I have been volunteering as a Parent Mentor every Monday morning since September. It has been a great way to start my week off and has provided neat insight into my daughter’s experience in the program. Every morning after arrival the kids are greeted individually by name as they sit around the stump circle. Volume level and type of greeting is personalized for each kid’s needs and preferences. You can tell the kids are known and valued just by watching and participating in this small ritual. After this, we do a pledge that talks about the importance of being kind to animals, plants, others, and themselves. My 3.5 yr old has this pledge memorized and often recites it unprompted outside of program. It is a great way to introduce kindness and respect for self, others, and for the environment. We also review safety rules, and it is neat to see how the kids learn these so quickly and really take them to heart. After these morning rituals, the topic of the day is introduced and discussed a bit, allowing kids a chance to share things they may already know about or be interested in, then everyone packs up their stuff and walks over to the “classroom” (a nearby picnic shelter). The short walk over provides a nice opportunity to chat with the kids and observe things in line with the theme of the day or just anything interesting that we happen to pass. Once we arrive at the classroom, the kids set down their backpacks and participate in a group game. As the year has gone on, it has been neat to watch the kids mature in their understanding of how to play these types of games. Lately, they have really been enjoying variations of duck, duck, goose, and it has been so fun to watch them light up as they play. After group game, the class is divided into two or three groups to participate in crafts or activities in line with the theme of the week. Everyone has a chance to rotate through the activities across the three class days. It is neat to see which activities kids really get into and how their personalities shine through in this process. After this, it is time to use the bathroom, wash hands, and have snack time while listening to a story. This is often a busy time for me as a parent mentor as I am available to help open snacks though as the year has gone on, kids have gotten more proficient in this task and even started offering to help each other. Observing the kids develop their own community has been a neat element of volunteering in this capacity. It can really restore one’s hope for humanity to see these kids support one another. Once the story is over and the kids have packed up their lunchboxes and thrown away trash, it is everyone’s favorite time of the day, free play. This is another favorite time for me as it is so fun to watch the creativity of the kids come to life as they pretend to be cats, various family configurations, or replay variations of the activities we have done earlier in the day. I love when we are at the picnic shelter with the sandbox as the kids come up with some creative “food” creations to offer me. Finally, we usually end the day with some time to respond to a journal prompt where kids draw something related to what they experienced or learned that day and have a chance to participate in a “sit spot” where they simply observe nature using their eyes and ears then share anything they noticed. We then walk back to the stump circle for pick up. Truly, these three hours of my week are a highlight. This opportunity allows me to take a small break out of my otherwise busy life, practice being mindful, and enjoy nature while being reminded of what truly matters by the kids and amazing staff.
With one of our core focuses being K - kindness, I have seen so much growth in our small group!
There is inclusion, communication, and thoughtfulness.
It’s been really fun watching the class share a bug to look at together, or a neat mushroom they found. I’m excited to watch spring emerge in the forest, signs of it are everywhere despite the snow. With warmer weather we will explore native plants as well as the invasive ones, hopefully we are always learning how to take care of our planet and each other.
March Book Recommendations
Native Plants: Flora and Fauna of the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner
The Flora and Fauna of the Pacific Northwest Coast is an extensive, easy-to-follow resource guide to the plant and animal life of the vast and diverse bioregion stretching from Juneau, Alaska, south to coastal British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and down to California’s San Francisco Bay. Encompassing over eight hundred native and invasive species, and including more than two thousand color photos, this is the most complete book of its kind on the market. The book is divided into flora and fauna, with detailed subsections for flowering plants, berries, ferns, shrubs and bushes, trees, fungi, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. Each species (identified by common and scientific name) is illustrated by a close-up photograph and a concise description of its appearance, biology, and habitat, as well as its traditional use and medicinal properties (where applicable). The book also contains detailed maps, a glossary, and a complete index of species.
Transition to Spring: Sing in the Spring by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Deb Plestid
A playful, poetic picture book celebrating the coming of spring from the award-winning author of Summer Feet and featuring luminous original artwork by an internationally renowned quilt artist. Spring is sometimes a long time coming. As snow melts and winter slowly blows away, the earth begins its unfolding of new life and hopeful greening. While we can still snowshoe through the soft white and sip the clear, wintry air, we dream of the sparkle of spring, that wind-chapped-cheek time, where "baby fiddleheads sleep/like so many questions deep" and the sun comes "smiling in/as longer days of light begin."
