Pest and Disease Control for your Fruits and Veggies!

July 24th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Knowing your soil is one of the first steps to  a healthy garden

Knowing your soil is one of the first steps to a healthy garden

Growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs can be a satisfying treat! But seeing your prize tomato or carrot with a rotten spot or a bite taken out of it can be a heartbreaker. How can you prevent pests and diseases in your edible garden, and do so in a safe, responsible manner? Join us and learn about Natural Pest and Disease Control for Edibles in this 3 hour class taught by Emily Bishton of Green Light Gardening.

We’ll talk about choosing the right site, soil fertility, variety and crop selection, and even how to attract beneficials to your garden. And if things get too bad and you need to bring out the heavy artillery, we’ll also discuss non-toxic and least toxic products you can use with peace of mind.

WHAT: Natural Pest and Disease Control for Edibles class
WHEN Saturday, August 1, 2015, 9am – 12pm
WHERE UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105

WHO: Home Gardeners, Community Gardeners, Patio Gardeners!
COST: $30
Register Online, or call 206-685-8033

You might need some help protecting your veggies

You might need some help protecting your edible crops…

Water-Wise Gardening

July 1st, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

It’s hot out! With temperatures in the 80s and 90s, we sure are feeling the heat. You can bet your plants in the blazing hot sun feel it too! Since we get so little rain in the summer months, its important, (and cost-effective) to prepare for the drought.

What can you do to help your plants thrive, save water, and still have a stunning garden in July? It turns out you can do quite a bit, from choosing the right plant, to increasing the amount of water your soil can hold, to deciding if a particular irrigation system is right for you.

If you are worried about your plants fainting from the heat, or just want a low maintenance, drought-tolerant garden, check out this class. Your plants will thank you!

More class information…

Dry Garden

Drought-tolerant garden from a local water-wise gardener

What: Water-Wise Gardening

When: Wednesday, July 15th, 6:30-8pm

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom (Did we mention this classroom is air conditioned?)

Cost: $15; $20 after July 8th

How to register: Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

Meet Our Summer Education Staff

June 9th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

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Once again our Summer Camps have grown. Now spanning 10-weeks, we will host hundreds of budding scientists and naturalists at the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture. Our amazing staff comes from all over North America and possesses tremendous experience and knowledge.

Michelle_BrownellMichelle Brownell, Garden Guide

Michelle grew up in Springfield, IL and earned her bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. For the last two years, she has lived in St. Petersburg, FL and recently relocated to Seattle. While in Florida, she worked as a substitute teacher and taught robotics classes for the Sylvan Learning Center. Her two summers in Florida were spent working as a summer camp instructor for Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Aquarium. She has worked for seven seasons at various Boy Scout and YMCA camps throughout the US and Canada. Michelle loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking, backpacking and camping.

Bailey_CraigBailey Craig, Garden Guide

A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Bailey loves nothing more than learning in the outdoors with students of all ages! She graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation and has since earned graduate certificates in Museum Studies and Education for the Environment and Community. Bailey has enjoyed conducting Biological research in South Africa, the San Juan Islands, and in laboratories at the UW, but she has found that working with kids is what she enjoys best. Since the 9th grade she has been combining her love of science with her passion for education and conservation by working and volunteering with the Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, and IslandWood. Bailey is currently coaching gymnastics and pursuing a Master’s in Education from the University of Washington and she is thrilled to spend her summer exploring the gorgeous Arboretum with Seattle’s youth. Bailey loves reading, dancing, teaching, eating tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches, and meeting invertebrates.

Katy_JachKaty Jach, Garden Guide

Katy grew up on the east side of the mountains in Yakima, Washington. She enjoys hiking, rafting, swimming, and just about any activity where she can be outside! In addition to exploring nature, Katy also loves to explore other parts of the world. In fact, she has lived in two South American countries; both Ecuador and Argentina. Katy is a current junior studying Spanish and Education at the University of Washington. Last summer, she worked as an assistant instructor at the Yakima Arboretum and is very excited to continue to do similar work here in Seattle!

