2015 Summer Park in the Dark Dates

June 29th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Night time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12 though all ages are welcome! We will meet at the Graham Visitors Center (2300 Arboretum Dr E)
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  • Saturday, July 11, 8:30-10:00pm
  • Saturday, July 25, 8:00-9:30pm –  CANCELED
  • Saturday, August 8, 8:00-9:30pm
  • Saturday, August 22, 7:30-9:00pm

Cost is $8 per person
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Pre-registration is required. This allows our instructor to properly plan and prepare for each class so that you and your family can get the most out of it. Drop-ins are not accepted.

Weekend Family Fun!

March 26th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Get outside and explore the Botanic Gardens by day or by night with these new family-friendly hikes.

Park in the Dark

Night Hike ImageNight time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12 and run from 7:30-9pm on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center!
Cost is $8/person
Register online or call 206-685-8033

**NEW**Dates 

  • July 11, 8:30-10pm
  • July 25, 8:00-9:30pm
  • August 8, 8:00-9:30pm
  • August 22, 7:30-9:00pm

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Family Nature Walks

Family Nature Walks focus on discovering the wonders of nature through fun and engaging activities, games, and exploration. Search for mushrooms, pretend to be a pollinator, or spot birds using binoculars!  This class is best suited for families with children ages 5-12. Walks will continue rain or shine (hopefully shine!) – dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes that can get wet or dirty. The walks start at 10:30, the 3rd Saturday of the month and are 90 minutes long. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center!

Cost: $7/person (kids 3 and under are free, so don’t count them toward your payment)
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Themes (all programs are from 10:30am-12pm)

UW Botanic Gardens Summer Camps

March 17th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

It’s that time of year again when we pull out our calendars and begin to think about summer plans. Consider signing your child up to play and learn outside all summer! We are offering ten weeks of outdoor, nature-based summer camps at the Washington Park Arboretum. New themes have been added like Bird is the Word! and Bug Safari, and kept some of our favorites like Tadpoles and Whirligigs and Northwest Naturalists.

Weeks available as of 3/17/2015

Week 1st-3rd available 4th-6th available
June 22 1 1
June 29 1 6
July 6 Full 4
July 13 Full 4
July 20 Full 5
July 27 Full 4
August 3 Full 9
August 10 Full 9
August 17 Full Full
August 24 Full Full

Interested in working at our summer camp? We have multiple opportunities available!

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Summer Garden Guide

Preschool Camp Assistant & After-Camp Specialist

Preschool Camp Garden Guide

 

 

 

Winter with Fiddleheads Nature Class

January 27th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
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Investigating a spider sighting

 

 

 

The winter session of Fiddleheads Family Nature Class is in full swing this month, despite the weather. Preschoolers aged 2-5 are learning how winter is special, what a skeleton is, what a fossil is and how they form, and even delving into a little chemistry! Every week is a different theme with fun new activities to get you and your little one interested in science, nature, and the world around us.

 

 

 

Taking a closer look at a slug

Taking a closer look at a slug

 

 

Classes are Tuesday-Thursday mornings from 10am-12pm with a special Wednesday afternoon session from 1:30-3:30pm for preschoolers ages 4-5.

More information on price, time, discounts, location, and topics.

Call 206-685-8033 or email uwbgeduc@uw.edu for more information.

 

 

What lives in a pond?

What lives in a pond?

 

 

Upcoming topics:
I Can Be a Scientist! – February 3-5

Trees Grow Up, Too – February 10-12

How Animals Move – February 24-26

Spying With Our Eyes – March 3-5

Sounds of the Forest – March 10-12

Fun In the Mud – March 17-19

Snails, Slugs, and Slimy Things – March 24-26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories from the Forest Grove: Childhood, Wildness, and Learning

November 26th, 2014 by Joanna Wright

Joanna Wright is a long-term substitute for Fiddleheads Forest School. Here she reflects on the essence of Fiddleheads and its context within the blossoming movement toward experiential, nature-based learning.

