The Estevan Area Literacy Group (EALG) continues to see growth with its Nature Smarts summer program.
Nature Smarts is offered at St. Paul’s United Church in Estevan from Tuesday to Friday, starting at 2 p.m. each day. Regina Barz, who is the EALG’s literacy co-ordinator, said kids come twice a week, usually either Tuesday and Thursday, or Wednesday and Friday.
It’s a seven-week program that is wrapping up Week 2.
Last year it was offered three days per week.
“We have around 25 kids per day, which is good,” Barz said. “The kids are enjoying it. We’re very fortunate and lucky to get funding.”
Each day the kids will play outdoors until everybody shows up. Then they will head indoors for experiments or crafts.
“If we have a huge group with smaller kids, we try to do some crafts,” said Barz. “If we have older kids, we try to have experiments, where kids actually explore. Last week, for example, we did some baggie explosion experiments where kids were actually outside exploding Ziploc bags.”
When Lifestyles was there on Tuesday, the children were working on a craft to make tiles that could turn into coasters.
“We try to make crafts that the kids can actually keep at home and reuse, like pencil holders and stuff like that,” said Barz.
Literacy is incorporated into their program as well. Each day they try to read a couple of books. The children might be thinking more about physical activity during reading time, but there are always books on hand.
“We try to stick to authors the kids enjoy, like … Robert Munsch, who is big in schools,” said Barz. “The kids are enjoying the books, so we try to get the books from the library, our local library.”
Nature Smarts also allows the kids to learn new things, and make new friends. Barz believes the EALG does a good job of providing fun activities for the children.”
St. Paul’s provides space both inside and outside, which Barz appreciates. Last week when the Estevan area received some significant precipitation, the literacy group moved everything indoors.
“This year we’re focusing on a lot of outside activities,” said Barz.
Many of the kids who attend Nature Smarts are from families who hail from countries other than Canada, giving them more opportunities to interact.
The EALG is a member agency for the United Way Estevan, and so part of their United Way allocation goes towards the summer program. They also receive support from the Community Initiatives Fund.