Starting off 2018 with BFCP Fun!

by Florence B.

Happy New Year, BFCP friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Winter Break (and got to enjoy that fun snowfall surprise!!) and are ready to enjoy the new year with your BFCP friends! After a quiet December, get ready for a fun-filled January packed with activities like excursions, Pajama Day, and parent meetings with maybe a little surprise at the end!

OK, so we’ve got lots of stuff to cover on the blog today thanks to the teachers and curriculum team picking one and two of my favorite children’s authors and places to visit, respectively! Let’s start with what you’ll find at the school this month. For themes, you’ll see Snow and Ice, Animals in Winter, and Martin Luther King Day (and BTW, make sure you mark your calendar that there’s NO school on Mon, Jan 15th to honor said day). Downstairs, the dramatic play area will be converted into a Ranger Station and Bear Cave (go ahead and admit it—you’re as excited as I am to see what the Curriculum Team comes up with!).

And speaking of Bear Caves, see how our Winter Bear Cave bulletin board changes over the month! The 2/3 Class will be taking home and decorating a star shape to make our bear cave shine. The older two classes will be taking home and decorating a snowperson shape so our bear cave can have some snowy fun while the bears sleep the winter away. Also for the older three classes, don’t worry about changing out of your PJs on either Jan 10 or 11—it’s Pajama Day! Just don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for outdoor play—no snoozing at school during that time!

Outside of class, let’s talk about our January Parent Meetings! The baby class will get to enjoy a family brunch potluck at the preschool to kick off the fun this weekend. Then, next week, the rest of the classes will meet up for their individual class meetings. Unlike our past meetings, these meetings (except for the baby class) will take place at a class member’s home, so make sure to pay close attention to the address when you hear more from your teacher and class coordinator! This required meeting will be using a group process called “Temperature Reading” in order to improve our preschool in a fun way that also builds class community. For even more fun, classes can decide whether to do a white elephant gift exchange at the end of the meeting! The PreK class’s meeting will also include a Kindergarten Panel, so make sure to bring your questions, enthusiasm, and excitement (because it’s KINDERGARTEN!!). If you’re curious about what else the instructors are up to this month, they get to go on their 3-day annual instructor retreat at the end of the month!

OK, so here’s where I start jumping up and down with excitement, because I get to talk about the author of the month AND the planned excursions for the month (*gets up from computer to do said jumping up and down and working off those holiday calories as a bonus*)! So, I don’t really make a big deal about the author of the month, but this month’s author is Karma Wilson!

*crickets*

You know…author of the Bear Snores On series?

OK! That got some of you readers’ attention!

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*Phew* I’m not the only one who adores this series! Don’t worry, if you still have no idea who or what I’m talking about, you’ll get a treat this month when you get to check out some of her books! Her current Bear series (my favorite and probably most recognizable series of hers) has eight main books and are such a delight to read with the beautifully illustrated pages and entertaining, rhyming story. There’s Bear (of course) experiencing different life adventures with his friends Mouse, Hare (or rabbit to my kids since as far as they’re concerned, long ears means bunny or rabbit…even in a rhyming story where the animal has to rhyme with an “air” word), Badger, Gopher, Mole, Wren, Raven, and Owl (who is introduced in one of the books dealing with making new friends with a shy friend). I’d say go check out this author if you haven’t yet…but luckily you will anyway in school! Woohoo! For fans who are ready for the next stage in enjoying this series, check out her site here for some additional fun activities and printables like making Bear Masks and Bear Paper Bag Puppets!

And now…

Let’s.

Talk.

EXCURSIONS!!!

For those of you in the older two classes, get ready to go on an adventure to Adventure Children’s Theatre in Country Village towards the end of the month (check your folder and Facebook for more details!). For readers not familiar with the place, you can learn more about them here and here. At this fun and lively children’s theater, you’ll get to go on an adventure with Zero & Somebody!

Coming from someone who loves Country Village, if you haven’t been there before, make sure to hang around and explore the place! You’ll find chickens and roosters roaming around as you explore the various shops, a pirate ship for your little ones to climb aboard and sail the “open seas,” and a separate playground a few shops away from the ship. Country Village has a unique feel to it, so don’t forget to explore on your way to and from Adventure Children’s Theatre, the place “where kindness is rewarded, sacrifice is honored and everybody sings about it!”

