Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nurturing the next generation of Nature Stewards

Blue group clears a blocked path! We were running along a path and found that it was almost completely blocked!  The kids decided to work together to move the big branches off the trail.  This is something we have been teaching the kids.  When they pick up branches or sticks to play with-we always encourage them to leave them off the trail when they are done playing with them.  We talk about other people using the trail and how it is nice to have a clean trail.  We also talk to them about the plants in the forest and how we try and observe them without tampliong them.

The yellow group today found a new stream to "fish" and poke around in.  A stream that usually has very little water in it, was fast and deep (relatively).  The kids walked over bushes and brambles to get to the edge of this new stream.  A few kids were excited to throw in a small stick or leaf and watch it disappear around the bend in the brook.  We talked about not throwing in big branches because that would not be good for the stream.  Also, we observed how the water got muddy when you walked in it-and talked about how we want the water to stay clear and clean. 

As stewards of the earth, your kids are learning to love nature in an intense and deep way.  I am constantly pleased and surprised of how the children can play for a long time just by exploring a new area.  They climb, dig, creep, and poke at the earth.  And with real reverence for what they are doing.  Often their faces are full of intensity as they grapple with a small hill or lift their boots high to scramble over a log.  But there is very little griping or negativity. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trees, pumpkins and snow-oh my!

Welcome back to the TOP families!  Wow!  Last week was a long uncalled for break.  We are all glad to be back at school!  First-we have to say that we are so sad that our Big Leaf Maple tree fell during the storm.  It was very impressive to look at today.  We will miss using it as a catch all:  "Let's meet at the big tree."  "When you finish lunch, you can play at the big tree." "Did you see the ice on the big tree?"  The tree was 80 years old and will be missed.

Today we began by using stamps and then some of the kids made snowflakes.  We had fun using all of the stamps and stamp pads.  Then we learned a new poem.  You can go over it with your child if you would like.  We will continue to work on learning this poem.

Chubby Snowman
There was a chubby snowman
And he had a carrot nose  
(put fist to nose like carrot)
Along came a bunny  
(2 fingers up for ears)
And what do you suppose  
(hands on hips)
The hungry little bunny  
(rub tummy)
Was looking for his lunch  
(hand to forehead, looking)
He grabbed that snowman's carrot nose
(Pretend to eat carrot)
On our hikes today-we talked about what kind of damage or changes we might find in the park after the storm.  There were many suggestions of frozen streams, trees down, branches down and other ideas. 

On the blue group's hike, we found a place where you couldn't even see the trail anymore because there were so many branches down!  The blue group went up to check on our pumpkin and had fun throwing snowballs at trees.  Our pumpkin was very mushy.  We all wanted to play so much that it was hard to keep everyone moving!  It was also a lot of work to walk across the whole field in the deep snow!

The yellow group was so busy today!  First we found out that the Talking Tree has a chunk out of it!  That makes 2 of our favorite trees with issues!  Next the kids spent time playing Pooh Snow (throwing icy snow on one side of the bridge and waiting for it to come out the other side.) Sometimes it popped out and sometimes it didn't.  There were many discussions about why it might not have made it to the other side.

Next we made sure that the elephant tree was was!  And then we checked out another place in the stream.  There we found interesting rocks, a "fishing pole", an old brick and lots of water.

Last we found a see-saw and another climbing area. Thursday we plan on showing the blue group the see saw and the kids want to see how the teachers see saw on it!

Thank you for being flexible during the snow.  I hope you all made it through well enough.  And also thank you for sending your kids well prepared today for the cold and wet.  Almost all of the children had waterproof gloves or mittens on.  A very important clothing item this winter!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Well, we got a really cold day!  The kids all came bundled up and ready for the weather.  We began with gathering nature's bounty in our little buckets for sorting during circle time.  Everyone got a chance to put in something they had found on the ground and place it in the Venn Diagram.  Of course, the kids didn't know they were doing something so advanced as a Venn Diagram-but they liked the challenge anyway.  The choirces for sorting were "things that grow" and "things that don't grow" and "things that do both".  Ruby found some frozen hunks of dirt to go into the "things that don't grow" pile and someone found a hunk of dirt with grass growing on it.  That was what went into the "both" pile.  There was lots of seeds, lichen, moss and sticks to go into the "things that grow" pile. Then we were up and ready for our song and to get moving!

On our hike today we found some frozen puddles which were fun to slip and slide on and to break through.  Unfortunately, some of the kids without waterproof gloves got their hands wet in the puddle.  Brrr.  We do have some hand warmers but if this weather keeps up-we'll run out of them soon.  Please pop open a handwarmer when you are getting out of the car in the parking lot at Farrel-McWhirter and then they will be warm for the whole class.  And sending extra mittens or gloves is also a good idea. 

There were some interesting discussions going on with the kids on the tire swing today.  Some wanted to swirl by themselves and others wanted to go high and some very low.  I had never seen them so disjointed before. Very few of the kids could agree how they wanted the tire swings to go.  I will be interested to see if they can remember which of their friends like to go high or which don't for next week and to see if they can negotiate.

