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.


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.


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.



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.



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).


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!


Macleay Park Field Trip


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.





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.