Berries, Nuts, and Seeds (Take-Along Guide series) 1996 Ages 7-10
Written by Diane L. Burns and illustrated by John F. McGee
Although meant for older children, this well-illustrated identification guide describes a variety of berries, nuts, and seeds that might be found on a nature walk.
Curious Kids Nature Guide: Explore the Amazing Outdoors of the Pacific Northwest 2017 Ages 5-8
Written by Fiona Cohen and illustrated by Marni Fylling
Organized by habitat--forest, beach, fresh water, and backyards and urban parks--fun facts and full-color illustrations will introduce kids to the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest.
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring 2022 Ages 2-5
Written and illustrated by Kenard Pak
A young boy watches how nature changes form winter into spring.
Hello Spring! 2017 Ages 4-8
Written by Shelley Rotner
A celebration of the arrival of spring, marked by changes in plant and animal life.
On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring 2020 Ages 4-9
Written by Buffy Silverman
The world comes to life on a snow-melting day.
Only the Trees Know 2022 Ages 3-7
Written by Jane Whittingham and illustrated by Cinyee Chiu
Little Rabbit is tired of waiting for spring. His parents and grandmama tell him to be patient, but he isn’t very good at being patient. Spring will come on its own time, they say. But when will that be? Only the trees know, says his grandmama. But when Little Rabbit tries asking the trees, nothing happens. Determined to make the trees notice him, Little Rabbit almost overlooks what's been there all along: hopeful signs that spring is on the way."-- Provided by publisher.
Plants on the Trail with Lewis and Clark 2003 Ages 9-12
Written by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent with photographs by William Munoz
Describes the journey of Lewis and Clark through the western United States, focusing on the plants they cataloged, their uses for food and medicine, and the plant lore of Native American people. Also meant for an older audience, but the photographs and information are useful.
Spectacular Spring 2018 Written by Bruce Goldstone Ages 4-8
A neat overview of spring, chock-full of interesting facts for young readers. Vibrant photographs grace each page, making it all the more appealing for little ones. The explanation of the science behind rain, rainbows, seeds, and more is presented in an accessible way. In addition, readers will learn about animals, spring flowers, how an umbrella works, the sounds and sights of spring, and spring celebrations, culminating in "some spectacular spring activities".
Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations 2019 Ages 4-8
Written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Micha Archer
A unique take on spring in a series of eye-opening equations. Whether it's breeze + kite = ballet or nest + robin = jewelry box, each equation prompts readers to pause and think about spring in unexpected ways. As a child in the art welcomes the change of seasons, sidebars provide more information about the science behind the signs of spring."
What Will Grow? 2017 Written by Jennifer Ward Ages 3-6
Seeds can be big or small, round or pointy, and all sorts of colors. They can become flowers, trees, fruits, or vegetables, and they grow all times of year, during spring, summer, fall, and winter. But all seeds have one thing in common--inside each is a new plant life waiting to emerge. What kind of plant will bloom? Wait and see what will grow!
Our time in the forest has been flying by incredibly fast! As someone who does not particularly enjoy the cold, dark, and dreary feeling that tends to creep in during winter days; it has truly been a gift to have spent so much time enjoying being outside, and taking in all the evergreen life still thriving around us. Thanks to the warmth of tea, cocoa, hot water bottles, and many, many layers, we’ve also managed to stay plenty toasty!
Coming back from such a long period of being away, warm and cozy inside for break, it was also incredibly heartwarming to see our group find a new way to gel together after such a big period of change and time apart. While we worked on saying hello and goodbye to classmates, we also started bird watching, and it felt like the perfect community and solo activity for everyone to ease back into their own rhythm of this quiet season. It feels like success every time I see the kids lay back and look to the sky in their own moment of calm.
This year has really shown there is much to see at any time of year for those who take time to look. Between seeing the sea lions catching a salmon breakfast, bald eagles nesting, and regularly checking on a special secret mushroom growing in the base of a tree, no day is ever the same outside. I can’t wait to see what new life we notice with the observation skills we’ve grown.
In this last breath before spring arrives, I am filled with the hope to plan for my garden. With the returning sunlight and signs of growth that I see every day--in the kids and the world outside my door--I am beaming with excitement to continue to learn and share about local, native plants during lessons in March and onward!
