Service-Learning & Volunteering

America Reads

America Reads Flyer 2020

The application for America Reads work study positions will be available in early September through USM Career Connections HERE.

America Reads is a national campaign that was initiated in 1996 by the Clinton Administration and its focus is to help children learn to read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade. Currently, there are more than 1,200 colleges and universities participating in the America Reads program across the country.

Research shows that reading aloud plays an important role in literacy development. The goal of the America Reads program is to foster a love of literature in young children through positive reading role modeling provided by America Reads Student Readers. Student Readers will be paired with a local elementary school/student where they will spend time reading aloud and working on literary activities with students. 

Compensation for America Reads Student Readers is $12.55/hour, 5-10 hours a week. Hours worked are dependent on the elementary school’s schedule, the student’s schedule and the work-study award available to the student. Training will be provided to all student readers and it is anticipated that Student Readers will begin hours by October. At this time, the program is through Zoom.

For more information, please contact

Literacy Activities

1. Each person writes down a question beginning with “Why” Example- Why do cats meow? 
2. Fold the top over to hide the question, and pass it the next person who without looking at the question, writes an answer starting with “Because”. Example- Because I hate broccoli!  
3. Read out all the questions and answers. 
Why do cats meow? Because I hate broccoli! 

This is an alphabetical word game.

Have everyone get in a circle and clap hands to the beat. (clapping hands is optional) 
Start with the letter "A". 
"The minister’s cat is an Angry Cat", 
"The minister’s cat is a Black cat". Etc.

Players: 2 or more

The players write down a list of a dozen categories such as: fish, flower, fruit, vegetable, animal, bird, country, town, river, boy's name, girl's name, and famous person.

A letter of the alphabet is then chosen at random and the players have five minutes in which to write a word for each category beginning with the chosen letter.

For example with a chosen letter of "B", the list could be Barbell, Buddleia, Blackberry, Beetroot, Bison, Bittern, Bulgaria, Basingstoke, Bur, Brian, Beth and Beethoven.

The players read out their lists in turn.

Each word which is not on any other player's list scores a point. The winner is the player with most points.

A Variation of Crossword (On chalkboards or poster paper...) 
Print a long word horizontally. If you are having a "Theme Day or Week"--choose a word related to the theme.

Kids  build words from the original "started word". The first couple words built from the "original' word should go vertically, so additional words can be thought of. Following words can then go vertical or horizontal.

Encourage kids to write words neatly and with as many letters as possible. This can be played with two kids or  with a few in teams.

An example on how to start: 



Use Small Ziploc storage bags, food coloring and thick styling gel (dippity-do gel) 
Measure about 4 tablespoons of styling gel into a Zip-loc bag and add several drops of food coloring. Close bag while removing any air and then have kids mix food coloring around until gel is all one color. When mixed, children lay the bags on a flat surface and practice writing their letters or numbers. Good for improving fine motor skills. (Thick paint also works in a baggie) 

One player says two words. If the words share a sound (first, middle, or last), the other players say, "Snap!" and snap their fingers. If the two words do not share a sound, the other players are quiet. Begin with first sounds and move into the other sounds as the children are ready. (You may have to work on teaching children how to 'snap' their fingers!)

Children take turns picking a letter from a container, and are to think of one or two words that start with that letter. If they pick out the word or picture of a 'bean' instead of a letter, children all get up and jump around like Mexican jumping beans!

The first person writes down a letter.

The next person adds a letter, and must have a word in mind.

The next player adds another letter, again working towards spelling out a word.

Next player adds another letter, and so on, until nobody can add another letter.

If you think the other player doesn't have a word in mind, you can challenge him, and if he can't tell you the word, he's out.

Place several small toys or objects in a paper bag. Start telling a simple story.

Take turns with children in choosing an object from the bag, holding it up and incorporating it into your story.

Continue until all the objects have been used.

If YOU are telling the entire story---by taking turns---have a child incorporate the item into the story...

*** Similar Idea: PASS AROUND A BAG OF PICTURES.  Each person pulls out a picture and works the picture into the story and moves it along.

The following are a few riddles about animals --- written by a group of first grade children. Consider doing this with your group. Have each child write a riddle-and then draw a picture of the riddle with the answer! Make copies of all and compile into a booklet...

I have an orange beak. 
I wobble back and forth. 
I have a white stomach. 
I am black. 
I slide on the ice. 
Who am I? A penguin

I have two legs. 
I have wings, but I can't fly. 
I eat plants. 
I can go fast. 
I have a long neck. 
Who am I? An ostrich

I am tall. 
I eat leaves. 
I have a long neck. 
I am orange and brown. 
I have long legs. 
Who am I? A giraffe