Thursday, January 31, 2013

Make Way for TOP Ducklings!

The kids have been having a blast playing in the morning. They gleefully choose to pull the wagon or ride. To play in the puddle or practice walking on stilts. They choose something challenging, entering a game they are unfamiliar with or something they know-hot o pull a friend in the wagon. But every one is so engaged and concentrating on how to play the game. This is what learning looks like at this age.
AFter a quick circle time, we got into a duck line and quacked our way over to the barn. We were so lucky today to have Farmer Tom show us "Lily" the goat. He had her on a leash so we could all pet her and really look closely at her hooves and coat. She lives outside so she has a warm coat. Her kids were bleating at her through the fence but she was very nice to us. Then we went an got out Peter the Rabbit, who kindly let us pet his very soft fur. The chickens scattered when we went into their house. Everyone got some COB (corn, oats and barley mix) to throw to the chickens. We are so fortunate to have the farm as part of our preschool. The animals are chosen to be especially easy with children-and they were!
We had a big wash up to do after feeding and petting the animals so we just sat down and had an early lunch. We read a fun book: Make Way for Ducklings.
in anticipation of walking through water later in the day.

On our hike today, the blues found the stream had overflowed its bank in a new way and the kids were facinated by the water and high grass.

The yellows hiked back behind the parking lot and played baby bird and mama bird on the hill of gravel. Everyone opened wide for a worm and the kids took turns pretending to be the mama bird. Guess who got to be the grandma bird? (Ok-I did!)

On the hike back, the yellows waved at Logan's baby brother and tried to teach him how to hike with TOP. He didn't know that you should stop at the signs and not run into the farm road. But the kids did and told him so!

See you next week!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Muddy waters = Hot Chocolate!

Pretend play with plastic animals.

Our intent today was to take the kids back to the mud pit so they could all experience it. Us teachers designed the day to end up there right before lunch because of the intense hand cleaning required after the mud play. So we began with wagon rides, pretend play with plastic animals and a new pretend play. This is how it went: The kids were gathered around a small, deep puddle. A couple of kids had sticks and were poking the water. Some were throwing in pebbles. I decided to see what would happen if I instigated pretend play. I said that I thought the water in the puddle looked like hot chocolate and could I have some? I offered a “cup” of “hot chocolate” around to each child (more kids began to gather around at this point. ) We were all “mmm-that’s good!” and I blew on the hot chocolate to say mine was a little hot! As the kids kept stirring the water I said if you stir it quickly the bubbles look like it is boiling! We had a good time pretending together. I intend to watch on Thursday to see if the puddle continues to be a bubbling pot of something!

Everyone was willing to splash and even fall into the mud.

During circle time we have started learning a new song. The song goes along with one of our winter themes of where do animals live in the winter?
The kids know some of the hand signs now and they are beginning to learn the words. We’ve had talks about actually putting our head in an animal’s home and whether that was a good idea. They all agree that it isn’t!

The Little Skunk's Hole

Tune: Dixie
Written By: Unknown
Copyright Unknown

Well, I stuck my head
In a little skunk's hole
And the little skunk said,
"Well, bless my soul!
Take it out! Take it out!
Take it out! Remove it!"

Well, I didn't take it out
And the little skunk said
"If you don't take it out,
You'll wish you had,
Take it out! Take it out!"
PSHHHH! I removed it!

We went on a fairly long hike today and it was kind of a long way for some of the new kids. I heard “Teacher Ann! I don’t want to walk anymore!” But then we were distracted by the other group and ran to catch up with them. Some of the same slow pokes ended up running up and down a particularly steep part of the trail as a fun activity that Matilda came up with! New fast friends are being developed and kids are getting stronger with their hiking.

After the fun on the steep hill we took a little rest on the trail-literally on the trail since everyone was pooped. But no one was cold! All of that good running warms you up! Just in time to go wading in the mud and water spot. Everyone went into the mud. Everyone was willing to try it out. Kids learned how to wiggle their boot to get out of the mud. And 3 kids stayed an extra 10 minutes in the mud because it was just too good to leave.

The three who didn't want to leave the mud pit.

It was a really fun day at TOP today. I hope your muddy child was a happy one too!

Copy write 1/29/13

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let's pretend we are a pirate famly!

