FAIRMONT - Looking around the classroom at preschoolers and their parents enjoying different activities, Marlys Rodgers offered a summation: "It's a happy place."
As a parent/child educator for Fairmont Early Childhood and Family Education, Rodgers was in the middle of the fun at Saturday's "Raindrops on Roses" gathering at Fairmont Elementary School.
ECFE sponsors special events quarterly. Some are for families. Some are for dads. Some are for grandparents.
Tracy Weber offers encouragement to his daughter, Lianna, and Kennedy Murphy, right, as the girls searched for colored eggs hidden in the grass.
All focus on the children.
And it's all about fun.
Some children gathered around a table to glue construction paper umbrellas on another sheet of paper, with parents on hand to offer any needed assistance. Too much glue? No problem. The excess drops were simply rain dripping off the umbrella.
In another room, youngsters could snack on jelly beans, climb into a small loft or hide plastic eggs in a mound of green "grass."
They were fascinated when flowers, cut from construction paper with petals folded inward, opened up and "bloomed" when placed in a shallow pan of water.
Of course, there was free time to play with tractors or go for a stroll with a doll buggy.
"It's nice to have a structured time with the kids," said Meaghan Slama, who was with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Allison. The Slamas said they looked forward to the ECFE Saturday programs this winter when it was too cold for outside activities.
With about 20 small children involved in various modes of entertainment on Saturday, you might expect a lot of noise and chaos, but that was not the case. The preschoolers played well together, sharing toys or taking turns. In groups or on their own, all were deeply focused on a project.
Michelle Rosen, assistant principal at the school, said the children are usually very well behaved because they are fulfilling their teacher's expectations. They are taught how to resolve a conflict in a good manner, without crying or hitting.
The early childhood program is phenomenal, Rosen said.
"Phenomenal room, phenomenal teachers, phenomenal kids, phenomenal parents," she said.
About 75 families are involved in ECFE, with classes for infants through 5-year-olds at Fairmont Elementary School.
ECFE is planning an end-of-the-year party May 27 for all families involved in the program.
For more information, call the ECFE office at (507) 235-6205.