Back-to-School Time is HERE!

August 1 means that the countdown is on to the first day of school for the 2017-18 school year!

It seems like yesterday that we were opening our doors for our first school year and here we are entering our third one!

We are thrilled with all that we have to offer you and your family this year as your one-stop learning center for newborns to kindergarten age.

Starting with the youngest members of our community we have Baby Sign Language Workshops so you and your baby can communicate with each other long before they’ll be able to talk.

Also for babies (some have started as young as 8 weeks) we offer a 9:30 Play&Learn Class where caregiver and baby can sing, move, listen and bond together.

As your baby turns into a toddler, your “little one” can advance to our 10:30 Play&Learn Class for ages 2 – 4 years.

Then when your child hits the magic age of 2 yrs 7months (by Sept 1) their official Preschool journey can begin, with our 2-day class.

When they are 3 yrs by Sept 1, they can enter our 3-day program and at 4 yrs by Sept 1, they can enter our Kindergarten Readiness Program.

And don’t worry, they can still visit us when they are 5 years old, since our Sing, Move, Act Classes fill in the gap of NO Art, NO PE and only 30 minutes of Music/week in Kindergarten.

In addition, we have our Playdate Place open once a month for casual meet-ups where parents can visit while children play in our bright, clean, sunlit rooms or on our outdoor playground.

And *NEW* this fall … Barefoot Book Club monthly events for ages 2 months to 4 years will be hosted at Mount Gretna Craft Brewery in Palmyra. You can enjoy coffee and conversation while your child steps inside a story. And best of all they’ll go home with the book we are featuring for a nominal fee.

Lots to do, lots to enjoy, lots to learn, and we have lots of love to share with you in whatever class you choose to join.

We hope to meet you and your “little one” soon!

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Driving My Tractor Activities

We have completed our Driving My Tractor activities in our Play & Learn Classes! Little ones and their caregivers had so much fun learning about farm animals in our “pre-preschool classes” here in Palmyra, PA!

driving-my-tractorWe’re excited to share all of the activities we planned to coordinate with this Barefoot Singalong Book!

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We discovered farm animals in a rice and lentil sensory bin! Read about the benefits of sensory play for your children in our classes.

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Even our littlest learners benefited from exploring new textures! We put cotton balls and pom poms in and out of wipes containers then used them to decorate our sticky sheep!

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We sorted bottle caps by size and color! We pretended that they were the wheels on our tractor but we also discussed same and different as we pushed them into play dough, stacked them, and much more!

sorting-bottle-capsOur animals went ice skating as we sorted which animals live on a farm and which do not!

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In addition to these enriching activities, there was music, movement, little instruments to explore and opportunities for social interaction with our little friends and their caregivers.

We offer our classes in two age groupings, babies to 24 months, and ages 2 – 4 years.

We hope you’ll join us for our *NEW* Play & Learn session featuring the book Over in the Meadow! You can always buy this and other Barefoot Book titles from me!

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Operation Christmas Child

Packing a shoebox is a wonderful family tradition and we started it with our oldest granddaughter when she was just a toddler. Last year our grandchildren helped us celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary by packing 40 shoeboxes. 

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My husband Terry and I had another goal, to actually go to one of the processing centers in Baltimore. 

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What a great experience to be there and be with the many volunteers that came out to check each shoebox and prepare them for shipment around the world. 

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What I want you to know most of all is that every box is important and has an impact. I heard this story told by someone who went on a mission trip to actually distribute the shoeboxes to children in need (thats on my bucket list to do!). These distributions are carefully planned so that the right amount of boxes arrive for the right number of children that will be receiving them. But on this day, a mother arrived with twins and there was a box for the one twin but not the other. After searching for an extra box and not finding one, the organizers asked the mother if she thought the children could share the one last box and she agreed. And to everyones amazement when they opened the box they found there was two of everything.

This effort is not about an organization, or its CEO, or even the shoebox, but about God and what He can do with what you give. He can take it, use it, multiply it, and even send it to the right recipient, so that in the end its about Him, His love, and the HOPE that he brings to a hurting world.

May God bless you and guide you as you pack your boxes this year.

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Same and Different Leaf Rubbing

Leaf rubbing is a classic childhood fall activity! We created leaf rubbing sheets that challenge our preschool children to identify which leaves are the same and which one is different.