Morgan_LawlessMorgan Lawless, Garden Guide

Born and raised in Syracuse, Morgan went to the University of New England in Southern Maine and stayed in New England several years after graduation. She has worked outdoor education through a program called Nature’s Classroom. Teaching outside is the reason she decided to go to Islandwood and get her Master’s in Education. She is excited about working at the Arboretum this summer! Morgan really enjoys spending time outside near any body of water.  She loves looking for creatures that live in the water. She also likes hiking and reading.

 

Casey_O'KeefeCasey O’Keefe, Preschool Garden Guide & Extended Camp

Casey studies Biology at University of Washington and has been involved with science education since she was in high school. For the past two years she has taught summer camps at Pacific Science Center. Casey has experience volunteering with Mountains to Sound Greenway and works on undergraduate research at UW. She is excited to share her love of nature and wildlife during her first summer at the Arboretum!

 

Morgan_WrightMorgan Wright, Preschool Garden Guide
Morgan was born in British Columbia and lived at WindSong Cohousing until moving to Seattle in 2000. She graduated last year from the Community, Environment, and Planning program at the University of Washington. Since then, Morgan has traveled to Israel, ridden her bicycle from Seattle to Yellowstone, interned for YES! Magazine, and continued the work she loves best: teaching and caring for children of all ages. She is passionate about community, education, and ecology. In her free time, Morgan loves to bike, cook, make art, and spend time with her family and friends in Seattle.

 

Dave_GiffordDave Gifford, Camp Coordinator
Originally from Philadelphia, Dave has been exploring and teaching in the Pacific Northwest for over seven years in a number of different programs. Recently he taught at the University Child Development School and at environmental education programs in the Seattle area including Islandwood on Bainbridge Island. Last Summer Dave was a Garden Guide at the Arboretum and is excited to return as the Camp Coordinator. Dave loves hiking the Cascades and exploring the beaches of the Sound. He also enjoys working on community projects and volunteering

2015 Summer Classes

June 4th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
2015summercatalogcover

Our new summer catalog!

Our new summer catalog is out, and we have a lot to offer in the next few months! Introducing Yoga in the Arboretum, Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor, new Monday Night Lite free classes, a series on sustainable home gardening, and of course plenty of ProHort classes for our professionals and advanced gardeners.

Here is a taste of what’s coming this summer:

Yoga in the Arboretum

6 class series (the first 2 dates are free!)

Saturdays, July 11 and 18, August 8-29th from 9:30-11am
Join yoga teacher Aliette Frank in the Arboretum for some fun exploration of yoga in outdoor environments. Using elements of breath (pranayama), posture (asana), and focused gaze (drishti), we tune into nature and ground into our environment. Class is great for beginners through advanced practitioners.

 

 

Hydrangeas done by instructor Lisa Snow Lady

Hydrangeas done by instructor Lisa Snow Lady

 

 

Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor

4 Monday Mornings, 10am-12pm, August 10-24
Capture the essence of flowers and foliage in this 4-part class with simple, quick techniques and portable materials! While using the beautiful perennial beds and borders at the Center for Urban Horticulture as a backdrop, you will be guided in an intuitive approach to sketching with pen, layering watercolor washes, and gathering tips that can be applied to everyday sketching.

 

 

Monday Night Lites
These free monthly talks coincide with Monday late-open hours at the Miller Library and the Hyde Herbarium, as well as the clinic offered by King County Master Gardeners. Classes are always from 6:30-7:30pm and feature a variety of topics accessible to all audiences.

  • Planting for Pollinators ( July 6)
  • UW Farm Tour and Talk (August 3)
  • Culinary Herbs (September 14)

Sustainable Home Gardening Practices

Learn to keep your yard looking spiffy the right way.

Don’t forget our professional series (ProHort) for landscape professionals and advanced home gardeners. Professional Credits available.  Topics this summer include:

Experience the UW Farm with our Talk  and Tour in August!

Experience the UW Farm with our Talk and Tour in August!

Going Nutty for Native Plants!

