2 Weeks ’til Christmas!

This week has been busy and exciting as we gear up to Christmas at Babies to Three.

On Tuesday, despite the heavy rain and gales, a number of our group braved the storm and caught the train up to Bloomingdales to spend some time with Father Christmas.

He was a very jolly fellow who was delighted to see us, and told us that he lived very near to Jackson Ave (the home of our Babies to Three program) when he was growing up! I was under the impression that he had always lived at the North Pole but there you go… you learn something new every day!

After having individual and group pictures taken with him, we decided to fill up on hot chocolate and pastries before our return journey to the South Bronx. This was our second outing since we began in September and we chatted on the way home about all the other places we are eager to visit once the warm weather arrives in the spring. The aquarium at Coney Island and the Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum are at the top of the list.

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We are also busy planning our Christmas party which happens next Tuesday.

The morning will start with brunch, a quiz/game based on the Parenting course we have just completed, and a chance to make some yummy body scrub resourced and organized by one of the moms in our group. Following the presentation of the parenting certificates, we will be joined by the preschool  children for a time of carol singing by candlelight led by Ben and others. Finally we will hear a short talk on the meaning of Christmas by our very own resident pastor, Rich!

Watch this space for photos of the event on our next Babies to Three blog

Wishing you all a Christmas full of God’s peace and joy ……from Babies to Three!


Preschool Family Night!

As we’ve reflected on the preschool year so far, one of the bright highlights has to be our “family night,” which took place back in October. It was a night full of laughter, learning, and fun.

We took our families through several routine components of our typical day, and all members of the family were encouraged to participate.

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We began with “Large Group Time” demonstrating our message board, which develops critical pre-literacy skills, and a few large group activities. As the group participated, parents were given insight into the purpose and reason for each component and given information about how to reinforce these concepts at home.

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We then moved into “Work Time.” As is typical of our day, children were allowed to choose from a variety of materials in each center and move freely from center to center in order to engage in active participatory learning. We were thrilled and amazed to see parents, siblings, grandparents, and all members of the family playing and interacting with their preschoolers throughout the room the entire time!

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The night ended with time for families to read with their children. Adults and kids alike expressed that they had a great time, and it was beautiful to see families so excited to support and encourage their children in school. AHOB families are incredible!

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**This blog post was written by Sarah Formidoni, our amazing Preschool teacher!**


Early Learning at Babies to Three

When we think of a child’s intellectual, emotional and social development, we rightly spend a good deal of time trying to ensure that they get places at the best available schools in the area.  And yet, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that the latest evidence on brain development places a great deal of emphasis upon what happens in the very first three years of a child’s life and even while they are still in utero.

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At Babies To Three, both in our pregnancy class on Mondays and our parenting group on Thursdays, we have been learning how the brain of the youngest baby can be helped along in the most positive way.

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From early secure attachment, which can begin before birth, to understanding how a fetal brain develops during the third trimester we have been learning how parents can influence and optimize their Childs emotional, physical and cognitive health from the very beginning.

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So, when it comes to our children, they are never too young to learn… and even though we may be tempted to think that playing with a newborn, or providing them with stimulating environments is more about entertaining them as opposed to educating them, we will in fact be playing a crucial role in brain development.


Pumpkins, Scarecrows & Silly Hats!

October was a fun-filled month for our preschool students! From science experiments to special snacks, we have taken full advantage of the beauty and fun that the fall season brings. Here are some of our favorite highlights…

We were invited to a Harvest Party, hosted by the House on Beekman After-School Program. Face-painting, doughnut-eating, apple-tossing and many other fun activities were enjoyed by all of our students!

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Our kids love sensory play, so our version of a mini pumpkin-patch was a huge hit! Using coffee grounds as “dirt,” the children were able to play with pumpkins, farm animals, pinecones and fall leaves as they shoveled and scooped to their heart’s content.

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We enjoyed several special fall-themed snacks, from a fruit version of a candy corn (mandarin oranges, pineapples and whipped cream layered in a cup) to a mini pumpkin made from an orange and a celery stick. Who knew that healthy snacks could be so tasty and fun?

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Orange was our color of the week, in honor of Halloween, and the kids loved using orange sidewalk chalk during outside play time. Jalice was especially proud of the pumpkin she learned to draw!

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We opted for treats instead of tricks on Halloween! During small group time, we did an experiment called “Pumpkin-cano” to show the kids how exciting it can be to see what happens when you mix different substances. After scooping out a pumpkin, each group added orange-tinted water, dish soap and baking soda. The big finish happened when vinegar was poured on top of it all…take a look!

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Living in the city means pumpkin patches are hard to come by, but we created our own across the street in St. Mary’s Park. Each child chose a pumpkin and decorated it.
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The finale of Halloween Day was much anticipated…our Silly Hat Parade! The children’s hats ranged from witches to sharks to rabbits. Some creative moms even helped their kids create their own at home!

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We paraded around the sidewalks, then ended at the bodega right down the block. Our beloved Mr. Hector had arranged to begin the candy-giving early…and he filled each silly hat full!

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What a wonderful time of year it is, and seeing the joy of our children makes it even more special. We are thankful for all of our blessings, and thankful for your prayers and support for A House on Beekman!


Finding the FUN in Reading!

For many of the kids at after-school, reading can be a source of frustration and shame.  By the third grade, most of the kids are well aware of their “reading level” and usually their school classmates are as well, since the books they read are often labeled quite clearly for the purpose of matching kids with a book that won’t be too hard or too easy.  It’s a logical system, but can make for an embarrassing classroom reading experience for those who are falling behind.

Early in the after-school year, we often heard kids say things like “I’m not a good reader,” “I’m just a level K,” or “I can’t read.”  Reading was a chore–to be avoided at all cost.  At after-school, one of our dearest hopes has been to help kids find the fun in learning–even in the areas which challenge them most.  In recent weeks,  we’ve begun to see little glimpses of reading being transformed.  Last week, a group of “senior” boys (3rd, 4th and 5th graders) got excited to read using our new listening center.  They took turns choosing and holding the books, managing the cassette player.  And all of this happened by choice during their free time–before work time had even begun!

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A few days later, Mariah, a second-grader who struggles with reading, worked hard to make her way through a book about unusual spiders.  She was shocked to discover that there is such a thing as a “wolf spider”–named for his furry gray coat.  After persevering through each page, sound by sound, I thought she would surely want to hurry off to play-time the minute she had finished.  But, Mariah’s first question was, “Can I go read this to my mommy?”  Her mom and dad had arrived early that day and were waiting for dismissal time.  Mariah rushed over, crawled into mom’s lap and re-read the entire book for the sheer pleasure of sharing it with her mother.

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It’s such an encouragement to see the kids finding joy in reading–whether from the satisfaction of conquering a difficult word or the fun of reading with friends.  Please pray that the kids would continue to discover and enjoy all that reading has to offer them.