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Volunteer Voice: Kathy Lofton

November 13, 2014

By Kathy Lofton

Kathy LoftonHappy fall, y’all! Kathy Lofton here. I’m excited to share about my ReadingPals experiences at Methodist Children’s Village on the west side of Jacksonville. Last year I had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Ginger Lee and Jeanne Welsh who matched me with four precious children. Thrilled to be returning to MCV for this fall, I chose Wednesday for my reading day so as not to fall into the pitfall of missing children on Fridays, which is not a free VPK day.

As a frustrated drama queen and a grandmother of out of town/state/country grandkids, I was primed and ready for another fun year full of four year old energy and enthusiasm. With rare exception, Wednesdays with my ReadingPals are the highlight of my week. Their open adoration of learning games and songs and their unconditional affection is a blessing beyond measure. It’s such fun having my very own fan club!

At our meet and greet session, there was a unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with each child and learn a little bit about each one personally. My two boys told me that they like to read books about dinosaurs and monster trucks. The girls expressed interest in princesses and animals. No big surprises there, but good to know.

Our first week, we read The Jacket I Wear in the Snow and talked about why we need to wear warm clothes in cold weather. While the kids were busy building snowmen, I slipped around the corner and pulled on winter gear—a cap, scarf, gloves, sweater, some wild socks and boots. They liked the look! As it turned out, this was our first crisp fall day and the kids had brought light jackets to wear outside.

Kathy and two of her ReadingPals
Kathy surprised her ReadingPals with cold weather clothes to fit the theme of that week’s book.

Here Are My Hands found us tracing our hands. When I suggested that the boys draw fingernails, they both started coloring their own instead of the ones we had traced. Ms. Ginger asked if I’d be willing to add an extra little boy who has a pair of ReadingPals, but might need a bit more attention. So our group grew by one more.

The Earth Book gave us a chance to talk about recycling. I brought samples from my bin at home and shared my Lily Bloom purse that’s made from recycled water bottles. We talked about reusing things like passing down outgrown clothes and books, and about conservation of water and electricity, and keeping the earth clean for everyone to enjoy.

 

Students at Methodist Children's Village show off their learning activities from ReadingPals.
Students at Methodist Children’s Village show off their learning activities from ReadingPals.

Okay, so even professional grandmothers slip up now and then, so instead of White Rabbit’s Color Book, I read Mouse Paint (I knew it was something to do with colors)! At any rate, we learned about primary colors and what happens when they are mixed together. Bean bags were the perfect manipulative for my active bunch. Each child had a couple of turns catching one, naming the color, then finding something in the classroom that was the same color. They then took turns tossing bean bags back into the big bag!

My Friend Bear is such a sweet story about a little boy and a very big bear, both lonely and each with a toy bear. Despite differences, the two become friends and we had the chance to share about our own friends.

The Deep Blue Sea was great fun with colors and sequencing and the magnetic fishing pole puzzle. Since all five children worked as one group, we had time to sing pumpkin carols and read It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with the entire VPK class. And all the children sang Happy Birthday to me!

This week we read The Alphabet with Wild Animals, learning about upper and lower case letters, and sharing about our favorite wild animals. Ms. Ginger and Jeanne are so thoughtful about inviting me to special events such as open house, Reading BEARS (Be Excited About Reading), and graduation. Looking forward to seeing the progress my kids will make over the course of the school year…

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If you’d like to be a ReadingPals volunteer, like Kathy, learn more about the program or sign up now!