Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Holidays from TOP!

Kids making a new trail through the ferns.
Our last day of the fall session was cold and reminded us what the winter session might be like!  It will be very important in the coming winter to send your child with 2 layers under their waterproof pants, 2 sets of mittens or gloves (mittened hands stay warmer-an extra pair in case the first pair gets wet). A hat every day. Even if your child is warm blooded, please send these things so they have the option if they need them.  I see that almost every child has Bog boots.  This is great!  These are also essential for staying warm.  Warm, heavy socks in those boots are important too. For keeping your child's hands warm, you can purchase hand warmers at Costco in bulk.  These take up to 1/2 an hour to actually warm up-so please open them in the parking lot so when your child's hands are starting to get cold, they have their handwarmers.  I know this is a lot to think of, but at TOP we believe in the Scandinavian saying:  "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!"
With the right clothing, we can stay out and play and not get uncomfortably cold!

"We want to go high!"
Yesterday the yellow group went off to see our pumpkin.  Ooh- it was squishy, and had black and white mold on it.  The top was having a hard time staying on. I wonder what it will look like after the holidays?  Two of the girlsboth wanted to explore new paths through the forest, so they took turns taking the group off trail.  One trail took us through the ferns.  Some of the kids got stuck, so a few of the adventurers went back to help those in the ferns.  Your children are really becoming guardians of each other.  It is a joy to see them help a friend down from a tree, or over a log.  They are very intent on their helping task and caring.

The blue group was on the run on the trails and many of the children got hot with the hike!  There was also some fun playing with fake bugs in the dirt.  Soon it was time for an early lunch and getting ready to sing for the parents.  The kids were very successful in lining up and doing the hand motions for our two songs.  Many of the children know the words (I'm thinking that some of the kids are singing these songs at home?)

We so appreciate your help and support for our outdoor program!

We look forward to seeing you after break!  Winter session begins January 3rd and Ends March 8th, 2012.  Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The TOP kids have learned so much!

They have learned that we must take care of living things.
That any job is easier with friends to help.
And  that a job can be fun if friends help out.
 These are tenets that will take them through the rest of their lives....

While hiking today the blue group decided  to stop and dig in an old stump.  They told me they were searching for treasure and dinosaur bones!  We also found a brown and black fuzzy caterpillar while we were looking at a drainage pipe.  We couldn't tell if the caterpillar was very scared of if he was dead, so we put him in our bug box for further observation. 

The yellow group was intent on visiting their some of their favorite places for one of the last classes of the fall session.  So they climbed their favorite tree.  Added sticks to their "firepit" and on the way back spent some time philosophising over why there was a tree in the middle of the stream.  Ideas:  It fell from the sky.  It was always there.  It wanted to be there.  When I suggested that the stream may have moved and was not always near the tree they thought long and hard about why it would do that.  Jakey said, "Because the rain falls and it goes on the rocks and moves around the tree."  Exactly!  The heavy rains made the stream grow right up to the tree!  I loved it that you could see that they were all concentrating and thinking hard about the "why" of the question.

Jen and I have been so blessed to be with your children this fall.  Their laughter, enthusiasm, excitment for nature and willingness to be out in all weather is so fulfilling as teachers!
We'll see you at 1215pm on Thursday for our little show.  I hope you have had time to sign up for the next session!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gobble Gobble!

The farm's pet turkey.

The yellow group watching the farmer take care of Sunny the sow.

Blue group observing how high the water has come during the storm.

We colored turkeys for gathering time today-then made special invitations for the parents.  During circle time we practiced our songs for the special parent's presentation next week.  Everyone was doing the hand motions and trying to sing along.  It is going to be fun to sing for parents and relatives at 1215pm on Thursday Dec 1st!

The yellow group went to visit the turkey first.  We honored him for this special holiday by gobbling at him and getting him to gobble back!  The farm’s pig was awake and let us pet her.  The goats were very friendly as well.  We also went into the chicken coop and found a freshly laid egg.  Oops!  We cracked the egg and then had a reason to talk about what is inside of an egg.  We opened the egg during snack time in the woods-and had a big discussion about eggs, cooked, raw and how you make a baby chick.  (If you weren’t sure…A rooster and a hen need to live in the same pen.  The rooster at the farm lives outside of the chicken coop and therefore there won't be a baby chicken inside of this egg.)  Whew! 

