The University of New Mexico's Family Development Program (FDP) has turned the word "junk" into an acronym all families with young children can benefit from in upcoming weeks while their children are stuck at home.

Joy. Uncovering. New. Knowledge.

“My center has an approach called Wemagination Resource Center and it's all about how young children learn through play," said Lois Vermilya, Family Development Program director. "All these things we think of as junk, young children love them and will play for hours, while learning."

Wemagination Resource Center

Vermilya listed examples of household items every family may have lying around the house.

  • Bottle caps
  • Paper Clips
  • Rubber Bands
  • Scrap Paper
  • Socks

“We know that children learn best through play and we know that they love common, everyday items," Wemagination Community Outreach Supervisor, Paige Abrams said.  "That's why we’re putting together “recipes” to make it simple for families to play and learn with their children at home. What a fun daily activity to 'cook up' as part of your new, daily routine.”

That's right. Vermilya, Abrams and the rest of the FDP staff have been working on creating a cookbook for families. Not your average cookbook, one that ignites creativity and knowledge in newborns to 5 year olds.

“The worry is parents with young children who are now transitioning to having their them home all the time, we want to support those families," Vermilya said.

FDP is a community-based outreach program of UNM's College of Education. For 35 years the research and public service project has served families and young educators all across the state of New Mexico.

Staff usually travel to different communities within the state, but that’s no longer the case. Vermilya and her staff are now working remotely during the University's period of limited operations, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We want to make sure that families know we're here for them," Vermilya said. “The cookbook of recipes is an example of that, simple learning activities that parents and family members can do at home with their children."

The recipes will be written in English and in Spanish.

FDP is also working with the state's Early Childhood Education and Care Department to formulate a plan to distribute the recipes to families. They will also be available online.

“We want to make sure that every family feels they have an opportunity to support their children’s learning," Vermilya said.