FACTORYVILLE — At the Lackawanna Trail Elementary Center, children who will begin school this fall got a taste of kindergarten this summer through a program called Kinder Camp.
H.A.N.D.S. (Helping Area Needs for Diverse Early Care and Education Services) of Wyoming County, a non-profit organization which aims to improve the quality of early care and education in the county, coordinated with Lackawanna Trail and Keystone College for the program. Keystone College has a pre-K readiness program called Pre-K Counts in which college teachers teach children at Trail’s elementary center.
“The goal is to expose as many kindergarten students to our school as possible to help transition them from home to school,” said Brian Kelly, Trail elementary principal.
For two weeks (July 13-17 and July 20-24), 20 children attended Kinder Camp to experience the inside of a classroom for the first time. Karen Gress and Erin Srebro, teachers of the Keystone College Children’s Center, guided the children to learn different themes every day, including colors, shapes, numbers, letters and sequencing.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to get familiar with the school, and to meet some of the children who will be attending the school,” said Gress. “It’s a great program for kids to socially grow academically.”
Gress split the children into groups of four or five, so they could do projects together and socialize with each other while working on the day’s theme. On Tuesday, they went on a shape hunt looking for shapes that are part of the classroom. On Wednesday, they placed toy figures on top of playing cards. The number of figures on the card were based on the number of the card. On Thursday, they searched for letter cards, which were made by Gress, around the classroom. During the second week, the children learn the same themes but do different projects.
“I think it’s great,” said 5-year-old Michael Venticinque, of Factoryville.
Also during the day, children do marching exercises around the classroom and play outside, weather permitting.
“I like outside time,” said 5-year-old Lucas Filipack, also of Factoryville. “We play Avengers and stuff.”
Each day concluded with Gress reading a story to the children, who then do a project based on that story. One of the stories was “Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?” The youngsters colored a drawing of a bear with brown crayons and used their imaginations by drawing their own picture of what the bear sees.
They drew pictures on their own journals and had an assignment to do at home each night. The next day, they presented their journal entry to the class.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Srebro said about Kinder Camp. “They see the school. They work on the skills that they need or have already. It’s nice that they see other kids, which they will be seeing this year in kindergarten.”
“I think it’s good for the kids to get hands-on experience,” said Chester Brzoska, father of 5-year-old Kinder Camp student Reese Brzoska, of Nicholson.
On the last day, Lackawanna Trail kindergarten teachers visit Kinder Camp to meet with the children and talk to them to make them feel comfortable about the upcoming first day of kindergarten.
This is the third year of Kinder Camp at Trail’s elementary center. The program will continue each summer.
“I believe that this program accomplishes at a high level,” said Kelly. “There are 20 students and we hope to service more students next year.”
Karen Gress, left, teacher of Kinder Camp, helps Julia Bonavita, right, 5, of Nicholson, with counting little figures while Clayton Bray, 5, of Factoryville, looks on during the numbers project.
Owen Corby, 5, of Factoryville, rolls clay at Kinder Camp.
Working with pink clay are, from left, clockwise, Owen Corby, of Factoryville; Isabell Cook, of Dalton; Michael Venticinque, of Factoryville; and Joey Thomas, of Dalton. The children are all 5 years old.