Kids Fun Plaza Magazine

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Valentine's Edition

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  • February 2011 | NENY, Northeastern, NY | KidsFunPlaza 1

    Volume 5 |February 2011 | KidsFunPlaza

    School Guide in North Eastern NY

    New School Dreams

    in Clifton Park and Bamako, Mali

    Avon Scherff: Inspiring and Empowering

    Young Women

    A Great Time for a New Valentines

    Tradition

    An Easier Way to DIY with Cute, Customizable Stationery

    Makeover Love: The Responsible Way

    Classroom Valentines

    for the First Time

    Who Is Your Teen Going To Call

    if something sad happens?

  • 2 KidsFunPlaza | NENY, Northeastern, NY |February 2011

    ContentsNew School Dreams in Clifton Park and Bamako, Mali Educator Of The Month From Saratoga County .............................. 4

    Avon Scherff: Inspiring and Empowering Young Women Parent of the Month ......................................................................... 6

    Expressing Love in Different Ways .................................................... 8

    A Great Time for a New Valentines Tradition .................................. 9

    School Guide for North Eastern NY ................................................ 11

    The Many Benefits of Toddler Playgroups ...................................... 16

    KidsFunKitchen ............................................................................... 17

    Classroom Valentines for the First Time ....................................... 20

    An Easier Way to DIY with Cute, Customizable Stationery ...................................................... 21

    Combat BULLYING with Lessons of Love ........................................ 23

    Makeover Love: The Responsible Way ........................................... 24

    Who Is Your Teen Going To Call if something sad happens? ............................................................. 26

    Household Tips & Tricks with a Little Romance to Boot! ................ 28

    La Placita ........................................................................................ 29

    Here Is What S Happening ............................................................ 31

    2 KidsFunPlaza | NENY, Northeastern, NY | Dec-Jan 2010/2011

  • February 2011 | NENY, Northeastern, NY | KidsFunPlaza 3

    Meet Our Team

    Publisher

    Ana Roca CastroAna@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Editor in Chief

    Christina GleasonChristina@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Art DirectorCatalina Arango

    Catalina@KidsFunPlaza.comMarketing Director

    Coleen ValentiColeen@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Advertising Coordinator

    Kelly RazzanoKelly@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Diversity Manager

    Roxanna HomicRoxanna@KidsFunPlaza.com

    ColumnistsEducator of the Month, Parent of the Month,

    Toddler, Kiddo

    Beth LevineBeth@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Green & Healthy, Health Provider

    of the Month, Arts & Crafts

    Alina M. HensleyAli@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Preschooler, Special Needs

    Christina GleasonChristina@KidsFunPlaza.com

    KidsFunKitchen

    Ana Roca CastroAna@KidsFunPlaza.com

    La Placita

    Roxanna HomicRoxanna@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Community EventsRoxanca Chirac

    RoxanaC@KidsFunPlaza.comTeens

    Sandra FoytSandra@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Grandmas WisdomLinda Carmical

    Sandra@KidsFunPlaza.com

    Check out our Facebook Page for more contests.http://facebook.com/KidsFunPlaza Follow us on Twitter @KidsFunPlaza

    Kids Fun Plaza Facebook ContestYou can win a $100 Visa gift card from Kids Fun Plaza! Heres how:

    Like Kids Fun Plaza on Facebook http://facebook.com/KidsFunPlaza

    Write on our wall and tell us about your favorite part of Kids Fun Plaza or if theres anything were missing that you would like us to add.

    One lucky winner will be chosen at random for the $100 Visa gift card and an-nounced in our next issue. So stop by our Facebook page today and enter to win!

    EDITORS LETTER

    This February, Kids Fun Plaza is cele-brating love. Ive always been a bit of a hopeless romantic, so this is right up my alley.

    When I was growing up, I remember getting a special Valentine from my dad every year. Im sure it involved some sort of toy when

    I was little, but it evolved into the same pound of chocolates in a big, red heart-shaped box once I was a teenager. I continued to get Valentines from my dad all through college; I can still point to the as-sortment on the shelves of the store today. The Valentine chocolates didnt stop coming until I was married. (Then I started getting them from my husband!)

