October Dispatches From the Fiddleheads Forest School

October 30th, 2013 by Kit Harrington

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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

 

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

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.

 

 

 

Get Outside this Year!

May 30th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Looking to spend more time outside, but don’t know exactly what to do?

Come and learn at our upcoming classes, “Sharing Nature with Your Children”, and “Grow Your Own Organic Food”.

  Sharing Nature with Your Children

 

 

Kids enjoying a day at Mt. Rainier! Photo Credit Julie Luthy

Kids enjoying a day at Mt. Rainier! Photo Credit Julie Luthy

Do your kids complain about being bored all summer? Do they sit in front of the TV and watch shows and play video games all day? Do you wish that they would get out and explore the world, like you did as a kid?

Join naturalist Julie Luthy for a morning filled with fun activities and nature tidbits that will amaze you and your children.  A classroom introduction will be followed by a session of putting the ideas into action outside in the Arboretum, so dress for the weather and get ready for some innovative outdoor exploration.

If you’ve ever had difficulty getting your kids to hike, play or explore outside; don’t miss this!

Time: Saturday, June 8, from 9-11am
Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle, 98112

Cost: $35; $40 after June 2

Register Online
Or call (206)685-8033 to register over the phone!

 

 

 Grow Your Own Organic Food

Peas ready to go up the trellis.

Peas ready to go up the trellis.

 There is nothing better than a homegrown tomato, ripe, red and warm from the sun, sliced with some olive oil and salt on a bed of your own lettuce, in colors that you would never find at the grocery store! Does this sound delicious to you? You can make it all happen with the right knowledge.

Not only is homegrown food fresher, but you know exactly where it came from, and how it was grown. It’s cheaper than buying produce at the market too!

Take this class to learn the tricks of the trade, including using recycled materials, container and limited space gardening techniques, and urban pest control. You’ll be enjoying your harvest in no time!

Time: Saturday, June 8, from 1-3pm
Douglas Classroom at the Center for Urban Horticulture
3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, 98195

Cost: $25; $30 after June 2

Register Online
Or call (206)685-8033 to register over the phone!

Can't get much fresher than this!

Can’t get much fresher than this!

Introducing our Summer Garden Guides

April 23rd, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

These enthusiastic, thoughtful and genuine folks are our Garden Guides for the UW Botanic Gardens Summer Camp at the Arboretum. They are charged with creating fun, educational, nature-based experiences for our campers. They have our 230 acre nature oasis to work with, their own experience and excitement to bring to the table, and a host of materials and curriculum to support their endeavors. Together we will build connection, community and nature awareness as we discover the wonders of the Arboretum. Each guide is paired with a high school student in our Junior Garden Guide program. We still have a few spots left in summer camp, come join us for a week of adventure!

 

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Brian Marienfeld, Summer Garden Guide

My name is Brian and I am blessed to have had an amazing journey in my life, from working for a wilderness therapy organization to getting my Masters at the University of Washington and IslandWood.  I am passionate about working with kids outdoors, hiking across this country, soul music, making pizza, and building strong caring communities to mention a few.  I fell in love with Washington many years ago and am so grateful for this opportunity to help others connect to this incredible place.  I look forward to bringing care and energy to my students and to the Arboretum community.

 

Tara1

Tara Nichol, Summer Garden Guide

Tara was born in Seattle and grew up exploring the beautiful Northwest forests, coasts, lakes and rivers during her childhood. Tara graduated in 2007 with a BA in Environmental Education from Fairhaven College in Bellingham, WA. She has worked in Outdoor Education for eight years leading backpacking trips, sailing, and teaching about local ecology.  Tara is trained as a Waldorf teacher, and loves the awe and beauty that outdoor experiences give to young people. She enjoys hiking, biking, singing and creating art.

