“I know—let’s make green eggs and ham and let the kids sample it!” exclaimed my principal as I shared the first draft of my plans for our 2018 Read Across America (RAA) celebration. Her voice was filled with the same excitement that fills the whole school when March 2 rolls around. At Edgerton Elementary, we love Read Across America Day so much that we turn it into a week of events. Sure, it takes time to plan, gather, organize, and execute, but the time spent creating a grand celebration for Dr. Seuss’s birthday is well worth the effort. Let me tell you how—and why—we plan the week-long festivities.
How to Plan the Week
First, we get a crew together to plan for the week and start with a brainstorming session. We choose five Seuss books—one to be featured for each day of the week. We try to alternate books from year to year to keep things fresh. Then, we plan themed spirit days with some kind of dress-up component to correspond with the featured book for the day. For instance, on Fox in Socks Friday, we all wear crazy or mismatched socks. We also recruit teachers and/or students to read an excerpt of each featured book during our morning announcements. Most importantly, we plan a Dr. Seuss kickoff assembly, where we do several Seuss chants and, as a staff, act out a Dr. Seuss book. The kids love seeing their teachers being silly, and the assembly is a great way to start off the week of fun.
Aside from the spirit days, the week also includes prizes, contests and other creative activities. This year, we are focusing on estimation. Several times throughout the week, our kids will estimate how many students participated in the spirit day. The winner in each grade will receive a Seuss-themed prize. We are also featuring a coloring contest that students can enter with coloring pages that correspond with the books we are highlighting, with those winners also receiving a prize. (Note: You can pick up prizes at Target in the $1 section, which makes it easy to grab fun prizes at a reasonable price!) We schedule guest readers during lunch to read to our kids, and on Seuss’s actual birthday, we serve birthday cake—typically Little Debbie cakes that are fairly inexpensive to buy. Planning RAA is fun, collaborative, creative, and easily one of my favorite tasks of the year.
This Year’s Spirit Days
This is how we set up our RAA week at Edgerton Elementary. Both teachers and students participate in the dress-up days. And as we are a small school, most of the staff help with the assembly. It is truly an all-hands-on-deck week.
- Friday, March 2, 2018
Fox in Socks Friday/Seuss Assembly and Birthday Cake
Our skit will be Green Eggs and Ham, and we are still figuring out how to let students sample this dish!
- Monday, March 5, 2018
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
Wear a hat to school.
- Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Wear a vacation shirt to school.
- Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Dress wacky (wear clothes inside out or wear mismatched clothes).
- Thursday, March 8, 2018
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Why Celebrate Read Across America?
Why do we go to so much trouble, you may be asking? We delve into RAA because it’s a great way to promote lifelong reading. Dr. Seuss is a well-loved children’s author, as well as a national symbol for reading. Kids know his books, and even though these books have been around for ages, they never get old. I am asked on a weekly basis where the Seuss books are shelved in my library. Kids love the funny illustrations; the crazy, made-up creatures; and, in many books, the rhymes. Seuss’s books are everlasting and universal, so by celebrating Dr. Seuss and his books, we are also celebrating the joy of reading. It’s an amazing week when teachers show their enthusiasm for books, which spills over to our students.
Planning Your Own Reading Celebration
If you haven’t done much with Read Across America, I hope this post encourages you to create an RAA promotion in your building. Even middle and high school students will enjoy reminiscing about the books of their youth, and it is never too late to encourage lifelong reading.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
to pick up a book and read to a child.”
- Dr. Seuss
I’ve included some online resources below that may help in planning your RAA celebration, whether it be for one day or one week. Best of luck!
- http://www.seussville.com/Educators/educatorClassroomResources.php (This site also has some fun online games for elementary kids!)
- And, of course, Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest are both good places to go for hands-on activities.
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