    Of course, the chocolates were never actually purchased by my dad. My mom always did all the shopping. But my Valentines were always from him, and the Valentines for my brothers were always from her. I wasnt the stereotypical Daddys Little Girl, but we always had that.

    Now I give a Valentine to my son TJ each year. Tom and I agreed that they can always be from Mommy, not Daddy. (At least I think we agreed. Unless I just agreed for him!)

    Lets take this month to reflect on love in all of its forms not just romantic love and familial love, but the love we have for friends, too. Sandra discusses the importance of friendship for teens, while Beth tackles the subject of modern bullying. Kelly has some ideas for start-ing Valentines Day traditions with your baby and I have some sug-gestions for handling preschool Valentines. Linda shares some tips both around the house and for your relationship while Ali talks about loving your body and treating it right with healthy products.

    Spread the love today. Tell your kids you love them. Tell your friends you love them. Itll brighten their day!

    Chistina Gleason

  • 4 KidsFunPlaza | NENY, Northeastern, NY |February 2011

    Q&A with Phyllis Aldrich:

    Q: On the school website, it states that: An emphasis on History and Geography will lead to an explora-tion of major world cultures and historical events as we seek to de-velop each childs cultural litera-cy. Explain how your partnership with the school in Mali helps you to accomplish this goal.

    A: The classroom has a large rug depicting the whole world that the children sit on for daily morning meetings. They take turns sitting on the African continent and listen to stories. During December, they ex-plored holiday celebrations from around the world and completed art projects fea-turing Kwanza, the Hindu Dwali festival of light, Swedish St. Lucia Christmas tradition, the festival of Chanukah, and the Muslim feast of Ramadan that most people in Mali celebrate.

    Q: Do the children in both of the schools have an opportunity to in-teract in real time like with Skype, or is there another way that you are working together?

    A: No, Skype communication turned out to be impractical due to the eight hour time difference. The St. Georges students have written some letters and illustrated some stories to send to Melanies students

    New School Dreams in Clifton Park and Bamako, Mali

    As St. Georges was preparing to open their new school, a unique experience pre-sented itself. A new school in West Africa would be opening their doors. The con-nection was a home town teacher. Melanie Gulyas Sanogo was going to be the lead teacher at the Bamako International Academy. Melanie was raised in Clifton Park and attended St. Georges Episcopal Church. She and her husband live in Mali, and both teach at the school. Melanie teaches kinder-garten at the school in Bamako, along with after school art and dance classes for the chil-dren. Many of the children that she teaches speak several languages, but Melanie is teaching them English, since that is the lan-guage they will be instructed in. This year, the class has seven children, most of whom are not from Mali but from other countries while their parents work here.

    Back here in Clifton Park, Sheray Tario is the head teacher at St. Georges. A gradu-ate of Skidmore College, she is teaching the children in her class using an inquiry-based academic curriculum. Along with the Board of St. Georges, they have been busy making sure that the school meets and ex-ceeds the New York State Standards in all academic areas.

    The two schools had big dreams and want-ed to give their students opportunities that were not available in many other locations. They planned to coordinate activities, send each other items that represent their areas, possibly try to Skype with one another, and more. Unfortunately, things do not always work out the way you expect them.

    Recently, I was able to hear more about the program from Phyllis Aldrich. Aldrich is a trustee for St. Georges. She sat down and answered some questions about the initial program between the schools. She was very honest about the challenges and the hope for the future given recent obstacles.

    St. Georges has not given up. They are learning from this experience and are hop-ing to build an even better program thanks to the initial growing pains. It is because of this dedication to the children of St. Georges that they were selected as the February Educators of the Month.

    In September 2010, St. Georges Elementary School officially opened the doors for the first time. The parish already had an established preschool program, but planned to gradually expand to older students. To begin, they would offer a full day kindergarten and first grade for the inaugural group of children.

    Educator of the Month from Saratoga County

    Beth is a happily married teacher, now SAHM to her two young sons. She has a passion for all things Disney, reading, crafting , and traveling. A camera is always close to catch memories for her blog, TheAngelForever.com

    By Beth Levine, TheAngelForever.com

  • February 2011 | NENY, Northeastern, NY | KidsFunPlaza 5

    Educator of the Month

    in Bamako. Both classes engage in daily art and music. We will be sending them the vid-eo of our Christmas concert and hope to get a return video. We also e-mail photos of the student art work.

