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Reading is as ‘Gourd’ as it Gets with Sunrise Elementary’s ‘Pumpkin Book Reports’

The way Sunrise Elementary helps third graders practice their speaking, listening, and reading skills is as “gourd” as it gets.

The Eagles continued a cherished tradition this week with their annual Pumpkin Book Reports — an event in which third-grade students select a picture book, decorate a pumpkin based on the characters or plot line, and then read to first graders.

Sara McBee’s third grade class reading to younger students.

“It hits a multitude of standards and it’s fun for them to interact with the first graders and to have that leadership role of teaching,” said Sara Mcbee, one of five third-grade teachers at Sunrise. “It’s fun. It’s a good tradition. The kids look forward to coming up and doing it.”

The fun begins with the older students choosing an appropriate picture book that can be read aloud in four minutes. Students submitted their three top choices to their teacher, who in turn helped them pick a book that wasn’t going to be used by a classmate.

Third-grader True Erickson said he was a little nervous to decorate his pumpkin (with some help at home) like the cranky Crankenstein — who resembles the older Frankenstein. But he enjoyed participating. “It was really cool to read to the first-graders,” True said. “Reading to them was my favorite part.”

Seeing the decorated pumpkins and being read to by older peers was also an exciting adventure for the younger students. The first-graders rotated to different spots where a new story, student reader, and pumpkin awaited.

There were familiar titles, such as, “How Lady Met Tramp,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” (or a ghost version of him).

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Some of the many other books: Misunderstood Shark’s “Friends Don’t Eat Friends” and Splat the Cat’s “Oopsie Daisy,” along with stories about pandas, a circus ship, an old lady who swallowed a fly and another one who isn’t afraid of anything, a sleepy elephant, and a grumpy monkey.

In all, about 110 pumpkins were created with just one decorating stipulation: No carving allowed. The winter squash masterpieces will be on display for the school to see, leading up to Halloween, and nobody wants to find out what the media center might look like — or smell like — with that many rotting, slimy gourds in one room for most of the week.

That might, however, be a spooky premise for a fun Halloween picture book to be featured in next year’s round of Pumpkin Book Reports.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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