Kids' Curiosity Piqued at Summer Scholars Sessions
This summer, 73 elementary students spent a portion of their summer celebrating the USA, getting physical and connecting with their community during the Summer Scholars day camp program at Windermere Boulevard Elementary School.
The program, which is open to students from Smallwood and Windermere, offered three themed sessions in July and August where the kids experience learning in a fun, camp-like culture.
"It is a great chance for our students to sustain their academic habits and attitudes while also strengthening their connections to peers and adults in the school community," said Jennifer Higgins, Summer Scholars director and a teacher at Smallwood Elementary.
The session themes are integrated across all program areas of physical education, swimming, reader’s theatre, art, ELA, library, math, technology and science.
During the "Party in the USA" session, kids learned American history through trivia and USA inspired games. They took field trips to local historical sites in Lockport, with a tasty side trip to Lake Effect Ice Cream. Entering the Lockport Caves, campers walked through a water tunnel that was blasted out of solid rock and took a 30-minute boat ride through the caves to explore artifacts left behind by the men who built the Erie Canal. During the Party in the USA session, kids made red, white and blue marshmallow play dough during a science lesson.
The "Let’s Get Physical" session had students involved in a variety of sports and games, as well as science experiments related to movement, literature that explored how to be active for a lifetime, hands-on math and active art. During this session, campers also took trips to go rollerskating and to Beaver Island State Park. Grand Master Chong's gave each grade level an introduction to Tae Kwon Do, a physical activity that can be done throughout a person's life. Thanks to The First Tee of WNY for their volunteers who introduced our Summer Scholars day campers to the skills needed to be a successful golfer. Using STEAM principles, campers created their own mini foosball games in cooperative groups out of shoe boxes.
The final session, "We are Family", focused on teamwork with hands-on activities that showed each camper how they are an important part of their family. By learning about families, students learned to understand their place in groups, communities and the world. Field trips were taken to Old Fort Niagara and Fort Niagara State Park Pool. Mrs. Higgins introduced the students to a special park she visits often, Green Lake Park in Orchard Park that features many fun recreational activities including multiple play areas, a splash pad, canoes, kayaks, water bikes, beach and water, Quaker Splash (inflatable water obstacle course) and hiking trails.
More than half of the 73 students who enrolled in the Summer Scholars program attended all three sessions.
"As a teacher, I know that building positive relationships with the children I teach has a huge impact on learning as well as behavior," said Higgins. "Therefore, I enjoy making connections in the summer with a new group of students at Windermere and getting to know some of my Smallwood friends a little deeper in a more relaxed environment. At district-wide events such as the elementary track meet or fifth-grade field day, it is exciting to see all of the students that I have connected with over the years from both buildings experiencing success."