A big part of the Center for Young Children’s curriculum revolves around choosing and implementing a “study” that is close to the heart of the classroom children. The study will incorporate learning from all the domains in a natural way with the children’s motivation leading the way.
Some of the highlights of the study have been a Zoom meeting with an orthopedic doctor, a life size skeleton replica shared by one of the parents, and setting up an orthopedic office in dramatic play including x-rays that were seen using a light table.
Using the full-sized skeleton model and some YouTube videos for support, kindergarteners learned the names of many of the bones and their function in the body. Children made a model of a bone using a toilet paper roll and tissue paper. They included blood vessels, the spongy bone, and the yellow marrow “that stores fat”.
At the end of their study, after most of their questions had been answered, children decided on a way to “culminate the study”, or how they could share all the information they had learned. Miller is working on a video of the children’s work to share with families along with some outside displays that can be viewed while social distancing. ~ Danielle Miller
The class also watched a video on how to draw Pigeon, by Willems, and used these new skills to illustrate their own Pigeon book, “The Pigeon Wants a Chocolate Bar”, in which the Pigeon finally realizes he doesn’t have any teeth to eat it with and ends up giving it to the little duck.
In the future, teachers Ms.Person and Ms. Fowler, said the class will focus on Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books using some of the same comparison techniques they used with the Pigeon books.
Teachers say that children have been adjusting well and are happy to be reconnecting with friends making new ones. One teacher remarked to parents, "Your children are all amazing at wearing masks and washing hands! We are very impressed." Parents are delighted to be able to send their children to a quality program.
Some of the topics addressed in these first weeks have been learning the possibilities of the classroom centers, proper handwashing techniques, beginning yoga, discovering each other’s families, personal emotions and feelings, and enjoying the many opportunities available on the large CYC playground.
The kindergarten children have been discussing where they live and trying to decipher the difference between cities, states, countries, etc. They have also been focusing on rhyming words and identifying letters and letter sounds.
Eric Maring (Mr. M), has returned as the CYC’s music teacher and he conducts each classroom session outside, weather permitting. “What a joy to be out under the trees with the CYC students this week!!,” remarked Maring. “We sang "Five Little Ducks" with Mother Duck, hopped like bunnies with John the Rabbit, tapped the beat and recited some favorite nursery rhymes with Wolfie and rocked back and forth to "Simple Gifts" with Owlie. What a blessing is music in our lives.” Mother Duck, John the Rabbit, Wolfie, and Owlie, are Mr. M’s beloved puppets.
Although drop and pick-up have been modified for social distancing, Assistant Director Anne Daniel, commented on how warm and welcoming the teachers have been when greeting families each morning and afternoon and that the whole process has been relatively smooth.
Teachers and staff have been doing a wonderful job at adapting and coming up with new strategies to be able to offer families an alternative to at home electronic instruction. These “in person” daily school sessions are proving invaluable to children and families.
Mr. M and his two sons, Leo and Julian provided the entertainment and played multiple instruments to the delight of everyone. Adding to the fun, they set up in an old barn located on Maring's parents' farm in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. One of the favorite action songs the Maring band played was The Rattlin Bog. The whole event left this year’s families with a good feeling.
Eric Maring and his sons have been offering live music lessons for the children throughout the pandemic. These sessions along with familiar puppets, have been a great comfort to the children. ~ Vera Wiest
This year Earth Day (April 22), and Arbor Day (April 24) came on the same week. Not to let the Covid-19 stay at home policy get in the way, CYC teachers celebrated virtually with their classrooms as a whole.
Partnering with the University of Maryland’s Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, children drew pictures of trees to add to a shared slideshow including images of the children enjoying trees from the school year and during their neighborhood walks. This was shared on the Arboretum’s Facebook page.
The CYC also has an Eco-school page called CyberGreen that presents several Earth friendly activities weekly. These activities are based on weekly themes and include, books, songs, virtual field trips, yoga, stories, and science fun. Mr. M, the CYC music teacher, created a video doing an action poem called, "Here Is my Trunk." Ms. Hurst read three books about trees to share and Ms. McAllister did a time lapse video while she used chalk to make Earth Day messages. A video about going on a field trip to a recycling center was also offered to the children.
