Firefighters Visit Our Classroom


It is never too early to start to talk about fire safety with our children. To help aid in that discussion and give the children real life, safe exposure to fire fighters and fire safety we invited two members of the Portland Fire Department to come talk with our classes. When we reached out to schedule firefighters to visit, we specifically requested a female firefighter. We know children learn what they see and experience and we wanted them to see a powerful woman who is physically able to assume the responsibilities of fire rescue. Firefighter Liz did not disappoint. She connected individually with children before and after the circle time presentation and she jokingly showed us her muscles, bending each bicep– one made from broccoli and the other from bananas. 

IF a child is ever in a fire, there are a few things to know to keep safe – Here is a video showing some of what the Firefighters shared with the class.



  • “Stay Low and Go”- In a fire, there’s smoke. It’s not safe to breathe. Getting down low and crawling to an exit is the way to keep safe. 
  • Don’t Hide – Be loud like a lion and shout, “I’m here!”
  • Don’t rescue animals.  Just get safely away from the fire. That’s the firefighters’ job. 
  • Accident scenario at a camp fire roasting marshmallows. If your pants start to catch on fire, “Stop, Drop and Roll” to put out the flames.




We practice fire safety all year long at HFP.  One of the ways we do that is with monthly fire drills. We make this experience feel safe and fun by singing songs about fire safety. Here is a video from earlier in the year! 


High Fives all around! A Huge thank you to the Portland Fire Department! 

Celebrating Blue Week, Hanukkah and Peace

Our last week before winter break is a special one. We host a blue-themed week and share a bit about Hanukkah. This is an opportunity to take a break from the pervasive red-and-green Christmas decorations in public spaces, Christmas  tunes on the radio, and the general assumption that Christmas takes center stage for all people– and to honor an aspect of Jewish culture. While we do this in a light and playful manner, this is a somewhat revolutionary act. It is an effort to make space for a marginalized group of people–Jews– to maintain connections to our history and heritage, rather than succumb to the pressure to assimilate in a Christian dominated culture. I am grateful for the opportunity to embrace my own Jewish heritage, to honor the practices of other Jews in our school community and to share a bit about our people with other children and families at HFP.

While many adults wish other “Peace on Earth” during this time of the year, we’ll continue to consider what peace means to us. In many ways, our tiny preschool community practices peace on a regular basis, as we uphold the importance of being kind, caring and inclusive in our classroom. I introduce a peace song I made up  to the classic folk song “Bingo.” I remember “Bingo” fondly from my own childhood and am tickled to extend the excitement of singing and clapping while replacing the traditional, fairly meaningless lyrics about a dog and it’s name, with rich lyrics that encourage cooperation and consideration of others.

We indulge in blue-themed snacks, emphasizing blueberries. We paint, play and build with shades of blue.





2160p from Hawthorne Family Playschool on Vimeo.

A special thanks to the talented Michelle Alany, O’s aunt, for joining us at circle to share some lively music with us. Michelle Alany plays violin and sing in traditional styles inspired by the folk music of Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, especially including klezmer and Sephardic music. You can check out her recordings here.
This post is dedicated to my beloved Jewish grandparents, Sadie and Harry, who immigrated to the United States to flee pogroms when they were both young children. May their memory be a blessing.

The Youngest Climate Marchers

Kids all over the world have to pay for mistakes we didn’t even make. This is our future, we’re the elders, we’re the next leaders. This is our future.” – Autumn Peltier, the Water Warrior (Indigenous teen activist)

We prepared for our second climate march to join people around the world advocating for our planet on 12/6/19.

For the family share, we invited children to find the poster they had made for the September Climate March and to add one marine animal to their poster of critters they’d like to protect.

