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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).

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Hiking Near Balch Creek

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HFP families gathered just east of the Audubon Society in the quixotic early spring weather to join in circle time and to sing songs for the earth and her creatures.

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We headed down the trail towards the pavilion and pond where cutthroat trout live. The murky pond promised possible glimpses of frogs and turtles…

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Continuing towards the creek, and splitting off in groups, we saw different native plants:

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We played a predator/prey chase game in which mice (children) could nestle into a hole or camouflage themselves in order to avoid becoming the owl’s (Teacher Susan’s) next meal.

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We got up close to many native friends of the sky, water and earth.

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Our forest circle time included a birthday candle ritual and a farewell song for a friend’s last day before moving to Denmark .  How special to celebrate while surrounded by moss, fern and trees!

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It was a day of friends, trees, magnificent birds and lots of exploring!

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Macleay Park Field Trip

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Way back in March our classes bundled up and headed to one of Portland’s oldest parks, Macleay Park. We climbed the hill along Balch Creek and noticed the new plants unfolding, the creek full and raging, and the animals exploring the warming weather.

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An HFP parent shared this story:

We had a great time hiking Macleay Park. There was a warm spring rain pelting down, but L kept taking her hood off. When I asked her if she wanted to put it back on because her hair was getting wet, she replied, “Nope, because I’m a Nature Girl!” She continued on her hike, identifying ferns and cedar trees, soaking and delighted. Another magical HFP moment.

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Field Trip — Tryon Creek State Park

In January our classes explored a beloved trail at Tryon Creek State Park. It was the first hiking field trip for many of our children and it was exciting to connect with each other outside in nature.

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After the field trip, Susan mentioned that she noticed children connecting with and trusting their friends’ parents in a way that is special and unique to our co-op community.

On this she said, “One piece I treasure about our co-op is parents’ relationships with their children’s friends and with other families. Our society doesn’t readily support closeness or inter-dependence. But as we extend ourselves to others and widen our circle of friendships— broadening our sense of family to include multiple families, we teach our children that they are fully loved, known and supported. We benefit from a community and increase our children’s sense of safety and belonging. At today’s Tyron Creek trip one child held a friend’s mother’s hand walking up the steep trail; one child’s father chatted with another child about the tree roots he balanced on; another mother assisted a friend’s younger sibling as he balanced along a log. These were just a few of many supportive interactions our caring community extended to “other” children.”

Another HFP parent said, “I so agree! I love the way my children have claimed multiple other HFP parents as their friends, their people, across generation, family lines.”

And another added, “Life’s trail is full of opportunities to reach out of your comfort zone and support each other. Children rarely look back and think, ‘Wow, I had too many parental role models.’ The opportunity of communal support is knocking and these kids are answering.”

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