Early Literacy Development

The idea of babies talking and reading can seem incredible, but language and literacy skills start from birth! Babies communicate through sounds, facial expressions and gestures. These are all important ways to help them learn about language and the written word.  Early language and literacy skills are learned best through everyday moments such as reading books, talking, laughing, singing and playing together.

As a classroom we ensure early literacy success by offering a variety of books that are simple, high contrast, multiple languages, accessible for chewing, an array of skin tones, cultures and a wide selection of topics.  Teachers read to the children often throughout the day.  After nap time has been a consistent time for the children to immerse themselves in independent reading time.  Our older babies often hand books to the teachers to read and sit down to get cozy to enjoy a story. These moments are very important for language development as many valuable conversations happen between child and teacher. Babies may only sit for a few pages, turn the pages quickly or only want to look at one picture and then be done.  No matter how long the engagement, the opportunities are vital in fostering children’s love of books. 

Taste Tests – July Recipes

Check out the recipes we used this month for our families to try to pick up!!

Sweet Potato Fries https://cookieandkate.com/baked-sweet-potato-fries/

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Slice your fries thinly
    a. About ¼ inch wide or close to it
    b. Trick: slice off a ¼ inch thick slab from one of the sides that way you have a flat bottom to rest it on while cutting
  3. Toss the sliced fries in cornstarch, then olive oil
  4. Divide your fries between 2 pans and arrange them in even layers
  5. Place them in 425 degree oven
  6. Half way through cooking, flip the fries with a spatula and swap the pan positions (from upper rack and vice versa)
  7. Season last, if desired
  8. Add spices after baking that way the flavor does not burn up
  9. Try cayenne pepper and/or garlic powder
  10. Add salt!
    d. Add spices to taste so you don’t over do it

Applesauce muffins: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/applesauce-muffins/ (makes about 2 dozen) 

● 1 cup butter, softened
● 2 cups sugar
● 2 large eggs, room temperature
● 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
● 2 cups applesauce
● 4 cups flour
● 1 teaspoon baking soda
● 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
● 1 teaspoon ground allspice
● ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
● 1 cup chopped walnuts, optional… cinnamon sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, mix cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, for about 5-7 minutes 3. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then stir in applesauce
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices and stir into creamed mixture
  4. If desired, fold in nuts
  5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three-fourths full
  6. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20-25 minutes
  7. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

The Old North End Farmer’s Market

The Old North End Farmers Market at Dewey Park in Burlington happens every Tuesday at 3pm! Erinn and Holly (BCS Food Intern) have been walking to the market and collecting our harvest using our community shared agricultural grant money. We receive a share of baby spinach and a variety of produce every week. We use this produce to make healthy school lunches and send home extras with families! We also invite families to join to attend the market with us, feel free to tag along!

Taste Tests – June Recipes

We have added a weekly taste test at BCS! Every Thursday afternoon, Erinn and Holly (BCS food intern) create a treat for the children and families to try at pick up. So far this summer we have made a mango-peach-banana smoothie, blueberry muffins, kale chips, and zucchini bread (with local zucchini from the farmer’s market!) – all of which were hits! The purpose of these taste tests is to get children interested in trying new foods in an exciting way!

Week one: Peach-Mango-Banana-Strawberry Smoothie: (link: allrecipes.com


  • 1 cup of frozen or fresh peaches 
  • 1 cup of frozen or fresh mango 
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt 
  • 1 cup of ice 
  • ½ of a banana 
  • ½ cup strawberry 

Week two: Blueberry Muffin! Perfect for summer time (link: NYTimes Cooking


  • ½ cup softened butter 
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries, washed (frozen works as well) (blueberries are nice and ripe during the summer months and can be found at all grocery stores)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375
  2. Cream the butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar until light 
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla 
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk 
  5. Crush ½ cup  blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. (Toss the berries in flour before adding, to keep them from sinking from the base of the muffin). Fold the remaining whole berries 
  6. Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with the cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons of sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. 
  7. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool for at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day

Week three: Kale Chips (link: food network


  • 1 small bunch of kale
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Tear the kale into pieces, then wash and thoroughly dry it. Toss it in the olive oil and seasonings. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350°F (175°C) for 10–12 minutes. Watch the oven carefully, as the kale can quickly burn.