Also later in the month, the toddler and 2/3 classes get to explore Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett!! Keep an eye out for more details in your folders and on Facebook about the excursion! If you haven’t been to the place before, it’s an amazing children’s museum—and when I say museum, I’m not talking about the hands-off kind! This museum is meant for little ones touching and interacting with the different museum exhibits, so “don’t touch that!” does not need to leave your mouth while at the museum! If you have been here before but not recently, get ready to check out their remodeled railroad area; I’m looking forward to seeing the new train exhibit the most! Check out their website at here.

 
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Insider tips for the museum:

1) There is paid parking outside ($3 for 0-3 hrs or $8 for all day), so make sure you get your stall number and head to the pay machine (keep your receipt, you don’t need to go back and leave it in your car).

2) There’s a fun water exploration room; smocks are available, but you may want to bring a change of clothes and shoes for your kiddo just in case!

3) There’s an amazing outdoor play area on the roof with a play structure, percussion instruments, and dinosaur dig area, so don’t leave your warm winter clothes in the car (there’s a coat room near the entrance if you don’t want to haul a coat around while inside).

4) Leave strollers at home! There’s a stroller parking area at the entrance (indoors), but you can’t bring it past the entrance gate inside the museum.

5) If your kiddo starts to feel overwhelmed by bigger kids, there’s a gated play room just for babies and toddlers with a small play structure and air machine inside. Or, if your little one is feeling just plain overwhelmed, you can go up the stairs by the tree house and find a reading nook at the top of the stairs to the right, which is usually pretty calm and quiet.

6) If you get hungry, head downstairs for vending machine snacks. There are tables for you to eat, but if you want to eat something other than vending machine snacks, you’ll have to bring your own lunch and/or healthy snacks or buy from one of the restaurants around the museum.

*Phew* I’m not sure if it’s obvious, but I love that museum!

Well, we’ve seen how January is packed with fun, so how about a little sneak peek into February? I’ve got some important dates for your calendar!

Feb 6 and 8: SMILE! It’s Photo Day during class time!

Feb 5 - 16: In-house registration!! Don’t let the fun stop; reserve your spot for the 2018-2019 BFCP school year!

Feb 19-23: Mid-Winter Break; no school this week!

That’s it for today’s post! If you have any comments or suggestions for future posts, sound off in the comments below or send me an email at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org

The sneaky self-comparison connection between being grateful and developing positive self-image

by Julia H.

So, I kid you not, there I was, on Facebook during the school break looking at everyone's holiday pictures. In our household, I tend to be the parent who is responsible for creating the holiday magic - I make costumes at Halloween, help get Valentine's cards signed and sorted out for classroom celebrations, and, in December, I make or otherwise acquire, wrap, and display the gifts, stuff the stockings, put up lights, etc. So, looking at everyone else's holiday displays, it was very difficult not to compare my efforts to everyone else's. Wow, Audrey and Chris's pile of gifts is HUGE, I didn't even think to decorate cookies like Eric and Jay did, and wow, Amy's house is so clean, and she's a single mom working two jobs, how does she even manage that? Every time I thought about how my efforts stacked up to those of others, it left me feeling worse, with my efforts seeming more meager by comparison. It was heading to a bad place, and quickly. And, more than that, I thought about how soon enough my kids would be heading back to school, where, undoubtedly, they would be hearing stories about other kids' holiday extravaganzas. How could I protect them from feeling the way I did when I compared our holiday to everyone else's.

Taking a step away from the internet, I thought about what made me feel good about our holiday efforts, things like the fact that, this year, I made a lot of our gifts by hand, that we made more time to connect with our friends during the holiday break than we had in previous years. All the examples I could think of involved making a self-comparison, between myself and my efforts now, and myself and my efforts in previous years. Because these comparisons let me reflect on how I've changed, it's easy to see things in a more positive light. Turns out there's lots of psychological research to back this up - if you're interested in going down a rabbit hole, you can read all about Social Comparison Theory (originally proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in the 1950s).

So, how can we help kids to avoid comparing their holiday gifts, and, by extension, themselves, to others? And what can we do when our kids tell us that so-and-so got a brand new ipad, and why didn't they?
 

  • Establish a family tradition where you practice self-comparisons. It's New Year's, why not take a moment to ask everyone in the family what is something that they feel like they are better at this year than they were last year?

  • Acknowledge that, yes, there are differences between what your child received as a gift, is capable of doing without help, or whatever the comparison to another person might be, then redirect to a more appropriate self-comparison. "Yes, they got an ipad. Do you remember what gifts you received? Which gift was your favorite? What is something that you really like about that gift?"

