Archives for posts with tag: parenting

Well it’s that time of the year again.  We’ve had over 64 classes total with all the age levels and we managed to strengthen our love and respect for nature.

I am grateful for ALL of these children and families that come to Avalon to share in the joy of nature.   As I look back at all the photos I’ve taken this past season I smile.  I think of all the littles guys  who held my hands as we hiked.   I think back to the lessons my older kids learned from other naturalists, such as Len who talked to them about why and how he raises pheasants and bobwhite quail on the grounds of Avalon. I think about the night hikes which were always met with excitement All of it was so  inspiring to them and it  confirms that I am in the right place in my life doing just what I want to be doing.

My overall goal with these classes has and will continue to be getting kids OUTSIDE.  I cannot express how important this is for the future of our lives here on this planet.  These children will always have these memories of frogs, trees, hiking  in their hearts, so hopefully they will own it and protect it as they grow into young adults and one day, parents (yikes!).

Not only that, it is so fantabulous and  healthy to spend time in the outdoors rather then cooped up in a classroom or watching TV.

So to celebrate,  our last class is always about roasting that cube made of sugar, the marshmallow!!!  Luckily we have a great fire pit at the barn!!  Also, Chris once again brought in his hot dogs to roast.  How fun and yummy!!!

Here are some crazy photos.  Enjoy and we’ll see you on the other side in March.  Peace out….. Miss Sue

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Yesterday was a  beautiful fall day.  I was able to hold the class outside.  It felt so wonderful to sit on our squares and talk about fall and what happened to the trees surrounding us.  I asked, “what did the trees look like before they were empty” The preschoolers responses were varied and most of them said there were leaves on the trees.  Most of them said they were colored leaves.  It was hard for them to remember all the way back to the time when the leaves were green.  But finally we got there!  Something so simple that most take for granted.   It truly is an amazing cycle.

It’s great to just sit on the ground an talk about what is all around you. We could hear and see the geese flying, we could hear the pheasants squawking, and of course Owen heard the trains, “double deckers!”  Perhaps one thing a parent can share with their child is just sitting outside and listening.  It doesn’t take up that much time.  Especially now that fall is ending and the leaves are gone… there are so many different sounds available to our ears.  The need for our children to be able to  play outside is gaining more and more importance as we are seeing studies saying the there is a connection between lack of outdoor play in kids and learning issues.   Anyway, I digress to make that statement which is always on my mind.  Preachy Miss, Mrs., Mrs Aunt Sue !!!

Our class went on a leaf hunt and selected some oak leaves (no shortage of those) Each child brought their leaf back to the rock table to make a silhouette painting.  It was challenging but with the help of parents and grandparents they were able to pull it off and boy were they proud! So simple and so fun!

Here are a few pics:

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Then we went for a great hike to the magical evergreen tree!  I love this place.  We also discovered a lot too.  Saw some more pheasants, so beautiful!

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It was a fabulous day!!!

Get em outside!!!

SW

Chipmunks are cute little rodents that love to scurry about collecting food, digging burrows and making us say awwww.  In class today we learned about these creatures and how they survive.  We watched  a short and entertaining video of chipmunks trying to stuff huge amounts of nuts into their cheek pouches.  These preschool kids loved it and laughed as they watched the persistent little chipmunk stuff their face.

I thought it would be fun for us to become little chipmunks ourselves so I made little pouches for the kids to wear around their necks and we set out to collect some nuts.  Before we went into the woods we discovered some of the local burrows of the resident chipmunks that hang around the barn.

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Clover pointing out the chipmunk burrow!

 

 

Once we set out for our nut search it was important to get these little chipmunks to act and think like the chipmunk would.  We had to walk looking down for those nuts.  It took a while but they were successful.  Some of them even collected leaves for their beds!  Such beautiful and amazing kids.

It was a super day to be out in the woods, with the air so fresh and the multicolored leaves surrounding us!  Ahhhhhh   What a treat for the senses.

Here are the little chipmunks:

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When all was said and done and our time was up in the woods, we returned back to the barn with our pouches filled.  I suggested to the parents that they do an experiment with the nuts.  Take them home and place them outside then check back the next day to see if they were still there.  Simple but fun!

