Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creative Ways to Learn

Last week both boys took part in the Kids' College program offered at Susquehanna University. This has been a much anticipated part of our summer for the last five years. JT was attending for the last time this year. EM went for the first time last year, for a half-day program. This time he was there for the full day. Yes, that meant I had FIVE WHOLE DAYS without children to supervise. As usual, I squandered my freedom and did not practice the discipline necessary to get any serious work done in the classroom.

But...I did go to a book sale!

The three morning sessions this year were Globs, Goop and Guts!, The World in a Whirl, and Spy Gals and Guys. The picture above shows some of the props they brought home from their spy session. They experienced many cultures in the World in a Whirl class. But their favorite sessions this year were from the Globs, Goop and Guts! class. Apparently the idea for this class came from the book Grossology. The boys made shrunken heads, snot, blood and vomit. One morning, EM told me he didn't want to clean out his ears because they would be studying ear wax and he wanted to make sure he had plenty to work with in class. Yuck! They had a blast. I'm just glad someone else taught this one and not me. JT's artificial vomit was judged to be the most realistic. Double yuck!

Shrunken Panda Head
The great thing about Kids' College is that the program isn't about memorizing and regurgitating (pun intended!) facts. It's about problem solving and creativity. You can hear the excitement in the voices of the children when they are being picked up at the end of the day. Everyone is talking at once. Everyone is showing off their disgusting projects. Even in the morning, when I drop the boys off, the kids are all happy to be there. No one drags their feet as they enter the building. It's learning, it's fun, it's what I dream school could be if the funding were available to allow more creativity in the classrooms. Unfortunately, the ability to create fake blood and vomit aren't things standardized tests can assess.

For now, I'll rejoice that there are programs out there like Kids' College that allow a glimpse into the fun side of education. More importantly, I'm thankful that there are teachers willing to spend their summers making this possible for my children.

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