Alpacas, maracas and book stackers galore! Students in our CEDoW schools across the Diocese have joined over one million kids in Australia and New Zealand in gathering together to be read aloud the same book at the same time for National Simultaneous Storytime!
In its 19th year, the annual Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) event has been a huge success, with kids in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country all sharing in Australian author and illustrator, Matt Cosgrove’s book ‘Alpacas with Maracas’.
The colourful, fun event aims to promote the value of reading and literacy using an Australian children's book. This year’s book celebrates a positive storyline and themes and was chosen for its appeal to a modern and diverse audience, addressing key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6, and lending itself to craft and other learning activities – many of which were greatly enjoyed by our students throughout the day.
Below is a roundup of National Simultaneous Storytime activity in our Catholic primary schools. View our full photo gallery here.
(Click on the below links to go straight to your school!)
- Holy Cross, Helensburgh
- St Francis, Edmondson Park
- St Brigid's, Gwynneville
- St John's, Dapto
- St Patrick’s, Port Kembla
- St Pius X, Unanderra
- St Thomas More, Ruse
- St Clare’s, Narellan Vale
- Stella Maris, Shellharbour
- St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Milton
- St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral
- Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow
Holy Cross, Helensburgh
The students at Holy Cross, Helensburgh loved reading and rhyming with Macca the Alpaca during National Simultaneous Storytime.
“We were hooked to the book due to the detailed, funny pictures. We also really enjoyed the rhyming, as we could all join in,” Year 4's Matilda and Muireann said.
“I enjoyed when the alpacas were rocking out. I really liked reading with the other classes,” Lachlan from Kindergarten added.
St Francis, Edmondson Park
At St Francis, Edmondson Park, students from Kindergarten to Year 4 read the book together in classes, with Year 2 children even following along with an animated reading on their Apple TV.
Following the synchronised reading, the children took part in classroom activities relating to the book and its themes. Year 4 students made maracas from recyclable materials and Year 1 teachers did a directed drawing activity with their students based on the story, while Year 2 children made masks and puppets of the book characters.
Organiser of the day at St Francis, K-4 Literacy Coordinator and teacher, Elise Laidlaw said the students all really loved engaging with the story and had great fun with the activities.
“I like 'Alpacas with Maracas' because it is funny and has lots of rhyming words,” Isaac from Year 1 said. “When we read the book, it felt like I was actually in the book,” Year 2 student Kaia said.
“I love how the characters just tried their best at everything. If you’re reading a story, you can have fun; and if you’re reading information books, you can learn,” Year 2 student, Euanne said. “When you are reading books you can learn lots of new things," classmate, Jarrod agreed.
Assistant Principal, Melissa Vella said the day was a great way to encourage reading.
“Reading is important because it provides opportunities to develop language skills, deepen knowledge and broaden your perspective. It allows us to escape the everyday and be transported into various worlds that are filled with colourful characters and captivating stories” — Melissa Vella, Assistant Principal, St Francis Catholic College
“Here at St Francis Catholic College, we encourage our students to develop a lifelong love for reading by providing access to quality texts and working in partnership with parents to support home reading,” she said.
Read more about the College’s National Simultaneous Storytime event in this article in the Macarthur Advertiser.
St Brigid’s, Gwynneville
National Simultaneous Storytime was a family affair at St Brigid’s, Gwynneville. Students invited their parents and grandparents to a book fair and morning tea at the school, where they spent time perusing books and reading with each other.
Everyone then converged in the hall to watch Matt Cosgrove's book being read on the big screen – streaming a special reading of 'Alpacas with Maracas' by the Gold Coast Titans NRL team.
“I liked that there were lots of rhyming words in the book,” Eve said.
“I thought the book was funny. My favourite part was when they tried to find their talents,” Daniel added.
“The illustrations in the book were great. I liked the page where Al got his head stuck in the accordion!” Rafael laughed.
St John’s, Dapto
Students from each grade grouped together at St John’s, Dapto, hearing or watching the story read to them on TV and projector screens. They then completed fun follow-up activities, including Kindergarten who relished making maracas and colouring in llama and alpaca masks.
“I liked how in the book, the alpacas played maracas in the talent show,” Year 3 student, Natasha said. “I enjoyed how at the end, even though they came last, they still had a blast!” classmate, Jackson added.
“The part when they were using maracas was my favourite,” Kindergarten’s Matthias said. His friend, Jai liked “when Macca's friend fell in the pool and the piranhas got him”.
On why reading is important, Year 3 students Jasmin and Georgina said, “If you don’t read then you won’t know good words to use”. They drew inspiration from a quote in another book – Dr Seuss’ ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut’: “The more you read, the more you will know; The more you learn, the more places you go”.
St Patrick’s, Port Kembla
National Simultaneous Storytime at St Patrick’s, Port Kembla was a whole school event! Students and teachers gathered in the spacious breakout area of the school’s new classroom facilities to listen to their librarian read ‘Alpacas with Maracas’.