Week four: Zucchini bread (link: all recipes

(made with Digger’s Market Zucchini from the local farmer’s market in the Old North End on Tuesday’s! Ask Holly, Erinn, or Sarah for more information about this market!) 


  • 3 cups of all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar 
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups grated zucchini 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 


  1. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F 
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl 
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans 
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool 

Makes about 24 servings. 

Bonus: Pesto (nut free) (link: the Mom 100

Made with local basil from Digger’s Market! 


  • 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves 
  • ⅓ cup olive oil or more as needed 
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste 
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese 
  • Kosher salt as needed 


  1. Place the garlic and basil in a food processor or blender and pulse until everything is roughly chopped. Add the oil and paper and process, scraping down the sides, part way through, until everything is well blended. If it is very thick, add a bit more olive oil
  2. Add the cheese and pulse until blended in. taste and add salt, if needed. 

Skin Tone Exploration: an Integrative Study of Community

The preschool has been exploring the concept of community through the lens of Rights and Responsibilities.  We discuss and study the rights of ALL community members and the responsibilities associated with protecting those rights for everyone in our communities.  This requires a deeper understanding of the many similarities and differences that are inherently human to promote an appreciation of our uniqueness and the beauty of the diversity of humanity and the natural world around us.   As children explore the concept of self and others, they develop understanding of similarities and differences in conjunction with shared experiences with others in our communities.

Skin tone is one of the more overt attributes of an individual’s outward appearance and one of the first characteristics we notice about a person.  Unfortunately, it is also closely related to how people are viewed, treated and their access to resources in our society.  This makes skin tone exploration imperative to the discussion of community and the creation of a classroom culture centered around rights and responsibilities.  We aim to inform and influence how children learn and interact with each of their various communities and support a deeper understanding of humanity and our responsibilities to self and community.

We  approach exploration of our skin tones through literature, discussions of melanin ( the chemical that gives our skin its shade), geography of our ancestors & human migration and the use of  skin tone art materials (crayons, colored pencils, markers and watercolor paints) to represent our skin tones.

 Preschoolers explore the skin tone art materials, provided with mirrors for reference and self reflection.  Their initial experience tends to include many of the tones. They make observations about people they know with skin tone the shade of the markers, crayons,and colored pencils. 

 They hold skin close to their peers’ and teachers’ skin and make comparisons “My skin is darker than yours.”  Armed with the knowledge of the chemical melanin and its role in our skin tone,  they  say, “ You have a lot of active melanin.”,  “I know why your skin is darker than mine.  You have more melanin.”

They make discoveries about societal names for skin tones. “I’m black.  This {pencil} is brown.  It matches.”  “Hey, Im white but this white doesn’t match, not even my belly.”   This reinforces the many variations in skin tone and the fact that we all have some melanin.  They are beginning to experience the shortcomings/ inaccuracy of labels.

 As they work we hear:  “ I love this color brown.  I wish it was mine,“” I’m all these colors and purple” .    When children experiment with the skin tone art materials , working side by side and sharing their observations and discoveries it reinforces the idea that the skin tone is a single attribute of a person.  This becomes one shared experience they have with their friends and teachers along with many other positive shared experiences. Children learn that we can not be diminished to a single attribute, characteristic or aspect.  ‘My friend… likes to paint and has … skin tone.’

Leo tests skin tone crayons to his belly
He confirms his closest match on his hand

Samples of the preschoolers’ initial exploration with the materials:

Children begin to create a match for their skin tone after they are familiar with the materials and the numerous represented shades offered in the materials.  They use mirrors for reference place their hand on the paper for reference.  Most  discover that they are unable to create a match using a single shade in any of the mediums. This involves a process of experimentation; comparing our skin to the marks, layering shades, accepting a match, recognizing the shades used to create our match and eventually name their skin tone recipe. 


