Kiwanis Supports Early Ed through Easter Egg Hunt

A number of LVCC infants, toddlers, and preschoolers discovered there really is an Easter bunny... and he's a Kiwanian!

The Kiwanis Club of Allentown Northeast sponsored the annual egg hunt for nearly 70 children enrolled at LVCC on Union Boulevard in Allentown. Our benevolent friends hid all the eggs, then helped in the search. Even the crawling infants discovered a few eggs.

Although the weather didn't cooperate for the egg hunt to be held outside, the children had just as much fun pursuing the colorful, candy-filled treats indoors. And the playground equipment in the gross motor room offered some pretty tricky hiding places. Just Born, Inc. generously donated candy and marshmallow Peeps for the event.

All the activity searching for the eggs wore out this toddler, but only for a minute before he hopped away.

Kiwanis International performs service projects and raises charitable funds for local communities and all over the globe. Their partnership has brought happy smiles to many tiny faces at Lehigh Valley Children's Centers. Thank you, Kiwanis!


Valentine's Day with Our Families

Decorating hearts and trading "Be Mine" messages with friends are popular Valentine's Day activities for all ages. Many LVCC early learning sites made the holiday even more special by inviting families to Valentine's Day parties.

LVCC at Monocacy Manor in Bethlehem welcomed moms, dads, and other family members on Friday. The children first delivered Valentine's cards to their friends - many with little treats attached. They then guided their families through the different learning areas of the classroom.
The younger toddlers and teachers decorated their room with hand-printed hearts.

In the older toddler room, family members read stories with their children. 

From building blocks to the class-made playhouse, the older toddlers were excited to show off everything in their room.

The older toddlers introduced mom and dad to their class pet, Mattie the hamster. Mattie helps the young children learn gentle touches when handling small animals.

The older toddlers enjoyed their snack of crackers and milk with their families. Healthy meals and snacks are served daily. For this month's menu, visit our website.
The preschoolers decorated with mosaic hearts made of cut pieces of paper.

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The Day Before Christmas At LVCC

Twas the day before Christmas, when all through LVCC
lots of children were stirring, engaged in fun activity.

The paper stockings were creatively hung on the wall with care
in hopes that mom and dad could proudly see it there.

Young children then nestled all snug on their mats,
resting from a busy day of making festive elf hats.

Bellies full of healthy lunch, growing brains strong and apt!
Teachers finished lesson plans while the little tots napped.

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
everyone sprang from their mats to see what was the matter.

The school-age children had just arrived off the bus
excited to celebrate a very merry Christmas.

Preschoolers cut out decorations and painted with cheer
their 3D cardboard sleigh, counting out eight tiny reindeer.

Well-rested, the toddlers - so lively and quick -
danced joyfully to holiday tunes of St. Nick.

The infants, wide-eyed, watched the world in wonder;
exploring through senses, looking over and under.

The jingle of bells caused the children to pause,
until they saw who it was and gleefully cried out, "Santa Claus!"

After each had a turn on Santa's lap,
teacher said, "put on listening ears and your thinking cap."

Sitting in circle time, all smiles and no worry,
the children listened quietly to Santa read a story.

Soon parents arrived for their children at night.
LVCC staff wishes a merry Christmas to all, and to all much delight!


Star of David Preschool Craft for Hanukkah

To celebrate the many diverse cultures that make up Lehigh Valley Children's Centers (LVCC), our teachers introduce crafts and activities for various holidays from around the world. Ms. Cassie's preschool class from LVCC at Monocacy Manor explored the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days beginning at sundown tonight. 

After a brief explanation about the Star of David, Ms. Cassie had her preschoolers create their own stars to decorate the classroom. To make this craft, the class used Popsicle sticks, glue, blue paint, a paint brush, and silver glitter. This activity practiced listening skills to follow directions. 

To encourage math skills, Ms. Cassie had each child count out six Popsicle sticks.

The children then used three of those Popsicle sticks to form a triangle (early geometry). Ms. Cassie used simple directions that the preschoolers could understand, "Make a triangle with the point facing your friend across the table. Next make a triangle with the point facing yourself."

The children glued the ends of the sticks to secure the triangle's shape. Practicing their fine motor skills, gluing the correct sticks together took concentration and some assistance. Center Director Cheryl O'Rourke (seen above), helped out.

 They then glued the two triangles together to create the star shape.

The preschoolers painted their stars.

Once the stars dried, glitter was applied. Additional craft materials may be applied to personalize your own Star of David. Dangling from the ceiling, the Star of David makes a beautiful Hanukkah decoration and an easy project for preschoolers.


Holiday Celebration with the Kiwanis Club

The halls of LVCC at South Mountain rang with laughter and music on Friday as the center opened its doors to two of its sister centers in Allentown. The preschool and Pre-K Counts classes from LVCC on Walnut Street and LVCC's Judith Chase Early Learning Center took a field trip to South Mountain for the annual Kiwanis holiday party. 

