Field trips, sensory learning help kids grow at Smith and Bulldog Childcare Centers

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All summer long, the school-age children from the Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers enjoyed weekly field trips and fun activities around the community. Here, Eva Larson (left) and Kaitlyn Kozelka, from Dr. Smith, enjoy Funday Monday at the Left Bank Shop and Gallery in McGregor. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Each age group at Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers, including the youngest attendees like Gracelynn McShane (left) and Ella Valley, has a curriculum. Sensory work is particularly emphasized said director Abby Bouska.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For area kids who attend the Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers in either Monona or McGregor, learning doesn’t stop when school’s out. All summer long, the centers’ school-age children have enjoyed weekly field trips and fun activities around the community.

Among their stops were Wyalusing State Park, Pikes Peak State Park and Osborne Nature Center. In Monona, kids visited FreedomBank during a June Dairy Month event, getting ice cream and meeting the Clayton County Dairy Princess. The Left Bank Shop and Gallery’s Funday Mondays throughout June and July were attended by kids from Dr. Smith in McGregor. Other trips included walks around town and visits to the libraries, the pool and local parks.

In addition, kids participated in MFL MarMac’s summer feeding program, which offered free lunches at public spaces in the communities within the school district.

“It’s great for the kids,” said director Abby Bouska of the field trips. “It gets them outside to experience other areas and meet new people.”

Back at the centers, kids create artwork, play in the sprinkler and enjoy visits from special guests who play music. 

“We even get the infants outside on walks or playing in the water,” Bouska said.

Bouska said 97 kids, ranging from 6 months old to 12 years old, currently attend the Smith and Bulldog Childcare and Learning Centers. 

Each age group has its own curriculum, with an emphasis on sensory work, she noted.

“The toddlers start figuring out colors and numbers a bit,” Bouska shared. “Preschool-age kids do numbers, the alphabet and colors—anything to get them ready for preschool.”

The school-agers work on reading and math, she said, keeping what they’ve learned in school fresh in their minds.

Watching the kids grow, and have a good time while doing so, is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with the centers, Bouska shared.

“It’s a fun, positive atmosphere for kids,” she said. “The staff are fun and compassionate and help kids grow. We feel fortunate parents trust us with their kids.”

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