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Tryon Creek Adventures

Families gather at Tryon Creek State Natural Area for our recent spring field trip. We access the natural areas within our city where we can extend the classroom and nourish children’s connections with nature. Children enjoy being together in the woods – exploring, hiking and climbing. Adults take in the lush beauty and visit as we weave through the forest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we hike, we split into two groups so we can notice the details of the forest around us. Some get a close look at the beaver-gnawed stump. Others find fallen moss and squish it up into their hands. Some stop to check out a dead mouse observing it’s big ears and long whiskers. Others notice the dried mud & root clump beneath an overturned tree and wonder how many worms must have been crawling beneath.

Forest Bingo cards provide images of treasures that can be found along the way. Children look for each corresponding leaf, plant or animal. 

  

A beautiful fallen tree provides the perfect climbing structure and balance beam.    

          

 

 

 

 

 

After visiting the forest, we return to our own nature playscape adjacent to our classroom. Children balance on tree stumps in the ever-changing obstacle course, turn over garden stones to uncover squirming worms, and investigate the barely-visible, newly hatched spiders. Our natural world exploration continues–this time even closer to home.

 

 

 

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Reed Canyon Watershed Hike

 

We are incredibly lucky to be in such close proximity to so many amazing natural places. Families gather two miles from our school to explore the natural watershed behind Reed College. We notice that the snow has melted. In some places there’s mud in its place and we can see shoe and critter tracks! After everyone arrives, we hold an outdoor circle. We maintain our usual routine of singing a song or chant naming everyone in our group. This time we get to include parents and younger siblings! Two robin stuffed animals fly around our circle landing on each child or family. As we prepare for our hike, we practice waving, instead of speaking or yelling, to get other’s attention. When we are quiet, a couple of children immediately notice the sound of “real birds” chirping above us. We are reminded that we are surrounded by wildlife.

  

We divide in two smaller groups to hike the loop in opposite directions. This way we’re more able to notice the natural setting around us including listening to the water’s flow and finding a tree recently gnawed by beaver!                    

 

Mid-hike, we gather all together for a predator-prey chase game. I’m a hawk and anyone interested can be a mouse or a rabbit scurrying away from the hungry hawk. When a mouse or rabbit holds perfectly still, it’s camoflouged and the hawk cannot see it and flies right by! The mice and rabbits are safe! 

          

    After some much-needed running, we return to the path to finish our loop.   

                                                                                                                  

A hungry group returns to the grassy area in which we started. We pass out picnic dishes for our snack to end our morning together.

-Thanks to Nichole Alhadeff for capturing our adventure in photos. 

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Fall Harvest Means Pumpkin Time!

Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you. Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.” – Winona LaDuke

Field Trips Provide Us:

  • A break in routine.
  • Time together in the natural world.
  • Expansive space to play and connect, free of the pull to curb children’s natural enthusiasm and need to move.
  • Opportunities to deepen connections within our school community.
  • Opportunities to learn about farms and forests in Portland.

       

Each Fall, we take a break from city-life to gather together on farmland, under expansive skies. Sauvie Island provides Portlanders with accessible waterways and farms to explore and enjoy. Harvesting pumpkins is one springboard to nourish children’s connection to the earth. 

                                                                   

                        

Our time together on the farm mirrors our classroom time. We have circle, welcoming each child, and emphasize a few current curriculum focuses such as noticing our varying skin tones along with the range of fall leaf colors. Farmer Don made a game out of guessing the names of fruits and veggies; and he husked a corn–dramatically munching on it in front of his captive audience.

                  

We trekked over pumpkin vines to pick out pie-making pumpkins and rode the tractor back to our picnic area. To honor the harvest, we shared snacks with a pumpkin, apple and seed focus. Yum!

                                 

Field trips make exciting memories for children, and allow them to form new connections and bonds with each other. It’s also a sweet time for parents, grandparents and siblings to join the fun. 

           

    

(This child was feeling irritable and didn’t want to be in the family photo I snapped of her parents and big brother. I was pleased to find a way to connect with her by showing her the photo I took).

Pumpkin Play Continues

Following our field trip, I brought about twenty miniature pumpkins back to HFP’s play yard as a reminder of our farm experience and the Fall harvest. We took turns hiding and finding and re-hiding and finding pumpkins. I took this video clip at the very end of an exuberant, collaborative class effort to gather all the hidden pumpkins in the play yard and to bring them to the top of the climber to “decorate” it.  

 

We’ll continue with a variety of pumpkin-related activities and will return to the farm in June to harvest strawberries.

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Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

Celebrating Harvest, Fall, and Pumpkins!

In celebration of the harvest season, we’re talking, playing, painting and singing about pumpkins.

We’re baking pumpkin muffins, mixing pumpkin “rascals” (a nutritious cookie with chia seeds, aromatic cinnamon and nutmeg) and scooping the middle of pulpy pumpkins to extract and roast their seeds to munch on.

Our pumpkin focus mirrors our ongoing approach to curriculum in providing:

  1. Sensory-rich activities.  Opportunities to see, hear, taste, feel and smell.
  2. Multiple prompts.
  3. A variety of open-ended materials.
  4. Invitations to explore in multiple interest areas using a variety of disciplines. Including library, writing center, creation station, sensory table,  blocks, easel, dramatic play area, circle time, play yard etc.
  5. Encouraging families to fully participate and share experiences.

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The orange paper construction paper pumpkin cut-outs, inspired one child to dictate the following story:

We’re going to the pumpkin patch. And a person saw a really good pumpkin. And a pumpkin hopped away as fast as it can. The person was getting weared out. The person chased the pumpkin. They passed a lion. A sleeping lion. That’s the only thing that past. And another person walked passed with a pumpkin and said “What?! a hopping pumpkin?!

The author cracks up when Teacher Susan reads their story back to them. They share this circle and of the class is thoroughly entertained.

Last week, families met at Kruger’s Farm for our annual pumpkin picking trip. We arrived and played a veggie guessing game with Farmer Don, who exclaimed our 3s and 4s knew more vegetable names than most teenage groups! We visited sweet Matilda, the farm’s resident pig, saw (and sniffed) piglets and chickens, and took a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Children relished in the wide outdoors, feeling the sticky mud under their boots, sloshing through puddles, holding on during the bumps and ruts of the road on the tractor ride, and choosing their perfect baking pumpkin.

Joyous pumpkin farm romping is an ideal way to nourish children’s connection to the natural world. We’ll plan to return to the farm in June to harvest and devour ripe strawberries.

 

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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.

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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).