Read to Grow

Read to Grow
Posted on 09/21/2023
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The NYCP Literacy For All team invites you to join this fun and FREE program for parents and their children ages 3-5. You'll have a blast reading, writing, singing, dancing, and making hands-on projects during the 1-hour!

All books and lessons are culturally-based and inspired by Indigenous authors to enhance your child's reading growth. All materials are provided. Space is limited - register today! 

Scroll below to view a video of one our virtual programs and learn about the brilliant facilitator.

SIGN UP TODAY FOR THE NOVEMBER 15 PROGRAM! Read to Grow will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Education Board Room. The registration deadline is Nov. 9. This will ensure we have enough materials and food for participants. RSVP by calling/texting 480-878-8604 or emailing [email protected].

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What is Read to Grow like? View our virtual August READ TO GROW session, which took place on 8/22. Thanks to Read to Grow facilitator Deon Mitchell for creating this great video program!

Read to Grow is a literacy program brought to you by Salt River Schools and the NYCP Literacy for all.

Hello everyone, my name is Deon Mitchell I am a local artist as well as an educator. I’ve been in education for over 14 years. I started off in Pre-K, and moved up to kindergarten, and then I taught art for K through 8th grade. I love working with early childhood because that is where all of those foundational skills come into play. That’s where children are learning how to make friends, how they are learning to make sense of the world they live in. And literacy is a big part of development. And so when we talk about literacy, we’re talking about the ability to read, write, speak, and listen. And basically to use all of those skills to communicate effectively and to make sense of the world that we live in. And so this program aims to target those foundational skills in literacy, it is for ages 3-5, and one of the most wonderful things about this program is that all of our books are written by Indigenous authors; so we’re so excited about that. And the book that we will be reading for our first online session is, You Hold Me Up. And so, as we read this book, we’re gonna talk about ways that we can engage our children’s awareness of literacy as well as encourage them to continue to read independently.

Here, I have outlined a few goals for our children:
I can follow directions, I can listen to a story, I can use my words to share my ideas and feelings, I can create art with my hands. And for the parents and guardians: I can engage in read alouds with my child. I can ask them open-ended questions about the story. These are questions that get children thinking deeper about a story. So instead of asking questions like, “Did you like the story?” Because then they’ll answer “yes” or “no”. Ask them questions like, “What did you like about the story?” Because that encourages our children to use more vocabulary and expression. I can encourage them to guide the teaching and learning experience. I can encourage them to use new vocabulary words.

*The book that we will be reading is all about the ways in which we connect and support one another. So I would like to invite all of you to engage in a bonding exercise. For this activity, you can choose to give a high-five, a handshake, a hug, or maybe your family has a secret handshake that you want to create. You could also choose to use words of encouragement or give each other some nice compliments.

*Social Emotional Learning is such a vital part of children’s development. It is the ability to not only understand their own feelings, but also the feelings of others. These skills are so important as children learn to navigate their environments, whether that’s at home, school, or at work as they become older. For the early stages of development, one of the biggest things that we can do to support our children is to help them identify and understand their emotions. Understanding our emotions also builds on our ability to problem solve. Another life-long skill that everyone needs to have.

*The book that we will be reading is titled, You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel. Monique is the one who wrote the beautiful words in this story and Danielle is the one who created the beautiful pictures in this story. Let’s read together. As we read, you can follow along by pointing to the words, or sliding your finder on the bottom of the words. This just reminds children that we read from left to right, top to bottom.

*Read Aloud*

You Hold Me Up
We’re also going to be reading the pictures as well and I’ll show you how we can do that.

