We have been continuing to talk about urban wildlife this week. We have talked about turtles, slugs, snails, salmon, and we will talk about snakes tomorrow. So many of the spring animals that we learn about go through profound metamorphosis in their lives, and for the last month or so we have been learning about those changes. We will continue this theme next week with our study of butterflies and moths. These transformative creatures are a poignant way to finish the school year, and to reflect back on all of the learning that has happened for each child and the changes that have been brought about. We encourage you to take some time to reflect at home about metamorphosis and change and about the ending of the school year and the welcoming of summer. At school we usually raise and release butterflies for the end of the year, and the freedom of watching them flutter off into the sky mirrors all of our hearts as we step into the warm, welcoming days and unstructured time of summer. We can't do this together this spring, but I wish you some closure on the school year and a joyful release into the new season in your own way.
A few business things as we look ahead to our last week of school next week:
Please let us know asap if you would like to do the summer program from June 15th to July 24th. We have had a few signups but we need a few more in order to make it work, so let us know if you are thinking about it.
It is hard for many of us to think about ending the school year with little closure. We are preparing special gift packages and messages for all of the Fiddleheads students that will be moving on to kindergarten next year. We will be sending them out in the middle to end of June.
These have been very difficult months for so many of us, including here at Fiddleheads. We continue to make progress toward opening again in the fall, and are pursuing the new certification that we will need in order to do this. I feel hopeful and optimistic. We are fully enrolled right now for the 2020-21 school year for in-person programming. We look forward to connecting with everyone again in person in September!
Thank you all so much for your continued engagement and support through this challenging time! If you have appreciated our online learning program throughout the spring, please let me know what about it you liked. Your feedback will be very helpful to the school.
We have decided that we will continue offering distance learning lessons to families interested in online school throughout the next school year, even while conducting in-person programming. To capitalize on the hard work that we have put into creating an online school program this spring, and to help support the school through any other possible interruptions in in-person learning, we are actively looking to enroll new families into this online program for next year. You can read about the program here. Please help spread the word to any families looking for this kind of programming. They may be people living outside of our school area, or maybe they have health issues that keep them from engaging in more public life during this time, or maybe they are choosing a very cautious path for the school year ahead. Whatever the reason, we believe that there are probably families out there looking for this kind of programming right now and we are hopeful to connect with them. Thanks for your help.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy!
We've had some fun this week studying amphibians, and learning about their fascinating, hidden lives. Many amphibians are common all around us, but we don't often see and hear them. Amphibians can be indicator species of the health of our local waterways. It's been interesting to talk about them with the kids this spring as we continue our explorations of creatures that undergo profound metamorphosis in their lives. We can draw so many social, emotional and physical parallels in our own lives with metamorphosis that we see in the natural world.
There is no school on Monday for memorial day, and the last day of school will be Friday, June 5th. Please let me know by June 1st if you would like to do a summer session of school from June 15th through July 24th.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the onset of summer and the opening up of the world a bit in whatever ways feel right.
Stay safe and happy,
How are you doing out there? I know that my kids have kind of hit a wall on social distancing this week. I hear the same from some other people too. They are frustrated with screen interactions, bored, lonely. It's so hard to see kids going through that, when we want them to be playing outside with friends and enjoying springtime together. At my house we got some bows and arrows, a new swing, and we're going looking for some tadpoles soon. I know that we'll get through this. Every childhood has its adversities, and the best path that we can take for ourselves, and the best example that we can show our kids is to make lemonade out of lemons. Keep looking for what is special and extraordinary in a good way about this unprecedented time together.
We've had some good bug lessons this week! We talked about transformation and metamorphosis in an insect's life cycle, about predator and prey relationships, about insect defense mechanisms, and about insect aversions and the creepy feelings that bugs can give us sometimes. Today we have a lesson about walking sticks and camouflage. Next week we'll be talking about springtime baby animals, then moving on to focus on amphibians.
I want to thank so many of you for your continued support of Fiddleheads and for staying in touch when you can and letting us know how you and your families are doing. As this strange time goes on and this unusual school year gets closer to wrapping up, it's nice to be able to hold onto some threads of continuity.