This session we have 4 girls added to our wonderful outdoor preschool. And with the girls comes pretend play. Girls often develop pretend play before boys and with the addition of our girls we now have pretend play back in the woods. There are many reasons experts think that girls are more interested in pretend play and boys in active play. One is that they think girls think of relationships more and boys have their testosterone to keep them moving. Now with a good mix of boys and girls at TOP they will work together-the girls will get the boys interested in pretending and the boys will keep things moving along. Of course-this is can be a gross over generalization of boys and girls. But the girls wanted to play family as pirates. So we are looking forward to a pirate family in our midst!
A new mud pit for the yellow group.
The yellows found a new mud pile today at the park. I thought it would be a quick diversion from our hike-but instead no one wanted to leave until their tummies were rumbling in need of a snack. We had a few slow starters into the mud-but before long everyone was shrieking that they were stuck in the mud and Teacher Ann was pulling on the boots to hear that great sucking sound as the boot came out-hopefully with the foot still in it! We didn't have any socks in the mud or tears-just cries of joy and muddy kids.


The kids made up a game of throwing sticks in the foam in the stream.

The blue group had a fantastic time using their senses on our hike today. Across the river, through the mud, up and down hills and right off the trail through the woods to find the yellow group. We started out hiking through the river and squishing in the mud, then it was up a hill, across a bridge and up another very long and big hill. By then we were very tired and stopped for snack and a story in a wooded area just off the trail. After snack we explored and played games in the woods before heading back out on the trail to see if we could use our senses to find and perhaps "scare" the yellow group. We heard some noise and hid very quietly in the woods waiting to jump out and say, "boo" to the yellow group. Luckily, we realized the noise was two horses and riders and we did not scare anyone. Your children all waved and whispered to the horses so as not to startle them. Again, we headed off to find the yellow group. Some hikers wanted to run and other preferred to walk, but they were are fantastic listeners and stopped every time Teacher Jen asked them to do so! Eventually, when it was almost lunch time, we found the yellow group and we all hiked back to the picnic tables together. Your children are making wonderful progress at TOP and we thank you for sharing them with us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I'm in the mud!

Ooh it was another chilly day in the Northwest. But with all of our good clothes and warmers in our mittens we were ok! The kids were excited to see that there were some new cars to play with in the rocks and that the stilts were out. Many of the kids took turns learning how to walk on the stilts. During circle time we discussed where animals lived during the winter. The kids had lots of good ideas: bears had caves, mice had holes. We agreed to look for different animals homes on our hike.

The hike began across the stream where I heard someone remark that there wasn't much water in the stream. Good time for a science lesson. Why isn't there much water in the stream?

Soon we were headed off trail-it wasn't planned but everyone was game for a new way to go through the woods. We climbed over many big downed trees. Bo noticed that "someone has been eating this tree." See the photo above.

Since it was going to be the last day for a while with predicted dry weather-we went back and got the wagon to bring out to the meadow. The kids worked together to push and pull the wagon. Sometimes it was quite hard work-like when we went over the grass-but everyone pitched in.

We also had new spoons for the kids to dig with. There were so many mole hills in the field that everyone got a chance to dig. There was a big discussion going on with the right way to dig and where to dig.

We had a little triumph on Tuesday with one little guy who arrived at TOP not liking to get dirty-deciding to walk right into the mud and exclaim "Look Teacher Jen! I'm in the mud!"

FYI Parents:
Early registration for the next session will begin o Feb 20th. Put this date on your calendar.
And if you have any friends who are thinking of TOP for next year-they can come to the TOP Open House on March 6th.
They can register on the Parks and Recreation website for the open house. Class #45364

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mud and Ice!

We had a busy day today-there was so much to see and do! We began with magnifying glasses out in the meadow. There are lots of mole hills out there and they all were frozen solid! Many of the kids kicked them and remarked at how hard they were. We were on our bellies checking out the crystals of frozen water on each blade of grass and on the dirt. This gave an opportunity to talk about the different phases of water. Liquid, solid, gas. I don't expect the kids to remember the terms but it is an introduction to concepts that we can build on. And we are learning while we can actually see and feel the science! At lunch we continued the lesson by blowing out steam from our mouths-it was really cold for lunch...

We also found an animal hole and decided to see how far we could push a stick into it. We measured the stick with our hands and then put in the stick. Then we could put that measure up to the ground to see how far it went in. This is a math lesson-length and measuring.

On our hike today we went to a place where the stream breaks free of its banks and runs down a former path at the farm. There was really good mud and ice there. We found some ice that looked like glass and mud that was "like quicksand."
Tina wanted to carry some home-We had to have a discussion about what might happen to it if we put it into Teacher Jen's pocket! I think it made it to mom to show her. We had to eat lunch with one mitten on for warmth. The kids with hand warmers were very glad to have them. If this weather continues, you may want to invest in hand warmers. Thank you for sending extra mittens as you can see the mud was very intriguing today!

