'Hands-on and messy' lessons teach kids about other cultures

YWCA'S DISCOVERY PLACE PRESCHOOL class got a little taste of Italy this week as part of its "International Month" celebration.
The 30 children spent a recent Wednesday morning learning Italian language and culture from Bice Comichista, a local Italian educator.
"They're so cute, and they pick it up so fast," said Comichista. "Right away they start saying Italian words. It's surprising how much they remember."
Lois Bresnahan, lead teacher at the preschool, said they're studying a different country during each week of August.
The first week, the kids learned about Mexico; the second week, Italy; next week, they will study Greece; and the fourth week, Africa, she said.
"There are a lot of hands-on and messy things -- they have a good time," said Bresnahan of the precocious 4-year-olds.
Learning language
Cultural enrichment doesn't just occur in August, however. Lora Comichista, YWCA's child-care program manager, said the children have been taking Italian enrichment classes since May.
"Language classes at this age are excellent," said Comichista, who is also Bice's daughter-in-law. "Preschool years are the best for language development. They retain it well."
Bice Comichista was born in Civitella Fredena, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. When she was 3, her family moved to Warren, where she grew up.
She received an education degree from Kent State University and now teaches Italian to fourth- through seventh-graders at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Niles.
She now lives in Girard but returns to Italy every three years.

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