I want to share some tentative good news as well. I have seen a draft of the ELD guidelines for reopening early childhood programs, and it looks like we will be able to have something resembling normal programming at Fiddleheads in the fall. There is a long road and much that can happen between now and then, and the details are all not clear yet, but Oregon seems to be proceeding with prudence, and that makes me feel cautiously hopeful for being able to resume regular school without big setbacks.
Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy.
Some scenes from online learning this week:
I hope that this finds you all well and secure and able to enjoy the springtime. It's been great to connect when we can and hear about your own nature experiences and adventures at home. I hope that enjoying nature and experiencing the little pleasures that we can discover and enjoy in our small daily worlds is helping you out and keeping you going.
We've had a lot of fun starting to learning about more types of bugs this week. There are so many bugs in this world, way more than any other creature in kingdom animalia, and there is so much to know. We are touching on some of the key ecological points about bugs, and we have been taking bug lesson requests. This week we talked about bugs in general, bug bodies, bug movement, and then we focused on beetles, ladybugs in particular. Tomorrow we will finish out the week on dragonflies and insect life cycles. Insect life cycles are one of my favorite aspects of studying insects. It gives us a whole new perspective on bugs that we know, (we know a ladybug as an adult, but could we recognize it as a larva?) And to us mammals, it's really kind of amazing to imagine a life that contains such different stages and drastic transformations.
It's been interesting to hear which parts of distance learning have been working for all of you. We have a dedicated circle time crew, which is a joy to Arielle and I, but I know that some kids, very understandably, find digital socializing to be unsatisfying and frustrating. I've been glad to hear from so many people who are continuing to enjoy the lessons at home though, and I encourage you to stay in touch and let us know how online learning is working for you and if we can improve anything. We are very, very grateful to have been able to rely on our community so far, even in these troubled times, and we will be so grateful to continue to be able to do so.
At the end of May we will be sending out special care packages to our preschool friends that are continuing on to kindergarten next year. If any of you have any other ideas for ways to celebrate while social distancing we are open to them.
We will be deciding this next month if we will continue programming into the summer. Please let us know if you would be interested in this.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy! I really miss seeing all of your faces in real life.
Enjoy some images from online learning:
It's been really fun to move from pollinators to a more direct focus on bees this week. Bees are so interesting! I feel like every time that I do this unit I learn something new. And we have to much to be thankful to them for.
Next week we will begin focusing on other bugs :)
I know that probably everyone's lives are so crazy on so many levels, I know that mine is. We are all trying to navigate a myriad of pressures, both mundane and existential, and constantly adapt to new information and circumstances while navigating our families into a very uncertain future. Decision fatigue is real right now for sure. It's been a thing of value though to continue to share community and to continue to focus together on observing and learning about the nature around us as a school. As recommend with online learning, take from what we are offering and do what works for your family and is fun and helpful. And if you need extra motivation, just keep in mind that taking the time to focus on the non-human world can be very relaxing, healing and can offer some much needed perspective.
For the time being and possibly through the summer we will be continuing with online learning. Stay in touch and let us know how it is going and how you are doing. We are always interested in hearing about how you are and how Fiddleheads programming is working for you. If you haven't joined online learning yet and want to or if you have any questions, let me know.
I've been thinking about how we might celebrate the end of the school year for the conifer class students that will be going on to kindergarten. I plan to send all "graduating" students a special letter and package in June. I would like to plan an in person "graduation" gathering for the end of the summer, and we can make plans for that later on as what is socially possible becomes more clear.
Stay safe everyone. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy.
Some images from online learning
I hope that this finds you all well and secure. These challenging, anxious times do draw on. Please be gentle with yourselves and your children. I hope that you all can get outside and find inspiration and comfort in what you observe.
We had a lot of fun this week creating lessons and finding learning resources for you all on pollinators. I love this unit, because it falls right in between digging into the luxurious decadence of flowers, and opening our eyes to the intricacies of insect life starting with bees. Learning about pollinators is a logical bridge between the two, and while it is not a well worn path in early childhood education, no one can fail to appreciate the magical interconnections all around us that are revealed through the study of pollination. We hope that you were able to take advantage of some of the resources, and if you didn't get to them together, (Roan and I have still not done most of the lessons from this week yet so I know how it goes), then keep them in mind to check in on anytime. As you probably know, all online lessons are available in the google doc that we send a link out to every day from the zoom meeting invite. Just scroll down to find previous material.
Next week we will be learning about bees.
