Teacher on zip lineAugust 23, 2019 - Teachers and staff have been busy preparing for the new fall school year this week. Classrooms are being cleaned and set up as the "third teacher" (classrooms intentionally designed to support active learning).  Staff meetings keep the teachers up to date on new policies. Some teachers are renewing their first aid and CPR skills and also some are updating their Maryland Credentialing status by documenting training they have had over the past year, along with different professional activities. 

One highlight of the week was a team building session staff took at Terrapin Adventure in Laurel Maryland. Games that taught skills related to work were played including a human marble run, two truths and a lie, and knights. At the end, teachers and staff were able to slide down a zip line after balancing precariously on several ropes to get to the platform. It was a hot day but a lot of fun and gave a great comradery feel to start the new year with.

Dr. Stocker and kid making elephant toothpasteMay 29, 2019 CYC children experienced a chemistry presentation in a Chemistry building lecture hall. The presentation was led by CYC chemist and parent Lenea Stocker Ph.D. Children were treated to experiments including fire and light, dry ice clouds, elephant toothpaste, and carbon snakes.

Being a mom herself, Stocker geared the demonstrations toward the attention span of the children, which included a group of school agers at the same time. Children shouted and cheered as fire ran up a glass jar, pennies changed from copper color to silver and gold, and jars of liquid changed from one vibrant color to another due to the properties of acids and bases. Stocker enlisted her UMD students and even her mother in the demonstrations. Other experiments entailed freezing a rose and a ball with liquid nitrogen to the point that they broke like glass when hit against a surface and showing how packing peanuts will dissolve almost endlessly into a small container of acetone. The finale culminated in a large blast by combining water and liquid nitrogen.

Back in the classroom, teachers extended the learning  by doing experiments with different liquids and solids.  Children expressed, “It was really fun” and “I liked the elephant toothpaste.”

Stocker was inspired by her high school teacher who did similar demonstrations. This is the second year Stocker has put on a children’s demonstration like this, she hopes to make it bigger and better each year. She said that her initial idea was to do it on Maryland Day but that this separate event allowed for a longer and more involved presentation. Her goal is to make chemistry and STEM approachable and not a scary subject. She says, "Chemistry is fun and all around us!" Dr. Stocker is the organizer of the 2018 “Kids and Chemistry Demonstration Day: Advancing Chemistry Appreciation Using Chemical Demonstrations”. 

Exposing preschoolers to the sheer enjoyment of chemistry gave immediate rewards that may help them to pursue activities like this in the future.  Having a school situated on a College Campus is full of many resources. Other campus fieldtrips have included  the Entomology Department and the campus green house. ~ Vera Wiest


Kindergarten restaurantMay 2019 - . Much of the curriculum at the Center for Young Children revolves around in-depth "studies" or "projects". Projects give children opportunities to ask questions, actively explore hands-on materials, interview experts, reflect on information gained, and share new knowledge with peers.

Recently two individual CYC classrooms, the preschool age Green Room and the kindergarten Blue Room, decided to do a restaurant study. Children compared what they already knew about restaurants before beginning a full investigation. Experts included student aides that had worked as waiters, hosts, and busers. Children were able to interview the experts and get some of their questions answered. Children set up a restaurant in their dramatic play area and took turns doing the many jobs such as cook, waiter, and hosts. Books and videos were also sources of information. 

Both classrooms took field trips to local and diverse restaurants including Denny's, Banana Blossom Bistro, The Bagel Place, and Cedars of Lebanon. Each place was accommodating to the children, some even showed the children their back kitchen and how they did prep work. At one restaurant, the children were customers, each ordering their own food and paying their own individual tab including tip. The Blue Room went to a kitchen supply store and completed a scavenger hunt.

When the Green Room visited the diner on the University of Maryland campus they had chance to see how the College Students eat and were rewarded with a cookie at the end. During center time in the classroom, dramatic play was converted into a restaurant complete with aprons, cash registers, menus, play food, and tables.

To culminate the project, both classrooms decided to open their own restaurant and invite families and friends. With some guidance, children decided what food to put on the menu. They wrote invitations and made menus. The Blue Room decided on calling their restaurant “Eat it Up” and the Green Room called theirs, “The Green Room Family Restaurant”. On the day of the opening, children did most of the cooking and then hosted, waited, bused their tables, and collected the bill payment.  One child commented on how the host's job is not that hard, but the server had a lot to do!  The Blue Room had families fill out Yelp style reviews and every one came back with five stars. One said, “The service was great, our waiter kept checking on us!”  

