Excelligence Learning Divisions Announce Teacher Appreciation Week Photo Contest

Four prominent education companies within the Excelligence Learning Corporation have partnered to launch a national photo sharing contest with cash prizes and gift certificates in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11, 2018). Frog Street, ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), Educational Products, Inc. (EPI) and Really Good Stuff have created a unique national campaign to highlight exceptional teachers who impact and change lives. The hashtag #TeachersChangeLives has been adopted for this contest.

“The very core of our mission at Excelligence is to provide tools and resources to educators who give tirelessly and unconditionally to enable students to succeed,” commented Dipak Golechha, CEO, Excelligence Learning Corporation. “We are thrilled to honor teachers through this contest and in a small way, acknowledge the important contributions they make in the lives of children each and every day.”

Friends, family, co-workers and students around the U.S. are invited to nominate an exceptional teacher by visiting the Excelligence Teacher Appreciation Week web page, excelligence.wishpond.com/TAWcontest/. Nominations and photo submissions will be accepted from April 9 through April 29, 2018. The voting period is April 30May 7, 2018. Nominations may be for a favorite teacher (with permission), or individuals may nominate themselves.

The top three teachers with the most votes from all the nominations submitted will be selected to be the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. The winners will be announced Friday, May 11, 2018, on the social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) of the sponsoring companies, Frog Street, ChildCare Education Institute, EPI and Really Good Stuff. Winners will also be contacted via email.

Prizes for the top winners include $600 for 1st place, $300 for 2nd place, and $150 for 3rd place. Random daily winners will also be selected to receive over $2,300 in prizes, which include (10) $25 Amazon eGift Cards, $100 Discount School Supply gift certificate, Frog Street SPLASH 2018 Conference registration ($399 value), $100 Really Good Stuff gift certificate, $99 Individual Annual Training Subscription from ChildCare Education Institute, $75 Educational Products, Inc. gift certificate, and more. Additional prizes will be announced during the voting period.

About Excelligence Learning Corporation (www.excelligence.com):
Excelligence Learning Corporation (www.excelligence.com) is a leading developer, manufacturer, distributor, and multi-channel retailer of over 20,000 innovative, high-quality and grade- appropriate educational products and teaching solutions, which are sold primarily to early childhood learning centers, elementary schools, PTAs, and consumers. The company has three core divisions: Supplies (Discount School Supply and Really Good Stuff), Equipment (Angeles®, Children’s Factory®, and Learning Carpets), and Services (Educational Products, Inc., ChildCare Education Institute and Frog Street Press). With over 30 years of experience serving children, educators and parents, Excelligence’s diversified portfolio of leading brands delivers quality, innovation, service and value on a global scale. Leading proprietary brands include: Colorations®, BioColor®, Excellerations®, MyPerfectClassroom® and Environments®.

About Frog Street (www.frogstreet.com):
Frog Street is a leading provider of comprehensive early childhood education solutions to public schools, Head Start programs and early child care centers, with a focus on children from birth to age 5. Frog Street’s curriculum programs are based on early brain research and provide intentional age-appropriate instruction that is aligned to both federal and state standards. The Company also develops engaging and interactive professional development programs, including product training, conferences, continuing education, and quality assessment tools to measure students’ progress.

About ChildCare Education Institute® (www.cceionline.com):
ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

About Educational Products, Inc. (www.EducationalProducts.com):
Educational Products, Inc. (EPI) is a division of Excelligence® Learning Company, and is the nation’s leader in prepackaged and bulk school supply programs. Based in Texas for over 35 years, EPI helps schools and parents save time and money on school supplies. Additionally, EPI works with nonprofits, school districts, churches and corporations seeking to sponsor school supplies for students in their communities as part of the School Supply Outreach Program. Beyond school supplies, EPI helps schools and organizations by offering quality custom imprinted apparel, fundraising programs, and science fair supplies.

About Really Good Stuff® (www.reallygoodstuff.com):
Founded in 1992, Really Good Stuff, LLC works side-by-side with educators to create high quality and affordable products that provide teachers, primarily in grades K-8, with innovative solutions designed to make a difference in students’ lives. Today, through its catalogs and website, the company offers more than 7,500 items, including classroom organization solutions such as bins, baskets & bookcases to fun educational activities in the language arts, numeracy and STEM, introducing over 500 new products annually.

March 2018 Student Spotlight – Christina Soliman

I began my career in early childhood by babysitting for the kids in my neighborhood and I really enjoyed watching kids.  After I graduated, I got my first job in a child care center and haven’t looked back!  My favorite time of day to spend with the children is story time.  Their favorite time of day is outside time chasing bubbles and riding bikes.  I love watching the children learn new things.  I enjoy seeing their smiling faces when they come in, getting hugs from them, and seeing them learn something new.