(From the book) You Hold me up when you are kind to me. Let’s look at the pictures. What are they doing in this photo? Where are they in this picture? In the kitchen, they are cooking something together. They are being kind to one another. Turn the page. When you share with me. OOh, how many of you like to share? I like to share. Right now I am sharing this story with you. What are these characters doing in the story? What are they sharing? Let’s turn the page. Turn it nice and easy. When you learn with me. Look at all of the characters in this picture right here. I wonder what they’re learning about. Where are they in this picture? Turn the page. You hold me up when you play with me. Oh I love this picture. How are they playing together in this picture? Yeah, they are dancing. Do you like to dance? Let’s turn the page. When you laugh with me. Aww, look at those happy faces. I love to laugh too. Let’s turn the page. When you sing with me. Look at their singing faces. What instruments are they using to help them sing their song? Yeah, drums! Turn the page. You hold me up when you comfort me. Oo, comfort is a big word, when you look at the picture what could be another word for comfort? Yeah, to hold, to hug, to make you feel safe. Turn the page. When you listen to me. How many of you are good listeners? I love to listen to my friends and family when they speak to me and I love to listen to them too. Turn the page. When you respect me. Let’s look a t the picture. What are they giving each other? Yeah flowers; they look like sunflowers. I love to give flowers too. You hold me up. I hold you up. We hold each other up. Look at that happy family; enjoying some watermelon. And that’s the end of the story. At the back of the book, it has more information about the author as well as the illustrator

*For the next part of our lesson, we’re going to reflect on some of the ways in which the characters hold each other up. And we’ll also talk about the ways that we hold each other up in our families. Take a moment to share with your family ways that you support and care for one another. Encourage your child to use this sentence to help them, “You hold me up when we ______.”

So we're going to use a steady beat as we practice the words from our book okay? So you can choose to clap, snap, or you can pat your lap. So it’s up to you which one you would like to do. And you could choose to switch them if you like.

So I’m going to start off with clapping my hands. And we’re going to do it to the word dance. Ok, so watch me first. You hold me up when we dance. Your turn. Nice! Now we’re going to do the word read. This time I’m going to snap my fingers. The word is read. You hold me up when we read. Your turn. Good! The next word is sing. And this time, I’m going to pat my knees, my lap actually. You hold me up when we sing. Your turn. Good! The next word is play. I’m going to go back to clapping, Ready? You hold me up when we play. Your turn. Good! The next word is share. I’m going to go to snapping. You hold me up when we share. Your turn. Good! The last one is learn. I think I’m going to clap for this one. You hold me up when we learn. Your turn. Awesome job!

Now for the art activities. You can choose to do both of the activities or you can choose to do one. The first activity is the heartwork sign. Using your paints and whatever other materials you may have, design your heart with your family in mind. What are things that are important in your family? What are your favorite colors? This heartwork sign is a collaborative piece to display inside of your home. Like in your living room or your dining area, somewhere you can see it everyday. Think of it as a colorful reminder of how you hold each other up. For the second activity, we will be creating our own paper flowers; get your materials ready!

To create our Paper flower, you will need four sheets of rectangular shaped tissue paper, it could be any color. These are the colors that make me happy. These are the colors that I am going to choose. you need a pipe cleaner, any color will do, and a pair of scissors.

  • The first step is to take all four sheets of tissue paper and pile them on top of each other making sure they are nice and even.
  • And starting at the bottom, we are going to do an accordion fold. So, an accordion fold means we are going to take the bottom of the paper and fold It up and then we're going to crease it. Parents, guardians this is a great opportunity to get more vocabulary words in so encourage your children to use those words as they create their flower.
  • After we create that first crease, we’re going to flip it over to the other side, the opposite side, and we're going to fold it up again. What's that word we’re going to do? Crease it! And flip it, fold it up, and crease it. It’s like a pattern. Flip it, Fold It Up, and crease it. It's kind of like a song. Flip It, fold it up, and crease it. Flip it, fold it up, and crease it.
  • Keep on going until you get to the top.