February Book Recommendations
Each month Kate Larson from Ballast Books and Kirstin from the Kitsap Regional Library kindly provide us with their recommendations for books depending on the themes our classes are focusing on.
For Illahee, they are looking at Pacific Northwest Mammals this month. Below are some books to look into:
The Truth About Bears by Maxwell Eaton III 2018. “Did you know that when a bear is born, it weighs less than a picture book?” Interesting and funny facts about different kinds of bears.
Orcas by Elizabeth R. Johnson 2017. Graceful, but fierce, these mammals of the sea are also known as killer whales.
Deer (Animals That Live in the Forest) by JoAnn Early Macken 2005.
The Seal Garden by Ian McAllister & Nicholas Read 2018. Stunning photographs tell the story of harbor seals and other marine mammals seeking refuge in a seal garden along the Pacific coast.
Land Mammals of the Pacific Northwest by Fiona Reid
This Folding Guide covers 49 mammals, both large and small, found in the Pacific Northwest from the California/Oregon border up and including British Columbia. It includes bats, moles, rabbits, as well as the large signature mammals of the region such as elk, bears, foxes, and cougars. The range extends from the front range of the Rockies westward to the Pacific, northward to include the Canadian Rockies and southward to the Colorado/New Mexico border. Illustrations and text are by Fiona Reid, accomplished naturalist, author and illustrator of the Peterson Field Guide to Mammals.
For the Wetlands, the will be learning about Light, Rainbows, and Colors:
Light Waves by David A. Adler
"An introduction to the physics of light for young readers, with an overview of photons, transparency, the electromagnetic spectrum, and the mechanics of reflection.
Cooking with Sunshine: How Plants Make Food by Ellen Lawrence 2013
Light is All Around Us (Let’s Read and Find Out Science) by Wendy Pfeffer 2014
An introduction to light and how it helps us to see profiles different kinds of light, including sunlight, firelight and electric light, and provides interactive experiments readers can perform at school or at home.
Why Do We See Rainbows? Melissa Stewart 2009
How does the human eye see color?
Sun in My Tummy by Laura Alary illustrated by Andrea Blinick
Description: How does a home-cooked breakfast give a little girl the energy she needs for a brand-new day? In gently expressive language, her mother takes readers on a journey into the earth where sleepy seeds are tickled awake and grow into golden oats; into blueberry patches, where green leaves break apart water and air to build sweet sugar; and into a pasture where sun becomes grass, becomes cow, becomes milk. Author Laura Alary’s free verse breaks big ideas into child-sized pieces, making Sun in My Tummy an accessible introduction to the concepts of matter and energy, and how the sun’s light becomes fuel for our bodies through the food we eat. Andrea Blinick’s mixed-media illustrations pair the cozy and homelike with the glowing and dramatic as she takes readers from the kitchen to the farm field and to the sky and back. A concluding Author’s Note shares further information about photosynthesis for young readers.
January Book Recommendations
Each month Kate from Ballast Books kindly provides us with their recommendations for books depending on the themes our classes are focusing on. Below are what they suggest!
2023 Family Astronomical Almanac
Find out what to look for, when to watch, scientific explanations, and tips for getting the most out of 2023's night skies in The 2023 Family Astronomical Almanac. Gorgeous photos and simple diagrams accompany each entry along with hints about lunar brightness (which can diminish visibility) and best nighttime viewing periods. Covering everything from meteor showers to eclipses, lunar cycles to seasonal milestones, and a ton more, this handy guide will make sure your family never miss another celestial event again!
Backyard Explorer: Bird Watch
Backpack Explorer: Bird Watch leads kids aged 4 and up through the basics of birding, from identifying common birds to learning about habitat and migration and listening for bird songs. The pages are packed with prompts and activities, including 12 interactive field guides (for common birds, nests, eggs, tracks, and more), sensory scavenger hunts, activities such as building a bird nest, matching games, and simple discovery zone pages about food chains and the life cycle of birds. Equipped with a real magnifying glass, stickers, and a birding log for recording sightings and encounters, this book is the perfect take-along for any nature adventure.
One of my favorite parts about being an educator is helping to ignite curiosity and watching the kids enthusiasm as they immerse themselves in exploring. There have been so many instances this year where I have simply needed to point out something I find interesting, and the kids will launch into their own exploration and discussion.
