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Midvale Journal

Midvalley students listen, retell stories around campfire

Apr 30, 2022 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

First-grader Paetyn Mills was very excited about going back to school to go camping.

That’s because Midvalley Elementary offered “Camp Read-a-Lot,” billed as a fun night of reading and activities for the family. The theme stretched from grilled hot dogs eaten on cafeteria tables covered in picnic tablecloths to stories around the campfire with packaged s’more kits.

Assistant Principal Dan Ashbridge, who took a break from the grill to read “A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee,” said it was a fun way to promote literacy.

“It is so great to build literacy support for our families and it’s just a great feel to have people in our building,” he said.

The current Midvalley Elementary opened in fall 2020 when visitors were restricted inside because of COVID-19 safety and health guidelines.

“We came for the reading and activities,” Paetyn’s mother, Christy Gulbransen, said. “We also got the opportunity to say what additional resources we want as our school becomes Title I.”

As Midvalley Elementary is transitioning this school year to be a Title I school, parent feedback is being collected to see where the need and desire is to provide students support from federal funds in addition to a family learning center, extended learning opportunities, free meals and other resources.

Initially input included all-day kindergarten, technology and additional intervention aides. Parents can continue to provide that information this spring.

The questionnaires were in English and Spanish as well as the stories and activities that evening.

Following first-grade teacher Eva Maria Bonilla Rodriguez reading “El Monstruo de Colores,” students had the chance to fold paper to create story retelling cubes. 

There, students could color pictures of the title, characters, setting, problem, solution and lesson learned from the stories read to them that evening. Then after creating a cube, they could roll it to help with retelling the story at home.

“It’s an activity they can do with any story they read,” Midvalley Community School Facilitator Wendy Heath said. “This deepens their reading experiences they have at home and helps with their literacy as the communicate every day, both verbally and written, as well as with their comprehension.”

Even the s’mores kits had a senses activity where students could record their smell, feel, sound and taste; the last being a favorite with the kids.

“It helps with their retelling and they’re reading and sharing as a family,” said Heath, who said Midvalley Elementary is planning to hold a math night in early May. “This is a way to connect the community with the school and give them support. I’m hoping they come away with an excitement to read at home, just to sit down and read and talk about the stories. They can toss this retelling story cube and find out answers to the questions in the book and just have fun engaging together.”

That’s what Troy Fochtman planned to do with his kids, third-grader Evan and second-grader Jase.

“They’re already fantastic readers at home, but they wanted to participate tonight,” he said. “There’s teaching more ways to help them with their comprehension and reading skills, I’m all for that.”