On Friday, Nov. 15, students and staff at Meredith Nicholson School 96 will ditch their school uniforms and work attire for their favorite pajamas, but it’s not because of a quirk related to daylight saving time.
It’s in celebration of the IPS school’s annual Scholars in Sleepwear day.
For one day, students, teachers, staff and invited guests leave their uniforms (or work clothes) at home, dressing down in their comfy pajamas and coming to school for a day of fun, games and reading.
Assistant Principal Cara Chandler said the idea was simple enough: everyone dresses in pajamas for a day.
“We wanted to have a little fun, and, of course, promote literacy and academics,” said Chandler. “For me, the best thing I can think of is me in my pajamas curled up on the couch reading a book. So, we decided to be in our pajamas reading a book (at school). And who doesn’t want to wear their pajamas to school, when they normally have to wear a uniform?”
The day is devoted to reading and reading-related activities, and the festivities have expanded in the third year. This year, the gym will be set up as a campground, with tents and stations that include activities like knot tying and painting materials.
Students will travel from station to station at scheduled intervals, listening to guest readers and participating in activities. A S’mores Station, which consists of cinnamon graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate chips, will give students something to snack on.
There are also classroom-specific activities, like a book-themed door decorating contest for each classroom, and a scavenger hunt. Teachers and students will also have some free time to create their own reading-themed activities.
Different grade levels participate at the same time, allowing students to work with different age groups than they’re used to. For example, sixth graders and third graders will be paired. Chandler said this strategy builds community, giving students the opportunity to interact with older or younger students they may not otherwise mingle with.
Meredith Nicholson was one of three schools to receive the Love of Reading grant this year from the Herbert Simon Community Foundation. The grant allowed the school to renovate its library space, including an update of the book collection and adding three new reading-related positions: a reading specialist, a librarian and a community person.
Chandler said it was good to have an opportunity to focus on building a love of reading.
“It’s so great to be able to demonstrate to kids that reading is fun,” she said. “Most of the time when you’re in school, you read a story and have to answer questions, analyze it, say why you liked it, or do a book report or whatever. We just want to have fun activities and tell students that reading is just fun.”
Scholars in Sleepwear has become such a popular day at the school that it has become a tradition. Chandler said they’re working to make the event bigger and better each year, adding new features and solidifying a love of reading in the students.
Fifth grader Allison T. called it one of her favorite days of the year.
“We get to express ourselves in our pajamas,” she said. “They are comfortable, and the day is like getting a story before you go to sleep.”
That excitement spreads to the teachers and staff as well, who get to show their students a different side of learning.
“The teachers cheer, because we all come in our pajamas, too,” said Chandler. “You know, it’s kind of nice to come to school and be so comfortable. Nobody complains. … We just have such a good time trying to instill that love of reading, but at the same time, improve their literacy skills.”