They call them “earworms,” those catchy musical ditties that keep replaying in your head and can be hard to shake. A good example many parents will recognize is the children’s hit song “Baby Shark.”

During a youngster’s education, we always hope the positive lessons from early childhood will be long remembered ― like a good earworm. This year’s Literacy Days field trips at Piedmont Technical College no doubt instilled both kinds of earworms in some 130 visiting 4-year-olds, who enjoyed educational activities with the theme, “Under the Sea.”

With our Under the Sea theme, the students wanted to ‘wow’ the children and make them feel like they were in the ocean. I think they achieved that,” said Claudia Edwards, program director for early care and education at PTC. “One of our students, Phoebe Agardy, learned how to play ‘Baby Shark’ and a few other songs on the guitar. That was a hit. The children loved it. We heard a lot of ‘Baby Shark’ during those two days. It was great to observe how well the students interacted with the children and jumped into their roles as teachers.”

An annual event in its sixth year, Literacy Day this year was expanded to two days to accommodate more children from early-childhood education centers in the area. It continues to be a high point for the program.

Every Literacy Day that we’ve had has been phenomenal. The students always put together a great day for the children. Our decorations this year were extraordinary, as the students transformed the building,” Edwards said. “The teachers often tell us that this is their favorite field trip, and they always appreciate being invited. They look forward to it every year.”

Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo.

Saluda resident Neeley Martin, who will graduate from PTC in August with an associate degree in early care and education, plans to transfer to Lander University to work on a bachelor’s degree. Literacy Day activities were hosted in separate classrooms that the children visited on rotation. She was assigned to the science classroom and says one of the most powerful lessons from her experience was the importance of thorough time management. Because the students did so much prep beforehand, filling sensory bottles with water and oil, the activity finished more quickly than anticipated. Another activity, an experiment, did not work as expected, leaving more time to fill.

We had to do a little improvising and made sensory bands to keep the children occupied so they didn’t get bored,” Martin said. “So I learned to always have a back-up plan and resources and materials on hand.”

Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo.

The children certainly were engaged in their classrooms, but the creative, Under-the-Sea decorations took their fascination to another level.

Our decorations this year were extraordinary; the students transformed the building,” Edwards said, adding that the simulated undersea atmosphere made the experience even more memorable. “Someday, when these children are in college, they may remember what a fun day they had at Piedmont Tech when they were four years old.”

Indeed, the decorations were stunning, with the highlight being a classroom hallway draped in ocean blue and adorned with all manner of sea creatures. Even the overhead lights had blue draping, casting a cool glow to make the children feel like they were under water. It was the result of nearly a year of planning and preparation for the annual event.

We were coloring fish two months ahead of time,” Martin said. “Everyone was really excited about doing it. … I was really proud of all the hard work everyone put in.”

Every child was provided a free ocean-themed book to take home with them so they would have the best kind of keepsake from the experience. The PTC students also came away with hands-on teaching experience.

They say that Literacy Day is a confidence-builder for them and a way to become more comfortable with teaching,” Edwards said. “Each activity we have for the children—reading, writing, math, science, art, and music and movement—takes place in a different classroom. Students are provided an opportunity to work together to plan activities, decorate the room, and carry out the lesson plan.”

Martin noted the pleasure she felt watching the children be carefree yet focused.

A lot of times, as we get older, the outside world consumes us,” she said, “and I think that keeps us from really focusing on the moment.”

Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo. Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo.

You’re welcome.