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‘Wild About Reading’ at Hillcrest Elementary

Students enhance reading and writing skills with games from the jungle

November 30, 2009
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer

Students at Hillcrest Elementary School had the opportunity to get a little wild this semester.

And this kind of getting wild was even teacher and principal approved.

Themed around jungles, this year's school-wide reading program at Hillcrest was titled "Wild About Reading," and focused on improving reading skills and language and writing skills.

Article Photos

Hillcrest Elementary School third-grader Carlee Rautanen climbs the wall in the “tree climb” game during the schools Wild About Reading day. Students spent the several weeks learning about reading and vocabulary to a jungle theme before a day of reading-themed activity in the gym.

The program kicked off in October with parents coming to lunch with their children to learn about the program, and throughout the past two months students have studied synonyms, rhyming, word recognition, vocabulary, comprehension and word sorting.

"As part of our school-wide Title I reading program, we have the funds to spend on a program with parent involvement," said Joan Feddersen, a Title I reading teacher at Hillcrest Elementary. "So this year, we brought them in for lunch and had a kick-off for the program. "

Each grade level worked on their reading with lessons and activities planned around each class' skill level, and every student received a book to keep as their own, which is part of the program each year.

To keep in tune with the jungle theme, students in Hillcrest's special education classes made trees, vines and animals to decorate the school's hallways and gymnasium to give them a jungle like appearance.

This year was also the first year to have a parent lunch start the program and a day of reading themed games and activities to celebrate the program's conclusion, Feddersen said.

Just in time for their Thanksgiving break, students all took part in a day of games centered around the skills they learned through the reading program.

As part of the "tree climb" activity, students read as many vocabulary word flash cards as they could in 30 seconds before walking across the climbing wall in the gymnasium. While playing the "jungle hunt" game students weaved around buckets with an animal themed word card and placed the card under the correct category on a board at the finish line, and the coconut toss centered on synonyms and challenged students to think about words with alike meanings before tossing a ball.

"We want the kids to know you can have fun even when you're learning to improve your reading skills," said Hillcrest Elementary Principal Lis Ristau.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515)573-2141 or



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