Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cat tails, rabbit ears and tic tac toe!

We began the day comparing cats to rabbits.  How are they the same?  How are they different?  Many kids mentioned that their tails were different; that they both have 4 legs; they are both soft.  Then we petted first Santa Fe, the farm cat and then the baby bunny (name may end up being "Oreo".  The name is still under discussion.)  We went into Herbert, the Giant  Flemish  Rabbit's pen.  We all agreed that both of the bunnies were sweet and soft. We got a close up look at their ears and tails in order to compare them with the cat.  We noticed that rabbits hopped and cats don't, except someone said that cats can jump really high. Hmmm


On our hike today we ended up in the "Secret Place."  Soon we were noticing the many sticks that were there.  A suggestion was made to make a structure.  All of the children got involved, finding sticks, putting them in a pattern (someone said it looked like tic tac toe!)  They worked together as a team and were very happy with the results.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thunder the miniature horse and some wild deer

Shhh!  I see 2 deer ahead!
Today we began with loud noises of trees being removed and chipper shredded.  As sad as it is to say goodbye to lovely trees at Farrel-McWhirter-there is a good reason.  They are about to begin work on expanding the horse pen in the barnyard -so the trees had to come down.

We had a date today with Thunder, the miniature horse. Thunder has been at Farrel-McWhirter Farm for almost 10 years and is a favorite with our very smallest riders.  We learned about his mane and tail. We got to touch and pet his soft nose and neck.  We also looked at his hooves and talked about how they were similar to our fingernails.  I suggest you reinforce this lesson by asking your child what they learned about horses today.

Since the weather remains nice, we headed out for a picnic near Juel Park.  It was a big hike for many of the kids who are new to TOP.  But we had such fun playing "Stop and Go!" along the way.  We are working on reinforcing the safety rules we have at TOP by practicing how to stop when the teacher says "Stop!"  This is a real challenge for some of the kids-Please feel free to play this game at home.  The rule is that if the child does not stop they have to come all of the way back to the person who is calling the game.

Along the way we spotted 2 deer way up the road.  We tried to sneak up closer to the deer  but they disappeared into the woods.  We are inspired to try and find them next time we hike there!

A picnic lunch!
It is always fun to have a picnic lunch on the trail.  While the weather holds, we will have as many trail picnics as we can!
New friendships are being forged!
Running through the mud and ruts along the dirt road is great!
TOP Parents: Thank you for sending your children in waterproof pants,  We certainly used them today while we ran through the new puddles and sat in the damp grass.  I would expect your children to be tired and dirty today-and every day when you pick them up. You may want to have a change of clothes and a big towel in the car so your child can change on the way home.  I also would not expect to do errands after TOP.  They may be just too tired!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mini-rex , water striders and jumping spiders-Oh My!

We had our own mini-Wild Kingdom show today when we watched as a ladybug flew straight into a web and the spider scurried down the web strand and wrapped it up for lunch like a big burrito.  We had been trying to catch the ladybug so we could all look at it but it was destined to make a tasty lunch for a spider.
The third day of The Outdoor Preschool went very smoothly as everyone begins to get used to our routine.  Kids were having fun with stamps and sorting animals, while others played Frisbee with Lochlan's dad (thanks!) or took turns in the wagon. 

We enjoyed having Teacher Kate with us today as Teacher Roo's kids are both home with a nasty flu.  Teacher Kate works part time in the indoor preschool at Farrel-McWhirter and also as a worker on the farm-so she was a wonderful person to have at TOP!  Thanks Teacher Kate!  It was fun to have you with us today!  I'm sure we will see more of Teacher Kate as the year progresses.
We sang some favorite songs for Teacher Kate:  "Way up high in the old apple tree" (technically a poem...) and along the trail we sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as we hiked.  We also got to meet the new baby bunny at the farm.  She is a mini rex rabbit  and is one of the softest creatures on the planet!  She is only 8 weeks old.  It will be fun to watch her grow up this year.    Along our hike we found some spiders spinning their webs while we zipped along toward the overflowing stream.

One of TOP's favorite places to play is where the stream jumps it's stream bed and follows the path instead.  There we can wade and jump in the water and squish the mud.  We were grateful for a warm day as well. Everyone got a cup and spoon and many kids were making "chocolate water" or other imaginative concoctions.  We caught and observed some water striders who were busy in the water.  During lunch we put a jumping spider in the bug box so that everyone could watch it!

