Treasuring Trees: Tree Enthusiast Visits HFP

We welcomed Joan from the Talk About Trees program to teach us about seeds and cones. After hearing an overview, pretending to be trees drinking water through our roots, and identifying which trees have leaves and which have needles, we walked around the school to inspect and collect a bagful of tree treasures.


A few families ventured to  this week’s suggested site: Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland’s second largest arboretum. They searched and found the  very first tree planted from which the cemetery was named.

O. brought home her collected tree treasures then collaged them onto a toilet paper roll to make a tree doll!

We look forward to welcoming Joan back next month to focus on the life cycle of trees!

Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
As we celebrate your life and legacy today, we remember to continue to spread love and build power. #MLKDay- Black Lives Matter
Activist Linda Sarsour on Dr. King: “Every year, I find it necessary to remind us of the true and authentic Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is not a historical figure left for you to mold in the way that suits your own personal views. He was a flawed leader who committed himself to uplifting Black People and alleviate suffering of the poor. He died with few friends. He was ostracized and marginalized when he decided to unequivocally stand up against the war in Vietnam, decry capitalism and militarism. He criticized white moderates and pointed out that they were often the obstacles to transformative change and progress because they were more committed to order than justice.
He was labeled an extremist, a communist, the organizations he organized with were blacklisted by the US Government. Then FBI Director J Edgar Hoover called him the “most dangerous Negro in America,” he wrote us a letter from the Birmingham Jail. White organizations and donors stripped him of funding when they didn’t approve of his message and evolution in understanding the roots of oppression. When he ventured out of the box they saw fit for him – they jumped ship leaving the civil rights movement to struggle – and STILL THEY SURVIVED.
Ahistorical posts about MLK serve to rewrite history in a way that hurts and decontextualizes the movements we are a part of today. It’s a new day but the same old cycle of whitewashing history.
I honor the imperfect, anti-war, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, Black Christian Baptist Minister, radical revolutionary Dr. King. The Dr. King that 66% of Americans at the time DID NOT agree with. I honor a man who was murdered at the hands of white supremacy that is flourishing today – 53 years after his assassination.
That’s my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hope he’s yours.”
Let’s invite young children into conversations, celebrations and actions  valuing Black lives, non-violence and justice. We recently got to celebrate the major victory of a mostly female, Black-led movement to overturn voter suppression in Georgia, and thereby elect the first Black senator and Jewish senator to Georgia! This week we celebrate another profound victory: the first woman, first Black and first South Asian will be sworn into office as the Vice President  by Judge Sonia Sotomayer, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in the U.S. federal court. 
Here’s a glimpse into last year’s classroom activities related to Martin Luther King Jr. and Ruby Bridges: 


Satisfying Sensory Play at Home

Most young children thrive when engaged in sensory play. Sensory tubs and playdough are two simple. low-cost, satisfying sensory play options families can offer at home. These hands-on activities are typically calming, help children focus and express themselves creatively and are ripe for extended, engrossing play.  At HFP– and likely preschools across the nation– children naturally gravitate to the sensory and playdough tables. These activities are easy to offer at home. 
Sensory Tub
  • Find or purchase a plastic tub with lid. 
  • Fill with water or any dry ingredient such as popcorn kernels, rice or lentils. 
  • Add a range of containers or scoops such as empty plastic bottles, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.
  • Rotate tools inside the table to keep interest high.
  • Borrow a range of sensory table tools  from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home tub. 
  • Cover with a lid when not in use. 
  • Make a batch of homemade playdough.
  • If you make more than one color, consider making primary colors (such as red & blue or yellow & blue) so they’ll blend well when inevitably mixed together. 
  • Cooked playdough recipe here.
  • Borrow a range of playdough table tools from HFP’s Toy Lending Library to add flare and variety to your home playdough. 

Virtual Play Date

While these offerings will likely be sources of joy for your child at home, you might consider amping up the excitement by offering a virtual play date. Children from two households can meet-up and use sensory materials together over Zoom or Google Meet. Children can  mold playdough together or scoop and fill cups of multiple cups of “hot cocoa”… building off the ideas of their playmate while playing side by side. 

Rainy Day Play

The natural world provides THE best play options for young children. Northwest rainy days entice young children to engage in what they know best– kinesthetic and sensory explorations. A few props (rain gutters, a slide, plastic balls and rubber toy frogs) coupled with a barrel full of rain water makes for deeply engrossing and joyful play. 

We roll plastic colored balls down slides and ramps. We compare the speed of the slide and the ramp. Some children wonder if different colored balls roll more slowly than other balls.

We quickly discover  that rain suits (muddy buddies)  slide extra fast on slippery wet slides!

We team up to fill a large bowl of water, alternating cup fulls down a ramp into the bowl. We then carry the heavy bowl to the sandbox to add to our mud pie ingredients.

Toy Lending Library Spreads Joy

Keeping our germs to ourselves doesn’t mean we have to keep our toys to ourselves! At HFP, we are fortunate to have a storage closet full of engaging materials. Over the past 15 years, I have been able to purchase new and used puzzles, cooperative games, props, dolls, lacing cards, manipulatives, toys, trucks and more!  During Covid, we’re steering clear of indoor get-togethers which could mean children would miss out on access to the wide range of inspiring games and amusements, but we figured out a way to share materials– HFP’s toy lending library. Each week children get to pick out a set of blocks, magnets, floor puzzle, bag of playdough toys, sensory table kit or other merriment to borrow. This simple practice is bringing variety, enrichment and delight to our families homes!  As families snap pictures of their children using school materials, we’ll share them to spread further joy.