OWLsome readers is our annual First-Grade reading incentive program at Goldsmith-Schiffman. During the colder, darker winter months it is a great time to cuddle up with a good book and read. We encourage child and parent reading time through this 5-week program. For each book or chapter of a book, poem, newsletter, reading homework assignment….really any reading, the child earns a link. These turn into chains that are proudly displayed through our halls. As they gain links, they are also awarded prizes. These incentives motivate non-readers or those disinterested in reading to becoming avid, capable readers. We see so much reading growth in our students during this time and we love to celebrate each child’s growth!
We start it with our Kick-Off event. The first graders practice songs and a skit based on that year’s theme. This year we did “Reading is Sweet” and it sure has been so far! The parents are invited to kick-off with us and celebrate with their child as we parade through the halls with a cast of characters. These include the HCMS marching band and student athletes, prior first graders dressed as story book character, Huntsville Ballet, Cosmo, the Spaceman from Space and Rocket Center and many more.
For the weeks following kick-off, we invite special guest readers each Friday. These may include local authors, astronauts, the Mayor, Curt Cearley and his owl Maximus, representatives from the Trash Pandas, or Huntsville Ballet. While our students are busy learning about people in our community and hearing some great stories the Reading Fairy makes her rounds. The children return to a little treat, poem or short story and encouragement to keep reading!
After the fun filled 5 weeks flies by, we wrap it up with our closing ceremony. Each student is recognized for his or her accomplishments and the grand total of all the links earned as an entire first grade is revealed. We celebrate their growth in reading and encourage them to just keep reading! This program wouldn’t be possible without a great deal of support from parents, community partners and the GSES staff. It is a ton of work, but so worth it to watch our student’s light up and READ, READ, READ!