Candy Land comes to Millersburg Elementary

Candy Land comes to Millersburg Elementary
Dave Mast

Kim Miller’s first-grade class takes a turn at the daily reading station.


Ahandful of well-known characters came to visit Millersburg Elementary during Right to Read Week March 25-29, and it was a sweet reunion bringing together students with the characters from the board game Candy Land.

Millersburg Elementary Title I teachers Loren Williams and Megan Mackey spearheaded the team effort, and their idea was to create a life-size Candy Land that would in turn get the kids excited about coming to school and participating in a week that included playing a lot of board games involving math skills, practical thinking and teamwork while creating a spirit of unity among the kids.

Williams said the school kindergarten’s Day of Play provided the idea of Candy Land, and they soon found out many of the students didn’t have much of an idea of some beloved board games.

“We were amazed at how many kids don’t play board games anymore,” Williams said. “Everything is digital, so getting them to learn how to play board games that include teamwork and thought process was important.”

Throughout the school kids were perched on the floor or at tables, invested in games like Trouble, Battleship, Sequence for Kids, Candy Land and other favorites.

Then there was the gymnasium, which transported kids into a world of wonder as they walked up the colorfully lit stairwell into the Candy Land world the staff had created.

The students teamed up and rolled dice to advance around the Candy Land squares, with areas featuring characters like Duke of Swirl, Mr. Mint, Princess Lolly, Lord Licorice and Gloppy, all to arrive at King Kandy’s castle, where they plummeted from the stage onto a high jump mat below.

“Our teachers were very passionate about the individual areas of the gym, and they worked well together to create the entire game,” Williams said. “Once it was all together, we were thrilled with what they had created.”

“We’ve got a lot of gifted teachers who take the time to make some intricate 3-D pieces,” Mackey said.

With an emphasis on reading and cooperation, the goal was to create something fun and educational that would help students get more inspired about coming to school.

Both educators said these are the types of events that really tend to stand out in the kids’ minds, and they can create a sense of learning that extends beyond the classroom setting.

“It’s fun, but it’s also simple things like learning to take turns, paying attention to details and being more courteous,” Williams said.

The week also included daily 10-minute reading sessions near the decorated school entrance, where teachers could read to their children and kids could read on their own.

The week also included a reading challenge for kids to do at home, where they were encouraged to read three books a night or read for 30 minutes an evening. If the goal was met, there was a reward.

“It’s a little extra push,” Williams said.

“It also invites parents to sit down and read or to play games with their children,” Mackey said. “Hearing your parent read is such a wonderful thing for kids to experience, and it’s great family time.”

But what truly paid off for the staff was watching the kids’ eyes light up when they walked up the stairwell and first saw the gym. With the color explosion and all of the characters beckoning, there were plenty of oohs and ahhs from the students who got their first glimpse of Candy Land.

Williams said it was awesome to see the staff rise to the challenge, a challenge that also included a scavenger hunt all around the school to find and identify every staff members’ photo of them reading a book with the bottom half of their face hidden behind the book.

It all added up to one week of wonder and fun for students and staff.

“These kinds of events are awesome because we can have fun but we’re still reading and learning,” Millersburg Elementary Principal Renee Woods said. “One of the biggest hopes of Right to Read Week is that this enthusiasm for reading carries over to the home, where the hope is that parents will continue to read with their kids.”

Another bonus is these events that focus on learning will invigorate both staff and students after coming off winter months that can be drab.

Woods said the Millersburg staff is extremely supportive and creative for these functions.

One look at the Candy Land gymnasium — full of bright, decorative pieces created by the staff and each of the game’s characters and worlds — proved the staff took great care in recreating the fantasy land for the students.

“That’s a tribute to our staff,” Woods said. “They are pretty amazing, and they get all-in for this event because these are the memories these kids will remember and look back on with a lot of joy.”

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