September 22, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Kathleen Cowley, author of “Cameron’s Organized Day,” visited pre-K, kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classes at Belvedere Elementary in late September.
    Photo by Luke Jackson
    Kathleen Cowley, author of “Cameron’s Organized Day,” visited pre-K, kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classes at Belvedere Elementary in late September.

“Cameron’s Organized Day” Was A Hit At Belvedere Elementary

Luke Jackson
View Bio
October 7, 2015

As Kathleen Cowley read her children’s book, “Cameron’s Organized Day,” aloud to kindergarten and pre-K classes at Belvedere Elementary on September 29, there was one line in particular that she had students repeat in unison.

“You can find what you need when you need it,” the students repeated upon Cowley’s instruction.

It was a part of Cowley’s lesson plan based around “Cameron’s Organized Day,” a story that emphasizes the importance of proper organization through the main character, Cameron, who is based on Cowley’s grandson of the same name.

“Just seeing the kids when they’re watching you and you can just see that they’re really enjoying the story and they’re getting it,” Cowley remarked. “Because then when you ask questions … you start talking about sorting and organizing and real-life skills.”

Cowley has been a professional organizer for more than 14 years. In 2008, she founded the Alpha-Omega Collection, which helps students, businesses or people at home organize via a variety of filing systems.

Cowley turned her passion for organization into writing “Cameron’s Organized Day,” which was released in early 2015. The inspiration for the book was her grandson Cameron, who would visit Cowley’s backyard in North Carolina for hours and collect roly-polies, centipedes and snails, among other critters. Cowley’s concept of organization for young kids was thus born.

“Very important life skill,” Cowley said of organization. “Because if you really don’t have good organizing skills, you will be struggling with stress your whole life, being late [and] not getting your work done on time, which can affect your grade if you’re at school.”

Cowley is the aunt of Cheryl Slack, a second-grade teacher at Belvedere. Slack convinced Cowley that it’d be a good idea to read her book to classes at Belvedere, and the idea checked out positively with the school. Cowley shared her book with pre-K, kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classes on September 28 and 29.

In addition to reading the book, Cowley also led a sorting activity in which students got into pairs and organized objects that were in a bag. Students could sort them by shape or color. Cowley also gave the students plastic bugs to commemorate the lesson.

The lesson was two-fold, with one lesson being to reiterate the importance of organization to the students. Cowley mentioned how it’s vital for kids to have a routine after school, like a place to put their backpack and a place to do their homework. Slack said second-graders have a binder divided into sections for spelling, vocabulary, reading and math.

“If they’re not organized, they can’t find what they need, and it takes a lot of time,” Slack said. “If you put those routines in place, it makes it more efficient and time-saving for us and the kids aren’t worried or frantic or upset because they can’t find the paper that they need.”

The other lesson was for students to see the result of the writing process firsthand. Cowley said her book took a year to research, write and publish; she shared the details of the process to all of the students she visited, but it was perhaps most meaningful to the second graders.

Beginning last school year, second graders at Belvedere write and illustrate fables that are published in a hardbound book for their friends and family to read. Students create a rough draft, edit them and, by the end of the year, create a final draft.

“We work on the writing process all year long, so [Cowley] came in to talk to them about the writing process as well and what it takes to be an author,” Slack said. “It was good for the kids to get that real-world connection as well.”

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