One of my favorite occasions of this happened before break. We have frequently talked about tracking and animal evidence throughout the year. While on a wander, we came across a boot print in a pile of dirt. I casually pointed it out as “people evidence.” That was all it took. The kids immediately launched their own investigation. They discussed the print size, and determined it likely came from a child’s shoe by comparing my shoes size and a few of their own to the print. Then, they all took turns stomping in the dirt next to the shoe print to see if the print came from one of their shoes. This turned into a full examination and discussion of shoe tread shapes and designs. The discussion went on for several minutes, with the entire group contributing thoughts and observations. While the kids determined the shoes print belonged to no one in our group, we never did solve the mystery of who actually made the print. Though the mystery remains, my awe at how they took something we discussed with regards to animals to a whole new level and made their own connections and conclusions remains. It was incredible to watch the group work together and become so immersed in exploration and discovery.
My group consistently engages in child led spontaneous learning. While I love watching this occur, I think what I love most about working with my group was perfectly captured the first day back from winter break. All through snack and free play, it was so obvious how excited and happy the kids were to just all be together again. Whether all in a large group chatting, or working in smaller groups together to build forts, play games or adventure, there was constant giggling, excitement and support. It has been so wonderful to watch their relationships develop, and witness how much they just genuinely love being around each other. It really makes every day an absolute joy to work with them, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year holds!
We're still accepting enrollment applications for the following programs! If you're interested in joining us, click the applicable button to sign up for the waitlist. You'll be sent an enrollment application within a day.
Bremerton preschool, Illahee State Park, Early Childhood Education, Outdoor Learning, Outdoor Education.
Incredible tattoo artist and former mom from the program, Krysten Dae (IG: @krystendae), illustrated these ADORABLE designs we're so excited to see on t-shirts! Local Bremerton printer, Fingers Duke, created a web page to collect orders and roll out printed tees and sweatshirts after the order deadline of July 11th.
Get your orders in now- There are limited quantities of certain styles and colors... https://fingersduke.printavo.com/merch/barnaclesandbees/
RSVP for the Barnacles & Bees Jamboree!
On Saturday, June 4th, please join us for our Barnacles & Bees Jamboree at the beautiful Pacific Northwest Salmon Center in Belfair!
We are excited to come together for a fun and festive day to celebrate our students and recent graduates as well as our families, friends and community partners. Join us for snacks, games, children's activities, program performances, and family portraits. Explore the Salmon Center grounds and p-patch, say hello to the bunnies and lamas and take a quiet, scenic walk with your family.
Schedule for the day
Please note that during the event the Salmon Center grounds including the farm animals and p-patch areas as well as the wetland trails will be open for viewing and exploration. We encourage families to explore throughout the day!
Questions? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you on June 4th!
"As we start to see the buds on plants begin to open and small purple crocuses push through the undergrowth we take the time to enjoy the life that awakens with the coming of Spring. This Month we are focused on the world of light and shadows.
At Theler I've loved getting to sit down with our students as they weaved together elaborate and hilarious stories with their shadow puppets during our shadow puppet theater. I was encouraged by their shrieks of laughter and their willingness to let each of their friends have a turn. They set up scenes for their shadow characters to interact with as their audience waited patiently for the stories to begin.
At Illahee I had the opportunity to see our students create beautiful artworks out of colorful mosaic pieces. They would gasp in excitement as I brought out flashlights and they were able to see how the light made their artwork sparkle with color. I loved hearing them talk to each other about which loved one they would like to give their finished art to.
I am excited to see where the rest of this month takes us as we enter the time of new beginnings and new growth."
"With the slow and steady transition from January into February, our mornings in the forest have been gradually brightening and becoming strong with the promise of new growth!
It has been incredibly heartwarming to witness everyone's comfort levels shift with each other and nature to be at ease enough to lay back and watch how the clouds are moving together, take a moment to enjoy how the sun makes us feel in the winter, and jam along to the incredible songs Fireweed has introduced.
With this month focusing on tracking and animal signs, I've really enjoyed seeing the palpable excitement of digging into field guides to find answers to our questions and making more questions from what we notice and observe. After becoming familiar with hunting through the guides for our past birdwatching focus, they're now applying that skill to compare and contrast print shapes with other information and click their own puzzle pieces into place. I can't wait to see how these little buds bloom this spring!"
