Troy Hofer Elementary School has found a way to make lunch periods more than just a time for eating. With its new Lunchroom Literacy program, students in grades kindergarten through four can choose from a variety of sit-down activities.

Principal Kristin Copes said the program was begun this year as a way to promote more organized interaction among the students. A work in progress, the program developed into a time where students could eat, then head toward tables dedicated to playing games, solving puzzles, watching books on videos and character program videos or reading books with the principal and assistant principal.

Students can also pick up books and do a little reading on their own during the period.

The children learn sight words, add to their reading skills, build their brains with puzzles and games and learn how to win and lose gracefully with kindness.

“They also learn better communications skills during times that aren’t as structured as when they are in the classroom,” Copes added.

The students are also upping their conflict resolution skills. Staff has noticed there have been fewer behavior referrals since the program began in August.

Lunchroom Literacy is run by the school’s lunchroom associates. Lunchroom Supervisor Jessica Long, who has been with the school 16 years, said they have carts and shelves with memory games, 3-D puzzles, site words, books organized by grade and reading level, and games that challenge students’ brains.

“It’s so nice that we get to have a hand with the students’ education,” Long said, “and to help them grow and learn.”

Hofer’s Lunchroom Literacy program is funded through the Box Tops for Education program. Members of the community can help by collecting and donating their Box Tops to Troy Hofer Elementary School, 910 Vertin Blvd, Shorewood, IL  60404. More information can be found