At Barnacles & Bees, our monthly Guest Mentors are helping us "see" the world through the eyes of other, impactful people and organizations in our community. And it's awesome!
One of our deepest values at Barnacles & Bees is Community & Inclusion. Our organization would never have been launched if our local community had not come together to support our vision and mission of a sustainable future. However, this place couldn’t be more precious without the amazing people and organizations that are here in Kitsap and beyond.
As such, we began our Guest Mentor program at Barnacles and Bees where we have invited community members to join us in the classroom and share the special skills, abilities and cultures that make up our thriving community. We are working to incorporate Guest Mentors in our classroom every month and so far have had Cindy Van Winkle from Lighthouse for the Blind as well as Kirsten Muller from Kitsap Regional Library. Up next up is our very own Ranger Murray from Illahee State Park!
Guest Mentor Spotlight:
Cindy Van Winkle (and Balsa the Seeing Eye Dog) | Lighthouse for the Blind
Cindy Van Winkle is a member of our blind community here in Kitsap. She joined our classroom in March. Working with Cindy was an amazing experience and having her in the classroom for a day was instrumental in helping our children further understand the amazing world of “Senses;” something that we had already been exploring a great deal in our sensory-rich environment. We were grateful to have Cindy join us with her seeing eye dog, Balsa – details of our day can be found below!
What was our day like with Cindy?
We started the day in our circle. Cindy asked all of the children to go around the circle and tell her their names and ages so that she could get a sense of who they were (and where they were). Once they had introduced themselves, she introduced herself to them and explained a little about what it means to be blind.
When she finished the book, she explained what braille was: a form of writing using raised letters so that blind people can feel the words.
Next, she read a book out loud to the children—"The Pout Pout Fish" by Deborah Diesen, a book that some of the kids were already familiar with. But the remarkable thing to see was that she was reading by using her fingers—reading braille!
When she finished the book, she explained what braille was: a form of writing using raised letters so that blind people can feel the words. The illustrations were also raised and when the book was done, she invited them to come up and feel them. The children thought this was pretty amazing and several even tried feeling the pictures and letters with their eyes closed so that they could share Cindy's experience of the world.
Next, Cindy introduced the kids to her Seeing Eye Dog, Balsa, and taught the children how to approach a working dog that they want to touch. First and foremost, ask the blind or assisted person if you can pet their dog. That person may say no, and if they do, that's okay! BUT they may say yes! If they do say yes, the blind or assisted will likely give instructions on how to pet their dog, but mostly you want to remember to be gentle and pat the dog on the head. This isn't a dog who is going to play or fetch a stick. But some gentle love is perfectly appropriate. Most of the children put this into practice and took turns going up to Cindy and asking if they could pet Balsa.
"Does your blindness make your other senses into superpowers?
The children had a great Q&A with her afterward. Some key questions included: "Does your blindness make your other senses into superpowers? Like can you hear REALLY REALLY good?" (No.) "Is your daughter blind, too?" (No.) "When your eyes are open, what do they see?" This was a tricky one, but the short answer is: nothing. No light. No fuzzy figures. Nothing.
But it is important to remember that not every blind person is blind the same as Cindy.
We ended our time together by playing one of our favorite games: "Fox Feet." Cindy sat in the middle of a circle and held a stick. The kids took turns creeping up to her in an effort to take the stick away. If she heard them, she'd point at them and then it would be the next child's turn to try! We've played this game many times since Cindy's visit to us, and its great fun! Feel free to try it at home!
Barnacles & Bees is hosting an Open House this on May 4th at Illahee State Park. Please join our team where you can learn more about a day in the life of a Barnacles & Bees including our Guest Mentor Program!
Learn more about our Open House on May 4th here.
Fall enrollment is coming! We invite you to join us for an open house hosted by our team on May 4th from 10am to 12pm, to learn more about a day in the life of a B&B student. Lead Teacher Robin Cockrel will guide parents and kiddos alike through the immersion program routine and answer questions about the curriculum, all-weather education, and what to expect day-to-day. Executive Director Cyrielle Willa will talk about enrollment and tuition.
We are going to meet at Illahee State Park at the baseball field (see below). Please note that a Discover Pass is required to park at all State Parks.
On Saturday, April 20th from 1:30-3:30, we will be doing a waterfall hike + creek clean-up at the lovely Stephenson Canyon in East Bremerton, followed by a happy hour, and evening soiree at Crane's Castle Brewing from 4:00-6:00. Both events are family friendly and open to all!