The blue group had a different agenda: Splashing and playing in the mud!  What a fun hike for the blue group today.  We headed over to Mackey Creek to see if all the heavy rain brought about any changes.  We noticed that the water was flowing much faster than it had been last week and we saw lots of bubbles and foam where the water was rushing over rocks.

We also went for a hike through though the woods and played a number matching memory game when we stopped on the path in the woods!

All in all, we had a great day with the mud, rain and stormy weather.  Everyone is being a trouper.  We spend a lot of time taking gloves on and off again but other than that-no one seemed to mind the cold.

See you next week and have a wonderful Thanksgiving-From Teacher Ann and Teacher Jen

Oh - and don't forget to sign up for next session.  Call the main office at 425-556-2300 and tell them you have special priority to sign up for TOP!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Little Red Wagon

Max and Henry pushing and pulling the wagon.

Leaf Angels in the path created by our kids.

We surprised the kids today with a special picnic along the trail.  We put all of the lunches in the wagon and each child got a turn to alternately pull or push the wagon.  The kids were very excited about the wagon and did well following the safely instructions we gave them.  We stopped only a few times along the way since we were headed a good distance over to Juel Park for our lunch stop. 

Along the way we found: a good climbing tree, people on horses and a decision to be made.   There was a choice of 3 different trails. We had to use our hearing, vision and memory in order to figure out which way we should go.  Some of the kids from last year used their memory; they remembered that one way had led us to tadpoles last year.  Other kids used their ears-listening to the road noise that seemed to come from one of the paths.  Teacher Jen remembered that there was mud along the other trail one time she was there.  We all agreed that we wanted to go the way we knew-which led us to a marvelously sunny spot for lunch and a wonderful stream and woods combo!

When we arrived in the woods, one child laid down in the middle of the leaf strewn path and made leaf angels!  Soon there were copiers making their own angels-angels made by TOP angels!  When we got to the stream, kids were pretend fishing, squishing in the mud and running up and down the stream banks.  No one was ready to leave - but we still had a long hike back to our parent meeting spot. Our happy campers moved a bit slower on the way back, but I think all would agree it was worth the hike!

Parents: We have 3 more days of TOP for this session.  Please remember to sign up for next session before it goes public in December.  You just have to call the front desk of Redmond Parks and Recreation and sign up over the phone. Sign ups for children already in TOP begin November 22nd.

"Little Red Wagon " song by Raffi

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It was a day of 4's!

Kids looking for sticks in the leaves.

Figuring out how to climb the big logs.
The leaves are still falling so today we created beautiful leaf art by painting leaves and then pressing them down on paper-making leaf prints.  The kids were very creative in their artwork using varying colors and sometimes painting other pictures on the paper as well.  During circle time we practiced our fall song and spent time with math.   We often work math into the day; counting swing pushes, children, trees.  Today we counted how many students were missing (4).  Then we counted how many blue group kids there were. (4) and then how many yellow group kids (4)  This was amazing to many of the kids at school!  So many things added up to 4!  We also realized that we had many children aged 4 and some aged 3 or 5. How many were 3?  4 of them!  Wow!  Lots of 4's today!

Another math piece we have been working on is the concept of relative size.  Isaac realized that this tree was the same size he was.  A few classes ago the children had to find a leaf "as big as your head" or as small as your hand.  Again, learning math through nature.

On our hike the yellow group spent time in a favorite tree.  Then we were off to a sunny snack all together in the middle of a field.  Although it was bright out, we noticed bits of hail left over sitting on the table with us and hidden in the trees.  I wonder if this is a foreboding of the white stuff to come?

