April sky is always full of water. Our rain gear get used almost every day. If it isn't for the rain, it is for the wet grass and mud. April shower gives us lots of hope for spring flowers and vegetables to grow. With hopes in our hearts we walk lightly in the rain. We often meet our friend, Brenda. Cosmo calls her granny. Brenda stops to admire everyone's rain suits and boots. We like her walking stick.
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.
We have been watching outdoor landscape turn from winter to spring. We are also noticing there is outdoor constructions starting to take place around preschool. Pablo Cope dug trenches along Meeting House Lane and Chimney Ridge Rd. We sat and watched him control the back hoe. He allowed all the children to sit on the seat of the tractor and hold the steering wheel. On another walk, we stopped to watch the concrete mixer truck pass on Hannah Branch Rd. The driver was very friendly, and when he saw us on side of the road, he stopped the truck and got out of the truck to greet the children. Children asked questions to the driver. We found out that his name was Wayne. Children learned about the steps and handle just to climb into the cab of the truck. "Cab" was a new vocabulary for the day. The driver showed the children the panels (another new vocab) on the driver seat which showed different meters of the truck. Last thing children got to do was to pull the leather rope to honk the horn! It was so loud!
We are enjoying the neat birdhouse and colorful violet hanging baskets that Annelise's grandparents donated to the preschool. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit at preschool.
After being together over half of the year, children have gotten to know each other well. They really know strength and challenges of each other. We celebrate everyone's growths and welcoming discoveries. New friendships are forming between children. Each interaction signifies something of their relationship and careful support is given by the teachers. May all our friendship come to bloom this spring.
Spring Masquerade costumes this year was made from 10 large wool shirts donated by Appalatch- Theo's father's company. The dye was again from Cedar Johnson. My friend, Dari, and I had so much fun creating little capes, dresses, shorts, hats, and neck/belly warmers the night before. We felt like elves imagining how sweet children would look in the clothes! When children saw them, they were so excited! We went right into dying the costumes. Older girls wanted dresses, younger boys wanted capes, and others chose shorts to dye. Alena took few children at a time outside to dye their costumes while Rachel and I managed the more or less normal routine inside. We had a lovely snack time eating delicious sandwich bread made with Jonah's hands. Children remarked how Alena's purple-red curls on her hair looked just like the color of the dye. We had a lovely walk outside through the air filled with songs of spring birds and laughter of children. It was Alena's last day working at preschool. Children will miss her kind words and her creative senses, and the purple-red curls on her hair.
We felted some wool in soapy tub of warm water. The fluffy wool changes in texture when it gets wet. It takes lots of rubbing and rolling to make well felted piece. Most children just wanted to race through different color wool pieces. Cosmo rubbed a green wool for a long time and said, "I made a turtle!". They will become part of Spring Masquerade costume!
We enjoyed seeing the sequence of tulip and hyacinth flowers from beginning to end. The tulips have green buds with a hint of pink which gets bigger and finally opens to the sunshine. The middle of the flower looked like a star. Vera noticed when it was placed in a cool part of the room, the flower closed a little. Even after the flower petal fell off, the stamen kept growing bigger. We sang Japanese tulip song:
Saita Saita tulip no hanaga (opened up, opened up flower of tulip) Naranda Naranda aka shiro kiiro (in a row, in a row, red, while, and yellow) Dono hana mitemo kireidana (how pretty is each and every one)
The hyacinth is a long blooming flower. The pink one had a second stalk which made a smaller cluster of flowers. We have made tally marks for pink, white, and purple hyacinth to count how many people liked them.
Most of the time, children are ready to go outside no matter how cold. It takes a little extra time when it is sub freezing temperature, but fresh air is so important to preschool children, so we always go outside. I love watching them explore the woods. Dryden is going through the woods. Up over the roots and down under the branches. Will this way connect to where Cosmo and Opal are? I see Annelise and Rachel laying down on the pine needle carpet looking into above. Are there clouds moving? Branches swaying in the wind? Children found snow on the stump to draw names and pictures. After a while I ask, "Are we ready to go?" When given a permission to go, children run through the path like a wind. In Japanese, we say kodomowa kazenoko meaning "children of the wind".