Like the children had seen at the restaurants they had visited, they had a tip jar and were able to collect a nice sum of money. Children voted to donate the tip money. The Blue Room decided to donate their tips to buy school supplies for children that did not have many, and the Green Room donated theirs to the Campus Pantry so that, "people who needed food could have some." From start to finish, each classroom took about three months to complete the project. ~ Vera Wiest


Kindergarten Earth Committee membersMay 16, 2019 - The CYC’s commitment to teaching children to take care of the environment culminated in earning three major awards this spring.

January 9 - The Platinum UMD Green Office award from the UMD’s Office of Sustainability- The CYC had earned the Gold Green Office award several times by completing actions from a list such as, having trash free office events and carpooling to conferences. This new Platinum award allowed the center to show off some of its own actions, earning the Maryland Green School award and Trash Free Tuesdays being two of them. 

April 24 -  Third renewal of the Maryland Green School award- This award involves many steps including creating a committee with representatives from the children, staff, and greater community.  The whole kindergarten class stepped up to the challenge and named themselves the, "Earth Committee". The school also showed that they include environmental teaching throughout the classrooms with projects such as worms, plants, and energy. Four pathways, chosen from seven, were addressed and a celebration was held. The CYC used Maryland Day as an opportunity to celebrate with displays and songs that showed their commitment. This award is renewed every four years.

May 19 - Third renewal to the National Wildlife Federations Eco-School USA Green Flag award- This award, renewed every two years, piggybacks on the Maryland Green School award. In addition, audits of three pathways including Energy, need to be completed with the children’s help. Both this award and the Green School award are more designed for elementary through high school age children, but the preschoolers and kindergarten children were able to accomplish them with few modifications.

As the last award was completed, the Earth Committee was awarded a small trophy for its work toward these prestigious honors. The Center for Young Children maintains a web site specifically reserved to show how each of the requirements have been fulfilled. Please visit  the site to see the multitude of sustainable related activities the CYC has accomplished. CYC Green Pages ~ Vera Wiest


mother and son in front of the little free libraryMay 20, 2019 – The CYC Little Free Libraries got a face lift. The CYC is fortunate enough to have not one, but two Little Free Libraries. Little Free Libraries is an international non-profit organization that encourages members of a community to put up a small structure to house used books for anyone passing by to take one and then in return leave one.

Greg Thompson, from dining services had two built for the CYC in May of 2014. Representatives from the CYC Parent Teacher Partnership monitor and steward the two libraries, making sure the libraries are neat and has an ample supply of books. One Little Library is filled with childrens books, the other is for adults. Last year’s steward Priya Varadan, painted the libraries white with a red roof; a clean pallet for the children to decorate. This year’s steward Jackie Madoo, completed the job with the children of the Purple room adding their handprints as flowers.  The nature theme has delighted children and parents alike, who frequent the libraries as during drop off and pick up. One brother of a CYC student commented that he really liked it and once found a water powered calculator kit in there. ~ Vera Wiest



Mr. M concert Maryland Day 19April 27, 2019- Maryland Day at the CYC was so packed that there was standing room only for Mr. M’s  (Eric Maring) sing-along. Staff were delighted to see many alumni students and teachers return to enjoy the concert. Mr. M sang many old favorites such as “Five Little Ducks, Bingo, and Form the Corn. " Ducky, Wolfie, and Owlie, Maring's beloved puppets, also made appearances.  Mr. M’s son Julian played the piano and clarinet to accompany his father. The crowd enjoyed Julian's playing immensely, applauding loudly after each song.  As a special recognition for the Center for Young Children’s successful renewal for being a Maryland Green School, Eric Maring sang, “I’m Lucky There’s a Sun.” One of the requirements for the Maryland Green School application is to have a celebration and one that includes the outside community and reoccurs yearly gets extra kudos. 

For many families, this launched their exploration of Maryland Day for the rest of the day which was breezy yet balmy. ~ Vera Wiest



GreenFest displayApril 18, 2019 – The CYC participated for the fourth time in the annual Denton Quad GreenFest. The CYC chose “Being Active Outside” for the topic of their display. Children helped to decorate a display of pictures of them being active on the playground. Hula-hoops, hopscotch, bubbles, and chalk were available for passerbys to “get active” in the moment. A video about getting active produced by the Kindergarten class, played on a tablet so that attendees could get a feel for the energy the children bring to the focus. Families had been asked to share on a big chart how they liked to get active outside and college students added to this chart at the GreenFest. Many said, “Walking to class!” The CYC handed out oranges for a take away since they were a healthy snack in a natural wrapper. Danielle Miller and Vera Wiest put the booth together and answered questions.

