Popsicle Social

We invited families enrolled for 2019-2020 school year to meet, sing and play, launching us into summer. Many families will deepen their connections over the course of the summer, attending optional summer park dates. And HFP’s learning community continues to grow.






“Big Kids”/Returning Students


We welcome enrolled, graduating and alumni families–along with curious families or friends– to play with us at Summer Park Dates. Join us! 

  • Photos courtesy of Nichole Alhadeff, Communications Chair 

Baskets and Bellies Full of Berries

“This is hands-on, sensory learning at its finest,”-Bronwen Martin, HFP Alumni Parent

In celebration of our last days of school, we return to the vast skies and fields of Sauvie Island. Many of us recall coming here in the Fall when we were just getting to know each other while picking pumpkins! The seasons have changed, friendships have formed, and strawberries are ready to be plucked. At HFP, we are committed to 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. 


Low branches make ideal climbing trees. Some children recount balancing on the giant fallen tree at our Tryon Creek field trip.


Families gather for circle beneath the shade of fruit trees before venturing to pick strawberries.




Some are reminded that tractors are used for daily farm work. The tractor is busy when it’s time for one of our classes to start picking, so the farmer escorts us down the dusty trail to the strawberry patch.






Munching on strawberry deliciousness!








Thanks to all the families who invested in our community this year! Here’s to a safe, fulfilling, berry-rich summer and lots of fun at summer park dates. We welcome enrolled, graduating and alumni families–along with curious families or friends– to play with us at Summer Park Dates. Join us! 

*Thanks to previous HFP Blog Editor, Bronwen Martin, for supplying text for some of this post.


“We’re Going to Be Friends” – Helping Children Navigate Social Situations

Written by Katie Messelt, HFP parent

Photo : Katie and her two children on an HFP field trip. 

One of the most wonderful things of Hawthorne Family Playschool is the wealth of knowledge we have at our fingertips! Between Susan and the other parents, I feel so supported navigating this stage of parenthood. Recently I contacted Susan looking for advice. On multiple occasions, my child said to me while looking at another child, “He (or she) is not my friend.” It seemed without reason or provocation. Two times, it was someone new at the playground and another time, it was someone at school. I didn’t want to overreact because I knew at this age it’s developmentally appropriate to be testing out language and seeing how their adults respond. 

Susan responded:

I typically try to help the child articulate their underlying concern. When a young child says “you’re not my friend” or “he’s mean” or some kind of blanket statement that sounds unkind or dismissive, they’re likely reacting to a hurtful behavior– an experience in which they’ve been wronged and they could use support understanding that. 

A child may say something about not liking another child to me. I try to unearth what specific behavior they don’t like that the child has done in the past.

For example, “Oh, you don’t like when people push you. Nobody likes to be pushed.” 

“You don’t like when someone is loud near you. Sometimes ___ is loud. You can walk away to get space from loud noises when they bother you.”

When a child makes an overarching statement about another child given their upset about a prior incident (the child was rough with them, or the child knocked over something they were building), I validate the concern and then try help focus their attention on the broader reality.

For example, “Nobody likes when someone is rough with them.” Or, “It’s frustrating to have your building knocked over.”  

Then I draw attention to the child of concern’s current behavior: “It’s looks like ___ is using gentle hands right now.” Or, “It looks like ____ is building right along side of you and all the structures are safe.” The attention is on what is actually happening rather than a hurt from the past. 

Looking back on the individual situations with my son, this all made so much sense! In one instance, the child who he said was not his friend had yelled at him and it scared him. I was able to separate the past from what was happening now. I have since seen my child and the other child make a connection and play together at school. Thinking back to the situations when my son didn’t know the other children, he was really communicating that he was uncomfortable and not sure what to do. On several occasions, we role played meeting someone new. After processing this for weeks, my child saw some kids that he didn’t know start to walk near us. He said confidently, “They are going to be my friends. I am going to tell them my name.” 


Wheel Week: Ready, Set, Roll!


We indulged in a week of wheel-themed activities, culminating in a Wheel Day for each class. We took over the entire parking lot to ride a variety of bikes, scooters and cars. 

Driving Cars Through Paint



Bikes, Scooters & Wheelchair Coloring Pages

Coloring pages are a rarity at HFP so they were a big hit. We offered a range of wheeled images including children riding on bikes and people in wheelchairs. We don’t currently have anyone in our school community who uses a wheel chair so this offered us an opportunity to talk about the value of wheel chairs– to allow someone who is not able to walk to  move from  point A to point B, similar to a bike or scooter.