May 7th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Wild Ginger (Asarum rubrum) thrives in moist shade and its semi-evergreen foliage and deep red flowers smell just like tropical ginger

Wild Ginger (Asarum rubrum) thrives in moist shade and its semi-evergreen foliage and deep red flowers smell just like tropical ginger

Many of our native plants have very ornamental branch structures, flowers, leaves, and berries, making them ideal for incorporating into an established landscape or using as the foundation for a new garden. Native plants are already adapted to our wet winter/dry summer climate and acidic soils, and do not require much fertilizer or supplemental water once established. Adding native plants to your landscape is a great way to increase its year-round beauty without increasing the amount of time and resources you use to maintain it.

This class will provide you with tips for determining which native plants will fit best into your landscape, which plants will also attract birds and beneficial insects to provide natural pest control in your garden, and planting methods for bare-root or containerized natives.

 

The class will include an indoor presentation with live plants and samples, plus an outdoor tour of mature native plants at the Center for Urban Horticulture!

What: Native Splendor in the Garden

Evergreen Huckleberry also thrives in sun or part-shade, with a reddish tinge to it new leaves and winter foliage, plus tasty berries for you and the birds every fall!

Evergreen Huckleberry also thrives in sun or part-shade, with a reddish tinge to it new leaves and winter foliage, plus tasty berries for you and the birds every fall!

Who: Emily Bishton, of Green Light Gardening

When: Wednesday, May 13, from 6:30-8pm

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, (3501 NE 41st St, Seattle)

How: Register Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

Cost: $15

What and Where is the Sino-Himalayan Hillside?

May 1st, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Photo Credit: Scott Zona

Illicium henryi (Henry’s Star Anise)-found on the Hillside. Photo Credit: Scott Zona

Take a closer look at this often overlooked collection from the higher elevations of Western China and the Himalayan foothills. This area of the Arboretum, right off of Azalea Way, showcases some unique and unusual plants, and contains tremendous diversity. A great number of garden-worthy plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest can be found here as well. You may even get some new ideas for your garden!

Plants found here include Osmanthus, Lithocarpus, Rhododendron, Stachyurus, and Illicium.

Ray Larson, UW Botanic Gardens Curator of Living Collections, will lead you on a journey through some of the most interesting plant collections in the Washington Park Arboretum. Learn about rare and unusual plants, collections based on genetics and eco-geographic habitats, and unusual stories of how these plants have made their way to us over the years. Each class will include both a presentation and walk through the collections.

What: A Closer Look: Sino-Himalayan Hillside
When: Tuesday, May 5th, 6:30-8pm
Where: Washington Park Arboretum, Graham Visitors Center
Cost: Just $5!
How: Register online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

 

Exciting News at Fiddleheads Forest School!

April 13th, 2015 by Kit Harrington

 

 


Listening and responding to the needs of our community is a cornerstone of the Fiddleheads philosophy. Sarah and I were absolutely astounded this year at the outpouring of interest our tiny school received. As word of the Fiddleheads Forest School spread, parents from all over the region took notice of the individualized attention we give to each child, our unique curriculum that thoughtfully integrates the specialized opportunities afforded by the environment to each student, and our remarkable forest grove classroom site where students develop a deep, mindful connection to their environment and to their peers. The result of all this care and consideration is that this year more than 90 families from as far south as Kent and as far north as Edmonds applied to become a part of the Fiddleheads Forest School community. The level of excitement and passion families expressed to us during tours, our open house event, in letters and over the phone had a profound impact on us both, and we knew immediately that we had a responsibility to respond.

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The Fiddleheads Forest School provides a unique experience built upon careful observation and reflection, and is unlike any other existing Forest School model. The level of interest in our program this year shows us that families are responding to the quality of experience Fiddleheads creates, and we want to make sure those families feel they are being heard. After our first year we resisted growth, choosing instead to focus our attention on developing our curriculum, community, and infrastructure. At Fiddleheads, we never want to grow just for the sake of it. We understand the extent to which growth can impact a school, and knew from day one that we would only move forward with expansion if we truly believed it was in the best interest of the children, the families, and the teachers. However, after months of careful consideration and reflection we finally determined that we now capable of expanding the Fiddleheads Forest School in a way that is sustainable while continuing to offer the sort of high-quality education that families have come to expect. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of meetings intended to determine this growth’s direction, and after thorough deliberation we are finally ready to move forward.

