Elyse Middendorf said she looks forward to attending the Grandview Heights Schools' Summer Kids' Club program every day.

"I like how there's always something different to do each day," said Elyse, an 8-year-old from Grandview.

"You never get bored," she said.

That's the way the Kids' Club program is set up, said Colleen Adkinson, the district's child-care coordinator.

"We try to give the students a variety of choices of things to do throughout the day," she said.

About 145 students who are entering grades 1-6 attend each day's session, Adkinson said. The summer program began June 3 and meets weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Aug. 2 at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, 1240 Oakland Ave.

The weekly fee for one child attending four or five days a week is $148; it's $115 for students who attend the program up to three days a week.

Students participate in two activity club sessions at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day, Adkinson said.

Twenty paid staff members operate the program and about 10 to 15 community volunteers, including Grandview teachers, residents and high school and college students, help during the nine-week session, she said.

"We have a kind of pep rally in the morning to go over what each club will be doing that day," Adkinson said, "so the kids can then pick which clubs they want to participate in that day."

In between the club sessions, students meet by grade level, hold group activities and collectively go on field trips throughout Grandview, including swimming at the municipal pool and visiting local businesses, the library and Grandview-area parks, she said.

"One of our goals is to keep kids learning and developing their socialization skills through the summer," said Amy Gardner, assistant director of the club.

"By having a lot of fun activities, we're making it fun learning rather than the more 'academic' type of learning they do doing the school year," Adkinson said. "In a way, we're trying to trick them into learning. They're learning without knowing it."

Both academic and socialization skills can slide during the summer if youngsters spend too much time playing video games and logging onto their computers or smartphones, Gardner said.

"Parents can leave their children with us guilt-free, because they know they will be learning while they're here," she said.

The activity clubs include Kids in the Community, in which students participate in projects that will contribute to their community.

On July 11, the club met with representatives of 4 Paws for Ability, a Xenia-based organization that provides service dogs for children with disabilities.

"They brought a couple of their service dogs in training to interact with our students so they can get used to be around children," Gardner said.

A puzzle club gives students daily opportunities to work on puzzles, riddles and brain teasers, Adkinson said.

The gardening club gives students a chance to learn about how fruits and vegetables go from the farm or garden to their table, said Nate Lombardo, who leads the club with Shane Carney and MacKenzie Bailey.

"We want the students to take what they learned about gardening and try it to grow things at home," Lombardo said.

Throughout the summer, students in the gardening club are helping to tend the tower gardens located inside the Edison/Larson building and the plots planted in the school garden.

Elyse said she participates in the gardening club at least a couple of times each week.

"I like watching and helping things grow, and the flowers," she said.

"I like a lot of the bugs -- not all of them, but some of them.

"I like the butterflies. I'm not too crazy about ladybugs, but they're all right. I like the ants, but I don't like stink bugs.

"Bees are OK, as long as they don't sting you, because they help pollinate the flowers.

"I just like being out in nature."

Both her parents like to garden, she said.

"I definitely want to help grow some vegetables at home," Elyse said.

"I think something you grow yourself will taste pretty good."

Other activity clubs include health and wellness, sports and outdoors, books and reading and science and exploration.

The overall theme for the summer kids club relates to British author Roald Dahl, whose books for children include "James and the Giant Peach," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The BFG" and "Matilda."

"Each class is spending time reading his books during the summer," Adkinson said.

"We also come up with activities and projects that relate to things that are in Dahl's books," said Kelly Miller, who serves as curriculum manager and programmer for the club.

Bugs are featured in some of Dahl's works, so students have spent time during the summer in the Edision/Larson garden identifying bugs, she said.

Another activity was based on how strings were used to keep the giant peach in the air in "James and the Giant Peach."

"They had to use pieces of string and figure out how to make a rope out of the string," Miller said.

During the last few days of the summer club, students will work together on a project using cardboard boxes, tape, glue and decorative elements to build a town and components of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in the middle school commons.

"We'll leave it up to their own imaginations," Adkinson said.

"I expect they'll focus less on the town and more on building the chocolate factory – the Chocolate Room, the Inventing Room, the Testing Room and the Fizzy-Lifting Drink Room."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman