A day of creativity at ESE event


Zachary Mason, 6, center, uses pipe cleaners to make art during “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” a program held Friday morning at Metcalfe Elementary School.

ELIZABETH HAMILTON/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.

Parents and their young children enjoyed a morning of activities that included making hats, storytelling, creating toys out of ordinary things, reading and acting out a story at "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," a program hosted by the Exceptional Student Education Department and Parent Involvement.

It was held last Friday at Metcalfe Elementary School and also included the children receiving free books and supplies and door prizes.

The two-hour program was packed full with educational and fun activities that kept the children and their parents engaged. The first part of the program was a reading segment presented by Emily King, child find specialist with the Florida Diagnostic Resource System.

The second half included a Black History Month celebration presented by Dr. G.W. and Cynthia Mingo, community activists and retired educators, and storyteller Vivian Filer, a community activist and retired nurse.

"Everything is hands-on," said Barbara Henry, literacy coach of the PreK ESE Department. "We're promoting literacy and incorporating African-American History."

The reading activity segment of the program started with the children dancing to break the ice and get used to King, who went on to read "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," a bestselling children's book written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert.

Each child received a copy of "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," along with a home activity packet containing scissors, crayons, cards, magnetic letters and other supplies. There also were door prizes that included gift cards to Walmart, fruit baskets, socks, books and other items.

Candace Rhodes, who brought four children ages 2-5, liked the way King interacted with the children and the positive way they responded to her.

Alonzo Mason and his wife, LaShaunda Mason, brought their two children, ages 6 and 7. Alonzo Mason found the program informative. "She (King) got the kids to read, and a lot of children don't get that," he said.

Filer captivated adults and children alike with her rhythmic folktales featuring poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), a poet, novelist and playwright, and Eloise Greenfield, an author and poet.

Cynthia Mingo talked about famous African Americans, including Dorothy Height (1912-2010), a civil rights activist who fought for women's rights and African-American rights as the president of the National Council of Negro Women; Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War, and George Washington Carver (1864-1943), a scientist, botanist, educator and inventor.

G.W. Mingo talked about toys he made as a child when his parents couldn't afford to buy them. "We didn't have toys and we had to improvise," he said.

He demonstrated a kite made from paper and string, a toy made from two cans with a string, and a doll made from a Coca Cola bottle with string for hair.

To illustrate the spirit of the inventor, Cynthia Mingo read a book titled, "Galimoto," by Karen Williams. The story centered on Kodi, an African boy who sets out to collect scraps of wire in his determination to make a toy.

In recognition of Height's love of hats, a little girl in the group had an opportunity to create a purple hat from paper and tulle netting. The boys used pipe cleaners in various colors to create toys, including a helicopter, balloons and other items.

LaShaunda Mason enjoyed the entire program, especially the Black History Month segment, and Filer's storytelling.

"This is an important program," said LaShaunda Mason. "I'm trying to teach my children about black history. I like her (Filer) appearance. When she told the story about the train, I felt like I was in the train. She interacted with the kids and the audience. I loved that."

Julius Seabrook, Henry's grandson and a senior at Buchholz High School, helped with the program and earned community service hours. "I liked the way the kids showed creativity and got involved," Julius said.

Henry was pleased with the turnout. "I wish there were more people," Henry said. "But I'm thankful for the ones that came. All I can offer is opportunity."

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