July 2019 Student Spotlight – Marcy Vargas

My early childhood career began when I, being a first-time parent, was seeking quality childcare for my daughter. I was looking for a program where I could trust that my child would be in a safe environment, where she would be with caring people, and that she would be taught more than what I was able to teach her at home. In order to assure this was happening, I began volunteering at her school. Through this volunteer work, I realized how much I enjoyed working with young children. I decided to enroll in early childhood courses and later earned an Associate Degree in Child Development/Early Childhood.

My first teaching position started in the preschool classroom with four-year old’s and “Center Time” was my favorite part of the day.  Listening to the children’s conversation, asking those open-ended questions, hearing their responses, and then being able to scaffold their learning is what motivated me to continue working with children. I took pride in seeing how excited they would get when they could master something or see it in a different manner.

I currently live in Corpus Christi, Texas. In my free time, I enjoy being with my family. I have three children ages 21, 16, and 12 (they are growing up fast) so spending quality time with them means everything to me.

What I enjoy most about my job is having the opportunity to be part of an outstanding program where the children are our first priority.  I work hand in hand with our families making sure our program offers an environment that is safe, nurturing and appropriate.

As an early childhood professional, we must acquire annual training hours required by our state’s licensing standards. CCEI offers the professional development courses that meet these requirements. I enrolled in CCEI online courses because they are easily accessible, and they offer courses that align with the requirements for professional development. I have continued my education through CCEI, earning the Texas Child Care Administration and Business Practices Certificate. I would highly recommend CCEI to others seeking a certificate program or to further their professional development. The support I received from my coach, Laura Hamilton, is what made it possible for me to complete my certificate program.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CHD105: Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users July 1-31, 2019.

It is important for teachers to understand the stages of play in order to put the right materials or supports in place in the classroom. For instance, if a teacher expects two−year−olds to engage in cooperative play, she or he will face frustration because that is not a developmentally appropriate skill to expect from very young children. Instead, the teacher can promote the transition from parallel to associative play by encouraging and modeling language and social skills during children’s play.  It is also important for teachers to understand that by the age of four, children should begin to play cooperatively, at least for parts of the day. A lack of cooperative play by a four−year−old may be an indication that further supports are needed for that child. 

In early childhood education, all areas of development are closely linked. In addition to fine motor skills and cognition being linked to expressive play, here are a few other examples

  • When children engage in forms of expressive play, they are also building communication skills and language acquisition.
  • When children talk about their drawings and creations, they are practicing putting thoughts into words and demonstrating their own thought processes.
  • When teachers comment positively about what they notice in a child’s drawing, the child feels good about his or her skills and safe in the expressive environment, which builds confidence and leads for future explorations with art materials.

Teachers should have a goal of incorporating multiple areas of development into single activities.  This type of integration builds skills and supports learning better than isolating skills and activities. This section of the course will discuss ways in which teachers can add more opportunities for expressive play and drawing into daily activities.

This course focuses on the importance various forms of play have on the development of the whole child, with emphasis on expressive play, which can be incorporated throughout most activities in the early childhood environment. Because drawing is an important element of expressive play, this course explores the typical development of drawing skills in children and how those skills relate to other areas of development. With a better understanding of the expressive play needs of young children, early childhood professionals can support children’s healthy, optimal development across all developmental domains.

“Not only can teachers get to know children on a personal level and make them feel safe in the environment, but teachers can also discern information about children’s physical and cognitive development,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “The goal is to put in place the materials and supports necessary to move the children along the developmental spectrum, at the pace that is most suitable for each individual child.”

CHD105: Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development is a two-hour, intermediate-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE: Setting up a Recycling Center in the Classroom

Once you have gathered materials, you want to give some thought to how you will present these materials to the children in an organized and inviting way. Sort like materials into labeled bins and place those on shelves that are also labeled, just as you would do with other materials in the classroom.  This supports children’s independence and is a great matching activity that engages children during clean-up time.

Talk with children about recycling and how you would like to think of new ways to use some of the items that we typically throw away in order to help keep the planet clean.  You can learn more about recycling here.

Introduce small amounts of recycled materials at a time.  Add new materials regularly as children become accustomed to using these open-ended materials.  Each time you add a new material, show the children what you are adding as part of your large group meeting.  Ask the children to think of ways that the new material could be used. 

Allow the recycled materials center to be open throughout the day so that children can use the materials freely.  If a child is struggling with a building project in the block area, say something like, “I wonder if there is anything in the recycled materials area that could help you?”  This type of language encourages children to think of different ways to use materials and solve problems creatively. 

Share images of your recycled materials center on our Facebook page here!

For the main article Using Recycled Materials in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Introduce Recycled Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center, CLICK HERE

For the article Collecting Materials, CLICK HERE

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE: Collecting Materials

There are many ways to engage families to help stock your recycled materials center.  After talking to the children about recycling, brainstorm a list of familiar items from around their homes that could be used in different ways once they were empty, such as shampoo bottles or cereal boxes. Prompt the children to think about the different rooms in their homes and the recycled materials in each room. 

Share this list of materials with families in your program newsletter or other family communication.  Ask families to begin to collect materials for re-use in the classroom. Ask families if they work in a business that produces materials that could safely be re-used in your classroom.  You could also share this article from NAEYC that talks about the benefits of recycled materials.

Talk with your own relatives and extended members about saving thing they would typically throw away. Share the list of materials with your family too, as well as pictures of how the children use the materials in the classroom!

