A Day in the Life

August 20th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

imagine
you are outside. The sun is shining, illuminating the new growth on the western red cedars. It’s been a great growing season and the plants at Washington Park Arboretum are thriving. The backdrop of evergreen trees is a lovely frame to all of the native and non-native plants in the collection. Now, if they would just get here!

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Photo by Lisa Sanphillippo

Just when you thought you couldn’t wait any longer, here comes the bus holding 60 scheduled school-aged children just bursting with energy and excitement to be out of school and outside on such a fine day as this. Today, you will be teaching 15 of them the Native Plants and Native People program. What is native? What is invasive? Who was born in this state? Who are the Puget Sound Salish People? The kids get engaged by the questions you ask. You are showing them their participation and input is valuable.

You will focus some of their amazing energy into a running game about what it is people need to survive. After they have run out some of their shenanigans, you might point out that most everything folks need to survive comes from plants. And with the Puget Sound Salish People, they didn’t just use any old plants; they used plants that are native – original to this place.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

It will surprise you how many of them know what a western red cedar looks like. The J-shaped branches and the flat leaves are very familiar to most of them. But, you can still teach them about western hemlock and its different length needles and puzzle-piece bark. Douglas fir might be new to them, too. Though, once the children see the deep and creviced bark and the way-up high branches, it will be hard for them to forget. Maybe you will tell them the story of the mouse looking for a safe home during a forest fire using the cones of each to differentiate and describe the three trees. You know that story will create a great memory for them about how to identify all three trees.

You will show them artifacts made by local Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan. They will get a chance to touch and hold a model of a cedar weaving, fishing spear or canoe bailer. Each made to demonstrate how plants can be used to create a beautiful and useful object that could help a person survive and thrive. When you ask the kids what they use in their everyday lives that is made from plants, you are impressed that the list they give you is so long.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

When you show them to salal and Oregon grape plants and tell them about how berries from each were mixed together along with huckleberry to make a delicious berry cake sort of like a fruit roll up, you can see that they are almost ready for lunch! To distract them, you get them going on the hands-on activities.

This is your favorite part, because they have to work together as a team – just as Puget Sound Salish people of the past and present – to understand how to use a fire bow and drill or to build a single wall of a plank house or to learn how to cook food below the ground. It’s a great distraction because they’ve forgotten about their hunger for a moment as they dig in to the task at hand.

Jacob Smithers

It’s nearly the end of the program, now. You gather them together and ask each person to tell you something they learned or liked from the field trip. It is thrilling how many of them remember that the western hemlock makes sunscreen, how Douglas fir has mouse butts in the cones or that homes can be made without nails.

You thank them and walk them back to the start where their bus will come for them and take them back to school. You hope they will remember today as a positive and fun day. You hope the time here will aid them in their classroom work. Most of all, you hope they will continue to love and learn about plants and one day be a person who advocates for and serves the environment.

You head back to the work room to talk with your fellow guides about the kids and their chaperones and to put away the activities and props from the program. You are tired – sheesh, kids take it out of you – but you are proud to be a part of something important and worthy.

This is the kind of day we get to have at University of Washington Botanic Gardens Washington Park Arboretum. Is it the kind of day you might like?

Our Volunteer Garden Guides bring their knowledge and skills to teach about native plants, forests, pollination, photosynthesis, wetland plants and animals, ecosystems and habitat. We provide training, curricula and enrichments so each person is confident and comfortable teaching.

Consider donating your valuable time and expertise to connecting kids to nature through field trips. We welcome you to be a part of our incredible team of staff and volunteers. We can tell you will fit right in.

  • UW Botanic Gardens Volunteer Garden Guide Training begins September 5th with a kayak tour of the Washington Park Arboretum and continues the following week.
  • For more information about becoming a volunteer and training, please contact Lisa Sanphillippo, School Programs Coordinator, at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu.
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2014 Park in the Dark Dates

June 23rd, 2014 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. Meet at the Graham Visitors Center and BYOF (Bring Your Own Flashlight!)
Hikes are always from 8-9:30pm on the Saturday nights listed below:

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  • June 28 (New Moon)
  • July 12 (Full Moon)
  • July 26 (New Moon)
  • August 9 (Full Moon)
  • August 23 (New Moon)

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.

