Imagine giving a room full of preschool children flowers, potting soil, cups and markers. Now imagine their faces – pure joy. That's exactly what students from Dr. John Morgan's philosophy class brought to the RACC Education Laboratory Center this spring.
The RACC Readers was first launched in the spring of 2011 when college students visited the Tyson Schoener Elementary School.
"We wanted to bring it closer to home," said Tony Gonzales, who is graduating in May with an associate in science degree. "As students, we often don't realize that the ELC is down there, so we wanted to take this project to a part of campus that we never interact with."
Initially, the group planned to read to the children from the ELC in RACC's Meditation Garden and then plant the flowers there as this year's improvement to the garden. However, weather and other factors caused the students to switch gears and shift the effort indoors.
"We brought the flowers inside for the kids to plant and take home and they were so happy to see the colors, experience the smells and draw on the cup," Tony said. "It also gave us a chance to see how they view things."
After the planting, students gathered with the children for circle time and shared stories with them. Tony shared the story of the Farmer and the Mousetrap, thinking the kids would understand the moral in the story. But, he quickly learned that Nichole Russo's reading of Rainbow Fish book got a much more enthusiastic review. "They were so excited to see all the pictures," Nichole said.
As for how the day tied into what they learned in philosophy this semester, Nichole found a great connection. "Philosophy is all about asking questions and that's what kids do all the time. They are like little natural philosophers, they don't have to work at it," she said.
After their day at the ELC, the students compiled a report on the experience and included recommendations for future classes wishing to keep the RACC Readers going. Nichole said, "In the future, it would be great if a class could do multiple sessions with the kids and make it happen a few times during the semester."