    Q: What are some future projects that the two groups of children will be working on?

    A: One hope is that the St. Georges students can design and make their own alphabet books using illustrations from their own life and send them to the students in Mali. This would be a thank you for the wooden hand carved chair that they sent.

    Q: To date what has been the biggest obstacle in the program?

    A: The obstacles both teachers were new to teaching kindergarten and had to design and set up their classrooms in a site that had not been a school before. Therefore, they were so busy that it was hard to fit in time to share their lessons and plans with each other. Unfortunately, due to medical issues, Melanie will have to leave Mali in early January to return to Clifton Park, so the part-nership will have to go on hold.

    Q: Given the challenges coordinating the activities and planning between the two schools, will you be trying to connect St. Georges and the school in Mali again next year?

    A: Since a global awareness is an important part of the mission of our school, we will continue to build a partnership if Melanie Gulyas can advise us while she is at home for the semester. If she cannot, then we will look for another partner school.

    An alternate option is to partner with a school in Southern China, an area where one of our current kindergarten parents used to teach. She is native Chinese and has taught a popular after school class on Mandarin Chinese for five-year-old students two days a week this fall. Many students have learned to count to 20 in Chinese and can greet and sing Chinese childrens songs.

    Q: Assuming the 2011-2012 program continues, what new ideas will be used to bridge the gap between the kids in the two countries?

    A: The teacher would like to incorporate regular letter writing exchanges, and to invite some children to prepare simple Power Point slide shows to show other children what life is like in Clifton Park.

    A big thank you to Phyllis Aldrich, trustee from St. Georges, for taking time to do this interview. I wish this unique international program much success as they set goals for the 2011-2012 academic year.

    EDUCATOR OF THE MONTH

    For more information about St. Georges Elementary School, go to

    http://StGeorgesCP.org/school

  • 6 KidsFunPlaza | NENY, Northeastern, NY |February 2011

    Those are the words that make up the mission statement of the non-profit I Am I Can. This new organization starting in the Capital District is the brain child of Avon Scherff, the owner of Scherff Insurance Agency, Inc. The mother of a teenage son, Avon wants to join with other professional women in the com-munity to mentor girls in grades 9-12. The organization will provide encour-agement, guidance, and advocacy to young women as they focus on a goal after high school graduation.

    Avon Scherff talks about her organization with passion and vigor. She is excited to share her dream to help high school girls to set, work toward, and reach goals. Scherff wants to help teen girls to think ahead about life after high school. She wants them to graduate and then have something they want to do after. That may be the military, college, vocational school, starting their own business, or something else.

    Avon has spent the last few months work-ing with people in the community to set up a board for I Am I Can. They have bylaws established, along with some community di-rectors and advocates. Now Avon hopes that, with additional people taking on responsibil-ity within the organization, they can all work toward the three core values of I Am I Can:

    u The future belongs to those who dare to dreamv Self-empowerment can bring monumental changew Every young woman has end-less potentialIt is because of this dedication to Saratoga and the greater Capital District commu-nity that Avon Scherff was selected as the February Parent of the Month.

    Q: Please explain what I Am I Can is and why you decided to create this non-profit organization in June.

    A: As a young girl from a struggling family, I have a passion to work with girls to instill in them that all things are possible if they believe! My son is a junior in high school, so I see and hear about the struggles of teenage girls in our own community. I want to be able to provide a resource for girls who lack self-confidence and self-esteem, girls who feel like they are invisible and have no options.

    Q Dream it. Believe it. Do it. Those are the powerful words that support the mission statement behind I Am I Can. How do you help to encourage young women to follow this using your mission statement?

    A: I think any relationship takes time to build our advocates/mentors will work with these young women on a one-on-one basis to develop trust they will spend time together in the hopes of building them up and in-stilling in them that there is a wonderful life ahead of them filled with opportunity. We want all young women to embrace a dream, believe in themselves, and become empow-ered to make it happen.

    Q What is the most rewarding part of your non-profit work?

    A: I think what has amazed me thus far in building this organization are the sto-ries that other professional women have shared with me about their lives. I dont think my story or experiences are unique. There are many women that I know who have overcome huge adversity to achieve their dreams. Ma...