Our good friends from the Kiwanis Club of Allentown hosted the celebration for over 120 three- and four-year-olds. They sang holiday carols and colored winter scenes. Magician Eddy Ray engaged the large group with a delightfully entertaining magic show. 

Each child had their picture taken with Santa Claus (contact your center director to see your child's photo). Along with members of Kiwanis, the William Allen High School Key Club played Santa's helpers while handing out gifts and serving lunch.

Thank you Kiwanis Club of Allentown for helping LVCC bring joy to children of the Lehigh Valley!


Children Improve Dental Hygiene Through Puppets

With the help of puppet friends, Allentown toddlers and preschoolers discovered all the amazing things teeth can do and how to take care of them. Segal Puppet Theatre & Company presented Tooth Buddy Tales, a free dental care and awareness puppet program for the young children attending LVCC at South Mountain.

Through interactive storytelling and adorable characters, the puppeteers empowered the children in the audience to become "tooth buddies." The children explored how to keep their smiles pearly white. They learned that germs cause cavities, when to brush, and the difference between good and bad snacks.

To further encourage dental health, Ms. Dana read The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss with her Pre-K Counts class. The rhyming words and funny story engaged the pre-kindergartners' interest in oral hygiene.


Halloween Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Halloween is always a festive time at LVCC and the perfect opportunity for innovative sensory games. Located inside William Allen High School in Allentown, LVCC at Allen provides early childhood education for primarily infants and toddlers. The creative teachers came up with some fun learning activities.

First, the children danced around in costume while listening to children's Halloween music. The songs were lively and not at all scary.

Dancing to the music
Next, the toddlers crawled through a garland maze. Without knocking down the garland decorations, they had to climb over and under, working their gross motor skills. The indoor pumpkin patch created additional obstacles to crawl around.

Garland maze and indoor pumpkin patch
At the sensory table, Ms. Maisha (center director and teacher) guided the children through hands-on exploration of a pumpkin. Seeing the size and bright color of the pumpkin, the children each attempted to roll or lift it. As soon as the lid of the pumpkin was removed (precut by Ms. Maisha), the children discovered the gooey texture inside. Some of the children tasted or smelled the pumpkin flesh. Combining sensory experiences with science makes for a full day of learning fun.

Further activities to engage toddlers include painting designs on the pumpkin, using the pumpkin lid as a paint stamper on paper, or adding the pumpkin seeds and flesh into see-through resealable zipper storage bags to make squishy sensory bags.
Pumpkins in the sensory table


A Day at the Farm Harvests More than Pumpkins

What's red, orange, and full of energy?

The Pre-K Counts class from LVCC at South Mountain picking pumpkins!

Ms. Cathy and Ms. Heather, Pre-K Counts teachers, took the children on a field trip to Sieple Farms in Bath, PA. By visiting a working farm, the young children discovered that vegetables are grown from the ground and milk comes from cows, not a supermarket. The day was filled with fun, outdoor activities. 

A visit into the barn introduced the children to a number of farm animals. Being able to see, touch, and smell the cows and sheep up close was an exciting first-time experience for the children who had only ever seen these types of animals in books. 

They explored the maze made of straw bales, then took a bouncy hayride pulled by a tractor through the pumpkin patch. In the outdoor classroom, the preschoolers exercised their math skills by counting, measuring, and sorting at the corn sensory table. After the group worked together with their teachers to find their way out of the corn maze, they picked their very own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch at the end of the maze. 

An annual tradition, other LVCC sites that have taken or will take a trip to a pumpkin patch include three Allentown centers (Union Boulevard, Judith Chase Early Learning Center, Walnut Street) and two Bethlehem centers (Campus Center and Fowler Center).


LVCC Fall Children's Festival Brings Large Crowd

LVCC's Campus Center, which has been in operation since 1976, held its first fall festival for the south side Bethlehem community nearly 30 years ago. In the early years, parents of enrolled children and LVCC staff planned and operated the activities. Families still look forward to the event every year.

Three generations of the Martinez family enjoyed
LVCC's Fall Children's Festival.
One particular family has seen two generations of children attend LVCC's Campus Center and the family festivals.

We look forward to the festival," Iris Martinez exclaimed. "We've been talking about it for the last few weeks."

Iris attended LVCC as a student almost 30 years ago. Her three school-age children have been attending LVCC's Campus Center since they were infants.

The support of the community plays an instrumental part in the festival's success.

"Families have been awesome this year," organizer and LVCC Infant Teacher Sharon DeBoer commented. "We had so many baked goods that the families donated for our fundraiser. It was overwhelming." 

