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Preschool Families Explore Science Ideas for Summer Fun

Anne Flemke Preschool families discovered novel ways to bring science home this summer during a workshop April 24 at Springs Ranch Elementary School in District 49.

In a modular classroom, more than a dozen families gathered, including mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents—most grasping a packet, many taking notes. Preschool teacher Anne Flemke explained the packet’s outlined recipes by carrying out the science experiments using a row of tables and ingredients.

“Anything covering all their senses; they love that,” said Flemke, highlighting activities children enjoyed this school year. Along with teacher Dawn Schoffstall, she co-coordinated four workshops this year, under the themes of rhyming, literacy, math and science. The amount of family involvement, she says, has doubled.

“We’re trying to bring what we’re doing here home,” said Flemke, discussing ways to keep learning fun, inexpensive and engaging. She explained how to make a no-bake play dough, long-lasting bubbles, silly putty and pudding paint, and a green slime made from water, glue, laundry detergent and food coloring.

Ava Pairsh “It’s really interesting,” said mother Maria Pairsh, thrilled by how her five-year-old daughter closed her eyes to carefully appreciate the scent of lemon juice when instructed. Ava Pairsh had led an experiment that inflated a balloon by creating carbon dioxide with baking soda and lemon juice.

“The teachers do a really good job with their workshops,” said Pairsh. “They really work hard on these packets for us.”

“It’s important to continue lessons in the summer, so they don’t forget them,” says grandmother Lisa Pratt, who’s raised two children, and once worked as a licensed daycare provider. “It’s good to keep a little structure — so they keep remembering and learning — but make it fun, too.”

During their workshops, Flemke and Schoffstall communicate preschool-level learning objectives, and areas where they’re hoping to exceed standards but need parent involvement for it. Aside from meeting with the teachers, Pratt said a lot of wonderful ideas come from parents, such as educational websites.

The goal is to help parents prepare their children for kindergarten, as well as orientate the parents themselves, said Schoffstall, describing how the first day of kindergarten is sometimes overwhelming.

“By offering this opportunity during preschool, we’re hoping everyone will feel more comfortable during their first day of kindergarten,” said Schoffstall. “With this opportunity, they’re meeting other parents going through the same thing.

“For a lot of our parents, it’s a first step.”

Lisa Pratt

Anne Flemke

Family science workshop

Caleb Olson

Evalyn Fonseca

Nathaniel Wald

Xavier Oehlerking
Dustin Senger