The Super Reader Project

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 5th, 2015 25 Replies

It has been a wonderful week to be a Grandma and to be the Cat in the Hat!

But I have to start at the beginning. A few months ago, the Santiago PTA received a $5000 Toolbox Grant from Lowe’s. The grant was awarded to create a Super Reader School at Santiago. I have been lucky enough to be on the Super Reader Project committee!

Just some of the guest readers

Our first focus would be National Read Across America Day, which takes place on Dr. Seuss birthday March 2, 2015. Since we didn’t receive the grant until January, it meant we really had to get busy. One of the things they wanted do was to also get the community involved. So to kick off Read Across America our friend Monique brought in speakers from all walks of life that went to the classrooms and read a Dr. Seuss book and a book of their choosing to the class. There was a Senator, 2 reporters, a police officer, a chiropractor, a military police officer and a stylist just to name a few – including Justin! The idea was to have children understand that at the end of the day the one thing all of these guests had in common was a love of reading.

Bookplate and front and back of Bookmark

The grant also allowed the PTA to give each classroom $50 worth of books that the teacher or class picked out themselves. We also wanted to give each student a memento of the day. Jenna designed a beautiful bookmark and matching bookplates to go into all of the new books so that years from now students will know how important they are to Lowe’s and the PTA. A bunch of us spent Sunday afternoon putting those bookplates in the books and organizing them for delivery to the classrooms. Everyone brought their kids and the kids spent time counting out the bookmarks and labeling them by teachers. A lot went into pulling Monday off!

Scholars helping count and label bookmarks

Monday morning began for the speakers with coffee, juice and baked goods. When the time came for them to go to their appointed classroom, one of the RAK Ambassadors escorted them. Mrs. S had been coached them on small talk the day before. They took their roles very seriously and I think they impressed our guests.

The Cat in the Hat with some of the RAK Ambassadors

After the guest speakers finished, Jenna and Mo turned into Thing 1 and Thing 2 and I turned into the Cat in the Hat. We spent the day delivering those books to the classrooms and giving the students their bookmarks. I wrote a Dr. Seuss style poem and the students loved it. I was swarmed by Kindergarten and 1st graders who wanted to shake my hand or better yet give me a great big hug.

The Cat in the Hat with Thing 2 and Thing 1 in the classroom presenting books

The students and the teachers were all excited to get their new books. Many of the teachers were spending the day reading and in one classroom they were all excited to share their Dr. Seuss books with me.

The Cat in the Hat and a roomful of Dr. Seuss readers

Last night was our big Book Fair and the PTA collaborated with Barnes & Noble Booksellers to do an online and in store book fair. The online event runs for 7 days and last night was our big in store event. A percentage of all the purchases would go to our school. I went in costume as the Cat again; Jenna dressed as the girl from A Bad Case of the Stripes and Mo was Amelia Bedelia from the book series. We even had Speedy show up – he is the school mascot! Our “Super Librarian” came to read to the students, as did our awesome vice-principal!

You can click the pictures to go to larger view.

It really has been a wonderful week to be a Grandma and to be the Cat in the Hat!

Fractured Fairy Tales

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 26th, 2015 29 Replies

I love that Amara’s Dad is involved at her school. He works full time so he doesn’t get the opportunity to be there as much as her Mom does but he always takes the day off for special events like the trip to the OC Animal Shelter, The Gold Rush Days and Jog-a-thon — just to name a few. Recently he took the day off to speak to Amara’s class.

I asked Justin how this all came about. According to him, Amara’s teacher had asked him if he would come in and help with a writing project. Most of Amara’s classmates know Mr. Justin and they know that one of his books, Underhouse, is on the shelf in their classroom. Underhouse is not available to the public yet. He has also written 2 other books that are, Dúranaki Chronicles and Quarantine Lost. They are both available to download free at Justin’s site. As long as we are bragging about Justin let me just mention he is also an inventor on 4 patents.