  • If your child is worried that someone is better at some skill than they are, it might be worth talking about practice and how it impacts skill - but also talk about the importance of fun. "Yes, Colton is better at soccer than you. Colton plays soccer every day for at least an hour a day, and when you do something a lot, you tend to get better at it. Do you have fun when you play soccer? Is it something you want to do more, and practice to get better, or do you like it just the way it is?"
  • Model positive self-comparison, and, if you find yourself comparing yourself to others, try to frame it in a context of positive self comparison. "Wow, I really wish I could decorate our house the way our neighbors do each year. But, you know what? I decided to spend my time making gifts instead of buying them at the store, and I feel good about that. It meant I didn't have as much time for fancy decorations, but I am still really proud of the work that I did."

How do you help teach your kids not to compare themselves to others? Send your tips to weeklysqueak@bothellfamilycoop.org and you may be featured in a future Squeak!

Teacher Feature: An Interview With Teacher Angela

by Florence B.

Florence: Thank you, Angela, for joining me on the blog today with an interview! Outdoor play is such a valuable component of Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool, and I’m thrilled to continue with another outdoor play post with you, our fabulous Outdoor Instructor!

 
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Florence: After reading your brief biography on the BFCP website, I was delighted to discover you have quite the history in the school! How did you become a part of BFCP back when you were in high school?

Angela: When I was a senior in HS, I took a child education class from Shorecrest HS that required 4 days a week in a child facility working with children, i.e., daycare, elementary school, co-op. The then HS teacher I was taking the class from was friends with Nola who was the LFPC teacher at the time. I helped with two of the classes for half of the year. One of the classes included Teacher Kathy’s daughter Jamie.

Florence: Why did you decide to come back as a parent, and how have you and the school changed since you were in high school?

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Angela: From my brief time helping out in HS, I knew that a co-op was something I really wanted to be a part of. One thing that is different for me, is that I finally learned what goes on in that magical parent ed room. ; ) The biggest change is that the school moved from their house in Lake Forest Park to the newly remodeled house in Bothell. Also that they thankfully now have an outdoor teacher.

Florence: Was there a certain moment that made you go “A ha! I want to be part of BFCP as a teacher!”?

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Angela: I was getting tired of working in accounting and wanted to go back to a more rewarding job as I had in the past working with children. I also really liked the school and comradery with the teachers. It was about this time that the opening for an outdoor teacher became available. I am so happy that I have been able to be a part of the team of teachers, parents, and children.

Florence: In your different roles over the years at BFCP, are there any favorite moments that stick out in your mind that you’d like to share?

Angela: Nothing particular as there are so many, but that I love watching the children grow over the few years I have them. Not just in size, but more how they relate with each other.

Florence: What are your main goals as the Outdoor Instructor at BFCP?

Angela: My main goal would be to have fun with the kids and hope that they learn about nature while they’re here.

Florence: Building off the last question, what would be your ideal day for outdoor play at the school (e.g. weather, activities, a genie popped by and granted you a wish for the school and you went with ___!)?

Angela: My ideal day would be snow and cold enough weather that we could make ice sculptures to color or sled.

Florence: Do you have any advice for families struggling to find outdoor activities for their little ones?

Angela: Pinterest has some great ideas.

Florence: Any advice for outdoor rainy day fun as we hit the rainy season?

Angela: Other than finding some great puddles, maybe taking a walk and look for banana slugs.

Florence: Switching back to put the focus on what you love to do outside of BFCP, I loved reading about some of your hobbies! Tell us about those chicken of yours and how did you get into that?

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Angela: Funny thing about the chickens, I didn’t want them, my husband did as he had them as a child. Our first batch was 6 roosters, (no hens) that we got from a lady who got them from her daughter’s school that bought eggs to hatch in class and raised them for a week. Then she took them home after they had been hand fed and continued to hand feed them until they started crowing and the neighbors and city said they had to find a new home. Since they were hand fed they were very sweet and followed us everywhere in our yard like chicks following their Mama hen. When we had one left after feeding the local wildlife, his name was Eagle and he would even follow us into our mudroom and sit on a bench to watch us. When he got sick we were quite sad and had to leave town that night. I don’t know how, but we talked my Mom (chicken Grandma at the time) into taking him to a vet. $125 after they tried to fix him and he lasted until a little after we got home. My husband’s coworkers joked that they could get chicken for $3/pound. We had to remind them they were pets, like a parrot. Ever since then we have had chickens, including a lot of hand me downs. I’ve decided since then that they can be quite nice, fun to watch, and they eat most of our food scraps.