Thanks for sending your children prepared for the weather.  Unless it stays this warm-please send your child in their waterproof pants next week.  But make sure to put a short sleeved shirt under all of the top layers so we can take those warm layers off if we need to.

And Thanks for sending your children to TOP!  It is so fun to be with them and teach them about the wilds of the Northwest!

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Its OK to get dirty at TOP!"

TOP kids climbing in a Western Red Cedar.
It was only the 2nd day of The Outdoor Preschool and the kids were already getting more adventurous, curious and willing to take chances.  The favorite climbing tree was a happy place with many kids trying out the branches that grow close together, just asking for a small child to climb them!  The younger kids watched and learned by observing.  We will encourage them to try climbing but not before they have had a chance to learn by watching.
For some of us parents it is a hard thing to watch our child standing apart; watching but not interacting.  If you have ever taken a parent/child class with a child who doesn't want to interact, it can be very frustrating.  I know it was hard for me when my child was 3-watching all of the other children ready to jump in to class, gymnastics in our case, and my child was just waiting and observing.  At the time, before I was a preschool teacher, I wondered if it was worth the money to pay for a class that my child was obviously not ready for.  But low and behold, soon my child was on the trampoline and walking on the balance beam along with the other children.
We learn so much by watching.  Many of us learned how to cook by first watching our parents cook in the kitchen.  Many of the rules of the road we learned just by being in the car with our parents while they drove us around.  So why don't we want to let our child just watch for awhile?
At TOP we take time for everything.  A child doesn't have to speak up if they aren't ready.  They don't have to climb if they aren't ready.  Although they do have to follow all of the safety rules and keep up with the group.  Something that can be a challenge these first weeks of preschool.  We will encourage them to talk during circle time or try balancing on a tree log-but we won't insist.  Children need to be ready.
Right now many of the new kids are learning how to climb without assistance. This doesn't mean I am more than a foot away from them, but that I won't pick them up.  I will help them by mentioning branches to grab, where a foot might go or even to kneel down and let them use my knee as a stepping stool.  Yesterday, as I knelt down to help a child climb up to the "trunk" of the elephant tree-the little girl picked up her foot and showed me the bottom of her muddy boot-as if that answered it all.  Without words, she pointed to her boot.  I said  " oh -is your boot muddy?"  And she said "yes."  I told her that I didn't mind getting muddy-that is what we do at TOP.  Right behind me Conrad told her - "Its ok to get dirty at TOP.  That's what we do-right Teacher Ann?  "  "Right!" 
Finally she put her dirty boot on my knee and climbed straight up to the trunk. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Welcome back to The Outdoor Preschool!

We are blessed with warm weather this first week back at The Outdoor Preschool.  We were happy to begin our day with  a new cool ball with a wind sock that flies.  Thanks Conrad for bringing the new toy to TOP!  During circle time we all learned a new poem about an Apple Tree.

Way up high in the Old Apple Tree
Two little apples smiled at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could.
Down came the apples.
MMMM were they good!

You can ask your child to show you the hand signs for it.  They are learning some real sign language with this poem.
After singing the TOP song we set out on our hike.  Over the stream, which was super low and up the hill, to the Elephant tree. Many of the kids wanted to climb the Elephant tree and sit on it's trunk.  We are learning how to climb with our hands and not someone picking us up.  We will also be working on that TOP is a dirty preschool!  I had one student explaining to a new student that it is ok to get dirty at this school.  In fact - we are supposed to get dirty!
We also practiced on our hike, stopping at signs, bridges and to stop if a teacher holds up her hand in a stop position.  The kids from last year were a big help in teaching the new kids the safety rules.  I don't think it will take too long for the new kids to be up to speed!

Snack was at the picnic table and we read a farm animal book and a book on Johnny Appleseed.  We'll be learning more about apples on Thursday.

Then there was still time for some play on the tire swings and a lot of the kids used their eagle eyes to look for beads in the wood chips.  (You might have gotten some beads home.) 

(If you ever have extra beads to donate to the school-we like to use them for hunting in the wood chips or sometimes in the woods.  I try and pick them up at garage sales.)

Oh too quickly it was time for lunch and to say goodbye.  All in all, it was a very good first day!  See you Thursday for another warm day!

PS Parents:  Please label clearly your child's backpack and lunchbox with your child's first name.  Also label your child's snack.  When it gets time for mittens you will want to label them as well.  A sharpie works well on a tag.