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10 ways to celebrate April’s Month of the Young Child with Pittsburgh kids

Candy Williams
April04/ 2017

April puts kids in the spotlight all month long in celebration of Month of the Young Child.

“During this month, PAEYC takes the time to reflect on how we will better meet the needs of all young children and their families,” says Cara Ciminillo, executive director of Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC). “In doing so, we also celebrate those who work daily to do what’s best for children.”

Ultimate Play Day
Kids reach the heights of excitement at Ultimate Play Day.

Ultimate Play Day

Local festivities are capped off with the 5th annual Ultimate Play Day planned by Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, an initiative of PAEYC, on April 30 in Allegheny Commons East on the North Side.

Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative’s 22 organizations are working hard to make Ultimate Play Day a fun time for families – and a meaningful event.

“Our goal with the event is to drive home the message that play matters,” says Teresa Pizzella, play advocate for the collaborative.

“Play – especially unstructured free-play time – is absolutely critical for children,” she says. “It is through play that children learn to negotiate social interactions, practice taking appropriate risks to build their confidence and creativity, exercise their bodies, and build a foundation of experiences so that they are prepared for more structured educational environments.”

By holding Ultimate Play Day in a different community each year, the group hopes the event provides increased access to play across the city, catalyzing conversations about how the community can incorporate play on a regular basis. Last year, 400 people participated in the event held at East Liberty Park. The event is free with no registration required.

Activities will include geocaching with Venture Outdoors, nature play with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, button making with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, “Build your own river front” with Riverlife, and “Rigamajig” building with a giant Erector set.

There are surprises galore at storytime in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Story Times at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will celebrate Month of the Young Child with a focus on literacy. Inclusive and interactive story times of all shapes and sizes are scheduled. During the Tot Spot, with a nod to Inclusive Innovation Week, stories will focus on curiosity and making. Story Time in the multimedia art studio mixes artwork with stories, followed by open-ended art activities. Tot Spot Tunes ‘n Tales in the Nursery offers toddler merriment with singing, dancing, and a story. Story Time in the MAKESHOP combines stories with making things together.

On April 14, University of Pittsburgh’s Jumpstart Team will explore books in interactive ways throughout the Museum. The national early education organization recruits and trains college students and community corps members to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Jumpstart’s curriculum helps children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten.

Museum admission required for all activities.

Even fingerprinting by Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department can be a fun activity at Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Night of the Young Child event.

AIU Family Fun Night 

Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) in Homestead, will host its annual Night of the Young Child on April 6.

“The AIU’s early childhood programs will host an evening of fun for young children and their families,” says Dr. Cathy Lobaugh, assistant executive director for Early Childhood, Family and Community Services. “This celebration of young children will also illustrate the power of learning through play because, in the words of Mister Rogers, ‘Play is really the work of childhood.’ ”

The free event will offer developmentally appropriate activities to engage the whole family that can be replicated at home. Activities will include an Imagination Playground, crafts, healthy snacks, a sensory room, music, parent resources and photos with Pete the Cat.

Month of the Young Child
Jumping among Andy Warhol’s silver pillow ‘clouds’ is more fun when you’re wearing your jam-jams. It’s part of Bedtime Story Rox organized by Focus on Renewal.

Pajama Party at Bedtime Story Rox

Dress in your comfy PJs and head to the annual pajama party at the free Bedtime Story Rox on April 20 at Focus on Renewal, McKees Rocks. There will be guest storybook readers, crafts, book giveaways, a light meal, plus milk and cookies for all.

“This event is a great opportunity to bring families together to foster the love of books and reading,” says Adrienne Roberts, director of the Focus on Renewal Positive Parenting Program.

Roberts, along with her staff and community leaders from Sto-Rox School District and Community Innovation Zone, have worked together to make this a fun family event. Kids will enjoy playing with floating metallic “pillow” balloons from the Andy Warhol Museum’s Silver Clouds installation.

Frick Environmental Center Story Hike ‘In a Nutshell’

Young learners and parents are invited to explore the life cycle of a tree during a free story hike on April 9 at Frick Environmental Center, Squirrel Hill. The group will find a quiet spot in the woods to read “In a Nutshell” by Joseph Anthony before going for a short hike and playing an interactive scavenger hunt game. Registration is required.

Homewood Early Learning Hub Block Party and Raising Readers

Children’s activities, food trucks, and resources will be provided at the annual Homewood Early Learning Hub Block Party on April 22 in the block at 7219 Kelly St. Included is a special performance by Anqwenique Wingfield, a Pittsburgh vocalist and teaching artist specializing in opera, classical music, jazz and soul.

Also at Homewood Early Learning Hub are Raising Readers programs on April 5, 6 and 13.  Parents and children are invited to join the Early Learning Hub team for story time, discussion, dinner, and activities.

Both events are free. No registration required.

Month of the Young Child
Storytime at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is anything but a snooze.

‘One Book, Every Young Child’ at Carnegie Library

One Book, Every Young Child is a statewide initiative that promotes the importance of early literacy development for children ages 3 to 6. This year’s book is “Daniel Finds a Poem,” written and illustrated by Micha Archer.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will host a special One Book, Every Young Child event on April 20 at its main branch in Oakland. The free event will feature readings of “Daniel Finds a Poem” by children’s librarians who will help to create crafts inspired by the book. The selected children’s story is about a boy who wants to participate in a Poetry in the Park event and asks his animal friends for help. After a week of discovery, he can share a magical poem that incorporates the essence of the book.

PAEYC Celebration Dinner

PAEYC will honor child care providers and the important work they do at the annual PAEYC Celebration Dinner on April 12 at Carnegie Museum of Art, Oakland. This year’s keynote speaker will be Candi Castleberry Singleton, founder and chair of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, a social entrepreneurship organization that includes innovative programs on diversity and inclusion, employee and community engagement, and work-life integration.

Tickets are $15, $10 for PAEYC members. Registration required by April 7.

Buzzword Family Talk & Play

Buzzword Pittsburgh was created to excite children and families as they discover the words that are all around them. Play and talk with educators from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Pittsburgh Festival Opera (formerly Opera Theater of Pittsburgh) at events on April 20 and 27 at Kingsley Association, Homewood. Events are free for ages 5 and younger, with their caregivers. Dinner will be provided. Registration not required.

Candy Williams

Candy Williams is a freelance writer and journalist whose articles have appeared in national and local publications. She lives in the South Hills.