Children get active, play educational games at Family Fun Day in Auburn

Liam Guerra, 5, plays a game with her grandfather Mike Heckstall at Family Fun Day at Seward Elementary School in Auburn Saturday. Kelly Rocheleau. The Citizen

AUBURN — Mike Heckstall and his grandson Liam Guerra were in a heated competition during Family Fun Day at Seward Elementary School Saturday.

Mike and Liam, 5, played a math game where they threw bean bags on different numbers on a mat.

Once when Liam’s bean bag landed on the number 3, Mike said, “Come on, you can do better than that.” Liam then threw a bag at the number 9, the farthest away from him. At one point when it was Mike’s turn to throw, Liam intercepted the bean bag and knocked it away.

“How are you going to block my two points, man?” Mike said, laughing.

Melissa Heckstall, Mike’s wife and Liam’s grandmother, said Liam heard about the event through going to school at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES and had been talking about it all week. Since Liam’s mother had to work Saturday, the Heckstalls decided to take him.

“He’s getting out energy, he’s learning about numbers, he’s learning about colors,” Melissa said of the educational activities Liam did at the event. “If it’s incorporating learning and having fun, that’s great. It’s great that they’re doing this for the community.”

Auburn Enlarged City School District Director of Early Learning Michelle Kolceski said the event raises awareness of the district’s prekindergarten, or UPK, kindergarten and 3PK class registration which began Feb. 1. Kolceski said five out of the district’s six preschool sites were represented at the event. Popcorn, face painting and different educational activities were available at the event. She said the event was also meant to connect people to local resources to the Cayuga County Women, Infants and Children program. The event emphasizes children “learning while being active,” she said.

“It’s something fun in the middle of winter,” Kolceski said. “Instead of having the kids in the house all the time, they can come in the gym (and) do math and movement.”

At one point, Owasco Elementary School kindergarten teacher Whitney West played a math game with Jocilyn Manwaring, 5. Jocilyn’s grandmother, Nancy Durnford, said she took her granddaughter to the event to “continue her education over the weekend.”

Brandi Bouley, also an Owasco kindergarten teacher, did dancing activities with students at the event. Movement assists children “academically, physically, emotionally,” she said.

“When you put movement in a child, it improves all of those traits,” Bouley said.

Parents or guardians interested in getting their child in the district’s UPK, 3PK or kindergarten programs can register at the district’s website, aecsd.education, or call Mary Cregg, the district’s registrar for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, at (315) 255-8825.

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