"I’m always amazed at how much growing and learning our little ones do daily. Being stuck inside the last three and a half weeks with my two has reminded me of this. This month we are focusing on storytelling. Storytelling is a great participatory and immersive experience as it gives kids an opportunity to exercise their imagination, develop language and emotions, and communicate effectively through words and gestures. Rhyming, rhythm and repetition are important parts of oral storytelling and I’m looking forward to using more of these in our daily routines. We are also going to be collecting and painting story rocks. Teacher Kelli is an incredible artist and will be doing a majority of the painting on our rocks, but the kids will be creating a rock that represents themselves and have opportunities to make more. I’m excited to see their personalities come out in the rocks and their storytelling.
January tends to be a time of big emotions as we are coming off of a different routine with the holiday break and the days often seem extra wet and gray. We as teachers love connecting with you to hear how things are going with your child; both the good and the hard stuff so please don’t hesitate to share!"
"The darkness has been creeping up on us all throughout November, the nights have been getting shorter and the days have been cloudy and wet and yet this is still my favorite time of the year. In our class we have been trying to focus on the things that make the forest magical, mushrooms, fairy houses, the whispering wind and how the forest itself is alive. My favorite thing that has come out of this is the kids asking for permission from the forest to use found items and thanking it for providing materials for making art and fairy houses.
November’s topic was fungi and lichen and we used mushroom troops and the symbiosis between algae and fungus to talk about teamwork and inclusion. My favorite part of that lesson was tying small groups together and having to walk an obstacle course, encouraging them to communicate with one another and work together to move. I’m really looking forward to watching the kids continue to grow as a group and master the new skills I’m teaching them."
Hyper Local Gift Giving
If COVID taught us anything, it's that the local business community is the backbone of our town. As grateful beneficiaries of the volunteer efforts, donations, and services of these local businesses, we're acutely aware of the impact supporting local businesses has on non-profits like Barnacles & Bees. We know that the more you support the "mom & pop shop" in town, the more it comes back, so we prefer to keep that cycle going (we're talking local pizza joint's name on the soccer jersey, sort of vibe). Below is a short list of some of our favorite spots to acquire gifts or gift cards. Please email email@example.com with your additions to the list!
*You can always make a donation to Barnacles & Bees in the name of the family member who already has everything.
Giving Thanks with Barnacles & Bees
Dear Barnacles and Bees Families and Friends,
During this season of “Thanks” and “Giving" we fervently believe in the importance of honoring the Indigenous communities who have, since time immemorial, stewarded the forests, beaches and wetlands on the Salish Sea where we learn, play and teach. We are thankful to have the support of the Suquamish Tribe as funders of our free Family Nature Play Class and have sincere gratitude for the Native communities, including the Suquamish, S’klallum, Coast Salish, and Twana Peoples on whose traditional homelands and customary territories we hold our classes. We are eager to explore, learn from, honor and protect these lands alongside our greater community – now and for future generations. We encourage our families to learn more about our local tribal nations as we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and the spirit of giving and sharing abundance throughout the month of November:
Enrich your perspective through these media resources:
Additionally, we would also like to give thanks to everyone who continues to make Barnacles & Bees what it is today including our Volunteers, Staff, Board and Supporters. What started as an idea during an outdoor play date in the middle of winter – has sprouted into a bustling organization serving hundreds of families since its inception. We are honored to be part of this community and to share our vision for inspiring families and children to build deep connections to nature.
Giving Tuesday~ We ask that you consider Barnacles & Bees in your year-end giving:
Help us meet our goal of raising $5,000- which would provide greater access to our programs for the community. If each family reached out to 5 people for a $10 donation, we could reach our goal! No donation is too big or too small and we appreciate all the ways in which our families and greater community contribute to the health and vibrancy of our organization!
We give special thanks to these generous donors who have already kicked off our fundraising this year:
We're so grateful for all of you!
Barnacles & Bees
"In October we experienced the shift from chilly days to outright downpours and strong winds, with the water levels at Theler reaching all time highs. Despite the crazy wind, we celebrated our first location day near the Salmon Center!
At our windy location I was very surprised by how little accommodation our three and four year olds needed. They were happy to be there and used their time in many creative ways to explore and enjoy their environment. They huddled around the pretend fire with tea, telling stories, climbing mulch piles, finding fungus, navigating lake-sized puddles to splash in, or exploring the creeks and seeing our first salmon in Sweetwater Creek. We even visited the Salmon Center barnyard animals!