Since it's conception, the free event has grown to include not only staff and families, but also a number of organizations working in partnership with LVCC. Joining once again in the festivities this year, Cops 'n' Kids promoted reading with free books for the children. While demonstrating features on their fire truck, the Bethlehem Fire Department discussed fire safety.

LVCC staff, with the help of Lehigh University student volunteers from the Community Service Office and CARE Lab Research Team, operated a children's activity area with raffles, games and prizes. Activities featured face painting, temporary tattoos, and a balloon animal station. As a special treat, the children had the opportunity to meet Elsa from Frozen.

"This year's crowd has been the biggest ever," exclaimed Olga Calderon, organizer and LVCC toddler teacher.

LVCC hopes to continue the tradition for years to come!


The Kiwanis Club Hosts a Preschool Field Day

Exercise and fresh air - just what the teacher ordered! LVCC preschool and Pre-K Counts students ran, jumped and had a sunny day at the Rose Garden pavilions, thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Allentown.

The Kiwanis Club sponsored and organized a fun field day for the children. With help from the William Allen High School Key Club, along with Allentown Central Catholic High School students and staff, the Kiwanians guided the preschoolers through obstacles courses and relay races.

Over 75 Allentown children participated in the activities. They chased two-foot bubbles and cheered on their friends. Everyone took turns shooting hoops and hopping around in the bouncy house. The busy day concluded with a picnic lunch for our hungry athletes.


Field Day Finale Ends LVCC Summer Programs

Winding down a summer of active learning and physical fitness, LVCC brought together nine of our sites for a field day at the Emmaus Community Park. Over 140 children, ages 5-12, enjoyed a day chock-full of fun and sportsmanship. The children ran, jumped, skipped, tugged and cheered with their teammates in a series of relays. 

Many of the relay races required focus on balance and speed to prevent dropping plastic eggs, blocks or pizza boxes. One activity station had the children working together to capture the other team flags. A tug-of-war tournament concluded the day's activities.

LVCC's physical education teacher, Brandi Stettler, supervised the event as referee.

Funding from Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation., Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, and AmeriHealth Caritas made the summer physical fitness program possible. Our friends from Aetna and Pocono Mountain Dairies supplied refreshing beverages on field day.


Celebrating a milestone for parenting teens

Proud Allen grad, Victoria Santana
(right), with her son and mother.
Every parent faces challenges being the best mom or dad they can be. When the parent is a young teen, the challenges increase. So does the need for support.

LVCC at Allen has been supporting teen parents in the Allentown School District since 1981. By providing on-site child care and early education for infants and toddlers of parenting students, the center helps young parents stay in school and graduate. Their children, meanwhile, learn and grow in a safe, responsive early childhood program.

Nataezsia Hines (in pink, holding her son)
poses with three generations of her family
and LVCC teacher Monae Riveria (lower right).
Congratulations to Class of 2014 graduates! They worked hard to reach this milestone. Too many teen mothers in the U.S. never earn a diploma or GED.  We’re proud of these students and thankful to them for entrusting their children to our care. As they move on to new challenges—further education, work, or the military—we know they will continue to be the best parents they can be.

LVCC thanks the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and the Rider Pool Foundation for supporting LVCC at Allen.
Cristina Semidy, Allen grad, holds her
son in LVCC at Allen's nursery.

Divine Robinson (left) and Leslie Cox (right)
are able to graduate with the help of ELECT
social worker, Ingrid Ferreira (center), and an
LVCC scholarship for their daughter.

Shayla Ramos (right) celebrates graduation
with her son and boyfriend.

Graduate Ana Pena (left), pictured with
her son and LVCC teacher Tanya Lang.


Happy Heart Health Day

On February 7th, the staff and children of LVCC on Walnut Street showed their support of National Wear Red Day® by wearing red clothing and participating in activities that promote heart health awareness.

Toddlers, preschoolers, and Pre-K Counts students
from LVCC on Walnut Street in Allentown.

The morning began with stretching exercises. The preschool and Pre-K Counts children then learned fun facts about the heart's function in the body.

The younger preschoolers practiced important motor development skills like cutting with scissors.While creating heart-shaped art projects, they discussed how the heart is associated with feelings of love and holidays such as Valentine's Day.

In their journals, the older preschoolers in Pre-K Counts practiced writing sentences about having a healthy heart. They also drew nutritious foods that they like to eat. After a delicious snack of applesauce and graham crackers, the children were powered up to learn some more!


Indoor Art Projects with Fallen Snow

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the activities inside are delightful!

With the temperature below freezing this week, it was too cold outside. Try telling that to a room full of preschoolers who just want to play in the snow! The innovative teachers from LVCC at Stones Crossing came up with a solution... bring the snow inside.

