The Butterfly Effect

Butterflies were the inspiration for art made by some students for the second annual art show.  Students got to watch the process of metamorphosis as live caterpillars changed to chrysalides and finally to beautiful butterflies, learning science and art simultaneously.   But, the experience had an unexpected, additional benefit we are calling the butterfly effect: a student with autism who previously did not talk a lot began spontaneously speaking to the butterflies, encouraging them to fly!

Ms. Shaila, the student’s teacher, expressed her surprise at this unexpected benefit:  “I never imagined that the experience of making art and interacting with live creatures would help a student become more verbal.  It goes to show that every effort makes a difference.”

Preparations for the art show, which took place May 18, began with classes reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  In Ms. Shaila’s class, the caterpillar in the story came to life, fascinating students as they transformed from chrysalides to butterflies.  Every morning, students gathered at the netted enclosure and asked “are the butterflies here yet?”  When the butterflies finally came out, the students’ were very excited to see them.

Ms. Shaila’s class made many craft activities based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar which also taught them facts about butterflies.  For example, children learned that butterflies have upper and lower wings while making butterflies out of coffee filters and bingo markers.  In another craft, the lesson that butterfly wings consist of soft and hard textures was taught while making butterfly collages with dried eggshells, soft tissue and dry colored rice and glue.

The art displayed at the art show on May 18 is representative of hours of fun and learning made meaningful by being tied to real life experiences and through the use of multiple subjects and activities.  Progress made by students, such as the one who began to spontaneously speak, shows the butterfly effect that occurs when this method of teaching is used.  It is this standard of excellence that makes the Children’s Academy the best pre-k in town!

A Big Win For #bfair2directcare, More Work Needed

After a 12-month advocacy initiative led by Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State and its affiliates, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Congress approved the 2017-18 state budget that included $45 million to raise salaries of direct care professionals who work directly with people with developmental disabilities.

While this commitment is good news, #bfair2directcare will continue as $45 million is needed in each of the next six year’s budgets to ensure a living wage for these workers.

Empower would like to thank Senator Robert Ortt and Assemblymember Angelo Morinello for their unwavering support of this effort.