Every summer, YouthQuest engages students in a variety of activities that incorporate hands-on and experiential learning. Not only does this help families combat summer learning loss, it also gives students a safe place to explore new interests and have fun.
For a glimpse inside YouthQuest—which is currently accepting applications for this summer—here’s a look at the day in the life of Johnathan, a 4th-grade student, last July.
Johnathan’s grandma drops him off at school, where he joins his friends who are eating breakfast. He is excited when his learning guide, Mr. Jolly, takes the students to the outdoor playground after they finish their cereal and fruit.
Inside the classroom, Johnathan waits his turn and signs himself in on the whiteboard. Beside the sign-in is a list of rules created and approved by the students. Examples include no name calling, no being mean and no back-talk.
After the students share how their weekends went, Mr. Jolly helps the students create their own trail mix. There are about eight different types of breakfast cereals that he helps the students measure into sandwich bags. This activity helps to build measuring and decision-making skills.
Johnathan and friends travel down the hall to a different classroom for an hour of geography lessons, which cover government at a local, state, and national level. Today, Johnathan practices reading aloud as he learns that Michigan’s capitol is Lansing and that the mayor of Flint is Dr. Karen Weaver.
Mr. Jolly greets Johnathan with a big smile and invites the group to take a seat on the carpet. Students watch a large projector screen as actor Ty Burrell reads the class the book “Mice Twice” by Joseph Low. Following the digital read-aloud, the students discuss the book. They agree it wasn’t very nice of the cat to invite the mouse to lunch with ulterior motives.
Next up is computers. In the lab, Johnathan works on his typing and English/Language Arts skills as the software program teaches him about the ancient Greeks. Johnathan assists a friend when he gets stuck on a particularly tricky word-problem.
Afterward, the students head to coding and robotics. Johnathan partners with Amari to build a robot-monster using LEGOs and create a code that makes their creation move. After many attempts, revisions and refinements, Johnathan and Amari are thrilled when their robot-monster moves the correct way, at the correct time and makes a roaring sound. It’s a fun lesson that teaches Johnathan and Amari about following directions, geometry, engineering and coding.
For lunch, Johnathan and the other students go back to the cafeteria and spend another 30-40 minutes playing interactively outside.
It’s time for clubs, which are student-driven and differ depending on the day of the week. Today, Johnathan has “GEEK Club,” where students do creative art projects. Back in the classroom are a large stack of paper tree cut-outs to decorate. Mr. Jolly explains that there’s no wrong way to do it, and that everyone’s tree should look different. Johnathan selects a red tree, grabs some glue and markers and gets to work.
After club, the students reconvene in Mr. Jolly’s classroom for a snack and some planning for their ice cream social. Mr. Jolly invites Johnathan and his peers to, one at a time, grab a dry-erase marker and write the name of someone they would like to invite to enjoy ice cream with them.
It’s almost time to leave for the day. Mr. Jolly passes out Nerf-balls to each student for a quick game that helps everyone practice gross motor skills, communication and teamwork. Johnathan and his friends love it. The day ends on a very positive and energetic note.
Johnathan is ready to take the bus. He is going to a relative’s house before his grandma comes home from work. He plays video games while he is there. If Johnathan wasn’t in YouthQuest, he might have spent most of his summer playing video games. Luckily, he attends a school with YouthQuest programming and is already looking forward to tomorrow.
To learn more about YouthQuest’s summer program, click here.
YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.