Featured Project: The Wonders of China

The Preschool B class had so much fun discovering the wonders of China. We started this exploration through our study of panda bears. While examining these wonderful mammals, the children wondered why we couldn’t go to China to visit them.

I quickly explained how we would need to travel to China with a passport on a plane. We got out our globe and found the continent of Asia. As a class, we discussed how the continent is all the way around the globe.

Through our research, we discovered that China is 7,682 miles away. The students became very interested in the far away country, so we decided to explore it in greater depth.

First, we began discussing the Great Wall of China. We discovered that the Great Wall is over 4,000 miles long and 10 soldiers wide. We lined up 10 children side-by-side to get an idea of how wide it really is.

They were even able to design their own Great Wall by using blocks and natural materials. After this initial investigation, the children started to show a heightened interest in the architecture of China and wanted to continue down this path of discovery. We added to our great wall by creating the forbidden city. The students were divided into groups, and each one selected a landmark to replicate.

As the class continued to expand upon their knowledge of China, they began researching it through art and science. In art, they started to investigate the habitat of the panda bear. The students created their own habitats using transparency paper and natural materials.

After discussing the vibrant green vegetation, which pandas live in, the students began discussing Chinese gardens. As the students examined several photos of China, they became intrigued by the beautiful gardens and landscape.

The class had so much fun learning about the exotic plants, which thrive in the country, such as orchids, bamboo, willow, plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and hibiscus.

We noticed that many gardens have ponds full of koi fish. The classmates were instantly fascinated by the koi fish and happily discovered the meaning behind the koi and why they are found in so many Chinese gardens.

The Preschool B class realized that koi are so prevalent in China because they symbolize that great achievements are possible with hard work. Legend says that koi fish used to climb up big waterfalls and are known to live longer than any other fish in China. After extensive research, we found out that koi fish are a mix between a goldfish and carp.

To conclude our studies, we created our very own koi pond for the classroom, this finished masterpiece can be found in the project pod.

Morgan Castros | Preschool B Lead Teacher | Venning Road

Ms. Morgan Castros, the lead Preschool B teacher for our Venning Road center, is originally from Stamford, Connecticut. Her brother Christian, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, initially inspired her to pursue a career in teaching, because she wanted to help teach others like him. 

She had studied the Reggio Emilia philosophy at Marshall University and instantly fell in love with the learning style and principles and the challenge it gives children to be creative. It was her passion for the Reggio Emilia philosophy that led her to Children’s Discovery Center.

Ms. Morgan’s favorite part about working at Children’s Discovery Center is being able to watch her students manipulate materials and create elaborate and unique projects. She finds her work to be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Additionally, Ms. Morgan loves having the opportunity to watch as each student grows and develops, and greatly enjoys being able to spend one-on-one time with them. 

In her spare time, she enjoys doing calligraphy, along with different types of crafts. Ms. Morgan is also an avid New York Mets fan, and can oftentimes be found cheering on her favorite team with Shea, her beloved dog, who was named after Shea Stadium.

Her life motto is “Do what’s best for you.” She finds that she is constantly reminding herself to put herself first and do what makes her happy.

We are so happy that Ms. Morgan joined our Children’s Discovery Center team!

Featured Project: A Fruitful Exploration

The Preschool A class at Park West is currently studying various types of plants. After spending some time investigating insects, the children showed interest in learning more about where insects live and the different trees growing outside our school.

The children created the life cycle of a tree using clay and used canvas to represent the four main parts of a tree: roots, trunk, branches and leaves. They were even able to record their voices explaining each part!

Our Preschool A class was surprised to find that many fruits we eat grow from trees. We were able to plant our own pear tree outside the school and dissected various fruits in order to investigate how they grow.

We also had the opportunity to observe various trees in their natural environment by taking field trips to Angel Oak and Magnolia Plantation. And the class recently investigated fruits at the Boone Hall strawberry patch, too.

Featured Teacher: Taylor Watson, Park West Preschool & Pre-K Department Coordinator

A South Carolina native, Taylor earned her degree from the College of Charleston. After graduation, she came to Children’s Discovery Center, where she quickly became a valued member of our team.

