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Reading Across America – in a virtual way

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 No Comment

We’ve read the books, and we’ve eaten the cake at the library. That’s all old Cat in the Hat now. What else could we do to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America, I wondered.

Big Guy’s school provided the answer in a brightly colored paper that came home late last week. Have the kids figuratively attempt to read across America, with a goal of covering the 2,582 miles between Fort Irwin and Washington, D.C.

Each minute read would equal a mile of the journey. Each grade in the K-2 school would combine its totals in an attempted to reach the capitol. The grade that the most progress along the route would win a special prize at the end of the week.

With at least four classes in each grade – and each getting credit for 100 minutes of in-school reading during the week – in theory the trip should have been easily completed. As of this morning, though, Big Guy’s class had made it only a tad more than 100 miles along the way. That means either a lot of kids aren’t reading at home even though 20 minutes a night is supposed to be part of their homework or they’re not filling out the “trip tickets” that log their daily minutes or miles. I hope it’s the latter.

But I digress.

Big Guy is an enthusiastic reader anyway, but creating a contest fired him up even more. I turned to my trusty wall map – it’s my best investment ever – and tracked his nightly progress. First, though, I charted it on a Google map because I’m simply not patient enough to figure out the scale on the wall model.

That’s when it occurred to me that there’s potential to extend the project far beyond this week and far beyond first grade.

At first I still was in virtual frame of mind – maybe the guys could read their way from one week’s NASCAR track to the next. That would have been doable when the circuit shifted from California to Nevada, but this week’s Nevade-to-Georgia jaunt would have failed.

Then I started thinking literally. Destination Disney? That’s 148 miles away. Hit the books. Want to visit Mawmaw this summer? That’s 2,474 miles. You better start now. If we had a camper, I’d hop in it and go. How much the guys read each night would determine our stopping point the next day.

For older kids, putting them in charge of the Google map would add digital skills to the mix. Regardless of age, the possibility for geography and history lessons along the way are limited only by how long a kid will sit and read.

For Big Guy, that time span is a lot longer this week.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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