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.
We are wrapping up our unit on friendship this week, and it has been a lovely thing to be examining with the kids. Thank you so much to everyone who came to the friends day potluck last Friday! That was an incredible feast and a fun celebration of community.
This week Ginger read the beautiful, poetic book The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor, and practiced extending our friend making abilities and listening skills to the non-human entities around us. We read Leo Lionni's classic story Swimmy about small fish working together to scare away the big fish, and talked about cooperation and it's importance. We played a chasing/cooperation game based on the book and made fish print paintings. Today Arielle is reading another friendship adventure classic, Little Blue and Little Yellow, and will be making a color mixing painting activity. Tomorrow is cooking day and we hope to be taking advantage of this fine weather to enjoy some camaraderie and cook over the open fire again.
We had some gorgeous sunny weather this week and we have heard increasing bird songs at the forest each day. We are watching the camellias slowly open up more and more. We caught sight of a hummingbird feeding in a blossomed out tree, and had an amazing view of a bald eagle in full adult plumage soaring low over the upper reservoir, considering eating some bufflehead ducks. The buffleheads escaped.
When we get back from break we will be focusing on birds and music for the month of March. See you next week for conferences!
It's been a fun week talking about friendship. We talked about trust, listening, acceptance and communication. We talk about these things a lot anyway, but we've been able to spend more time on them than usual. We read Leonardo The Terrible Monster, Hey Duck, The Rabbit Listened, and Love Monster and the Last Chocolate. We did a trust walk. We practiced taking turns choosing games to play in small groups. Each child got to decide what we would all play for 2 minutes, (my group played puppies, freeze tag, ninja turtles, and kittens!) We also practiced mindful, active listening , and learned how to play Simon Says, (although not at the same time ;) We've been busy making our valentine bags to collect valentines with. We look forward to seeing everyone who can make it for the potluck tomorrow at 12:30. The children will be making fresh cutout cookies to share at the potluck during the morning. We hope to have the event outside around an open fire in the back yard.
We had some really fun animal sightings this week. While we were sitting down at circle one morning two raccoons padded along the back wall of the yard and walked right by us. Arielle caught a hint of it in a photo below. We all got a great look at them going about their business. We saw a sharp shin hawk above the play yard one afternoon. We heard and saw a lot of different birds at the park; woodpeckers, pacific wrens, crows, jays, bushtits, creepers, juncos, robins, varied thrushes, hummingbirds, kinglets, chickadees and nuthatches. We caught a lovely look at a red tail flying over us one day too, and were able to watch it soar along straight winged and maneuver its tail feathers to glide lazily over. We had a lot of fun with mud and water as usual. We've been watching the camellias slowly open and finding violets in the grass.
We have had a busy week playing and exploring with water, mud and weather. On Monday we read the charming book If Frogs Made Weather, and talked about the different types of weather that different animals enjoy, and what our own favorite types of weather are. On Tuesday we looked at some beautiful photos in the book A Drop of Water, and talked about some of the different aspects of water and what happens to water as it changes states and moves through the water cycle. We did some guided imagery and went through an imaginary journey as water drops. On Wednesday we read The Storm, had a lively discussion about storms, (lots of people had stories and strong feelings about stormy weather), and we did a group activity of making a sound storm. Today Arielle is leading the group in some experiments with water flow and watersheds, and tomorrow they will observe water moving from ice to liquid to boiling and evaporating and then they will take the boiled water and make oatmeal for cooking day :) We did some drippy and colorful art activities painting with colored ice cubes and making colored water drop paintings with droppers.
We have been having some fun with water and mud in the mud pit. We've been playing with ice in the sensory bin. We've had some fun with mud and puddles and rain at the park. We've been starting to hear the sounds of spring! Woodpeckers have been calling and drumming. Winter wrens and robins and song sparrows have started singing. The red tails hawks are out and busy soaring over our heads and being mobbed by crows and jays. The camellias are slowly starting to open. One of the beauties of being outside so much and so consistently is that we really get to notice these small and subtle changes. They have time to infiltrate into our consciousness and our daily experience and as we reflect on our inner and outer worlds, we can draw connections between the two. This is at the heart of what we do at Fiddleheads. Through this regular exposure and reflection, we encourage a connection that enables students to draw on and come back to the enduring generous simplicity of this human to earth relation throughout their lives for solace, guidance and inspiration. We certainly recommend that you think and talk about personal and seasonal earth connections at home when you can as well.
Next week begins our unit on friends and cooperation. This unit is more about our inner world than our outer one, but it is nature based in that it is drawing on the natural inclinations at the heart of every preschooler's experience. So much of what this age is learning about and what we do here at school is about making friends, being friends, and all of the important learning that comes along with that. We will hold our "friends day" family potluck at lunchtime next Fri Feb 14th. Please come if you can even if your child does not attend school on Fridays. Every child will have a friend valentine bag and we will be exchanging valentines. Please either bring or send a valentine for all other children at the school. It doesn't need to be anything fancy. If you can't attend we will help your child pass them out.
