More than 180 first grade students brought their very own Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to Wylie East Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 3. Across campus, parade balloons proudly “flew” in honor of “Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade”, a book librarian Shyrl Martinez reads each year as part of her curriculum.
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From the Pages to Real-Life
This is the first-time students have celebrated the book this way thanks to the highly inventive mind of Martinez. “I came across the Balloons Over Broadway about 10 years ago. I instantly fell in love with it,” says Martinez. My brain was buzzing, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought to myself, ‘Look at all these things I could create just from this book!’ … I couldn’t get started fast enough with all the wonderful things that came from this book.”
Martinez brought the book to life with a fantastic display within her library, but last year she decided it wasn’t enough. She decided Wylie East Elementary should have its very own parade, and that it would be more than just a fun activity but a learning opportunity the kids would always remember. With the support of the first-grade teachers, the parade became more.
“The students learned about Tong Sarg, the creator of the Thanksgiving Day balloons by me reading the story and then they were tasked with creating their own parade balloons, using a balloon and materials such as paper, tape, and anything else they could think of,” says Martinez.
Heading back into the classroom, the students got to work. Teachers provided learning activities, driven by the TEKS, that supported what the students had learned about the book. Activities varied from journaling to reading aloud and completing a question guide to problem solving and vocabulary activities to making story maps.
Martinez said the support she received from all the teachers was incredible and their extension of Balloons Over Broadway into the classroom is something she appreciates. She said one of the teachers even made sure they had an official parade banner. “Mrs. Stephanie Roberts designed our banner, and her husband’s company, SignTex, printed and donated it to us.”
While there was no wind or chilly weather to contend with like in New York City, “flying” parade balloons was exciting, nevertheless. According to a few first-graders in Mrs. Garcia’s class, there were mixed emotions initially about parading their creations for the entire school to see.
“It was exciting to be the first group of first graders, but I was nervous, said Reagan Callen. Callen said her nerves calmed quickly though thanks to her friend who walked ahead of her giving high-fives to the students lined up and down the halls to watch their parade. Fellow classmate Kaiden Howe said he was also a little nervous at first, but “then it got fun because everyone was clapping.”
The support of all the others cheering made a difference for Emmi Sullivan. “I was happy they cheered for me, and I will cheer next year.” Sullivan was excited to be able to make her own balloon and felt confident about marching in the parade. “I knew I would do a good job and that my balloon would be cute,” she said.
Fun and silly parade balloons abound. Callen said she enjoyed seeing parade balloons made by others, especially her teacher Mrs. Garcia’s. “Her ice cream cone balloon was the best part of the parade,” said Cullen.
The success of the parade this year was evident to all involved regardless of if it was a first grader walking in the parade or students who were sitting along the halls cheering. “I was so excited to see all those smiling faces,” said Martinez. “The students did such an amazing job creating their balloons, and it was such…a great way to get everyone into the holiday spirit that I look forward.
Shyrl Martinez has been a librarian for more than 20 years with her last 5 years as the librarian of Wylie East Elementary School. Martinez says she loves spending her days with the students and staff and making sure she has a wide variety of books and resources for all her students. She said keeping enough on-hand at all times can be a challenge. Martinez pours her creativity into the library to bring the pages of books to life and ignite the minds of her readers. Take a look:
By Kristen Johnson
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