I obtained my CDA through ChildCare Education Institute and it was a great program! I would recommend anyone to go through the CDA program with CCEI. I would love to continue to work with children by opening up my own child care center.

I currently live in Ft Myers, FL.  In my free time, I watch my boys play baseball and soccer and I enjoy crafts.  In the future, I definitely see my career continuing to work with children.

March 2018 Newsletter – Director WOYC Activity Ideas

The Week of the Young Child can be as big or as low key as you want.  Each program celebrates in their own way, based on the resources available to them.  Here are a few tips to help you plan your special event:

  • If you are interested in learning what others have done for WOYC, you can check out the #woyc site for ideas.
  • Set aside time during upcoming staff meetings to brainstorm ideas and plan activities for WOYC. Share some of the #woyc17 ideas to spark the creativity of your staff.
  • It may be necessary to create a budget for WOYC. Make sure staff are aware of the budget for activities and events.  Collect supply lists as early as possible to ensure that teachers have everything they need for the event.
  • Recognize that some activities may require more than one day to complete. These activities can either be kicked off during the WOYC or they can wrap up during this week.  Help teachers make decisions about the timing that is most appropriate for their individual projects.
  • Use this time to connect parents with community resources. Set up times for hearing and vision screenings during this week.  Invite representatives from early intervention agencies to come talk with families about general child development and what to do if they have concerns.  Host a resource fair for parents at your location.
  • Market WOYC events in your parent communication tools. You can also use the WOYC logos that are available here.  Spread the word to your early learning connections and the community at large.
  • Tie into the larger celebration by tagging social media posts with #woyc18. You are also encourages to share stories and images of your event at the NAEYC’s Facebook page.  Your local or state NAEYC affiliate may also have a Facebook page.
  • Be sure you have parent permission to share any images of children on social media. Do not share any images of children for whom you do not have written permission.
  • Get invitations out to community and government officials as soon as possible. Brainstorm a list of possible invitees. Ask family members if they have any connections that could be leveraged.  Include messages from children in your invitations as well as facts about the importance of early childhood education.
  • If a dignitary or official is able to attend, be prepared to document the event.  Perhaps there is a connection to a photographer among the children or staff.  Invite parents to visit while the official visits to share their support of early learning.  Prepare a press release, if possible.

March 2018 Newsletter – School-Age WOYC Activity Ideas

Music Monday

  • Encourage children to create songs about the program, their friends, families, or themselves. If children are willing, they can perform these songs for the other children in a concert or traveling band that visits the other rooms in the program. Record these performances.  Share them with elected officials and post them on social media (with parent permission).
  • Invite a dance instructor in to teach children the steps of popular dances. Tie this activity to a dance-a-thon charity event to raise money for a local cause.

Tasty Tuesday

  • Plan a meal for families or community members. Invite the cook or a caterer (possibly a family volunteer?) to work with children to plan the meal. Encourage children to take an active role in as many steps of the process as possible, including taking a fieldtrip to a grocery store to purchase supplies. This project may start on Tasty Tuesday and culminate at a later date.
  • Host a new food challenge. Ask children to identify foods that they have never had or that they do not like.  Encourage children to try new foods or to retry foods they did not like in the past.

Work Together Wednesday

  • Work together on a clean-up project. Look for opportunities to have children, families, and community members work together to clean up a park, garden, or playground space.
  • Collaborate on a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, highlighting the importance of the experiences children have had while participating in the program.

Artsy Thursday

  • Engage in performance art. Host a talent show, put on a play or puppet show.  Invite children and families from the program to watch the show and cheer on the performers.
  • Invite community members and government officials to come in to sit for a portrait. Spend time prior to the event exploring different types of portraits that have been painted in the past, including as many styles as you can find.  Children can use this time to ask and answer questions from the visitor.

Family Friday

  • Write thank you notes to family members. This can be done on a collaborative mural, in a video recording, or on traditional cards.  Encourage children to identify all the things they are thankful for about their families.  Assist children in creating their notes or scripts and share with families.
  • Encourage children and families to work together to write letters or postcards to the governor or state representatives asking for their commitment to supporting early learning.

March 2018 Newsletter – Preschool WOYC Activity Ideas

Music Monday

  • Introduce a brand new type of music to the children. Explore the different music from around the globe.   Ask parents for suggestions.
  • Invite a local musician or performer in to put on a show for children and families. Encourage children to create a list of questions to ask the performer about their work.  You may be able to identify family members who have musical talents to spend time with the children instead of a paid performer.