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Buzza-Ruzza, Buzza-Ruzza: A Visit from The Bee Lady

June 9th, 2014 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

FFS6Most have us have been stung by a wasp or bee at some point in our lives, and many of us have an innate fear of flying insects with stingers. Personally, I was stung almost every year of my life between about the ages of 5 and 18. It never swayed me from spending all my free time outside, but I did cower at the familiar buzzing sound of nearby wasps.

At Fiddleheads Forest School we are lucky enough to be a short walking distance from an apiary located in the UW Botanic Gardens’ pollination garden. We inquired with the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association (PSBA), who manages and maintains the apiary, if they’d be able to come teach us about the bees. On May 29th & 30th Elaina Jorgensen from the PSBA taught both Fiddleheads Forest School classes all about bees. She affectionately became known as “The Bee Lady” and her enthusiasm was contagious. As we settled down on the grass in front of the garden Elaina put her hand in her shirt pocket and said, “Can you guess what I have in here?” as she slowly pulled out a small jar with a queen bee inside! She showed the bee around and told us that this bee was just a few hours old, it had just been born. Then she reached into her other pocket and pulled out another queen bee and this one was only a few minutes old!FFS1

When we asked what their favorite part of the bee lesson was, the kids responded with:

–          Holding the boy bee (drone bee)

–          Seeing the queen bees

–          Watching baby bees hatch in the observation hive

–          Learning about bee predators

 

 

My favorite part of the experience? Seeing all the kids dress up as little beekeepers:FFS3FFS4

These lessons immediately inspired dramatic play involving all the kids and the teachers too. As we were walking away from the pollination garden to the nearby vegetable garden to wait for parents, kids were choosing their roles in the hive. Once we got to the vegetable garden some kids curled up as larva bees, other kidsFFS2 took on the role of nurse bees to care for the larva and another set of kids took off as worker bees to collect pollen and nectar for the hive. The queen bees established themselves in different areas (for different hives) and the nurse bees brought them food too. This imaginative hive scene has returned day after day back at the Forest Grove. Now, larva bees change and grow into nurse bees, the nurse bees change into worker bees and so on. Comb structures have been built for the baby bees to be in and also to make honey in.

The kids asked Elania if bees have any predators because we’ve been experiencing a lot of predator/prey relationships with our owl family feeding their 4(!) new babies and observing our praying FFS5mantises hunt (all for a future blog post). The Bee Lady told us about bears, wasps, and birds. Guess what stuck with the kids? BEARS! So now some kids choose to be bears that raid the hives of honey every once in a while. The kid-bees know that bees only sting once and then they die so they do a lot of buzzing and chasing of the bear, but very little stinging. This is an aspect of the bee-play that feels heavily informed by the bee lesson because pre-bee lesson all the kids could talk about was how bees sting.

One of the big take-a-ways for all of us is that the girl bees (nurses, workers, and queen bees) are the ones with stingers. The daddy bees (drones) do not have stingers. During the lesson we got to hold a daddy bee and for those of us with some bee-fear this was quite exhilarating! The kids have been teaching everyone they can what they learned, but this key fact – that there are bees without stingers – is most often shared.

The UW Botanic Gardens’ Pollination Garden is located at the Washington Park Arboretum just behind the greenhouses south of the Graham Visitor Center. The hives are maintained and managed by the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. We’re lucky to have such hard working pollinators on site and an incredibly valuable educational resource.

FFS8Puget Sound Beekeepers Association (PSBA) was founded in 1948 and exists to promote common interest and general welfare of beekeeping, to protect honey bees, to educate beekeepers, encourage good bee management practices, and to encourage good relations between beekeepers and the public. If you’re interested in learning more about what they’re all about check out their website.

Thank you Elaina (aka The Bee Lady) for taking the time to teach us all about BEES!

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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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October Dispatches From the Fiddleheads Forest School

October 30th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

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What is it about the autumn that generates so much nostalgia? A season evoking such emotion somehow always manages to pass in a blur. It marks the end of lackadaisical afternoons and the start of the annual decent into the cooler, more introspective months.  The way I see it, fall is the natural steward of the New Year. We begin afresh: in school, in season, in time. Fall is about possibility, and that being given, there is no lovelier place to be than surrounded by preschoolers.