FYI for Parents-
Sign ups for the next session will begin on February 20th. Students already in TOP will have 2 weeks before the general public can register. To register in February-call the front desk 425-556-2300. You won't be able to register online till TOP is open to everyone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

From Moles to Rabbits!

Boy-were we happy to see the sun today! It was a brilliant day in the Northwest with one of the TOP kids complaining that the sun was too bright! So we got to begin the day-setting up in the meadow and playing ball on the field. Kids were given the choice of making snowmen or running around. We had about 4 children choose art. We have art infrequently at TOP as the weather makes doing art difficult. But when offered it is rarely required. It is a free-form kind of project-with some of the children following the prompt completely and others choosing another way to create. This is all fine with us and developmentally correct.

We practiced some songs during circle time. We sang the Chubby Snowman and then when many of the children were noticing sounds-an airplane, a siren, a bleating goat-we talked about our sense of hearing. This is referring back to our 5 senses curriculum we followed in the fall. The kids helped Teacher Ann sing the 5 Senses song. Many remembered the funny hand motions as well!

We spent some time during circle time talking about appropriate circle time behavior and how the older, more experienced kids can help the younger kids by modeling good listening skills.

After singing the TOP song-it was time to go hiking. The Yellow group went off to go see the rabbits. While stopping by the toilet for a quick pee-the kids found a dead mole. We usedthe interesting find to have a science lesson about moles and underground animals. We were able to closely observe the moles long tail ("looks like a worm"), good digging claws and long nose. Also a fur coat. Then we went and got out Peter Rabbit and held him. We compared "same and different" with the two animals who both have homes underground. One child said that they both had the same colored coat-grey. Their tails were different but they both had long claws for digging. Everyone got to hold Peter and we all thought he was very soft.

The yellow group then went back to a favorite climbing spot with many logs on the ground. There was a lot of learning how to climb on, around and slide down the smaller tree.

The blue group hiked through the woods having a fun time with snack and stories while sitting on a log. They then burst out into the sun on the meadow, getting very warm while swinging on the tire swing and making mud balls. By the time it was lunch-many of the kids had jackets and mittens off. Lunch was out in the back meadow where the sun is. All of the kids got a turn pulling or pushing the wagon one of the ways.

There is so much to learn at TOP. What will we find on Thursday?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's Winter Time at TOP!



Welcome to a new 10 week session of The Outdoor Preschool!

Teacher Jen and Ann are so excited to welcome 4 girls into the program. The kids last session loved to bug us when we said automatically "boys and girls". Now we can mean it!

It is January and a very wet and rather cold time of year. Thank you to all of the parents who sent their children dressed appropriately for the weather. A second set of mittens is going to be a good idea as is the hand warmers. Many of the kids held their hand warmers for much of the day. This will get harder to do as we do more climbing under and over and on top of logs and trails. But that will come.

We started our circle time with a fun song about a snowman:
We are looking forward to adding this song to our song repertoire.
The kids did a great job of going over some of the safety rules we have at TOP.
Some of the kid suggestions were:
  • Don't push other kids.
  • If you get lost stay where you are and yell for a teacher.
  • Don't put your fingers in the animal cages.
We also went over how to run ahead-with teacher's permission and to always stop at a sign or a bridge to make sure that everyone catches up.

We began the day with a trip to see the animals. Sunny the pig was very active as were the kids (young goats). We enjoyed watching the kids pretend fight with each other. We also went into the hen house to count the eggs (there were 2 of them!) and to learn about what the chickens eat. (COB-a corn, oats and barley combination)

Soon tummies were rumbling-so we had snack in the woods at the outdoor classroom space. We had time for 2 books and everyone enjoyed the respite. Some of the kids from last session wanted to go visit the Yellow Pumpkin's resting spot. So we were off into the woods-sans trail-to see the squished orange pumpkin bits that are left.

Then the blue and yellow groups separated for a hike till lunch time. The yellow group went over 2 bridges and watched how the water took their sticks away down the current. We also stopped at the octopus tree before we ran into the blue group. The blue group hiked around the back of the park and played on a rocks hill. They even waved at Logan's mom and brother-since their house backs up to the park!

Lunch time was busy with everyone opening their lunches and talking about their day. We ended the day with a fun game of statues.

We are really looking forward to a fun winter time at TOP!

Chubby Snowman

There was a chubby snowman
Who 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 up)
The hungry little bunny (rub tummy)
Was looking for his lunch (hand to forehead, looking)
He grabbed that snowman's carrot nose
NIBBLE! NIBBLE! CRUNCH!! (Pretend to eat carrot)

The Noble Duke of York

Oh, the noble Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill and
Marched them down again

And when they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only half way up
They were neither up nor down