Bannockburn Christian Academy - Austin Texas Private School

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Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Learning with Laura Ingalls Wilder and “Little House on the Prairie”

Little House on the Prairie is one of the four literary analysis units third grade enjoys each year. There are so many learning opportunities built into reading it. Students are able to compare their lives to that of children crossing the country by covered wagon to settle in Kansas in the 1870s. We discuss the difference between historical fiction and non-fiction, and we use Laura Ingalls Wilder’s excellent prose to identify the key elements of figurative language and to journal about her work and similar books in our Reader/Writer journals. We take our time, read the novel slowly, and use it as the launching pad for many discussions including American History and westward expansion, cultural contributions of Native Americans, tolerance, courage, and God’s abundant grace.
The culminating events of this exploration are our trip to Pioneer Farms, where students can compare their lives to that of early Texas settlers, and “Little House on the Prairie Day.” While Pioneer Farms gives us the opportunity to run around outside and possibly encounter lizards and snakes, “Little House on the Prairie Day” is perhaps the most cherished event for our third graders. They spend a day dressed in pioneer clothing and spend the morning and afternoon participating in a number of pioneer activities like washing dirty clothes with a washboard, making corn husk dolls, tasting molasses and cornbread, making butter, and playing prairie games. This year, out time in the garden may give the class a fuller understanding of what was involved in being self-sufficient and sustaining on the Kansas prairie. Our work on Little House on the Prairie begins following Spring Break! Watch for us as we learn.

– Melissa McDaniel, 3rd Grade Teacher

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We Are Authors

For the last two weeks we have been working very hard at writing books on what we know about. We culminated the process by having a “We Are Authors Day”.   Each child’s parents were invited to come and listen to their child read their book. My students were so very proud of their hard work and could not wait to read to their parents and friends!

To begin the process, I conferenced with each student and asked them what they knew a lot about. We talked about the topics they could potentially write about and what they knew about their idea. The topics ranged from cats to ninjas, and plants to video games; it really was so much fun listening to the kids talking about things they are “experts” on. Once every student had their topic chosen, we got started on the project.

Each day, my students would write and illustrate one page of their book, putting in as much detail as they could. I met with small groups of children every day throughout the process to talk about what they would like their sentence to be on each page, and what the illustration could look like. I then worked with the students to help them sound out each word in the sentence. Once their sentence was complete, they went and drew their illustration.

What I really loved was listening to my students while they talked to one other about what they were doing. I often heard “Hey, that looks really cool!” or “I love that cat, it’s so cute!” The kids were really enjoying the wonderful praise, and loved looking at what their friends were doing as well.

The day before our “We Are Authors” day, I had my students work on their covers. They had to decide on a title and what they could draw that would tell a reader what their story was about. We, of course, added to their cover “Written and Illustrated by….” They were so proud that they were real authors! I laminated their cover, hole punched each page, and tied the books together with string. The kids all did such a wonderful job, the books looked amazing!

On the day of the event, my students came dressed in their “Sunday best.” They were so excited to read their books to their parents and friends.

The kiddos and I set up our classroom with chairs for the parents and students, and set up a table where we could put all of our yummy treats that were coming in.

After each child finished reading their book, we celebrated our hard work by enjoying fruit, mini muffins, yogurt, and orange juice.

I was so very proud of each of my students for working so hard, and I think they may have been even prouder of themselves! They had so much fun with this whole process that they asked me when we were going to start our next books. I love how much they enjoyed themselves, and I can’t wait to read their next books!

Christina Simonetti, Kindergarten

The Rewards of Reading

Of course reading is a reward in and of itself. We all know that. My parents constantly had a book or magazine in their hands during my childhood. I learned early on that if I wanted to eat, I had to get that book out of mom’s hands and move her toward the kitchen. Now my children have learned the same lesson…

Reading is a joy. It can also mean prizes of a more tangible nature. Each year, Bannockburn Christian Academy scholars participate in a series of reading rewards programs.


Bluebonnet Books

The Texas Bluebonnet Award Program was brought to my attention by BCA mom, Traci Huckabee. I was born and raised in Kansas and knew nothing about Bluebonnet Books. I do now. The TBA selection committee takes suggestions from librarians, teachers, parents and students and comes up with a list of both fiction and non-fiction books. These titles are considered for student interest, relevant content and literary quality. This year third through fifth grades will read from this list of distinguished books and join thousands of other Texas school children to vote for their favorites. Voting takes place in January but we’ll read these books all year long.

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Pizza Hut Book It!

I participated in Book It! all through elementary school. In my small, rural hometown, Pizza Hut was really the only restaurant we had. It was a huge treat to read those books, go to The Hut and choose that delicious personal pan (pepperoni, obviously). Well, thirty years later, kids can still enjoy this special meal! First through fifth grades read all year long (the program spans October through March) and if they turn in their classroom reading log each week, their teacher lets me know. Once a month I hand out coupons good for those personal pans!


Six Flags Read to Succeed

Now this reading program might be my favorite just because it makes it possible for our family of four to spend a day at Six Flags each summer without taking out a second mortgage. Kindergarteners through fifth graders earn a FREE Six Flags ticket by reading! The savings is substantial and the kids only have to read six hours to earn it! I will send home reading logs specific to this program. Its deadline is in February.

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Summer Reading Medals of Excellence

Last Wednesday, September 23 during Chapel, I presented Summer Reading Medals of Excellence to twenty-nine BCA scholars. These children read all summer long, kept a log and turned it in during the second week of school. It’s so easy to lose skills over the summer if we don’t stay in practice! Summer Reading encourages kids to read during their vacation because who doesn’t want a shiny, medal to wear for the entire world to see? That’s why they do it. We run the program to sneak in a bit of learning in between their trips to the beach, skinned knees and Minecraft marathons.


Yes, reading is its own reward but at BCA, we add a cherry on top for good measure. If you want detailed information about any of these programs, please come see me!


Lisa Wellman, Librarian

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