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East County Thursday, May. 7, 2009 8 years ago

STANGS: Back to Basics

by: Sydney Yoder

Deep in the heart of Busch Gardens, two children, Keegan and Riley, wander the jungles meeting animals and obstacles along the way. Their curiosity is overwhelming and plunges them further on through the park, keeping them on edge and prepared for anything.

Seniors Jessica Lee and Brittany McGregor developed the plot of “Oneill Safari” as a children’s book project for their English class.

“When we wrote the story, we had to be sure to follow the Florida Sunshine State Standards (because) we would be reading to a fifth-grade class,” Lee said.

On April 24, seniors were given the opportunity to author a children’s book and read it aloud to students at both Freedom and Bashaw elementary schools.

Partners Cas Dean and Neely Slawson focused their book on the life of Neil Armstrong and a journey through the solar system, titling the story “Man on the Moon.”

“We chose to write about Neil Armstrong and his trip to the moon because it focused on the current curriculum the children were learning in class,” Slawson said. “We covered his trip from the launch of Apollo 11 to his landing back on Earth.”

The children’s book project, called “Kiddy Lit,” was created by English teacher Frank Anderson and his wife, Andrea, a former teacher, in 1992.

“My wife and I began Kiddy Lit in hopes that it will encourage young people to understand how crucial it is to read to children in their younger years to help them build a solid foundation to develop into life-long learners,” Frank Anderson said.

Research proves that the basic building blocks of developmental learning are established in the first five years of life, thus reading to children as soon as possible and as often as possible is fundamental, Anderson said.

“It is also important to realize that parents are the child’s first teacher, and may be the most essential one,” he said.

The seniors went through the process of first writing a research paper on the importance of reading to children and then analyzing a children’s book before they were able to compose one of their own.

“While I was writing I reflected back on how Dr. Suess’ ‘Dasiy-head Mazie’ had an effect on my childhood,” Lee said. “I wanted to create a book that had the same impact.”

Seniors took away more than just an understanding to read to their children, but several were touched by the discovery that they could have an influence on the young students as well.

“When I first started reading I noticed one of the defiant boys in the background,” Lee said. “After talking to him I found out that he was just misunderstood.”

“On the bus ride home the students were so exhausted and realized the energy it takes to teach a class,” senior English teacher Agatha Tresky said. “Some even realized that they want to teach as a career.”

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