Children explore with the skin tone art materials many times. During this process they make discoveries about self and others. Children learn that our characteristics cannot be defined or simplified to a single label or product created by others meant to represent us. Therefore labels created by society cannot diminish our rights, determine our value, or be justification to limit our access to resources.

The need to layer multiple tones to create our match illustrates the role of  our ancestors in determining our skin tone.  It is evidence of  human migration out of the fertile crescent in Africa indicating that our ancestors all  had darker skin tone at one point if you go back far enough.  Our skin tone  is influenced by where and how far away from the equator our ancestors lived.

June 12th Activity Bundle


fahmida azim for npr

Fahmida Azim for NPR



Exploration of skin tone is an important early step in understanding differences and dispelling the idea of value based on the color of our skin. We must start very early to explicitly teach children that skin color is simply pigmentation and does not indicate personal specifics about individuals.  BCS starts teaching this in the infant room.

Children learn that our skin tone is determined by the amount and how active melanin is in our bodies. They learn that melanin is simply a chemical that helps protect skin from the effects of the sun and that an individual’s melanin is determined by two factors:  how close they live to the hottest part of the earth (equator) and the melanin of their ancestors.

When investigation into skin tone happens at an early age children learn to understand the biology of skin color and the wide variation in skin tones.  When explored in a group of peers with whom they have positive relationships, it reinforces understanding that skin color is simply an attribute and does not determine one’s value.  

Blue Preschoolers create their skin tone recipe using skin tone watercolors. They mix watercolors, to match their skin tone, keeping track of which colors they used in their recipe.  They then name their skin tone color. It is always wonderful and enlightening when children realize that rarely can their skin tone be represented by one color. 

Here is a reading of book introducing the variety of shades within humans:




There are ways to explore our skin tones at home without specifically marketed skin tone art materials. 

Skin Tone Exploration Search

Search for items around or home or in nature that match your skin tone.  Place your hand or another body part up against items and see if you can find matches.


  • Can you think of objects that might match your skin tone? 
  • How close is the match? 
  • What color(s) do you see in your skin? 
  • If this doesn’t match what are you thinking about where to search next? 
  • How would you describe the colors of this match?




Skin Tone Recipe

Use sets of crayons or colored pencils that have a variation of colors found in skin tones (browns, tans, golds, oranges, reds, yellows, peaches). 

  • Start making light marks on paper, checking the mark with your skin with each addition for a match
  • Determine which color should be added next to to get a closer match
  • Layers colors on top of each other
  • Keep track of the colors you used to create your skin tone match
  • Name your skin tone.


All ages:  
DEVELOPING SELF – SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: SELF AWARENESS Goal 1: Children demonstrate an awareness of own personal characteristics, skills and abilities
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD-COGNITIVE: INQUIRY Goal 1: Children make sense of the world around them by actively gathering and interpreting information.
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD – SOCIAL STUDIES: FAMILY AND COMMUNITY – PHYSICS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY Goal 1: Children identify themselves initially as belonging to a family, a group and a community; eventually they develop awareness of themselves as members of increasingly wider circles of society and learn the skills needed to be a contributing member of society. 3.Explore the similarities and differences among people 
READING – ENGAGING WITH LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT Goal 1: Children develop “book language” and demonstrate comprehension 3.Make connections between stories and real-life experiences
Toddlers and Preschoolers:
COMMUNICATION AND EXPRESSION – CREATIVE ARTS AND EXPRESSION :VISUAL ARTS Goal 1: Children create art using a variety of tools and art media to express their ideas, feelings, creativity; and develop appreciation of the art created by others. 1. Create artistic works through an open-ended process that reflect thoughts, feelings, experiences, or knowledge



Part I: How to Explain Racism to Kids

Part II: Abby Cadabby Shares a Personal Story

Part III: Viral Child Starts Reunite

Follow the link below for all the videos:

Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism



June 11th Activity Bundle





“It has been said that actions more often than not speak louder than words. And if this is so in the case of child-rearing, then we must be especially vigilant in our actions to shape the values children will attach as they learn about people in their world. If we don’t, they will learn by default the messages that are already prevalent out there and both we and they will contribute to perpetuating past ideas which we do not want to replicate in our children’s future.”

