Adventures In Reading
A mouse hiding around the house. A dress made from a paper bag. A sugar cookie in the shape of a bear. What do these three things have in common? They are all part of a virtual reading project created by Kelaynna Kikkert for participants from Communitas.
Kelaynna is studying at the University of New Brunswick and working on a bachelor of philosophy degree with an interdisciplinary in leadership.
“What that means is that I am learning what it takes to be a good leader, how society works and how one can thrive in society,” she explains.
One of her assignments was to create a community project that could benefit a group of people. Kelaynna has worked at Communitas as a residential support worker and she thought this community would be ideal for her project.
“It seemed like a great opportunity to work with the people that I had worked with in the past,” she says.
One of the unique things about the project was that the pandemic was absolutely no hinderance to it in any way. Kelaynna chose three children’s books and then created a manual with activities and recipes for each book that was then sent to the managers of several residences facilitated by Communitas. The participants would then join together in a Zoom session to hear the story and then they would enjoy the activities.
At Matthew’s House, Jadacey, Alexander, and Austin enjoyed reading Robert Munch’s The Paper Bag Princess. After reading the story, they spent time decorating a paper bag with themes from the story. One of the staff team, Kaitlin Wiens, says the activity was a nice way to be in community.
“The youth really looked forward to story time each week,” she says. “It was really well organized and the snacks were an added bonus.”
At the home managed by John Galay, the two residents thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The youngest resident was completely enthralled with Kelaynna’s reading of each story, the oldest loved the snacks the most. Before they read, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff, they enjoyed searching the house for pre-hidden cookies.
“The whole experience was amazing,” John says. “Having the combination of hearing the story and having an activity to go with each one was fantastic. They just loved it.”
At yet another home, Georgia, Richard, and Jeffrey really enjoyed the Christmas-themed book Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. Activities included colouring pictures of all the animals in the book and enjoying Christmas sugar cookies. Louise Duck, who manages the home where they live, says at one point, the actions of the three roommates paralleled part of the story. One of the lines in the book reads “…but soon all the voices fade to just one. A bright star glows while his good friends doze…”
“When we joined in the Zoom call, there was a lot of commotion and noise but soon they were fixed on Kelaynna’s voice as she read to them,” Louise says. “It was the Christmas tree in our home that glowed and soon the three of them were dozing, lulled by the reading of the story.”
Kelaynna was gratified by the enthusiastic response she received from the people who participated. It turned out to be a highlight for her as well, turning a class assignment into an activity that she looked forward to each week.
“I could see how excited they were to hear the story of the week,” she says. “I really enjoyed working with everyone at Communitas and I hope the reading program made a difference in their lives, even if just a little bit.”