Can't make it to the work day? No problem! Our happy hour is open to all and is kid-friendly.
Join us in celebrating our good green earth with fun, friends, pints and pizza! For every pint purchased - Crane's Castle will generously donate a portion of the proceeds to Barnacles & Bees!
The Great Give is 24 hours of online giving hosted by Kitsap Community Foundation.
Every dollar you donate is boosted by the Bonus Pool!
Do you know what moss feels like? Do you know the taste of honeysuckle or salmon berry straight from the plant? Have you ever sunk your toes so deep in the mud that you felt your roots come alive? Help the kids in our community have these experiences and more by donating to Barnacles & Bees 🐝 during the Kitsap Great Give! From now through April 23 you can help make an impact by reconnecting children to nature with us!
Our parent's newsletter from January had a lot of great information that we wanted to share with our friends and families in the community.
Read about our mornings at Illahee State Park with our class.
Our goal for the kids when we part from their caregivers in the morning is to set off and acclimate to being outside. Our class has experimented with going on a hike first thing, but our default has been to go directly to the lower shelter of our main classroom area and establish our boundaries. Once we have done this, the children have been diving directly into interest-led discovery alongside their peers. We may play small games centered on sensory development like listening and looking (or painting with our mouths as we discovered was the optimal way to put paintbrush to canvas this month), but before we know it, we are gathering around the stump circle where we have our snack to refuel, listen to a story, and warm up with hot tea and hot water bottles.
After snack and story we go into our sit spot routine where the kids are invited to use their senses to be calm and still in their own space; observing their place and connecting with their surroundings. We then gather and invite the children to come back to us with their findings and share their observations and any found items with the group.
In our first month, the first part of our day and the last part of our day is free play time. As we move into the next month, we will be beginning our day with a hike instead of going down to our central location for the rest of our day before heading back to the shelter for pick up time.
Core routines are the activities that we do every day. They are skills that are practiced day in and day out and have the potential to create the foundation for the kids’ time outside. We encourage you to carry on these routines at home for additional practice. The routines listed below are just the ones that we started with this month, but we will be building new ones in February!
Nature journals are an opportunity for children to document something from their day; it may look like, for some kids who are not as interested in putting pencil to paper, a dictation from a mentor in the class based on a conversation they are having with the kiddo, or a simple taping of specimens onto paper. This routine, now at the end of the day might be moved to after sit spot time so that the information is fresh in their mind. As it is right now, at the end of the day the kids really just want to climb and run around before their caregivers pick them up!
Wonder Questions make up the meaty “learning” portion of our day. It lays the foundation for curiosity and questions that kids can conjure and create when they are outside. In the months to come this will also be where we introduce the topic for the week. The mentor’s job during this time together is to set some items in the middle of our fire circle and ask wonder questions, sometimes prefacing with a story about the origin, sometimes not: “ I wonder where this came from,” “ I wonder how it got its shape,” and “ I wonder if it can be used for anything.” The responses that come from this time together is my favorite part of the day!
Our immersion program has been running for over a month now. We are so grateful to be part of the adventure with this awesome team and amazing families. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more live info!
The weather has been nice, we are founding our marks and settling in our chore routines. We just received our letter of determination from the IRS! We are saying goodbye to our fiscal sponsorship and hello to growing up as a 501C3 :)
We have 48hours left before our Indiegogo fundraising comes to an end. If you follow us on Facebook you already know that we hit our goal of $5000 on #GivingTuesday. Now Every $ over our Indiegogo goal will go toward our scholarship fund for low income families.
Please consider donating on our fundraising page or sharing this post on Facebook or Instagram. Spreading the word will help us continue building our outdoor learning community! Follow us @barnaclesnbees Thank you!
Barnacles and Bees is teaming with NOLA Baby to collect gently used outdoor gear to create a library of warm, waterproof layers for kids that play with us outside in our Family Nature Play Class and our Illahee outdoor program starting in January! Another reason to love this store!!
From now through January - you can drop off your donation at Nola Baby, or during our December Family Nature Play Classes. Below are the items that we are in most need of. We are also open to other donations like toddler backpacks, small water bottles, reusable snack bags and more!
Join us for a family-friendly hike this Black Friday and leave the holiday store crowds behind. Gather, breathe and celebrate community connections.
When: Friday, Nov. 23rd
Where: Ueland Tree Farm
We are live!!