Strawberry Fields Forever

We ended our school year together picking strawberries in bright sun and sweet fields on Sauvie Island.

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We visit the farm twice a year, in the fall and in the spring to witness the changes in the seasons. One of the main components of the HFP curriculum is cultivating our connection to the earth. Visiting the farm lets children see the source of our food. Their curiosity is fed by seeing, touching, smelling and tasting the bounty of the land.  This is hands-on, sensory learning at its finest.



We gathered for circle time and then headed out on the tractor for a hayride to the strawberry fields. Each child picked their own basket of delicious, ripe berries and then we took a tour of the farm.

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We returned happily to the cool shade beneath the cherry trees for snack, songs, and stories. Each child had a special moment with Teacher Susan as she handed out completion certificates. The certificates were specially designed by HFP alumni parent, Scott Ramsey, an amazing tattoo artist, featuring northwest critters painting at the easel. We said bittersweet farewells to each other, but look forward to seeing our friends at our HFP park playdates throughout the summer.  (See home page for summer get together dates).

Cake Walk

Despite unusually scorching temperatures, our community gathered Friday to celebrate another fantastic year of learning and playing together with a Cake Walk party. Families gathered in the shady, grassy area with picnic dinners to enjoy friendships cultivated during our year together.

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Children ignored the heat and ran excitedly from one play station to the next. They had face painting fairies help transform them and many activities to keep them (mostly) distracted from the line-up of cakes.

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The ever-tempting gallery of cakes:

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IMG_1973 IMG_1976Thanks to Charles and Brailey for providing live music for the cake walk. Each child won their very own cake to bring home, but first we enjoyed a slice (or three) and many traded and sampled friend’s cakes.

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Sneaky Raccoon Pizza Party!

This week children made a special snack– Pizza!  We have been getting a big kick out of  the book Secret Pizza Party* by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.  In this silly story, raccoon longs for the cheesy goodness of pizza, but is denied access to it because raccoon is an animal.  Children can relate to wishing for something they can’t have and they enjoy the outlandishness of a raccoon munching on one of their favorite “people” foods.

The more we read together, the more children talked about their shared enjoyment of pizza.  So we decided to have a pizza party– raccoon-style. The easel was set up for painting pizzas, and there were felt raccoon tails and face paints available for anyone who wanted to get into character.

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Parents provided all the fixings and the dough for everyone to make a masterpiece good enough to eat!

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At circle, Susan and Matt appeared as singing slices of pizza while singing “I Am A Pizza” by Charlotte Diamond.

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Making pizza  was AWESOME! And so was eating together.

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* When reading Rubin’s book together, we opted to shift the focus slightly, replacing “Secret” with”Sneaky Raccoon,” as we intentionally teach children not to keep secrets in an effort to support safety.

*Giant Pizza Slices created by local artists Drew Laughery and Elisabeth Tschalaer.

Intern Student Values Her Experience at HFP

By Yijia Li, Chinese International Student at Lewis and Clark College

I had a wonderful time interning at Hawthorne Family Playschool! When I first walked into the classroom, everyone seemed really nice and welcoming, which helped me to ease my worriedness. I had no experience with kids previously, and I was nervous about making mistakes. However, the atmosphere at HFP was supportive and lovely that I’m so glad I had the opportunity to participate. Teacher Susan helped and instructed me about what I could do to help with the class, and that made me feel like I was doing something useful and really being part of the school.


I learned and grew from my time at HFP. At first I was shyer about supervising kids with activities and I was even nervous about my English skill in terms of reading books to them. But I gradually became more confident and could read books to a small group of children and supervise them doing activities. I was really happy I could use my art skill to help out the class too, which was fun for me to do some drawing that I had been too busy to do.

I’m going to miss everyone from HFP. It has been a precious experience, and I’m thankful for the time I played with the kids. I really think HFP serves as a great example of how essential play is in terms of children’s growth, which I didn’t realize before this experience. Because from where I’m from, academic takes the lead in children’s lives and people do not prove the importance of play. I feel lucky to find out it by now so that I could be a better parent in the future and have a better influence with kids


Hoopla! 2016

On April 9th HFP celebrated another year of learning, play and community at Hoopla!, our annual Costume Party/Benefit at Oaks Park Dance Pavilion. We were blessed with delicious food, playful entertainers and exciting auction items.









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Many parents and teacher Susan arrived in whimsical costumes along with a host of thrilled children in their own make believe personas.

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Friends old and new delighted in home-cooked meals and one another’s company. Children occupied themselves with a charming craft and theater playland, one-on-one time with acrobats and jugglers, and music just for them.


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While many schools hold “adults only” auctions and fundraisers, HFP rocks the party family-style!

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IMG_2458  IMG_2485IMG_2490 IMG_2487Raising funds to support such a special community driven school couldn’t be more fun!