From The World Of Parks And Rec
By Doug Comer
Our Dinosaur Enrichment “A Walk through Time” has catered to children of all ages.
This week our friends at Sunny Days in Shinnston stopped by for a scheduled enrichment. Owner Candy Karnis-Fiorito, who has been participating in our enrichments for years, feels that programs like this can only make the preparation into schools a much smoother transition.
“Even though my kids are four and five years old, it is unbelievable what they have learned here and the parents that travel with the kids even walk away learning something as well,” said Karnis-Fiorito. “And with the range of ages that come to the exhibit, the staff does a wonderful job at varying the level to the age of the child.”
But, like many things, one must prepare early and the kids at Sunny Days were studying prior to their visit. Whether it is learning the lingo involved with dinosaurs or doing activities, the kids do not walk in “cold” prior to their visit. It is such an advantage to both the students and the staff as there is a balanced amount of knowledge as a whole.
“We have worked ahead to learn about dinosaurs prior to our visit,” said Karnis-Fiorito. “The letter for the week was D as in dinosaur and we talked about what to expect for the visit. And our kids were amazed with some of the things they saw, and to have the program that day geared for their age is something I love about the program.”
While books do deliver a vast amount of knowledge in the information in regards to the subject matter, hands-on and visual comparison are better learning tools, especially when dealing with children at a younger age. To read that a Stegodon weighs five to seven tons and stands at 13 feet tall with nine foot tusks, is something that those reading this article can put a relation to. But, to the wide eyed preschoolers, nothing beats seeing it staring you in the face.
“Probably the most difficult thing to learn for children is the actual relation to size. And it is hard for a 4-to-5 year old to imagine something as large as some of the pieces here. But, when they see it, then it is easier to relate. And the dinosaur dig allows the children to handle things that are many years old. And we studied the word ‘Paleontologist’ and spoke a little bit on what they do.”
Any little child has always had some fascination with dinosaurs. While some are exposed to them more than others, they all still know who the T-Rex is. It begins with the toys they play with as young kids and it carries over with what they see on television or seeing exhibits like ours. And the knowledge is surprisingly advanced with many of the kids as Karnis-Fiorito explains.
“I think the fascination starts at a very young age and like today, mostly the boys gravitated to the program a little more. Probably because of the toys that parents bought them. One of our kids, who knew a lot about the dinosaurs, recently took a trip to Universal Studios and saw an exhibit there leading to how verbal he was today and knew a lot of facts. But, again, we did talk a lot about the dinosaurs, including the differences between herbivores and carnivores. So the kids were familiar with the dinosaurs today.”
And just like the requirements that schools must meet, our program is very familiar to the regulations set forth by the State Department and we mold our program to meet those. As Director Mike Book mentions in his opening with all kids prior to our classroom break-outs “We hope that you have a lot of fun today….and accidently learn something in the process.”
I am sure that Karnis-Fiorito can agree that the kids did have an amazing time spending their morning at the Recreation Complex, and yes, the kids did learn something along the way.