Super Why Reading Camps
June 1, 2016
On TV, Super Why and his friends help preschool-age kids learn key reading skills – making the characters a natural fit for helping kids prepare to start kindergarten.
The Educational Outreach team at Arizona PBS trains educators on how to run Kindergarten Readiness Summer Camps. The camp materials, designed by PBS Kids, use the Super Why characters to help children prepare for the school year, both academically and socially.
“It is engaging for students and all encompassing,” said Denise Lundberg, a teacher at Litchfield Elementary School who partners with Arizona PBS to lead workshops on these camps. “Lessons focus on literacy, but also give students a chance to learn how to share, use scissors and glue, follow directions and in general be school-ready.”
It helps that kids love Super Why, says Kim Flack, Associate General Manager of Educational Outreach for Arizona PBS. The series focuses on four friends who come from familiar stories like Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood. Each character takes the lead on an aspect of literacy, such as rhyming sounds or spelling, in stories that use fairy tale characters to tackle relatable childhood problems.
During the summer camps, one part of the curriculum involves repeated viewings of the same Super Why episode. The kids don’t get bored, Lundberg said.
“They take ownership and are looking at it with a different ‘lens’ of literacy each day,” Lundberg says. “One day they may be watching for letters and sounds, while another day they are looking for rhyming words.”
Repetition is powerful for young children, she said. Each day of the camp is varied enough to keep students’ interest, but is also framed in a routine they can understand.
The summer camps can make a big difference once the school year starts. Lundberg said that in her experience, students were able to adapt to day-to-day life of the classroom right away, and their shared experience of camp helped them connect to each other.
Kindergarten teachers at Litchfield Elementary School are planning to offer Kindergarten Readiness Summer Camps before the school year begins, as are schools in Gila Bend, Rio Rico and many other districts. To find out if there will be a Super Why camp near you, or for more information on how your school district can get involved, contact [email protected].