The Gift of a Grant

As an organization that focuses on learning through play, C’mon has always sought additional paths to deliver educational fun to growing minds. Through generous grant funds, the Naples Children’s Education Foundation, Founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, has given C’mon an outlet with which to do so.

For the sixth year in a row, our educators visit underserved classrooms in Collier County in an effort to reach children that otherwise would not have the opportunity to visit C’mon. Our educators visit many classes four times throughout the year bringing a new book and supporting activities with them each time. NCEF has provided C’mon with the tools to bring lessons and materials to the students so that they may explore, experiment, and create. Just as they would at the museum. Additional materials are left for the students and teacher so that they can further extend the learning based upon the book and activity through the rest of the year.

Pictured, pre-kindergarten students can be seen writing their own imaginative stories. That’s right! While they may not know all the letters of the alphabet yet nor how to write words, they can still weave a story. We based this lesson on the book, A Squiggly Story. With prompting, students draw illustrations and include the letters they do know. They begin to associate the relationship between illustrations and text, engage prewriting and pre-reading skills, recognize lower and uppercase letters, and practice left to right tracking. They also use their imaginations to build stories they control. This lesson is a great way to introduce early literacy skills in dynamic ways.

After reading the story and teachers modeling the activity, the children’s excitement was palpable as they each received their own brightly colored notebook and pencils. Thoughts began to gel and take shape on paper as students directed their own narrative. It was impressive the children caught on to the idea of the lesson so quickly. Four-year-old students are writing their own stories! So that teachers could extend the exploration of both letter recognition and storytelling in the classroom, two additional activities were left for the students. One, a tactile-based sensory activity and another, rolling dice with drawings on each side as inspiration to begin a story for another day.

Through our partnership with NCEF, C’mon has the opportunity to reach out to disadvantaged children in our community in uniquely hands-on ways that emphasize learning in creative brain building ways. These skills will spark creativity in our young learners. The hope is it will continue to instill a life long love of learning to overcome early years of life in an underserved area.

Submitted By: Meg McKinney, Art Coordinator