Preschool children and their families attended an early Christmas celebration at Zion Covenant Church.
As part of Zion's annual "cookie frost", the children had opportunity to give gifts to their parents and have a story read to them by a special guest. According to Adrianne Smeltzer, director of preschool at Zion, the event is a holiday tradition that centers around cookie decoration and gift giving.
"The children each get a cookie to frost for their family member that came with them," she said. "Hopefully that family member will respect the child's ability to frost the cookie and eat it with joy as it is presented to them. We have gifts that the kids have made for their parents, so they'll give the gifts to their parents, also. And then we have gifts that the teachers give to the kids so it's just a really fun time for the kids."
A Zion Covenant Preschool student is pictured frosting a Christmas cookie during a recent cookie frosting activity.
P-J?photo by Gavin Paterniti
The event began with a singing of Christmas carols led by Jay Baehr, youth pastor and contemporary worship director, on the guitar. Afterwards, the children were surprised by the arrival of Mrs. Claus, who came with one of Santa's little helpers, to read a book to the children. Mrs. Claus read "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies," by Laura Numeroff.
After the story, the children were able to have a picture taken with Mrs. Claus. The children then presented their families with the gift of song as they stood in a line and belted out familiar Christmas tunes.
Then each child was presented with a cookie and the frosting festivities began. Family members were presented with a hand-frosted cookie from the children as well as two gifts, one for mother and one for a family member of their choice.
According to Smeltzer, preschool at Zion is all about exploration and self-discovery.
"We don't do many worksheets," she said. "We like to do a lot of things that involve creativity and imagination. We just want to foster the kids' enjoyment of learning. Our goal in preschool is to get the 3-year-olds successfully into (universal prekindergarten), feeling confident and good, and then from UPK into kindergarten where they can feel confident and be good learners."
The preschool program at Zion, which has existed for more than 50 years, includes a 3-year-old class and a universal prekindergarten class in conjunction Southwestern Central School. The program runs through the standard school year from September through June, hosting two sessions that feature different curriculum throughout the day.