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Placing three leaves from the same tree on a sheet and one that is different, we are asking kids to practice the concept of alike and different. This is an important preschool skill.

same-different-preschoolWe pressed our leaves then put them on card stock sheets and laminated them for durability. Turning the leaves in different ways requires our preschoolers to think about the way a shape is oriented in space. This will help us later introduce ideas such as a triangle is a triangle no matter which direction we turn it!

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Students select a leaf rubbing sheet, place their paper over it, and use a crayon to rub the texture onto their own paper. As the leaves appear, ask the child, “Which leaf is different?”

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Not only do these fall leaf rubbings look fantastic on display in our preschool but they also show parents the intention behind every hands on activity we do in our day!

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This post is written by Devany LeDrew, mom of a preschooler at our school and a writer herself over at her kids’ activities website, Still Playing School.

For more of our preschool ideas please follow Welcome Little Ones on Facebook!

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The Dream Came True!

Nearly a year has passed since I updated my blog, so here’s a quick summary to bring things up to date …

November 2014 – I signed the contract with Campbelltown United Methodist Church to use space there for my Preschool – HURRAY! … we have a location

December 2014 – we started refurbishing the rooms we would be using. New windows and ceiling tiles were installed, there was lots of cleaning and painting going on

January 2015 – we moved in carpets, bookshelves and TOYS! Sneak-a-Peek Days were held at the end of January. All the paperwork (over 150 pages) was submitted for our application for our Private Academic School License

February 2015 – our first 8-week Play & Learn session was held with our Animal Boogie theme! It was a huge hit!

March 2015 – we had our inspection by the Department of Education

April 2015 – we appeared before the Department of Education and were approved with no conditions for our Private Academic School License – WooHoo!!!

May 2015 – a 6-week Play & Learn session with a Creepy, Crawly Calypso theme was underway

June 2015 – we held our first Camp PRESCHOOL!

July 2015 – we started a 5-week Hole in the Bottom of the Sea themed Play & Learn class and a second Camp PRESCHOOL.

August 2015 – we held our third Camp PRESCHOOL

September 2015 – Preschool officially began with a 3-day class (17 students) and a 2-day class (13 students) 30 children total – the exact number I had prayed for, for this first year! Play & Learn classes started with our new theme “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

October 2015 – we had our first Picture Day, Costume Parade, and Pumpkin Patch Playdate at Risser-Marvel Farm Market

which brings us to November 2015 … when we’ll celebrate our First Thanksgiving Feast and give abundant thanks to God for everything we’ve been able to accomplish this year and for everyone who helped to make it happen!

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A Dream Is Coming True!

As far back as I can remember I have loved children. I guess it started with my love for my baby dolls. Being the little girl born after 3 boys my mother enjoyed them with me and every year at Christmas she gave me a new one. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mom.

As I grew, my faith grew and I knew I wanted to marry a Pastor as I also loved all things “God, Jesus and church”. I met my Pastor husband at age 14 (he was 15 at the time) and married him at age 18. Terry and I lived on a perpetual honeymoon in Niagara Falls, Canada (yes, we’re Canadian) and soon we were blessed with two babies of our own, first a daughter Tera-Lee and then 13 months later a son, TJ.

The next few years were a blur of moving to Oregon for seminary training, with a lot of diaper changes mixed in! And that’s when I really got bit with the loving kids bug. With my own children as my guide I was amazed and intrigued at how children can learn, grow and develop. I also became very drawn to helping young moms like myself deal with the major job of caring for and nurturing little children. And so a dream started to be born – how could I help them?

At first it was through my church nursery, giving moms the peace of mind that their baby or toddler was well cared for while they attended a church service, and also giving them ideas of things to do at home to nurture their children.

Next, after my husband graduated from seminary, we landed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where Terry’s home church was looking to hire a Nursery School Director to start a Children’s Center and I got the job! So my husband with all his seminary training got to sell furniture at Sears while I lived out the dream to nurture and care for children while helping families.

Little did I know how much this experience would shape and mold me in many ways. I discovered I loved to start things – from scratch!!! I learned about marketing, advertising, creating programs that parents really want after learning what the needs are in the community and I loved it. After 5 years there, the Nursery School had grown from 36 to 100 children and had another full-time teacher.

And then we moved to Calgary, Alberta to start a new church. So I worked in the public school system as a Teacher’s Aide, taught piano lessons, did the Sunday School program for our baby church and cared for my family. But when the opportunity came to have another Children’s Center in our church I jumped at it.

More passionate than ever about helping parents with young children I researched again and found a niche. I started with one story/craft time class of 8 children which grew to 4 classes of 8, and then turned into a 3-day and 2-day Preschool, complete with drop-in and drop-off childcare for younger siblings and a coffee time for moms. Now 180 children were coming through our church doors every week and after 5-years I found that 20% of the congregation had come because of being part of the weekday children’s center.