Once your fold is completed, it should look something like this:

  • You’re going to take your pipe cleaner and place it right in the center of your fold. So, mine is right about here. We’re going to place the pipe cleaner right in the middle and you see how I have a little bit kind of sticking up at the top? I’m going to hold it close and then I’m going to bend this part downward. So it kind of hooks onto my fold.
  • And then you should have some sticking out at the bottom, you can twist those two together. This is a great activity for fine motor skills.
  • And if you want, you can take your pipe cleaner and wrap it around one more time. Just like that so that it’s nice and secure. And I’m just going to pinch it together. You might hear my little one talking in the background. She’s learning some early literacy skills too.
  • Ok, so you’re going to take your pair of scissors. Adults, this is where you can help your child. Either you can do it for them or you can guide them. This is just going to make our flowers nice and round. So what you are going to do is take your scissors, watch your fingers, cut a curve out of the ends. So I’m just going to turn my scissors. Nice curve, just like that.
  • And then you can create something fun with this or you can discard it.
  • And then you’re going to do the same on the other side. Cut a nice curve, and it doesnt have to be perfect. Ok, just like that. And then again, put that to the side.
  • And we don’t need the scissors for the rest of this activity.
  • Alright, here is the final step: You are going to carefully pull the paper apart. You want to be gentle. Oo, that’s another great vocabulary word. You want to be gentle. So I'm going to take the top tissue paper and I’m just going to pull it upward. And look how I’m just using my thumb and my pointer finger as I pull the papers apart gently. I’m taking my time.
  • What you do to one side, you gotta do the other. So now I’m gonna turn it over and do the same thing. Carefully pull the paper apart and separate the papers. And if you have a little bit of a tear in the tissue paper, that's totally fine. It just gives your paper flower a little more character. Alright, I’m on my last one. I’m going to pull it apart, just like that.
  • And my favorite part is fluffing it all up. Fluff it up a little bit. I like to listen to that crunching sound. I think my little one likes it too, because she's looking at me like what are you doing over there mommy? And there is my paper flower.
  • And if you want, if you have an extra pipe cleaner, and tissue paper, you can make more flowers or you can correct a stem using another pipe cleaner. Be as creative as you like! There are no limits to how creative you can be.
  • And also, think about the story that we read. In the story, there were two friends who were gifting each other flowers. So that might be something you would like to do. Maybe you would like to gift your flower to somebody special in your life. Maybe you plan on giving it to someone who lifts you up. Who holds you up.

Here are just a few photos from our in-person Read to Grow class. Everyone did an awesome job creating their heartworks as well as their vibrant paper flowers. I hope that you and your family enjoyed this book. It is such a special book in my personal library and I hope that it is one in yours. So until next time, we’ll see you at the next Read to Grow class. Happy reading everyone.

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Deon Mitchell is the creator of K’aalogii Kisses (Butterfly Kisses). Born and raised on the Navajo Nation (Chinle, AZ), she carries the strength and beauty of two rich cultures; Dine (Navajo) and Black. Through her Afro Indigeneity, she shares colorful stories on canvas and through the tradition of oral storytelling.

Her 14-plus years in Education has been the greatest platform in working with diverse people of all ages. She began her teaching experience in Pre-K and then moved up to kindergarten. She has worked in full inclusion classrooms with children of diverse exceptionalities/abilities. She also has several years of experience teaching English Language Learners of many cultural backgrounds. For 3 years, she also taught Art for grades K-8th.
Through art, she encourages others to create their own unique pieces that tell a story of their own. Art is a form of medicine; it carries healing properties that encourage us to tap into creative ways of capturing precious memories, emotions, and celebrations. This is what her virtual and in-person art sessions are all about! Deon’s ability and passion for art will inspire you to discover the artist within yourself and possibly, inspire you to continue to create art on your own.

Her greatest inspirations are the matriarchs in her family, her cultures, and most recently, her journey into motherhood. Her daughter has elevated her awareness and appreciation of all the beauty that exists within every moment of every day. It is these sacred experiences that add those personal touches to her art and stories.

For more information, email [email protected].
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