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Preschoolers get to paint, plant and play in the great outdoors 

Learning and frolicking with parents in a garden party

Godfrey-Lee —  “It feels weird and squishy,” said preschooler Mya Martinez, with her hand in a small tin of mushy colored paper soaked with water.

Makayla Puff, a Great Start Readiness Program teacher at Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center, blended pink, yellow, blue and green paper with water into pulp for Maya and her classmates to make seed bombs. They rolled their wet balls of paper in wildflower seeds to plant and grow at home. 

GSRP teacher Marissa Ramsundar reads ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ to students and their families at the Godfrey-Lee ECC GSRP garden party

On the first 80-degree day in May, Godfrey-Lee’s youngest learners frolicked with their families outside on the soccer field. 

The ECC’s five Great Start Readiness Program classes hosted a garden party to celebrate everything the students learned in their “Growing Our Garden” unit. Kent ISD’s GSRP is a state-funded preschool program with classrooms located in several district buildings and community-based organizations throughout the Grand Rapids area.  

Godfrey-Lee ECC GSRP preschoolers paint rocks to take home with them after the garden party

“We’ve done a number of events, but as part of our garden unit, we plan fun activities to bring the kids outside,” GSRP teacher Cara Glass said.

Following the theme of things found in a garden, the GSRP teachers organized a “dirt-cup” snack, where students could add their own cookie crumbles and gummy worms to pudding cups. Little learners also got to paint rocks and play outdoor games with their friends in other classes. 

“We like to have a snack, a story element, something for them to take home and free play time,” Glass explained. 

One of their GSRP teachers got a Donors Choose project funded that helped provide materials and refreshments for the event, Kent ISD Early Childhood specialist Amy Kerkstra said.

In preparation for the event, students also worked on their spelling and language skills with their teachers to write invitations for their families. 

Godfrey-Lee ECC GSRP preschoolers make a dirt cup snack using pudding cups, crumbled cookies and gummy worms

“Inviting their families to come was a key part of this event, “ Glass said. “We’re building community and skills (the students) will need for kindergarten.” 

Her favorite part of the day: “Getting our kids out of the classroom and seeing them interact with their friends and family and building those relationships.” 

Godfrey-Lee ECC preschool students spent time outside with their families learning and playing games

Read more from Godfrey-Lee:
A day just to play, without structure or screens
Young, older students pair to celebrate bilingualism superpowers

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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