Fiddleheads is ready to offer online learning to new families too during these socially distanced times. We are no longer bound by enrollment numbers, and having new families involved would help to support the school, so pass the word to anyone you think might be interested. We have several levels for enrollment, you can check it out on our new web page.
Some scenes from pollinator study :)
I hope that this email finds you all well and secure. I don’t know how you all are feeling, but the incredible changes that the last month has brought are sinking in more deeply with me. I imagine that so many of us find ourselves trying to settle into a rhythm of work and homeschool/childcare as we simultaneously balance our emotional states and try to make good decisions for ourselves and our families while adapting to new information and rapidly changing circumstances. I wish you all peace and comfort and the ability to find happiness and joy during these challenging times. Anchoring myself to the turning of the seasons and focusing on the new bird calls and the new buds and shoots and blooms and the incremental advancement of the solar year is providing me with some balance. I hope that you are finding good things to lean on as well.
At school we are finishing up our flower unit. If you’ve been looking through the online lessons you’ve seen that we have been learning about color, texture, shapes, symmetry and also about the purpose and life cycle of a flower. This week we focused some on pollen and nectar, and next week we will begin talking about pollination and pollinators. Studying what we can immediately see and experience outside and placing our experiences within the larger natural cycles of the year is one of our main educational goals at Fiddleheads. We believe in the power of an ecological education to help lend perspective and add meaning to all of our lives, and it is very sweet to be able to be delivering our lessons on a family level right now. Thank you all for joining us.
A note about how young children learn:
Early childhood is a time for for broad, physical, sensory and emotional learning. When we provide these at home lessons, we are not expecting that there will be any child that is interested in doing all pieces of it, and in fact I am sure there are some children not interested in much of it at all, and that is ok. It will vary day by day. Taking care of our own and our children's emotional and physical needs as best we can is the priority work that we are all doing right now. We offer many different aspects to an activity in hopes that something that we offer from school will be interesting and engaging throughout the week, and that is great, but we don't recommend keeping a high bar for it. Do what is fun and interesting. Be happy. The lessons and activities that we are creating are just a resource that we are working hard to offer, and we hope that you all will take it as such. There is no need to "keep up" with our lessons or what we are doing, there is no need to do anything except enjoy what we offer daily if it works, and don't worry about it if it doesn't.
I’m grateful that Fiddleheads has been able to pivot quickly to online learning, as that is the model going forward for the US right now. You have all probably heard that school in Oregon will not open again this school year. My 8 year old just received his first online communications from his teacher this week, as the public schools try and figure out how to move forward with online learning too. Fiddleheads is willing to offer online learning to new families too. We are no longer bound by enrollment numbers, and having new families involved would help to support the school, so pass the word to anyone you think might be interested. We have several levels for enrollment, you can check it out on our new web page.
I want to thank you all so much for your participation in our survey. Your suggestions and insights were very helpful. I look forward to going through the results in more detail and having that inform our program as we go ahead to make it as helpful to you all as possible.
I want to thank you all so much for your continued support of the school. I am so grateful to see that so many families are still willing to support us and participate. I teared up a little bit to see that a couple people still paid at normal tuition rates. I'm grateful to have been able to pay Ginger and Arielle for their work this month, and to keep myself employed in this work as well. I thank you all and look forward to moving ahead studying pollinators next week!
Thanks so much and may you all be happy, healthy, peaceful and filled with joy!
Some scenes from home based flower study
I sincerely hope that this finds you all well and secure and weathering these anxious times with some peace and joy and security.
We have transitioned to online learning over the last few weeks. It has really been great to keep seeing all of you that have been joining, and if you haven't please join us anytime that you can. We are studying flowers this week!
If you haven't joined online learning yet, here's what you need to know:
1. We do online circle time through zoom every weekday at 9:30 am. Check your inbox just around then, and you will receive an invite to join the call.
2. We create daily ideas for lessons and creative activities, which we upload into a google doc. We also include our songs and poems and yoga poses. There are links in there to our new youtube channel, where we share daily stories related to our lessons. We have added some simple meditations, emotional wellness stories and breath exercises to do at home anytime to this channel as well. We are learning how to organize it better for easier access. The link to this google doc of lessons is in the same e-mail that invites you to join the zoom call. You can access all previous lessons and videos on the same google doc anytime if you want to revisit anything or pick and choose what to do at your own pace.
