A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Local Gems: Families find spaces to explore as part of Countdown to Kindergarten program

By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward

A couple of families fairly new to Lexington have uncovered local gems through this summer’s Countdown to Kindergarten activities. The latest event, at the Living Arts & Science Center (LASC), proved “Out of this World: A Space Adventure” as another avenue to encourage their 5-year-olds to try, do, and learn different things.

“When they said it was astronauts, he was pretty excited about it. It’s new experiences, which is what school will be,” former Seattle resident Amy Colthurst said of her son, who will attend Garden Springs Elementary. “We love watching him explore stuff before he starts with his class and teachers,” she added.

"Out of this World: A Space Adventure” encouraged the 5-year-olds to try, do, and learn new things (Photo Provided)

“Out of this World: A Space Adventure” encouraged the 5-year-olds to try, do, and learn new things (Photo Provided)

That’s the goal of the sixth annual Countdown to Kindergarten (C2K), in which community organizations partner with Fayette County Public Schools to offer entertaining and educational activities for newly registered kindergarteners and their families.

“I like that you can incorporate their siblings so they don’t feel left out,” said Ada Chiejina, whose family moved here from South Carolina two years ago. Her middle child, a daughter who will attend Wellington Elementary, dove right in at LASC along with her two brothers and parents. “It’s very hands-on, so they gravitate toward things immediately,” Chiejina noted.

C2K imageThe “Space Adventure” exhibit, which continues through August 2017, fit well with this year’s C2K theme: “Blast off to Kindergarten!” In that section of the newly expanded LASC, children tried on spacesuits, played in a replica of the Orion space capsule, saw a moon rock collected by Apollo 17, peered through a telescope, and manipulated a colorful model of the solar system. The exhibit also included content and experiments for older youngsters to study patterns and cycles, engineering designs, climate, and the history of U.S. forays into space.

“I love the family learning style of doing things together, and getting parents involved in their children’s education is really my favorite part,” said Katherine Bullock, the facility’s Discovery Education director. “That kind of engagement is crucial. It connects them to community resources and shows them how to extend learning beyond the regular school day.”

The Countdown to Kindergarten program, which promotes the lifelong value and importance of education, is financially supported by the PNC Foundation in conjunction with FCPS, the Childcare Council of Kentucky, and United Way of the Bluegrass. This year’s lineup runs through July 30; remaining highlights include a community art project at The Explorium, recycled crafts with Bluegrass GreenSource, a “Super Saturday” event at KET studios, and outdoor fun at the Arboretum’s children’s garden and McConnell Springs nature park.

“It is a big transition to go from free play to an organized setting. This lets kids warm up, and it takes away some of the anxiety as they near the start date,” said Chiejina, whose daughter reports for kindergarten on Aug. 10.

Join the fun!

Families can find Countdown to Kindergarten details in their FCPS registration packet, including a voucher for a free T-shirt from any branch of the Lexington Public Library. The shirt serves as the child’s entry pass to C2K activities. For questions, call (859) 381-4307.

Countdown events

Registration details

Tammy L. Lane is editor of the Fayette County Public Schools website

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