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National Simultaneous Storytime across The Hamilton and Alexandra College


National Simultaneous Storytime - Margaret Simkin

In this guest blog post, Margaret Simkin, Head of Information Services at The Hamilton and Alexandra College Victoria, shares how the school celebrated ALIA National Simultaneous Storytime 2018 with a variety of shared reading activities that exemplify the power of picture books to help build community and strengthen inter-generational relationships.

Every year we aim to participate in this event across our school, which is Early Learning to Year 12 across two geographically separated sites. In the last few years we have added some additional activities which enhance our sense of community both within the college and our town.

As with all schools, we need to work around our timetabled commitments and this year our secondary campus was impacted by two factors beyond our control. Firstly, our Semester 1 examinations commenced later in the same week, which led to some of our usually involved subject teachers feeling that they couldn’t participate without compromising their students’ results. The day was also running on a time schedule which differed from the norm, which meant recess was early. On a typical Wednesday 11am would be the perfect time for teachers to bring students to hear the book then go to class, but not this year!

Our Junior School was, as always, fully committed and proactively sought enhanced learning opportunities from the event. The cross-school collaboration involved the Senior School’s Sophie Ross, one of our Year 6 teachers, and Frances O’Brien, who is the Director of our Early Childhood Centre. For the 3 year-old group this was their first off-site excursion as they came by bus to visit the Year 6 classroom, share the story and complete a follow up activity. There were 15 Year 6s and 16 Piccolo students, almost a perfect 1:1 match.

Year 6 students reading to juniors 1
Year 6 students reading to juniors 2
Year 6 student reading to juniors 3

The Junior School Student Representative Council read to interested students in our Junior School Library at 11.00 am. This was a voluntary event occurring during the morning break. Astoundingly, this event was attended by about 80 students – close to the total remaining on site.

Library crowd
The Hamilton and Alexandra College - sharing Hickory Dickory Dash

Bernadette Milich (Deputy Head and Grade 3 teacher) took the Kids Matter/Red Cross groups to the Birches Aged Care facility at the Hamilton Hospital to share the story with the older generation. These 12 students shared the book with several residents who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. One avid listener was the person who provided library services to outlying regional schools via the mobile van for many years.

The Hamilton and Alexandra College visit the birches aged Care facility 1
The Hamilton and Alexandra College visit the birches aged Care facility 2
The Hamilton and Alexandra College visit the birches aged Care facility 3

At the Senior School, I read the story to Georgina Hodge’s Year 7 English class at the start of their lesson, and several senior study students, plus a number awaiting print jobs to emerge from the printer who were attracted to join us. There were 28 students and 6 adults involved, and it was wonderful to see the enjoyment on everyone’s face as the story unfolded.

Overall, almost 100% of our Junior School and 32% of our total student body participated. Hickory Dickory Dash by Tony Wilson and Laura Wood, has a wonderful twist at the end and is possibly one of the best NSS choices ever as far as reading aloud! It made me reflect that reading aloud is something we rarely do once our children can read for themselves – and given the reactions to events like these, even grownups love the experience. School Library staff need to encourage everyone to keep reading, whatever else we also need to do!

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

Written By: Tony Wilson

Illustrated By: Laura Wood

Published By: Scholastic Australia