Parents, grandparents and children laughed and learned together as they explored coding and created animated stories recently at a local elementary school.

“I learned a lot,” said Lovely Taylor, of Norfolk, whose daughter Taraji joined her for the first series of Family Fun Nights. “I love watching the kids create things on those tablets. It was a big learning experience for me just as well as it was for them,” she said.

The weekly sessions marked the launch of a new initiative in which WHRO Education has partnered with St. Helena Elementary School, the Horace C. Downing Branch of the Norfolk Public Library and the Berkley Community Center to bring families and children together to maximize learning. Under this Community Collaborative for Early Learning and Media initiative, the station brings together parents, students and educators for Family and Community Learning nights.

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Students create paper airplanes.

Each evening began with dinner before parents and grandparents separated from their children for instructional time. While the adults were learning how to code using the PBS Kids Scratch Jr. app, the kids were busy making crafts, coloring or conducting real-world experiments. One activity had them compare how various types of paper affected the flight capabilities of a paper airplane – an activity the adults enjoyed trying out as well! (See the video below.)

Click Here to Watch Video

When the adults and children were brought back together, it was time to work on their family coding projects with parents leading the way to demonstrate what they had learned. Together the families chose characters, animated them, and recorded sounds or dialogue to create a story. During the last session, the families presented their projects to the group.

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Families work on their projects together.

Stewart Howard attended with his grandkids and said the family project brought them closer and extended their learning beyond the classroom. “It has given me other things that I should be doing to help educate my grandkids a little more and actually participating to let them know I’m interested to learn just like they are,” he explained.

The program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Initiative for work with families of preschool and elementary school children, especially those in low-income areas. Other work under the grant will include summer and spring break camps and professional development for educators.

See more photos from the session on coding:

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rtl child1    rtl family3

rtl screen1    rtl grands

rtl lovely2    rtl screen2

rtl mom son    mom and child

martha    rtl student

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