Being Active Outside was chosen partly because it had been a focus for the year’s reapplication toward Maryland Green School and Eco-School USA, as part of a healthy schools pathway and they wanted to share their actions with the community.

The Denton GreenFest brings many organizations from the UMD community together to celebrate and share the sustainable efforts that are going on, on the campus. The official GreenFest website states:

GreenFest is an exciting, educational event focused around wellness and sustainability. At the event, organizations set up interactive booths to inform residents about their group, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming events. Greenfest teaches students about living sustainably, healthy living, and learning environmentally-conscious practices.”

The CYC hopes to participate in the GreenFest again next year. ~ Vera Wiest


Effective Practices in Early Childhood Education: Building a Foundation book coverApril, 2019 -The CYC is thrilled to be featured in the new textbook, Effective Practices in Early Childhood Education: Building a Foundation. This textbook is intended to be used by undergraduate students early in their programs to become early childhood educators. The book was written by Dr. Sue Bredekamp, a leading authority in Developmentally Appropriate Practice. 

Video crews filmed classroom activities with children in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. They also filmed interviews with teachers and administrators from the CYC. The focus was on the developmentally appropriate practice and high-quality early childhood education that takes place at the CYC. Throughout the textbook, video examples are referenced and can be accessed by students, and questions and activities for the students are provided. 

"We are excited that so many upcoming early childhood professionals will be able to see the thoughful practice of teachers at the CYC!" responded the Center for Young Children's director Mona Leigh Guha, PhD.


Child holding used electronicMarch 29, 2019 CYC participates in the campus wide E-Waste drive sponsored by the Office of Sustainability. For the entire week before the event, CYC parents and staff were asked to bring in old electronics, cords, phones, printers, computers etc. to be dropped off at a central location on campus where they would be responsibly recycled. The CYC was able to collect five large boxes of broken or obsolete electronic related materials for the event.

The Center’s kindergarten “Earth Committee,” got involved by making signs to remind everyone of the collection. The children are learning about the importance of recycling as opposed to dumping things in a landfill. The Earth Committee is involved in other environmental activities at the school including weighing and keeping track of the amount of trash generated on the school’s Trash Free Tuesday program. They already sort their everyday trash by compost, recycling, reusing, and landfill.

There is a strong commitment by the children, staff, UMD students, and parents to teaching and working toward a cleaner environment. Next week the school is sponsoring it’s annual “Save Fuel Week” where families and staff are encouraged to walk, bike, carpool, or bus in lieu of driving alone.  CYC is in the process of renewing their Maryland Green School and Eco-School USA Green Flag awards. Staff at the CYC have attained the highest Green Office award of Platinum.



Researcher Fair at the CYCMarch 13, 2019 - Center for Young Children hosted its second annual Researcher Meet-and-Greet, providing an opportunity for families to meet the researchers their children have been working with throughout the semester. Laboratories from departments such as Human Development, Hearing and Speech, and Psychology came together to help parents learn more about the projects their children have been involved in and to foster continued interest for research within the CYC community. Children were thrilled to play with items that labs brought with them, such as fun maze games, puppets, testudo coloring sheets, and even a 3-d printed model of a human brain! We hope to continue to make research fun and available to any family who would like to participate!

To learn more about research at the Center for Young Children, please visit our research pages where you can find out about different types of studies, current research, and get a brief biography and focus for each of the researchers currently conducting studies at the CYC.



Green office certificateJanuary 9, 2019 - The Center for Young Children is proud to announce they have attained the highest award of Platinum from the Office of Sustainability's Green Office program.  Vera Wiest, leader of CYC sustainaibility efforts, is featured in the video on the Office of Sustainability's Green Office page. This program is offered to all offices on campus and involves completing lists of actions to show commitment to sustainable practices. There are now four levels of awards starting with Bronze and ending with Platinum. CYC is one of the first to receive the Platinum status by showing how its office goes beyond the Green Office program's specified actions. The CYC has a Green Committee that incudes all staff, some PTP members, some UMD students, and the entire Blue Room kindergarten class. Some of the actions taken by the CYC include, collecting plastic bags for recycling, becoming a Maryland Green School, composting, growing a vegetable garden, using reusable plates and utensils for office events, and having a staff salad bar Monday. The Platinum award will last for two years.

"True sustainability happens when it is embedded into our core operation and part of everyone’s job. The Green Office program engages everyone in taking steps towards a more sustainable future."  ~ from the Green Office Program web site. 


