This February was one for the books! Not only did we see record snowfall unlike anything our region has seen in nearly 100 years, we are in the second month of our program—albeit a shortened month. But don't worry! We'll make up the lost time at the end of the term. We are so proud of all of the kiddos who come to learn and play despite the colder temperatures we have experienced this month—snowmageddon aside. Here are the things we would like you to know about February at Barnacles & Bees.
Mapping Out the ParkAt the beginning of February, we began to create a map of Illahee State Park. In the beginning, the only thing filled in on our map was our learning area—our stump circle, shelter, bathrooms, and park boundaries. Since then, we have filled in the map together with local landmarks, prominent trees, rocks, and more.
As a part of this process, the kids have begun to name some of those landmarks. Our main gathering space has been deemed "Eagle Land" due to the number of eagles we have seen fly through the area. The children have also dubbed a large stump next to the shelter "Snail Stump," because a child can actually crawl inside it and imagine what it is like to be a snail in a shell. Their creativity is so much fun to experience!
We don't expect our kids to learn to be master cartographers from this experience. But we do hope that they will learn a little spacial awareness and that they will learn to recognize the landmarks that surround them, and feel some affection and pride for them. In the coming weeks, we will continue to fill in our map. When it is complete, we will laminate it and use it to support an exercise in teamwork: "treasure hunts"—a fixed point that the children will need to work together to find.
Online Photo Album
For the month of January we created an online photo album that we add to each week so that you have a window into our time outside. We invite you as you look at the pictures to comment and have a conversation among yourselves about what you see going on. Also, in the interest of ongoing communication with parents about how their child is doing in class, our Lead Teacher will email two to three families per week with progress about their child that week, with particular highlights and updated goal setting. Photo album here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/t7nfn9oxn78JaYYcA
Finding Our Routine
Last month, we shared a little about our core routines. We've added new activities and made changes to others as we continue to find our rhythm together. Here are some of what's new:
Boundary Setting: In our earliest classes, we began each session by marking the boundaries of our "classroom" by walking its perimeter together and wrapping it with brightly-colored tape. While this was effective for our first week, it quickly turned into an unnecessary, time-consuming task, particularly as the children became accustomed to the space. We decided to let this activity go, and we are thrilled to see that the kids have an inherent desire to stay together, although we do give gentle reminders to play where they can see an adult, and an adult can see them. This change in our routine has allowed us to and dive directly into routines relevant to learning and play.
Emergency Drills: It's important that our staff are prepared to handle any emergency situation, and the children are prepared to respond, particularly in a classroom without walls. Each day, we do a handful of "emergency drills." The teacher blows the whistle, and the kids must immediately stop what they are doing, come running, and wait to receive further instruction. We're proud that with each drill, they get a little faster, and a little more responsive. We will continue to practice this throughout our time together.
Free Play: On a typical day, once we've had our morning circle, we have about 40 minutes of unstructured free play. We come back together for a snack in our stump circle, which is typically integrated with stories and sharing. Then it's back to play! They have fun and explore—together, or on their own—with whatever excites them. It is this kind of play that cultivates curious and creative learners who are engaged with their surroundings. Just last week, a child collected seven earthworms! The other learners gathered around and we examined them and asked questions together. "Why is there a moist trail behind the worm?" "Where is the front and where is the back?" "Which will go fastest?" Naturally, we held a race to answer the last question!
Coming up March:
We are thrilled to welcome our first guest teacher this month—a member of the Blind community in our region and a staff member at The Lighthouse for the Blind in Seattle. We are still working to secure a date, but she will come and talk to the kids about what it is like to be blind, and how they can use all of their senses to experience nature. This will be especially helpful the kids engage in their own sensory awareness, particularly with our Sit Spot routine.
St. Patrick's DayOn Monday, March 18, we will celebrate St. Patrick's Day in class with a treasure hunt utilizing our new map! (No need to send green food or dress your child in green!) We embrace celebrating cultures. If you want to share your family's culture with the class, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will coordinate an opportunity!
Mark your Calendar!
Barnacles & Bees Free Family Nature Play Classes
Be sure to invite your friends with little children to our free family nature play-classes at Smith Nature Play Park. Family Nature Play Class is a great way to show others what a day in class is like for your child. It's exciting, it's fun, and best of all, it's free!
When: Friday, March 1st, 15th, and 29th
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Location: Smith Nature Play Park (1261-1299 Park Ave, Bremerton, WA 98337)
Where to park: Kitsap Community Resources parking lot
Where to meet: We will start on grass by the parking lot. Make sure to check in with CC.
For more details about the class click here
Spring Nature Art WorkshopBarnacles & Bees is partnering with Amber from The Makery to offer this 90 min Family Art & Sensory Nature workshop. We will have 10 simple projects that provide open-ended art and sensory experiences using nature as the inspiration and medium, and kids will wander independently to what interests them! This workshop is best for ages 18 months to 5-year-olds. To sign up follow this link: Registration/Payment for workshop.
When: Friday, April 5th
Time: 2:00 - 3:30 PM
Where: Smith Nature Play Park, 1261-1299 Park Ave, Bremerton, WA 98337
Group size: 20 kids
Regular price: $12 per child
Discounted price for Barnacles & Bees family: $8 per child
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