3. For continued community connection outside of circle time, we have created a private facebook group where we can share images and videos and post about what we are doing at home and see what others are up to. You can check it out here. Please join if you would like and share what's going on at home with the community. ALSO, don't forget the old playdate contact list. My kids have really been enjoying connecting with friends through facetime and zoom and skype. Although we can't have playdates right now, we can still see our friends and talk to them online. Also, we teachers can be available from time to time for quick facetime chats if need be. Just reach out.
A note about how young children learn:
Early childhood is a time for for broad, physical, sensory and emotional learning. When we provide these at home lessons, we are not expecting that there will be any child that is interested in doing all pieces of it, and in fact I am sure there are some children not interested in much of it at all, and that is ok. It will vary day by day. Taking care of our own and our children's emotional and physical needs as best we can is the priority work that we are all doing right now. Hopefully something that we offer from school will be interesting and engaging throughout the week, and that is great, but we don't recommend keeping a high bar for it. Do what is fun and interesting. Be happy. The lessons and activities that we are creating are just a resource that we are working hard to offer, and we hope that you all will take it as such. There is no need to "keep up" with our lessons or what we are doing, there is no need to do anything except enjoy what we offer daily if it works, and don't worry about it if it doesn't. I miss seeing you all.
May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with joy.
Some scenes from online learning:
We have had a great week talking about birds. The weather has been beautiful, if a little chilly still in the mornings, and the birds have been very active and have been singing their hearts out. We looked at some bird images flying by at bird speeds (held by a teacher running by) and practiced seeing what identifying factors we could notice, like color, size, speed, beak shape. We read a beautiful book called Nest, about a pair of robins and their nesting process, and we played a fun nesting game where the kids as birds gathered resources and worked together to chase away nest predators. Yesterday we read Baby Wren and the Great Gift, a sweet, whimsical book about the origin of bird song, and we practiced listening and copying some bird songs. Then Shanley Narens, Luna's mom, came to play viola for us at lunchtime. That was a fun time! We heard some classical music and some old favorites and had a jam session.
Today all planned lessons were scrapped when the kids found 7 owl pellets and heard the pair of barred owls call to each other in our play area during lesson time!!!! The owls were executing their very distinctive call "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?", and the kids could hear the different intonations of the two different individual owls as they called the same call to each other from different locations. Their pellets were full of interesting, tiny bones. Some were mostly mammal and fur, and another had larger bones and some feathers and was a different consistency, rather clearly indicating some variety in their diet. It appears that they are nesting in our play area, and the fact that they are more active in the daytime than many owls means that we will likely keep seeing and hearing them.
Thanks so much to everyone who came for conferences last week, and a special thanks to Amy, Melissa, Stephanie, Renee and Austin who helped watch kids and provide care so that everyone could focus on talking with all of the teachers about their child at school and have a chance to ask questions. It was wonderful to meet with all of you who could come, and for those who couldn't we hope that the evals were interesting and informative.
We have begun this month of birds! I am particularly excited, because I love birds. It's going to be a lot of fun. We have already talked about feathers, nests and spring migration. We've read Dinosaur Feathers, and How Do Birds Find Their Way? Today Arielle read Feathers for Lunch, and the children practiced stalking birds like cats (because who better to learn birdwatching skills from than a cat?). Tomorrow they will be practicing using "beaks" during cooking day (various sizes of chopsticks and tongs for picking things up.)
It's been bird crazy in the park! Every day at snack in the forest we do a forest check in, where we sit in silence for 30-60 seconds and see what we can observe with all our sense about the forest today. The bird noise is entirely captivating at this time of year. Flickers are calling and drumming. On Monday the class heard and saw a barred owl! It appears that in addition to the great horned owls that nest in the park, there is a pair of barred owls that is at least considering a nesting site right in our play area. Wednesday we saw and heard a Hutton's vireo checking us out. And many more exciting feathered creatures surround us all the time, it's a fun time of year.
We have some upcoming events that I wanted to share with you. During this month of birds, we will also be talking more about sound and music. Next week on Wednesday the 11th at 12:30, Luna's mom, Shanley will be coming to school to play violin for the kids. All families are welcome at 12:30, even if your child is not usually at school that day. It was a beautiful mini-concert last year, and I encourage you to come if you can.