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Early Keepers proves kids are never too young for art, history


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Courtesy photo. Two “Early Keepers” show off their artwork of African-American explorer Matthew Henson. Kids decorated Henson’s picture with paper, glue, cotton balls, crayons and pencils July 13 at The Mall at Prince Georges in Hyattsville.

Courtesy photo. Two “Early Keepers” show off their artwork of African-American explorer Matthew Henson. Kids decorated Henson’s picture with paper, glue, cotton balls, crayons and pencils July 13 at The Mall at Prince Georges in Hyattsville.

Published on: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

For many kids, history is an endless list of dates, names and achievements from the past. In their words: “it’s boring.”

But, a program administered by the Prince George’s African American Museum and Culture Center aims to change that perception.

In the center’s “Early Keepers” program, children, ages 3 to 7 years old, explore multicultural heritage and Prince George’s County history through storytelling, arts and crafts, music and dance.

Set up in a classroom style, Early Keepers’ events have taken place for the past several months at The Mall at Prince Georges.

At a July 13 event held in the mall’s center court, participants created an “arts and crafts” portrait of African-American explorer Matthew Henson, using paper, glue, cotton balls, crayons and pencils.

The experience taught them that Henson went on expeditions — the most famous being a 1909 expedition during which he may have been the first person to reach the geographic North Pole.

“Culture-based learning is most effective when taught in the early stages of a child’s development in an enriching environment that is centered around strengthening family, peer and personal connections to the community,” Early Keepers spokesperson Chanel Compton said.

“Parents are thrilled by the Early Keepers program,” Compton added. The program is an opportunity for parents to “spend quality time with their children, while engaged in fun and culturally rich activities that incorporate problem solving, math and reading.”

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