Before children arrived to play, we added small pieces of plastic bags to the sensory table where marine animals had been swimming the day before. Children were curious about the plastic debris. We shared a bit about ocean plastics pollution. Children gathered and removed the plastics, creating cleaner water for the critters to swim again. We continued our conversations about ways to advocate and care for the earth, as we shared parts of “Our House Is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call To Save the Planet” by Jeanette Winter. (This beautifully illustrated book relays the heart-wrenching reality of the ongoing devastation of our forests, arctic and oceans that Greta learned about and has then been devoting her days to speaking out against. Given the intensity and severity of the topic, I believe this children’s book deserves serious attention yet careful, monitored use with young ones).


We printed and shared photos of children protesting in other parts of the word. 


Photos: (Climate strikers hold signs in Tokyo, Japan, near United Nations University on September 20, 2019. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images) and (Young protesters participate in a rally near the U.S. Capitol as part of the D.C. Climate Strike March to demand action on climate change in Washington, September 20, 2019. Erin Scott/Reuters).


Photo: (School children participate in a demonstration calling for action on climate change on September 20, 2019, in Jakarta, Indonesia.Ed Wray/Getty Images_

HFP children were very interested.



We practiced marching in our classroom before before bringing our signs and voices to public space, marching outside our play yard.

HFP December Climate March from Hawthorne Family Playschool on Vimeo.

A few days later Greta Thunberg was named Time’s person of the year– the magazine’s youngest ever!

Greta Thunberg: It is so incredibly important that we listen to indigenous people, because they are suffering and their rights are being violated across the world. And they are also among the ones who are being hit the most and quickest by the climate and environmental emergency. And also they have been living in balance with nature for hundreds of years, so we have, I think — we need to listen to them, because they have valuable knowledge we need in this crucial time of crisis.

PSU Intern Enriches Learning Experiences for All

HFP has the good fortune of partnering with college students. Recently we were blessed with a dedicated, creative, loving and devoted international intern student from Portland State University. All who were lucky enough to connect, play and learn with Selina Tsung are much better off for it!


From Selina: “I have truly enjoyed learning about a teacher assistant’s role at HFP, and I have had an amazing time working with and getting to know each of you and your children. 

In my time with children together, we learned how to play with others, share what we know, and explore something new. We also learned how to deal with conflict and share our feelings. Most of our days were filled with excitement, learning and laughing. 

A big thanks to Susan and Kimberly! Thank you so much for the support, guidance and encouragement you have provided for me! I have witnessed how both of you truly work in collaboration with each other and parents to ensure the development and growth of each child. 

Before leaving I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout my practicum. I will miss Hawthorne Family Playschool, this is a great community and I will surely take these experiences with me. I wish every family all the best and hope that every child can grow healthily and happily. I hope our paths will cross again. ‘I wish you well, I wish you well, all HFP families, I wish you well…’ ” 

From Kimberley, HFP’s Teaching Assistant: “Working side by side with Selina in the classroom was nothing short of a joy. Her peaceful and compassionate demeanor was pleasant and grounding everyday she stepped foot at HFP.  I will miss observing the gentle and free way Selina interacted with the children, how they loved to be near her, and how she would kindly engage them with sincerity. We will miss you sweet Selina! Here’s to you and your next adventure! Thank you for choosing us.”

Gratitude Bread: Giving Thanks and More

Last week we invited children to share what they’re grateful for. We considered the people, animals, places, activities and foods we love. Then we wrote those gratitudes on tiny pieces of parchment paper and baked them into our rolls and bread sticks. At snack, each child got to reveal one surprise message– something someone in our group deeply values. This simple activity generated lots of excitement and supported our focus of noticing and appreciating the myriad riches in our lives. 


Centering Indigenous Voices

Here’s a music video for the whole family in honor of Native Heritage Month: N’we Jinan Artists- “Firemakers”/ Lac La Croix First Nation, Ontario.

Decolonizing Thanksgiving Is An Oxymoron – Kids Books Dismantling The Myth of a ‘First Thanksgiving

Teach your kids the truth of Thanksgiving – modeling generosity and gratitude all year long – but don’t whitewash the violent history of colonization.