Next the children chose to continue their game from last week-baby deer making an outdoor firepit.  You can ask your children to explain the concept-but what it meant to us as teachers was children working together for the common cause.  For big pieces of wood 2-4 children would carefully carry it to the wood pile.  Smaller pieces were carried individually and some children called out for help for the really big sticks.  Some were too big for anyone to lift.  This cooperative play is a great step in socializing.  The children have to talk to each other as they weave their way over to the wood pile.  They have to ask each other for help and give help.  More and more the children are offering to help their friends get un-stuck or get into a tree.  It is wonderful to watch this bit of humanity that the children are displaying towards their classmates.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh Deer! What can the matter be?

Black tailed deer

What a magical day!  We arrived to see piles and piles of tempting leaves-about to be sucked up into the traveling vacuum of the city workers.  So, after a fun bit of choosing 2 leaves to make a leaf rubbing with, we took turns walking through the leaves, carefully so not to sully the job of the cityworkers.  The children did very well being super gentle and walking on nature's trampoline. 

Then we were off to see the farm  animals-trying to stay out of the loud trucks' way.  We took turns going into the Hen House to see a hen sitting in her nest.  Then to the sun on the lawn and what to our wondering eyes did appear?  3 black tailed deer!  Close enough to see their tails!  (I grabbed this photo online.)  We watched them for quite awhile.   

Teacher Jen reading a story in the sun.

It was already time for our snack so we headed away from the workers and into the sunshine near the tireswings.  There we found lots of leaves that hadn't been cleared and so were not off limits to stomping, throwing and jumping in.  Yippee!  I can't remember a year quite like this one with leaves so crunchy.

In the leaves.

But I think what your kids are going to come home talking about was the climbing tree trunks we found after snack.  The kids were very creative, some making a fire pit, others climbing high into the trees.  They were helping each other on and off the trees.  Teaching each other how to do things and working together to carry heavy branches.  

I've been reading lately about how group dynamics change with different people.  The group this year likes to make believe and work together.  They like to teach each other how to accomplish tasks; carrying big sticks, climbing up high, scrambling low.  It is a joy to watch them working together and calling each other by name to play and help out. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hunting for our hidden pumpkins!

Yellow group finds a big pile of leaves!

Kids digging in an old stump.
We were blessed today with sunny skies.  We started by learning a new song during circle time.  It is sung to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus."

The leaves on the trees are falling down, falling down, falling down.
The leaves on the trees are falling down all over town.

The leaves on the trees turn yellow and red, yellow and red,yellow and red.
The leaves on the trees turn yellow and red all over town.

The people at home, rake the leaves, rake the leaves,rake the leaves.
The people at home, rake the leaves, all over town.

You can sing this with your child.  Ask them to teach you the hand signs!

The blue group hiked across one bridge, down a sidewalk, took a path on the left up a hill, past several stumps and around a big turn to find our pumpkin.  Boy were we surprised to discover that someone had found our pumpkin and moved it!  After a quick picture we buried him in leaves behind a log. Then we had fun digging in an old rotting stump.

The yellow group tried to catch leaves as they fell down from a beautiful yellow and red maple tree.  It was very challenging to catch leaves as they fell! We then began our walk in the woods and were quickly distracted by walking along downed trees and balancing.  We hiked up a hill, across a bridge, up another long hill, down a hill and past a few trails.  All of a sudden the kids ran ahead and had found the other pumpkin!  We had come at it in a completely different way-yet they found it with no problem.  I asked them what made them recognize the place and they said "it was a 3 way (3 trails converged)"  "Was part of it the big stump?" I said.  And they said yes.

On the way back we found an enormous leaf pile and the kids had fun flopping in the leaves and having leaf fights.  You may find some leaves down the back of the neck tonight in the bath!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hiding Pumpkins in the forest!

Yellow group's pumpkin.

Raking the leaves

With so many leaves on the ground our group today was issued rakes and shovels and got to work raking a big pile of leaves.  Some of the kids chose to use the shovels to dig in the mole hills. There were 2 big discoveries in the shovel pail:  birdseed left over from a previous project and a dried dead frog.  The frog was put into the bug box with the 3 lady bugs that the kids had found and the birdseed was planted in the mole hills.  I wonder if it will sprout in the spring?

