Creating a Summertime Routine

by Julia High

All right, so, I hate to break it to you, but this is really happening: we're reaching the end of the preschool year. And that's kind of hard and sad, right? After 9 months together, you've gotten used to the weekly routine, to those 1, 2, or 3 trips to the preschool each week. One of the nice things about school is that it does provide a predictable schedule around which one can create a routine for their kids. Then, suddenly - *poof* - it's gone. But your kids still benefit from a routine! So, how do you create a routine without the externally imposed structure of school? Here are some quick tips to make it easier to create a sustainable summer routine for your children:

  • If possible, get your kids involved in planning: Even older toddlers might have an idea they are really excited about sharing with the family! Call a family meeting, and create a list of daily activities - things like mealtimes, tidying up, outside time, etc. that you know need to happen every day, as well as a bucket list - things that would be fun to do during the summer (whether that's a big family trip or making sure that you play with playdough at least once, this is a good time to honor all of your family members' contributions). Don't worry about whether your list sounds crazy to anyone else - this is about you and your family, and what is most important to you!
  • Make sure you plan in rest times: whether this looks like one day each week of free choice/downtime, or whether your kids still nap regularly, it's good to make sure that you make time for those slower moments.
  • If you know in advance that there will be breaks in the routine (for camp, family trips, etc.), it might help your kids if you have some visual reminder of when those things will occur. If your kids know numbers or have some pre-reading skills starting, a calendar might work for you. Younger kids sometimes like paper countdown chains to help mark how much time there is until a special event.
  • If it works for you and your kids, make an easy visual reminder for what a "typical" day looks like. There are about 1 bazillion of these on Pinterest, so pick one you like (though I did quite like this flip-up chore chart, which uses pictures to help show what the task is, and has an easy visual/tactile element of flipping each task closed when it's done).
  • Don't hold too tightly to that daily schedule. You have kids, so you know that things can get unspeakably pear-shaped pretty quickly. If you have an off day, that doesn't mean the schedule is broken, or that you are a bad caregiver (though if you have lots and lots of off days, that might mean that it's time to call another family meeting and rethink that daily routine...and that's okay, too!).

Have you ever made a daily routine for summer? What were your favorite parts? Which elements just didn't work?

Here Comes Summer Fun!

by Florence B.

This is it—my last blog post for the school year (looking forward to next year’s posts from Amanda, your new BFCP blogger!). I hope you all enjoyed the 2017-2018 school year as much as we did! While we’ll miss our days at BFCP, with the beautiful summer weather comes the fun mystery of what to plan each day! With so much daylight, there’s so much time to play!

Here’s a list of a few of my favorite activities if you need some inspiration:

* U-Pick Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries,

* Visit local splash pad parks,

* Visit the beach (including the mysterious Jetty Island that’s only open in July and August)!

* Visit a park we haven’t been to yet,

* Visit an indoor playground when it gets a bit *too* hot,

* Go hiking!

For more detailed ideas for things to do, you can look back at some of my previous posts that I have summarized below!

1) Get your busy bag party going with “Busy with Busy Bags.” Rain or sun, this is still a fun activity with a great excuse to hang out with friends!

2) Go explore your kitchen with “Kitchen Science.” Exploring how ice melts is extra fun on hot summer days!

3) Continuing on the theme of the kitchen, focus on food with “Playing with Your Food.” What’s extra nice is you don’t have to worry as much about messes if you set up a play table outside! Plus, you’ve got the hose outside already for extra messy messes!

4) Don’t forget to read with “Let’s Read: Three Ways for You to Find Books.” Most of the library story times listed in that post will be on hiatus for the summer, but there are still plenty of other events that the libraries have scheduled! As an added bonus, you can tie in library visits with park visits since the library is a great place to cool off after some outside park play!