But then we moved again. I remember feeling the sadness that part of the dream I had in my heart for an effective weekday ministry to families was still unrealized. Maybe someday I would have a “center” again.

Over the next 15 years as we continued our nomadic life of moving and starting new churches in Chester Country, PA and Orlando FL, I continued to explore more ways to help children and families through having an in-home piano studio, becoming a licensed Kindermusik Educator and a Certified Baby Signs Instructor.

Then the invitation was extended to consider another move, to Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church. I really wasn’t sure I had another move in me. This time we would leave behind our married daughter and her family. This included our two granddaughters, who from infants, I had the privilege of being the primary caregiver for, while my daughter returned to work. This would undoubtedly be the hardest move yet.

But since it did seem this was God’s direction for us, there was only one thing that could give me the strength to make another huge change, and endure all the chaos of moving … Could this be the place that the dream, that I had now carried in my heart for so many years would become a reality?

Soon I started my Kindermusik program in Palmyra and before long opened up locations in  Jonestown, Elizabethtown and Linglestown. Five talented teachers joined my team and hundreds of children and families were connected to the each other and the joy and benefits of music. I achieved the Kindermusik Maestro award for creating a truly expansive program in 2011 and 2012. I also started a music program for daycare and studios called Mother Goose Music Time.

During this time I had hoped that I’d be able to see my dream of another preschool realized within our church, but it didn’t work out that way. While it was difficult to deal with the loss of that dream, another weekday ministry opportunity came my way when our baby grandson Charlie was born in August of 2012. I took a sabbatical from my Kindermusik program and became the primary caregiver for him, just as I had done for his sisters, while my daughter went back to work.

I completed my time with Charlie in July of 2013 and decided the time was right to end my Kindermusik career as well. So on August 5, exactly fifteen years to the day from when I took my Kindermusik training, I transferred ownership of my Palmyra Kindermusik location to my teacher “Miss Kristen”. “Miss Andrea” and I continued with the Mother Goose Music Time programs in daycares and in our Linglestown studio location.

I really tried to create a “life after Kindermusik”. I bought a new sewing machine, visited the grandkids, completed a lot of home projects and even started a new “Little Ones Day Out” program in my home. But through it all the dream of another children’s center with a preschool didn’t go away, in fact it became stronger. So strong that I committed the month of September 2014 to praying, “God, please either take this dream away, or make it come true.”

Then through a series of events that some would call “coincidences” (and will have to be the subject of another blog, or maybe a book!) it became evident that the dream could still become a reality! I explored the possibility of acquiring a private preschool license through the Department of Education and found that it was totally doable. I could be the owner of a preschool just as soon as I completed the paperwork, paid the fees and found a location.

Again through a series of wonderful God-incidences, a location became available! The details have been worked out, the contract has been signed and yesterday, Sunday Nov 23 at Campbelltown United Methodist Church, I was introduced to the congregation as the owner of “Welcome Little Ones Learning Center”. This is where the program I have dreamed of for 20 years, will be hosted.

The dream is becoming a reality! I can’t say enough thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported me. So many said, “Don’t quit”,  “It’s not too late”, “You can do it”, “Our little town needs another preschool.” That’s really what kept me walking toward it, hoping, praying, wishing, dreaming, along with the promise found in this Bible verse …
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

To find out some “Welcome Little Ones Learning Center” fast facts – click here!

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November is HERE …

That means it’s time to complete the shoebox packing project we started back in January! This year my husband and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary so we have committed to packing 40 shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child (OCC)!

Sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, OCC is a wonderful way to share love with children around the world who live in difficult situations. It’s the power of a simple gift. We just fill a shoebox with things a child can use – bar of soap, toothbrush, washcloth, crayons, pencils, notepad, socks, a small stuffed toy, yo-yo, ball or other toys, etc.

For me the fun begins in January when I buy Christmas items on clearance. All year I add to the stash as each holiday goes by. I also ask our grandchildren to participate and this year our oldest granddaughter donated several hats that she knit on a loom, and our oldest grandson made loom band bracelets for each child as well.