Hazel decided that she needed to collect all the water from a drain to save it for the summer when it would be most needed. Some found creatures to care for- Charlie found a defenseless slug who needed a shelter. Many found the simple joy of standing under a rain shower the best way to pass the time. Many children chose to listen to story time from TA Kelli.
Wild animal sightings were also abundant! We had the pleasure of seeing seals and many seabirds, including a Great Blue Heron chased away by a bald eagle from a high tree perch!
If there is any take away from this past month, it is that children have an extremely resilient sense of fun, adventure, and discovery. From an outside perspective- weather-wise- it might seem like a challenging time to run an outdoor early-childhood program, but we find, time and again, that the number of fun activities is as vast as ever!"
We are recruiting a new Treasurer to join the Barnacles & Bees Board of Directors! Please join our dedicated organization dedicated to creating a deep love of learning in natural spaces.
This position will be instrumental in providing fiscal guidance to our Program Director and Board of Directors in our determination to provide an inclusive learning environment for all children, regardless of financial status.
To apply, please email your resume, three applicable references, and the answers to the questions below to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Why is outdoor education important, especially for early learning?
2. What is your earliest and most fond memory of the outdoors?
3. What inspires you about this opportunity?
Download the document below for more information.
Free Summer Camp @The Salmon Center
We're fortunate to live in a location ABUNDANT with opportunities and ways in which we can learn from nature and connect to our local habitat. In developing a synergistic relationship with The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG), we've learned of their incredible resources and deep desire to connect with the community! Although their summer program began in June, there's still space on specific days for kids aged 7-11, to jump on board! Follow this link (7-11yr olds) or this one (12-15yr olds) to register today! Whether you participate in their programs or not, make a point to head over and check out their space!
As the end of our season approaches, we would like to share some important, some fun and some exciting news with you! With this year of COVID it has been difficult to establish a regular line of communication with our families, and to build an in-person community that supports our kiddos. We hope this newsletter helps families to visualize our learning space. Our teacher and mentor highlights will hopefully give you a birds-eye-view of our engaging time together and share some special moments.
Throughout May, the classes spent time on the themes of Caterpillars, Ants, Butterflies and Honeybees. Incorporating hands-on learning, art projects and learning about each one's life cycle and home. The sandpit was a great place to create the ants home. The kids spent time in teams constructing all the different features.
Looking Forward with COVID from the Board
Before we dive into the highlights from program, lets look at how we are tackling the rest of the program year with regards to COVID. As CDC guidelines continue to change with COVID we want to reassure you that we continue to follow, stay up to date, and take extra precautions with your littles and our staff. Our new COVID Policy now aligns with and follows the Bremerton School District guidelines. For all those details please follow the link to their website. https://www.bremertonschools.org/COVID-19
Also, our staff and volunteers will continue to wear a mask throughout the summer courses and into the fall.
Program on the Trail - from Teacher Robin
Today for our make up class we followed the sounds of drumming on the trail. The children all practiced their deer ears, and remained quiet until we heard the sounds again. When after a while we heard no more drumming, we continued in the general direction that we heard before. Again, a few steps up the hill, Paisley Cockrel followed her eyes up to the top of the tree to point out a pileated woodpecker! The woodpecker, choosing to be so high up would have deterred Lukas, Vera, Elias, and Gillian from looking up but they stuck with it. When the kiddos did lock eyes on the large bird, they were amazed at how hard it could wail its beak. Those that were named for the pileated woodpecker group, actually got to see it with their eyes, and everyone stood for a while to take in this magnificent bird. Lower down on another tree, we were able to see the massive rectangular holes left by the pileated woodpecker. It was a unique experience to link something left behind by a creature that was visible to us in that moment!
8:30 Hike to the Beach - from Meerkat Brenna
After learning the rules about heading out to the beach, the very eager children hiked down to the waterfront. As we explored new territory along the trail, the children stopped to touch and feel all that they could see, and hear the birds of the early morning calling out. The extreme low tides expanded our classroom even more, creating a huge oyster bed to explore full of creatures big and small. The kids were absolutely fascinated about peering over the edge of the dock and bridge at the crabs, barnacles and oysters below. They kept a sharp eye out for seals and fish. We were lucky enough to find some pretty good size dungeness crabs. Another fun find were the moon snail egg cases that were found everywhere! The children all settled into their own type of learning and played endlessly in the sand, checking out sea anemones in the mini tide pools and finding baby crabs under all the rocks they could flip. The entire 8:30am Wednesday had the best time, and all want to come back for more beach exploring and observation.