SC_150410_680258Today we are excited to announce that in fall of 2015 Fiddleheads will be expanding to a full second site here at the Washington Park Arboretum! The new site is just across the road from the current classroom area and consists of a grove of native trees and plants adjacent to the arboretum’s Mountain Ash meadow. Just as beautiful but with its own unique features, we feel confident that this new grove is an ideal place to grow our program while still remaining connected as a school. As teachers, we will each attend to a separate site in collaboration with a second qualified lead teacher as well as student interns from the University of Washington and surrounding colleges. The two of us will continue to collaborate in our role as preschool directors to maintain a high level of quality and care throughout the program. While the classes will be distinct, children will regularly come together to engage in group activities coordinated by teachers in both classrooms. This expansion will offer increased opportunities for socialization among the students and collaboration among the teachers. We are deeply thrilled to move forward on this path.

 

This expansion to a second site adds an additional 28 spaces to our roster, meaning that we now have a total of 49 positions for families in our 2, 3, and 5-day programs. This will help us continue to meet demand by allowing us to accept between 18 and 20 new students each year. Over the past week we have begun contacting families already on our waitlist, and we are excited to announce that our second site is already filling up. Because we feel strongly about the developmental importance of maintaining age and gender balance, we are reopening the call for applications to fill a limited number of spots for girls turning 5 years old during the 2015-2016 calendar school year. Families interested in applying for these spots or being added to our current waitlist can fill out an online application. Those families who would like to be added to our 2016-2017 interest list can do so by submitting an email address here. Finally, if you are interested in becoming a part of the Fiddleheads Forest School community we encourage you to follow us on Facebook for up-to-the minute news regarding the school and the arboretum; as well as teacher tips, articles and reflections on the outdoor education movement here in Seattle and beyond. We feel so fortunate that many of you are already a part of the wonderful, supportive community here at the Washington Park Arboretum, and we are looking forward to a fantastic year ahead! Stay tuned for updates and future developments!

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Warmly,

Kit and Sarah
Teachers & Preschool Directors
UW Botanic Gardens Fiddleheads Forest School

Heath Family Highlights!

March 20th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
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Kalmia latifolia, a member of the heath family

Join Chris Pfeiffer to explore the UW Botanic Gardens collections this April. Spring brings flowers of course, and this 4 hour class has a focus on the blooms and habits of the Ericaceae – including rhodies, azaleas, and lesser known plants of the Heath family. You might also recognize blueberries, heather, madrona, and sourwood as belonging to this group.

In addition to identification, we will also look at bloom characteristics, foliage types, landscape functions, care and pruning tips for long-term healthy plants.

Professional credits include ISA, CPH, ecoPRO, ASCA and PLANET, though you don’t have to be a professional to register. Plant nerds and homeowners are welcome!

Learn about this diverse group of plants with instructor Chris Pfeiffer, a horticulture consultant, instructor and garden writer with over 30 years’ experience in landscape management and arboriculture. Sustainable and efficient landscape techniques are a special area of interest and expertise. In addition to her private practice, she is a consulting associate with Urban Forestry Services, Inc. and an active volunteer with local community garden projects. She previously led landscape management efforts for the Holden Arboretum and Washington Park Arboretum. A frequent horticultural speaker, Christina has taught courses in pruning, arboriculture, and landscape management at Edmonds and South Seattle Community Colleges, and at the University of Washington. She holds degrees in horticulture from Michigan State and the University of Washington and is an ISA Certified Arborist. She is co-author with Mary Robson of Month-by-Month Gardening in Washington & Oregon (Cool Springs Press 2006).

