field trip

Lady Slippers Walk

IMG_0733 (1) The year is quickly passing by. Lady Slippers are quietly blooming to let us know that it is May, the Mother's Day month, and it is nearly the end of the preschool year.

We had 10 happy children ready to go on the Lady Slipper Walk and some of their parents, grandparents, and friends were able to join us.



We took our time stopping for everyone to catch up and pointing at flame azaleas and giant ferns growing.


We stopped to have our snack of sandwiches and fruits and a drink of water. We remembered to sing the blessing before the snack was over. Everyone went on "nature potty" and the nappies were tended for the younger ones. We had one last stop before viewing the flowers. I told a story of the magical slippers that helped a young child to find her way home. This child was a kind-hearted child that earlier had given up her own slippers to the forest friend, rabbit, who had hurt feet. The message of the story also included that we must not pick the "slippers" so that in case some fairies got lost, they can wear the magic slippers to find their way home just like the little girl in the story.


We finally got to view the beautiful lady slippers. Pink ones were many in number while yellow ones were scarce. Children recognized the unique flowers and excited to show the teachers and friends.  The mid-morning sun was filtering through the trees reaching all the way to shine on the flowers. We managed to not pick any or step on them by accident.  Thank you children.IMG_0739


It was all downhill on the way back. Most children ran along the trails through the woods happy and satisfied. We even got to the soccer field where we were supposed to meet the parents an hour earlier than the pickup time. We decided to change the plan to meet the parents back at the preschool. Children walked tirelessly, that is all except for the two 2 year olds. They needed a little break here and there to be carried by the teachers. 1-year old E was mostly carried as we went a little faster than his pace.IMG_0772


Safely back in the playground, everyone whose legs were exposed got a thorough wash with tecnu, soap and water to prevent them from getting poison ivy. We checked children for ticks.


Another day to celebrate. Thank you to everyone for the lovely day.

Beaver Camp on Hannah Branch

About 4 years ago, preschool enjoyed visiting a beaver working site. The beavers had built a dam across a creek about 10 feet long. We were not sure about their lodge, but it was so fun to visit and see the shavings around stumps where they had gnawed. C.E's parent informed me that there is a new beaver site by a nearby creek. Where the creek meets South Toe River you could see the trees marked by the work of beavers. How long did it take to cut down the trees? Where did they take the trees? There were many questions to answer. We also wonder if beavers would sharpen our coloring pencils.

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Beavers are supposed to be active building dams in fall so that they can store their food under the lodge for the winter. Beavers eat the leaves, inner bark, and twigs of aspen (a favorite food), alder, birch, cottonwood, willow, and other deciduous trees. Beavers also eat shrubs, ferns, aquatic plants, grasses, and crops, including corn and beans.

On the same day C.E. brought the woodchips gnawed by beavers for Show and Tell, A. brought her tooth that she accidentally broke when she fell off a step stool. We passed around woodchips with beaver's toothmark and a human tooth that was white and had a long root. Bob Johnson in Celo said once he found a beaver tooth. I had to ask him if it were orange because C.E. and O.F. who have been studying about beavers informed me that a beaver tooth is orange due to high iron content. Bob said it was indeed orange, and it curved like a hook because beavers keep growing their teeth as it gets worn from using. How convenient if our teeth can keep growing as needed!

Very unfortunately, about three weeks ago, one of preschool assistant teachers, Peg fell and broke her wrist. Peg showed children her big cast that went all the way to her forearm to stabilize her wrist movement. We had to learn to hold Peg's hand very gently at circle time.

As it is introduced by Waldorf education during the first week of December I have been thinking about tooth and bones which are both minerals. For some reason, children started to play with shells at preschool too. When we do our footbath after a cold walk, we have a salt block (which is another familiar mineral) that Amanda gave us to rub back of our feet. How interesting that without any effort, the presence of minerals seem to surround the children already. We are thankful for the minerals on our planet which support and give us structures. Hopefully no more broken bones and teeth for a long time.

Fall Field Trip to Arthur Morgan School

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We had a wonderful Fall Field Trip to Arthur Morgan School on October 14th. It was wonderful to take the woodland trail across several hand built bridges. The trails were covered with a carpet of red and golden leaves. Children enjoyed stopping and visiting the creeks.