Florence: What is the most elaborate item you’ve made with your sewing skills?

Angela: I like to sew, but am not really that good as I have a good old fashioned machine and have had no lessons. I did have the opportunity to make my daughter a dragonfly costume last year, complete with sparkly foam double wings, all without a pattern since I couldn’t find one. ;)

Florence: What kind of board games do you like, and how competitive are you?

Angela: Clue is my favorite. I’m not really competitive for most games, I just hope to win. ; )

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Florence: How much of a green thumb do you really have on a scale of: me (where I manage to kill any plant of mine by looking at it) to 10?

Angela: Haha, on a scale of brown to green, probably black. I do have a few plants that I’ve held on to for a few years that are doing well. I love to look at them in my window sills.

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Florence: Finally (last but certainly not least and most likely best), tell us about that wonderful family of yours!

Angela: My husband named Jason who is also the BFCP lawnmower has a fun imagination like me and will dress up for fun to attend events line Goonies weekend in Astoria, OR. When we got married he wanted to dress up as a knight to be my “knight in shining armor” with a bonus of keeping the armor for display at our house, but we couldn’t find one, so we rode off on a white horse instead. My son Greyson is now 9 and loves to put things together, like legos or anything using tools. My daughter Elora turned 7 on Halloween and loves being a Halloween baby. She likes being at school all day this year and playing with her friends. She likes organizing things, whether it’s little toys or getting everyone in the family together to tell them anything she can think of.

Florence: Thank you so much, Angela, for doing the interview and letting us learn a little bit more about you! I’m sure I speak for the rest of the younger classes by saying that I can’t wait to have you as a teacher for my little one!  

Oh gosh it's almost winter break and I haven't bought a present for Aunt Linda and I really should decorate the house and I don't know how to keep my kids busy! HELP!!

by Julia H.

At this point in December, there's a part of my brain that looks at my to-do list and just emits a high-pitched whining sound that threatens never to stop from the sheer number and complexity of things I have on my plate. Knowing that, once the school break starts, I will have something like zero sane, quiet hours in which to accomplish those tasks only serves to exacerbate the state of mental disequilibrium until I am seriously tempted to build a couch cushion fort and hide inside in a fist-clenched holiday panic.

My own internal response might be a little more dramatic than yours, but a lot of parents and caregivers do get stressed around the winter holidays...and that's okay and reasonable! We are allowed to experience the full range of emotions! If, however, the stress threatens to overwhelm you, here are some things that might help you slow down a little.

  1. It is okay (and even good) for kids to be bored! While they may complain for a while, usually if you leave them to their own ideas, they will eventually come up with some creative and imaginative play - exactly the sort of unstructured free play that helps with so many areas of cognitive development.

  2. It helps to lower your expectations. Are there any items on your to do list that are especially causing you worry? Can you...and I know this sounds crazy, but...can you just skip it? Or maybe scale it down a little? Maybe hard-to-shop-for Aunt Linda gets a gift card or an invitation to a family dinner in January. Maybe you can choose not to decorate your house this year. Chances are, if you are experiencing a lot of anxiety over a particular task, it can be toned down, modified, or delegated to someone who loves that sort of thing (and I will totally shop for Aunt Linda if you need someone!).

  3. Your kids can help more than you think! This is especially true if you are willing to factor in the expectation-lowering from step 2. Sending holiday cards? Holy moly, you really are on top of things! Your kids can stuff the envelopes, stick or tape printed labels to envelopes, and apply stamps! Decorating for the holidays? They can hang ornaments, make and hang paper garlands, cut out paper snowflakes, etc. Thinking about all the different steps involved in achieving a particular holiday task goal can help you find elements that are kid-friendly.
  4. It's okay to ask for help! Sometimes there is one stubborn item on the to-do list that just resists completion because it's simply impossible to do without help. Maybe that help is in the form of asking someone to hang with your kids for an hour, seeing if a neighbor can put up hooks for holding holiday decorations, or seeing if a friend who is heading to the post office can put your packages into the outgoing mailbox. Regardless of how it manifests, asking for help doesn't mean that you failed somehow! It just means you found a method to get things done that worked for you and your family, and that's awesome! 

