Dana Johnson’s second grade class at Sonoma Heights Elementary School designed and published a book titled “Happy Birthday Winnemucca,” to celebrate Winnemucca’s 100th year birthday.
The project took about a month to assemble, the kids brainstormed what they know and like to do in the area, extensively researched Winnemucca, and practiced writing and drawing their pages before putting the final draft together to be sent off to the publisher.
After the kids finish brainstormed their ideas for the project, Johnson printed off information about their ideas and collected visitor manuals and other literature about Winnemucca for the kids to go through as a part of their research. “A couple of the boys got really excited about reading about ghost towns around Winnemucca,” said Johnson.
Johnson said it’s neat to see the kids that aren’t generally excited about reading really dive into the research when they find something they’re really interested in learning about. “It opens it up for a lot of extra history that the kids wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, our standards in the classroom don’t cover ghost towns around Winnemucca, the miners or sheep herders.”.
The project started in the late months of 2017 and the books arrived in the classroom at the end of January. “We do a read aloud every day so when the book comes in, I usually tell them, “I’ve got a brand new book that no class has read, would you like me to read it to you?” They get all excited and as soon as they see it, it’s chaos for a bit with the squealing and excitement,” said Johnson.
One student researched every Mayor in Winnemucca since the very first one, which is what sparked the idea to order an extra book to be signed by all the kids and taken to the Mayor as a keepsake.
After Mayor Putnam received the book, she made a special trip to visit the class and talk with the kids about the book. “That was something I never expected at all, I had no idea,” said Johnson.
Johnson said Putnam visited the class and went over the book with them and told the kids how proud she was of them for putting it together.
One of the standards in the second grade learning curriculum includes students participating in a shared research project, as a class. “We hit that standard, but they also learned a lot about the community where they live,” said Johnson.
“It’s kind of a neat lesson too that whatever you do, do your best with it,” said Johnson
The annual class project started as an idea to commemorate Nevada’s 150th anniversary in 2014, each year there is a different nonfiction theme for the project.
Last year the kids completed an animal themed Nevada A to Z alphabet book. “This is just something we’ve always done and the kids and parents love it,” said Johnson.
The commemorative books can be ordered online by visiting studentreasures.com/ordercopies using the pin number 6112507.