We were welcomed by the AMS students who were pressing apple cider. Children helped put the apples into the funnel and as a student turned the wheel on the side, we watched the apples crushed into small bits. Some children took turns turning the wheels, but realized that it is not as easy as it looked. Then a big wheel on top was turned to squeeze out the apple juice. Younger ones wanted to dip their hands straight into the cider as it trickled down into a pot. The air was filled with a sweet smell of apples all around mixed with wood smoke coming out of school's chimney. We were so grateful for the rich experience.

We jumped on the leaf pile. We had no idea that a student was hiding completely under the pile and we almost jumped right onto him!

We settled at a picnic table and enjoyed our snack. Brad brought us warm apple cider enough for everyone to enjoy the taste of autumn! It was lovely.

We went to say hello to turkeys and gave them some compost from the kitchen. They made lots of sounds that children imitated while we watched. We wondered what they were saying to each other.

We tried digging for potatoes, but we did not find any, but we had fun anyway getting our hands in the dirt.

We had such a fun day, but it wasn't over yet. Students hid cute little pumpkins along the trail on the way back.  Everyone looked and found their pumpkins! When we were at a creek, F's pumpkin went floating down the creek. It got stuck on a big rock so the older children tried to save it. In a mean time, C got stung by a yellow jacket. While caring for him, the pumpkin flowed down the creek. T said, "Where did it go?", so I said "Maybe all the way to Granny's beach".  (I heard that later T. and mother went to the Granny's beach and T was looking for the pumpkin). We sang "Once I was a pumpkin" song on the way back to the soccer field where were met the parents.

Special thanks to Brad for making it possible for the Fall Field Trip at AMS.

Spring Field Trip to the Sheep Farm

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On March 18th, we had a wonderful spring field trip to a sheep farm at Ben and Cedar's. We packed picnic lunch and children carried cup and napkins in a small sack. We took mostly Celo Community trails. All the walking children walked including Opal Claire and Ginger who were 1 year old. Forest rode on Mari's back.

Children were so excited to see the sheep on the hill. Farmer Ben McCann came to greet us. He invited older children to go in the shelter to meet the lambs. Each lamb had a name tag on his or her ear. "So we can tell them apart", Ben said. Lambs were so cute. They had curly fur and long tails. Their mothers Baaed intensely when lambs were separated from them. Ben told us that sheep like to be with each other. They don't like to be far away from the group. Children pet the lamb while Ben held one in his arms. Children watched the lambs eat corn in the trough. They were hungry. Ben let the lambs go back to their mother in the field. We watched them find their mother and nursed from her. Children loved Lulu the donkey who protect the sheep from predators. Lulu is a gentle and friendly donkey to children. She still had shaggy winter fur.

We then washed our hand with soap and water, and settled by a patch of yellow daffodils for our picnic snack. Children were hungry too after a good hike. Theo's grandfather helped fill the water and made sure every one got a good drink of water. After good visit, good food, and good diaper changes, we were ready to head back to preschool.

We said good bye to the sheep, Lulu, and thank you to Ben for the wonderful visit. We picked up our stroller to carry Ginger and Opal Claire and took Hannah Branch Rd. back to preschool. Everyone was content and happy to play in the playground until pick up time arrived.

It was nice to have Tilman and his mother join the field trip. I want to thank preschool's dedicated volunteers, Peg Chamberlain and Barb Perrin. We could not have done this trip without them.

Snowy winter

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Old man winter came out today, and said, "I am going to make this a very cold day!" We had more snow! We are getting good at putting on snow pants and woolen layers to keep us warm from head to toes. We found many footprints that belong to animals that live in the woods. Snow reveals their activities even though most of the time we don't get to see them.

Children loved sliding down the snowy bank by the bridge to Meema and Peepa's. Vera tried to cover little creek that ran under the snow and ice with more snow. The snow kept dissolving into the creek.

One day Cosmo and Vera made snow chair. It had arm rest and was very comfortable. Ginger liked the snow man "toe man". We enjoyed the nice warm foot bath afterwards.

