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Storybook characters take McKeesport Area students on a world tour

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 7:24 a.m.
McKeesport Area kindergartners, from left, Keniyah Brown, Olivia Butker and Ariona Stinson admire the post cards they received from across the United States and around the world.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area kindergartners, from left, Keniyah Brown, Olivia Butker and Ariona Stinson admire the post cards they received from across the United States and around the world.

With literature lifting their imaginations, McKeesport Area kindergartners are traveling the world through the eyes of storybook characters Jack and Annie.

At Centennial Elementary, students were introduced to “The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne with kindergarten teachers Holly Hawley, Trina King and Linda Richardson hoping to inspire an interest in reading and a curiosity about the world. The series, which will release its 50th installment in July, follows Jack and Annie through a world of geographic and time-traveling adventures that are supplemented by companion guides of pertinent facts.

“We wanted to incorporate literature and geography at the same time, because geography is hard to work into the kindergarten curriculum,” Hawley said. “Our students are sitting, listening to non-fiction and begging to hear chapter after chapter.”

Centennial's three kindergarten classes presented lessons on the United States, Puerto Rico and Ireland on Wednesday, when they invited McKeesport Area administrators to a party inspired by Polly Parrot and Book 6, “Afternoon on the Amazon.”

The book was the series introduction at Centennial, and students and teachers agreed it would make a dazzling party theme. The kindergarten hall was decorated with a glittering river, dangling vines and lush vegetation — all artistically crafted as a surprise between school days. A bulletin board features a map and postcards to represent world adventures.

“We have more than 100 postcards,” King said. “We want to thank all of the parents and everyone in the community who participated. We couldn't have done this without them.”

Students said every lesson brings something new and exciting to the classroom.

“(Jack and Annie) have a magic tree house, and it's so much fun to go on adventures with them,” kindergartner Ashley Slagle said, noting her favorite journey was to prehistoric times to learn about dinosaurs.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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