I promise we left enough nuts out there for the real chipmunks and squirrels to collect for their winter feast!!

Get out and go nuts!

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

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

Hi all!  Another great day with the Natural Patterns group of  1st – 3rd graders.  We talked about Earth Manners.  What is that you say?  Well the kids generated the following list after I read the story,  “Just a Dream” by Chris Van Allsburg.  About a boy who does not really care about the environment,  throws trash on the ground, doesn’t recycle and is just plain self involved.  It was a long story but this gang of kids were mesmerized by the boy’s adventure into dreamland…  not such a great dream of the future.  It’s worth a read and discussion.

So here is there list, written with the help of Emma:

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I have to say I was very impressed.  Prior to the reading of the book each child prepared a leaf cutout by coloring their own design on it.   They attached strings to the leaves which will be tied to the  sticks they  collected . (Stay tuned for finished project in two weeks)

Today our hike was centered on finding one stick each for their earth manners piece.  Let’s just say it wasn’t easy to choose just one!!  We chatted about staying on the trail until we got to a great stick place where there was no poison ivy around.  The selection began.  It was fun to watch them wandering about trying to find a stick that was just right for their own project.  When it was time to head back I noticed that Emma and Rylie chose to take along a second large stick… actually it was a branch!!!  It was so funny watching them lug this with the intention of using it as our “class branch” (have to give Indigo the credit for naming it!) I love  when the kids bond together and make something for the “class.”  It means they are thinking of the group as a whole and are motivated to do something for their group.

It all comes from within them ~

 

Here they are with the “class stick”

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Next class we will put the project all together, by painting the sticks from which we will  hang our leaves and manners.

I smile when I think of them.. eager kids just wanting to have fun.  It should be this way for all kids, at least for some of their day.. 🙂

Get them outside….  please

Peace

Well, were back to exploring the great outdoors at Avalon again!!

Our first day back was with the Sticks Stones and Stories preschoolers… moms/dads/grandmas/oma’s/ opa’s…  fabulous

Our super fun first exploration was something so big and beautiful it’s hard to believe that it all starts with one seed!

It’s the towering sunflower!!!

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These flowers have spent their days growing in our great garden on the side of the barn, bathing in the delicious sunshine all summer.

As the petals begin to turn brown and the flowerets have been pollinated it is now time to explore this amazing flower!

Most children get to admire this  flower from afar.  But today we pulled it out of the ground … tearing the roots from the earth..   examining them. Next, using a hand saw,  cutting open the chunky stem to feel the moist insides where the water flows.  Touching the large rough leaves and playing with them ( Lilly made music with hers!)  Finally getting the head of the flower to examine the petals, all the mini flowers and the seeds!!!  Such an amazing sight to see how they grow … all neatly packed  in there.

Once we finished exploring outside we took the heads and brought them inside to take out the seeds.  Everyone  got to take their seeds home.  I wonder what they will do with them?  Eat them, feed them to the animals… plant them???  Such fun!

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Finally a craft and a story to complete our first class together.  Great kids, great parent and grandparents.

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Get outside!

peace, Sue

 

 

I love being with all the kids out in the garden; so free, digging in the dirt, searching for that elusive worm.  They are all so present.

There are no Common Core standards, no learning for the test… it is more of just learning to be what we are naturally. Inquisitive doers.   That is what I see when I watch these children busy  their whole bodies and minds.

Ah yes…. THE RAKE…. what would a blog be without my story?  I guess it’s more of a metaphor than an actual story….

 

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Tool or Weapon?

 

At Avalon we have a lovely garden named “Acadia.”  Developed by the older kids in the S.T.A.T.E.  program,  it is fenced in and made up of various shaped garden boxes, surrounded by green grass  and a tool shed   My Seedlings groups are lucky enough to use one of their boxes

Each time we go to the shed,  the kids stand there as if they are looking into a candy store.   “I want the shovel, I want the rake!” they yell.  They just can’t wait to get their hands the metal tools.   Each time I walk into the shed I see row of hand rakes and shovels and I have this flash of paranoia. I can’t help but think….. ” can these 3 -5 year olds handle these tools.  I someone going  accidentally hit another kid in the head as they feverishly rake or dig in the soil????  Then I stop myself and say, “Really? Really Sue?? How will these kids ever learn that you believe  they can indeed handle the rake if I don’t give them an opportunity to give it a go? Just let that fear go ”  And so it goes each time I step into the shed.   But you know what ? Every time they are given the tools they DO it !  They pull it off …. no one bonks anyone with the tools, just occasional dirt in the eye from exuberant shoveling.

