Archives for the month of: October, 2014

IMG_4726Thank you Mark for being so organized, it meant the world to all of us.  At Avalon we are so fortunate to have a great group of guys who help keep Avalon what it is…. one of the most beautiful places on Long Island!

When we walked into the shop area of the Barn, laid out in front of us was a literal elve’s workshop complete with hammers, precut wood shapes and holes pre drilled!!  For the 7th grade Connections class this would be a journey to a place many of them have never been.  Using tools without an adult looking over their shoulder.  When they first saw all the wood and tools a few of them said, “I haven’t take Tech Class yet,”  but after today I think any sense of doubt in their abilities was erased.  After  I demonstrated the order of  assembly  they got right to work.  It was a great experience to watch them helping each other.  There was no stress of a grade or whether they were right or wrong.  They helped each other, gave advice and succeeded.  Kaitlyn completed the whole feeder on her own.  The independent type, while the others worked together.  There was laughter and groans as they realized the nails didn’t connect to the right place, but they tried again.  No one gave up!

 

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There is something to be said about the capability of kids.  If given the chance they will pull through.  As adults we need to have the patience to allow them to figure it out.  I am a firm believer in letting  kids use a hammer and nails just to bang them into a piece of wood.  It can be so satisfying and fun too.  It teaches respect for the tool.  Yes of course they could hit their finger and hurt it but it  also teaches the skill of how important it is to focus.  Ha ha!!  ouch!!

I am grateful that these kids had to opportunity to create something that maybe they though they could never do.  Now they can enjoy the sight of birds eating from their homemade feeders!

Mission accomplished!!

Peace and bang some nails!!!!!

Sue

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If you were to give a child a ball of yarn in the woods what do you think they would do with it?  Well, yesterday I had the honor of standing back and watching.

Today I thought we would take it outdoors and the product was a half an hour of weaving and bobbing and trying not to get stuck in the web that they were creating.  They all took the web weaving very seriously.  I outlined the web with a strand of yarn to get them started then tied each child’s ball of yarn to the frame of the web, then set them free!!!! They took it further than the five trees we started with .  Pretty soon the web was expanding and expanding and expanding.  They were so very busy thinking of where they could go to next.  Needless to say these 5 year olds were very careful to not tie down their friends in the web. If someone got stuck they would help each other.  It was fabulous.

IMG_4706IMG_4705IMG_4703 IMG_4698IMG_4711What a fun day!!  As we were getting ready to pack it in the sun was setting and one of the kids said to me, “look at the sunset!”  Yes!!  look at it … what a beautify streak of pinky purple, couldn’t ask for a better ending to the day!

So give your kid a ball of yarn and let them get started!!!

with love, Misses Aunt Sue (as some of the kids call me!)

I asked some of my kids today what they knew about spiders, some of them said they are scary and poisonous.   Well today it was my turn to try to de-scarify the myth of spiders and teach them that they are indeed good for us to have in our world.  So we talked about body parts and their spinnerets and how they catch insects that could harm plants and pests that bother us…  they are indeed good but certainly some of them are a little weird looking.  So for a day at least we tried to be like spiders.

Three of my classes participated in a fun activity… creating a web out of yarn.  Needless to say this was a bit chaotic (personally I love that) and basically all the kids were involved in creating this web.  All it took were three chairs, balls of yarn and a dash of fun!  I loved to see the kids running around to catch the balls of yarn they threw across the web, watching some of them get stuck in the web and some that crawled underneath to work from the bottom.  Fun stuff you can do at home!!

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So now it ‘s all finished… their crazy web that sorta looks more like a 70’s macrame deal… but to them it’s a web .  I cut it off the chairs and hung it on the wall.  I wonder what people will think of this when they see it?  I will know and the kids will know that it is their spider web that THEY created.  Good for them!!

The kids also made the these great spider crafts.  Some of the little preschoolers even took their spiders on the hike with them.  The older kids drew their own webs and used their finger prints to make cute spiders.  It was all good!!!

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Hopefully, the next time the kids see a spider in their house or outside they will think say ….. “Hey spiders are our friends”  before mom or dad swat it!!

Peace love and itsy bitsy spiders.  Sue

We finished our lesson on spiders and headed into the woods.  The weather was lovely and the time was right for a stroll.  Our preschool kids and parents wandered through the woods looking for spider webs.  They were lucky enough to have keen eyes and spot a few small spiders in their webs.  Teeny tiny things!  One of the moms found a daddy long legs  (which is actually not a spider) .  Clover let it crawl all over her jacket.  It seemed to really love her and did not want to let go.  The kids gathered around the parents stood back.  hahahah!  (well some of them)

It was a great hike but the best part of the whole hike was when we approached this fallen tree.  The kids were drawn to it like a magnet!  Their need to climb was almost instinctual.  So amazing.  With their parents help they climbed, crawled and sat upon the tree.  I just had to stand back and watch the parents do what was needed for their kids.  I was very proud of them.  Of the parents that is!!!  They were not imposing their adult scare tactics, which we as parents are so good at….. “be careful, that’s too high, you might get hurt!!”  I didn’t hear or feel the fear, instead what I saw was this:

 

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Pure fun!!!  It was hard to tear them away from the tree but we had to head back!!!!  I loved spending this valuable time in the woods with these families.  I truly feel like I have the best job in the world.  Keep up the good work parents and climb away!!!  It ‘s great for you and your kids!

