More Pumpkin Play!

“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” – unknown

An Accident Generates Enthusiasm

A child impulsively threw one of our mini pumpkins over the fence, cracking it down the middle. Honestly, I felt a little irritated because I had hoped the pumpkins would last for at least a couple of weeks of play and I had a particular idea about how that might go. But when a parent brought the seriously cracked pumpkin back to the play yard, it generated more interest. Another child enthusiastically split it open. That impressed a few children. “Wow,  B. broke it open!” The exposed pumpkin captured friends’ interest, as suddenly the seeds were visible. A trio was eager to scoop out seeds. “Yeah, we can get out the seeds and cook them!” So we brought some spoons and a bowl to the play yard and they went to work scooping. The involved children were thrilled and I was reminded of the important lesson of letting go of preconceived ideas of play and orderliness. 

Baking Projects


We welcomed in a child’s oma (grandma) to lead a thrilling cooking project– pumpkin pie pops! Oma Cynthia brought in prepared pie dough and pumpkin filling. Children used a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to make the fronts and backs of the pops, then spoon out and spread pumpkin filling. They were totally engrossed topping each pop with cinnamon. The pumpkin pie aroma filled the classroom and hallways, and they were delicious to eat.

On another school day a parent brought ingredients for us to bake pumpkin muffins! The strategy of pre-measuring the ingredients makes the project a little easier to execute. Participating children took turns smelling, pouring and mixing the ingredients without the stress of constant monitoring of amounts.

We also had pumpkin bread with sunflower butter and “pumpkin” shaped mandarin oranges with celery “pumpkin” stems. This exciting presentation enticed children to go for the fruit option before even considering a serving of pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Art


We offered multiple media options and lots of opportunities to dot, paint, cut, stamp, and even roll marbles through paint across pages with pumpkin outlines.



Play Time IS Learning Time

“Play is not a specific activity, it’s an approach to learning, an engaged, fun, curious way of discovering your world.” Dr.Tamis-LeMonda.

At HFP, we trust children are intrinsically drawn to play. We provision the environment with a wide array of open-ended materials –limitless play options. We safeguard extended time for children to connect with new experiences, friends and story lines.  We know children cannot help but learn when they are given the space, materials and time to do so. As adults, we have the privilege of supporting and witnessing children’s unabashed expressions of play and we have the responsibility to protect their ongoing access to it.

Countless articles tout the value of play. The New York Times recent article “Taking Playtime Seriously” (1/29/18 by Peri Klass, M.d) recognizes play as “a universal, cross-cultural and necessary attribute of childhood, essential for development and essential for learning.” Klass warns that we are “encroaching more and more on [children’s] time for playing.”


Klass advocates, “As children get older, we need to keep an eye on whether their schools give them time to play, we need to help them go on engaging with the world around them, and we might even be able to make that world a better environment for learning and play. Again, this is not about walling children off into special places where they can play, it’s about helping them play and learn in the world, in the homes and schoolrooms and larger environments in which they live and grow.”

In addition to providing calming tactile sensations, sensory play is ripe with learning opportunities. Children practice turn taking, build language skills and use materials creatively. Children mix potions, pour cups of hot cocoa or bake tasty sand cakes to honor a parent’s birthday. They refine both fine motor skills and language skills as they exchange ideas and scoops treats. Best of all, they learn without strain or effort. This is not some adult imposed “learning time.” This is play– joyful, easy learning. I’m grateful to be a part of a preschool learning community that understands play time is learning time.




Three Games to Beat the Stir-Crazies During the Icy Weather

Does this extreme weather have you feeling cooped up?  Here are three simple activities to infuse playfulness into your home:

1. What’s Missing? Memory Game (2 or more players)

  • Find things in your house that are easy to carry. (Ie slotted spoon, toy car, key chain, crayon, small stuffed animal)
  • Put them on a table or floor space.
  • Look at each item and agree on what to call it.
  • Cover items with a piece of large fabric.
  • One player reaches under the fabric and sneakily removes one item without revealing what they moved.
  • Uncover the remaining items and guess which item is missing.
  • If the guesser has no idea what is missing, offer hints.

*Variation: Gather items of the same color or items that all start with the same letter.

2. Mystery Message Scavenger Hunt (2 or more players)

  • Write a single sentence message on a piece of paper.
  • Cut the paper so that each word is on a a separate piece.
  • Hide those pieces of paper around a room or your entire living space.
  • Find the papers and assemble the message.

3. Hideout

  • Get out some sheets and pillows.
  • Take apart your couch.
  • Hang sheets over the arms of the couch or nearby chairs/tables.

It’s amazing how simply having a cozy/underneath hideaway space delights young ones.
Familiar activities suddenly take on a new thrill: books, puzzles,  and drawing can be more fun when inside the mysterious nook.

Here’s to finding playful ways to connect regardless of the weather.

Photo credit

Top photo: Personal Creations, license info here

Bottom photo: David B. Gleason, license info here


Cake Walk

Despite unusually scorching temperatures, our community gathered Friday to celebrate another fantastic year of learning and playing together with a Cake Walk party. Families gathered in the shady, grassy area with picnic dinners to enjoy friendships cultivated during our year together.

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Children ignored the heat and ran excitedly from one play station to the next. They had face painting fairies help transform them and many activities to keep them (mostly) distracted from the line-up of cakes.

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The ever-tempting gallery of cakes:

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IMG_1973 IMG_1976Thanks to Charles and Brailey for providing live music for the cake walk. Each child won their very own cake to bring home, but first we enjoyed a slice (or three) and many traded and sampled friend’s cakes.

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Spring Blossoms– Outside and Inside the Classroom


Walking to school, Susan scooped up a bunch of pink cherry blossoms adorning the sidewalk. She put out card stock, glue, glue brushes, and petals, and then invited children to create spring blossom collages. This is a quintessential example of HFP curriculum: hands-on activity, celebrating the natural world, and mirroring what is seasonally relevant.



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