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Do you want your students to LOVE reading?
I hate books!”
You have probably heard many students express their dislike for reading. We usually tell them that they don’t really mean it and how much fun reading can be. They read guided reading texts and stumble through our reading anthologies. They read decodable texts over and over in the hopes that the code will somehow stick to their developing brains.
The truth is that most teachers were prolific and fluent readers as children. It was a subject we thrived in and we loved getting lost in a book. Somehow the magic of a book touched us and we rode on the wings of our favorite tomes to far away adventures and magic realms. We would inhale the smell of a newly printed book as if the aroma was forshadowing the riveting adventures awaiting us.
We teachers have been working our tails off to get fluency rates up. We test how many words they can read in a minute. We determine if they are able to read nonsense words. All these things are really important but they miss one really important point. Good readers LOVE reading. They enjoy doing it. The most important factor in the end is that we transmit this all important magic pixie dust: A LOVE for the printed word.
Benefits of Outdoor Learning
Do you remember you favorite reading spots from your childhood? Were any of them outside? Under a shady tree and a lawn? Reading outdoors is a very special treat that children rarely get to indulge in. Being outside benefits kids in so many ways. Looking at and listening to nature increases dopamine levels in both children and adults. Not surprisingly happy people show better concentration and memorization skills.
Have you ever tried a reading picnic center for your classroom? We absolutely love ours. We ordered a nice picnic blanket from Amazon.com and have our book centers in themed picnic baskets. The blanket works really well because it has plastic lining. You can wipe the plastic side and the blanket stays dry even if the ground is damp. It also seems to be extra soft and cushioned but any blanket you have at hand would work.
Magic Tree House Magic
One of our favorites reading picnics consists of a collection of Magic Tree House books. The whole collection is a treasure of exciting fiction combined with a great non-fiction background series.
The great thing about reading an entire series is that children become so familiar with the characters that it becomes manageable for even struggling readers. Once a student has mastered reading one book they feel confident and eager to read the rest. We have had success with this center even with 6th graders.
Great Activity for Volunteers
We are really blessed with lots of parent support and the reading picnic is a perfect center for volunteers. All the volunteer has to do is to grab the blanket and picnic basket and find a cozy spot under the trees.
The feedback we are getting from this center is amazing. Students love going outside and reading. They really get into the Magic Tree House series and some manage to read all of them!
If you don’t happen to live in California you can have your reading picnic indoors as well. Why not take the center to the hallway or cafeteria? Happy reading!
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