Yampa Kali Constine did laps around the stacks of books in the South Routt Elementary School cafeteria Tuesday. The third-grader earned the right to select seven books free of charge, and she didn't want to waste a pick.
She settled on two Junie B. Jones books, which is a series by author Barbara Park.
"It's about this girl named Junie B. Jones," said Kali, who added that she had several other books in the series. "She does different things. In this book, she cuts her hair. In this book, she has a mushy, gushy valentine."
Kali was able to select seven books as a reward for participating in the South Routt Literacy Carnival, which was the place to be Tuesday judging by the rows of parked cars and lines of preschool and elementary-aged children waiting to play games in the gymnasium.
"The prizes and books were purchased with grants and community donations so it's totally free to the kids," said Cheryl Sullivan, one of the many volunteers who helped organize the carnival.
Sullivan said she believes the carnival started five years ago as a way to help young children associate reading, writing and math skills with fun and games. The children play educational games and receive literacy-related prizes and punches toward free books.
South Routt's Alex Thomp-son, 7, has a goal to read 100 books before the end of the school year. He had read 58 books as of Tuesday. When Alex gets to 100, he plans to "keep on reading," but not before he receives an award.
"We go out to dinner with our teacher," Alex said.
The literacy carnival is geared toward children in the sixth grade or younger, which includes the children at the elementary school and the South Routt Early Learning Center. There were more than 20 booths set up Tuesday with community volunteers and high school students involved in various extracurricular clubs helping run the show.
Senior Joel Schlegel helped Katelyn Olinger, 5, play Twister Math, which was an educational spin-off on the real game Twister. Katelyn had to match her left and right arms and legs with the numbers Schlegel spun.
Senior Johnny DeCosta sharpened his math skills while helping second-grader Sarvis Anarella practice subtraction, a concept Anarella said she started at the beginning of the school year.
Freshman Julia Luciano made dozens of necklaces with beaded letters. Luciano participated in the South Routt Literacy Carnival when she was in sixth grade, so she remembered all the booths and an animal mascot walking around encouraging children to play games.
Of course, Julia's first name might have been easier to spell than Hannah Hohenstein's. But Hannah, 5, breezed through the letters of her first name when she was asked. Her last name was a different story, but she's excited to learn how to spell Hohenstein.
This fall, Hannah will walk through the elementary doors as a kindergartner. She is very excited, but she also plans to enjoy her final months as a preschooler in South Routt, which includes a lot of learning with fun and games.
"My favorite thing about preschool is the pictures, and you get to color them in with markers," Hannah said.