Do you know someone who quilts or is there a quilting group in your community?  They may be willing to set aside their fabric scraps, especially if you let them know that the materials will go to good use.  Collect florist foam from your local florist.  Talk with a framing store about saving their scraps of matte board.  When talking to these community members, ask them if they are aware of anyone else who might have scrap materials available.

You may also be able to find materials at a community recycle/reuse center, which typically charge by the pound.  They may provide materials for a deep discount for teachers or have sales that will allow you to get lots of material for little money. 

For the main article Using Recycled Materials in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Introduce Recycled Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting up a Recycling Center in the Classroom, CLICK HERE

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE: Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center

As with all decisions that you make about materials, safety must be your top priority.  Materials should be easy to clean, free of any sharp edges, and pass a choking hazard test.  Some materials that would not be safe for the toddler room could be completely safe for a preschool class.  With that in mind, consider introducing some of the following materials:

  • Cardboard shipping boxes
  • Cereal/food boxes
  • Plastic bottles and lids of various sizes
  • Condiment bottles
  • Egg cartons
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Plastic butter containers and lids
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Shampoo/soap bottles
  • Corks
  • Coffee sleeves
  • Old pots, pans, and utensils
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Books with torn pages
  • Framing matte board
  • Yarn and ribbon
  • Gift boxes and wrapping paper
  • Fabric and felt scraps
  • Scraps of construction paper
  • Buttons, beads, and random plastic pieces
  • Tiles and stones
  • Small crayon pieces – to melt into new crayons!

Here is a Pinterest page dedicated to using the materials listed above that you can scan for ideas that are appropriate for the children in your care.

For the main article Using Recycled Materials in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Introduce Recycled Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Collecting Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting up a Recycling Center in the Classroom, CLICK HERE

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE: Why Introduce Recycled Materials

Recycled materials are a no-cost resource for programs that typically do not have a large budget for classroom materials. Even more importantly, recycled materials can promote creativity and encourage problem solving in early learning environments. 

This is because recycled materials are usually completely open-ended, meaning they can be used in a multitude of ways.  Unlike most toys that you can purchase at a store that have a single purpose, a single recycled material can be used in a different way, in each learning center of the classroom.  For example, a medium-sized plastic lid can be a:

  • Stacking toy in the block area
  • Sorting toy in the math center
  • Sink or float material at the water table
  • Coin in the dramatic play center
  • Treasure to be found on the playground
  • Car in the transportation center
  • Paint mixing container in the art center
  • Story character in the library area

Can you think of any other ways that a medium-sized recycled lid could be used in your learning environment?  The possibilities are endless and children will likely come up with many more ideas than the adults in the classroom! 

Allowing children to re-use materials in creative ways is also a great lesson about ways to care for the planet. 

Let’s explore some of the possible materials you could include use and ways to organize them into a recycled materials center that children can access in the classroom. 

For the main article Using Recycled Materials in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center, CLICK HERE

For the article Collecting Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting up a Recycling Center in the Classroom, CLICK HERE

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE

If you have worked in early childhood education for any amount of time, you are most likely familiar with the practice of creating butterflies out of paper towel rolls. Perhaps you have added a large cardboard box to the dramatic play area or made sensory bottles out of recycled plastic bottles. These are common activities in early learning environments and they are a great way to re-use materials that would typically be thrown away. 

However, there are endless possible uses for recycled materials in an early learning environment because children’s imaginations are so rich.  It is important to allow children to engage with recycled materials in open-ended ways.  You may be surprised with the ideas they come up with.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore the benefits of using recycled materials and ways to collect and organize those materials.  We would love to see how you use these ideas in your learning environment.  Be sure to share pictures on our Facebook page here

For the article Why Introduce Recycled Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center, CLICK HERE

For the article Collecting Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting Up a Recycling Center in the Classroom, CLICK HERE

Teaching Children about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

According to Usethisbag.com, the average person in the US throws out almost five pounds of garbage daily.  Added up over a year or a lifetime, that is a lot of trash that each of us is contributing to our environment.  Some of these discarded items take hundreds of years to breakdown, expanding landfills and harming the surrounding environment. 

Helping children become aware of how much trash we throw away can be one of the first steps to creating a generation that takes responsibility for keeping our planet clean.  Ask families to drop off plastic bottles that they collect over the period of one week.  Place the bottles collected by one family (anonymously) in a pile and ask children to notice how much space the bottles take up.  Next, add the bottles that another family collected.  Ask children what they notice about the pile.  Continue to add to the pile and ask children what they notice.  Talk about the fact that the final pile is just one week’s worth of plastic.  Ask what it would be like if there were two or three piles of the same size… then 10 piles, 20 piles, 50 piles.  From this conversation, you can transition into a conversation about efforts to cut down on the amount of trash that is thrown away. 

Discuss ways that families can reduce the number of bottles they throw away. Are there other kinds of containers that could be used.  For example, show the children a reusable water bottle.  See if the children can think of ways to reuse plastic bottles.  For example, they could be used as watering cans for your class garden or used in an art project.  You can also talk with the children about recycling programs in the community.  Invite someone from the community into the program to talk with the children about recycling or use some of the resources below to guide your conversation. 

Recycling Lesson Plan for Preschoolers | Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Kids Guide to Recycling | ReuseThisBag.com

Trash Talk and Recycling for Kids | Kids Discover

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Most of all Reduce. | NRDC

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