Applesauce Making

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This year, we are blessed with good harvest of apples. I cooked the apples and brought them to the preschool. We assembled the applesauce maker together. Vera inserted a spiral piece that turns to send the apples down to get the applesauce separated from the skin and the seeds. I put the gasket around the filter which fits onto the shaft. Vera tightened the two butterfly shaped screws. Opal matched up the square hole of the handle to fit on the end of the axle. Cosmo put a big funnel on top to place the cooked apple in. Now we were all ready! We took turns cranking the handle and plunging apples into the funnel opening.  Singing the taking turn song is always helpful. Cosmo said, "It's coming down the shoot!" as the first thick warm pink half translucent applesauce slid down the flat metal piece down to the dish. The room was full of sweet apple smell. Cosmo washed all the parts of the applesauce maker and the pot! He switched to a smaller brush to wash the narrow end of a funnel. He said. "Toothbrush, finished one will be good (for washing metal mesh)". We had a lovely circle time. We sang apple tree song and poem.

This is a trunk I'm a tall tall tree In the autumn apples hang on me They drop They drop

Here is a tree with leaves so green, Here are the apples that hang in between. When the wind blows, the apples will fall. Here is a basket to gather them all.

We enjoyed the warm apple sauce in our cup!

Tree climbers!

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At Children's Garden, we do not usually help children get to places they cannot go themselves. For example, we do not lift up a child and put him or her on the slide. Children need to do it themselves. Language we use is"How can I help you get to where you would like to go?" If a child desires to do something that seems a bit out of reach, we say, "You may try, but you don't have to". Children learn to make decisions for themselves by being in the situation, not by ideas. It is very real. Children become very creative finding ways to meet their desires. Pretty much the only thing staff offers is her knee to be used as a step to climb when it comes to climbing trees. How about getting down? We tell children, "Good climbers also know how to get down".  It seems so logical. When children first come to preschool, they expect to get help from staff. This can become a dependence game. Recently Annelise's leg got caught while she was trying to get down. I wondered if she was going to call for help or remembered how to get it out. It took her a while, but she figured a way to get herself back up in a higher position and swung her leg over the branch. She got down to the ground with her chest open and standing tall!

Circle Time with Mr. Moore

painting for Ginger After talking with Mr. Moore, children had a painting session

Mr. Moore is a Yancey County Hospice counselor. He came to preschool on Tuesday, September 23 to talk to about feelings. We have been in great sadness since Ginger's daddy passed away so unexpectedly in August. We have been missing Polly as an assistant teacher since she has been trying to cope with the loss of her husband. Polly's mother and step father have come to help preschool a couple of mornings which was delightful. As a group, we were able to get help from Mr. Moore to process our feelings together. Mr. Moore talked about two things: Time and change. He said that there is time for everything. Time to eat, time to go to bed, time to play etc. He said there is time for baby to be born, and there is time for someone to die. He talked about going to bed is not always easy, but it happens. Sometimes, it is just time. He also said that we know Ginger is sad right now, but she is not going to be sad all the time. Change is taking place for Ginger, just like summer is passing and the fall is going to be here. We were grateful for Mr. Moore for the gentle guidance. We took his suggestion for making a bright painting for Ginger in hope to lift her spirit. Children had painted bright pictures which were made into a collage with a song written: Rainbow Ginger, Rainbow Ginger, Go where you want to go Do what you want do For love is guiding you!

Featuring Theo after the summer

Everyone grew so much over the summer. We have noticed Theo had grown not only tall but he can talk to us in sentences now. He says, "Going to Bethany's Garden", "Feed horses apples". During the indoor play, he is much more interested in table project. Wednesday we do clay activities. Theo likes to use a roller to flatten a clay. He gets very excited when guinea pigs come to visit. He likes to touch and feed apple pieces to the guinea pigs. He likes to use scissors to cut edges of a paper. His hand is still too small to use the scissors in one hand yet. When we go outside, he likes to collect acorns and roll them down the hill. At Celo Five Point, he likes to give a signal "Safe to Cross". He and Annelise are great buddies checking out the stream of water by Becky's Garden on Thursday. He still loves to sing "The Wheels on a Bus", and "Row Row Row Your Boat". We are so excited to see his changes over the summer. We are looking forward to hearing his ideas and thoughts this fall. Crossing a bridge across a creek

Enjoying watching the ducks

Motivated to use the scissors

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

Preschool Bread

Delicious home baked bread We have been so lucky to have Jonah bake the preschool bread for us. It is very healthy and nutritious, and it taste so yummy in our tummies! We make almond butter and honey sandwiches with those bread. I don't premake our sandwiches for snack. First we slice the loaf, then turn them on the cutting board, spread almond butter on one side and drizzle honey on the other. We sing "Be Patient" or "Peace is flowing like a river" while we await for the sandwich to get assembled. Children pour water in their cups and drink while they are waiting. Sometimes a short story is read. We hold hands silently (or attempt to) and sing our blessings. It is worth the wait for this delicious treat. David has been wanting to obtain the bread recipe from Jonah, the baker. I think the bread so delicious because it is is packed with nature's goodness and the love of the baker!

