Editor’s Note: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading partnered with Embracing Our Differences to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day. Three hundred sixty Sarasota and Manatee County classrooms were abuzz with 280 volunteers reading to 6,000 students from Pre-K to 3rd Grade. Thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, United Way Suncoast, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and an anonymous donor, each student received a Dr. Seuss book of their own to take home.
Alex Kellemen, first-grade teacher from Alta Vista Elementary, shared her classroom experience:
Throughout the week, we focused on several Dr. Seuss books, including “The Lorax” and“Horton Hears a Who.” We were able to compare/contrast the book The Lorax to the movie and participated in a special activity. Each student pretended he or she was the Lorax. What they would say if they spoke for the trees just as the Lorax did? Students said they would keep the water clean, throw garbage away, not pollute the air, and recycle. Their reactions to the Truffula trees being chopped down to make “Thneeds” were priceless.
The story made an impact as Dr. Seuss was able to use fictional characters to express the importance of caring for our environment and community. We discussed how each person could make a difference, no matter how small.
On Dr. Seuss Day, the kids and I were so excited to have Dr. Kingsley read “The Cat in the Hat.” When she asked if they would tell their mothers about Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Cat in the Hat getting into mischief while she was at work, most of my students said they would be honest. Honesty is an important character trait. We try our best to instill the “honesty is the best policy” motto in the classroom. Hearing their response made me proud.
After our special visit, we read the March Scholastic (Let’s Find Out) about Dr. Seuss entitled “Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss.” We watched a short video about Dr. Seuss’ life and how he came up with some of the ideas for his books.
I passed out special Dr. Seuss reading stickers and certificates that said “Seuss-tastic Reader” after our special morning. We then made “Thing 1/Thing 2” hats, and each student received a “Thing” circle to pin on their shirt (Things 1-17). We proudly paraded around the school while focusing on our ability to be proud of who we are, no matter what people thought of our silly outfits. I explained to the class that I knew I probably looked silly in my Cat in the Hat costume, but I was proud of who I was and knew that it would bring a smile to peoples faces. Before we left for lunch, I shared with my students that they could either wear their “Thing” costumes or leave them in the classroom, and much to my surprise, the majority of my class wore their silly hats. Paileigh even said, “I don’t care what other people think of me. I’m going to wear my hat and make people smile.” A 5-year-old…I was SO impressed, and my heart was full.
We spent the afternoon working on some Dr. Seuss measuring activities and even worked on a 100’s chart mystery picture of the Cat in the Hat. It was an amazing day, and it was fabulous being able to see the joy on the students’ faces as they received their book compliments of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
It is SO important to put fabulous books in the hands of even our youngest readers. They may not be able to read fluently yet, but they are SO incredibly eager to look at pictures, decode words, and hear the lessons to be learned as well as the adventures to be had when reading a book. For some kids, reading is their only escape from reality, and I love that we have instilled a love of reading in our classroom