Pictured making funny face toast are Hope Taylor and Amelia Henson.
Pictured making funny face toast are Hope Taylor and Amelia Henson.
Monday, October 17, 2011

Dancing, painting, playing with play doh, blowing bubbles, and cooking. These are all things Cindy Greteman of Carroll loves to do. She gets to “play” each day as a preschool teacher at Fairview Elementary School. She teaches a morning and an afternoon section of 4-year- old preschool, along with two associates, Pam Kluever and Linda Patrick. Preschoolers with special needs are included in the program when they turn 3.

For the past 32 years Cindy has taught preschool and can’t imagine doing anything else. The feeling is likewise. She says, “I think it is great that preschoolers like their teachers. They like to come to school and are disappointed when they have a day off.”

Cindy lives in Carroll with her husband, John. Their son, Mark, and his wife, Nichole, live in Adel. Their daughter, Lexie, and her husband, Jeremy Carlson, live in Auburn with their daughter, Cambria, 18 months, and newborn son, Kazki.

In 1979 Terri Miller, elementary principal of Carroll Community School District, and Dr. Harlan Else, Superintendent for Carroll Community School District, were interested in starting a preschool for children with special needs in Carroll. They met with school administrators in Ames and observed Cindy student teach. Cindy was one of the first graduates of Iowa State University to receive a preschool handicapped endorsement and was hired to begin a preschool program for students with special needs. She says Mr. Miller always teased her about driving to Ames to find her.

Cindy’s first classes consisted of children with special needs, but slowly she began inviting preschoolers from the neighborhood to join her class. She discovered what she calls, “typically developing preschoolers,” were excellent speech and play models for her students with special needs. Cindy noticed it gave those with special needs more opportunities to interact.

Inviting neighborhood children began as a once a week occurrence, then three days a week, and now the preschool program at Carroll Community Schools is for children with and without special needs. Cindy has seen the program grow in size from 5 students to 170 students, from one section of preschool to twelve. Cindy loves the inclusive program at Carroll Community Schools and says she has seen her students with special needs achieve at much higher levels and rates than before.

The preschool program is made possible by a grant from the state and Cindy feels it benefits all children. She has had many parents over the years tell her that the diverse classroom environment has increased their child’s empathy towards children with special needs. Cindy says, “Kids enjoy being with kids and they learn so much from each other.”

Preschool is not only a place to play, but a place to learn. Cindy sees there is much to gain from going to preschool besides numbers, letters, and shapes. Most importantly, preschoolers learn how to socialize, get along with other children, share, and contribute to circle time. Cindy has found that a year or two of preschool can make a smoother transition to kindergarten by learning good social and behavior management skills.

Creativity comes in handy while teaching preschool. Cindy loves to incorporate learning into what preschoolers naturally like to do such as writing letters in shaving cream or finger paint. Her student teacher, Amber Danner, of Glidden, recently painted a pumpkin in blackboard paint and let children practice writing letters in chalk.

Cooking is an essential part of the preschool curriculum. Cindy explains, “Cooking can help young children learn and practice basic math concepts and build language skills.” She encourages parents to cook at home with their child for many reasons. Children can learn to use math skills to count eggs and measure ingredients. Parents can also ask what comes first, second, or third and count together as they spoon dough onto a cookie sheet. Cooking increases literacy and listening skills by following the steps in a recipe and it lays a foundation for healthy eating habits. Cindy says, “Cooking is a great skill that they will use for a lifetime.”

Cindy’s preschoolers’ favorite part about cooking is getting messy and sticky. She sees how children love to use measuring cups, pour ingredients, and stir. She says they especially love kneading bread. Often times, Cindy will send home the recipes so children can share them with their families.

Cindy enjoys incorporating seasonal themes into her classroom cooking projects. In the fall she selects recipes containing pumpkin such as pumpkin popsicles and pumpkin pudding. Throughout the year, she teaches her students about different cultures by trying recipes from other countries.

When searching for a new cooking project, Cindy explores a variety of websites and other resources such as The Mailbox, a magazine for teachers, which has ideas for cooking and learning activities.

The following are recipes from Miss Cindy’s Preschool Class.

Pumpkin Popsicles

In small 3-ounce bathroom paper cups, add 3 tablespoons of vanilla pudding, one teaspoon of canned pumpkin, and a dash of pumpkin spice. Stir together, add a stick, and freeze. When frozen, peel off the cup and eat.

Funny Face Toast

2 Tbs. milk
2 drops of food coloring
slice of bread

Mix milk and food coloring together in a small dish. Use a paintbrush to paint a face or design on the slice of bread. Toast the bread in a toaster set on the light setting. Funny Face toast is great when used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Pumpkin Pudding

1 cup of vanilla pudding/per child
2 tsp Libby’s Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix/per child
Place the pudding in a bowl. Add 2 tsp of the pumpkin pie mix. Have your child stir until blended and then eat.

Shake and Make Butter
1 large plastic container with lid
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pinch of salt
Pour heavy whipping cream and salt into the plastic container. Seal the container. After 15 minutes of shaking, chunks of butter will start to form. Drain excess liquid from the container and then seal it. Store the butter in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. You can press the shake and make butter chunks into a candy mold, place it in the refrigerator and pop it out when hard.

Pumpkin Pancake

orange-tinted pancake
fruit cocktail
fruit- flavored syrup or honey

Use orange-tinted batter to make a pancake for each child. Drain the fruit cocktail and place the fruit in a bowl with a spoon. Let the children use the fruit to make the pumpkin face. Put the syrup or honey in a squirt bottle so the children and decorate the face with syrup.