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Reading program explores world cultures
Written by Greg Ruland   
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:00

A local teacher passionate about child literacy teamed up with town of Clarkdale administrators to present this year’s summer reading program, One World, Many Stories, sponsored by Arizona State University. The one-hour class is free and open to the public.

Materials related to a trip to Mexico illustrate the journey of the week June 8 at the Clarkdale library’s summer reading program. The “One World, Many Stories” program is geared toward children from first through third grade and takes place every Wednesday from 11 a.m. until noon through Aug. 3.Every Wednesday through Aug. 3, Kathleen Ekholm engages children from first to third grade in a lively discussion about a variety of cities and countries. The program celebrates different cultures through crafts, games and imaginary adventures.

“Last week, we went on an imaginary world cruise and learned about different parts of the U.S.” Ekholm said shortly before the program was to start June 8.

“Now we’re getting on our plane to Mexico,” she said. “We’ll talk about how our traditions and cultures are the same and different. We’ll learn about how children live there.”

“Using their imagination, the children will explore countries and cultures from around the globe. Through stories, arts and crafts, show and tell, music and other fun activities, we will travel to France, Australia, Mexico, Egypt, Sweden and other countries,” Ekholm said.

Every week, the children get materials for a crafting project that reflect the place they visit. The project for the Mexico trip was a piñata made from a small paper bag filled with candy from the teacher.

“When I do crafts, I try to do them at home first as if I’m a 6-year-old,” Ekholm said.

The program is designed to appeal to children as young as preschool, but children younger than first grade must be accompanied by a parent.

One World, Many Stories targets children who want an activity before they head for the Clarkdale pool, Clarkdale administrative assistant Margie Hardie said.

“Kathleen is the star of the show,” Hardie said. “We’re doing our best to offer something to the community here. It’s our volunteers, like Kathleen, who make it happen.”

In the first session June 1, the children learned about how people live in the city compared to how they live in rural communities. Native American culture was also discussed and inspired the day’s craft, based on pictographs, Ekholm said.

“If they’re in the library afterward, they are encouraged to research any country they would like to visit,” she said.

Ekholm, a substitute teacher at Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District during the past 13 years, said children prepare to read years before they start school.

The program she presented at Clark Memorial Library during summer 2010 focused on getting toddlers and preschoolers engaged in reading.

Parents are important to the process because they know their own children best. Children learn best when they are in a good mood and parents know their moods best, she said.

“Children learn best by doing things and they love doing things with you,” Ekholm said. “Take every chance you have to read with your children, tell and talk about stories, say nursery rhymes and sing songs.”


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