Sammarco shows picture-book pages to the roomful of attentive eyes. Photos by Ella Kohler
By Ella Kohler
Hometown Weekly Intern
When summer temperatures climb too high for comfort, "fun in the sun" can quickly lose its appeal. On July 8, the Medfield Public Library offered a cool alternative to outdoor pastimes: forty fun-filled minutes of Parachute Play. The program involved a story, a craft and, of course, a parachute.
As kids and parents waited for the event to begin, excited curiosity filled the library’s top floor. “It doesn’t look like they’re ready yet — almost!” one father told his daughter as she ran to peek through the open door into the program room. Moments later, another parent-child duo took its turn peering in.
Soon, the event’s leader, Yvette Sammarco, announced that it was time to begin. Sammarco is the program coordinator of the Walpole Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Program (Walpole CFCE). One of the organization’s initiatives is to bring literacy activities to local communities, an effort that shone through during the Parachute Play session.
To kick off the event, Sammarco read Eric Carle’s picture book, “Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me,” to the children. As the plot unfolded, Sammarco encouraged the kids to interact with the story; she paused to rotate the pictures around and to ask for predictions about what would happen next.
Following story-time came the main event. After spreading out the multicolored parachute, Sammarco referenced their book, exclaiming, “Our parachute got bigger and bigger just like the moon!” Then, she called the children and caregivers to grab and shake the parachute as upbeat music repeated “shake the ‘chute.” Afterwards, the group walked in a circle, holding the parachute up to imitate a merry-go-round.“Did we bring our muscles today?” Sammarco soon asked the kids, shifting to a new parachute activity. After some participants had flexed their biceps, Sammarco instructed everyone to raise the parachute up and back down slowly. The caregivers took over in a minute, lifting the parachute so the children could dart underneath.
Once the children had cleared out from under the parachute, Sammarco set a new scene for the participants. “We’re at the beach and it’s very low tide,” she said, leading the group in gentle motions. “Then a boat comes along and it’s really wavy!” Suddenly, everyone wiggled the parachute as rapidly as they could. A variety of other parachute games followed, each encouraging the use of fine motor skills and eliciting smiles from the participants.
Winding down from playtime, kids retired to seats around two art tables. There, they painted paper plate halves gray, transforming them into crescent moons like the one in the storybook. When the crescent creations were complete, Sammarco topped each one off with a yellow star. Huge grins filled many children’s faces as they shuffled out of the program room with their mini masterpieces.
The next session will occur in August, promising another action-packed and air-conditioned morning for kids and caregivers alike.
Two sessions of Parachute Play are offered monthly, open to kids ages 2-5 with a parent. More information and registration options can be found at www.medfieldpubliclibrary.org/kids/programs/.