Have any other holiday tips? Send them to me, and you might be featured in a future Weekly Squeak! (Bonus request: have a favorite holiday song? I'm building a holiday playlist for my kids and would love to include your favorites!)

Greetings, December!

by Florence B.

Happy December! Time is ticking by fast, and we only have a few more weeks to enjoy together before ringing in 2018! The school will be closed for Winter Break from Dec 18 to Jan 2, so make sure your calendars are updated. Before jumping into our Dec activities, I just wanted to say I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. The school ended up not having just one Turkey Board, but TWO! Take a look below for some of the stylish fowls decorated by the 2/3s class.

 
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Well, the curriculum team has already used their creative magic to transform the dramatic play area into a holiday home, complete with a gift wrapping station! Thanks to everyone who donated wrapping paper, bows, and other goodies to make the wrapping station so much fun! When not wrapping gifts, our kiddos can hop to the baking station and whip up some yummy, pretend treats!

 
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During parent ed, get ready to share family traditions with your fellow classmates; you might even discover a new tradition you’d like to add to your own! By the way, parent ed groups will be shuffling a bit, so get ready to share your parenting journey with a different group of friends in your class. Other themes this month include Gingerbread People (mmmmm… you know you’re thinking it, too) and light celebrations! Keep an eye out for books from Jan Brett, December’s author of the month. Alas, no excursions for this short school month, but the older two classes will continue to bring items from home for a little “show and tell” with Teacher Kathy.

Before ending the post, I wanted to share a link from Teacher Kathy (it’s already been posted on the Facebook page in case it looks familiar)! Here’s what she says about it: “ I really like that it has links for most of the 15 tips for a FUN filled family holiday.  I have had fun pursuing it tonight and got lots of ideas for my own family.” You can find it here: https://newdream.org/downloads/15-Tips-for-Commercial-Free-Fun-Filled-Family-Holidays.pdf

 And here’s the title and intro:

“15 TIPS FOR COMMERCIAL-FREE, FUN-FILLED FAMILY HOLIDAYS

If you want to make this year’s holidays more meaningful, memorable, and rejuvenating for your family, these tips will help you opt out of the commercial hype and create a truly special (and sustainable) celebration for your kids. Whether your family includes toddlers, elementary-aged children, or young adults, we have ideas for you. Less stress, less stuff, and way more connection and fun—what’s not to love?!”

Personally, my favorite is number 13: Get Relatives on Board with “Less is More.” There’s even a handy little sheet you can lovingly share with grandparents who love to bury grandkids with gifts and then complain to you that said kiddo has too many toys (Not from my experience, a story from a friend. No really. OK, not really.).

Enjoy! If you have any topics you want explored on the blog, let me know at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org or shoot me a comment below!

A Quick and Easy Guide to Your Fundraising Commitment (Squeak 12/3)

Q. How is the money brought in via fundraising actually used? 

A. At BFCP, Fundraising money is used to pay core school costs, like mortgage payments on the school itself, teacher salaries, etc.



Q. How much money do I have to raise?
A. For the 2017-18 school year, the fundraising obligation is $160, with a sibling rate of $80. The first half of your fundraising obligation (e.g., $80 for one child, or $120 if you have two kids in the school) is due in December, 2017, with the balance due May 1, 2018.


Q. Aaaaaaack! It's December already, and I didn't sell any wreaths or candles or anything!
A. It's okay! You can still donate items now to be sold during the spring auction (1/2 the retail value of donated items will be credited to your fundraising obligation), invite friends to buy products from Yankee Candle online (contact the fundraising committee if you aren't sure how to do that), or pay off the balance you owe for the first half of the year directly.

Q. If the company that I or my partner works for matches charitable donations, does that mean I only have to pay half of my fundraising commitment, and the rest can come from the aforementioned employer?
A. Unfortunately, no. But please do still ask for a matching donation from your employer if that's possible! As mentioned above, the fundraising commitment is for core school expenses, but extra funds brought in by corporate matching donations and Amazon Smile can help pay for extras, like replacing worn out toys and building up the school's library!

A Brief (and hopefully funny) Guide to your Cleaning Commitment (Squeak 11/19)

by Julia H.

