‘What letter does ‘pizza’ start with?’ — NUSD launches four-week camp to prepare kids for Kindergarten

--- Published on June 04th 2018 ---
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NUSD Kinder Camp

“If you hear the sound of my voice, put your finger on your nose.”

“Put your finger on your head.”

“Put your finger on your shoulder.”

Teacher Linda Pugh was getting the young kids in NUSD’s Kindergarten Transitional Summer Camp to stop playing with building blocks momentarily while providing them with practice in listening and following instructions at the same time.

The exercise illustrates a fundamental goal of the four-week camp – to make learning fun as kids prepare for Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten. Youngsters in the class are 5 years old or will turn that age soon. Classes are from 8 a.m. to noon daily, from June 4-29, at Two Rivers Elementary School.

Registration for both NUSD’s Kinder camp classes filled up on the first day, 24 students apiece. Kids will receive a total of 80 hours of instruction under the watchful eye of a veteran Kindergarten teacher – Pugh or Fred Lavell – plus two aides in each of the two classes.

Enrollment was free, and students receive both a free breakfast and lunch each day. Priority was given to students who have not attended preschool or will begin Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten in August. The program is funded by First 5 Sacramento.

During the month-long camp, students will practice letters and their sounds, shapes, simple math, days of the week, months of the year, and other basic learning concepts. They also will practice following instructions, listening, sharing, and other vital social skills.

When a student told Pugh that he was building a pizza with building blocks, she asked: “What letter does ‘pizza’ start with?”

By placing students’ names on a classroom board, the stage was set for a simple counting exercise: “How many boys and girls are here?”

Pugh launched a farm theme by asking students what they knew about a farm. Among kids’ responses were that farms have cows, horses, a farmhouse, and sometimes chickens. Now the follow-up question: What do you WANT to know about a farm?

Pugh’s class also will focus on books having the number “three” as a theme, for example, “Three Little Pigs,” “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Pugh, who has taught such summer camps before, said she expects much growth in the youngsters before they leave camp. For example, “Many of them can’t write their name when they come in, and when they leave, they can,” she said.

NUSD Director Lisa Claussen, who oversees the summer camp, said the learning program benefits the district, too, by identifying students who may need remediation in coming months to get off to a good start in early grades. The camp is offered annually by NUSD.