Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Orcas and Dolphins at Farm School

The Orcas have been very involved in Farm School. We went twice a month in the fall and learned about the harvest, the chickens, as well as how to put the farm to bed for the winter. We have been coming twice a month since April, and our last two trips to the farm include the Dolphin class, as the Orcas prepare to pass the farm on to next year's Orca class who will continue the work we started this spring.

Every Orca "Teacher" had a Dolphin partner whom they cared for and made sure they knew what to do on the farm.

Each Orca "Teacher" had something to teach, such as this young man sharing some great information about the potatoes we planted two weeks ago that are already sprouting in the field.

We toured the farm and had opportunities to taste edible flowers. This Orca is making sure his partner has some.

We went into the strawberry field and the Orca "Teacher" shared what we know about mother plants, runners, and daughter plants. Then we searched the row for juicy red berries to taste.

They were so good!

We visited the chickens again, and were surprised by their size. There was one different chicken in there who was smaller, had gray feet, and the beginnings of funny feathers sticking up on her head. Now, how did she get in there?

Together we ate snack in the field. It was fun making new friends.

Next we divided into two groups and planted pumpkin seeds, as well as transplanted pumpkin seedlings into the field. First we dug a hole that was just the right size.

Then we mixed in some food for the new plant, and made the bed nice and soft.

Hello, baby pumpkin! We talked to our pumpkin plants, and encouraged them to grow.

Then we tucked them into their field bed, covered their roots, and gave them a drink of water. This little boy lay on his tummy to talk encouragingly to his plant.

In the seed planting group Farm Teacher Val showed us the two kinds of seeds we could choose to plant One is called "Spooky" and will be a good jack-o-lantern pumpkin.

After adding soil to our pots, we poked a hole, dropped in our seed, and then covered it up. These plants will go home with us as a reminder of the good work we are doing at the farm. Next Farm School day will be our last for the spring, but we can hardly wait to come back in the fall and see how everything has grown and changed!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Orca Class

One of the biggest differences between the Orca class and the younger classes are the social skills developing. Friendships, with all of their joys and tribulations, become extremely important to children in the 4-5 year old age group.

Imaginative play also blossoms, and the play is coordinated with the other children where they negotiate what will be each child's role in the play. We made magic wands to enhance our fantasy play.

As well as exploring the sea shells, some children made patterns and pretty displays of the shells, working together with each other. Lots of discussion in almost everything they do.

For sharing this little girl shared how she had made her own flip flops. The children were fascinated, and want to make their own. We will do this one day, and we will try to arrange a trip to visit the shoe repair shop in town. They kids are very excited about this idea!

Getting the Make It box out is exciting. Look at this telescope on girl made.

There has been a lot of team work collecting caterpillars. Some children want to take them all home, but we encourage them to leave them on the playground. I am sure their parents appreciate this.

And we love messy things, like water beads (if you haven't discovered these, you are missing out) in shaving cream. Lots of giggles and squeals. Love it!

Teddy Bear Picnic

One day the Orcas had a Teddy Bear Picnic. They each brought a special stuffed animal friend. Here a house has been built in the blocks space.

We marched to Bing Crosby singing "Teddy Bear Picnic" out to have our picnic under the fruit trees. We had honey sandwiches, gold fish crackers, blueberries, and smoked salmon- all foods bears would like.

To prepare for our picnic we made newspaper hats for ourselves and our bears.

We had fun decorating them, and then figuring out how to keep them on our bears.

Aren't we cute?

More Nature Days

This Nature Day we explored Ft Ward on the south end of the Island. This was once a strategic military post, with gun emplacements to guard the entrance to Rich Passage and the Bremerton Naval Ship Yard. The fort was built in the early years of the last century.

We had to figure out how to climb onto the large logs on the beach, and felt so proud when we made it!

The gun emplacements were fascinating.

Even though it drizzled on us, we had a fun time eploring with our friends.

Go Orcas!

For our last Nature Day this year, we went to Faye Bainbridge Park. This is a park that is on the beach, but it is a very different beach from the one we visited on our beach day. It was a very warm day, so we took our shoes off to walk on the sandy beach.

This beach has lots of drift wood. This gives us lots of ideas for our imaginative play.

Is it a ship? A space ship?

It takes team work to build a house from drift wood.

Look what we made! We also had an important lesson: that a driftwood house does not have indoor plumbing, so if you pee in it, you have to move to a new house. Life lessons...

The tide was way out, and there was a lot of eel grass. We found many, many brown striped nudibranchs on this beach, but not very many other creatures. How lucky we are to live where we do and to be surrounded by such natural beauty!

Beach Days!

A highlight of the school year are our days spent exploring the beach. We go to a beach with a varied environment: sand, rocks, mussel and barnacle beds. We coordinate these trips with the lowest tides we can, and so we also get to explore eel grass and kelp beds from the sub tidal areas. 

Of course, throwing rocks in the water is always fun, but so is discovering what lives on, around, and under the rocks. We wave to the ferry passing by, and squeal about the waves it makes.

There are many boats at the top of the beach, some to play in. Here the Orcas are off to sea.

They are pulling this slalom water skiier.

Sometimes it's fun to sit a spell with a friend and reflect on all that we have seen on the beach.

This area has been named "Crab Festival" over the years. There are hundreds of little shore crabs taking shelter under the rocks.

It is just as interesting for parents as it is for the children. We saw fish, sand worms, shrimp, sea urchins, sea anemones, many different crabs, both large and small, sea stars and sunflower stars, brown striped nudibranchs, and more.

Oh, no! Man overboard! Let's rescue him!

A serious sailor in a canoe.

Making marks on the beach with a stick- an age-old pleasure.

We were happy to see some sea stars. There were almost none last year, since our sea star population has been suffering a wasting disease. It was good to see some back on Sea Star Rock.

Look! Sand collars! The eggs of the moon snail. We did not find any moon snails, as they are under the sand usually. We did find evidence of them, from their eggs, to the clam shells they made a hole in to get their dinner.

We all found beach treasures to share at our Hello Circle. We all had a lot of fun at the beach!