Meet Candra Thorton, Early Learners Coordinator

8 04 2013

Candra_croppedIn November 2012, Candra Thornton joined ACM as a gallery manager. Among her responsibilities, Candra oversees the Early Learners programs: Baby Bloomers and Cub Club.

Candra has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from The University of Texas at Austin and 20 years of experience working with children. We caught up with Candra to ask her a few questions about herself and the Early Learners programs.

Q: Tell us about your previous experience working with young children.

A: I started as a kindergarten teacher then joined the staff of an Austin preschool working with toddlers while I finished graduate school. I have also worked with children under the age of five in various research projects as a professor of Early Childhood Education.

Q: Why did you choose to work at ACM?

A: My primary professional interest has always been to work with young children. As my career progressed and I developed research interests, I focused my attention on the benefits of play in this age group. At ACM, I’m able to utilize what I love to do, working with young children, with what I believe in,  the power of play.

Q: What new things do you have planned for Baby Bloomers & Cub Club?

A:There will be traditional weekly themes like colors and shapes, but I am introducing new themes such as “Colors of Us” and “Yummy! Yummy!”. I am also bringing in new guests for Sing-a-long as well as increasing the frequency of their visits.

Q: How do you develop ideas for activities?

A: Many ways: some I’ve done with children in the past, some I’ve accumulated over the years and saved for later, and some come from random resources like books and the internet that I put my own twist on to make appropriate for ACM’s youngest visitors. Great ideas are everywhere.

Q: In your opinion, what is one of the most important things to know about early childhood development?

A:Young children experience the world in qualitatively different ways than we do and to accommodate that, they should have as many opportunities to engage in open-ended, hands-on free play as possible.

Q: What’s a fun learning activity parents or caregivers can do at home with young children?

A: Yummy! Yummy! Bunny Sundaes is a wonderful activity for young children. Bunny Sundaes  is a multi-sensory activity that includes questions about sights, smells, sounds and tastes. This activity also involves math. How much yogurt is being measured? How many bunnies are being added on top? Is there more strawberry or banana fruit in the bowl? 

Here’s how to do it at home: 

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You’ll need:

  1. Vanilla yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  2.  Annie’s Bunny Grahams or something similar
  3.  Two fresh strawberries (cut in ½ or ¼)
  4.  One third of of a banana, peeled.

Instructions: Provide a plastic knife and with supervision, allow children to “cut” (sometimes it comes out more like mashing) the strawberries and banana. Children then place into a bowl ¼ cup yogurt, the cut fruit pieces, and 5 bunnies. There are endless variations on how Bunny Sundaes can be assembled and enjoyed, so allow children freedom to explore and indulge.

Once you’ve made your Bunny Sundae. Dig in and enjoy this tasty treat.