Project READ’s Family Learning Adventures - Summer 2016

This summer, Project READ piloted a new program, Family Learning Adventures (FLA). Open to all Project READ learners and their families, the goal of this program is to cultivate creativity, foster innovative thinking and develop problem-solving skills in order to strengthen the foundation for all other areas of literacy and educational development. Over 250 children, adults and family members participated in either the Magic Treehouse Learning Adventures or the Family Creativity Weekend Workshops.

Magic Treehouse Learning Adventures

Participants were introduced to audio books and enjoyed listening to an entire Magic Tree House novel. Staff listened along with children, pausing to ask questions and check for understanding and feedback. The use of audio books makes the text accessible to readers of all levels, models fluency and expression and exposes students to new vocabulary. Children felt so proud of themselves for “reading” an entire book - ten chapters! Parents were introduced to this important and available resource that allows children and parents to listen together, recreating the read aloud experience that is so important to future reading success, regardless of parents’ current reading levels.

Children and parents also participated in field trips linked to the theme of the book, getting hands-on experience of the subjects introduced and explored in the story. This real life discovery deepens reading comprehension and builds background knowledge for future learning.

Each session also included a hands-on presentation at Project READ by experts in a variety of fields related to the books, making the learning experience more accessible. Families enjoyed interacting with live San Francisco Bay animals from the Marine Science Institute, tasting honey and meeting a live bee colony from Golden Harvest Bees, and touching and exploring real artifacts from Ancient Egypt.

After so much exposure to exciting places, animals, and adventures, children had the opportunity to use this inspiration to build their own creations and inventions. In this open-ended segment of the program, children were presented with a variety of materials and tools and worked together or alone to create and then present their own creations. Inventions ranged from a high-five giver, to a crab sculpture, to a model store complete with shelves, furniture and an inventory closet -- and those were just a few of the ingenious ideas!

Family Creativity Weekend Workshops

Project READ families participated in four weekend workshops that provided families with opportunities to create and innovate together. Children in today’s classrooms will enter a workforce that we cannot yet visualize, and this reality is changing the landscape of “school readiness” for all youth. These workshops provide the time, space and materials for families to explore new ideas, thereby advancing and practicing creative thinking. Project READ is an ideal setting for children and families who may not otherwise have access to museums and after-school classes that focus on this emerging and vital skill set for school and future life success. More than just a time for kids to play, these creativity workshops are an opportunity for students and families to follow their imaginations and build creative confidence. Some of the tools and activities provided to enable creativity included: Exploring how electricity and circuitry work with snap-circuits, Creative play and learning with magna-tiles (shape, color, relationships between two and three dimensions, spatial reasoning, etc.), Open-ended drawing prompts and opportunities, Prototyping new creations and/or solutions to imagined scenarios by rethinking and reusing household and recycled objects, Concocting slime and playdough and then exploring their properties through play, Building fine motor skills and creative thinking with bubber.

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