Harvey Swanson Zooms in on family literacy night

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
On March 16, staff and students at Harvey Swanson Elementary communed via Zoom for their annual family literacy night for the lower elementary students as part of March is Reading Month.
“Last year’s literary night was unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic,” said Loren Mitten, first grade teacher and host of the game night. “This year, we decided to do it virtually so that we could still have one.”
The night started out with Fran Hotchkiss, Brandon Public Library Outreach Liaison, reading St. Patrick’s Day themed stories to the students and their families, as well as sharing resources available through the library for literacy.
“The purpose of a literacy night is to promote the importance of reading and writing, get families engaged in fun literacy activities together, and teach them about games, resources and strategies they can use at home,” said Mitten. “Our hope is that families will have fun engaged in literacy together and will leave with at least one thing that they’d like to try at home.”
The games, hosted by Mitten and fellow teacher Mrs. Olsen, included a ‘guess the word’ game where Mitten covered a word in a sentence and asked students to use context to guess what the word was under the piece of paper.
“Helps develop important skills when guessing a missing word or solving a tricky word,” said Mitten.

Following that game, Olsen played ‘I spy’ with a list of words, giving clues for students to guess the word she was looking at.
“This game helps students master reading and writing their sight words,” she said.
Olsen gave clues such as rhyming words, how many letters in the word, what it starts with or if the word has a long or short vowel sound. The games can be played at home, so families can continue practicing reading and writing skills outside of school in a way that is fun for students.
“Literacy is extremely important for young students,” said Mitten. “One of our most important jobs as teachers is fostering happy, confident readers.”

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