During circle time today each child was given a turn to talk about what they had done during play that morning.  The kids were quiet and raised their hands to talk.  Each child had their turn speaking.  Soon it was time to take our pumpkins into the woods and hide them!

Why did we hide the pumpkins?  We are looking forward to seeing what the pumpkins will do during the winter.  Will animals eat them?  Will they get all moldy and squishy?  Each group took their pumpkin and hid them along the trail.  We had to then figure out a way to remember where we hid the pumpkin. The yellow group hid theirs near a trail crossing.  We'll see if the kids can find the same trail crossing next Tuesday!  One child told everyone that we crossed 2 bridges and went up a hill to get to where we hid the pumpkin.  Other kids were looking around to see what kind of landmarks there were.

The blue group hiked deep into the woods to find the perfect spot for our pumpkin to decompose.  We observed that it already has some mold inside and the mouth is beginning to shrivel.  We will stop by throughout this year and next to see how our pumpkin changes as it rots.  We are wondering "Will slugs and other forest creatures stop by for a nibble on our pumpkin?".

There was fun digging a hole in an old stump.  They were digging "to the center of the earth.". Others went fishing and made little umbrellas from giant leaves.

At lunch we sang the "5 Little Pumpkin" song again with 5 real little pumpkins.  Then Max spent some time playing  an addition game-adding and subtracting pumpkins to add up to 5.  All of the children were interested in his math game.

One of the things I love about teaching outdoors is the constant feeling that I can teach it all out there.  We played math games today while reading a book about a farm.  We counted the animals on our hands and added them up.  I watched as the children's faces were rapt with interest.  They want to learn math.  The love it!  When we hand out the children's snack we hold up the snack with the child's name on it and ask whose snack is this.  The children are beginning to recognize other children's names and read them off.  All of this is accomplished while sitting on a log in the drizzle and drip of the rainforest.  Wonderful!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh Mister Sun!

What a glorious sun-filled day!  When we get a sunny day-we make good use of it.  Instead of an art project, we put out shovels and pails and let the kids dig in the molehills and in the dirt around the trees.  Some of the kids used the pails to gather newly fallen leaves.  They were amazed at the size of the leaves falling from the Big Leaf Maple tree in the center of the lawn.  We will spend more time on leaves in the coming weeks.

We had a productive circle time with kids really expressing themselves and taking turns talking.  Again, we voted on where to go for the day.  Almost everyone agreed that the tire swing was our destination in the sun.  To really get the day going, we sang the song:

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Hiding behind a tree...

These little children
Are asking you
To please come out
So we can play with you

Oh Mister Sun, Sun,
Mister Golden Sun,
Please shine down on...
Please shine down on...
Please shine down on me!

Everyone worked very hard to try and do the hand motions and sing along.  We will continue to learn new songs and build on the old songs each week.

During snack time each day at preschool we read a book to the children.  Often it is something connected to what we are learning that week.  Almost always it is a book with a natural theme.  Halfway through the book we stop and talk about what might happen next. We have the kids each predict what could happen next in the story.  This is a pre-reading activity and helps the children to be more engaged with the story.

Next week is the week before Halloween.  We will not have any costumes at school because we are usually covered in gortex-but we will have fun learning about pumpkins next Thursday and have a popcorn treat.  Please let us know if your child can't have popcorn!

Thursday Ronan's mom, helped out at school while Teacher Ann went to visit her parents in Southern California.  Thank you Annmarie!  See you all next Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bug Boxes!

Sharing with an adult the bug box.
Focusing on her bug box

Yesterday was our 4th week of preschool and it was so fun to see what progress the group has made.  As teachers, Jen and I have been working hard to make TOP a community.  We have been encouraging new friendships and helping the children to learn each other's names.  When children are playing together we step in for a moment and have the kids say who they are playing with.  We model saying, Tom can you ask Steve to hand the bug box to you?  Or on the tire swing, when there are 3 children on a swing, I ask them to talk together and decide if they want to swing high or low, or whether they want to spin.  I go over eveyone's names and wait for a consensus before I will begin to push them. 