I step back, try to observe and give as little direction as possible.  Letting them be little independent souls.  Oh what a wonderful experience for me, the kids and the parents.

I watch the parents as we  surround the kids. While they workI can see some parents who possess the same fears I spoke of and are right there with their child and then there are others who just stand back.   No judgement here from me.    We all have our own bags of worries and fears instilled from our parents, our own experiences and lots of crappy TV shows.

As parents and humans, where do we draw the line in terms of allowing children to be  inquisitive explorers without instilling our fears onto them?     I think that is the lesson of THE RAKE which hangs  in the dark shed.

Do we allow the children to learn respect for the tool and how it can be used without  actually holding the rake for them and telling them this is how they do it or not do it?

Of course I am speaking metaphorically and it can be transferred to many things that we experience with our children everyday.

It is possible to  teach respect for THE RAKE  and here is some proof:

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Kids working cooperatively! Beautiful

We had a great day of working in the garden (honestly I didn’t do anything in the garden, they did it all).   They added new soil to the old, raked it out, planted beans and watered.  The parents and I  stood and watched our future happening in front of us!  Lovely day, RAKE and all.  I would love to hear some feedback on this topic from my readers!!!

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Planting sugar snap peas while mom watches.

 

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More peas in the ground!

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And still more peas!

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The elusive worm!

 

 

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The grand finale…. water!!

Day two of darkness hiking at Avalon!  We set out with our flashlights into the night… really it was only 5:00 when we started.  Once again the moon lit the sky … the rainbow rings surrounding it.

Sophia told me that she heard a story that all the snakes will come alive when the moon has that circle around it……  no snakes on this walk!

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As we set out, with flashlights at the ready, we crossed the road as usual and headed into the woods.  It is amazing how dark it gets with just a few lights to lead the way.

Tonight I had two experiments in my pocket.  Simple as can be but fun.

I talked about our vision and our pupils and how in the dark we are basically color blind.  We turned out our lights and I took out two markers (pink and green).

I drew a line of each color on their hands and asked them to guess what color they were.  Most were close with their guess…. I had blues, reds, greens…..  The truth would be revealed when we went back to the barn.

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The second experiment involved the good ole winter green lifesavers!  We sat on the leaves in a circle and crunched on these rings watching sparks pop in our mouths!  It certainly was a lot of laughs.

I think it was the first time any of them had done it!!!  Chemistry come to life!

Best part of the evening for me is when they all starting singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”….. Don’t worry about a thing…. cause everything’s gonna be alright.

Those were the only words they knew and they sang it again and again…..   I think it was soothing to them as we were on our 35th minute of the hike!

Love these kids!!!!

Here’s the music if you want to play it at home   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uPZbIezChI

After Erik put away all his equipment, with the help of the kids, they were treated to a short ride in the bucket of his truck.  I know many of them wanted to go the full 60 feet in the air but they had to settle for the 7 feet up approach with Erick at the controls.  I would think that most of them never did this before so it was a thrill none the less!!!  The whole day was a great success and I feel like the kids will look at people who cut down trees and take care of them with a new view.  Not sure how I could ever top the bucket truck ride!

IMG_1531IMG_1530IMG_1526IMG_1523IMG_1519After everyone got their ride Erik decided it was time to put Miss Sue in the bucket….  of course I was willing… of course he decided to put me all the way up – 60 feet!!!  It was the most spectacular view of Avalon!  Sophia took a video of me (which I won’t share with all of you)  and you could hear one of the kids in the background say, “You can touch the clouds!”  It almost seemed that way!   Thanks again to Erik and Buzz for coming to Avalon to share your love of what you do!!!

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