Carol Brunson Phillips (1987)

What is it?

A shift from past theories of ‘multiculturalism’ to embedding practices of awareness, information, development of empathy, critical thinking, and activism, in current curriculum and everyday conversations.


Why is it important?

Spoken and unspoken messages are influencing children today/here and now. By empowering children with information we will counteract the influence of harmful messages such as racism, sexism, classism, ablism, and general discrimination.


What is the goal?

To help each individual develop an authentic identity, as well as, build a caring, just, and diverse community for all.

To build awareness, empathy and comfort with people beyond each child’s immediate environment. We are showing each child they are valued without upholding white culture, heteronormative values, gendered roles, ableist and classist norms. 


Where is it in our classroom and where could you include it in your home?

Self Observations and Discussion

Categorizing at this age is developmentally appropriate, children notice how others differ from themselves and their family. We steer away from supporting social constructs and stereotypes by having intentional discussions about our differences and similarities. 

With this curriculum we aim to normalize conversations about skin color, therefore reducing shame around race for individuals and families of color, as well as, white individuals and families. This openness allows children to be scientists making observations about their bodies, society and freedom to ask questions.

Reducing stigma brings increased recognition of unfair treatment and biases in individuals’ lives.



Often stereotypes come from a singular storyline. We loosen the hold of these messages by reading a multitude of books that offer many different sides to storylines that uphold non inclusive or untrue social norms.

Literacy allows children to access situations, feelings and topics that might not be present in their everyday life. It is a means to study how others live, giving context to inaccessible experiences, growing students’ knowledge of the world and laying a foundation for relating to others.

We return to stories over and over, asking our students open ended questions, recording and presenting their ideas to the group. This not only develops, but also encourages critical thinking skills while showing our students they are valued thinkers.

Book List


When students tell stories they become creators, collaborators and learners.

Our variety of therapeutic storytelling builds authentic self identities of children. We discuss each individual’s wants and needs, opening dialogue around how each person wants to be treated by peers and teachers. This acknowledgement of each person’s validity grows self awareness, self esteem as well as empathy for others despite differences.

Through storytelling we practice skills such as direct communication, compassion, consent, rejection, compromise, listening, asking questions, patience, acceptance and unconditional positive regard. 

The simple act of sharing lays a foundation for standing up for oneself and others. When we feel heard, we learn to speak up, becoming active members of our community.

This skill is unbelievably important in a society where often there is silence.

Modeling and encouraging the practice of listening creates a path for both those who speak, to know they can be heard, as well as for those who listen, to respect and find value in the words of others.

We are advocating for children now, seeing them as people not just as someone that will grow up into a person.


Resources for parents:

30 Day Anti-Racist Challenge

June 10th Activity Bundle


love hollie friot

Resources for Parents:

How to Talk to Your Kid About Race, Racism and Police Violence

How to Talk to Your Kid About Race and Justice

Why All Parents Should Talk to Their Kids About Social Identity

cheat sheet




This is a great book about bodies and what we notice about our bodies and the bodies of others!  It recognizes on EACH page that we notice differences and that those may seem strange but are really variations in our physical bodies.  The book celebrates diversity of our bodies and acknowledges that we are a community of unique individuals.

This is an important book;  I like to start reading it very early so that children are familiar with it and can even participate as we explicitly teach that the physical aspects of our body do not determine value.   This is especially crucial in our society which  values some over others based on features of our bodies and sends so many value messages what is most desirable/valuable in regards to physical attributes including skin tone, height, hair color, fitness level, functionality of our bodies, and so many more!