Skill Building Woven into the Weekly Themes in Jamaal's 9 am Class
There are skills that we want to instill at Barnacles and Bees that enrich a child's connection with nature. Jamaal and Kelli have brought together an assortment of skills that have spoken to a variety of personalities.Those that want to imagine and care for felt butterflies MADE BY Ms. Kelli can. While those that would prefer to whittle are welcome to. Those that want to look off of the meadow and listen to bird song, can, while those that want to document in their nature journals have a chance to add as many details as they wish. HIghlights of the skills, creative play, and exploration in the 9 am program look something like this:
Family Nature Play Class:
We are tickled pink to announce that our Family Nature Play class will resume this summer. Beginning June 23rd from 1-3 with our Fabulous Ms. Courtney leading our 2 hour classes with kiddos ages 21/2-6. This program will have individual registrations for each bi-monthly offering. More registration will be made available as soon as possible. Please be sure to share this with those who would be interested in sampling our wonderful program.
The details are:
June 23rd @ Illahee State Park
Summer Sensory Experience
Theme: Mossy Feet: Sense of Touch in the Summer
July 14 @ Mary E. Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve
Theme: Native Plants
July 28 @ Ana Smith Children’s Park
January Learning Theme
Hello and happy new year friends! Barnacles and Bees is kicking off 2021 with a great start and we are excited to share our learning theme for the month of January.
This month we are focusing on different animal senses. Last week we talked a lot about the sense of touch; how animals like raccoons, for instance, depend heavily on their sense of touch to move about the world. We also learned that raccoons in particular have such an acute sense of touch because they keep their hands wet. The moisture on their hands allows them to feel objects with more sensitivity. We did an activity where we had the kids close their eyes and try to guess the objects they were holding. We asked them to use descriptive words and use those clues to determine what they were touching. They had a great time pretending to be raccoons and enjoyed learning about how the five senses all serve a purpose in nature.
This week our focus is sight. We will be talking specifically about wind and the winter sky. Wind offers an abundance of observation opportunities for us to work on using our sight. We will be talking about how to use our sight for safety purposes as well; looking for fallen branches, talking about the causes, and how animals keep themselves safe too. This a great opportunity to include a safety reminder for the kids, while also having them use their observation and listening skill.
Another fun activity we have planned for sight is hiding wind chimes throughout the learning area for the kids to find. Once they find the hidden objects, we will have a discussion about what wind is, and how we can notice it in different ways while in the outdoors. We’ll have the kids talk about what it looks like when the wind is calm, and when it is strongest. We’ve made a wind scale for the kids to look at ranging from calm, to hurricane, and have a scientific discussion planned as well. We are excited to see how the kids react to this theme after responding so well last week.
It’s important to Barnacles and Bees that kids are not only in touch with nature, but also with themselves. These types of learning activities help introduce the elements of the outdoors while having to use observational and listening skills at the same time. This following poem about wind, written by Christina Rossetti, is one we plan to share with the kids this upcoming week. We hope you enjoy it too!
Happy new year + team highlights!
Hello friends! We hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday season and are looking forward to the new year. While this past year had its uncertainty, challenges, and difficulties, one of the things that gives us hope for the new year is our wonderful team and staff. Without our board members, executive team, teaching staff, volunteers, donors, and the support of our community, we would not be where we are today.
Though we have had some setbacks riding 2020 waves, we are hopeful that we will be able to run our Family Nature play class in the summer. As most of you know, the class is free, and is for both parents and children to play and learn in nature. This was the program that started Barnacles and Bees, and is the core of what created our team’s vision. The team focus that is present in Barnacles and Bees gives us a strong foundation to set our goals and work together to meet them, and with that mindset, we have hope for 2021.
The importance of teamwork is one of the things that we strive to teach during the program; emphasizing the value of sharing, and being a strong team member to our students. Our staff are not the only team members that make Barnacles and Bees; the children are an integral part of that team as well. Watching how well the students have braved this past year has been remarkable. We could not be more proud of how they have responded to the changes such as wearing masks, social distancing, and being separated into smaller groups at the program.