So in that vein, during circle time we played the game, "Who stole the apple from the apple tree?" Here it is:
Who stole the apple from the apple tree?"
Who me?
Yes you!
Couldn't be?
Then who?
Jane stole the apple from the apple tree!
Who me?

And on and on around the circle with each child pointing out the next child by name.  We helped them to get all of the names. We were impressed that every child participated (whether in a big clear voice or quietly) and that they were all engaged for the entire game!

We also were able to have a discussion about where the children would like to play in the park.  A couple of children mentioned the tall grass so we headed out there.  But after a quick stop at the tire swing it started to blow and rain-so into the woods it was! 

For snack I read the book "Slugs", a silly, pretend story about if slugs lived like us.  Then I broke out the bug boxes.  One for every child.  The bug boxes have magnifying glasses on top-so some of the kids put in lichen, or pine cones.  Others found banana slugs and spiders.  The bug boxes were used-put away and used again.  Children also climbed into a tree stump they had and then saw how many kids could fit in there, making me think of the old photos of people squeezing into a telephone booth!  When it was time to leave I think I saw 7 children in that stump.  I think it was supposed to be a castle?  Ask them!

I had a mom as my assistant yesterday.  Thank you!  One of Jen's children is sick.  We are so appreciative of your help when we can't be there.  If you would like to be a helper some day, please send me an email and I'll put you on the call list.  Sometimes it is last minute like Tuesday's was but other times we do know a few weeks ahead of time.

The beginning of the "Stump Castle" with only 3 people playing in it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fun in the Rain!

Today was the darkest day we have had so far.  We were very pleased to see everyone arriving dressed for the weather.  Teacher Jen was out today with her sick child so a big "thank you" to Max's mom, Beth, for coming in to help chaperone.

We began the day playing with foam blocks.  After building by themselves for awhile, the children followed the teacher in building the same form she did.  This ability to build the same shape begins to give children a name for their building shapes.  We used words like "column, rectangle, cube, square" to help the kids find the next block.  The children enjoyed the challenge of following directions and working together.

Our first exploration of the day was visiting the animals.  We observed the goats, Bitsy the Micro pig, Sunny the big sow and Peter the rabbit.  The chickens and Daisy the cow.  The children are learning to be quiet and respectful of the animals, not to climb the fences around their pens and to pet softly.

We then hiked to our favorite spot and had snack. Our book today was a book about spiders.  Everyone was very interested in the information in the book.  Did you know that spiders have 8 eyes, 8 legs and that they poison their prey?

After snack the kids climbed the trees, played on the branches, walked in the water and explored for a long time.  When it was time to hike back we had a quick circle time singing the spider songs that we learned on Tuesday.  There was a lot of participation in the singing and hand motions.

On our way back we played troll at the bridge and had one last climb on the elephant tree.  Lunch was in the overhang. 

Most of the year we are in the overhang for both start of the day, lunch and the end.  But we will be in the woods the rest of the time!  See you next week!

TOP information:
Our birthday policy is that the parents can bring in a snack that will be given to the children after lunch.  It should be a snack that everyone can eat regardless of allergies.  Usually a gummy snack is safest.  The birthday child can bring in a book to share that the teacher will read to the group.  Oh-and we'll all sing happy birthday too!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spiders!

Blue Group  playing in our secret place!

Boys sharing looking at the beetle in the bug box.

Our theme today was spiders!  We sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Theres a spider on the floor" songs and everyone joined in with the hand movements and singing when they could.  We spoke about what a spider does and why they are good for our world.  You can ask your child what spider's eat and what shape of spider webs we saw.  (mostly "Orb" spider webs-round) 

This was the first day we split into color groups for the whole hike.  The yellow group went on a long hike today.  (your child may come home quite tired out!)  The teachers had spray bottles with water to spray on webs to make them pop out of the background.  The children were quite good at finding hidden spider webs on trees and in the bushes.  Some used magnifying glasses to look more closely at the natural world.  Along the way we found a beetle and a slug, which took turns in the bug box.  Both were released without harming them. 

The blue group was very investigative today.  Stopping everywhere to play and explore the woods.  When they arrived back at the picnic table for lunch they had a worm in tow.

