Family Engagement Activities—Lunching, Learning and Loving It!

By: Cyndi Pyatskowit, College of Menominee Nation Project Director
College4Kids Bags and Tee shirts

The College of Menominee (CMN) December Family Engagement Saturday morning activities were every bit as busy as Santa’s workshop would be on the 6th of the month! This semester the CMN Family Engagement grant staff along with our pre-service Teacher Education students designed, developed and delivered all aspects of College 4 Kids, our Saturday morning workshop for parents and their children. College 4 Kids focused on Emergent Literacy activities important for children’s success in reading. During the December activities snowmen were assembled with a top hat and buttons for eyes, special snow was applied then “footprints” were added to create a winter/snowy picture, a puppet show with a Christmas theme was provided, children’s books were read at each activity center before the activity began and cookies were frosted for the snack all within the two hour session. This block of literacy related activities were loved by both the children and the parents.  Comments received via a survey were all very positive such as:

“I love the Saturday morning activities as it gives me and my son fun activities to do together, which we really enjoy and I absolutely love this program!”

“The hands on activities reminded me that a little mess is really worth the memories and learning for my children. All of the activities have been really well planned and executed! Great Job?”

Wow!, the CMN staff  has worked hard starting the Family Engagement grant so hearing that kind of feedback confirms  our thoughts that things were going very well! The following pictures show some of the fun (learning) taking place.

Oh la la, Fabulous, Spree, Ensemble, Boa and Parasol were just a few of the vocabulary words parent were asked to define as we started our December Lunch & Learn at the College of Menominee Nation! Every other week this semester a Lunch & Learn was offered on Thursday at noon for CMN enrolled students that are also parents of young children. The Family Engagement grant has allowed the CMN Family Engagement staff to plan literacy learning sessions for our student/ parents to learn the importance of spending time with their child reading and important activities to do along with reading to build their child’s literacy development. The December session was titled Shopping, and the Jane O’Connor story Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique was used to explain the importance of defining vocabulary from stories read to children because the limits of a child’s language means the limits of their world.  Parents learned that comprehension without language knowledge can never happen, consequently explaining any unknown words is essential for their child to completely understand a story. The session and the planned activities explained how understanding and comprehension are the aim for reading. After reading the Fancy Nancy book we completed an activity focusing on the economic academic vocabulary words for Kindergarten and First grade used in the book. This built the parents’ awareness of how new vocabulary can build a child’s cognitive skills. As parents were leaving our session comments such as, “this was so informative, I never realized how important vocabulary was, this is important to know, and thank you for this session today, I really enjoyed it” were shared with our CMN Family Engagement staff.  We also took pictures during the Lunch & Learn:

Kids eating pancakes