Members of the ISU Eta Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi (SDP) performed a puppet show and coordinated other activities on Wednesday afternoon, partnering with College Mentors for Kids.
A group of 10 second graders from Sheridan Elementary School in Bloomington got the chance to learn more about tooth education through the puppet show and games SDP put together for them in Room 145 of the Center for Visual Arts.
“College Mentors approached us to put on the event,” SDP president Lydia Reitz said, “and we have been getting this together all semester.”
Once SDP applied for a grant through their national organization to get the funds to put on the show, preparation began — which included making the stage, shopping for supplies and writing the script.
Throughout the event, SDP members guided the kids and integrated Spanish into each activity. The kids were introduced to the theme of the event right away; they learned what “tooth” meant translated into Spanish, and the word “diente” was used fluently throughout the afternoon.
First up was the puppet show, which told the story of a young Spanish boy, Miguelito, losing a tooth and showed the kids the differences between the U.S. version of the Tooth Fairy and the Spanish equivalent, known as El Ratón Pérez.
The script, written by SDP members, was adapted from a children’s book, “The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez,” by Rene Colato Lainez. The book employs strategies to help English-speaking children become more familiar with Spanish phrases.
SDP members performed the puppet show through puppets they had made behind an elaborate stage, which took about 15 to 20 hours to create.
After the show, SDP members distributed sheets of white paper in which the kids could color in their own teeth, with their names printed on the paper below.
When the kids were done decorating their paper teeth, they gathered in a line so each child could try to throw a lasso over a cardboard-made tooth from a distance away.
“The integration of the hands-on activities helps cement the learning in their heads,” Reitz said. “Instead of just one thing, it helps sink in after a few different activities.”
In wrapping up activities for the afternoon, the songs the SDP members played for the children were true to theme, relating to brushing teeth and intermixing Spanish in the lyrics.
SDP member Heather Carnahan mentioned the importance of teaching and encouraging students to reach out at a young age to their community.
“We want to encourage them to be learners and teachers,” she said.
They can learn something in school, and go home and teach their brothers or sisters, she explained.
Different SDP members have strengths in acting or in script writing, so it was nice to have them use their talents to present to the kids, which was helpful since a lot of us are education majors or education-focused, Reitz said.
“Our main goal was to help them recognize that Spanish is another language and is applicable to other areas of life,” Reitz said, adding that they start them at a low level and build their skills from there.
“Our stories are not the only stories,” Carnahan added on the importance of teaching kids different languages from early ages.
SDP member Rita Hess also noted how the after-school program helps the kids before sending them back to their parents.
“It helps them to blow off steam after sitting behind their desks all day,” she said.
The interactive setting provided the second graders with a fun, interactive way to learn Spanish in small doses.