Q: Wait, what?
A: So here’s the thing - the school doesn’t clean itself, and if we hire a cleaning service, we have to raise tuition. And if we don’t clean, everyone in the school is going to have a semi-permanent upper respiratory infection. So, we ask that the members of the preschool help by cleaning the school. In an effort to make that process less odious, the school is divided into three different sections (roughly: upstairs, downstairs, and outside), and the amount that any given member has to clean is proportional to the amount of time their child is in school - so members of the Toddler class clean once a year, 2/3s clean twice a year, and the 3/4s and Pre-Ks clean 3 times a year.

Q: But I don’t wanna!
A: 
I can understand that. Cleaning’s not everyone’s cup of tea! (Though I would like to point out that if you do the cleaning, it means you get 1-2 hours of kid-free time, alone, following clear instructions and checking off items in a deeply satisfying way. And you can even play loud music while you clean, it’s cool!) Fortunately, there are ways to get out of cleaning if you really don’t want to. First, if you are a member of the Board as a result of the committee job you selected, you don’t have to clean. Second, you can pay $35 directly to someone on the “Paid to Clean” list, located on the bulletin board near the downstairs bathroom, and they will clean your area for you (note that if you are in a class that has to clean more than once, you would need to pay someone each time they cleaned an area on your behalf).

Q: Wait, did you say kid-free?
A: Yep. It’s actually a legal liability to the school if you bring the kids there during non-school hours, so you have a completely valid explanation for why you can’t bring them along, and why they have to stay with their other parent/another relative/a babysitter while you clean.

Q: Hmm…
A: 
I’m telling you, 90 minutes of loud, uninterrupted music of your choice. You can even listen to stuff with swear words in it!

Q: Okay, I’m in. How do I actually do the cleaning?
A: 
When it’s your turn, the cleaning coordinator will send you a note telling you which area you are assigned to clean. You’ll come after hours (usually during the weekend), and use the code you get in your cleaning reminder email to get the door key out of the lock box. When you get into the school, you’ll need to find the cleaning notebook in the mudroom (it’s near the tuition box). In the cleaning notebook, you’ll find a detailed checklist for all the things you need to do for the area you’ve been assigned. All the cleaning supplies are there at the school - generally either in the bathrooms, or in the kitchen (under the sink, or on the shelf above the stove). Make sure you initial the checklist as you go along, and get the cleaning done before Monday morning. That’s it!

Playing with Your Food

by Florence B.

We’re halfway through November and getting closer to Turkey Day! No wait, I mean Wear-Loose-Clothes-For-Eating Day! Ack, one more try -- I mean Thanksgiving Day! Thanksgiving is all about feeling thankful, but we can’t forget about the food! So, for this mid-month blog post, let’s talk about playing with our food!

But first, I have to take a quick detour to say how AWESOME the pizza restaurant in the dramatic play area is! Whether you’re a visitor to the blog and have no idea what I’m talking about or a member of the school who has already experienced the awesomeness--I still want to tell you how much I love what the curriculum folks did! If you’re stationed in the upper level, make sure to stop by the dramatic play area, and check out all the little details you can find! I’ve seen home-made felt pieces before, but the school’s set goes beyond and looks like a true labor of love by whomever created the set! Actually, let’s just say that the WHOLE set up and design looks like a labor of love! Thanks, Curriculum Team!

 
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OK, back to on point, eh?! Yes, yes, we always hear we shouldn’t play with our food, but when you’re an infant/toddler/preschooler (and maaaaaaybe adult, yup), playing with your food is also a potential learning opportunity that’s also mega fun! How? Well, let’s start off with the basics and two simple words: sensory experiences. OK, well maybe not ‘simple’ words since that sounds fancy when all it really boils down to is letting your kiddos discover something new in a preferably (to them) messy way (make sure you know where your vacuum is at all times)! By the way, I’m totally cheating by saying ‘Playing with Your Food’ since I’m really talking about food ingredients, but ‘Playing with Basic Dry Goods and Edible Components You Can Find in Your Kitchen’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Anyway, let’s start small and go with simple items for sensory fun before moving up to the big leagues with recipes!

1. Basic Sensory Table Fun!

Ah, let’s start down in Basic-Land. With a simple sensory table, you can let your little ones explore the different textures of basic food ingredients. The nice thing about playing with food stuff is that you don’t have to panic if your little one succeeds in slipping in a taste when you least expect it. Another plus is that you can buy ingredients in bulk, organic, non-GMO, cheap store brand, or any other available combination you want or just raid your own pantry when your kiddos come wandering around while you’re trying to cook a meal. You don’t need a fancy sensory table; you can use large bowls, repurpose a baby tub, dump out a storage bin, or get creative with whatever you can find lying around the house. Some fun ingredients you can experiment are oatmeal, cornmeal, lentils, flaxseed, rice, and popcorn kernels! They’re fairly easy to clean since they’re large enough a broom can sweep away, and a vacuum will happily pick up loose strays for the smaller items.

