Indie, a young alpaca, was the center of attention at Parr Elementary School. Incoming kindergarten through third grade students in the Jeffco Summer of Early Learning program took turns petting her …
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Indie, a young alpaca, was the center of attention at Parr Elementary School. Incoming kindergarten through third grade students in the Jeffco Summer of Early Learning program took turns petting her and asking questions about her.
“Alpacas are really sweet,” said Liviana Klisis, a 12-year-old Arvada resident who is raising Indie as part of the Jeffco 4-H program. “We always raised sheep and cows, but they were market animals so they didn’t live very long, which was sad because we would raise them from babies and then we would have to send them off.”
Her alpacas though, are companion animals.
Indie was joined at the school by other 4-H animals — bunnies, a chicken and a duck who visited the school on June 27.
It was a day that students in the summer program could bring their curiosity to life.
Currently students are doing an immersion study of nonfiction books, which includes reading about all kids of animals — everything from spiders to elephants to fish.
“I thought it would be a good idea to bring in some real animals so they could talk and write about that in the class,” said Scott Thompson, principal at Parr Elementary.
During the 6-week summer program students are working on discovery reading, a technique where kids read and ask open-ended questions including “what do you see? What are you discovering about your animal today?”
“It’s very engaging for the kids because they are getting to make the choice about what they’re reading about and then also what they’re writing about,” said Kim Ballantyne, assistant director for the Colorado Read Act for Jeffco schools.
“This feeds right into it,” Ballantyne continued while watching students interact with live animals. “What are they doing right now? They are discovering and exploring theses animals — real animals instead of animals just from a book.”
Parr, in Arvada, is one of seven sites for the Jeffco Summer of Early Learning program, which employs 90 teachers and serves about 900 students.
All students in the program are either on a READ plan or have been recommended by their teacher. The free program focuses on intervention around reading, writing and math. Breakfast and lunch is also served every day to participating students and their siblings under age 18.
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