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStephanie Zanati, Summer Garden Guide

My name is Stephanie and I am thrilled to be a part of the UWBG Education Team this summer! I was born and raised in New York City, but I have spent the last 7 years teaching outdoors in many diverse landscapes across the country. I moved to the Puget Sound 2 years ago to continue to pursue my passion for education through the graduate program at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island. I have spent this last year teaching fourth grade in Seattle Public Schools and I am really excited to be returning to my roots in the outdoor classroom! When I am not teaching, I can usually be found biking, birding, or farming. I am looking forward to exploring and making lots of discoveries in the Arboretum this summer with your child!

 

Sarah1Sarah Heller, Camp Director

Sarah is a life long Seattle resident with deep northwest roots from her childhood years of playing outside and a strong interest in all things nature. She developed and piloted summer camp at the Arboretum three years ago and has since grown the program into what it is today – 7 weeks of outdoor, nature-based fun in the heart of Seattle. Sarah keeps herself busy by developing new programs and building community at the Arboretum. On the weekends Sarah can be found climbing, hiking, scrambling and backpacking in the mountains. Sarah is looking forward to connecting with returning families and meeting all the ones!

Spring Scavenger Hunt

April 22nd, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan
spring bloom

spring bloom

Spring is in full bloom at the Washington Park Arboretum. If you and the kids are looking for a fun way to enjoy the sights and smells of the season, stop by the Graham Visitors Center and pick up a Spring Scavenger Hunt clue sheet (or click the link below to print your own copy).

On your way out, check back in at the Visitors Center to redeem your completed clue sheet for a small prize. Good luck and happy spring!

spring_scavenger_hunt2013 as Word

spring_scavenger_hunt2013 as PDF

Fieldtrips in Fall…

October 12th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

are going like gangbusters! Between the months of September and November, we have over 1300 kids signed up for fieldtrips.

Our guides have been loving the mild weather and teaching and learning from these budding naturalists. The Arboretum is such an amazing place to explore; all of the senses can be engaged, well, except for taste! Those of us in the field are so fortunate to be able to teach a variety of topics to kids based on what they are learning in class. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve done so far:

Plant Parts – kids act out each part and then work together to show how a tree’s parts function together to form a whole organism

Seed Dispersal – we go on a seed hunt, look at all of the seeds with magnifiers, then categorize each seed into methods of dispersal such as eaten by an animal, wind, water, propulsion, hitchhikers and fire

Native Plant Identification – we learn how to identify native plants and use artifacts made by Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan, to demonstrate how those plants can be used to help people thrive and survive

Producers, Consumers and Decomposers – kids learn that life can be grouped into these three main categories by playing a running game and observing, recording and organizing the organisms they find on a hike

Aquatic Dip – kids get to take a look at the aquatic macro-invertebrates that live in our very own Lake Washington and think about how these small creatures contribute to the overall health of a wetland ecosystem

Here are some of the things students have been saying about their time here at the Arboretum:

“I love it here at the Auditorium.”

[I overheard two kids talking to each other on our walk]

“I wish we could come every week.” “I wish we could come here everyday!”

[At the end of the field trip, we ask the students what they liked or learned, here’s a few quotes]

“I like when you gave us 2 minutes of free style!”

“I liked looking at spiders.”

“I liked looking at all of the trees.”

Here are some quotes from a packet of thank you letters from Seattle Country Day School:

“I learned Arboretum means tree place. I think it was really fun when we made a tree out of our bodies!”

“It was fun being the bark and chanting we are bark please keep out.”

“Thank you for showing us around the Arboretum. My favorite part was when we planted a seed. I learned that you need the perfect temperature to grow a plant.”

“I learned that plants help us breathe.”

You know, you don’t have to be a student on a field trip to get out into the Arboretum! Take off your adult worries and slip into a more comfortable and comforting environment. Re-engage your sense of wonder by smelling some soil or hugging a tree. You might just see us with a group of students doing the exact same thing.

Photo from Contest Winner Gets on City Site!

October 11th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

Congratulations, Annie!

Not only for having a photo that was one of the winners in our August Kids Digital Photography Contest, but for one of your photos making it onto the Visiting Seattle page of our city’s website! Annie’s amazing photo is 4th on the slide show.

Kids RULE!