EzraThese past weeks in the Forest Grove have been filled with observations of our changing surroundings.  Children this age are just beginning to have an awareness of the passage of time, and autumn therefore provides the perfect canvas for that initial introduction. We literally see the passage of time echoed in the ever sooner sunsets, the coming of the rain showers, and most particularly, in the changing and falling of the leaves and the mushrooms that burst through them on the forest floor. Contrary to life in a traditional classroom, in the forest school the change in seasons literally alters our landscape. Bug HuntTaking the time to draw attention to these changes and allowing the children the opportunity to explore and experience them first hand encourages the development of a heightened ability to discriminate the subtle nuances of the environment, and is therefore a very important part of our curriculum indeed. When we bury ourselves in giant maple leaves, or collect seedpods with different size tongs, or compare and contrast mushrooms, or close our eyes and listening to the new sounds of migrating birds, or choose a specific tree to visit weekly, we are ensuring that these changes do not pass unnoticed.

In addition to the science of our IMG_7586surroundings, children in the forest school have been learning to discriminate feelings, thoughts and the social and emotional need of individuals as well as of a group. We have begun using “The Incredible Flexible You!” social thinking curriculum to better understand why we choose to act in certain ways, and how that impacts those around us. I never cease to delight in the expression of independence and pride on the face of a child who for the first time verbalizes a feeling and then is able to follow that up with an explanation of “why I feel that way.”

These thoughts and ideas are powerful, not only for children but for adults as well. Sarah and I have learned at least as much about social interaction as the children have- there is so much to know! Remy makes nature stickersRecently, we have read the books “Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings,” and “The Group Plan,” and have incorporated activities in regard to these topics into our daily lesson plans. Here in the forest grove, we can already see the impact it is having on the children, who ask to hear the stories again and again and who have begun using their hand to demonstrate a “thought bubble” whenever they discuss a thought they’ve had.

In the Magnolia class we’ve seen an incredible group dynamic develop. The children take on large-scale projects together and successfully navigate complex imaginative games. It is exciting to experience the change that has occurred as these preschoolers become increasingly less reliant on us and more reliant on one-another. There is a sense of independence, responsibility, and pride among all of the students, and it is reflected in the way they interact. They shout out roles and tasks and pass them back and forth, taking turns without needing to be asked. They incorporate new members into the play as they arrive. photo7They take time to solve conflicts and listen to one another’s words. These are self-confident, self-directed kids, and they go out of their way to help one another problem solve and achieve success. In so doing, they are able to take on new and greater challenges, and take full advantage of the educational experiences available to them. As a teacher, it is absolutely thrilling to stand back and observe each morning as everyone greets one another with a hug or a smile and then get right to work- these kids don’t need to be told what the important work of the day is- they are creating it themselves.

The Cedar class has been taking advantage of all the outdoor classroom has to offer. They really want to know everything about their classroom and how to engage with it. We go on spider-web hunts and are astounded at how many are to be found high in the cedar trees above us. We learn that Native Americans used cedars to make shelter, fishing gear, and even clothing, and then we fashion braided bracelets from long cedar “ropes.” We collect a menagerie of mushrooms by the nurse log and make spore prints with them, discussing the how and why of the images left behind. We work together to fill a basket with heavy stones, use our combined power to heft it upundefined high, check to make sure that the “danger zone” is clear, then laugh and clap as it comes thundering down to the ground with a satisfying “thunk.” On a walk we find a print in the ground and throw out suggestions as to what it might be- a lion? a dog? a coyote? -We decide that it probably isn’t a lion and continue on, hunting for more clues as though they were our prey. In the mud pit we’re moving our bodies to accommodate one-another, making space while making mud-cakes. We join together to roll a large log up a hill, then collapse exhausted on the ground. We build fairy houses and furniture for our fort. We use binoculars to spy into the trees and search for birds, discovering a chickadee nest outside the classroom boundaries. We sing songs as a group and take turns singing songs for one another. We are learning and growing by the minute.

WalkingDespite the speed with which the autumn blazes past, we have accomplished much these past weeks in the forest grove, and have loved every second of it. The funny thing I’ve come to realize about this quirky season is that indeed, time passes quickly, but if you take the time to really stop and appreciate them, the moments within seem to last forever.
Warmly,

Kit Harrington and Sarah Heller

 

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Kids’ Photo Contest Winners!

