Our first month back is already over and the kids have all been amazing at getting back into routine, all while bringing lots of energy and excitement with them to the forest. We have seen some challenging weather this month, and some kids have powered through it stronger than others. While there have been moments of sadness over having chills and being wet, all kids have been willing to work through gear malfunctions and adjust their playing plans to still find joy in being outside.
With the extreme wet weather, we are thankful for our shelter, hot fires, and hot water bottles! With the number of chilled toes and hands, we are feeling good about our decision to buy hot water bottles and a massive thermos for the program. New this month has been the addition of a tent. In fact, the tent has been so fun that we may need to consider purchasing another one, so that we can truly have a place available that is dry and peaceful for those that need a break.
In the midst of teachers, volunteers, and kiddos being sick it has been so encouraging to see our team continue to show up ready to engage with kids. Mentioning our team, we NEED to shine a light on our newest team member Maddi! Maddi has joined us as a staff member on Fridays and we are so thrilled to see her continue to work with kiddos. Families, you would be impressed by her seemingly endless supply of patience, kindness, and peace. One Friday, a number of kiddos had forgotten that an adult must see you where you play, and whilst they were being lovingly collected, and rounded up to stand along a wall for a pep talk, Maddi was found in front of them all with a pretend cup of hot chocolate in her hands--smelling and taking sips. They were transfixed and transported to a cozy place drinking a cozy drink. We love our team of staff, volunteers, and families that bring snack and contribute to our learning community--this is what we envisioned from the beginning.
With all this rain and wind, all our families are doing such a great job making sure that their little ones are bundled up nicely and ready to play. Excellent work! We are finding some of our more spirited friends who love to get wet are not interested in keeping on their gear. Please feel free to remind your kiddos that it is important (if raining in Winter) that we keep our waterproof layers on to avoid being really wet and cold.
Mud Play, and Forest Craft
This cold and wet January we have been looking at the characteristics of the Winter season, and then given attention to the plants and trees that continue to thrive this time of year despite the lack of sun. We are all thrilled to see that the kids for the most part do not mind the rain and enjoy all manner of play. In fact, I would say that it has inspired a lot of our imaginative play this month, and provided material for creations made with tools.
Mud. There is no substance on earth like it, and there are so many things you can do with it! This month has been the perfect month to explore it more deeply, as well as all over. We have seen mud become face paint, delicious cupcakes, swimming pools to lounge in, something to kick up and see how far it will go, and paint to make a mural with. One week, Jamaal brought a dump truck to program, and it was not long into free time until the our regular mud builders were filling the truck to the brim full of their mud mixture--completely absorbed.
Fallen branches from trees have also supplied us with materials for some of our activities this month. During free play time we invited the kids to join in and make magic wands and looms. Both these activities showed us that most struggled with this fine motor activity, so it is one that we want to revisit and continue to build on. We also learned that if we are going to have an activity that we would love the kids to engage with then we need to not only offer it during free time. As cool as making a magic wand may be, pretending to be dragons that have a nest to tend to is much more fun with a group of friends. So we have decided that activities that require focus and guidance we will introduce during huddle times before snack. We will still offer the materials of course during free time if kids really enjoy what they are doing.
Working as a Team:
Having a mixed age program has a lot of benefits to it. We enjoy watching the older kids teach and model for the younger kids how to participate and learn new skills, and the younger kids allow us time to slow down, listen, and take things in around us. Although these ages work well together, it has also been great to see our huddle groups (groups of kids that are roughly the same age) learn new skills as a team and with peers with some of the same abilities and attention span.
In the older huddle group, we will call raccoons, Reanne has been blown away by their industry in working together to solve a problem and stay on task. The other day , the kiddos went in search of "y" shaped branches that had fallen from trees and found their old friend Miss. Maple. They were there in the fall asking the tree if it would please let its leaves fall down, and now having not one leaf they noticed that one of the branches had fallen. After the kids hugged the tree, they worked as a team to carry her "y" shaped branch back to our camp. Also, the older kids have been taking forays in the forest on new trails which the kids have been more than willing to explore.
In the younger huddle group, we'll call them chipmunks, the kids are excellent at pointing out the details at about 3 feet high. The other day we were looking for winter trees that had leaves and needles versus those without anything on branches. We referred to the trees with full branches as being awake during Winter, and trees without leaves that are asleep during Winter. We had found a Cedar tree on a Friday very much "awake" and our good friend Dax pointed out that the bark on one side was rubbed roughly and left soft. All the other kiddos were happy to test it out and offer up suggestions about why they thought it was rubbed so much, others just wanted to touch for a while. One other thing that I notice about the younger kids is their attention to noise and their desire to find the older huddle group in the forest. When we were one day finding "y" shaped branches, they could hear the older kids off in the distance and wanted to set off on the trail in pursuit and use what we call our "deer ears" to find them.
Implementing Core Routines:
So, we started this routine a little while back where we told the kids that we would go to free play all at once instead of letting them choose when they were done their snack. It has been going great and now we have seen a more peaceful side of everyone during this time. The kiddos are given an option of either reading or drawing findings or something out of their imagination! We have photographic evidence of some of our most energetic kids absorbed in a book.
During winter we are very much in the mood and habit of making fire with the kids, and they are responsible for filling emergency water jug, gathering kindling, and staying behind the yellow line. The kids have been great as we have experimented with what we call "Fairy Fires". These little bundles of light are a shell, with a pulled apart piece of cotton, and a smearing of Petroleum Jelly. These fires stay lit for a while and the kids love guessing which light will go out first, and noticing the embers that dance at the very last.
Fall Enrollment Information:
Barnacles and Bees will be expanding in the Fall, information are available on our website. Priority enrollment for B&B families will start March 1st. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We would love you to share your feedback with the larger community of Kitsap, to those families that are trying to decide on an outdoor program for their kiddos. In the coming months a survey will be available for you to share your thoughts honestly/anonymously.
Land Art Love Letter
Friday February 14th: 4pm - 5.30pm -$15/kid
We'll take a meandering hike together in one of our favorite park in Bremerton to create land art installations using natural materials found along the trail. We'll rearrange, balance, and lay together sticks, stones, leaves, mud, pine cones and other natural found objects along the way. We'll learn about a few famous land artists and their techniques, and we'll have time to collaborate on a group project and our own special art pieces as well. This will be our ephemeral "love letter" to the Earth and for other people who happen to be enjoying the trails while we are there.
Sign up here!
February Community Members:
February 5th: Kitsap Regional Children's Librarian Kirstin Mueller
February 28th: Ueland Tree Farm's Mark Mauren
February 19th Wedneday
February 21st Friday
February 24th Monday
The tides should be with us on these days. Dress warm!
Reminder! No School
2/17 Presidents Day
For those of you who have not memorized the Parent Handbook, and didn't have a clue as to what happens in the event of snow. Have no fear. As we are still a new organization, we are figuring this part out and have come to decide that we as a program don't always agree or have the same considerations as the school district.
So, if the school district is closed, or is delayed we will inform you buy 7am via text if there is a change for us. We will just need some time to check in with our Ranger, or go and scout out ourselves. Since Lead Teacher Robin is a chicken in bad weather conditions, she will advise families whether or not the hill to the park is safe. If the hill is safe, and the park is full of snow, the Ranger has informed us that we can drop off at the gate.