Winter indoor time is homey and sweet. I notice sometimes parents walk in and relax into a couch or on a rug for a short visit. The hyacinth and tulips are opened to greet us. The toys are waiting to be played. Warm water in the tub have bubbles for washing and playing. I try to create the environment that is joyful, inspiring, and peaceful for anyone who walks into preschool.
Forest started to come one day a week. He is one year old. Forest likes to play with the bead toy, rocking boat, kitchen vegetables and fruits, but mostly he likes to be carried by Peg, a preschool volunteer teacher. Forest looks for Peg in the room. He went to sleep while Peg gently fed him a bottle in a quiet hall way while other children were having snack time. One day, Forest was very interested in watching children play with clay. When I gave him some to play with, he was so excited. I can see that he has been taught not to put clay into his mouth at home. He did it once, but now he checks with me every time. I said, "no, yucky, blahh". He just played with the clay instead of trying to eat it. Thank goodness! When all teachers need to help with children to dress to go outside, Peg puts him in an empty costume basket or Meladee's car seat. Forest just sits in it contently and watches all the dressing activity. Forest has favorite songs. We found out when we were singing "This Little Light of Mine" at the snack table. Forest started to dance with the song. He also likes animal sounds, like chickens and horses. No surprise when we went to Bethany's Garden to the duck pond, Forest was very excited to see the ducks! We made lots of duck sounds. We are so glad that Forest came to join the preschool.
Preschool welcomed three new children in January 2015. Meladee is three years old, and she enjoys arts and crafts, clay projects (she calls "play dough"), playing and organizing in the kitchen, train tracks, and recently she has been really enjoying climbing trees during a walk. Meladee is Theo's cousin. They both get a little intimidated with cold weather. Dorothy was joking, "I blame it on Philippino blood". Meladee is so calm and peaceful when she is working on projects. She and Vera made a beautiful picture by cutting and pasting catalog and calendar pictures. Meladee's hands are very nimble. She likes to peel fruits- oranges and grapes (I have only seen Japanese people peeling grapes). Outside, she likes to peel open acorns to see the inside. Meladee has a cute laugh when she is having fun. It is so cute that secretively I go out of my way just to hear her laugh. Welcome Meladee and her family, Dhessceree and Ramel!
There were so many leaves to rake at the playground. We started to build a shelter. Soon the shelter became a cave for hibernating animals. "Cave has no light coming in", said Vera carefully laying moss on cracks between the boards. (Annie thought it was a great stage to dance.) The leaves and moss made such great insulation, that it was almost sound proof. Opal wanted to have Gretchen come in to snuggle in the cozy place they created. This was a project worth a few days. When it was all done, the earth smelled so good in the cave.
The bulbs that we planted in October finally started to bloom. It is brightening up our classroom and our hearts. We had to be so patient for the flower to open. Looking at a flower bud Cosmo said, "It's still sleeping". I thought it looked like a special present all wrapped up. Our first tulip flowered on a snowy day. What a treat to see a soft pink flower in the middle of the cold winter. We are reading "Fredrick", a story of a mouse that helps us to remember lovely thoughts and feelings when we seem to be lacking of them. Preschool supporters have told us how they are enjoying the flowers at home. It is nice to imagine all the blossoms bringing smiles to each one.
With the natural world starting to go into dormant period, we are also thinking about sleep and rest. We sing "The Horses are Fast Asleep" and "Where All the Froggies When the North Wind Blows?" During the morning play, children are using all sorts of things- bookshelf, blanket and cushions to create their cozy den. One of them always turns off the room light to go to "sleep". We read together "Sleep Like a Tiger" by Mary Logue (who also write mystery novels I found out). In the story, a little girl refuses to go to sleep and parents work with her saying, "You don't have to go to sleep. But you have to put on your pajamas" etc. Great parenting tips are shared. The girl imagine how all the animals sleep. Tigers are big sleepers because they have to be strong! Thanks for introducing me to this great book Polly and Ginger. Routines, comfort, diet, and daytime activities all seem to be influencing children's sleep. Speaking of which, it is way passed my bedtime! Good night and sleep tight! Zzzzz...
