Autumn is such a special time in New York City—especially for children. With the fall foliage, turning of the weather, and spirit of renewal and new beginnings, The Child Center of NY’s early childhood education and youth development programs approach the season as we do most things — with education, fun, and a commitment to connecting the two.
All of our Head Start programs organized a pumpkin picking excursion at a local park. Our Head Start students are almost all from low-income families, many below the poverty line, with parents who often juggle multiple jobs and children, leaving not much time or money for exploration of other places.
“Events like Pumpkin Picking Day are important for younger children to be able to tell the difference between the change of seasons from summer to fall by the colors of the foliage on the trees and explore what makes the seasons so different from one another by examining different fruits and vegetables and explore why we use them,” explains Kym Cooper, program director of our Escalera Head Start in Manhattan. “The children not only had fun locating the different pumpkins in Central Park, but they also were able to compare the size of the pumpkins, examine the texture, and decorate the pumpkins when they got back to class.”
Other trips planned for the fall include a visit to the local firehouse and a day at the American Museum of Natural History. “We also go to the library every month for the librarian to read different books that gear themselves to the different events happening during that month,” says Cooper.
At EarlyLearn/Head Start in Corona, the children created and wore a mask of their favorite animal on Wednesday. During the preceding week, children were given the choice to recreate their favorite animal from a list of pictures based on books that had been read in the classroom. Then the children went on a leaf hunt at the neighborhood park and made their own books with the animals they chose. “This was a special activity for them, as they love to read Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to each other in the classroom,” says Senior Program Director Lillian Rodriguez.
The children chose all sorts of animals to be for a day. Three-year-old Sarahi chose to be an elephant, “porque el se levanta en la manana para ir al parque” (“because he wakes up in the morning to go to the park”), and Priyam, also 3, elected to be a dog because “they are all very different—like us!”
Our older children got in on the fall fun, too. At P.S. 273 in Richmond Hill, where The Child Center provides a COMPASS afterschool program, Principal Brenda Ward refers to Halloween as “Book Character Day.” In keeping with The Child Center’s practice of reinforcing what goes on during the school day, our COMPASS program continued this celebration and encouraged the students to come to the program dressed up with their books. “The kids have costumes, but they must also have a book with them to show which character they are representing,” says Program Director Manisha Singh.
The variety of costumes reflected the varied literary tastes that flourish at COMPASS at P.S. 273—from 8-year-old Rosa’s choice of a cheerleader from the book Cheer Captain by Jake Maddox to 9-year-old Noah’s rendition of Revenge of the Zombie Monks by Cara J. Stevens.
Stay tuned for winter activities!