The NYC region is the ancestral home of the Canarsie, Lanape, and Wappinger peoples. Today and every day, it is important to learn about and honor Native history and celebrate Native heroes - past and present - with your kids.
Here are seven beautiful children’s books written by and about Indigenous people. Many of these books are illustrated by Indigenous artists as well. Enjoy!
Special thanks to Debbie Reese's comprehensive blog about American Indian portrayal in children's books, which is an excellent resource. Debbie is Nambé Pueblo.
I spy with my little eye...
A snail on this leaf, a bird in that pond… how many other plants, animals, and other living things do you think you can spy in an afternoon? Join us for Spring Explorers on April 10 or 18 as we explore the natural wonders of Central Park!
Led by educators from the American Natural History Museum and Bitty City Players, our brave bitty explorers will use their five senses to find, count, and interact with the flora and fauna around them. We’ll also play movement and theater games and make nature crafts -- and of course, everyone will be wearing masks and staying safe, too, because that’s what intrepid explorers and scientists do in a pandemic.
Come explore with us!
Caregivers and family are welcome for all ages, but we do ask that children ages 3 and under be accompanied by an adult.
Questions? Need support with registration? Shoot us an email and we'll be happy to help out.
One Day in March 2020
In February of 2020, our biggest COVID-related problem was the unreasonable price of hand sanitizer. A small bottle of Purell, if you could find it, cost as much as a month of Netflix. We hadn’t budgeted for that.
In March of 2020, we had to pay a much steeper price. The pandemic shut down cost us our hellos and hugs. It cost us our routines, our morning coffee, our social lives. It cost us our mental health and our inner peace. We had not emotionally budgeted for this.
For millions of us, it would end up costing jobs and income, housing, entire support systems. For millions more, it would cost the lives of friends and family members, more than any war in our collective memory.
Compared to many, my March was not so bad. But I wouldn’t call it easy.
Here is what a mashed up day in March 2020 looked like for me.
Friday, March 13th, 7:00 am
I’m loading up the car to head out to a small Pre-K program in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, for one of our Pre-K in-school field trips. It’s Water Unit time in NYC and we’re going to do some hands-on exploring. We’ve got a large sensory tub, cups, toy boats, food coloring -- the works.
Today, I pack extra dish soap to put into the shared water tub, and disinfectant spray and wipes to clean every material between uses.
On any other day, there would usually be 15-20 children in the class; on this day, only nine kids are in attendance. Parents have started pulling them out of school.
We are scheduled to return the following week for another session, and 18 more at various schools over the next three months. We never get there. This is our last Pre-K Workshop of 2020.
How can we help?
In our last post, we announced that Bitty City Players is becoming a nonprofit! Our Executive Director, Caroline Patterson, shares why this next chapter will be the best yet.
Caroline here. I hope that you and your families are hanging in there. It’s been a rough year for all of us, and one of the roughest parts for me personally has been not being able to spend time, in person, with most of our Bitty City community. I MISS YOU! The Bitty City teachers and I miss the smiles and the discoveries, the eagerness to show off projects, the hugs and personalized drawings.
We miss facing challenges with you too - figuring out how to share, dusting off after a fall, sorting through the emotions of a hard day, and solving problems big and small.
But most of all, I miss sharing programming that has made a positive difference in the lives of many children, families, and teachers in New York City.
As I adapted our work to be online and outdoors, I also spent a lot of time looking inwards. I asked myself - and my teachers and community members, including some of you - about the core values of our work. I meditated on what is meaningful to us as educators and as human beings. And I wondered how to make some lemonade out of these pandemic lemons.
Our answer, so far, is that we want to provide programming that is accessible. We want Bitty City to be a resource for young children of NYC and their families and teachers, especially those who have limited access to enrichment opportunities. So how will we do this?
The very short version is: we are starting a nonprofit!
This change will allow us to:
We are so excited to go on this journey with you, and would love to hear your feedback. What do YOU need from us? Please share your questions and ideas with us in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info and resources, keep an eye on our blog and follow us on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Most importantly, stay safe and healthy.
Let’s crush these lemons!
BCP's Exciting Next Chapter
We have some exciting news to share: Bitty City Players is in the process of becoming a nonprofit! We are extremely proud and excited to start this new journey and look forward to sharing more soon.
In the meantime, we thought it was time to reintroduce Bitty City Players and the woman behind the scenes.
Meet Our Founder!
Executive Director & Creative Director Caroline Patterson helped to establish Bitty City Players in 2011.
An actor and education professional, Caroline knows that engaging in hands-on, brains-on, put-your-whole-self-in activities is the best way to connect to kids and get them excited about what they're learning. She deeply believes that dramatic play and sensory work are the most effective educational tools with young children. So we incorporate both into our innovative curricula!