Icicle Tees

The icicle tree! Peggy explaining how Clark kept a sprinkler on at night.

Opal enjoys icicles to eat.  Mattias is finding frozen grass.

Magical look of the mountains and green field behind the ice coverd Japanese maple tee.

The morning of April 16, we had a temperature as low as 21 degree in some places in Celo. Many flowering trees and bushes needed special care to fight this hursh course of nature. When we walked to Peggy and Clark's garden, Barb said, "Look at those icicle trees!". Children first didn't realize what she meant, but as we got closer their eyes became very big. "Icicles in spring time? Can we eat them?", Opal said. Peggy explained that Clark started a sprinkler at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning to insulate the maple trees with ice. One tree got so heavy with ice that it needed a support even. Pictures taken by Polly.

Creek Play

Annelise crossing the bridge "all by my self"  

Theo enjoying the creek

Easter Egg Hunt practice

Mari is helping Annelise learn how to cross 'the bridge' on her own by holding on to the branch. Annelise seemed quite proud once she realized she could 'do it by myself'- her new favorite thing to say.

Theo spent a lot of time exploring the creek's water, rocks, and floating leaves with a stick.

Matias caught me taking a picture during our Easter egg hunt on our hike today and decided to make a silly face:)

Pictures and words  by Rachel

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.

Spring Masquerade

Vera and Opal set up the picnic tablesleeping families The children set up the tables   Enjoying the picnic in the warm sunshine.The children decorated the walk way with pictures of spring. On Friday March 14, we had our annual Spring Masquerade. Children dressed up in their hand dyed silkies and hand made crowns and woke up the sleeping world which was represented by sleeping parents and neighbors. This is a reenactment from a part of a story called "the Root Children" by Sibylle von Olfers. It happened to be on such a beautiful day (March weather is so unpredictable) and the children were very excited to have their families over!

At the circle time, we talked about all the winter treasure that we have to say good bye to: walking on the icy river, making snow angels, sliding on the snowy bank, eating snow, and taking a warm foot bath. We also talked about what nature treasure the spring time is going to bring: birds' songs, butterflies, colors and smells of spring flowers, tadpoles turning to frogs, and warm sunshine! We are so glad that we can recognize the goodness of each season and move forward with it.

Thank you parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and staff of the Children's Garden for arranging to be at the celebration. I hope everyone had a good time with the potluck and visits with each other. Enjoy the spring break!

Kitties' visit to preschool

photo 3 (1) photo 1 (1)photo 2 (1)On Friday, March 7, preschool children were visited by two sweet kitty cats. We have been experiencing how touching animals are not only fun but have calming effect to people. Well, kitty cats visit were little bit different from guinea pigs visit. The kitties were very curious and would not sit very still. It turned into "chase the kitties" game (and teachers playing "chase the children"). Some of the children watched a kitty use the litter box. We enjoyed making the kitty toys for them to play with (turned out that kitties were more interested in exploring preschool than chasing the toys we made). Thank you Rachel and Annelise for bringing the kitties to the fun Show and Tell! Let's try it again!?

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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Frog Eggs

Close up of frog eggs Children were so excited to find frog eggs!

A pregnant frog often lays eggs attached to a fallen branch in a pond

Frog eggs at Bethany's Garden

Spring is getting closer! We found frog eggs at Bethany's Garden on Feb. 26. We have heard frogs making interesting sounds 5 days before that. According to last year's note (2013), frog eggs were found on Jan. 31. And a year before that in 2012, first frog eggs were found on Feb. 7. Anyway, the children were so excited! We gently tore a small cluster and too it back to the preschool. Frog eggs were then placed in a bowl of water for us to observe. On Feb 28, instead of a black round body inside the jelly like cell, it was elongated and made a U shape. Children observed the difference in shape. On March 4, children saw that they were wiggling and trying to come out of the jelly like eggs. Before we left for a walk, one of them had finally come out of the egg! We sang happy birthday to the tadpole. Now we have to start getting fresh algae for them to eat! We found that it is very hard to count tadpoles because they wiggle and move around the bowl now. There are about 20 of them, I think!

Big Snow Day!

