Rendell Park Elementary School is going above and beyond in helping children understand the importance of literacy.

January 27 is Family Literacy Day in Saskatchewan however, the students at Rendell Park have been learning about literacy for the entire month of January. Grade 6 teacher Teira Thomson says they want to show the students different forms of literature throughout the month.

“We wanted to do a little more than promoting literacy just at home, we wanted to do it at school. We wanted to touch on all different kinds of literacy from the words that you use to different forms of reading and writing.”

One week focused on increasing the students’ vocabulary and another focused on Indigenous storytelling. The school invited elders from Onion Lake Cree Nation to share stories with the children.

“We wanted to spread it out so that it wasn’t too taxing on everybody in the classroom by doing some small activities over the entire month.”

Kyra Stefanuk, co-creator of Prairie Sister Productions, helped teach the students about poetry, which is the literary focus of the final week. Stefanuk and her sister made the poetry book Ramble: A Smidge of Blue. The book is a collection of poems and photographs that showcases the Prairies.

“We’re doing sessions on what poetry is and how to write poetry. Then we all write poems together and then they do one independently,” says Stefanuk. “It shows them that there is so much excitement that can be had with literacy, poetry and there’s opportunity to be passionate about these things.”

Stefanuk says it’s important to show the students more forms of reading and writing beyond the ones that are usually used during school.

“It’s important to show them beyond persuasive and essay writing. Those are important and they have value in literature but there’s not a lot of rules in poetry and it gives you freedom in that creative writing.”

Thomson hopes each student is able to find a new way to enjoy literacy. Family Literacy Week ends on February 1.