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!