Kiwanis Hosts LVCC Preschool Annual Picnic with the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks

The smiles and laughter of nearly 120 Allentown preschoolers recently filled the Allentown Rose Garden. It was a sunny day in the park for the Lehigh Valley Children's Centers annual preschool field day and picnicOur gracious hosts, the Kiwanis Club of Allentown, held a fun-filled day of developmentally appropriate activities. And guest volunteers from the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks indoor arena football team made the day extra special.
A big stick, rope, dish detergent, glycerin, corn syrup,
and a wash basin equal hours of fun blowing giant bubbles.
Team sports was the theme this year. The LVCC preschoolers and Pre-K Counts students from our South Mountain, Walnut Street and Judith Chase Early Learning Center sites rotated through six different stations, each promoting gross motor activities. 
With the help of football players from the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, the children performed football drills by throwing and kicking footballs through mini goal posts. The Steelhawks players were able to keep up with the preschoolers, which we know have boundless energy.   
Nearly 40 volunteers kept the games moving, including members of the William Allen High School and Allentown Central Catholic Key Clubs, along with several students from Emmaus High School. They assisted the young children through the moon bounce and obstacle course.  There were also activity stations to make giant bubbles and to get football-themed temporary tattoos. 

Thank you to the Kiwanians for supplying lunch for everyone, grilling nearly 200 hot dogs.


A Partnership for Best Nutrition Practices

Healthy foods and snacks play a large role in child development, which is why Lehigh Valley Children's Centers (LVCC) partnered with Penn State Cooperative Extension's Better Kid Care Program and Novick Brothers Corp. to create a sequence of nutrition videos to be used in the training of child care professionals. LVCC invited the Better Kid Care film crew into our Central Food Service Department for a cooking demonstration, and then into our Pre-K Counts classroom on Union Boulevard in Allentown for a lesson in healthy snacking.

Penn State's Better Kid Care crew filming a Pre-K Counts classroom.

The Better Kid Care Program provides educational materials and programs for child care providers. Among these materials, the videos were first presented by Jill Cox, Better Kid Care Program development specialist, at the April 2015 National Child and Adult Care Food Program Conference in Las Vegas. The videos will then be modified to become a part of an online training module, Healthy and Hunger Free Children: Resources for Families, available this summer.

Cynthia Snyder, childcare specialist
for Novick Brothers Corp.
Novick Brothers Corp., an independent food distributor and food service solutions provider, has been supportive of LVCC's innovative nutrition practices for many years. Cynthia Snyder, childcare specialist for Novick Brothers Corp., was instrumental in coordinating the partnership for the training videos. 

LVCC's CFS Manager Randy Levan
Child Food Service Manager Randy Levan understands the importance of a healthy community and makes nutritious foods his number one priority when planning daily menus for LVCC. This equates to over 16,000 meals and 13,800 snacks served a month for nearly 1,000 children.

Watch both videos below.

LVCC School-Age Artwork To Be Displayed at Allentown Art Museum

The after-school participants from LVCC at Lincoln School in Emmaus pose with Artist Jill Odegaard
and their woven rug, which will be on display at the Allentown Art Museum. 
LVCC families will have the opportunity to view their children's artwork at the Allentown Art Museum this summer. Nearly 100 children, ages five through 12, participated in Woven Welcome, a community-based art project conducted by the Allentown Art Museum. Woven Welcome utilizes weaving as a way to connect individuals and groups through the creative process. The program is the brainchild of local artist and Cedar Crest College Art Department Chair, Jill Odegaard. 
Museum representatives brought mobile looms to LVCC's after-school programs at Muhlenberg, Lincoln and Shafer Elementary Schools, as well as Nazareth Area Intermediate School.

The children learned the art of weaving rugs while working in teams, which required communication and problem solving skills. They quickly caught on to the pattern of looming over and under the warp.

Each weft thread represents individuals weaving through our day-to-day lives, and the many roles we play. As more material is added, a "community" soon forms.
Beginning June 3rd, the colorful rug segments will be connected and then unveiled as part of larger exhibit at the Allentown Art Museum throughout the summer. LVCC's rugs will be tagged for easier identification. Admission to the Museum is free on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 4:00 p.m.
The after-school participants from LVCC at Nazareth Intermediate proudly show off their finished rug.

The woven rug made by LVCC at Muhlenberg School students will be among the many displayed.


LVCC Preschoolers Honor Mothers Through Kiwanis Project

Happy Mother's Day! Ask the mother of any young child about her favorite Mother's Day present and you will most likely be shown lovely handmade artwork, made with love. The preschool and Pre-K Counts classes from LVCC on Walnut Street won't disappoint! They worked diligently to create a beautiful floral gift to present for mother's special day. The Kiwanis Club of Allentown generously sponsored the project by providing the gardening supplies, then helping out in the classroom.

Painting outside of the lines was not only permitted, but encouraged! By allowing the children to choose their own colors and designs, their imagination soared. Ordinary flower pots were transformed into a creative display of color.

Using motor skills and brainpower while measuring, the children filled biodegradable seedling pots with potting soil.

While planting the flowers into the pots, the preschoolers were introduced to the different parts of a flower - from root to petal. Gardening is an excellent activity to nurture a child's natural curiosity by exploring the workings of nature hands-on.

Volunteers from Kiwanis assisted the teachers and children 
throughout the two-day project.

The finished project, ready to take home to mom! 

To complete the memorable gift, the children made their own card for mom. A decorative inkblot pattern was created by (1) painting half of a sheet of paper, (2) folding it in half, and then (3) pressing down evenly on the paper. The result - a one-of-a-kind symmetrical piece of art to be cherished by mom forever.

Thank you to Kiwanis Club of Allentown for making this program possible.


Martial Arts At LVCC Teaches More Than Self-Defense

LVCC welcomed Sensei Joe Kortbawi of Leading Edge Martial Arts for a special martial arts class at four of our Nazareth and Easton after-school programs. Over 145 students actively participated in learning basic karate techniques which instilled character-building skills like discipline, respect and self confidence. The goal of the program was to learn ways to stop a bully without resorting to violence.

Children who react to antagonism or have trouble sticking up for themselves may become targets for bullying. Bullies often pick on someone they view as less powerful. Practicing a few practical self defense moves in a safe, positive environment will increase a child's self esteem.

"When children exhibit confidence and self-control, they are far less likely to become victims of bullying," explained Sensei Joe.

Standing at attention was one of the first stances learned, and the most important when listening to the instructor. Each move required focus and coordination.

The first rule of fitness - warm up your body through stretching exercises to prevent injury. 

Working with a partner, the children practiced basic karate kicks and punches (with no physical contact) under Sensei Joe's instruction. He showed the children fundamental moves to get out of a hold when grabbed from the front.

Through role-play scenarios, the children became empowered by using body language and their voice. By getting help from friends or adults, the children learned to defuse a bullying situation. The program encouraged conflict resolution, using physical self-defense only as a last resort.

This program was made possible by donors to the Program Enrichment Fund.


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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