While exploring different textures works great while our little ones are still...well...little, once they’re bigger/older and out of choking hazard range, you can add treasures for them to discover. Let them explore with measuring spoons and cups making their own recipes while you follow your own and get dinner done! Check out some of the photos below of the sensory table at the school in action!

 
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2. Chili Beans

This one has to be in a section of its own since I love how uncooked chili beans are a perfect play item in disguise, and you literally don’t have to do anything except open the bag. Inside, you’ll find beans of different colors and sizes; get those little ones to practice their sorting skills! These beans are a great size to practice fine-motor skills, too, as well as being the perfect size for putting in order and counting to practice some math skills! Also, these guys can be used to make shakers for dancing (what little ones doesn’t like to do that?!)!

 
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3. Cloud Dough

Alright, here we go: time for our first official recipe! To make this soft concoction, mix 1 cup of vegetable oil and 8 cups of flour. That’s. It. The hardest part is finding 8 cups of flour, but isn’t that what Costco is for? This stuff is fun, because it can hold shapes if you use a mold and easily crumble with just a tap. Best comparison I can think of is Kinetic Sand, except this one is all natural, way softer, and makes your dry winter hands feel like they just went to a spa! Check out the photo below for some Cloud Dough in action with the disclaimer that this can get messy! Make sure you have some floor protection if you have kiddos who love mess, or do it outside since the oil can make non-carpeted floors slick (and you don’t even want to try to get this out of carpet).

 
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4. Oobleck

Now for one of my favorite recipes: Oobleck (isn’t that a fun name?! Thanks, Dr. Seuss--for the name and not the recipe that is!). This one’s also a real challenge of a recipe. Here we go: mix 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water. Yep. That’s all you need to do in quite possibly one of the COOLEST recipes ever! Once you get past how cool Oobleck is to touch and play with, you can get to the science-y part. You can tell your friends you made a Non-Newtonian liquid, which means whatever you do, don’t pour this down the sink, because it’s not a normal liquid (friends don’t let friends dump Oobleck down the drain!). If you do, you will be telling a plumber how your fancy Non-Newtonian liquid made your clogged sink very Non-Worky. Don’t panic about washing your hands or letting a little bit wash down--just don’t put a lot at one time!

Ha, now with that warning out of the way: this stuff is so cool so MAKE THIS, and let your littles have fun with it! Since it’s just cornstarch and water, for clean up, you can wait for it to dry a bit and scrape it off into the trash or vacuum up when completely dry. You can even make it in a ziploc and have your little one play with it there if you just want to try a small bit to check it out. It really is a crazy liquid since if you apply force (like squeezing into a ball or even poking it) it will harden until you stop and then move like regular liquid again. Seriously, try it! I wish pictures could show how cool it is to play with, but you really need to experience it! Below you can see how you can make an Oobleck ball if you keep pressing it and applying force, but once you stop, it melts back down! You can also play with it by adding more water or cornstarch and seeing what different behaviors you get (warning: nerd blogger alert)!

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5. Homemade Playdoh

Last, but certainly not least...homemade playdough! For this recipe, I’m going to send you off to another place to get it, but don’t worry, it’s not far; you’ll still be on the school site. Also, here’s a pic of playdough at school! I love glitter in the playdough (ESPECIALLY when it’s not in my home, woohoo!)!

 
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I bet it’s safe to say I don’t have to explain the playdoh fun factor; it’s fun for any age! Knowing exactly what goes into what your kiddo plays with is a huge relief so enjoy the recipe! As an added plus, it’s a VERY forgiving recipe so let your kiddo help you with the measuring and pouring into the pot. Worse case, if your playdough comes out too sticky, you can have your little ones sprinkle flour and knead until you get the perfect playdough! If too dry, use a dropper and add water drop by drop until it’s juuuuust right! Or if the ACTUAL worst case happens and your playdough is unsavable, then you get the excuse to make the recipe again with your kiddo. Sure, getting playdough is the end goal, but the journey is just as important!

