Stories, letters, nature & sensory play appeal to young kids
Northern Kentucky has a wealth of fun learning opportunities for young children. They love to spot letters and identify colors. They can be completely still as they squat down to observe a passing snail or spend hours running, jumping and climbing.
We’ve pulled together many of the ways that our region integrates teachable moments into our environments and encourages curiosity.
Imagine reading the first page of a story with your child while standing under a shady tree in a park. For the second page of the story, you walk together along a path to a sunny flower bed. The third page is located near a playground. As you read the story, you stroll from page to page through the park until the story ends. This experience is called a Story Walk and there are quite a few to be found this summer in Northern Kentucky. Find the entire list here.
Hopping, pointing and laughing are rewarded when kids do the fun activities provided by Read Ready Covington. The organization created large stickers that have been placed in Covington parks, at playgrounds and even inside a laundromat. The stickers are printed with objects and ideas for playful learning. Find them at places like Randolph Park, Devou Park and Leo Foster Ballfield. The stickers don’t last forever, so some of the locations may change as they are removed and replaced.
As part of its goal to increase the number of kids who start kindergarten ready to read, the City of Covington has installed complete alphabets, in the form of pink and yellow signs, throughout five of its neighborhoods. Each sign has a word (apple, volcano, yarn), an image and the encouragement, “You found a word. Now find another!” Some of the signs have Spanish words, as well.
Families can pick up a free map and passport-style checklist at the city building to start their hunt. When the passport is completed and turned in, the child will receive a free Tshirt.
Little kids love to learn about the plants and animals they see in their neighborhood. Two of the top nature educators in the area take it several notches up, providing immersive fun for families.
In Covington, Behringer-Crawford Museum’s NaturePlay is a self-contained, accessible outdoor area that offers kid-sized log cabins and caves, a climbable wooden flatboat, a spot to dig for fossils and gardens planted with native flowers and shrubs.
AJ Jolly Park’s Environmental Education Center in Alexandria is filled with wonders. Kids can get up close and personal with fish and turtles, watch birds flit around nearby branches and even examine the poop from various animals (an exhibit that always leads to giggles). After they’ve learned everything they wanted to know, they can walk the trails outside. The center is open all year and there is always something to see in the surrounding landscape.
Northern Kentucky residents are fortunate to have such robust early childhood programming and resources available at our local libraries. From story time and science for tots to the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, families can rely on the friendly librarians to engage their children with fun, educational activities. Check out the programs at Boone County, Campbell County and Kenton County.
If you’ve got young kids and you live in NKY, you’re in a good place!
Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY.