DPS wraps up ‘Reading Rocks LitCamp’
Throughout the month of June, Dyersburg Primary School hosted their ‘Reading Rocks LitCamp’, a summer day camp that places an emphasis on literacy through various fun activities and field trips.
The camp ran from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and students who participated were rising first- through third-graders.
“We had 45 students participate in this year’s program,” stated DPS Reading Recovery teacher and LitCamp director Jennifer Pruitt. “It is a 1 to 5 teacher ratio, so it’s 5 children per teacher. The whole camp, including activities, was centered around literature, reading and writing. Everything we did was literature-based.”
Pruitt mentioned that this was the first year for the Dyersburg City School System to host the LitCamp.
“This was our first year to do it, and we really didn’t have any kinks at all,” she said. “All of the teachers [that participated], except for one, are from DPS. One is from Dyersburg Middle School. When we went to training at the state they wanted it [the camp] to be [about] motivation. That was the No. 1 word that they wanted us to do for these children. They wanted the students to love reading to love writing. I think that the student’s attitude toward it has changed. It’s just experiencing literature and loving it.”
DPS was transformed to look like a summer camp, and students were referred to as campers. Unlike the normal school setting with chairs and desks, each room was transformed into its own campground with blankets and tents.
““It didn’t look like school,” stated Pruitt.
Activities, which were based off stories read or classroom lessons, included crafts such as dream catchers, sun catchers, creating s’mores in solar ovens, baking cookies from scratch by following a recipe, making ice cream, creating lava lamps, and others.
The learning not only occurred inside the classroom. Students were also given opportunities to learn and grow outside of the school as well. After reading a nature book, students were led in a nature scavenger hunt. Many field trips were also taken including:
• The Dyersburg High School Ag Barn – DHS ag instructor Patsy Peckenpaugh talked with the students about the livestock at the barn, including market hogs, market lambs, and Katahdin sheep.
• Brad and Sandy Baker invited students to their home. Students learned about crops such as soybeans, corn, and cotton. They talked about various plants and what they became and how they are used.
• On a hayride, students went to see Red Angus cattle owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bell and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bell II. Students played old-fashioned games, ran sack and stick horse races, played apple toss and horse shoes.
• Students visited Donnie and Kenny Holland where they were shown farm equipment and how it works. They had lunch in the yard and made butter by shaking various ingredients in a mason jar. Students ate the butter they made on wheat crackers.
• Other places and people visited included McIver’s Grant Public Library and director of Youth and Children Services Vanessa Cain, Dyersburg Police Department, Dyersburg Fire Department, First Citizens National Bank, City Hall and Mayor John Holden’s office, Professional Development Center and Danny Walden, other LitCamps in Lauderdale County, and Discovery Park of America.
To end the program, a celebration cookout was held, with Dot Foods providing hot dogs and chips for the children. The children played outdoor games and multiple prizes were given away. Two lucky students won bicycles, donated by Dyersburg City School Board Chairman Dr. Scott Self, due to having perfect attendance.
All campers who attended were served two hot meals daily, breakfast and lunch.
Pruitt also added that each child was able to take home 21 books by the end of camp for their own personal library at home.
According to Pruitt, the camp was funded by the state, but the Dyersburg City School System picked up the extra cost for field trips, the feeding program, and transportation.
“Our goal was to motivate students that reading and writing can take you places and be fun as well as educational,” said Pruitt.
Dyersburg City Schools Director Neel Durbin added, “The Summer Literacy Camp has been motivational, educational and prepared students for a greater opportunity in academic success. Our students and teachers were excited throughout the program. They have developed better reading habits that will impact their academic development. These are great kids with bright futures.”