Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rake, clean up and be proud!

With Chris from the City of Redmond on the trail.

Today we were lucky to have a visit from Redmond's Urban Forestry Program worker, Chris Tolonen. Chris arrived and sat in on circle time with us so we could ask him questions about what he does. He explained that he and his crew worked to keep the trails free from debris like branches and twigs. One of the TOP kids asked if he had cleared the big tree that had fallen across one of our trails and he told us that someone from his crew had. He taught us all how to hold the rakes carefully and how to rake up the trails so that they would be clean to hike on. We told Chris that we often stop and pick up branches or big sticks that have fallen on the trail and move them to the side so that everyone can have a good hiking experience. Then we stood up and sang the TOP song to him. I think he was very impressed with our singing.

As we walked into the woods we were looking for places on the trail that needed some cleaning up. Just like sweeping a kitchen floor, trails need tidying. As we worked our way over the little bridge and up towards the elephant tree-the trail looked better and better. We made it past the big bridge and up another trail all the way to one of the hidden pumpkins! These TOP kids really know how to be nature stewards at their own park! Pretty soon the kids were discovering new places to hide and play and we were done with raking. But for 3-5 year olds-we really acommplished a lot. We said our goodbyes to Chris and sat down for snack on a log.

We had still had time after snack for explorations into stumps and over them. Some kids were playing airplane. Ruby found a worm and she and Henry spent a lot of time examining it and talking about what a worm does. Isaac fell into a rotted tree stump and had to be helped out. Gilberto balanced on a felled tree and then it was time for lunch in the sun. It was a cold day but we were warm knowing that we had helped our park be a better place to enjoy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hugs, sprouts and marshmallows!

A book about raccoon cubs.
At TOP the kids are so loving to each other. It warms my heart to watch them care about each other - (On Tuesday after a fall Max came over to Isaac and wiped away his tears with his hand and asked if Isaac if he was ok.) There are kids holding hands and as you can see in this photo-group-hugging!

We began another most excellent day with stilts and brooms and balls. Some kids were making letters with the water on their brooms. Others were "painting" the bricks-watching them get dark red when they were wet. There was a game of broom ball going on and a hide-and-seek with a ball in the bushes also. What creativity! During circle time we talked about signs of spring; daffodils, crocuses and tulips were mentioned. This brought on a new song for the group to learn.

On our hike we enjoyed looking through the rocks under the tire swings for beads and what to our surprise...we also found seeds sprouting! After careful observation we found that the seeds were from helicopter seeds from the Big Leaf Maple Tree nearby. Surely a sign that spring is on its way!

Big Leaf Maple sprouted seedling
Big Leaf Maple Helicopter seed implanted in the soil.

As we stayed and played in the meadow, some kids decided to play at the big stump. If you look closely you can see there was a dragon hiding in his lair (a nice dragon) and kids "roasting marshmallows." Teacher Jen was helping keep everyone balanced and putting "marshmallows" on their sticks.  Other TOP kids wanted to explore the dried grass. It was squishy and soft enough to lay down in.

All in all it was an awesome day at TOP! The sun was shining and all was fine with the world.

Please don't forget to sign up for next session before March 6th. There is a waiting list so you could lose your space. Just call Redmond Parks and Rec or go in person to sign up at the Redmond School house. The last day of this session is March 8th. Next session is from March 12-May 31st.

Noah and Nina are great friends.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Legos to the woods!

We began the day with legos and blocks.  The kids were very intent on their building and exploring with the building tools. Then we were off into the rain forest-with the rain pouring down.  We found really full streams-higher then we have ever seen!  It was fun to poke into the water with sticks, pretending to fish and watching the sticks float away. 

The yellow group found an cool place to have snack where they could climb on the logs.  We sang "Five little speckled frogs" while the kids sat up on the tilted log.

The blue group hiked to one of our favorite spots by the creek.  All the rain has made the creek very full and it was flowing so fast and making "really big" noise like a "volcano".  We had to be very careful not to get too close because it was rushing so fast.  We wished for ice cubes to throw into the water.

On the way back we all ran through the big puddles and got really wet.  Some people wanted to pour the water out of their boots!  Luckily it wasn't too cold and everyone had big smiles on their faces at the end of the day.  Oh yeah-and Max brought in a treat for his half-birthday. Thanks Max and Happy Half-a-Birthday to you!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Patterns, a Plane and Beads!

Yellow Group lining up to take a turn in the "cockpit" on the log.

We began the day playing with some awesome magnet blocks that Teacher Jen brought from home.  They were 4 different colors and this led to a lesson on patterns.  The kids each got a turn adding on the next 1,2 or 3 blocks to the pattern.  They were very perceptive and did well with the pattern ideas.

When it was yellow's turn to hike, Theo led the way to a place he remembered was fun to play.  We hadn't been there for quite awhile.  It was a favorite spot last year with a tree slide and climbing stump.  We were there a bit before we found another awesome tree that had a "cockpit" in it!  The tree has a split that the kids can climb up into and sit in.  They were pretending to be in a plane.  Everyone fit in once they made room for each other  Everyone was welcome to play. 

I am proud that the TOP kids include everyone.  Many children at this age are exclusive and will tell another child right to their face "I don't want to play with you."  But we have worked hard to get the kids to be inclusive rather than exclusive.  I was so proud of the kids on Tuesday who said to Nicholas when he arrived late "Nicholas-we missed you!"  What a nice welcome!

Climbing through the branches.

