. A celestial body fourth in order from the sun, conspicuous for the redness of its light _______________________
7. Multiple expressions of mirth, joy, or scorn in a covert or suppressed manner ____________________
8. An idiom, used here singularly, employed to describe one whose dexterous deficiency denies proficiency in getting a grip on goods _______________
9. Possessive clone alphabetical characters ______________________
10. Childhood name of a former renowned baseball player whose strike-out record is recondite __________________
11. Celebrated street in the Big Apple _______________
12. The 24-hour part of the week set aside to compensate for labor and toil ______________________
13. Subordinate herbs or seasonings _______________________
14. Lactic flops _______________________
15. The jubilant sensation of an ellipsoidal and edible nut ______________
16. Label on the body bag containing the remains collected after a cat named “Reese” was run over by a mower _______________
17. Dissonant confectionery mixture of dulcet and piquant seasonings ____________
18. To rotate several members of the cylindrical-shaped component of the vowel family _______________
19. Big orb in the sky meets round sweet culinary dish of apple or cherry _____________

(You can email us if you’d like a copy of the answers)

These are both games from Great Group Games – you can find 173 more fun group games with detailed instructions in the book.

Science and Language Fun: Secret Codes

December 9th, 2013

I love these creative ideas for writing and deciphering secret codes.  I think kids will have a blast with them!

75 Books That Build Character

November 25th, 2013

75 Books That Build Character is a great list of picture books that build character.  I think it would be great to read one book a day, and make time to ask questions after reading.  Asking questions is a great way to pull out the character lessons in the books!

Thanks for the list, No Time For Flash Cards!

What’s Happening to Creativity?

September 11th, 2013

The ability to think creatively and creatively problem-solving is quickly disappearing in American culture?  Why?  What can we do about it?  Check out this short article about creativity and kids.