Teacher on a log with childrenDecember 2018 – Renovation Solutions, a company that does construction and remodeling, donated some cross cut logs to the CYC playground. Children are using the pieces to create obstacle courses, balance beams, seesaws, bridges, tables, and many other creations. A big thank you to Peter Garvin for this new addition to the playground. The same week, Bob Wiest donated a mud kitchen he had made. A mud kitchen is essentially a table with a salvaged sink in it for children to created mud pies etc. Children were delighted with the new items that enhanced their play on the playground. The CYC is a big proponent for making sure children have ample time to play outside. Harvard Medical School, on their Harvard Health Blog, states that outside play promotes, exercise, appreciation for nature, and increases executive function, among other things.


December 20, 2018 - Eric Maring,the CYC's music teacher, organized another wonderful Winter Sing-along for families and friends. Eric Maring, better known to the children as "Mr. M", included his two sons Leo and Julian in the performance. Leo played the violin and saxophone while Julian entertained with his piano playing. Families were delighted to sit with their children and sing some of the songs children had been learning in music class including some old favorites like, Jingle Bells, The Gingerbread Man, and My Hat it has Three Corners. This is an annual event that is well attended by families. Some alumni even return to participate in this heart warming event.

Teachers at NAEYC conferenceNovember 17, 2018 -  All staff and faculty of the Center for Young Children were able to attend the annual National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) conference. This year the conference was conveniently held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC. Teachers were able to go to at least eight different one and a half hour sessions, each ranged from topics including, child development, curriculum, health, safety and nutrition, special needs, professionalism, and community. Many old contacts and colleagues were reunited. CYC staff were able to meet people in the field that they admired including project approach leader Lilian Katz, musicians Steve and Greg, and author Mac Barnett.

The conference spanned over several days. It was exciting to gather with so many serious early childhood educators that come from as far away as Dubai and Hawaii. The credits earned from this conference will be applied to the individual teacher’s continued education as required by Maryland State Department of Education. In addition, these continued education hours will help CYC teachers to maintain a high level of Maryland State Credentialing. By having many highly credentialed teachers, the CYC is able to attain the highest level of achievement in the Maryland EXCELS program, the state's quality rating system.

On returning form the conference, teachers convened to share highlights and insights gained from the multiple sessions attended multiplying the effects of the conference.


Containers for recycling markersNovember 2018 - The Center for Young Children have been recycling their markers for several years now, through the Crayola ColorCycle program. This year the Office of Sustainability Green Office program has asked to tag along with the marker recycling program. The Kindergarten Green Committee made ten marker-recycling containers from old pretzel jars and cracker boxes. They worked to label and decorate each one to be distributed to other interested Green Offices around campus. After the jars are filled, kindergarteners will count them and ship them back to Crayola for recycling. While working on the project, comments from the kindergarteners included:
  • If you use less trash, you can help the environment. The environment is the land that we live on.  It gets stinked up!
  • It’s a good idea to recycle markers because they are litter and the Earth might get sicker and sicker.
  • Be good to the Earth and not be bad to the Earth!
  • The Earth might get hurt and the Earth might cry! (Just kidding)
  • You can use markers for making other stuff, like rocket boosters, hopping frogs, and dry erase boards.
  • We should not waste.
Three children in ethnic clothingOctober 20, 2018 -  The Center for Young Children had its annual International Picnic. This event is organized entirely by the Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP) and was headed by Orange Room parent Ying Li. The event is a potluck, where parents and teachers bring dishes to share, many with ethnic flavors from the nearly 30 different countries represented at the center. Along these lines, guests were encouraged to dress in clothing that denoted their culture.

Besides lobby greeting, trash duty, table setup and breakdown, providing streaming music, and a photographer, a parent volunteered to compiled a recipe book from the dishes served at he picnic. Children were able to decorate a Diya lamp with paints thanks to the idea and supplies offered by Melani Solomon a parent from the Green Room.

The Green committee did a takeoff on their usual “bring your own dishes to eat from” idea, and offered the sixty or so plates that were already in the center’s kitchen for guests to eat from. Volunteers took turns washing and rotating the supply so that no disposable plates or utensils were used at the picnic! New to the event this year was a raffle with UMD sports and CSPAC tickets donated to help the PTP raise money.

Nyle, purple room alumni, played the piano and sang as part of the entertainment. He helped earn the service points for his siblings in the Purple Room. Nine year old Nyle said he thinks about the CYC and things he did there. "Babayetu ( the Lord's Prayer in Swahili)" and "Circle of Life (from the lion king)" were beautifully sung by the UMD Ethnobeat Acapella Group. Also a performance from the UMD’s Korean Pop Dance Club featured Red Velvet’s song "Power up" and  they danced to a song by Anpanman. These performances gave a special feel to the picnic and a fun time was had by all. 


