Ridge Park Second Grader Lyla Kolb with her gum ball machine balloon.

At Ridge Park Elementary School (RP), students took what they read and turned it into a parade. In the book “Balloons Over Broadway,” second graders learned about puppeteer Tony Sarg who thought up the idea for the big balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and used retelling bookmarks to remember the key points in the story.

“You tell the setting, the characters, the problem, the beginning, middle and end, and the solution,” said RP Second Grader Madison Walker.

Tony Sarg tried several different things to make the parade a success before coming up with the idea for the balloons — which helped the students come up with perseverance as the author’s message. After reading and analyzing the story, the students became engineers, designing and building their own balloons.

“I was making a dragon, and then I got really good ideas from other people like fire and I added wings,” said RP Second Grader Joey Carrington.

The rest of the school lined the halls and applauded the second graders’ creative efforts as they paraded through the halls.

Integrating the language arts lesson with art and engineering to create the balloon sculptures is an example of what STEAM looks like in the Colonial School District. In addition to learning the history behind the balloons and reviewing key literacy concepts, the students also had a lesson in perseverance.

“It was really fun, but the kids were learning. They were working together, and they never gave up,” said Jessica Troyer, RP Second Grade Teacher. “We had a lot of balloons pop, and we had to go to a lot of ‘Plan B’s. But they worked really hard, and everyone has a float made. And they’re all happy and excited. So it’s a good day.”