Finally, go ahead and store your playdough in the kitchen with the rest of the playdough toys--and by that, I mean your cooking tools! Cookie cutters are great for cutting out playdough shapes, and that rolling pin you barely use makes a perfect rolling tool for playdough, too! That garlic press is actually a playdough spaghetti maker, and that cheese spreader is a playdough knife! Give your kids some cooking tools, and you’ll be surprised with what they come up with.

 
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So there you have it! I hope you have fun playing with your food aka PwBDGaECYCFiYK (see, it just doesn’t floooow right). If you have other ideas or recipes for sensory play, give a shout out in the comments or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org

Squeak In the News 11/12

Holiday Travel

by Julia H.

As if by magic, we have been transported through time to the universe where it is only 11 days until Thanksgiving, with the winter holidays following immediately on Thanksgiving's heels. There are so many things to look forward to at this time of year! But, in many cases, there's a catch - travel, and sometimes lots of it.

Traveling with small children - no matter your mode of transportation - can create some difficult challenges, and it's easy to get stressed out while trying to help your kids navigate (sorry, I couldn't resist!) the process. Here are a few tips that might help you (and your family members) stay calm:

  • Explain what your kids can expect from the travel experience. Flying? Don't forget to talk about the security check process, how boarding works, and how during turbulence they might not be allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. Driving? Talk about how often you'll stop for breaks, how long it will take, whether you'll stay the night at a hotel, etc.
  • Lower your expectations: even grownups get cranky when they are stuck buckled into a plane or a car - and there's a good chance that during the course of your trip, your kids will get frustrated (and will express that frustration in normal, age-appropriate ways). It's easy to get angry when someone across the aisle is grumbling about your kid crying on the airplane, or when you miss a turn because the GPS' voice is drowned out by the 1000th request for a snack, but try not to lose your temper - it won't get you there any faster. If you do lose your temper? That's okay, it happens - it's a great opportunity to model mindfulness to your kids! Say, "Hey, I'm sorry. I lost my temper - I'm frustrated and nervous about all this traveling, too. How can we all work together to make this easier?"
  • Snacks and toys: Hungry means cranky, and cranky makes everything more complicated, so make sure you have travel-friendly snacks that you can access easily while traveling. Choose toys that can be used in lots of ways, and that don't have small parts that are easily lost.
  • Plan for the things you know will be hard for your particular child: for example, my youngest is a high-energy, wiggly kid, and she absolutely hates being stuck in a carseat for any length of time. In order to make longer trips possible, we include stops at local parks every 60-90 minutes or so on our trips. It takes longer to get places, but everyone's in a much better mood when we arrive!

     

The internet is rife with blog posts about traveling with small children, but I'm curious about what works for you! Send your tips to weeklysqueak@bothellfamilycoop.org and you may be featured in an upcoming Squeak!

Hey, do you miss seeing a photo from school in the Weekly Squeak? I do, too! If you have one to share, please send it to communications@bothellfamilycoop.org

Squeak In the News November 5

by Julia H. 

Oh my gosh, you guys, can we talk about Daylight Savings? First of all, if this is the first time you've thought about Daylight Savings this fall, I regretfully must inform you that the reason why the time on your phone no longer matches the time on your stove is because the whole setting the time back by one hour thing happened last night. I know. I'm sorry. I'm sad, too.

For those of you whose children are naturally late to awaken in the morning and late to sleep at night, this might be great news for you! Fewer car breakfasts and near-misses on morning appointments! If you're like me, with children who are naturally early risers, I apologize, but look for me on Facebook at 4AM, because I'll be awake and trying to explain why there are still so many hours until school.

Daylight savings can be hard with young kids. If you have the flexibility to slowly shift them to the new schedule over the course of a few days, absolutely do so (that also means you get to make the shift more gradually!). That said, remember that the time change can be hard for adults to adjust to even with all the auspices of a fully-myelinated frontal lobe, so just imagine how hard it might be for children to understand and adjust to such an arbitrary change in schedule? Keep in mind that, especially for the early risers, this might be a week with kids who are more short-tempered than usual, and try to plan in advance for events like this week's Family Soup Nights, which add a secondary element to an already slightly-off-kilter schedule!

Daylight Savings works best when you can plan in advance, so my apologies for the late notice...but check out this article from parents.com so you'll be prepared when we set the clocks forward in the Spring!

Got tips of your own? Send them to weeklysqueak@bothellfamilycoop.org and you may be featured in an upcoming Squeak!