In 1997, the National Education Association proposed a new idea – a national day to celebrate reading. On March 2, 1998, the nation celebrated its first “Read Across America Day,” appropriately celebrated on the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel (more commonly known as Dr. Seuss). Schools, communities, libraries and local businesses are all invited to have parties and events to promote and celebrate reading.
Here is one of my favorite Seuss quotes:
This quote seems appropriate for this article because the selected Seuss text for the 2015 celebration is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” Throughout the years, that book has been associated with graduations and life events. It was the last Seuss book published while he was alive and it has been name one of the Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children by the NEA.1
As we prepare for Read Across America Day 2015, here are a few suggestions for teachers and about how to incorporate this Seuss text into your classroom:
English – Reading & Writing
With a Dr. Seuss text, reading the book is always encouraged. For young children, this could be your daily circle time book. If you can obtain multiple copies, older children may break into groups and take turns reading the book. Even high school students could use the book as a platform for Reader’s Theater – just make multiple copies of the book to use as a script. Encourage high school students to really read the text and think of the subtext in order to give the words meaning.
Elementary students could engage in a group writing activity. Write a prompt on the board, such as “When I grow up, I will…” and let them write their own responses. (You may be asked to help with spelling.)
For middle school students, consider a group writing project. Depending on the size of your class, you may need to break students into smaller groups. Have your students take a few minutes and write life goals then have them combine their goals into a Seuss-like poem. (Creative rhyming is key!) Take the project one step further and let them illustrate their stories and create books to display in the classroom.
High school students and older could use this book to discuss future career goals. You could create a worksheet that looks like a road map with many final destinations. Have the student list their career goals in the destination spaces. Along the road, ask the students to think of three objectives they will need to complete to reach their goal. (For example, if the final goal was to be a doctor, objectives could be a certain college, grad school, and perhaps a desired residency.) Encourage them to really think about their objectives, like stepping-stones along the way.
For a simple math activity, have your students make a list of physical places they would like to go – grandma’s house, Hawaii, New York City, Egypt, the Moon, Mars, etc. Next, have them list different modes of transportation and decide what would make the most sense for each place. Ask them to defend their answer. Lastly, have them research how long it would take them to reach the destination and make a graph illustrating all of the locations and the modes of transportation.
Have your students make a list of all of the places they have been outside of the state. Encourage them to think of vacations, family visits, and more. (If your student hasn’t gone anywhere, ask them to think of a few places they would like to go.) Then, bring in an over-sized map and help your students mark the places they visited. For younger students, start with a map of the U.S. As students get older, you can expand to a map of the world.
For a physical activity, head to a place with lots of open space – like a gym, an empty classroom, the black top, or a patch of grass. Play “Mother, May I?” with your students. In this game, you as “It” stands on one side and your students stand opposite you, asking one at a time if they may move so many spaces toward you. Or, try a variation on “Red Light, Green Light” where students suggest different modes of transportation, such as a canoe or roller skates. This activity encourages both creativity and gross motor skill development.
Head to your local library or search on iTunes for the soundtrack to “Seussical: The Musical.” Play the soundtrack during free time and let your students listen to their favorite Seuss stories told through song. The song “Havin’ a Hunch” makes multiple references to the book. You will also enjoy “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” and “How Lucky You Are”.
When I think of this book, I immediately think of hot air balloons. While the concept may be overdone, there are so many ways to create them to make it unique. Young children can decorate a coloring page, while older students could consider paper mache, origami, or decorating a real balloon. Have your students look around their home for circular objects, like buttons and cotton balls. The possibilities are endless!
Seussville.com has a very fun online game based on the book. Students use the arrow keys to collect hot air balloons. Middle school students may find it too easy, but it’s a great activity for kids who have a basic understanding of the keyboard. The whole Seussville website if full of fun games, activities, and all things Seuss! You can also find read alouds of the book on YouTube for smaller children. Let them follow along with the book as it is read to them. Pause the video from time-to-time and let them read to you.2
Also, do not forget how much fun a dress up day could be! Encourage your students to dress up as someone who reached their goals. During class, have your students explain their costume and the related goal to the class.
What have you and your students done in the past for Read Across America Day? Let us know!