Back to his visit to Amara’s class… He suggested making a parody musical of their play. Mrs. S’s class always does a play each year that ties in with something they are studying. Last year I got to see the 5th grade do The American Revolution and it was amazing. I can’t wait to see what she has planned for this year. But back to Justin, she already had fixed plans for the play. Instead, she suggested they work on Fractured Fairy Tales. They would be short parodies that the students would write and then perform.

According to Justin he spent about a half hour in the class giving a presentation to the students titled “So You Want to be a Writer”. He even created a 23-slide power point presentation. This is my favorite slide!

Justin's slide from his So You Want to be a Writer presentation

A month later, Justin took another day off and I went with him and Jenna to watch Amara’s table and a couple of others perform their Fractured Fairy Tales for some of the younger grades. I think I enjoyed watching it as much as the students did. My face hurt from smiling.

Since I had asked Justin about this project, I decided to ask Amara about it, too. I wanted to get her perspective on the whole thing. She said that Mrs. S had asked Daddy to come in and talk to them about “being more creative in their writing”. After he left each table (which is 5 students) picked a fairy tale to write a short parody they would act out. Her table had wanted to do Red Riding Hood but “another table got it first” so they were doing Jack in the Bean Stalk. They spent the first week coming up with ideas. They spent the second week writing their scripts, which “the whole table had to agree on” and apparently, that wasn’t always easy! Week 3, they practiced and made signup sheets so that the other teachers could sign up and the different groups would come and do their skit for their class. After each performance there was even a Q&A. Amara’s table began by explaining to their audience that they had to use a stand in as “Jack” had gone home sick! They were still great.

I am such a lucky Grandma to get to be part of all of this.

Why Jenna likes to Read

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 19th, 2015 25 Replies

There has been a lot of excitement at Amara’ school recently. The PTA received a $5000 grant from Lowe’s to help Santiago Scholars become Super Readers. They are planning a huge kickoff event for Read Across America over the first week of March. I am thrilled to be on this committee (more on that later). During one of our first committee meetings, Jenna, Amara’s Mommy, was relaying to the other Moms the story of why she loves to read. I love that Jenna tells this story. This is my version.

I missed out on many things when Jenna was growing up. She did too. I was working 70+ hours a week as a district manager for a restaurant chain in Michigan, which meant I wasn’t always was never there to help her with her homework or to tuck her into bed at night. I certainly never got weekends off. I was responsible for 5 stores and they were all many miles apart. I spent much of my working hours on the road driving. Most of the restaurants were at least an hour or two away and often I wasn’t there for very long. So sometimes on the weekend, I would take Jenna with me. She always got lunch (and ice cream) when we got there so she went willingly. She knew the staffs at all the stores. They spoiled her and she loved it.

Still, the drives got long. One of the fun things we did on those trips was to share whatever book I was currently reading – she would read it to me while I drove! My own personal audio book! If she got stuck on a word, she would spell it out. If I thought she should be able to figure out herself, I would encourage her to sound it out. If the word was just too big – I told her what it was and she went on with the story! We kept it fun.

Some of the books probably weren’t “child appropriate”. She was in the 3rd grade at the time and I was really into Stephen King. She loved and vividly remembers reading “Cujo” to me. I don’t think it did her any real harm. It certainly instilled in her a love of reading. She has always been an avid reader with a huge book collection, a Nook and a Kindle! These may not sound like the best of times but we both enjoyed and remember them.

Jenna's Library

Today, Amara is an avid reader, too with a book collection of her own. Her Daddy is a published author and started her life off by reading to her every night before bed until she finally reached the age of wanting to read to herself. She has been known to fall asleep reading with her lights on, just like her Mommy!

So our love of books and reading is passed to another generation.

Animal Lovers

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 13th, 2015 22 Replies

I’ve bragged about the fact that Amara belongs to the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) Club at her school but I can’t help it. I love that they refer to themselves as Ambassadors of Kindness. There are thirty 5th graders in RAK. I know 30 sounds like a lot of 5th graders but keep in mind there are five 5th grade classes at her school. RAK meets every Friday morning an hour before school starts. You know it is important to these students or they wouldn’t be willing to give up an hour’s sleep.

