Hampton Lutheran School’s summer reading program goes virtual

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New weeks bring new genres, themes, activities and more

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Just like its curriculum shifted to an online format in the face of coronavirus uncertainty, Hampton Lutheran’s summer reading program has now taken its own foothold in the digital world.

“This year is different because we have not been able to meet in person due to public health restrictions regarding the coronavirus pandemic,” teacher Lisa Montoya said. “During the last couple of weeks of school my students were asking how we were going to do the summer reading program. I decided to use the blog format, with videos for story read-alouds and project ideas.”

This year’s program theme is “Imagine Your Story,” Montoya noted. Past themes have included space, medieval and superheroes.

“We usually do a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) or writing program alongside the reading program,” she said.

With this year’s “Imagine Your Story” theme students explore a different story genre each week. According to Montoya, so far students have looked at personal narratives, myths and tall tales, fantasy and science fiction.

“I post a new blog post each weekday,” she said. “The children can then access the activities and videos each day. Each blog post includes a story time -- often a link to a YouTube video of a read-aloud of a picture book -- and I rotate between writing time, STEAM time and craft or activity time.”

Activities help the children weave through, understand and explore the week’s genre. An example Montoya provided was for the past week’s instruction on science fiction.

“The activities include drawing alien creatures, doing a STEAM activity with layers of liquids and writing a ‘choose your own adventure’ story about another planet,” she explained.

Hampton Lutheran Principal Jean Carnoali added that the school’s offering of its usual reading program online is simply an extension of work they already did to move end-of-school curriculum online.

“Hampton Lutheran School was ahead of the curve in adapting online learning in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit,” she said. “Offering the summer reading program online -- not just for HLS students, but for students everywhere -- is an extension of that. Our teachers are adaptable and able to teach to kids’ needs remotely, even during the summer.”

Montoya added to that sentiment, noting that changes mainly came into play because of the inability to meet in person.

“I still wanted to reach out to my students and give them learning activities throughout the summer,” she said. “I feel it is important to continue to read and learn all year long.”

This year it has also been a challenge to gauge participation due to lack of said in-person contact. In years past, Montoya advised, it was easy to count how many students were there with her in the library each week.

“Some students have posted the stories they’ve written during the program in our blog’s comments,” she reported. “I did see one of my students last week and he told me a little bit about the story his brother was working (on).”

No matter the format or the situation Montoya’s goals of the summer reading program remain the same.

“I love books!” she voiced. “I love reading books to my students. One of my main goals as an educator is to foster a love of reading in my students. Besides reading, we also include writing and STEAM activities to help encourage their creativity and curiosity about how the world and how things work.”

Those who are interested in participating in Hampton Lutheran’s summer reading program are encouraged to join in and do so. The program is open to anyone willing to join in on the fun.

“The program runs through the first week in August, so there is plenty of time to join,” she said. “We explore a new story genre each week and post a new blog post Monday through Friday on the Hampton Lutheran School website and on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.”

Those who’d like to subscribe via email are also able to do so via the following link: https://hamptonlutheran. org/2020/05/29/hls-summerreading-program-imagine-yourstory/.

Montoya concluded by noting that the science fiction week is by far her favorite of the program so far. Books in this section include some written, and even read, by astronauts (sometimes even at the International Space Station).

Montoya even wrote a “choose your own adventure” story with help from her daughter and was looking forward to posting in online on June 26.

“I had a lot of fun doing that,” she concluded. “I’ve found there is something I love about each week’s theme.”

In the upcoming weeks students will look to explore comics and superheroes, mystery, theater and costume making, poems and songs and making instruments and even, finally, “twisted tales” and weaving their own words into their own stories.

“So come and join us on this fun adventure!” Montoya expressed.

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