Students Spend the Summer Exploring Arts, Literacy, Science and More

Jul. 20, 2020

For the students at Oakland Elementary, a school located in the Far Northeast area of Denver, the learning didn’t stop when they logged out of their virtual classroom on the last day of school. Instead, a cohort of students at Oakland spent their summer engaging in an exploration of arts, science, music, sports and more through a program called S.P.I.C.E. boxes.

A look inside a S.P.I.C.E. box.

S.P.I.C.E. boxes– which stands for Support, Purpose, Inspire, Create and Engage– were created by a DPS teacher and her mother. Carlie Snyder, a Reading Interventionist and Language Specialist for Oakland Elementary, was looking for a way to offer memorable learning experiences to her students over the summer.

“Especially during this time of COVID, we wanted to make sure students had a way to stay engaged during the summer– as we know this can help mitigate the dreaded ‘summer slide’ — but stay engaged safely. It was also important to us that students enjoy the activities we provided them and could have a memorable summer experience while still learning,”  said Carlie Snyder, Oakland Elementary.

Assembled through a donation-based system, S.P.I.C.E. boxes are filled to the brim with activities. Open up a box and you’ll find four weeks of books, art supplies, science projects, physical activities, music and meditation exercises. Students can go on a virtual tour of a museum, do a puzzle of a famous work of art, compose their own music, learn to draw an optical illusion and more.

Hundreds of books and supplies ready to be distributed into the boxes.

“Our hope is that students can use the items in these boxes independently and will come back from summer break even more ready to engage in school than they might be otherwise. […] Our intention is to keep communicating with the students throughout the summer to see what they like, hear what they have created, and learn about what they’ve explored online,” Snyder explained.

Carlie Snyder with her students. “I also hand-lettered a sign for each student to put in their yard!”

The program currently reaches 23 students at Oakland Elementary and hopes to expand in the future.

“We are hoping to roll out even more boxes next year, and have people donate by purchasing items on our wish list for students for next summer. If people cannot donate money or purchase wish list items, we could also use help putting together and delivering the boxes to our families next year,” Synder said.

There is a strong community of care at Oakland Elementary, and S.P.I.C.E. boxes are just one of the ways that show their unwavering commitment to students. Learn more about Oakland Elementary on their website.