Lastly, the kids made their own  spiderwebs using marble art.  Ask them how they did it!

It was a little cooler and a little wetter in the woods today. Thank you for sending everyone in waterproof pants.  We have noticed some kids are not wearing Bog boots.  There were many kids with wet feet at the end of our hike after much stomping in the new puddles.  Today was ok becuase it wasn't too cold-but soon it will be very uncomfortable to end up with wet socks.  Please help keep everyone comfortable by sending your children with appropriate clotheing for the woods and rain/wet.  It will make everyone happier!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nature's playground

We had a lot to do today!  We started with shovels in the dirt, both digging and pounding on the many molehills in the field.  During circle time today we learned the Apple Poem.  The Apple Poem has American Sign Language that goes along with it.  Ask your child the sign for apple!
Way up high in an apple tree.
Two red apples smiled at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples! Mmmmmm they were good!

Here is a link that shows how to make the sign of the apple!

After our circle time we had a fun tour of the farm led by Farmer Linda.
We got to feed Daisy the cow and go into the chicken coop and count the eggs! (there were 5 today)  We heard the donkey hee hawing and began learning the Donkey Song from Teacher Ann.

Then it was time for snack and a bit of a hike.  Teachers Jen and Ann went in different directions with their color groups .  We hike with the kids separately  from time to time in order to help them create bonds and friendships easier.  Teacher Jen is always with the blue group and Teacher Ann leads the yellow group.  The children are changed from group to group every few weeks.

Children in the stream.
Today in the yellow group 2 children were very engaged with playing, holding and observing a worm that Isaac had found.  It was still wiggling when we left it behind so I guess they were gentle enough!  3 boys climbed on a downed tree for a long time and played with hitting it with sticks.  

The children are taught very specific rules about how to play with sticks so that no one gets hurt.  They cannot hike with sticks but can use sticks as long as they are away from other children.  In this case, the 3 boys had short sticks and they were pretending to chop down the tree.  It was a good activity to bond them in imaginary play.

In the blue group they played for a long time in the stream.  Then they hiked to the "elephant tree" and found new ways to climb on it.  There was a lot of imaginary play going on with them as well!

 At the end of the day we fit in apple prints.  We are happy to use paint while the weather permits-aka is sunny! 

What a great day!  Please use this blog to engage your child in conversations about what he or she did today.  This will help reinforce their learning.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A muggy day on the farm...

Kids stomping in the mud.
We started the second day at TOP with new buckets and old shovels. The kids dug into dirt, mole hills and around the foot of a big tree.  Kids made dirt hills and castles, found an earwig and flying ants and lots of spiderwebs on the tree bark. Some of the children were playing together, building and digging.  Other kids were pretending to be baby fawns and lying on the grass.  Teacher Jen and I could see that some of the kids were working on adjusting to a new school and adventure.
Both teachers got lots of hugs and love today.  Kids wanted to hold the teacher's hand as we hiked.  Some needed a bit of reassurance, yet there were no tears saying goodbye or any little voices asking when mom would be there.
After our digging we hiked over to an apple tree in the horse pasture.  The horses weren't in the pasture but they were next door.  We used the big apple picker to get each child an apple for snack.  Some chose to eat the apple, some to take it home and some lost interest.  But they did get to learn about apples from our book choice at snack time.
Before we started hiking the kids wanted to take some time at the tireswing.  There were exclamantions for "higher, higher" and some kids just wanted to dig in the rocks. 
There were a few minutes left to hike through the woods back for lunch. 

Teacher Jen and I are so happy with how well the children are adjusting to school.  Many are beginning to get each other's names and to share their play.  Expect your child to be tired upon pick up.  I heard a few voices today that "my legs are tired".  We will extend the hiking as the children get stronger.  By the end of last year we could hike quite a ways without any complaints.  But we will break the kids in slowly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kids looking at a fish.

What an incredible first day we had!  The kids practiced walking in a line like ducks and sitting in a circle while we waited for everyone to arrive and made sure that all of the papers were turned in.  We will get quicker starts once all of the paper work is in!