 Next we headed to a special spot for some bead hunting and playing of hide the bead.  I called out "you're getting warm" or "you are getting hot"  so they could find the hidden beads. The kids had to climb the tree and dig in the soil.  They all found lots of beads and took them home.  You may want to check in pockets for a cup full of beads before you throw that jacket in the wash!

Searching for beads on the ground.

TOP Alert!!!!!
It is time to sign up for the spring semester of TOP. You can call the main office at Redmond Parks and Recreation 425-556-2300 or go down to the desk to sign up.  After March 6th anyone can sign up for the The Outdoor Preschool.  If you know anyone who might be interested you can have them come to the Open House March 3rd at 11am at Farrel-McWhirter Park.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentine Hunt

  We started the day making Valentine Bird Feeders.  A way for the kids to say "I love you!" to the birds. After watching the backhoe take out the stump of the Big Maple Leaf Tree and singing our TOP song we were off on a special heart hunt!
The yellow group got to start by dropping hearts along the trail and the blue group had to figure out where we were going by following the hearts.  The yellow group led everyone right to our new secret spot.  They weren't far behind us.  It was so exciting listening to them get closer and closer in the woods!  When the blue group arrived they were happy to climb up onto the big log and find a place to have snack and listen to the story.  The Littlest Owl [Book]

A Fun story time!

 On the way back down the hill, the blue group led the way for the yellow group.  After lunch the kids who brought valentines shared them.  It was an exciting day for all.
A TOP update:  The local schools have varying vacations this week and next.  TOP does not have any days off this month.
We will be taking 2 weeks off in April to accommodate both Teacher Jen and Teacher Ann's kid's vacation weeks. 

If you have any friends who would like to come and check out The Outdoor Preschool,  there is an upcoming Open House March 3rd from 11-12pm at Farrel-McWhirter.
They can sign up at online:
Under Preschool..The Outdoor Preschool...Open House.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The ABC's of Nature

 We had such fun today with the new ABC blocks!  The kids began by building with them and then we spelled out the alphabet together.  After we sang the alphabet song, we played a game where we removed a letter or two and everyone had to guess which ones were missing. Everyone participated in figuring out which letters were gone.  We had such fun that we had to insure the kids that we will play this game again soon!
 After a rendition of "The TOP Song"  we were off on our explorations.  The yellow group first went and inspected what is left of the big leaf maple tree.  We remembered playing on the tree roots and how fun that was.  On our hike into the woods we played on the see saw, ran down the trail, and then found a new hidden spot to play in.  We can't wait to show the blue group this new fallen tree with an area to sit under, crawl through and climb on.
 The blue group enjoyed looking for treasure and pretending to fish in the stream.  Then a long hike followed where we all ended up together where the stream meets Mackey Creek.  There Teacher Ann got out a bag of ice and we got to throw the ice cubes into the water and watch them melt, float, get stuck in the current or get carried down the creek.  Everyone excitedly lined up for their handful of ice. 
 Next Tuesday is Valentines Day.  If you would like to bring in cards for all 12 of the children in the class you are welcome to do that.  Please don't put any names except your child's name, on the cards so they are easier to pass out.  Please don't add candy to the cards.  We will be creating a valentine for the birds for each child to

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Deer Prints, Boot Prints and Body Prints!

Kids making chalk footsteps.

TOP kids tracing Teacher Ann!

Blue group's fireplace.

Today we started out by making deer prints with carved potatoes.  The kids really enjoyed making deer prints that pranced across their papers.The sun was shining on the pavement and the kids had loads of fun drawing and playing with chalk.  Some kids thought it would be fun to draw on our boots with chalk.  Then Henry said "Let's play tic-tac-toe on your toe!"  So for a while we played tic-tac-toe on our boots! Some kids were laying on the bricks soaking in the vitamin D.  So we drew around their bodies and saw how big they were.  Then they drew around the teacher's bodies!  Then the kids put chalk on the bottom of their boots and jumped around making prints on the pavement.  That is 3 different ways to demonstrate shapes:  Deer prints, boot prints and body prints!

The blue group was off to a favorite spot to build a huge "campfire" together.  The yellow group was off on a hike and then ended up stomping through the mud. We made deer prints in the mud with the potatoes and almost lost Noah's boot in the mud!

At TOP we'll continue to talk about what plants the deer like to eat in the woods and look for animal prints around the park.  You can help by pointing out footprints at home or on the sidewalk. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pull, push, scat!

We had a fine day for preschool this Tuesday.  The sun was shining and the kids had so much fun digging into the last pile of snow-moving it around, creating a "snowman" and generally being very busy about it!

With all the digging, they were bound to find something!  Pretty soon Ruby showed up with a wiggly earthworm.  It was also injured a bit and bleeding so there was a lot to talk about with the worm.  The kids learned how worms were good for the soil and even a little worm song.

Inchworm, inchworm
Measuring the marigold
You and your arithmatic
You'll probably go far
Inchworm, inchworm
Measuring the marigold
Seems to me you'd stop and see
How beautiful they are.

It was so nice that we decided a picnic was in order!  The kids quickly put their lunches into the wagon and we were off to Juel Park! Along the way we stopped and observed the fallen Big Leaf Maple, climbed a favorite tree, pretended to be airplanes flying and generally had a fun time. 

We stopped for snack next to a big coyote scat!  We actually saw a lot of coyote scat-but no coyotes!

Snack time by the big puddle.

Then we were back up and hiking into the woods for a wonderment of mud, high streams and squishy fun.  Everyone was so busy that they had to be coerced into lunch and time to go!

Taking turns pushing and pulling the wagon. 

It was a magical day at Farrel-McWhirter.  Everyone was tired and worn out-but in a good way!