Lucy Bunce, 10, of El Dorado Hills enjoys the spotlight in her sirloin costume on stage at Silva Valley Elementary on Feb. 28. Junior Kindergarten through fifthth-grade students dressed up as vocabulary words and held a parade in the multipurpose with family and friends in attendance. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

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Silva Valley’s vocab parade sparks wit, curiosity

By From page A1 | March 05, 2014

Some children flaunted their way to the stage while others shyly strolled, but every student at Silva Valley Elementary participated in last Friday’s costumed vocabulary parade inside the gym.

Set to upbeat music, students from junior kindergarten through fifth grade got to show off the one word they’d chosen to emulate. From everyday words like watermelon to the obscure (yurt), most words became hilarious (sirloin) and all were witty by showing the definition of words through costume.

Adapted from the children’s book “Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster” by Debra Frasier, where the characters participate in a vocabulary parade and contest, the idea of hosting vocabulary parades has caught on at schools across the country during Read Across America Week, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday March 2.

“Our new library associate Ashley Bose is truly the reason this whole week has transpired,” Principal Kathy Holliman told Village Life. “Ashley is brand new to our district and she’s done an amazing job promoting literacy and the joy of learning and vocabulary enrichment. It’s been so fun to watch a new employee take off.”

The vocabulary parade was the culmination of Read Across America Week at Silva Valley. Last Monday they had more than 40 parents read favorite children’s books to classes and then the adults discussed their careers.

On Feb. 26, the Golden Book Exchange was held; students were encouraged to bring in gently used books, which were then sorted by age.

“All 636 students went home with a new book,” said Holliman. “We used to do a pajama day (during Read Across America week) but this is the first year we’ve done a whole week of it.”

Holliman said the challenges during the week were to make sure each child received a book and that each child had a costume for the parade, but it all worked out.

Every grade had winners selected for most creative use of a word, most creative homemade costume, most unique/challenging word and best definition. The multiple winners enjoyed an ice cream party that same day.

Kids chose their own vocabulary words and built buzz before the parade by placing their word for all to see.

“Our students have been building a giant word wall filled with every type of word imaginable, from the ordinary to the extraordinary,” said library associate Bose. “New words have been posted daily. Never before has vocabulary been such a popular subject. Students are talking about their words, how they found them and what the words mean. By the end of the parade, they were giggling, laughing and guffawing at words ranging from the hilarious to the mundane.”

As for the process, four weeks ago students were instructed to “think of a juicy word that would have an interesting costume design.” As for costumes they were told, “You may recycle all sorts of items around your home to make a creative homemade costume: boxes, poster-board, hats, paper bags, fabric, tin foil, etc.” To make the costume complete they needed to make a large vocabulary sign/ label. “You can carry the word, make a headband or hat, or have it as part of your costume. Your word just needs to be visible somewhere on you!”

Second-grader Anna Rose chose the word crumple. “For my costume I crumpled up a bunch of pieces of paper and glued them onto my shirt,” she said. “My sign has letters all crumpled up.” Anna said the word that stands out to her from the week is orbit. “It means stuff going around your head … I mean stuff going around.”

Anna’s brother Matthew is in Mrs. Gordon’s fourth-grade class and he chose singe. “We singed my white T-shirt and my sign,” he said. “We took a lighter and held the lighter close to the sign to write ‘singed.’”

“I love to hear them ask, ‘What is that word? What does it mean?’” said Holliman. “I hope the event gave kids a curiosity for words, which will extend to their reading experience and make them want to keep learning and reading.”

Julie Samrick


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