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On my first day at Fiddleheads Forest School, one of the preschoolers leads me to his “magic spot” to meet the owls. “Up there, see that bulge?” We peer into the hemlock canopy. “That’s a mother owl and her baby. They’re sleeping right now.” By his evocation, the inquisitive face of a barred owl appears in my mind’s eye. “I have some bones from the owl pellets, they’re in here.” He kneels down purposefully and lifts a single scale of a pine cone, revealing a small pile of rodent bones stashed underneath. To anyone else, that thumb-nail-sized scale is just another bit of forest floor. To him, it’s the lid to his treasure chest, and a link to the owl friends perched above him, keeping him company in his magic spot.
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Fiddleheads Forest School, an outdoor preschool in the Washington Park Arboretum, is among a small but rapidly growing number of early childhood learning centers offering what Richard Louv has called “Vitamin N” — opportunities for developing connection with nature.

There is no shortcut to nature connection, no cheap, quick way to acquire it and be done. Real relationship with the natural world arises from direct, open-ended experience. Fiddleheads and other forest preschools come out of an understanding of early childhood as a unique time for this kind of experience. Full of energy, creativity, and curiosity, young children are tuning into the world through their senses; the familiar yet ever-changing environment of our forest grove classroom offers a rich landscape of discovery.

In his recent talk in Seattle, Jon Young, founder of Wilderness Awareness School, emphasized that children have an innate capacity for nature connection, and to grow that capacity they need unstructured, unsupervised time outdoors. They also need reciprocity; mentors who will listen with genuine interest to their stories and observations, and ask them questions that lead to new experiences, new questions.

While “unsupervised” is not realistic in many settings, including ours at Fiddleheads, we use clear safety boundaries to enable freedom of exploration. Curriculum is used to support child-led learning.

There is plenty of open time in our day, during which the children choose what they want to do. Play is the children’s serious work. In an organic way, they engage in activities according to their interests and energy levels, as well as the dynamics of the group. As teachers, we support the children’s engagement by actively keeping our perception open to what is really going on for them, and promoting skills that can help them when they encounter the edges of their comfort zone, knowledge, and awareness.

Curricular elements are called forth by the ecological and social dynamics in class. Science and art projects help us delve into and express our observations of the natural world. A “peace table” creates a space for reflection and conflict-resolution. Materials are brought in, complimenting what the forest provides, with which to exercise fine- and gross-motor skills. There is a strong social/emotional element throughout, using tools for self-awareness, self-regulation, communication, cooperation, and celebration of individuality.

P1030486One of the few things structured into every day is time in our “magic spots.” Each child has their own magic spot, which they return to over the course of the year. The only “rule” during magic spot time is that no one can disturb someone else who is in their magic spot. Sometimes, a child in their magic spot will turn their attention outward, using their senses to explore what is around them. Often though, the children use the time to turn inward, sometimes talking to themselves, enjoying uninterrupted time in their own company. While each child’s magic spot is within eyesight of a teacher, we give them enough distance to have the sensation of safe solitude. This is a rare opportunity in childhood today, and witnessing it makes me realize how vital it is. They are invited to stay in their magic spot as long as they wish, and when they return, we have circle time and snack, sharing stories from our magic spot with the group.

The kids at Fiddleheads have taught me many things, including how to have fun outdoors, no matter what the weather. During the week of downpours in early November, we all checked our “puddle armor” (rain gear) and went splashing and running through the Arboretum. We caught raindrops with different kinds of buckets, plastic ones, tin ones, becoming percussionists in the storm. We measured puddle-depth with sticks and turned giant magnolia leaves into boats. One day after school, I was biking home along Lake Washington in a deluge so thick I could hardly see, and found myself laughing out loud, flooded with joy, welcoming the rain. I would be warm and dry soon enough; for now, I was fully feeling the world’s wild weather. The capacity for such raw delight has always been there in me (and is part of what brought me to teaching), but for it’s accessibility in that moment, I have preschoolers at Fiddleheads to thank.

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The rain was followed by a cold snap — clear, blue skies, frosty mornings, and air that nipped at our noses and toes. Suddenly, many more leaves came down in our classroom, carpeting the ground in browns and golds. We went on long hikes to keep warm, buried each other in leaf piles, examined exquisite ice crystals that popped out of wet ground, shaped like clumps of spaghetti. The mushrooms that we had been watching all autumn began to give themselves back into the ground, visible reminders of the cycle of life.