We began our circle time singing the TOP song.  The kids from last year helped the new kids by doing the motions and singing along.  I'm sure they will all know the words before long!

Then we walked to one of our favorite playing spots with a few stops along the way to see the bird nest and big fallen tree again.  We practiced walking in a teacher sandwich along the way.  A teacher sandwich is one teacher in the front and one in the back-the children are the sandwich makings in the middle!  Everyone did very well following the safety rules of TOP!

At our special place we first stopped for a much needed snack and funny story called "Friends".
We talked about all of the new friends they were going to make at TOP.  We had the kids look around at their new classmates and say hi to them! 
After snack and story, the kids climbed the big tree, crawled under it, played horse on the branches and just explored.  Some kids walked through the shallow stream looking for fish and bugs. Theo was able to catch a small fish and shared that experience with many of his classmates.

We were so impressed with the children's abilities to connect with new and old classmates.  Many children were playing imaginative play together.  The kids in the stream were sharing their experiences.  For those children having a harder time working into the group, we will be assigning partners next week so they can get to know one child at a time which helpss to build a friendship.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Outdoor Preschool begins a New Year, 2011/2012

Teacher Jen and Teacher Ann are so excited to begin a new year of outdoor explorations with our new and returning students. 

Dates to be aware of:
We will be meeting for The Outdoor Preschool orientation on September 13th from 10-11am at Farrel-McWhirter Park. We’ll meet near the flagpole by the small white building.  (the Ops Building)  Please be prompt as there is a lot we want to share with you in a short hour.
First day of school: September 20th. 10am-1230pm.


1.      Please send a healthy lunch and a separate small snack with your child daily.
2.      Please take your child to the potty before school begins
3.      Dress your child for the chilly and rainy weather and in layers in case the sun comes out!

Please note that we require the students to dress appropriately for The Outdoor Preschool. 
Your child must have waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket, rain boots, mittens or gloves and a hat.  You do not need to send all of these garments to school every day-but please dress your child for the outdoors.  You can find waterproof clothing on line at Oaki Wear for Kids and REI. Our favorite boots are the bogg boots.  They are worth the cost as they keep the feet warm and dry.  (both Jen and I wear them )

Here are some links to appropriate clothing:

This blog will be the main communication between the teachers and you, the parents-other than when there is something we need to discuss about your child.  Please take a look here, each week at what we have done at TOP.  It is a good way to help your child to be able to talk with you about what we did at school.  Plus it is fun to see all of the cute photos!

We look forward to meeting with you on September 13th.  Please bring your filled out medical forms and the "TOP-Tell us about your child" form on orientation day so we can get to know your child before school begins!

See you soon!
Ann and Jen
425-503-6953 for questions

Friday, June 3, 2011

A corn snake and goodbyes till next year!

"Butters" the corn snake

Thank you to Paula, Jennifer and Jana for staying and helping me on the last day.  We had such an exciting time learning all about the Yellow Corn Snake.  I was so proud of our TOP kids!  They all sat and listeded so well to our visitor, Teacher Rhonda, talk about the snake while it slithered around her head and down into her sweatshirt!  Everyone got a chance to touch the snake if they wanted to and were very careful and caring about the animal.  We learned that snakes "smell" by using their tongues and have different scales on the bottom of them than on the top.  We also learned that snakes take off their skin every 2 months or so.  Then, we got to touch a snake skin and found out it was longer than Teacher Ann was tall!  Wow!  Also, we heard about how the snake "Butters", eats a mouse or two every 2 weeks and then has one big, smelly poop!  Thank you Teacher Rhonda for bringing in her snake to show us!

On our hike yesterday we went to some of favorite places one more time.  We walked through the grass that was over our heads, played on the tire swings, looked at the bubbles in the stream from the rain and talked about moss, lichen, nurse logs and the hemlock trees and huckleberry bushes growing on top of them.  We slid down at the "slide" area and played our jumping game at the outdoor classroom.  It was a great last day!

Teachers Jen and I want to thank everyone for the kind words, flowers and lovely cards!  It means so much to us to hear from you and your kids.  We have loved every minute of this past year exploring nature with your children.  Thank you for lending them to us!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"T" is for Tadpoles!


