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6/18/2013 9:51:00 AM
Williams Elementary School KinderCamp sets stage for learning
Free program for four- and five-year-olds helps kids transition to kindergarten
Meghan Cavaliere plays a matching game with two KinderCampers at Williams Elementary School. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Meghan Cavaliere plays a matching game with two KinderCampers at Williams Elementary School. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Kindergarten teacher Natalie Mann plays an educational game with the KinderCampers. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Kindergarten teacher Natalie Mann plays an educational game with the KinderCampers. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


Kindergarten teacher Natalie Mann points to each letter of the alphabet, while little voices call out the name of the letter, its sound and a word that starts with that letter.

A for apple, B for bear, C for cat.

The four- and five-year-old students aren't kindergartners yet. They're part of KinderCamp, a program designed to help students transition into kindergarten.

Williams Elementary-Middle School first grade teacher Julie Grantham coordinates the program. She said the camp introduces incoming kindergartners to number and letter recognition, letter sounds, rhyming, counting, sorting and patterns.

"That is a very strong foundation for them coming into school that we are able to provide for them because we have no preschool," Grantham said.

Williams does have a Head Start program, but not all students attend.

This is the second year Williams Unified School District has offered KinderCamp, and 23 students are enrolled. A grant from United Way of Northern Arizona and First Things First pays for the program, which is free for students.

KinderCamp started June 3 and continues through June 28. Students attend Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. As part of the program, students eat breakfast and lunch and have two recesses.

"Some of these students come in and they don't have friends in the neighborhood or playgroups to go play with, so this is their opportunity to socialize with other students or other kids their own age and to learn those social skills," Grantham said.

Parent and WUSD employee Gabi Uebel called the program "a terrific opportunity" for her son, Aiden.

"He's gotten the opportunity to meet new friends," she said.

In addition to the academics, Uebel said Aiden is learning "that mommy's not the only one with the consequences."

Two certified teachers run the camp. Besides teaching reading, math and writing skills, KinderCamp also introduces students to the expectations of school life, such as following directions, standing in line and taking turns. Grantham said she noticed a difference in the students after the first week of the camp.

"It's getting them ready for school with the rigors that come with school, of being here every day, being able to sit down and listen to a story, being able to sit at the table and do some work," Grantham said. "Those are definite skills that they need to have in order to be successful in school."


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