Tasty Tuesday

  • Sponsor a food drive for a local shelter or food bank. Encourage children to create marketing materials for the project and take part in collecting and dropping off the food at the end of the event.
  • Plant some seeds. Start your garden indoors by planting seeds, then transferring them to the outdoor garden once the conditions are suitable.

Work Together Wednesday

  • Encourage children to work together to create a nature collection. Provide cookie sheets and ask groups of children to fill the cookie sheets with items from nature that they find on the playground.  Introduce new vocabulary words and math concepts related to the objects that children find.
  • Invite family members, community leaders, etc. to come talk with the children about the importance of working together. Brainstorms a list of ways that children can work together in the classroom.  Create a class book about all the ways that children can work together.  Encourage children to illustrate and bind the book for the library.

Artsy Thursday

  • Create marketing materials for quality early learning experiences. Have children create posters, brochures, commercials, or advertisements highlighting all the things they have learned in the program.  Send these materials to elected officials at all levels of government.  Ask for their commitment to support early learning in their funding decisions.
  • Decorate sidewalks near your program with chalk decorations and WOYC facts.

Family Friday

  • Invite families to volunteer. Not all families will be able to participate and not everyone will participate in the same way. Find out from family members how they might be able to donate some of their time to your program.  If you don’t have a volunteer program, you could officially launch it on this day.
  • Share learning with families.  Talk with children about what they want to be when they grow up.  Work with individual children to think of things they are learning today that will they will also use in their job in the future.  Create a representation of this information to share with families.  Copies can also be shared with elected officials in your community or in social media (with parent permission).

March 2018 Newsletter – Infant-Toddler WOYC Activity Ideas

Music Monday

  • Introduce different musical instruments. Encourage children to explore the instruments and start a marching band that travels around the facility.
  • Sing in the park. Take a walk in the community and sing out loud.  Share copies of the resource 10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them with the people you encounter on your walk.

Tasty Tuesday

  • Encourage children to take part in making their own snacks. Take pictures of children making their own snack and share with families or on social media (with parent permission).  List the skills that children are learning as they make their own snack.
  • Introduce new vocabulary related to the foods children are eating. Talk about the colors, textures, and tastes of the foods included in the meals. Document the new vocabulary words and share them with parents so they can use them at home.

Work Together Wednesday

  • Create a Cooperation Castle. Use a large cardboard box to create a play space. Encourage children to work together to paint and decorate the play space.
  • Invite families to participate in an activity that they work on with their child. It could be a project related to art, music, science, or construction.

Artsy Thursday

  • Invite members of the community to visit your program and work on a community mural with the children. Point out the skills that children are learning as they engage in the art project.  Use language from your state’s early learning standards so community members can clearly see the connection between the activity and children’s learning.
  • Create mini paintings. Place facts about the benefits of open ended art activities on the back of each painting. Share the paintings with families or take them on a walk to pass out to members of your community.

Family Friday

  • Throw a surprise party for families. Welcome each family member who comes to pick up their child with an enthusiastic “Surprise!”  Have healthy snacks available and invite families to join you for an afternoon celebration.
  • Make Week of the Young Child 2018 Provide a variety of materials needed for homemade books that families can create with their children. Have pictures of children engaged in learning activities, sample works of art, and dictations of children’s language available. Encourage families to bring in images of their own to add to the book.

March 2018 Newsletter – Planning for the Week of the Young Child

Each year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) organizes a celebration focused on early childhood education, children, families, and teachers.  They have named the event the Week of the Young ChildTM (WOYC). The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of high quality early learning experiences and garner support from stakeholders, both within and outside of the early learning community.

It is a time to share the valuable short and long term contributions that early learning provides to our society and economy.  While the event is organized and sponsored by NAEYC, it is implemented in individual communities in ways that reflect the unique nature of the programs and communities that participate.

Mark your calendar; this year’s WOYC event will be held April 16-20.

NAEYC has created suggested themes for each day of the event:

  • April 16 – Music Monday
  • April 17 – Tasty Tuesday
  • April 18 – Work Together Wednesday
  • April 19 – Artsy Thursday
  • April 20 – Family Friday

More information and suggested activities related to these themes can be found here and here.  Many of the resources can be shared with parents, members of the community, or local and state government officials. It’s important to start planning early, especially if you plan to invite government officials to participate in your event.  You want to get on their calendars as early as possible.

The suggested themes are just that, suggestions – you can plan different activities that highlight the important work that you are doing in your program.  Check out the links to the different age groups for ideas that might be appropriate for the children in your program.