It was noticeably dry and windy day by Becky's Garden, when we spotted a silvery fluff coming out of milkweed pods. The seeds inside were lined up in beautiful patterns - resembled fish scale to me - awaiting to fly with the November wind. Maybe the ground is still moist to land and germinate. Children were eager to send milkweed seeds off for a great flight. Some seeds were brought back to preschool playground. Cosmo wanted more seeds, but the pod we picked was empty. Those seeds had already migrated. We however discovered that inside the "purse" there was a very soft membrane ? that perhaps the seeds were attached to (like a umbilical cord?). We also sent get well soon wishes to Ginger along with the travel safe wishes for the seeds.
Children love to climb. Most of the time they don't even fall or hurt themselves. They have to find their own special spot to hang, sit, swing, while they imagine being an animal rescuer or a builder or a monkey (the list goes on). It is hard to share their special spot. Children are very territorial. Sharing their special spot means "You are one of us". Luckily, there is plenty of places to climb so it is not a big deal. Here Cosmo decided to share Annelise his special spot. Annelise was so happy!
Vera has been making beautiful "leaf chains" this year. She told everyone how to make it. Children are such great inventors and artists! Their thoughts are so original. 1. Find an oak leaf with a long stem.
2. Find another oak leaf with a longs stem.
3. Poke the stem of the first leaf into the second leaf.
4. Curl back the stem of the first one and poke it into the original leaf.
5. Take the stem of the second leaf and poke into the third leaf, and so on.
Preschool planted flower bulbs in late October. We learned that the pointy end of the bulb has to point up the dirt. Tulip bulbs have a flat side which you have to put it against the side of a pot. Everyone helped plant them, but Eben and Ginger were such good partners. They planted more than some of the older children. Eben carried pots into the box to go home with Mari. They were kept at even temperature and are now coming up and looking green and healthy! Vera was so excited that she drew a picture of the shoots! Eben likes to "open" the leaves to see what is inside. Cosmo says, "It's still sleeping! (when it wakes up the flower will bloom)" I like to think of shoots as presents all wrapped up to be opened. I can't wait to see it grow and make flowers! We are learning to be patient - December virtue.
The flower pots are sold out this year! All 75 pots at $10 each. The profit goes to scholarship fund. I would like to thank Whitney Braisington and Lucy Lodge for being sponsors. It means so much for the preschool.
On November 13th, we celebrated Martinmas with story told by Sherry Lovett and a cold but lovely lantern walk. Opal's parents, Jona and Gretchen had hosted us for the evening. We were treated by a warm campfire and hot apple cider pressed from their own apple trees. The temperature dropped into low 30s or maybe even in high 20s. After the story we lit our handmade lanterns and sang songs. Vera wanted to sing all the songs we sing at preschool. Cosmo requested "This Little Light of Mine". We walked around their neighborhood singing "I Go with My Little Lantern", "Red and Yellow, Green and Blue", "Saint Martin" and "Glimmer Lantern, Glimmer". I think it was parents that wanted to turn around and go back because they were getting cold (maybe not dressed quite right for the weather). I stood by the wood stove and rotated my body and felt grateful for the warmth it provided. Thank you for the delicious soup everyone! Thank you Jona and Gretchen for being such gracious hosts. Saint Martin song.
St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin rode out in the night.
His cape was warm, his heart was light.
St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin saw a beggar man there in the snow with little on.
"Oh, help me please or I must freeze, Oh help me please or I must freeze"
St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin sprang down from his horse.
His halved his cape with his great sword.
St. Martin rode off in the storm, the beggar man was safe and warm.
In October and November, two new friends joined preschool. They are Eben and Dryden. They are both two years old boys and love being outside! Weather turned really cold in early-mid November, but Eben and Dryden still enjoyed walking though woodland paths, checking out creek and roaming though rhododendron trees. We learned quickly that Eben loves to play with trucks. He also loves to do things like peeling and looking at small seeds inside a pod with his nimble fingers. Dryden enjoy playing with train tracks. He also looks for elephants and other animals to play with. Children are practicing friendliness and how to interact with each other. We are curious and excited about our new friends. Welcome to the Children's Garden!
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!