The teachers collected buckets of snow for a unique indoor art project. The toddler and preschool children added the snow to recycled baby food jars, then mixed in liquid watercolor. VoilĂ  - instant paint! Experimenting with the science of art, the children discovered a spectrum of colors by mixing primary colors.

The toddlers painted individual artwork, while the preschoolers worked together on a banner. The children were asked to paint freestyle from their own imagination. The mural soon became filled with vibrant color.

As they painted, the classes discussed the properties of snow-- how it's cold and when melted, it becomes a liquid. The children asked and answered many questions. Where does snow come from? What color is snow? The favorite topic was how to build snowman with snow.

Families are welcome to view the finished mural on display in the back building of LVCC at Stones Crossing.


Students Train Seeing Eye Dog

FALL 2013
Students from LVCC at Nazareth Area Intermediate School
received a puppy, Echo, to train for the Seeing Eye program.
Every year with instruction from Center Director Colleen Heimbach, the students enrolled with LVCC at Nazareth Area Intermediate School help raise a puppy to enter the Seeing Eye guide dog program.

The children each take responsibility in the care of the dog during operational hours. Since guide dogs must lead the visually impaired away from obstacles, the children perform obedience instruction by giving and reinforcing basic commands like turning and sitting.

Throughout the year, Ms. Heimbach introduces her students to the world of working dogs by reading books and stories about the functions of guide and service dogs.
Echo earned his Seeing Eye vest thanks to help from
LVCC at Nazareth Area Intermediate School students.

This year's German Shepherd pup, Echo, recently earned his guide dog vest after testing with a Seeing Eye representative. He was evaluated on his basic obedience, as well as his reaction to strangers and the environment.

Echo will advance to further training with The Seeing Eye until he is placed into a home. In time, the students will receive letters following up on how the dog has adjusted to training and his new forever home. The children can feel proud that they had a hand in helping people enhance their daily lives by becoming more independent.


LVCC at Shafer Brings Holiday Spirit to Others

Children attending the before- and after-school program at LVCC at Shafer Elementary School have discovered the spirit of the holidays. Since the beginning of December, the children have been collecting donations of personal hygiene products for Safe Harbor Easton. 

Safe Harbor is an emergency/transitional shelter for homeless single men and women. LVCC at Shafer teacher, Candi Buss, and her husband delivered the donations to our new friends. On behalf of Safe Harbor Easton and Lehigh Valley Children's Centers, thank you to all who contributed to the month-long donation drive.

To celebrate the success of the drive and the upcoming holidays, the children produced their annual holiday program full of festive music and entertainment for their families. 

Donning reindeer and elf hats, the children sang classic holiday songs. They performed an original dance number to "Jingle Bell Rock." After the children each read lines to The Night Before Christmas, Santa Claus surprised them with a visit.


Stretch-n-Grow for Healthy Child Development

The toddlers and preschool children from LVCC on Union Blvd. discovered the fun in fitness with the Stretch-n-Grow program. For six weeks, the children exercised and learned nutrition basics. 

The weekly class used stories, high-energy music, and exciting games to engage the children. They explored how their bodies worked through simple gross and fine motor activities.

Fitness was made fun by using imagination. A small hoola hoop became a car steering wheel. The children "drove" cars as they ran around turning the hoop back and forth.

The biggest challenge? Following directions. The children demonstrated good listening skills to perform the exercises.

Introducing physical education and nutrition at a young age builds a strong foundation for a lifetime of healthy living.


Celebrating the Holidays with the Kiwanis Club

No one loves a party more than children. And the holidays are the perfect time to celebrate. With generous hearts and lots of spirit, the Kiwanis Club of Allentown threw their annual holiday party for the preschool children from LVCC at Walnut Street and South Mountain.

Members of the William Allen High School Key Club played Santa's elves (and teacher's aides) helping to gather the children for lunch and activities.

Magician Eddy Ray entertained the preschoolers with his amusing jokes and magic tricks. The children enjoyed the interactive show.

Afterward, a special visitor stopped by... Santa Claus! He brought gifts of books and treats for all the boys and girls.

On behalf of all the children and staff of LVCC at South Mountain and Walnut Street, thank you Kiwanis Club of Allentown for bringing joy into the hearts of children!


Dynamic Dancing!

Support from the Charles A. & Leona K. Gruber Foundation and Crayola have made it possible for students from LVCC at Truman School and LVCC at Western Salisbury to receive seven weeks of an onsite dance program. Instructors from Dynamix Dance Center are leading high-energy hip-hop, jazz/funk, and gymnastics lessons.

The students are having fun while discovering different forms of movement and rhythm. As the classes progress, the children become more confident in their abilities. Channeling their boundless energy, dance gives children the freedom to express themselves through creative movement.

As one nine-year-old exclaimed, "I can be who I am when I'm dancing."

LVCC at Truman School freestyle dancing

LVCC at Western Salisbury students show off their new moves.