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Para-educator uses stuffed animals to encourage reading

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Stuffed toys line the I-Mac room at Artz-Fox Elementary School. Many of the toys represent the characters found in the books that students read daily. Para educator Teresa St. George has collected the toys to encourage reading.

MABTON - Artz-Fox Elementary School para-educator Teresa St. George likes to shop at yard sales.

While "shopping" she has found numerous dolls, stuffed animals and other toys that she has used in the Artz-Fox I-Mac lab, where she spends her mornings, helping encourage kids to read.

On a shelf in the class, St. George has her "Arthur" books sitting next to the stuffed figures of "Arthur," the character in the books. Next to the section dedicated to "Arthur" are several bright, red stuffed Clifford dogs along with books about the big red pooch.

St. George displays books on dinosaurs next to plastic tyrannosaurus figures, as well as a toy train to accompany the book "The Little Engine that Could."

Some of the figures have sayings they repeat with the press of a button and others are just nice to cuddle with.

One of the largest displays in the I-Mac lab features characters and figures by Dr. Seuss.

St. George said students will come in and play with the dolls when they have free time or after testing they will grab a book, which they can read for the accelerated reader program.

But the computer lab has more than just books, computers and dolls in it.

Around the ceiling the phrase "I love to read" is translated into 20 different languages.

"It helps the kids to realize there is more than just English and Spanish," said St. George.

She also has a section of the room that features books in other languages and candy wrappers from Japan, where her son lived for two years.

While in the morning St. George mostly focuses on typing skills and testing students, her afternoons are spent in the classroom helping students develop a love for reading.

"I think the stuffed animals help them want to read," she said. "It gets them interested in a book."

. Melissa Browning can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail mbrowning@eaglenewspapers.com

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