Cathy DeCecco, a teacher at Yosemite Valley School, put it well when she described students in her transitional kindergarten through first grade classroom.
She said there are some young, but mighty wordsmiths in the class.
“They’re amazing,” DeCecco said of her students.
Those young wordsmiths put their minds together during the quarantine period and — with a little help from DeCecco — ended up with a published book.
The class members teamed up to write and illustrate “The Year Room 5 Stayed Home.”
“I am so excited about this project,” said DeCecco.
The idea for the hardback book came back in the winter, when DeCecco was browsing Facebook and saw an advertisement about the opportunity to publish a book.
“I ordered the publishing kit in January. It was a Facebook sponsored ad. I had never done anything like this before,” she said. “I clicked on it and ordered it, thinking we would do a book about Yosemite animals. Each student would pick an animal and research it.”
Soon thereafter, Covid-19 forced schools to shut down, and the plan for the book was altered.
“I thought, maybe we’ll do a book about this (quarantine) experience. It’s hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience to experience a pandemic. I talked to some of the parents to make sure they were on board,” said DeCecco.
Trying to pull off the creation and publication of a book while social distancing wasn’t easy. It took some creativity and the use of video conferencing.
“I video chatted with the kids, and I asked them to tell me about what home learning is like, and what they liked and don’t like,” said DeCecco.
DeCecco wrote down the remarks from her students, and then sent each student a packet. From that packet, the students would trace their remarks onto a page, and create a picture to include with the selection.
“I made a packet that had some directions,” DeCecco said. “I would say it was at least a five week project from start to finish.”
The final product was one that brought a big smile to DeCecco’s face.
“They’re hysterical,” DeCecco said of the pages. Some of the entries deal with losing a tooth and missing friends, or deal with hilarious situations, like wanting to watch more TV while being at home. “It is hilarious and so cute,” DeCecco said. “The pages vary.”
Each student eventually received a copy of the book.
“I bought some for my students and also used some (parent group) funds,” DeCecco said.
On June 22, DeCecco held a Zoom video conferencing party for her students and she got the opportunity to read the story to them.
“It sounds like the kids like it and enjoy it,” she said.
To learn more or to request a copy, email DeCecco at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I can’t wait to do it again next year, hopefully in person. It was fun. This company (we utilized) was amazing,” DeCecco said.