Wheeled Toys in the Block Area


In addition to our usual set of toy cars, we added wagons and bikes and children took turns giving figurines rides. While waiting for a turn challenged many at the beginning of the school year, it’s clear we’ve had lots of practice. Children negotiated turn-taking with little support, grace and ease. 

Scooter Boards



Vehicle Sewing Cards & Snacks to Refuel


Wheel-themed books and pictures 

We include a range of images of people on bikes, broadening the representation beyond those in our current community. Below three children notice and discuss a picture of a man in China transporting a huge load of items on his bike. 


Here are a few of our favorite wheel-themed books:

    Image result for gretchen the bicycle dog


Ride like the wind!

We closed the parking lot to cars so we had oodles of space to ride! Children got to share their physical prowess, take on challenges of riding two-wheeled bikes and ride safely going a single direction to avoid accidents.


Taking Turns


A couple of families brought in extra riding toys and scooters to try out. Children tried those and traded turns on their trusty bikes.

Bouncing Back After a Fall

Photo: Stephanie comforts a child who took a spill. 

As children took on physical challenges, there were a couple of falls. In each incident, we made space to tell the story of what happened; allow the child to fully feel their upset , receive comfort  and care-taking from a trusted adult, and have the time and space they needed to re-join the festivities.  

Tickets for Teamwork


We played a cooperative game in which each child was awarded a ticket for completing a loop. Each time they passed by, they put a ticket in our collective jar until we filled the jar! This generated lots of enthusiasm, pride and eager participants, while circumventing the emphasis of winning and being faster than or “better” than others. Each child took on their own personal challenge while helping us accomplish our group goal. Most powered a riding toy that best suited them, while a couple of children ditched their bikes and joined in running. 


On Friday, we got to meet a group of adult bicyclists from the Fuller Bike Adventure who were preparing for a 4,000 mile summer ride to raise funds to build affordable housing. What a wonderful way to end our wheel week!


Safeguarding Imaginative Play

Written By Hillary Montouri , HFP Teaching Assistant

Photo: Hillary scribing stories of children’s sculptures.

Imaginative play in the preschool years is powerful! As parents, many of us know that children engage in this sort of play to explore and process new information and practice developing skills. Before parent-teaching or serving as an assistant teacher in the co-op setting, the importance and momentum of group imaginative play in the pre-elementary set left me feeling at once amazed and perplexed. What was my role as the adult? Was there a way to honor play and allow for authentic problem solving opportunities, but also keep the play safe and inclusive?

Working with Teacher Susan and other parent-teachers helped me clarify my adult role in the school setting. I watched, and then practiced the art of observing play carefully and minimally inserting myself when the group needed support in keeping interactions inclusive and affirming for each child.

Recently in the play yard, I had the opportunity to practice this kind of minimal intervention. A rich and exciting imaginative game was in full swing with four full-time players. Evolving underwater creature characters roamed the sea in a happy pod. I cheerfully watched, noting to myself that boisterous and energetic connections were being made among children who didn’t often play together so intensely. Then a shift occurred; three children grouped together all facing the fourth child. Gleeful character descriptions turned to strict rule making. I moved closer to better understand.

I observed the three children huddled together working collaboratively to create a scenario in which the fourth child’s character would be separated from the group. “Go! Go Away!” they said. I paused. It seemed important to make special note of how this fourth child interpreted and managed this change in play. The play too paused; all the children looked back and forth to one another to see what the others would do.

My intervention began when I noticed the fourth child break from her character and begin to seem distraught. My goal was three-pronged: I wanted to honor the world the children had created, provide the group of three an opportunity to work together in a new and special way they were craving, and create a space for the fourth child to re-join the play. I decided I needed to enter their play world seamlessly, but with a combination of silliness and credibility in order to re-direct.

Grandma Unicorn Jelly Fish swam onto the scene! I was the grandmother to the fourth child’s character. I had a very wacky voice and a horn as long as a human arm.  My grandchild needed to get back to her kelp forest, but she had lost her way. Could the other creatures help her find the forest before it was too late? Oh, and I needed to know more about their characters and their powers. Maybe after we found the kelp forest we could all go to the picnic table to draw and write about our characters?

All four children eagerly listened. One child briefly protested, saying she wanted to play with only some of the others. So, I too broke character for a moment. I told her I understood her want to play with a small group of friends; I felt that way too sometimes. However, at HFP, other friends were always invited. Then I flew back into character.

Once the four children began searching for the kelp forest and picking up new players and subplots along the way, Grandma Unicorn Jelly Fish swam away. I prepared to receive a set of artists interested in flushing out their characters at the picnic table.


Photos: Hillary engaged in a game of chase in which each child wields a trapping power.