Play, which is crucial for students’ social and intellectual development, is a central component of the Afterschool Labs experience. Each day, Afterschool Labs provides students with opportunities for both free and guided play.
Free play is time for students to participate in self-directed activities, which include playing on the playground, reading a book, or drawing a picture.
Guided play is a time for students to participate in structured activities, which include participating in team building challenges, competing in sporting events, and playing board games.
Depending on the weather, students will be outside for free and guided play as much as possible.
Each month, one Friday is designated as Fun Friday, in which students select the activities for the day. A couple of weeks before that Friday, the Lead Teacher will poll students to determine what enrichment activities, related to the month’s STEAM topics, they would like to do. These activities take place of the regular STEAM lesson and provide students with a voice in what they do during Afterschool Labs.
Each week, students of all ages will participate in a structured engineering challenge that draws upon a variety of skills, including designing, building, planning, presenting, and working cooperatively in teams. Examples of possible “maker day challenges” include designing a new type of amusement park ride and constructing a building that can respond to different types of weather.
For one hour every Monday and Wednesday, students will explore topics related to the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics inherent in each curriculum theme listed below.
This cross-disciplinary unit helps students dive deep into understanding planet Earth – specifically the land and water biomes of the world. Young learners will become familiar with different climates and biomes during this 9-week unit, while students in intermediate grades will apply their prior knowledge of Earth Sciences to understanding the relationship that water and land have in our every day lives. From making their own globes to observing the water cycle, students are able to discover abstract concepts in hands – on activities during Surf + Turf.
Students’ travel to the Western Frontier in this hands – on STEAM unit. Based on several Social Studies standards involving the treks across the United States by past Americans, students experience and learn the ins and outs of Western Expansion. From designing their own handcarts to learning about Western terrain that had to be crossed, students will engage in lessons that are sure to expand their knowledge and foundations of American history, Earth Science, engineering of the past, and problem - solving skills.
On select days each semester, students in Afterschool Labs will have a chance to give back to their school community in a tangible, meaningful way. Examples of school service projects include picking up trash on the school campus, orchestrating a drive for school supplies, writing “thank you” notes for school faculty and staff, or creating a mural for the school.
At the end of each unit, Site Leaders will display the many activities completed during the unit. Students will have the opportunity to show off their work for their parents, their teachers, and the Afterschool Labs classes.
Study Stars serves as homework time for Afterschool Labs. For one hour each day, teachers monitor and encourage homework completion. However, parents/guardians are responsible for ensuring accuracy and completeness of all homework assignments. Study Stars is a time for students to work on homework independently and in a quiet learning environment. Students will receive rewards for completing homework while attending Study Stars each week and/or month. Students who do not have homework assignments are encouraged to participate in learning centers.
Young Scholars + Athletes Days will be held twice a week during Afterschool Labs. On these days, students will conduct age – appropriate activities surrounding thematic units during the first half-hour and will participate in an engaging guided play activity during the second half-hour that reinforces character development lessons. The thematic units that will be discovered through student – led activities this semester are Cultural Characters, Recyclable Resources, + Retro Revolutionaries. During Cultural Characters, students will develop an appreciation for foreign + domestic cultures. While participating in Recyclable Resources, students will develop an understanding of recyclable materials. Finally, during Retro Revolutionaries, students will focus their attention on revolutionary people who have changed the way communities think + interact with each other.