LEOMINSTER — The Project Apples/Leominster CFCE Barrett Park Explorers program on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. will focus on winter animal hibernation and feature stories and activities, part of the city’s free monthly STEM programs.
“The Explorers program encourages children to be curious about the wonders of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Outreach Coordinator Jana Harrison said. “It also gives us a chance to showcase one of Leominster’s gems, Barrett Park.”
Project Apples is a program of the Leominster Public Schools with programming supported by a grant from the state Department of Early Education and Care and co-sponsored by the Leominster Recreation Department. It offers weekly, monthly and bi-annual literacy enhancement activities and events for children including year-round in person and virtual playgroups, Family Fun Nights and other library programs, field trips to local spots including Sholan Farms, a Parent-Child Home Program, and the popular STEM program that is held at Barrett Park.
The Explorers program also incorporates language, communication, physical health and well-being elements.
Participants of this Wednesday’s program can build a cozy den out of found natural materials for a plastic animal to hibernate in and find hidden play animals in their hibernation spots outside at the park led by Harrison, Project Apples/Leominster CFCE and ParentChild+ Coordinator Lisa Novelli and fellow early childhood educator Deanna Wilbur.
“Project Apples programming, such as this one, helps develop a child’s language and discovery skills,” Harrison said. “Parents are active partners as well and they recognize their role as their child’s most important teacher.”
Leominster resident Kim Gower enjoys bringing her daughter Adelyn, 6, and son Caden, 3, to Project Apples programs and playgroups, including one on candy cane science that was held at Barrett Park in December.
“There is so much about Project Apples that we love,” Kim Gower said. “The teachers are so amazing with the kids. One of many examples is that they somehow manage to keep my 3-year-old son engaged for 45 minutes when we have virtual playgroups. The songs, games, and projects are specially geared toward our preschoolers and always so creative and fun. The events that they hold at the library and Barrett Park are perfect for all ages and makes it a fun family event for us.”
Harrison said it is important to Project Apples/Leominster CFCE to provide programs such as the STEM one to community members because it helps to support early literacy, one of its missions. It held playgroups twice weekly throughout the pandemic, first virtually and then in person beginning last fall outdoors and at Leominster City Hall.
“Currently they are back to being held virtually but we hope to be in-person soon,” Harrison said of the playgroups. “When in person our programs were very interactive and engaging, and we do our best to make our virtual programs interactive as well.”
She said Project Apples is planning programming for February school vacation outside at Barrett Park and indoors at City Hall, and each month there is a new story walk along the pond at Barrett Park. They are offering a Milestones Baby & Parent series at Leominster Public Library in the spring and from February through May are collaborating with the library to bring back the monthly Family Fun Night hands on programs. In addition, there are four Project Apples parent education trainings coming up, including two transition-to-kindergarten workshops.
The program is offered on the first Wednesday of each month and is open to children ages from birth through elementary school. For more information and to register for Project Apples programs call 978-534-3038, email email@example.com, and follow Project Apples on Facebook and Instagram.