Global Hand Washing BannerOctober 17, 2018 – For the sixth year in a row, the School of Public Health Scholars treated the Center for Young Children to a lesson on hand washing as a celebration for Global Hand Washing Day. Lis Maring, the Director of the Global Public Health Scholars Program helped coordinate the event, which is celebrated by over 200 million people in over 100 countries around the world. She says that, “Promoted on a wide enough scale, hand washing with soap could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.” Maring also noted that, “The best hand washers on the campus are definitely the CYC children!” The School of Public Health undergraduate scholars came into several CYC classrooms, taught the children a hand washing song and helped the children create banners to display around the school. See the SPH article

See the Scholars article: GPH Scholars



Child eating a trash free lunchOctober 9, 2018 -  The CYC’s Trash Free Tuesday program yielded just two ounces of trash for the entire school of over one hundred participants. The kindergarten classroom collects the trash, weighs it, and graphs it, each week, on a chart displayed in the front lobby for all to see.

For nearly eight years, the CYC has conducted a Trash Free Tuesday program where families strive to pack lunches using reusable containers. From the beginning of school, children are taught to sort trash by compost, recycling, and lastly, landfill. Reusable dishes are also used at the school for lunch and snack and are washed daily by the student aides.

Within the past few years, “Fancy Lunch” has been introduced, where the lights are turned out and cloth napkins are used to add to the  savings of natural resources during Trash Free Tuesday. Teachers sometimes play soft music to make Tuesday’s lunch seem even more special and children help  sort, fold, and deliver the napkins after they are laundered.

Children get excited about Tuesdays and discuss what and how much trash they have in their lunch. Two children contemplated over lunch that everyday should be Trash Free Tuesday. “How could you let people know?” asked a teacher. All kinds of ideas were explored such as, writing letters and making posters. While grocery shopping with his Mom, one child deduced that buying a block of cheese created less trash than a package of individually wrapped cheese sticks.

It is hard to imagine going below two ounces of trash but the trash has been steadily decreasing over the years. The main credit goes to parents, who are thoughtful about the amount of trash they are generating and teach their children to be mindful of how the earth’s resources are used, even though it takes a little more time and human energy. The Center for Young Children is working toward re-certifying as a Maryland Green School for the second time. They are also certified as an Eco-School USA through the Nationl Wildlife Federation.


Children at the chemistry labAugust 2018 - The Center for Young Children runs a six week summer camp program for ages three to eight year olds each summer. During the camp each class chooses a topic to study as a focus for the six weeks. This summer, one group of rising first and second grader’s project was energy. Along with reading, hands on activities, and online resources, the teachers pulled resources from the many departments on campus to help guide the children through their learning.

Speakers included, Blossom Ojukwu, a music education student, who talked to the children about how sound comes out of the body, Heyi Solera a graduate student in the Ethno-musical department, who shared her bandoneon. Sarah Bergbreiter a micro-robotics expert, brought in some of her robots and Paul Anderson from the Mechanical Engineering department demonstrated potential and kinetic energy.

From the Office of Sustainability, Sally DeLeon and Samantha Bennett, came to discuss conserving energy and shared some solar cars. Two UMD physicists, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Turpen, made liquid nitrogen ice cream with the campers as they explained about thermal energy. Also two representatives from the Kinesiology department, under graduate student Lenisha Paige and graduate student Darius Singpurwalla, shared information on food and energy.

Chauncy Jenkins, UMD facilities operations manager, came into the Blue Room to explain how the swimming pool, the children swim in each day, is supplied with power. Mr. Jenkins brought some slides of the SCUB that showed a compressor, heat exchanger, motor control center, chiller, and other pipes and towers. He asked the children about temperatures; that of their body on the inside and the outside. He explained for the pool water to be comfortable it needed to be warmed. Mr. Jenkins said he was sorry he could not take the children into the SCUB but that he was concerned for their safety and the children did not complain, "I enjoyed the pictures", wrote one child in a thank you note to Mr. Jenkins.

On-campus field trips were to the LeafHouse were Renee Catacalos gave the children a tour, Dr. Isaacs Chemistry Lab to learn more about chemical energy, the Glen L. Martin Wind Tunnel to learn more about wind energy, and a “Turtle Bus” was used to transport the children to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.

Other classes used campus resources too. The other projects included, birds, musical instruments, trees, ponds, and boats.

Read more about the energy study on their camp web site.




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