It truly was a team effort from every single person involved with Barnacles and Bees to help get us back on our feet. We would like to take the opportunity to thank our Board; Krystal Meiners (Board President), Laura Ryser (Board Treasurer), Trae Whitehead (Board Secretary), Katie Swanson (Board member), Allyson Baker (board member) and our Executive team: Cyrielle Willa (Executive director) and Robin Cockrell (Director of education) as well as our Teaching Team: Reanne Rossi & Jamaal Ali, and our assistant teachers, volunteers and parents that helped get us through this year.
As we reflect and say goodbye to 2020, we are filled with gratitude for our wonderful team and are excited to see where 2021 takes the growth of Barnacles and Bees.
Preparing for winter
We hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and that you were able to get outside! We’re excited to share what’s been happening at the nature immersion program these past couple of weeks.
As we’re moving forward into the winter seasons, the theme for the past week has been “Preparing for Winter.” During drop off time in the morning, the kids have been collecting sticks, leaves and other objects they can use to build “log cabins.” Then, as we hike to the learning area, we collect more wood and dried leaves to build our “fairy fires” once we get to the shelter. They have had a lot of fun with the creativity this project offers and it is a great segue to learning about how animals prepare for Winter.
These leaf baskets are a fun project the kids can utilize to collect “food” as they’re learning about animal hibernation. After we arrive at the learning areas, we have been asking the kids to act like animals preparing for winter; such as, finding spots to burrow, nest, hibernate etc. and think about the necessary objects and tools animals would need to stay warm for a long winter. It has been a really fun and educational activity that the kids enjoy.
Fairy fires have been another huge hit during the program these past few weeks. Fairy fires are tiny fires that we build in oyster shells, using a cotton ball as the fire fuel. It has provided a creative way to demonstrate how to build a fire on a smaller-scale, while also making it a little more magical. The kids are still learning about fire safety, but they are highly engaged and entertained at the same time.
We have had lots of fun embracing the winter season and its endless learning opportunities! We look forward to continuing to spend more time learning about the changing seasons and what that means for animals and nature.
They talk about us!
#Repost @kitsapsun We made the front page of the Kitsap Sun. Deep inhale and smile Thankful.
The chance of rain Monday was 100% with temperatures in the mid-40s as parents pulled into the parking lot of Illahee State Park to drop their kids off for school.
A heavy mist hung on the lichen laden-branches of tall cedars beneath which the children of Barnacles & Bees ( @barnaclesnbees ) outdoor education program seemed tiny dots of color in their bright rain gear.
Lead teacher Reanne Rossi led her small group down to a shelter to prepare for the day's lesson: the salmon life cycle. She reminded them of the Native Americans who have lived here since time immemorial. "Salmon to them is their life," she said.
The first activity of the day was making "salmon eggs" out of red play dough infused with scented oils. "Look another one's hatching!" said Reuben Lester, 4, showing his "egg."
Sitting beneath a cedar tree, parent mentor Kyle Kohl encouraged her small group to sniff what they could find on the ground, a pine cone, a cedar sprig.
As winter's cold has driven most people indoors, increasing the risk of COVID-19, demand for outdoor education is on the rise, said Robin Cockrel, co-founder of Barnacles & Bees and its director of education.
For the full story by reporter Chris Henry visit www.kitsapsun.com.
Click the link in the bio for a photo gallery. ( : Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun)
*** Giving Thanks, Giving Tuesday ***
It has been a challenging year for all of us, yet we have so much to give thanks for. Trying to navigate how to run the program during Covid-19 would not have been possible without the tireless efforts from our team and volunteers. The amount of care, love, and positive support that we have received from the outdoor community, parents, board members, and staff has been immense; and for that we are eternally grateful. There has not been a more appropriate time than now to make sure all children have safe access to the outdoors.
Being such a young organization has presented its challenges this past year. Developing and maintaining programs that are viable is a necessity. Having to stop our classes, create a different plan for the Fall, reduce enrollment and start a month later than expected has definitely impacted the team and our cash flow (see Impact Report). We want to be able to continue to provide quality outdoor educational programming for our community and in order to do that we need your help. As a nonprofit organization and charity, your donations are tax deductible. All proceeds will go towards our annual funds to support the growth of our educational programs, materials, technology, training, and scholarships.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are campaigning for Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving back to the community. This year, Giving Tuesday falls on December 1st, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Our goal to raise $5000 in 45 days. This is an annual day of giving that works to mobilize a global generosity movement. We wish you all a very safe and happy holiday season!
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