It was a mild and muddy week at Fiddleheads, as I'm sure everyone noticed from the laundry. We made good use of the rainy days to begin our unit on winter weather and the water cycle. We read All the Water in the World, and acted out the water cycle, learning about evaporation, clouds and condensation, and rain running back into the ocean. We read Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River, and talked about water flow through watersheds and floods. Then with much excitement we sailed origami boats down the swiftly flowing rain gutters at Mt Tabor. We read Eric Carle's charming Little Cloud, and learned about clouds, having a lucky day of relative sun and clarity to be able to observe them. Today we had a visit from Karen Cook, Avery's grandmother and a retired 1-2 teacher with a masters in art education. She led the children in some wintery paintings, and Arielle and Ginger made tortilla snowflakes with the kids!
We've been playing with ice in the sensory bucket, and we've had some fun opportunities to explore water and mud at the park. Our favorite mudslide was in its full glory this week. And there is a little stream that drains through the middle of our play area at Mt Tabor. It only appears during extended periods of heavy rain. It's always exciting to see and to get in. There are some good puddles and rocks to jump off from, and the drainage grate at the bottom is interesting to investigate. Then after the water drains there are pockets of different textured mud to explore. Water is flowing, and it's endlessly fascinating to young children! We will continue to explore and talk about winter weather and the water cycle next week.
We had a fun, mostly rainy and muddy week. This time of year it is especially a gift to be outside. It may not seem like it, considering the weather from inside looking out. The winter darkness is taking its toll right about now. We all feel tired, it's hard to get up and get motivated. It has been rainy for days. At circle when we check in with our bodies and feelings many people have mentioned feeling tired and having missing parents feelings this week in the am. These are natural feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability that winter brings. Being outside though pulls us out of ourselves on a deep level and provides respite from our own personal feelings. The world invites us to pay attention and look outside of ourselves again and again. It always feels exhilarating to me to experience our fun preschool moments against the backdrop of a grey and relentlessly gloomy day. Moments like the hilarity of playing in puddles, the triumph of cresting a big hill into an open clearing, the excitement of visiting a favorite climbing tree. Fun is had, joy is found, we're having adventures together. We're connecting our bodies and emotional selves with the larger world on a visceral level daily, and as muddy and grumpy as that can be, it is also therapeutic, uplifting, and a great teacher to us about weathering adversity, being in the present moment, and finding comfort and joy in the face of discomfort. Deep learning going on right now.
We continued with our theme of animals in winter and animal adaptations this week. We talked about food scarcity in winter and played a counting, foraging game. We talked about physiological changes in amphibians and other hibernating animals in winter and played an imaginary game where we were buried in mud, (actually quilts), laying very still and quiet until spring. The conifers did some nice journaling. We will begin talking about winter weather and the water cycle next week.
We had a fun, muddy, snowy week learning about migration and experiencing some exciting winter weather. On Monday we read Homeward Bound, a lovely book introducing some of the great migrations of all kinds of different North American animals. On Tuesday we talked about why animals migrate, and read Flight of the Snow Geese. We were just playing a migrating snow goose game, jumping from wetland to wetland to eat and avoid predators on our way from the arctic to the high desert for the winter, when it began to snow for real. We watched the landscape transform under a deluge of small white snowy hail. Spirits were high, and several of the children on the walk back to school for lunch exclaimed, "Today is the best day ever!" That is a heartwarming thing to hear, and definitely speak volumes to the enchanting nature of an immersive experience in nature for young children, no matter what the weather is. On Wednesday we read about the migration of monarch butterflies, particularly focusing on the near magical fact that it is only the 4th generation of monarchs, whose great grandmothers went to Mexico the previous year, which actually make the journey there and back to the Oyamel Fir forests in the mountains of Michoacan every year. We played a relay running game mimicking the 4 generations and the long migration to Mexico. Today Arielle read Following Papa's Song, a story about whale migration, and the kids played a whale song hunt, wherein Ginger went ahead of the kids, out of eyesight, and played recordings of whale songs from her bluetooth, and the children were baby whales swimming through the forest following the song until they found her. We'll be making a fun bear snack tomorrow for cooking day. It's been a really fun week!
Next week we will continue to talk about winter, finishing up with animal adaptations in winter, and we will begin talking about winter weather and the water cycle.
Hello everyone, welcome back to school! We are currently focusing on animals in winter and the adaptations that help them survive. We are also going to be focusing on the concept of adaptations overall. We ourselves are really interesting animals to look at concerning our winter adaptations, like houses and clothes, which might be interesting to add to any winter animal discussions at home.
This week we focused on introducing the concept of an adaptation (kind of like an animal superpower), and animal winter adaptations. We read about nocturnal animal behavior; animals adapted to enjoy the long nights at this time of the year. We read Bear Snores On, about hibernation. We read Winter Dance, which introduces many animal winter behaviors and adaptations through the eyes of a little fox. We also read the wonderful winter book The Mitten by Jan Brett and had some fun dramatic play around that story. We are learning some new songs and poems for winter. The kids will be making warming snacks during cooking time. Next week we will be focusing more on migration.
We had some fun and full days outside this week despite the wet and blustery weather. We played a lot of imaginary animal play, and also made some structures out of the sticks and branches that we had gathered for the winter spiral. We climbed some trees. We made some muddy winter soup. We smelled some lovely winter flowers. We listened to the wind and found some interesting things that it blows down out of the trees.
Just as a reminder, Fiddleheads follows PPS weather advisories and closures, so we delay and close when they do. Check for closures as this winter weather sets in before you head out in the am.