Around the World:

Family Literacy Night

Susan Heath, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Columbia, Missouri

Around the World:

Introduction

Around the World Family Literacy night is a project designed to highlight differences in culture and build literacy skills. As an EL teacher in my district, I understand the importance of creating opportunities for our students and families to learn about other cultures within our school community. Not only does this build trust and improve relationships, but it also helps lay a strong foundation for student success.  A welcoming environment where families feel included was one of my main goals for this project. As well, this project made it possible for our teachers and staff to expose students and families to strategies for improving literacy and language skills. 

In preparation for this event, students in grades K-5 read a variety of multicultural books highlighting home languages and cultures in our building. Each grade level completed a book study and a multicultural literacy project. These projects were displayed throughout the school building to share with families. Students were given a passport and map to find stations set up around the building. Family volunteers helped with cultural displays, literacy games, and crafts. Our event ended with multicultural songs from our school choir and dancing with a local African dance group.

Goals:

  • To cultivate cultural awareness in our school building.
  • To highlight and explore home cultures and languages in our school.
  • To involve all families in literacy activities that promote reading and writing.  
  • Create a collection of multicultural books that represent our EL population.

Step-by-Step Plan

Before Project Begins:

  • Order books and supplies.
  • Set up the date and time for the event.
  • Send out a family culture survey.
  • Ask for teachers and parents willing to help plan the event.
  • Collaborate with staff and teachers about the event. Explain the goals of the event. Discuss how to incorporate multicultural literacy, games, music, art, P.E, and media.

During Project Stage:

  • Analyze the results of the family culture survey.
  • Organize materials and supplies that were ordered.
  • Provide guidelines for culture study and sample materials for grade-level teams.
  • Notify families about literacy night.
  • Create a schedule for literacy night.
  • Collaborate with specialized teachers about integrating culture with P.E. games, art, music, and media/library.
  • Give each grade level team multicultural books, instructions, and model resources.
  • Distribute a sign-up sheet for volunteers to oversee a literacy station, craft, or multicultural display station.
  • Coordinate times for the choir to sing and for multicultural dance group to perform.
  • Provide volunteers instructions for the literacy, craft, and culture display stations.
  • Day of the event set up.

Post Project Stage:

  • Speak with families and get constructive feedback on next year’s event.
  • Send out thank you emails to volunteers.

Timeline

See step-by-step plan above.

What did it look like?

Budget

Nadia's Hands by Karen English
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Sakamoto's Swim Club by Julie Abery
Living in...India: Ready to Read Level 2 by Chloe Perkins
My First Book-Puerto Rico by Globed Children Books
Living in...Mexico: Ready to Read Level 2 by Chloe Perkins
Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You Sonia Sotomayor
The Good Song: A Story Inspired by Penelope Dullahan
A is for Asian American by Virginia Loh-Hagan
Yes We Will: Asian Americans who...by Kelly Yang
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
Drawn Together by Minh Le
Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan
Rock by Rock: The Fantastical Garden of... by Jennifer Bradbury
Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena
Round is a Tortilla: by Roseanne Thong
Juan Bobo: Four Folktales by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
Parrots Over Puerto Rico
The Katha Chest by Radhiah Chowdhury
Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani LaRocca
P is for Pakistan by Shazia Razzak
Southeast Asia (Social Studies: Info. Text) by Monika Davies
Let's explore Southeast Asia by Baby Professor
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
Burmese Children's Favorite Stories by Pascal Khoo Thwe
Islandborn by Junot Diaz
For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's..by Rebecca Ann Langston-George
Afghanistan Exploring Countries Blastoff Readers
Nasreen's Secret School
I See the Sun in Afghanistan by Dedie King
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin
P is for Poppadoms! by Kabir Sehgal
A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu
Beatrice's Goat
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams
Binny's Diwali by Thrity Umrigar
Gracias: Thanks (English/Spanish) by Pat Mora
Festival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal
This is How We Do It
Here I Am by Patricia Hee Kim
Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story...by Laurie A. Thompson
Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora
Biblioburro: A true Story...by Jeanette Winter
Wangari's Tree of Peace: A True Story by Jeanette Winter
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
The Librarian of Basra: A True Story by Jeanette Winter
I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakite
Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight
Off We Go to Mexico by Laurie Krebs
Dear Primo: A letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh
Let's Eat
Love Around the World
Let's Celebrate: Special Days Around the World
A Ticket Around the World by Natalia Diaz
Children Around the World by Donata Montanari
Children Just Like Me by DK
Same Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Fly Girl Fly by Nancy Roe Pimm
Global Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl (Author), Jean Potter (Author)

books
Zingo Sight Words
Phonics Dominoes
Wacky Words
Alphabet Bingo
Scrabble Junior
The Fidget Game
Snap it Up Game
Children of the World Puzzle
Children of the World Memory Game
Spot It! Classic Card Game
Gamenote Colorful Origami Kit for Kids
Poetry Tiles
Menique, Flags of the World Memory Matching Game
Pressman Word Hangman 5"
Junior Learning Short Vowels Dominoes
Junior Learning Blends Dominoes
Melissa & Doug World Map Jumbo Jigsaw Floor Puzzle
games
Putumayo Kids World Playground CD music
Giant Coloring Poster Jumbo Coloring World Map by Outus
Fun Express Passport Stampers 24 pieces
50 Pieces Person Multicultural Creative Cut-Outs People Shapes
Colorful World Map
10 set Tri Fold Poster Board Kit Large Fold Brand: TaoBary
200 countries' flags, 164 feet World Flags, Decorations
Supplies, Crafts & Other Resources

What did it look like?

Sustainability

Multicultural books teach students about respecting others and help students make connections to their own lives. The books and materials from this project will continue to be used year after year in our school community. The books themselves are available for teachers to borrow for lessons throughout the school year. Not only do multicultural books encourage cultural awareness, but teach students about different perspectives and tolerance of others from various backgrounds. Additional books can be added to the multicultural library in years to come. Literacy games further help build literacy skills in a fun and interactive way. In addition, they help students with motivation and provide students with an opportunity to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The games in this project will be used in future multicultural activities and literacy events. Also, they will be available for teachers to check out as a supplemental resource for enhancing their lessons or to promote student literacy skills.

Reflections

As I reflect on the outcome of this project, I am most excited to know that this project reached over 100 families and we were able to cultivate more cultural awareness within our school community. It also allowed an opportunity for families and teachers to interact with one another, learn about other cultures, read, and enjoy literacy activities. Integrating art, music, and multicultural displays enhanced our event even more. Our EL students’ excitement and pride showed on their faces when they saw their cultures celebrated throughout the school building. Knowing that this project will offer similar opportunities and continue to grow in the future is promising. I believe projects like this one show that our school values diverse perspectives and encourages cultural awareness. 

When recommending a project like this one to others, I would suggest planning the event in the winter months when not as many beginning-of-school activities are happening. It was also beneficial to plan around other literacy events our school had already scheduled. For example, we had a read-a-thon the following week, so it was a great way to kick off a month full of activities centered around literacy. We were able to highlight the event in newsletters, our family teacher organization, notes home, and other social media platforms which helped increase our attendance. Following a specific timeline and extensive planning helped with getting parent and teacher volunteers to assist with stations that we set up around the school building. I was pleased to get positive feedback and parent input after sending out a culture family survey. This was a valuable way to get feedback and ideas from families and integrate them into this project.

What did it look like?

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