Now, 10 years since our founding, we’re excited for Bitty City Players’ next step. As a nonprofit, we’ll be able to reach more kids in the New York City area with dynamic, fun programs.
Thanks for being with us as we embark on this new journey!
Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Children Part 2: Facing Our Feelings - with crafts!
No, we’re not knitting away our sadness or sculpting our fears - at least not today. We are feeling some more feelings, assisted by one of our favorite craft projects: the emotions face!
LOVE these things! Use them a million ways:
And many more. But before you can use them, we need to make them....
Get Ready to Craft!
If you're making several faces, I say skip the cardboard in favor of cheap paper plates. We love to have the kids each make their own Emotions Face, so our execution doesn’t need to be highly durable so much as highly do-able in repetition.
Ok.... it's also because more pliable materials reduce scissor fatigue - or whatever it’s called when you’ve been cutting out so many things, or cutting such hard-to-cut things, that the shape of the scissor handle becomes permanently imprinted around the base of your thumb….
Instead, I prefer a material that can be bent and cut, and have holes punched in it, with relative ease.
Cardboard does not meet this standard for me, so grab some cheap plain paper plates from your local pizzeria (or order them). Bonus: they are already face shaped, which saves time cutting out a lot of blank face circles!
Our hole punchers can’t reach more than an inch or two beyond the border of the face. So unless you have a very fancy long-necked hole punching device, you’ll need to fold the face in order to punch holes in it to attach the features.
Make A Face!
Paper Plate Edition...
We often skip the tears/cheeks as I feel they can be more hassle than useful (plenty of ways to show sad without actual crying), but some people like them. If you want to use the cheeks/tears, glue them back-to-back. Then thread a needle with thread or skinny yarn through the top of the cheek/tear pair.
Alternative: If you’re willing to eventually lose/squash some of the facial features when they are not attached, to sacrifice a little precision in the manipulating of the features, and to invite Mr Potato Head style feature-swapping, you could ditch all the hole punching and fasteners and just use velcro dots to attach all the features.
Bring a Bitty City Players Social-Emotional Learning workshop to your school! Contact us here
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Today we’re feeling our feelings, kiddos! Social-emotional learning (SEL) is one of the most important parts of early childhood education, in the classroom and at home.
An Ode to the Old School, and the enduring awesomeness of the Clunky Overhead Projector
BUT (you knew there was a “but” coming)... the neurological hard-wiring of the human brain has not evolved at the same rate as our technology. Its place in a classroom with children under 10 is, in my opinion, questionable. Technology is far more prevalent and sophisticated than it was 50 or 100 years ago, but the cognitive learning process of the 2017 kid remains essentially the same as 1967 kid or the 1917 kid.
So today, we look backwards to go forwards! We bring some 1917 and 1967 technology back into the classroom…
This week Google celebrates its 19th birthday, and the every-day-is-National-Something-Day calendar notes that it’s National Ancestor Day. So the eternal (and eternally divisive) question of using technology as a teacher, in a way that our early education predecessors could not, floats to the top of my mind.
This week: tech anxiety in planning. Next week: tech in the classroom.
“I don’t know how anyone taught preschool before Pinterest and Amazon and Google!” Every time I say this (and it’s…not entirely infrequent), I feel torn: lucky to have so many resources available, but also…kinda embarrassed.
Ack! What if questioning #teacherlife before Pinterest implies that I’m just lazy, or worse, unimaginative? Ack! Do fewer trips to the library mean I’m not living up to our foreteachers? (is foreteachers even a word?! It is now.) Ack! Am I letting someone else come up with ideas for me! Is my teacher brain shriveling?!
It's a Scary World out there...
Hurricanes and earthquakes and destroying countries and terrorism and more hurricanes... Yipes! Today we're offering a few ideas for helping kids handle some of those fears.
Talk of destruction and suffering are all around us, and inescapably all around our children. It's scary! Add to that all the things that might be lurking in the dark or under our beds - any time we cannot see something, or do not understand how it works or why it happens, or find ourselves in a new situation we cannot predict, we may feel fear or anxiety - at any age.
Use Dramatic Play
We like to use dramatic play to help children cope with fears that are unlikely to occur (what if aliens attack?), and talking and games to handle fears that are more in the sphere of possibility (what if a hurricane comes to get us?)
We act out what might happen, with a silly or happy twist.
One of our favorite books to introduce this particular dramatic play activity is Ed Emberly's Go Away Big Green Monster. Monsters aren't so scary when you think of them as a collection of silly pieces instead of one big creature.
We like to have kids draw something they are fearful of, and then we work together as a group to figure out a way we could make that fear feel less scary.
Bitty City Players offers theater and science enrichment through after-school programs, in-school workshops, and events for ages 1-10 in NYC.
Learn more about the organization and our team here.