Looking at the captured tadpoles in the cups!

Checking out small see through bugs in the dirt with magnifying glasses.

Today we went out to a pond to play in the water and instead found a puddle loaded with tadpoles!  There were so many tadpoles that the water was moving with their black bodies.  We had brought along buckets and cups to play with, so pretty soon we were capturing tadpoles and looking closely at them in the sun.  Some of our tadpoles had back legs on them already-making them 'metamorphs" or "froglets".  Some did not have legs yet.  Many of the kids splashed through the water looking for move tadpoles but we think they were hiding in the mud! At lunch half of the class read about the life cycle of the frog.  We will read the book again on Thursday so everyone can learn about frogs and tadpoles.

Along the way to the pond we stopped and saw the new Juliani Pig  just donated to the farm.  He came up and snuffled us! We also played on one of our favorite "climbing structures."  A bunch of downed trees in the park. 

We are so looking forwrad to showing you many of our favorite places to play in the park on May 31st at 10am.  We will be taking a poll with the kids on Thursday to try and decide which places we will take you to!  Also, don't forget to bring a bag lunch so we can all eat together next Tuesday!

Teachers Ann and Jen

PS Don't forget the great opportunity to send your child to "camp" with Teacher Ann this summer at Farrel-McWhirter.  Tiny Treks is run by Teacher Ann in the summer and school year.  In the summer there are  both drop off camps and parent/child fun nature camps.  These camps are very similar to TOP's preschool program.  You can sign up through  the Redmond Parks and Recreation classes.  Go to "Day Camps" Then "Nature Programs" then find Tiny Treks.  The camps are filling up fast so don't wait too long to sign up!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chalk on rocks and photo retrospective.

Our make-believe Elephant Tree!

Jumping from the tree game the kids made up and play each time we go there!

Kids in the nest they made-pretending to be baby birds.

I have included in this blog some retrospective photos from the whole year.  Look for more year-long photos to come in the last 2 weeks!

We had a really fun unplanned activity today- Teacher Jen had some rocks and let the kids color them with chalk and then wash them off with water.  We did this after lunch with rocks we found in the covered area (We had the chalk out for our snake craft).  Next week we plan to keep some chalk in my backpack to let the kids color and wash rocks in the river.

Today we had the kids carry their water bottles on our hike since it was so warm - they did great. Next week we plan on having the kids carry their lunch boxes a little way into the woods and so we can picnic there.

Teacher Jen and Ann can't believe we only have 4 more classes left.  What a fantastic year it has been.  TOP is a huge success! Don't forget the TOP picnic on May 31st.  Plan to stay the whole class!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An "S" day! Stomping, squishing and sloshing in the mud!

What a fantastic day.  This week we are learning about the letter "S" and started out on our hikes looking for slugs, snails and spiderwebs.  As it turned out we had much more fun splashing, squishing and stomping in small streams and mud.

We started out the day singing the TOP song for Teacher Tami and then reviewing the TOP hiking and friendship rules before heading out on the trails.

The blue group hiked over to a giant puddled that is surrounded by rocks that are just the right size for throwing.

Today fourchildren in the blue group all wanted to be the "leader" on our hike.  At first they decided to take turns leading and following, but then on their own decided to hold hands and all be leaders together.  They even sang a song, "We are the leaders!".   The rest of the kids decided to be the "caboose" and gathered flowers along the way.

The yellow group hiked with Teacher Tami, squished in the mud, gathered lovely bouquets of flowers and played a rousing game of hide-and-seek.

I am so proud of all your children - they have been working so hard to take turns, be good friends, be kind to nature and each other.  What a great group of kids we have here at TOP.

As the weather (attempts) to warm up it is really important to dress the kids in layers.  When we are in the sun or hiking they get hot quickly, but often get chilly just as quickly once we head into the shaded forest.  A few of the kids have brought small backpacks to help carry discarded layers  - if your child has one please feel free to send it (no need to buy one if you don't already have one, though).  

Teacher Tami will be here again on Thursday and then Teacher Ann will return on Tuesday.