Each trimester they pick a project to promote on campus and there most recent project was Cause for Paws. For the last month or so there have been signs and big blue boxes all over the campus at Amara’s school. They collected food and toys and even made 50 chew toys out of old blue jeans they collected. It was impressive how much they had collected.

The best part was last Friday when 20 of the RAK students, 10 middle graders from Leadership along with some parents and teachers delivered all of these items to the OC Animal Shelter. This is the same shelter where Grampy and I had gone so often to looks for Twursula when she went missing. The RAK Club teachers had arranged for everyone to get a tour of the shelter when they delivered their donation. Amara’s teacher had also arranged for SAUSD Channel 31 to send a reporter along to tape the visit. They then took that video and created the following music video for the shelter. I hope you enjoy it!

Santiago OC Animal Shelter Visit Music Video from sausdnews on Vimeo.

Road Rage

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 8th, 2015 25 Replies

As parents, we have probably all done something in front of our children that we look back on with regret. I made my mistake in front of Amara’s Mommy and her friend and I still feel guilty about it. It was around 1989 and I don’t think they called it road rage yet. I am embarrassed to admit it but for a few minutes I think I lost my senses and I raged.

What a terrible example to set for Jenna and her friend. They were about 15 at the time and we had just gone Christmas shopping. We were pulling out onto the street between the parking lot and Robinson’s Department Store when two girls stepped out into the crosswalk in front of us. I stopped in plenty of time but for some reason these girls had attitude! As they sauntered across the street they started taunting Jenna and her friend. One girl kept shouting, “What are you looking at?” I told the girls to be quiet and I was a bit frightened.

I drove a short distance to the corner and as I turned right the insanity overcame me. Those girls were walking and I was driving a 2000-pound car. Why was I intimidated? I drove around the block and went back looking for those girls. It was a short block and they were still strolling through the parking lot when we got back. I admit it. I chased those girls! I was going to teach them a thing or two. I only chased them in the parking lot and only for a very short distance. I never meant them any harm and I didn’t intend to hit or hurt them, I was just mad at them for being so aggressive. Wow, and what was I doing?

This was certainly not one of my prouder parenting moments.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has had a momentary lapse in judgement.

A Banana Tattoo

Grandma Kc wrote this on February 3rd, 2015 24 Replies

No, Amara didn’t get a tattoo! She gave a banana a tattoo!

A couple of weeks ago she was telling me about an idea she saw on Pinterest for tattooing a banana! Yep, Amara has a Pinterest account! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any bananas. This weekend when she slept over I had bananas!

Amara tattooing a banana

I think she had forgotten but when I reminded her, she immediately grabbed her phone so she could check Pinterest, picked out the perfect banana and grabbed a toothpick. She sat down at the table and with each new thing she added she would bring it to me and Grampy to admire. She said the original tattoo artist used a pushpin so I found her a couple of those in different sizes. It was fun to watch her switch tools as she designed! She did all of this while the monkey bread baked and we waited for Mom and Dad to arrive. She couldn’t wait to show them her new art!

Amara scrambling eggs for breakfast

I fried the bacon and Amara asked me if she could be the one to cook the scrambled eggs. She has never done this at my house before – not sure if she has done it at home but she has certainly been watching. They were probably the best scrambled eggs any of us has ever had!

After breakfast Amara got her new camera out to take pictures of her banana art. This meant I had to get my camera out and take pictures of her banana art. Jenna laughed, “The banana has its own paparazzi.”

The tattooed banana and after it was peeled

Amara told me the tattooing wouldn’t do anything to the banana so yesterday I peeled it and she was right! With the exception of some tiny dots where the cat and owl eyes were you couldn’t even tell. I sliced it up and put it in Jell-O for Grampy! Sometimes it is the simplest things that are the most fun.