We’d like to invite YOU to join with us and pack a box for the first time, or add one more box to the number you were going to do to help us celebrate! All the information you need to know is here

We’d love to see a picture of your packed box, too! Please share it with us on our Facebook page

When your shoe box gift is packed and ready to go, you can drop it off locally …

Weds Nov 12 – at the MOMs Club Vendor Fair being held at our new church location at 220 Campbelltown Road, Palmyra
Sun Nov 23 – at our current location, Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church, 616 W Main Street, Palmyra PA. Join us at 8am, 9:30am or 11:00 for an OCC Shoebox Celebration in all three services, with the children participating
or check here for a drop-off location in your area.

If you have any questions or need shoeboxes, just message me on Facebook, I’ll be glad to help!

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Life After Kindermusik!

Yes, life does go on. But after spending 15 years, eating, sleeping and dreaming all things Kindermusik as a weekday ministry to children, it’s been quite a transition. Not that I’ve really stopped making music, since Miss Andrea and I continue to invest in children and families through the Mother Goose Music Time Program we are creating.

We offer studio classes in our Linglestown location where caregivers and children come  together once a week, for the ever enjoyable singing, dancing, reading and rocking activities. We now use Barefoot Books as the basis of our program and lots of public domain songs and of course Nursery Rhymes. We explore all the musical concepts the little ones love, fast and slow, high and low, loud and soft … so that part of life continues.

Miss Andrea also takes this musical instruction into several daycares and brightens the hearts and minds of children there.

What has changed is my day to day involvement with mommies and children and that part I miss. So much so, that I’ve figured out a way to carry on my mission, from my cozy, family friendly home!

Over this past year I’ve heard mommies comment time and time again on the need for some type of drop off childcare program so they could go to a Doctor appointment, get their hair done, buy groceries, clean their house or just take a nap. And so the idea for … “Little Ones Day Out” was born. (Although I did consider calling it “Rent-a-Nana”, close enough!)

I’m excited to give it a try. I have been busy catching up on projects at home to prepare and I think I’m ready to say … Welcome Little Ones!

Monday March 17, will be the lucky day! I’m having a few moms over to start (by invitation) that have been encouraging and supporting me behind the scenes and I’d like to get a little more input from them. I’m still in the gathering ideas, taking suggestions and formulating exactly how all this could work, stage. If you are interested in being updated on my progress, send me an email or facebook message and we’ll keep in touch.

According to day care regulations I can care for 6 children maximum without having full day care licensing. I actually did a program similar to this in my home in Chester County before moving to Palmyra and it worked very well, so I’m anticipating the same thing will happen here. I am planning to start by offering this service just one day a week.

So that’s the latest with me. Now back to the list of projects that still need to be done before March 17 or actually March 10 when our son, his wife and our three grandchildren come to visit. Another fun day to say … Welcome Little Ones!

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A Momentous Day – August 5, 2013

IMG_6572It’s hard to believe it, but it’s true. 15 years ago on this very day I became a licensed Kindermusik Educator. Now 15 years later, I have closed this chapter of my life! Today the ownership of my Palmyra Kindermusik location has been transferred to “Miss Kristen”, one of the wonderful teachers in my program. I wish her all the best as she continues to bring music and movement to the lives of the children in our community.

I will continue to operate “Mother Goose Time Music”, a program that I offer to children in the daycare setting which is taught by another wonderful teacher “Miss Andrea”. The Jonestown and Linglestown studio class locations will now be using this new curriculum that Miss Andrea and I are developing. I will also continue to sell Barefoot Books.

Many thanks go to the wonderful teachers I have had in my program over the years and to the many parents who have supported me in my endeavors to help strengthen families through music.

I am grateful now for the opportunity to spend more time investing in the six amazing grandchildren our family has been blessed with and I look forward to getting back to one of my first loves – sewing!!!

There is a Bible verse that has been coming to me lately … it says “She did what she could.” from Mark 14:8. This was also a favorite verse of the famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby. As I reflect on my life work so far, it reminds me that I wasn’t able to do all that I would have liked to, or hoped to, but … I did what I could.

With a song in my heart,
Carol Anne

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Carol Anne is on sabbatical …

I am currently on a sabbatical from my ministry to families through Kindermusik, to pursue a new ministry opportunity in my own family.

On Nov 5 I became the full time nanny to my new baby grandson Charlie in Chester County. My wonderful teachers are carrying on the Kindermusik program here and keeping the song and dance going in my absence. How thankful I am to God for this new little life, to my daughter and son-in-law for this once in a lifetime opportunity, and to my husband who was one of the first to suggest this idea to me. Babies only have one first year, and since I did the child care for each of his sisters in their first year, I’m happy for health and strength to continue the tradition with baby Charlie. Welcome Little One!

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