March 23, 2011 Edition

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SHES participates in reading program

Sloan-Hendrix Elementary School student Landon Gilbreath meets the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation black pony.

Sloan-Hendrix Elementary School is continuing its participation in the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation (BSLF).

Combining Walter Farley's books and real horses, the BSLF teaches first-grade children the excitement and joy of learning to read.

The BSLF is an innovative partnership among educators, businesses, volunteers, education foundations and staff members focused on promoting literacy.

"This is the third year that the first graders have been able to participate in the BSLF program and the fifth year that the fourth graders have been involved," Becky Foreman, Sloan-Hendrix literacy coach, said. "The children love horses and the BSLF makes a connection using the live horses and literacy. This program gets the children so excited about reading."

The project was conceived in 1999 by "The Black Stallion" author Walter Farley's son, Tim, and Mark Miller, owner of Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Kissimmee, Fla.

The school-based BSLF programs are composed of activities developed around Walter Farley's classic books. The programs are curriculum-based literacy programs for first and fourth through fifth grade students. The programs are age appropriate and aligned with both state and national standards in reading and other curriculum areas.

For the first graders, the BSLF provides two books to each of the students.

"First the BSLF brings a black pony to the school for the children to see and feel the real horse," Foreman said. "This brings the reading to life for them."

During the initial visit the students each receive the book, "Little Black, A Pony." In April, the students will take a field trip to Jonesboro where they will get to participate in activities centered around horses.

"The children will actually get to take turns reading to horses," Foreman said. The fourth grade students each receive a copy of Walter Farley's classic book "The Black Stallion" and go on a field trip to the ASU Equine Center to watch a skit based on the book.

"The goal of the program is to spark the imagination of the first grade students so they will want to learn to read, and to motivate fourth and fifth graders so they will experience the joy of reading," Foreman said.

She said the students at Sloan-Hendrix love being involved in the BSLF program.

"The combination of horses and reading creates an interest in the children to want to learn more," she said. "We are very fortunate and thankful that we are able to be involved in the reading program."

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