Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., the doors to the Jewish Museum of Maryland burst open and in run the smiling faces of the SuperKids. SuperKids is a six-week summer reading enrichment program for boys and girls in grades 2nd,3rd, and 4th. The idea of SuperKids is to combine traditional summer camp activities with enriching learning experiences that helps to prepare students to return to school in the fall. They partner with many of Baltimore’s best-known cultural and historical organizations to ensure children receive a fun and educational summer. They integrate reading and writing into all aspect of camp so while the campers are having fun, they are also working to improve their literacy skills.
When the SuperKids arrive, they immediately can’t wait to get started with the day’s activities. The kids are split into 3 groups; one group to Lloyd Street Synagogue, one to Chosen Food and one to Voices on Lombard Street. One of the docents, Lois Fekete, is in charge of the Synagogue portion and teaches the SuperKids an intro to Judaism lesson and teaches them the Hebrew Alphabet. The group in Voices of Lombard Street set out on a scavenger hunt to learn about how immigrants lived when they arrived to Baltimore. They get to play and interact with the different objects inside the exhibit, such as the kitchen set and sowing machines.
So far, all of the SuperKids have loved these interactive sections and we’ve even had trouble having the kids leave the museum! Sample questions in the scavenger hunt include “Behind you is a bathtub. Read the text panel above it. Draw a picture of what was inside,” and “Find the photograph of people on a boat. These are immigrants coming to Baltimore. What is an immigrant?” Questions such as these ensure that the SuperKids read and write, which helps to prepare them for returning to school.
The third exhibit, Chosen Food, is the last stop for the SuperKids. In here, there are three different stations. The first station is a Hechser Hunt. A Hechser is a symbol placed on foods to show that these foods are considered Kosher. These symbols include the Star-K and the OU. The concept of kosher is introduced to the kids and then food packages and a chart of the different symbols are handed out and the kids need to locate the symbol on the boxes. They get really excited and love calling out when they find one with the name of the Hechsher they found.
Now that the kids know about Jewish foods, at the next station they learn about Jewish holidays and different Jewish foods eaten on those holidays. The kids are asked what their favorite holiday is, Jewish or Secular, and what’s their favorite food to eat on that holiday. We’ve gotten responses such as turkey on Thanksgiving and candy on Halloween. We then discuss different Jewish holidays and the food eaten on those, such as Matzah on Passover and Latkes on Hanukah. We then hand out a paper with a picture of a plate and have the kids draw their favorite holiday meal. We’ve gotten many delicious designs which have made us all very hungry.
The third and final station within Chosen Food is having all the kids sit down and reading them a book titled, “Matzo Ball Soup,” written by Jennifer Littman. (http://www.amazon.com/Matzo-Ball-Soup-Bobbed-Brewed/dp/0965643107) The book tells the story of a grandmother preparing matzo ball soup for her family to eat on the Sabbath.
It ties together the entire Chosen Food exhibit for it talks about a Jewish holiday with a specific Jewish food that is eaten. Through the entire Chosen Food exhibit, the SuperKids read, write, and draw which is very important to aid their development as they prepare to return to school.
SuperKids is a great program that combines learning with fun. It’s so nice to see their smiling faces every week and their excitement about the museum and I can’t wait until next time!
For more information on SuperKids check out http://www.parksandpeople.org/learn/summer-programs/superkids-camp/