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OETA hosts a youth writers' fair at The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Rosser Conservation Education Center Jan. 30.


From the Writer’s Contest awards program. The OETA Winter Writers Fairs are a prep event for that contest. - ACCORDING TO  CASSIE GAGE AT OETA
  • According to Cassie Gage at OETA
  • From the Writer’s Contest awards program. The OETA Winter Writers Fairs are a prep event for that contest.

At the end of the month, 250 aspiring elementary school writers converge at The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Rosser Conservation Center to hone their skills.

OETA’s Jan. 30 Winter Writer’s Fair teaches students writing skills they might not see until later grades.

“The sooner we can expose the children to concepts like the writing process and different forms of writing, the better. This is an exposure to that to encourage them to practice and build those skills,” said Calvin Curtis, OETA’s vice president of education.

Several local children’s writers will be on hand, and youth authors Gwendolyn Hooks and Stacy Nyikos will conduct a writing workshop for guests. All prekindergarten through third-grade workshop participants will receive signed copies of Hooks’ and Nyikos’ books.

The hall will be filled with learning stations staffed by certified teachers ready to instruct parents and students on literacy activities they can complete at home.

“The students and parents are actively engaged in the reading process, and while these are fun, they have a purpose,” said Michele Sprague, director of elementary language arts at Oklahoma State Department of Education. “These activities are entered into the reading standards, but they are fun and exciting. The kids have a great time. That’s the No. 1 reason they’re so engaged.”

The event is funded by the Oklahoma State Department of Education as part of OETA’s larger Ready to Learn program. Each student member of Ready to Learn receives one free book each month to help them build up their home libraries and encourage them to read. Participating teachers also receive free books for their classroom libraries.

“This is a wonderful way for students to work with their family and also enjoy learning,” said Edmond Public Schools teacher Christine Toy. “I took this back into my classroom and had my own students go through the writing process and submit their stories to the OETA writing contest. They had so much fun. It’s exciting to see children being able to be creative as well as learn at the same time.”

The program works, Sprague said, because it actively involves parents in their children’s school success.

“Right now, our students are facing many challenges when it comes to gaining these academic skills,” Curtis said. “As one of the state’s education agencies, we see it as our duty to help as much as possible and provide these resources. That’s why it matters. … In the long run, [students] are important to the success of Oklahoma because our children are our future workforce and the better we prepare them, the better the outcome we’ll experience as a state.”

For more information and to register, visit The first 200 registrants also receive free zoo passes for the day.

Print headline: Word games, OETA’s Winter Writer’s Fair returns Jan. 30 to The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Rosser Conservation Education Center.

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