Carrots Harvesting at Camp Celo

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The Camp Celo gardener, Mattie, invited preschoolers to come and help harvest carrots. We were so excited! I even made necklaces out of carrots that looked like toes (?). We headed out with a double stroller with the youngest two girls in it. On the way, Theo noticed one of the "non-mail" box next to Bob Johnson's mail box (One of the Celo customs). Cosmo and Theo each picked a fall leaf and put it under the rock (Cosmo picked his own rock). When we got to Camp Celo, the girls were already pulling carrots under the instruction of Mattie. Mattie loosened the soil with a garden fork, then the children pulled the carrots by holding onto the green tops. Mattie showed the children to bathe the carrots in the a nice warm tub of water and gently rub them to get the dirt off. The warm water felt so nice on a chilly morning (low 40F). Theo and Ginger especially loved the washing the carrots. Annelise made a neat pile of washed carrots (which Ginger put them back in the water afterwards). There were happy crunching sounds of carrots made by the children eating the carrots! We moved right into the snack time under a warm sunshine! I opened furoshiki and handed cups and napkins. We had a long silence before we started singing the blessing. During the silence, I heard wind and bird chirping in a distance, but other than that it was quiet and peaceful. Aside from getting distracted by a kitty cat and Moonshadow (Kavita's dog), we managed to finish the snack and gathered children to go back to preschool. Vera handed Mattie our homemade applesauce for "Thank You". We had such a wonderful walk back to preschool. Ginger sang "We are walking as a family" all the way back. We were so happy and joyful with the warm sunshine on our back, yummy carrots in our tummy, fun shadow to entertain us while walking on Hannah Branch Road!

AMS Fall Festival

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Digging Potatoes

On our third day back to preschool, things started to settle and children seemed calm (maybe teachers too?). We had a beautiful walk through trails of rhododendron arcade. We started to hear a tractor. When we got to the field by the Tibbits, we saw Gold Finch Garden crew. Ben saw us and said, "Want to come and dig potatoes?" We said "Yeah!". We got ourselves all covered with dirt. Ginger said "dirt" and kept bringing me a clump of dirt. These potatoes are not ordinary potatoes you see at a grocery store. They were purple and pink! Ben cut one in half to show us a dark blue-purple color inside (pink one is also pink inside!). It was like a treasure hunt to find potatoes buried in the dirt. We sang "One Potato, Two Potato" as we dug. Some of us took it very seriously while others just sat and enjoyed playing in the dirt. When Ben found a mole, he held the poor guy who was trying to dig back into the dirt and let us touch it. It was hard to see his face and his strong front feet because he will not be still. Theo was so excited to touch the mole. Annelise was not so sure. Cosmo and Vera had each chosen a potato. They carried them wrapped in their T-shirt like a baby in a cradle. We stopped by Becky's creek to wash some dirt off, and to cool down. Cosmo and Vera tenderly washed their potatoes which turned bright purple. Next day, we made mashed potato for the morning project. They looked purple! We added milk from Camp Celo and home made butter. Yum! We were blessed with the unexpected potato digging!

We made mashed potato out of purple potatoes that we helped dig yesterday with Ben


mashed potato making process

Visit to Sheep Farm

playing at nature see-saw on the way to the farmCosmo walking with BarbWe got to the farm and met the farmer BenColorful chickensChildren enjoyed petting Lulu, the donkeySheep grazing grassMattias says hello to a lambDavid adores a lambFarmer Ben picks up a lamb to show Ginger Ginger is very curiousCosmo said "she has utters", "utters make milk"Ben helps Cosmo hold a lamb What a wonderful visit we had at the Sheep farm! Farmer Ben showed us 10 yews, their lambs, a friendly donkey named Lulu, and colorful chickens. These sheep are raised for meat production and not for wool. When Ben explained frankly that the only way we can have meat to eat is to raise the animals for meat. Children agreed with him and said "yum!". Cosmo uttered "she has udders!" and "Udders make milk" when we entered the space with a yew and three days old lambs. The children were calm and respectful to the animals, and I wonder if it is because we have a regular visit with guinea pigs. We enjoyed the walk through the wooded path to and from the farm and enjoyed the sunny picnic snack. When we left the farm, David said "... But we didn't get to see Naomi". (Ben and Cedar's daughter Naomi was at preschool a few years ago.) We were so thankful to Ben and Cedar for letting us come and meet the animals. Ben and Cedar run Goldfinch Garden and provide lots of fresh vegetable to the South Toe community.