Taylor started out in the Toddler DEF department at Park West as the Toddler F teacher. She also worked as the Preschool A teacher before accepting her current role as Preschool and Pre-K department coordinator.

One of her most rewarding moments was when she walked into the Preschool A classroom for the first day and was greeted with excitement from the children and families she had worked with previously.

“My favorite part of teaching here is the opportunity I have to develop relationships with the entire family,” said Taylor. “I also really love being able to see how the children grow and develop over the years.”

When she’s not busy keeping our Preschool and Pre-K department organized, Taylor enjoys reading by the pool, volunteering with the Junior League of Charleston and playing on her softball team.

She can also be found visiting her hometown in Bishopville, where nearly her entire family — including her grandfather’s 12 siblings! — still reside.

Featured Project: Creating Healthy Snacks

To help enhance the children’s understanding of healthy foods, Chef Cindy led them in an exercise to create delicious banana roll-ups.

All of the ingredients were child-friendly, allergen-free, and placed in bowls in front of the children. Each child followed directions to lay out a soft tortilla shell and take a dollop of sunbutter. Chef Cindy then explained how to spread sunbutter onto the tortilla like icing on a cupcake. They pressed lightly and tried to cover the whole tortilla.

Each child counted the number of banana slices that matched their age and placed the slices on top of the sunbutter. It was interesting to see how each child counted in different styles (aloud, by pointing, etc.).

They then rolled them up to finish their snacks. As they were putting it all together, Chef Cindy spoke to them about healthy ingredients, nutrition and the importance of food as fuel.

The children also learned that banana sandwiches were Elvis Presley’s favorite snack! After cooking, the children ate their snacks with their friends in the Discovery Room.

The children became so excited to cook with their friends that we have decided to make this a monthly occurrence!

Featured Teacher: Cindy Hafer, Venning Road Center Chef

A Michigan native, Cindy graduated from culinary school in Asheville and moved to Charleston in 2005.

After working in the area for a while, she heard from a friend that Children’s Discovery Center was an inviting environment that promoted healthy eating for its students, and she decided that was where she wanted to be. Flashforward to today and Cindy has been a valued member of our Children’s Discovery Center family for three years and counting!

Cindy loves watching children’s faces light up when they try new food. She also enjoys helping educate their palettes and sharing healthy recipes with our families. It makes her happy to hear that children are interested in new foods and requesting school favorites from their own families.

When she’s not cooking up delicious and nutritious meals for our students, Cindy enjoys playing golf, enjoying the great outdoors and spending time with her fur babies.

Featured Project: Plant Exploration

Our exploration into plant life began in September and was sparked by a vase of fresh flowers in the room. Many of the children would comment regularly on those flowers. We embarked on an adventure, which began with flowers but naturally moved to seeds and leaves.

Our journey started with examining a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes of flowers. We touched them and smelled them and inspected them with our magnifying glasses. We tasted different edible flowers like the cauliflower and broccoli flower. A collage of all of the parts of a flower was created as we pulled them apart and glued them to our canvas. Works of art were generated as we used blossoms, petals, buds and leaves of different flowers to paint with. Different mediums and recyclables were utilized to create pictures and models of flowers. Discovering the magnolia blossoms and other flowers around the campus thrilled us with a sense of adventure.

When the gumballs and acorns began to fall from the trees on the playground, our exploration turned to seeds. We collected acorns and planted them in a type of terrarium which hang on our wet room windows. Our nature walks became a treasure hunt for a new kind of seed. The children examined the seeds under the magnifying glass and we talked about how different seeds are transported in different ways to different places by different means. Each new seed was added to our seed collage. Tasting some seeds from the pumpkin and sunflower expanded our tastes and helped us realize we like to try new things.


As the colorful leaves began to fall from the trees, our plant life journey turned toward exploring leaves.  Playdough, chalk and aluminum foil are wonderful vehicles to create leaf impressions. We painted our brown leaves the beautiful fall colors of orange, yellow, and red and used them as leaf stamps. Toddlers discovered that scrunched leaves make a beautiful mosaic. We answered the questions, “Do leaves breathe?” and “Does water move through a leaf?” by conducting science experiments.

