Summer programs help make learning fun

Two students paint on small easels

Summer school may not sound like every kid’s idea of a good time. But one look around the room when Herkimer Elementary’s summer program is in full swing, and you’ll see plenty of fun happening.

In one room, students are dabbing acrylic paint onto canvases, creating still-life paintings based on an image displayed on the classroom’s large “smart board screen.” Next to the window, the summer sun shines brightly through the “stained glass” creations they finished the day before.

Art teacher Mrs. McCutcheon says the program gives students the chance to experiment with materials and art forms they might not otherwise get the chance to experience.

“Most of all,” she said, “I want them to have fun creating art.”

An enriching experience

Students are recommended for the summer program by their classroom teachers, and their families are invited to sign up. The program, which begins in mid-July and runs through early August, offers a variety of enrichment opportunities and fun activities to support summer learning. The programs also give students the opportunity to work with different teachers — like Mrs. McCutcheon, who teaches at the Jr./Sr. High School.

Art is just one of the subjects offered during the program. While the art students are painting away, Mrs. Olds is leading her group of students down the hall and out to the track, where they will walk, count their steps, and graph the results. Her group is focused on health and wellness.

Down the hall, another group of students are learning about cooking and food preparation; another group are doing crafts. These simple activities, their teachers explained, reinforce math and English skills, as the students read and follow instructions and count and measure ingredients.

Students dressed as pirates stand on a stage

At the same time, another group of students was up at the Jr./Sr. High School, rehearsing a short play titled “How I Became a Pirate.” The fourth- and fifth-graders learned their lines and built the sets for the show, which they performed in late July for their family members and fellow summer program students.

The play, which told the story of a girl who helped pirates bury their treasure in her backyard, drew exclamations, laughs and loud applause from those in attendance.

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