All ages:  
DEVELOPING SELF – SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: SELF AWARENESS Goal 1: Children demonstrate an awareness of own personal characteristics, skills and abilities
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD-COGNITIVE: INQUIRY Goal 1: Children make sense of the world around them by actively gathering and interpreting information.
READING – ENGAGING WITH LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT Goal 1: Children develop “book language” and demonstrate comprehension 3.Make connections between stories and real-life experiences





June 9th Activity Bundle

Note from Natalie:

Hello friends and community members,

I wanted to let you all know that this will be our last week of blog posts, ending on Friday, June 12th. I wanted to personally say it has been a privilege to be the editor of this blog and a contributor to the curriculum content. Everyone who helped create the curricula for the blog managed to successfully put out 75 blog posts since March, not skipping a single school day.

I wanted to say that I am so proud of my fellow educators for being able to pivot to online learning within 48 hours of learning that we would be closed and not missing a beat over the past three months. On top of that, we created beautiful, engaging and inspiring curricula for families to do at home!

Don’t forget that you can visit past posts and revisit and reimagine any of the curriculum we have provided for you thus far. Thank you so much to everyone who read our posts and supported us through this time; this work would mean nothing without all of our students and their families.

Have a wonderful summer! ❤

Love, Natalie



Illustration from All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman


Resources for Parents:

Emma’s Resources

  • Skin Color Map & Values Map, Language Resources and more.

Embrace Race

  • Includes articles like: “Reading Race in Picture Books with Kids,” “Why are All the White Dolls Sitting Together on the Target Shelf,” “Your 5 Year Old is Already Racially Biased” and many more.

Raising Race Conscious Children

  • Includes articles like: “Corona Virus Gave Us Time to Explore Why #representationmatters,” “Reading Race: Pro-Active Conversations with Young Children” and more.





Part I

Part II


This is a book written by Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella, based on his song “Three Little Birds.”

June 8th Activity Bundle


In light of what’s happening in America, we felt it was important to shift the focus of our blog to share dismantling racism materials for children and parents. BCS teachers engage with this work and these materials in our classrooms and online learning has made that harder to do. But we know that BCS parents have been doing an amazing job educating and supporting their child’s learning and development over the past three months. So we thought we would arm you with the most useful resources we have found.

We encourage parents to explore the parent resources first so when their children listen to the stories we have included, you will be better prepared for the conversations with your child after. These conversations might be uncomfortable, but your children are capable of having them and they are very important.

“Tell the truth, to yourself first, and to the children. Live in the present. Don’t deny the past… And know that the charge on you is to make this country more than it is today.”

-Maya Angelou

race by la johnson

LA Johnson/NPR



Categorizing at this age is developmentally appropriate and a great opportunity for parents to acknowledge what their child notices, and to discuss why the world looks that way.  This opportunity it two-fold:  responding and initiating.

Initiating. Categorizing (this includes race) is happening in infants as early as six-months and continues to be an important part of development for children up to 5 (and some of these can stick well beyond that age).  When you, the parent, point out skin color, you are having a developmentally appropriate conversation with your child.  By starting the conversation you are telling your child this is safe to talk about, what they notice is real and important.

Responding. For white parents, this can bring up feelings that you are ‘not ready’ to engage with your child’s inquiry around race.  Thoughts like “what if I don’t say the right thing?” or “I don’t know how to talk about this with my kid” can come up.  All learning starts with open conversations.  If you didn’t know about a type of bug or the answer to “why is the sky blue” you would figure it out and share your answers with your kiddo.  It is the same mentality when talking about race (however the impacts are very different and serious).  It’s okay to say “I don’t know how to answer that right now, but I love your question!  I am going to do some thinking/research/look it up, and we can talk/learn/find out together”.  Harm is done by deflecting or shaming (saying it’s not appropriate, not the right/good time to talk, not coming back to the topic, shushing a child in public) the topic.

Here is a great quick but thorough article for parents who want more information on the research around it Children are Not Colorblind by Erin Winkler (I know some families have seen this already, still a good reminder!)

 Resources for Parents:

How White Parents Can Talk About Race

Talking Race with Young Children

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race





When one story ends, the next story should automatically play. There are 33 stories in this playlist.

Download your own PDF copy of “Not My Idea” by Anastasia Higginbotham here:

Free Download: “Not My Idea”