Literacy Carnival at Morris Extends Learning Opportunities

The days when the “Gone Fishin’” sign was slapped on the schoolhouse door from just past Memorial Day until almost Labor Day are over.

Last night’s carnival at Morris Elementary, the latest in the school’s series of summer literacy events made possible by a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, is a great example of the district’s increased emphasis on extended learning opportunities.

Last month was Art Night and three more events are still to come before summertime gives way to the new school year. Besides all of the special events the 21CCLC grant has also funded the Morris bookmobile which is making the rounds this summer to locations throughout the Morris community.

The whole idea is to mitigate the attrition of learned skills that can happen during the summer months.

At next month’s state fair there will be an admission charge. But at the Morris carnival everybody who showed up and signed up was given a free book on the way inside. The carnival itself was set up in the school’s beautiful courtyard by Christina Nichols, Morris’ 21CCLC Coordinator, and her crew of volunteer carnies. Beneath a canopy of shade trees a full circuit of Midway-style games was arrayed. There was even a cotton candy machine on hand spinning sugary clouds that were slightly pinker than the ones planes from the nearby airport kept buzzing through overhead.

The show opened at 6:30. By 6:45 the grounds were crawling with kids. Under the big top out front books were ‘selling’ like hotcakes – make that cotton candy. And the price was right for both. Thanks to the grant, all of the events and attractions this summer are FREE! By the end of the evening there were lots of toppled pins and sticky fingers, and everybody went home with a book to read before bedtime.

“The purpose is to keep kids reading by enticing them to find a book they really like,” explained the aptly named Kathy Poetting, Literacy Coach at Morris. “And these events are all designed to involve not just the kids but their whole families. It’s important to get them all to participate.”

Next up on the Morris summer calendar is Iowa Wildlife Night on July 25. And on August 8 more exotic animals from the Blank Park Zoo will be visiting.

In between is a fishing expedition on August 1. Just that once, the “Gone Fishin’” sign will be back in order. But even then it will be for a good cause. There ought to be some good fish stories, not to mention ones about art museums, wild animals and courtyard carnivals, when the regular school calendar kicks in and kids are assigned to write about what they did over summer vacation.

Photos from Morris Elementary’s Literacy Carnival

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