Class information:

What: Arboretum Plant Study: Seasonal Plant ID and Culture – Spring Session

When: Thursday, April 30th, 8am-12pm

Who: Landscape professionals, homeowners, gardeners, plant enthusiasts

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)

Cost: $65; increases to $75 one week before the class

Register: Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

 

Picture courtesy Stephanie Colony

Picture courtesy Stephanie Colony

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

 

 

 

Fiddleheads Forest Grove Dispatch: Sunny Days, a New Science Unit, and an Exploration of Friendship

March 6th, 2015 by Kit Harrington

The sun is shining, mosquitoes are buzzing, and blossoms are bursting open everywhere we look; it could just as easily be June in Seattle, but the calendar still tells us it’s winter no matter how incongruous that may seem. Students at the Fiddleheads Forest School are taking full advantage of the seasonal changes. The warm weather has meant that we are continuing to discover lots of mushrooms and fungus in and around the forest grove classroom. Stout slimy red-capped mushrooms and skinny stemmed little brown ones abound, but we are still uncovering occasional surprises here at the Washington Park Arboretum, like the astoundingly bright burst of buttery yellow caps we discovered off Azalea Way with the Magnolia class or the bulky purple mushroom we discovered growing under a spruce in the Mountain Ash Meadow with the Cedar class.

 

Despite temperatures more  suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the "art of contrast" in the Winter Garden

Despite temperatures more suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the “art of contrast” with Sarah in the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden.

We have also noticed an uptick in bird activity in and around the forest grove. Children in both classes spent a week in late January mimicking bald-eagle calls and behavior and incorporating it into their play. The eagles were going through a courtship phase, right on track with last year when we noticed the same sort of activity. Many of the children are remembering and looking forward with excitement to the time when the owls will hatch their little ones. Sarah recently uncovered a roosting spot for one of our barred owl friends, and we now stop to peek in on our sleepy owl friend whenever we take the trail to the stone castle. We’re anticipating the moment when those baby eagles and owls to start fledging in just a few months and have our fingers crossed that mama and papa owl will bring their little ones back to the forest grove again this year!

In science, we started out the year with a unit on our bodies before delving into the vertebrates theme that we will be continuing throughout the winter and spring. In early childhood we teach from the concrete to the abstract, and work to make new concepts as accessible as possible by relating it to the direct experience and world of each child. Therefore we began our study of mammals by examining humans specifically. We introduced numerous materials to the classroom for different learning levels and interests. We started by learning the major external parts of the body with a 3-part card matching activity. To complete this material, children matched the picture and then the word to a card featuring both. In this way, students not only learn the parts of the body, but also strengthen the discriminative ability that is a perceptual underpinning of early literacy development.  A picture-to-picture body-part matching work gave the children the opportunity to name and match the body parts with the rest of the body. Games and songs like “Simon Says,” “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes,” and “The Hokey Pokey” help to reinforce kinesthetic as well as cognitive awareness of body parts and helped to our hearts pumping and our bodies warm on the cold, wet days.

Our unit on bodies segued quite nicely into discussing difference during the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After drop-off, each of the children used a stamp pad to make a thumb print on a card with their name. We laminated these cards and used a magnifying glass at to examine them at circle. After taking the time to look at each Kit asked the class what they noticed about the fingerprints. In both the Cedar and Magnolia classes the immediate answer was “They’re different!” The children learned that indeed every human has his or her very own special, unique fingerprint and that no two prints are the same. We discussed the many ways in which our bodies our different, our voices are different, our needs and interests are different, and our families are different.

Taking a closer look at fingerprints.

 

Children naturally approach the concept of “difference” in a very straightforward and earnest way; as they see it, difference is interesting and remarkable and important and very worthy of discussion. It is, after all, what makes each of us unique, and how we define ourselves in relation to others. In both classes the children agreed that different hair, or skin, or eyes is just that—different. It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else, they noted, it’s just who we are. The children also felt very strongly as a group that difference is important, and that if we were all the same “we wouldn’t be able to tell who anybody was from each other!” as one student exclaimed at circle.

Building a body from the bones up.

Building a body from the bones up.

We continued the conversation about difference as we learned about our internal organs and the important jobs they do. The children appreciated that no matter how different we are on the outside, we all have the same organs inside our bodies, and remarked upon it as they completed different activities. We used a model of the human body  in an object to picture matching work where children learned the names and functions of the brain, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, and large and small intestines. A giant puzzle of the human skeleton and musculature offered us an opportunity to work together and problem solve as a group.  The favorite new material by far was a felt work with which the students built a person from the skeleton up; personalizing it with different skin, clothing and hair.

