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Northwest Tallahassee school uses pumpkins to promote literacy; here's how

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-27 09:36:13-04
  • Canopy Oaks Elementary School is inspiring a love of reading through decorating pumpkins
  • The goal is to connect families, studies show this improves retention of educative material
  • Watch the video to hear why decorating pumpkins is teaching students valuable life skills


Confidence, creativity, and a love for literature. That's what one teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary School has been working to inspire this month.

She's doing it in a very unique way. She said these pumpkins are doing more for these students than just providing a creative outlet.

Jen Turner, media specialist, at Canopy Oaks Elementary School created the idea.

"Really find anything that can engage the kids and find a love of reading and books," said Turner.

It's their first ever storybook pumpkin patch.

"I decided to decorate it as Sherlock Holmes, because he's curious like me," said Raegan Curtis.

In 2022, the Institute of Education Sciences found that Florida public schools had a higher tracked reading average than the nation average.

But Leon County saw a drop in pass rate for 3rd grade English.

Ms. Turner is trying to fix that.

"The younger you get them started and get that interest in books, the better chance of them wanting and liking reading is going to happen," said Turner.

Research into this uncovered the Heckman Equation. It shows how by engaging with education, a child will more likely be set up for success.

And they're definitely invested at Canopy Oaks. They received 150 decorated pumpkins from students.

Including students like Raegan, who said she loves reading.

"There's always something mysterious coming in the next chapter," said Curtis.

Beyond that, Ms Turner said it's also been teaching them a valuable life lesson - believing in yourself.

"The confidence piece that they were proud to show off what they did," said Turner.

Well if you weren't already feeling in the Halloween spirit enough! Ms. Turner said she is already workshopping future ideas.