October 16th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

We had a remarkable showing this year at the 2013 Kids Photo Contest.  A big thanks and round of applause to all the great kids that entered! We have selected our winners in 5 categories.

Artwork will be displayed at in the Graham Visitors Center on a rotating basis, and for the month of November, the photos will be on display at Katy’s Corner Cafe located at 2000 E Union St Seattle, WA 98122. Although not everyone who entered won a category, every contestant will have a photo printed and displayed.

See all the pictures in our Flickr Group Pool!

Color

Dylan Totten 4 color

Taken by Dylan, Age 4

Landscape

Logan Cox land

Taken by Logan, Age 10

Architecture

John Totten 5 arch

Taken by John, Age 5

Animals

mystery kid 3 animal

If this is your picture, please email uwbgeduc@uw.edu with your name and age!

New Places

Maeve Anderson 16 ArchTaken by Maeve, Age 16

 

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Garden Design: Planning for Spring!

September 3rd, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Does the impending bleak weather have you feeling down? Sign up for one of our garden design classes to stay positive, and hopeful through the blah months! Learn about attracting wildlife to your yard or window, and making a safe and exciting garden for your little ones!

Wildlife Habitat Garden Design

Courtesy of Emily Bishton

Courtesy of Emily Bishton

 

Bring birds, butterflies, and bees to your yard! Learn the steps of choosing plants and features that fit your yard, and fulfill the daily needs of wildlife all the while keeping pests at bay. Whether your goal is to design a new garden or to incorporate new habitat features into an existing garden, you will enjoy this practical approach to sustainable success. Wildlife habitat gardens have kind of a beauty that plants alone cannot provide!

Bring photos of your own yard for personalized advice!

 

 

 

Child-Friendly Garden Design

Courtesy Emily Bishton

Courtesy Emily Bishton

 

 

Turn your garden into a safe and inviting place for kids. Learn to make unique places for nature exploration, and design the garden so that it “grows up” along with your child. Even learn how to involve your kids in food gardening.  Attendees should bring photos of their garden for personalized advice, and they will also receive lists of child-friendly plants and plants to avoid.

 

 

 

And as always, you can register online or call 206-685-8033 for more information

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Announcing the 2nd Annual Kid’s Photography Contest!

August 6th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Are you a kid (or know one) between 4 and 16 that has access to a digital camera? Join our Kid’s Digital Photography Contest!

All you have to do is join the UW Botanic Gardens Flickr Group Pool and submit photos in one or more categories.

Link to more information and contest rules.

Last year’s entries!

 

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Take Back Your Backyard!

July 18th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Removing Ivy on a Steep Slope

Removing Ivy on a Steep Slope

Overgrown yard got you down?

Does the dog keep getting lost in the ivy?

Are you tired of not being able to see to the end of the yard?

Learn how to take control of your unruly backyard in this Saturday class. Instructor Rodney Pond will introduce you to the invasive species commonly found in Seattle yards, and show you how to get rid of them (permanently!). In addition, you will learn about what plants will be safe to add to your backyard to return it to the oasis of peace and relaxation it once was.

Are you intimidated by the idea of working on your unruly ravine? This class will also teach home and property owners how to safely remove plants from and work on steep slopes.

Join us for Backyard Restoration!
Saturday, July 27 from 9:30am-2pm
UW Botanic Gardens, Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom
3501 NE 41st, Seattle, WA 98195

Cost: $50; $60 after July 20th
Register Online or Call us at (206) 685-8033

 

 

Get crafty with our upcoming Garden Craft Series!

Garden Craft: Hanging Glassglass art1
Saturday, August 24, 9-11am
Cost $55; $60 after August 17

Learn how to create reclaimed glass works of art in this introductory class. Use stained glass and wire to create whimsical pieces for any garden or window and take with you not only your creation, but the knowledge of how to do it at home.

 

 

potato printGarden Craft: Potato Printmaking
Saturday, September 7, 10am-12pm
Cost: $25; $30 after August 31

Think printing with potatoes is just for kids?  Well, kids do enjoy it, but now adults can too! Learn how to print on cloth or paper with any type of potato. Cheap and elegant gifts are at your fingertips! This is an introductory class; all levels and ages are welcome.

 

 

 

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