We recently discovered a pinecone in the pine straw and so our journey into plant life meanders onward. We have been searching for the seeds in the pine cones and observing how they float to the ground. What can we build with them? Do they float in water? Can they help us predict the weather? The curiosities of a two-year-old are never ending!

Featured Project: Transportation

Ms. Rolina’s Pre-K class explored the world of transportation by way of land, water and air. The children thoroughly enjoyed playing with the different means of transportation and continue to identify them while on the playground. “Look at the airplane in the sky!” or “the big kids ride the big yellow bus to school!” are just few of the comments made that proved all the more this was a journey we were going to travel!

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During morning meetings, Ms. Rolina asked students the following questions to check for background knowledge; “What different ways can people travel from place to place?” “Have you ever rode in a plane, boat or train?” “What vehicles travel on land?” “Which travel in air?” Ms. Rolina wrote the questions down and each day we explored and investigated to find the answers to those questions. Students learned about the different modes of transportation through song, informational text and short educational videos. They then applied their learning through working in collaborative groups to build a city with emphasis on road signs. We then weighed our different vehicles at the math station.

The children were especially excited about making their own vehicles out of clay with Ms. Stacey during art class! Students also created and designed their very own race cars using toilet paper rolls. We then drew out racetracks and included necessary signage. We had a blast and their creations turned out great!

Featured Teacher: Sara Sanderson – Venning Road Curriculum Coordinator/Lead Preschool B Teacher

Ms. Sara is a Massachusetts native and has lived in the Charleston area for about 4 1/2 years now. Her favorite part about working at CDC is seeing the children progress throughout the year. One of her students couldn’t spell his name, but really wanted to. After working diligently with him, he was finally able to spell his name! This memorable moment has been one of her most rewarding experiences.

In her spare time, she enjoys camping, fishing on her boat and hanging out with friends and family. One thing you may not know about her is that after college, she moved to Alaska for a year! She sold her car, packed up 3 boxes, bought and a laptop and became a nanny in the rural town, Tok.

We’re glad she is part of our team! If you haven’t already met Ms. Sara, introduce yourself next time you are at CDC!

Prayers, Donations and Cards for Max

Dear Parents,

We would like to notify you of a sad circumstance that has occurred with one of our Preschool B families. Over the past few months, many of you have met one of our students Max. Max is a curious, clever and caring boy that usually wears a tie and a baseball cap each day. He holds these endearing qualities while dealing with the illness of his father.

Max’s father (‘Reg,’ short for Reggie/Rugero) had an emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor the day before Max was born. The cancer is an aggressive form (glioblastoma multiforme) and Reg was given 6-9 months to live. He has undergone radiation and has been on aggressive chemo Max’s entire life. Max doesn’t really know anything other than a life where his daddy often ‘doesn’t feel well,’ and ‘needs to rest.’

As a result of treatments, Reg has spent about 3-5 days in bed every two weeks, for Max’s entire life. So Max’s world has sort of been heavier on the ‘mommy time,’ his whole life.

Max’s father took a turn for the worse earlier this week and passed away this morning at home with his family. His mom emailed me this morning and said, “It was the most peaceful, beautiful ending to these past days. It was a gift to me, to be present in that moment and to know he’s passed on into the presence of Jesus.” As I read her email, I am reminded how short life can be and how we handle ourselves during times of trouble is a testament to our character.

Now with the task of being a single mother and dealing with medical and funeral expenses, she hopes to find a way to secure funds for Max to come full time for a transition period. Currently, Max is a Monday/Wednesday/Friday student and CDC will be helping in sending him full time until the funeral. If you would like to donate gift cards for restaurants, Target/Wal-Mart, or towards his tuition, his mother would greatly appreciate it. I will have a basket in my office where donations will be accepted. We appreciate your grace and generosity.

God’s Peace,

Katie Carter
Children’s Discovery Center
1110 Venning Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
843-388-6700 (PH)
843-388-6728 (FX)