Field Trip to ATRC

IMG_2858 IMG_2866 IMG_2867 IMG_2871 IMG_2889 IMG_2891 IMG_2896 IMG_2900 IMG_2902 IMG_2903 IMG_2904 What a fun spring field trip to Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center! Children learned to brush a horse using a few different types of brushes. I noticed that even though they were so excited, once they stood next to the horse, they were so focused, and became calm and peaceful. The horse's name was Midnight. After children brushed Midnight, we watched Midnight do tricks. There were cones, bars, and a barrel placed on the ground, and Miika led Midnight to walk through the obstacles. Then Miika asked children to do what Midnight did. The children took it very seriously and performed very well(They each had a pretend horse while doing this). We also learned what horses ate (grain, hay, apples). They each wore a helmet and rode on a wooden horse (very cool with some recycled materials). We went to a classroom and we sang songs about horses and did some activities related to horse with a volunteer, Kristin. We went on a nice walk to see other horses in the pasture. ATRC has 8 horses altogether. The weather was so beautiful and everyone had a wonderful time. It is basically David's second home, so while other children were being exposed to new things, he wrote "I love mom" on a sandy ground. More pictures!photo 5 (1)

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AMS Fall Festival

Crossing creeks to get to AMS fall festival!Mixing biscuit dough.Rolling out the dough.Grinding the wheat to make flour.Making felted pumpkins.Digging for Jerusalem Artichoke. Mattias and Opal was fascinated by the Wooly Bear Caterpillar.Here we go on the hayride! Pumpkin heads!DSC01363 Preschool went to AMS Fall Festival on October 16th. We had a wonderful walk through the woods, field, and over hand-built bridges to get to AMS. When we got there it was almost our snack time, so we joined the biscuit making activities. Children measured, stirred, added and mixed all the ingredients. David rolled the dough and everyone helped cut into round shape. Julia and Opal moved the dough very carefully into the cookie sheet to bake. While it was baking, we ground some wheat into flour. Cosmo and Mattias especially enjoyed turning the handle to grind the wheat. Needless to say, we had a tasty snacktime. Brad brought us a warm fresh apple cider that was just pressed to go with our snack! We then made felted "pumpkins" with Kristen. Children felt fluffy wool turn into felted ball (or almost) by rolling them in their hands and putting them into soapy water.

Children was invited to dig Jerusalem Artichoke with Kevin. Kevin put good effort to make this activity child friendly. "We are going to dig for a treasure!" He and Micah helped children use an adult sized fork. David and Vera especially enjoyed finding interesting shaped edible tubers! They didn't want to stop!

We went to see chickens and turkeys. We climbed up on gravel mountain. We sampled garden mint. Then, we rode on a hayride! Up the hill and down, we enjoyed watching the autumn scenery. Vera told everyone that she is going to be a princess for Halloween. Then we went to look for pumpkins that were hiding on the trail back to soccer field where met the parents. We had fun comparing each others' pumpkins, hiding them again in the leaves, and making pumpkin heads! It was such a fun morning! Thank you Arthur Morgan School for this wonderful event!

Duck Dance Farm

5 weeks old Welsh Harlequins Pat Poole giving tour of the farm

children watching the duck eat boiled potatoes for treat

Julia watching the 5 days old ducklings

families enjoyed the tour of duck pond

We had a wonderful field trip to our friend's duck farm.  We have been telling stories of ducks, singing duck songs and other bird songs at preschool, so it was a perfect timing.  When we arrived, we saw the ducks splashing and bathing in the pond.  Children were so excited that they wanted to get closer look!  We took Pat's tour of ducks to see rare and endangered species.  We learned that ducks are not as common as chickens, but lay plenty of nutritious eggs.  Children had a list of questions to ask Pat and Andrew.  Emmet wanted to know if ducks would eat apple peels (this question came up at our snack time), and Andrew answered that ducks can probably eat apple peels if they are cut small.  He explained that ducks don't have molar teeth like we do to grind things, so food has to be pretty soft or watery (like watermelon!).  Chase loved learning names of each kind of ducks "Look Mari, Kahki Campbell!  Welsh Harlequin!  Saxony!" Inside, we saw 5 days old ducklings that are yellow with shade of brown on the head.  They were peeping under a warm light.  Children enjoyed watching cute ducklings!  We shared some duck eggs to take home for baking and cooking.  Wow!  It was a full and wonderful day!  Thank you to all the parents and Duck Dance Farm.