Children love snow! The impressive snow from yesterday is still here, and children are having the best time. Opal and Cosmo were back and forth being inside the igloo and underneath the slide structure. They were visiting "houses". Theodore enjoyed walking on the shoveled path back and forth. He picked up a stick and used it to poke the pile of snow on a stump. Ginger was with Polly who was straightening the preschool for the end of the week, so there were only three children. Three can be a tricky number sometime, but the environment invites them to be playful and friendly to each other (there is plenty of snow and we don't have to take turns playing in the snow!) Opal came to give pushes when Theodore was in the swing set. She started to play "Got ya" game with Theo. He smiled and showed his cute dimple on his cheek. Theodore examine the pathOpal playing game with TheoCosmo making a cake in the igloo

What a snow!

Old Man Winter must have had a fun play day with Big Chief North Wind! We had an 8 inches of snow on Thursday morning. Mari skied to preschool and took pictures of the playground. Cosmo and Mari had a special time playing in the snow. Cosmo wanted to build an igloo, so we used a big plastic container to make blocks to make igloo walls. Cosmo said, "It takes a lot of work to build an igloo". It was so different to be in the playground when you can't even find a path! While we were digging the snow to make blocks, we found many buried objects in the snow- shovel, ball, scoop etc. It was like a treasure hunt. Cosmo wanted himself to be buried and be dug out like a treasure too. We made snow angles and imagined that they would fly to say hello to friends who could not come to preschool because of the snow. Cosmo also wanted the angels to fly to "Na-na" (his grandmother). snow piled on the gate for the playground made neat shapesswing set covered with snowpreschool in the snowlooking from inside the preschoolremembering colors as Fredrick the mouse saidMari skied to preschoolCosmo and his brother Van in the igloosnow piled on the slide structure

Volunteer Barb and Guinea Pigs

We are excited that Barb Perrin started to volunteer on Wednesdays at the Children's Garden. Her calm and relaxing manners have been appreciated by children. She reads stories to children and helps us with getting dressed and going for a walk, but the funnest part of having Barb is that she brings Guinea Pigs for the children to pet. Barb brings out Guinea Pigs during a circle time. After a few visit, children learned to be more gentle and not to be afraid of them, and Guinea Pigs learned to be more relaxed and friendly with children too. On the third visit, Guinea Pigs ate apples right off children's hands, AND pooped on the floor! Vera said "Mari, quick! Go get the scat book!" so we compared the color, the size and the shape with other animal scats. We listened to the sounds when Guinea Pigs crunch the apple pieces. We also learned that Guinea Pigs has three fingers on the front feet and four on the back feet! We are looking forward to learning more about Guinea Pigs. Thank you so much Barb for the opportunities for us to look closely to fuzzy friends! Children enjoy reading with Barb

Guinea Pigs came to visit us

Guinea pigs likes to hide in cozy places

studying the Guinea Pig's scat!11" align="alignright" width="300"]Using gentle hands Using gentle hands

Snowy Walk

Snowy walk on Tuesday snow walk3

Neighbor Sam and Anne When I woke up in the morning, I think the temperature said -7F. By 10:45am, it was 22F. We bundled up and we went for a walk. The powdery snow made a beautiful frosting over Polly's hat and her hair. Opal said "On the way to preschool, we saw a snowplow". David traced a foot print of a small dog (?) checking the creek on the bridge on Joyce and Gil's drive way. It looked like the dog jumped off from the bridge to the bank to drink water. We traced a bigger dog (?) walking the same direction where we were going by Sandy Field. Mattias noticed a rhythmical sounds of snow chain on a Blossom Oil Company truck going down the hwy 80s. We met a mail deliverer and Sam and Anne talking a walk. They told us that Pete Seeger passed away the night before. We sang "Turn Turn Turn" song together.

Walk to Peggy's Garden

Cosmo and Opal Mattias and VeraMari and children feeding ducks in the pondQuick, catch the little girl!Children visiting a peaceful figure at Peggy's Garden Our walk to Peggy's Garden takes place on Fridays. Children love to run down the big hill down to Peggy's cabin and walk on the stumps. I tell them that we have to be quiet as a mouse to go around the house because baby Opal might be sleeping. Children enjoy visiting a statue at the base of the huge oak tree that spreads limbs wide in the front yard. I tell them to put their palm together to greet the statue. One preschooler calls the statue "princess". Then we go to feed the ducks in the small pond. The ducks are so happy when children feed them left over sandwich pieces. Sorry we could not get the pictures of ducks. (while trying to do so, we had a little girl trying to swim with the ducks!)

We have a new friend, Theodore!

Theodore enjoyed playing with the fire engine on the first day of preschool


We have a new friend at preschool, Theodore! Theodore is learning to adjust to the preschool environment. On the second day, he almost sat through the whole snack period! There have been lots of kindness and sympathy expressed by "old" preschoolers. Theodore is teaching us lots of new signs- toilet, dog, play, all done. We are excited to get to know Theodore and his family. Welcome to the Children's Garden!