Children with a life size skeleton
December 8, 2020 - The Blue Kindergarten has been busy with writing, learning letter sounds and blends, going over shapes, numbers and counting. The Blue Room has also been doing an in – depth study on bones. The study got its start when teacher Danielle Miller, came in with a boot due to a foot injury. There were so many questions concerning the fracture that it just seemed natural to take it into a study.

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


Cover of the book children wrote
November 23, 2020 - The Green Room has been doing an in-depth author study for the past two months. Their author of choice has been Mo Willems, famed author of the Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, and Knuffle Bunny series. Their initial study series has been the Pigeon books, starting with “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. If you are unfamiliar with the books, Mo Willems simply illustrates the dilemmas of “Pigeon” who always seems to want something he cannot have. The children explored the many emotions Pigeon goes through in his endeavor to succeed.  Children practiced portraying the same emotions only wearing their masks. Teachers said they were surprised how much emotion came across using only their eyes. The class made a huge chart with images comparing the emotions, characters, and summaries of each of the five books they read. Children helped to label the sections of the graphic.

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.


Child working at the art table
Art Table
October 6, 2020 -  The CYC has opened this fall for a fulltime core day  with smaller classes as a response to covid-19. Special precautions are in place for everyone’s safety including following all guidelines put forth by the Maryland Health Department and the Maryland Department of Education.

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. 


Music teacher zoom family dance in a barn
May 28, 2020 - Teacher’s have been preparing to wind down the school year which officially ends June 12. Classrooms are working on memory books and other ways to say goodbye. One beloved way the CYC has finished the school year in the past has been with a CYC Dance led by music teacher Eric Maring (Mr. M) . Mr. M has been culminating each year’s worth of music instruction in a wonderful family event which usually took place in a large room at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. This year he moved the dance to an online Zoom venue. Although not the traditional method, many families attended and danced enthusiastically, and all agreed it was wonderful musical finish for an unusual year. Several parents of shy children noted it worked well for their children.

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

Child with crafted tree
Earth Day and Arbor Day

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


Screen Shot of Zoom meeting of teachers
March 30, 2020 – Today marks the beginning of the second week the Center for Young Children’s teachers are working online. Preparations began even during Spring Break as director Mona Leigh Guha sent out emails to the staff setting the groundwork for what was expected. Teaching preschoolers online is not necessarily a developmentally appropriate endeavor, so the overall concept was to keep in touch, and provide activities for children. Giving the children some sense of normal activities and connections is an important goal.

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.


Anti Bias Bulletin Board
February 21, 2020 - As one way to highlight the curriculum topics that teachers address in their classrooms, the Center for Young Children makes use of the large bulletin board in the front of the building to share with families documentation of these events. Right now, in conjunction with Black History Month, the Yellow Room teachers, Ms. Donn and Ms. Anstine, have displayed some of the work that they have been doing since the very beginning of the school year to incorporate meaningful activities, read-alouds and family-sharing experiences that uplift everyone in their class. The display is entitled Implementing an Anti-Bias Curriculum in the Early Childhood Classroom.

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


Kindergarten letter to the World
February 11, 2020 – As part of the Center for Young Children Green Committee, the Blue Room kindergarten children wrote a letter to the world asking them to, “please take care of the earth.” The letter then turned to a wish that everyone could help make everyday "Trash Free Tuesday."  Trash Free Tuesday is a program that the CYC has been doing since 2013. Trash is collected from each classroom mostTuesdays and counted. The results are graphed for all to see. There has been a steady decline of collected trash over the years as more and more people are becoming conscience of the problem. One comment on the letter to the world, was from a child who wanted to know how long humans had been on the planet. A quick Google search resulted in about 200,000 years. With this information he wrote, " We should know better, we have been around for 200,000 years!"  As part of the Eco-School USA award, children are encouraged to write an article about being sustainable. 

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. 


Kindergarten class with 100 pieces of origami suspended from the ceiling
February 7, 2020 – The Center for Young Children Blue Room Kindergarten class celebrated 100 days of school. Children had been counting the days on a giant grid in anticipation for the 100th day that they had been in kindergarten. Children were not sure what would happen when they finished the chart, some children thought school might be finished or that they would get a holiday from school.

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


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