The school also ran themed book competitions for the K-2 and 3-6 year groups to promote the value of reading. The infants had a colouring competition, the winner receiving a much-coveted toy alpaca. Meanwhile, Years 3-6 took part in a book trivia competition with the winner receiving a special book prize.
St Pius X, Unanderra
Students at St Pius X, Unanderra gathered in the hall to hear teacher librarian, Mrs Nughes, share the wonderful story of ‘Alpacas with Maracas’ with the students.
The story was thoroughly enjoyed by all the children, with one of the Year 5 students describing the event as "a great experience”.
“The book made me laugh. I liked seeing all the different maracas and toy alpacas," she said.
St Thomas More, Ruse
There was a lot of laughing and maraca-shaking at St Thomas More, Ruse for National Simultaneous Storytime! Students enjoyed reading the book as a group, and made use of the digital presentations of the book.
Schools had access to an audio reading of the book; a pdf version; videos of guest speakers reading the book; and even videos of the reading in Auslan and Key Word Sign.
“It’s such a funny book, I couldn't stop laughing!” James from 1B giggled. “I liked reading the book together – it was happiness!” Braxton from 1G said.
St Clare’s, Narellan Vale
The children of St Clare's, Narellan Vale were treated to a special drama performance of ‘Alpacas with Maracas’. The show and reading was led by four Year 6 students who had been preparing for the event for a few weeks under the supervision of drama teacher, Ms Nicole Joyce.
The younger students loved the performance so much, that an encore was called for! Four younger students were then invited to re-enact the story along with the seniors during the second reading.
There was buzz of enthusiasm amongst students as they listened and watched 'Macca' and 'Al' shaking their maracas onstage. Ms Joyce said they came away learning an important lesson: "whether you win or lose, it is all about enjoying yourself with your friends in the end".
Stella Maris, Shellharbour
Stella Maris, Shellharbour students gathered under the COLA at 11am on the dot to hear Macca the Alpaca’s story. They were delighted to discover they were joining over a million children across the country doing exactly the same thing at the same time!
Librarian, Mrs Jo Love read aloud to the children, while fellow teacher, Mrs Maryanne Heddles joined in, adding some acting, colour and sound to enhance the narrative! The children thoroughly enjoyed the story, laughing out loud throughout.
"It was funny and engaging. I enjoyed sharing reading the book as a school community," one Year 6 student commented. "Reading is important because it awakens our minds, allows us to wonder and helps us learn."
“We need to read to learn. I liked it when Mrs Love read the book and Mrs Heddles played the maracas,” a Kindergarten student said.
St Mary's Star of the Sea, Milton
The infants students at St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Milton were all listening eagerly in the library together for their reading of ‘Alpacas with Maracas’.
The school’s music supplies were raided for all possible maracas and similar instruments, and the Kindergarten students had fun joining in by shaking them at interactive points during the story.
The students spent time afterwards looking through the books on offer at the school's book fair, also set up in the library.
Read more about St Mary’s Milton’s National Simultaneous Storytime event in this article in the Milton Ulladulla Times.
St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral
At St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral, students in Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 all read ‘Alpacas with Maracas’ at 11am together. Students listened attentively and ably assisted their teacher in bringing the book to life, shaking their own maracas when the instruments featured throughout the story. A fun occasion enjoyed by all the boys and girls!
Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow
Students at Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow had a wonderful time celebrating the ‘Alpacas with Maracas’ book. The school’s K-2 grades and Amaroo classes have been investigating sound, so they made colourful maracas play along and be a part of the story. Teachers also got into character, channeling their best Macca and Al to retell the story – much to the amusement and joy of the students! An entertaining day with lots of laughs at Good Samaritan.
The Australian Library and Information Association has thanked all those schools, librarians, teachers and students who participated in National Simultaneous Storytime 2019, praising them for helping to:
- promote the value of reading and literacy;
- promote the value and fun of books;
- promote an Australian writer and publisher;
- promote storytime activities in public libraries and communities around the country; and
- provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion.
Fun fact from the day!
The book’s main character, Macca the Alpaca, was certainly a hit – not only did National Simultaneous Storytime cause a surge in the number of children reading together on the day, it also led to considerable increase in demand for alpaca rentals!
CEO of the Australian Alpaca Association, Amanda Olthof said, “The Australian Alpaca Association is thrilled that many of our members have had the opportunity to share their alpacas as part of National Simultaneous Storytime. We look forward to seeing lots of photos of Macca’s friends enjoying the story. If you weren’t able to spend NSS 2019 with an alpaca, look out for an 'open farm' or alpaca show near you.”
In the Media
Milton Ulladulla Times – 22 May 2019 – St Mary's students shake maracas for National Simultaneous Storytime
Macarthur Advertiser – 23 May 2019 – National Simultaneous Storytime day celebrated at Edmondson Park