One day, we found a dead house finch in the forest grove. It caught the interest of several kids, who spent much of the morning observing it closely and talking about what might have happened to it. They decided to place it in a little hole in the ground under the magnolia tree, choosing not to cover it, so that they could watch the decomposition process.

After a tender delivery of the bird to its resting place, three of the boys transitioned seamlessly into an imaginative game in which one of them was a dying bird, being cared for by the others. I watched from a distance as they wrestled with this encounter with mortality. When I described the scene later to one of the boy’s parents, she said the family’s cat was quite sick and elderly, and they had been talking about how it might not be alive for much longer. We wondered together about the connections the boy was making between the experience with the bird and his beloved cat.

Meanwhile, winter deaths and dormancies are accompanied by signs of life; indeed, they are experientially inseparable. Falling leaves are revealing winter buds, reminding us on the coldest of days that spring will come, and that the trees know it. How deeply calming it is, to be surrounded by those non-judgmental, patient, rooted beings that give the forest its shape and texture. Many of them germinated there before we were born and will be there after we have gone. It seems to me that their simple, powerful presence is inherently grounding for the children and adults alike.

I feel fortunate to be a part of the Fiddleheads community. I am excited to see how it develops, and curious about the blossoming movement of which it is a part. What are these forces, drawing us back to the forests, the wetlands, the wildness of inner and outer landscapes? Who will we become, if we listen, if we respond? Time will show us. The children will show us.

Autumn Is Amazing

October 18th, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

liquidambfallcolorThe Liquidambar styraciflua, or Sweetgum, is one of autumn’s most brilliantly colored trees, its leaves showing off every color in the spectrum.

The Liquidambar was wide spread, existing all over the Northern Hemisphere during the Tertiary Period (250-65 million years ago), but mostly disappeared due to glaciation during the ice age. Now this tree is native only to the SE United States and some areas of Mexico and Central America.  These deciduous trees can grown to 80-100 feet tall & live up to 400 years.  Its species name in Latin means ‘flowing with resin’ as the sweet resin in this tree was originally used for chewing gum.

They can be mistaken for maples as they have a similar palmate leaf. The Sweetgum leaf has 5-7 pointed lobes, but is usually flat along the bottom. They also have a distinctive spiky  brown fruit in autumn.

Our free Weekend Walks 10/19 – 11/16 will take visitors to view this and other deciduous plants in our collection.  Please join us.  See Visit > Tours for more information.

Fruits & Nuts appear in autumn

September 23rd, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Read the rest of this entry »

September Kayak Tours at the Arboretum

August 26th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Learn about the wetland ecosystem, including a little bit of history and little bit of ecology!  It’s great exercise and also simply beautiful.

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com

Dates:

  • Thursday, September 4th                    3pm and 5:30pm
  • Friday, September 5th                           3pm and 5:30pm
  • Saturday, September 6th                     10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm
  • Sunday, September 7th                         10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Step Outside This Summer

February 4th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Summer Camp at the Washington Park Arboretum is starting its fourth year with more weeks and themes than ever. Kids from 6-12 years can go on weekly adventures featuring bugs, birds, frogs, trees, weeds, and even an art and cooking show.

Learn more about the 2014 Summer Camp at the UW Botanic Gardens!

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Fiddleheads Winter Series

December 19th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

A new year brings new faces, fresh starts, and a new Fiddleheads series! Join Teacher Kate this winter in exploring the Washington Park Arboretum using all of our senses. Each week will be a different theme including:

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  • Rain, Water and Mud!
  • Ice and Snow
  • Hibernation
  • Nature Through Our Noses
  • Sounds of the Forest
  • Roots, Shoots, and Bark
  • Decomposers Are My Friends
  • I Can Be A Scientist
  • Dinosaurs and Fossils
  • Signs of Spring
  • Turtles, Beavers, and Wetlands
  • How Animals Move

 

So this winter, join us for a class of nature connection activities and outdoor play. Each week’s activities include art projects, games, learning stations focusing on fine and gross motor and pre-literacy skills based around the theme, as well as hiking and exploring the park and letting the children’s interests lead the way. Fun for parents and their preschoolers!

Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10am-12pm at the Washington Park Arboretum. More information about the classes.

$18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class.

Discount for 6 or more classes! ($14/class, $7 for additional child)

Register online or call 206.685.8033

 

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