Peace,

Sue

Today I promised the kids we would go to the pond and scout out some frogs.  I wasn’t sure what we would find but what the heck!

Well once again the kids impressed me with their frog catching abilities.  So amazing to watch them take off their shoes and hunt for the frogs.

Penelope decided that she was more interested in observing and she sat on the rock at the top of the stream.  She watched as there was a flurry of excitement every time someone got a frog, “Chris caught another one!!”

I suggested that she write a poem about what she was observing and she did!!!

LEAPING LURKING AROUND THE SWAMP

STANDING STILL UNTIL IT HOPS

SLIDING GLIDING ON THE POND FLOOR

LET’S GO GO GO AND CATCH SOME MORE!

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Penelope the poet with net on head!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It ended up being a great time and the kids returned all the frogs gently back into the pond.  Vincent was proud to have caught 2 tadpoles and Chris caught the biggest frog I’ve ever seen at the pond.  What a great experience for everyone!!

Here’s some great pics:

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Raging wildfires, flames licking the delicate branches of new trees, wildlife scurrying. It burns with intensity… but did you know that fire is a necessary part of forest ecology?   Tess Copa, from the Department of Environmental Conservation, shared her knowledge of fire ecology and her experiences fighting wildfires.

Her  presentation was an opportunity to awaken a respect for fire and how, if handled properly it can do what it is intended to do.  She demonstrated the fire triangle and how  all three parts of the triangle need to be present for it to burn,  oxygen, fuel and heat.

The kids learned the when a forest fire burns, it is not always a bad thing, especially if it is controllable.  It allows the forest to rejuvenate.  Tess talked about the fires in the Long Island Pine Barrens, which occurred before these kids were born… (yikes) .  They also learned about something called prescribed burns.  The firefighters carefully prepare areas to be burned by digging trenches around the area to be burned and is set by the fire fighters and maintained by them.

It was a great opportunity for the kids to learn about this job and how anyone can become a wildfire fire fighter if they train and pass the test.  Tess explained that all sorts of people are wildfire firefighters, accountants, engineers, teacher… the list goes on.

Tess ended the presentation with a game where the kids took turns being the fire fighter, the fire and the trees.  The fire and the fire fighter had to capture as many trees as they could simultaneously, ending hopefully with the firefighter winning!!!

It is important to teach children to respect fire.  If they grow up with this knowledge then they can pass it on to other kids, parents and hopefully their children. We’ll be a better and safer world for it.

We are grateful to Tess for sharing her knowledge and experiences with us.  We are now wiser.

Thanks Tess!!!

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Tess, the fire, the firefighter and the trees! Best day in the woods!

 

 

 

Howdy all!! Today was a super fantastic day where the topic was apples… yes apples.  We read one of my old favorites by Dr Seuss, “Ten Apples on Top.”  I loved how engaged the kids were as we watched these silly animals balance apples on their heads!!  There’s just something about reading a book to a child… they will stop and listen and enjoy. So magical.

Anyway, we did our apple tasting and checked out the seeds, also known as pips.  If the child did not want to eat the apple I encouraged them to touch, smell or put their tongue on the apple.  Little steps of exploration .. ….

As you may have noticed the title of today’s blog is Sparkles and Shadows.  I prefer to write about what struck me as the best moments of our time together. Today it was our hike!

We walked and ran down the wildflower field trails.  Surrounded by walls of brown flowers that once were yellow, brown and purple. I looked up into the sky and realized how amazingly blue it was.  I decided it was a great time to lay right down on the ground and look up at the sky. I asked what the clouds made of and someone said, “stuffing.”  So precious!  All the kids joined me as we looked up into the endless sky.  Wonderful.  It was only a short moment but oh so amazing to be human… then thump! One of the kids decided to sit right down on my belly!!  So funny.  In the meantime all the parents were standing there watching.  Why oh why didn’t they get on the ground with us??? (I’m sure some of them wanted to !!)

As we picked off the seeds that were stuck to my shirt we continued our short journey to an apple tree that had only a few apples on it. Last year it was abundant with apples and many were on the ground.  Oh well so much for that lesson.

But the best part was yet to come… sparkle and shadows!

As we were getting ready to leave there was this amazing rock lit by the sun!  It sparkled like crazy!  The kids ran to it and climbed all over it inspecting the inlayed jewels.  How magical.  One of the girls said, “It’s like they threw sparkles on it!”  So wonderful

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Before we left the sparkly rock I noticed my shadow and began to try to run away from it.  Then I challenged the kids by saying, “don’t step on my shadow!”  They laughed and chased my shadow.  The sun went behind the clouds and the shadow faded… some of them realized why it went away.  Not bad for preschoolers!  The parents traced some of their children’s shadows and we left them there to lay in the bright warm sun!  The tracings that is, not the kids!!!

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It was a great Fall day in Avalon.  Love being outside with the kids and their parents!

Get outside, there’s so much to explore!

Sue