Ashland University Faculty and Students Help Create Learning Centers
Four Ashland University students majoring in Child and Family Studies and 13 students majoring in Early Childhood Education helped create and run learning centers for a School Readiness Initiative titled "Talk, Read, Play...Together!"
The event, which was attended by 41 parents and their children, was held at the Kroc Center in Ashland and sponsored by the Family and Children First Council of Ashland County and United Way of Ashland County. The learning centers were for parents and their children ages infants through age 4.
“As part of the class, the four Child and Family Studies students came up with their own ideas for centers, developed the handouts and posters, the curriculum for their centers, collected the materials needed and set up the gymnasium,” said Cindy Moseman, chair of Family and Consumer Sciences Department. “They put a tremendous amount of time into developing their centers and gathering a large amount of materials.”
Moseman said these centers engaged parents and children in activities that parents can use in their homes to develop their children's thinking and physical skills to prepare children with skills they will need for school.
Abbey Latham of Homeworth, and Sarah Ebinger of Mansfield, seniors in Child and Family Studies, developed the Discovery Zone center. They collected a variety of containers (coffee cans, shoe boxes, oatmeal boxes, peanut butter jars, etc.) and items to place in containers (blocks, small animals, balls, beanbags, etc.). Infants were encouraged to shake the containers with different objects inside to hear the different sounds, and to try to fit different sized objects in containers. Toddlers were encouraged to stack containers, to match lids with the correct container and to place colored objects into the same colored containers. Preschoolers counted containers and objects, and sorted objects by color and size. The children learned shapes, sizes and colors and also learned prepositions (in, behind, on top), and developed sharing skills and feelings of accomplishment and self-worth.
Katie Mock of Valley City, and Marley McDonough of Oberlin, seniors in Child and Family Studies, developed a Water and Bubbles center. They collected tubs, sponges, cups, funnels, basters, aquarium fish nets, etc. They also created a bubble solution recipe that parents can make at home and collected items with holes that children could use to blow bubbles (pipe cleaners bent to make a loop, straws, colanders, etc.). Infants were encouraged to watch bubbles and feel/splash in water. Toddlers found different ways to pop bubbles, pour water from small to big and big to small containers, and catch floating objects with nets. Preschoolers experimented with blowing bubbles of different sizes, which objects made one bubble at a time and which made multiple bubbles and counted how many cups/basters it took to fill a larger container. These kinds of activities helped children learn to experiment and discover, count, experience cause and effect, math concepts of measurement (volume of containers), weight, and counting, as well as experiencing delight in their discoveries.
Dr. Mary Rycik, chair of the Early Childhood Department at the Schar College of Education, planned the literacy centers, one for reading "Big Books" and the other for environmental printing with words that are recognized by young children because of their distinctive advertising logos such as "McDonald's." The ECE students divided up creating materials for the two ECE centers.
The Early Childhood Majors participating in the event were: Erin Harding, a junior from Dover, who hosted the Big Book Center and prepared a poster; Jessie Fiffick, a sophomore from Strongsville, who assisted in the FCS water center; Melanie Zeleznik, a freshman from Brunswick, who helped in FCS container center; Katie Furr, a sophomore from Johnstown, who prepared environmental cards and worked in the center; Samantha Likes, a senior from Ashland, who prepared a tri-fold for the environmental print center; Toni Novicky, a junior from Parma, who prepared environmental cards and worked in the center; Joanna Villinger, a freshman from Newark, who selected and read Big Books; Caitlin Adams, a senior from Parma Heights, who prepared environmental cards, worked in center and organized other students; Sean Brown, a junior from Hudson, who prepared environmental print cards and worked in the center; Amanda Gulley, a senior from Newark, who prepared a poster and worked in the environmental print center; Amanda Heyder, a sophomore from Marysville, who read Big Books; Shelby Emmons, a freshman from Polk, who read Big Books; and Laura Thorton, a freshman from Lodi, who worked in environmental print center.
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.