For Earth Day the Kindergarten teachers gave the children a journal prompt of, “How do you take care of the Earth?” Some of the responses included, “I turn off the lights,” “I pick up trash,” and “I water plants.” One classroom had their students make something from recycled materials to share on a Zoom meeting. Another class made an instructional video about how to do an observational drawing of a tree.
CYC teachers continue to support environmental lessons creatively even as they are having to be creative themselves in how to interact with young children from a distance. ~ Vera Wiest
Photo by Lauren Neimeyer
Teachers immediately went into action using a multitude of creative ideas to reach out to the children and families in their classrooms. Tutorials in Zoom were popular the first week. Google hangouts was used, along with other features of the Google suite provided by the University. Special drives were set up to house lessons, videos, and other documents that families could share in. One classroom started using flipgrid to connect and have students upload videos of themselves. Biweekly emails seem to be a widespread form of communication too.
Mr. M, the CYC music teacher, started posting three weekly music classes in the form of videos featuring his sons Julian and Leo as accompaniment. The family’s versatility in instruments is amazing and the caring and routine are invaluable to the students. Eric Maring say, “It has been so special for me and my boys having you all tune in for the Sunshine music classes. I've been so moved by all the emails knowing that the music has been as meaningful and important to all of you as it has to us.”
A collaborative website, Cyber CYC, has been set up with a page for each classroom to edit with videos and assignments. All of this has been a work in progress as teachers and families learn the best way to stay in touch. A Covid-19 social story has been posted to help children better understand how this all affects their lives.
The staff at the CYC are prepared to work toward whatever the next few months bring, doing the best they can to support their families and students.
Developing an "Anti-Bias" curriculum is very important in all schools, and it is not too early to begin these conversations when children are young. At this age, they deeply understand the concept of fairness, and they are keenly observant of similarities and differences when they make new friends.
This description of an Anti-Bias Curriculum was taken from the Teaching for Change organization, a group local to the DC area.
"Anti-bias curriculum is an approach to early childhood education that sets forth values-based principles and methodology in support of respecting and embracing differences and acting against bias and unfairness. Anti-bias teaching requires critical thinking and problem solving by both children and adults. The overarching goal is creating a climate of positive self and group identity development, through which every child will achieve her or his fullest potential."
In addition, Dr. Melanie Killen, a HDQM faculty member has been conducting research in this area for years and was recently featured in the Maryland Today newsletter. Read Melanie Killen's article entitled, Op/ed: Lessons on Battling Bias featured in Maryland Today.
The CYC greatly values the diversity of our families and strives to help their students to think critically about their world. ~ Leslie Oppenheimer, Curriculum/Enrollment Coordinator
The Staff at the Center for Young Children not only are committed to teaching the children to be careful with the earth's resources, but also conscious of doing so themselves. The Center for Young Children just renewed it's Platinum Green Office status with the UMD Office of Sustainability by collectively making goals for the next five years. The goals include teaching the children about solar power and working to make the many windows in the center more efficient.
Teacher Amy Laakso folded 100 pieces of origami and suspended them from the classroom ceiling for the celebration. She and co-teacher Danielle Miller, and support teacher Carly Wilbur, dressed in hand crafted capes decorated with 100 pom poms each, creating “100 Day Super Hero” teacher costumes. Children brought collections of one hundred items from home. Some of the collections shared were, 100 googly eyes, 100 Legos, 100 straws, and a 100-piece puzzle.
Children celebrated the day doing “one hundred” day activities. They counted how far they could go by taking, 100 steps and 100 hops, they made necklaces with 100 beads and went on a scavenger hunt to find 100 numerals. Kindergarteners counted ten pieces of ten small snacks to create a snack of one hundred pieces. "Everyday we got closer to 100, the anticipation grew until the 100th day when we celebrated with each other," said Ms. Miller. Ms. Wilbur commented, “ It was nice to celebrate 100 days doing a bunch of math.” ~ Danielle Miller