‘Mr. Popper’s Penguin’ problem piques pupils at Sugar Creek Elementary

Special to the Fort Mill TimesApril 21, 2014 

A Sugar Creek Elementary staff member greets cheering students dressed as one of Mr. Popper’s penguins.

KELLY MCKINNEY — FORT MILL SCHOOL DISTRICT

— Students at Sugar Creek Elementary School, along with their parents and school staff, have been reading “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” as part of the “One School, One Book” program.

Participapting in the ReadToThem.org program, Sugar Creek Elementary selected a book for all students, teachers and parents to read during the school year. The book was chosen carefully to appeal to children from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“What’s so exciting about the program is that we are all reading the same book,” said Sugar Creek library media specialist Kimberly Nees. “Not just all the students, but also all the parents and teachers. I think it brings us together as a community.”

The focus of the program is family literacy. Parents are encouraged to read to their children every night for three weeks, and each family gets a copy of the book to keep. Students are reminded every night to ask their parents a very important question: “Will you read to me?”

Sugar Creek teachers also take the opportunity to read the book aloud in the classroom and ask daily trivia questions over the announcements with prizes like bookmarks and Popsicle parties for classes with correct answers.

Second-grade teacher Kelsey Pettus said she reads the book to her students, who are always eager to hear the next installment.

“The kids love it. They come to school saying, ‘My mom read this to me last night,’ ” Pettus said. “To see the excitement in their faces is great as a teacher.”

“Sometimes we think once our kids can read that they should read books by themselves,” said Nees, “but it is beneficial for every family to read together every day.”

Students are particularly excited about the program because of a presentation in which teachers dressed as penguins to present the problem of Mr. Popper, who has to deal with a house full of penguins.

“We did activities on penguins earlier this year, so the kids already knew that penguins come from the South Pole and not the North Pole, which is actually helpful to know in the book,” Pettus said.

Teachers say they hope other schools in the district will participate in the future.

“Parent reaction has been very positive,” Nees said. “I hope we extend the program and make it ‘Two Schools, One Book’ next year.”

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