As you noticed when you picked up your kids, we had our first ever this year-lunch in the Ops building.  We went inside at noon and it helped those kids whose hands and feet were just too cold.  We will use it again if the weather stays this cold.  But be assured that we will spend every other minute exploring the outdoors.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Old Farrel-McWhirter had a farm!

Today we started the day with sorting.  We were teaching the kids how animals can be sorted.  As teachers we worked with the children to figure out what animals, from the stack of plastic animals we lay in front of them, would live on a farm or be wild (or in a zoo).  The kids were very intent on this task.  For some of the animals there was a discussion about where the animal might fit.  It was very interesting for them when they realized that there were some animals that fit into both places-like a horse could be wild or on a farm.  Or a donkey.  And no one was really sure where to put a camel-Nina was sure though about where they lived and it was the desert!

Next we went and visited our farm animals.  There we talked again about which animals are farm animals.  Gilberto was very interested in talking about Broncos and how they were wild animals (and his favorite football team!)  We also went into the chicken coop to see if there were any eggs (1!) and to see their food, nests and water.  Sunny the pig's ear twitched when Ruby petted it!  During circle time almost everyone thought of an animal for the "Old MacDonald's Farm" song-we went through a lot of verses!

Max with a big stick.
On our hike today, yellow group was intent on working together to create a log pile.  I was impressed also when some of the kids picked up really long sticks-maybe 10 feet long-but were careful to keep them away from each other as they twirled and bobbed with the sticks. 

Blue group was really into hiking but staying off of the paths.  They also wanted to make sure that they came back for lunch AFTER the yellow group in order to show that they were harder hikers!  This is a contest I like!

We will be continuing to work on being able to sit still during circle time and the concepts of sorting and patterns (which we work on during circle time).  These are all preschool concepts that your child will learn OUTSIDE!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Squishy, decomposing pumpkins and beads

Today we found mini-brooms for the kids to use.  How did they use them?  Creatively of course!  Some of the kids swept up rocks, others used them to beat the bushes and some worked cooperatively to move water in puddles from one area to another.  Children always come up with a way to use a tool that I had not thought of.  While I thought of riding around like cowboys, they were changing the flow of the water together-and very intently at that.

At circle time we worked on our raindrop's song again.  Here are the words if you want to sing with your child at home:

If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops
Oh what a rain that would be
Standing outside with my mouth opened wide
aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa
If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops
Oh what a rain that would be

If all the snowflakes were ice cream and popsickles
Oh what a snow that would be
Standing outside with my mouth opened wide
aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa
If all the snowflakes were ice cream and popsickles
Oh what a snow that would be

If all the sun beams were bubble gum and milkshakes
Oh what a sun that would be
Standing outside with my mouth opened wide
aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa aa
If all the sun beams were bubble gum and ice cream
Oh what a sun that would be.
On our hike today, we decided to all stick together.  We had fun counting and recounting up to 10-the amount of children at school today.  We went on a hunt to find both of our decomposing pumpkins-the children knew just where they both were.  They were both pretty gross and squishy!
Pretty soon the kids were getting hungry.  We decided to stay near the Blue Group's pumpkin because the area was so cool.  Full of hiding places, logs to balance on and good places to hide beads.

The book was about snow-not sure if we'll get any this year-but we are talking about it a lot.  The kids used digging spoons, bug boxes and found the beads Teacher Ann and Jen hid about the spot.  The time went quickly till it was lunch time.
Next week we'll be talking more about where snow comes from and why.  See you then!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year TOP Kids!

The kids working together to carry branches.

Welcome back to TOP for a new year!  2012 is bound to be lots of fun for The Outdoor Preschool kids!  Today we met our new student, Nicholas.  Nicholas already knew Nina and Ruby from their previous school and Teacher Ann from Tiny Treks.  So it wasn't long before Nicholas was running ahead with his new friends and having fun in the woods.

Today by the "monkey tree" we played a little hide and seek, some "baby deer" games and some kids just played.  During circle time today we re-learned how to sit with quiet bodies while everyone shared about a special toy or experience from the holidays.

We will be working on learning some new songs this session.  Today we learned "If all of the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops."  We will continue to work on this funny song.  We also stood up and sang the TOP song together before we split off into our color groups for our hike.

The yellow group went out to a favorite special place where the big tree fell over.  We balanced on downed logs,  slogged through some puddles and scrambled over mud.  Uh-oh?!  What has happened to Nina's new mittens?  So back we went-unscrambling over the mud-back over the felled trees and all the way back to the monkey tree-where we found the missing glove.  Along the way, Henry waxed philosophical:  "Nina's glove is being very quiet."  Yes Henry-so quiet that we had quite a time finding it!

Teacher Jen's group went on a long hike through the woods and also found some hidden beads along the way.  You probably had some pretty tired TOP kids today as we get re-used to hiking and climbing.

What a fun time!  See you thursday!

Teachers Jen and Ann

PS We have an open spot at TOP.  Tell your friends!