Spring is in the air, and Action Pathways Head Start can feel it!
The spring equinox (this year, on March 20), marks one of two times each year that day and night last nearly the same amount of time. It kicks off the first day of the spring season, and is celebrated in various ways across cultures and communities — from Valencia’s Fallas festival to China’s egg balancing competitions.
This year, the Topeka Heights Head Start Center welcomes spring with a beautification project.
Parent volunteers gathered at the center, located within the Topeka Heights apartment complex off Camden Road, to put together creative displays for the children’s enjoyment. During the week of March 11, 2019, small groups planted flowers, arranged stepping stones, and set up activity areas by the playground. Materials were donated or recycled from the center.
“It all started with a conversation between the staff members at Topeka Heights,” explained Sherie Delaine, a lead teacher at the center. “We noticed that the children were in need of new activities to do during their outdoor time. We posted a donation list and asked our parents for for donations such as their time, mulch, seeds, flowers, old pots and pans.”
And that call was answered, with opportunities for parents to drop in Monday through Thursday, before hosting a garden party on Friday, March 15.
“We’re so happy that these parents gave their time to help turn our center into such an inviting place,” said Barbara Barr-Johnson, an on-site supervisor. “Their colorful contributions will certainly be engaging for our children when they go outside this spring.”
The project launched with the hopes of fostering the center community’s creative spirit and bringing more smiles to visitors and families alike. Staff members wanted to engage the children in activities and make the outdoor area more noticeable. Accomplishing the feat, a googly-eyed snake stretches across the front garden. Upon first glance– are those painted rocks? Nope– a special creation of Chia seeds that, once watered, will sprout into small green bushes perfect for toddler-age students.
Along a far fence, volunteers created a music wall out of wind chimes and vibrantly-painted pots. At recess, children can create their own rhythm all while engaging their senses and strengthening motor skills.
Across the nation, individual Head Start programs work towards specific learning outcomes identified by the Office of Head Start: approaches to learning; social and emotional development; language and literacy; cognition; and perceptual, motor and physical development. As children play, staff work to incorporate activities and lessons that stimulate learning across these domains. Action Pathways Head Start staff are trained to align their instruction, materials and opportunities to promote successful learning, and to regularly monitor and note indicators of each child’s development. For instance, by three years of age, we want our children to possess the hand-eye coordination to manipulate small objects and adjust their grasp between those objects with ease. Preschool-age children work towards these goals as they play with blocks in the classroom, stack measuring cups in the kitchen, and shovel sand in the sand box.
Barr-Johnson explained, “These projects increase the opportunities teachers have to incorporate these learning domains in their class playtime activities. Children are counting toys, identifying colors and patterns, beating on select musical drums, or helping water the plants in our new flower bed.”
“We’re looking forward to seeing the growth that these gardens will provide this spring at Topeka Heights Head Start Center.”
Thank you to our volunteers and donors who made this beautification project possible. If you’re interested in volunteering for similar projects or helping at our Head Start centers, call (910) 487-9800 to schedule time with us!