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March 22, 2021 Academics

Leeds Elementary School hosts virtual program to plant the seed of literacy for kids

Fifth graders Katelyn Hames (l-r, via Zoom), Sophia Moore and AnnMarie Pistello were among Leeds Elementary School's school-wide Family Literacy Event. Over the weekend, students were allowed to take home electronic devices in order to share a virtual read-a-long of Eric Carle's
Fifth graders Katelyn Hames (l-r, via Zoom), Sophia Moore and AnnMarie Pistello were among Leeds Elementary School's school-wide Family Literacy Event. Over the weekend, students were allowed to take home electronic devices in order to share a virtual read-a-long of Eric Carle's "The Tiny Seed." In addition, students were given flower seeds to plant at home to celebrate spring. Photo by Early Horlyk, Sioux City Journal.

Some homework requires worksheets while others involve workbooks.

However, Katelyn Hames’ take-home assignment included a link to a video and a packet of seeds.

Katelyn, a 5th grader, was taking part in Leeds Elementary School’s school-wide Family Literacy Event.

On March 19, kids were given electronic devices to take home, plus a link to a videotaped read-a-long of Eric Carle’s book, “The Tiny Seed,” narrated by Leeds’ teachers and faculty members.

Carle’s classic story of the life cycle of a flower told through the eyes of a seed was designed to get children like Katelyn excited about spring, which began over the weekend.

Asked if she had spring fever, Katelyn said, “I can’t wait for it to warm up enough to play outside again.”

Creating a virtual, take-home event was also a way to get the entire families involved. This wasn’t always an easy task during a pandemic, according to 2nd grade virtual teacher Morgen Nash.

“We needed to find innovative ways of engaging students and their families during COVID,” she explained. “That’s why we started our virtual Family Literacy Events.”

Indeed, the program started as a “Back to School” event in the fall. That was followed by a similar event which took the place of a more traditional winter concert.

“Each class was able to record their part of a winter program and, then share it electronically with mom and dad, grandparents or whatever family member wanted to take part,” Nash added.

Even better, students were given ingredients and a recipe for “Snowman Soup,” which they could make with their families.

This level of engagement is important, according to Principal Ron Koch, because it gives kids a chance to show the progress they’ve been making during a not very normal school year.

More than that, it allowed families to get involved in a meaningful way.

That was certainly the case with Megan Malenosky, a Leeds 1st grade teacher and a mom.

“My kids are super excited about this,” she said, adding that the video can be played at any point over the weekend. “We can schedule it so the entire family can enjoy it.”

Which was what Koch wanted to hear.

“Our teachers have worked really hard to make our Family Literacy Events both COVID-friendly and highly engaging to students, he said.

These programs allow the school to partner with local organizations.

For instance, “The Tiny Seed’ virtual event is a collaboration between Leeds, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach’s “Pick a Better Snack” program as well as the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, of which fifth-grader Sophia Moore is already a fan.

“I like the owls they have out there,” she said.

While AnnMarie Pistello, a 5th grader, said she has gotten used to taking some classes or completing some projects virtually, it is far from ideal.

“It isn’t better,” she said. “It’s just different.”

But AnnMarie enjoys her school’s Family Literacy Events because it allows her to share her school life with her family.

Also, it gives her a chance to develop a green thumb in time for spring.

“I’m looking forward to planting the seeds that we’ll receive,” AnnMarie said. “I’d like to see if the seed will grow into a flower.”

View the full article by Early Horlyk on the Sioux City Journal.