Throughout all of this we reinforced an awareness of the many things that our bodies are capable of—climbing, crawling, jumping, and running through our forest surroundings. The increased awareness of our bodies allowed us to develop new extensions in other areas as well. For example, we recently began engaging in mindfulness practice before heading to our magic spots, and one of our favorite new activities is to use our “mind flashlight” to think about and focus on how different parts of our bodies are feeling. This sort of understanding helps children to develop a heightened awareness of themselves and their own needs.

 

 

After spending a month learning about human bodies, the transition into our current mammals unit has been fairly straightforward. We began by learning the characteristics of mammals with the first verse of a song about animals that we’ll continue to add to throughout the spring:

Mammals have lungs that breathe the air

Warm blooded bodies that have skin and hair

Mammals give birth to their living young

Mothers feed milk to their daughters and sons!

We accompanied our lesson about characteristics with the chance to see and feel the fur of a real mammal, a very old Peruvian Jungle Cat pelt that Kit brought in. We learned that almost all mammals have some kind of hair or fur; even whales and dolphins. As a group we worked together to sort pictures and objects representing animals. Many children have taken the time to do the work on their own, and then color and complete an accompanying worksheet of mammals of the Pacific Northwest.

Kit explains how to look for signs that mammals might leave around the arboretum.

Kit and a group of students discuss characteristics of  some of the mammals they might find signs of around the arboretum.

In and around the forest grove we’ve been actively searching for and identifying mammals and looking for clues that mammals have left behind, such as middens of dove fruit scraps left by squirrels, or muddy tracks and scratched tree branches from raccoons. We’ll continue learning about mammals and how they are alike and different from ourselves, as well as the sort of homes they occupy, their life cycles, and their prey and predators. Sarah will be teaching us all about animal tracks, and we’ll focus on finding and identifying different mammals that we might encounter on a daily basis here at the arboretum.

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“What zone are you in?”

In our social and emotional curriculum, we have been continuing to build upon our knowledge of zones and feelings with a “Zones Check In” chart. Children have the opportunity to put how they are feeling up on the chart each morning they are at school. The chart reinforces the children’s awareness of the Zones and offers an opportunity for the children to discuss their feelings with the group. We’ve also replaced the old zones necklaces with new ones that feature feelings on them. These further reinforce the connection between different zones and feelings and have created renewed interest in the material. We are continuing to work on developing executive functioning skills by practicing setting goals, making and sharing plans, and using flexible thinking. Throughout the day children are encouraged to work as a team, and when something goes awry, we remember that by “working together, we can make it better.”

 

As we move into the second half of the school year the children are approaching friendship in new and increasingly developmentally advanced ways. We have been incorporating a number of different activities, materials, and discussions that explore and reinforce the concept of friendship in preschool. As a group we have been singing songs about friendship including “The More We Get Together,” and “I Think You’re Wonderful.” At circle we read and discussed the books “Join in and Play” by Cheri Meiners and “How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them” by Laurie Krasny Brown.

Valentine’s Day was a perfect opportunity to practice looking outward, and we introduced a friendship bracelet activity where children practice braiding and then give away half of what they made. We recently read the book “I am Generous” by David Parker, and are continuing to introduce new activities that focus on making our friends feel good. As teachers we are modeling and highlighting and reinforcing that doing something for another person often feels better than simply engaging in an activity for our own satisfaction.

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

In the coming weeks we will continue to focus on activities that support the development of empathy. In addition, we will begin building an inventory of tools that we can use to help navigate unexpected situations- our social skills “toolbox.” We’ll also be continuing to expand upon our mindfulness practice and take it out into the wide world around us. The sights and sounds and smells of spring are here, no matter what the calendar says, and we are looking forward to following the progress of fiddlehead fronds, sniffing stinky skunk cabbage, and spying new sprouts and saplings as they surge out of the mud. As weather allows we’ll begin documenting more of what we are seeing by nature journaling as a group. February may just have ended, but already it’s shaping up to be a spectacular spring here in the forest grove.

Best Wishes,

Kit and Sarah