Guest Post: Camp Wonderopolis® provides fun summer learning for Texas families
This summer, three libraries across the nation were awarded $3,000 grants, NCFL training, and Campsite Kits to implement Camp Wonderopolis® programming, thanks to generous support from Better World Books. These libraries provided Maker activities exclusively found in the Family Campsite Kit and suggested book pairings for each of the six Camp Wonderopolis tracks online. In this guest blog post, Melanie Cornell with Leonard Reed Elementary School (Cedar Park, Texas) shares how Camp Wonderopolis is helping families stay engaged in learning over the summer:
Camp Wonderopolis has already been an amazing experience for the children at Reed Elementary. Wonderopolis has taken summer camp to a new level by involving families, learning, and reading. This format of camp is unique because it is accessible at any location, by any age, or any economic status. Many of our students would not be involved in any summer activities if it weren’t for Camp Wonderopolis. I was so excited to see so many parents and children enjoying the camp activities. We had an awesome turnout of over 50 people and we had even more families who couldn’t make it sign up to use Camp Wonderopolis online! Families are excited to choose their own tracks and take on the Maker activities.
As an educator I know just how important summer learning is. Students need to continue reading and learning over the summer or they can lose months of learning. Just 20-30 minutes can make a big difference in their success next school year. Kids love Camp Wonderopolis because it fills their curious minds with ideas and keeps them occupied with great activities to do at home. Parents have told me they love the activities because of their connections to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). The best part is the kids are having so much fun, they don’t even know they are working!
Construction activities are a game changer for boredom. The Maker activities we did at Camp can keep kids occupied for hours and all of these activities require just a few simple materials. A highlight from Camp was watching parents take the time to sit down and have meaningful conversations with their children. It was amazing listening to the probing questions that parents were asking their children. “Where did you get your ideas from? What made this easy? What made this difficult? What is your next step?” I was impressed by how many critical thinking and problem solving strategies these children were able to come up with. When parents help make connections to the real world and encourage them to research, this opens them up to even more learning opportunities. The kids were so engaged in the Maker activities that they didn’t want to leave Camp. Luckily they can continue to build and explore from home or even on vacation.
I love the reading lists that Camp Wonderopolis has included with each track. I enjoyed reading aloud Ada Twist Scientist written by Andrea Beaty at Camp. I selected this adorable book because the main character is an African-American girl who is always questioning and experimenting. She gets into lots of trouble and her parents and teachers aren’t sure what to do with her curiosity. Her parents support her and also allow her to experiment. Beaty’s collection of books are great for young makers. Our Campers got to apply what they learned from reading Ada Twist Scientist and become scientists themselves. They came up with a hypothesis and plan, and were able to problem solve. This was a great way to encourage students to use their scientific minds to make mistakes and learn from them. I am looking forward to all the learning and exploring that will happen at our next Camp Wonderopolis sessions.
Interested in bringing Camp Wonderopolis to your program? Camp Wonderopolis online learning content is free year round for individuals, families, classrooms, and programs. Visit camp.wonderopolis.org to explore four unique editions of Camp Wonderopolis, each loaded with 42 lessons, six Maker activities, book lists, and more. To enhance your program, NCFL offers Campsite Kits available for purchase. Receive support and guidance to integrate Camp Wonderopolis into your programming when you purchase the Program Kit at store.wonderopolis.org.
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