5) And finally, it’s summer so we can’t leave out the best part: playing outside at parks! If you don’t want the craziness of tracking your kiddo in a large park, explore some fenced ones in “Outside Fun at School and Fenced Playgrounds." Also, here’s a tip: you’ll probably find many large groups of kids with summer camps out in full force! Stick to the early morning or after two if you want to avoid most of them. Also, smaller parks will most likely be summer camp-free, and if you find a tot-lot area (like the one in St. Edwards Park), campers are very respectful of the age suggestions!

There you have it! Enjoy the summer!

May You Have a Marvelous May

by Florence B.

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We’ve reached the home stretch with May! Time sure flew by…you know, with all the having fun and all that! What do we have in store for this month? Well, look forward to some under the sea fun with ocean animals (btw, isn’t that such a cute jellyfish in the dramatic play area?!), beach days (literally!), and reading some favorite books from your teachers! With so many gorgeous days coming up, be prepared for some sunny outdoor play and possibly some picnic snack fun!

On May 7th, the older two classes will have an in class Opera story time with visiting teaching artist Liz Frazer! You can learn more about her at https://www.lizfrazer.com/bio.html. Then, on the week of the 16th, get ready to go to the beach with some fun beach excursions! Each class will meet at the beach (check the Weekly Squeak or ask your class coordinator to find out where!) so bring boots, buckets, shovels, sunscreen, and lots and lots of excitement. You may want to leave your bathing suit behind, because at this time of the year—eek!—that’s some cold beach water…

Since the end of the school year is fast approaching, please keep track of all these important dates and read the Weekly Squeak carefully for locations!

May Class Meetings:

May 16 - Toddler Class Meeting and Pre-K Class Meeting

May 17 - 2/3 Class Meeting

May 22 - 3/4 Class meeting

Last Days for Class:

May 24 - Toddlers and 2/3 class

May 25 - 2/3 and Parent/baby class

May 29 - 3/4 and Pre-K classes

Note: 2/3 class last day with Teacher Beth will be on the 24th and will decide what to do as a class for fun on the 25th

No School:

May 28 - Memorial Day

School Deep-Clean:

5/30 - 3/4 and Pre-K

5/31 - 2/3 and Toddlers

What’s up with the deep-clean? This goes deeper (hah, pun!) than the regular weekend cleaning, and you’ll have your classmates as cleaning buddies! Well, half the class, since the other half will be watching the kiddos at another location. This will happen during class time on those dates and each class will focus on two areas of the school. If you have alternative child care options, feel free to use them since that means more parents for cleaning!

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Finally, I want to end today’s blog post with a shout out to the awe-some, AWESOME members of the 3/4 class that got together over spring break to make sandwiches for the MORELove project! They made 160 yummy pea-nut and jelly sandwiches for the organization's weekly sandwich deliv-ery to our local homeless population! Go 3/4 class!

Teacher Feature: An Interview with Teacher Beth

by Florence B.

Florence: I have an extra special blog post today, because I have an extra special person joining me: our amazing co-director, toddler, and 2/3 educator *starts drumroll* Beth Ed-wards *throws confetti*! The 2017/2018 school year marks Beth’s first year at the school, and if you’re one of the lucky parents who have her as a teacher, I’m sure you’ve got a huge smile on your face right now! If you’re in one of the other classes and haven’t had a chance to meet her yet, don’t forget to say hi at one of the parent meetings, because she’s awesome! Well, shall we start our interview with our fabulous educator?

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Beth: Thank you, Florence, for your awesome blog posts! You keep us all "in the know" for the exciting things happening at preschool. You are appreciated!

Florence: Aww, thanks Beth! From reading your biography, I absolutely love that you’re so involved in early childhood education! Was there a tipping point where you just knew that’s what you wanted to do?

Beth: I have always worked with children. I started babysitting when I was 12. I paid for college by lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. Kids are amazing!

Florence: I see you’re focusing on mindfulness and meditation with children and fami-lies! Do you have any favorite tips we can use for our own families?

Beth: My hope for all families is to have some peace and time to reflect each day. We are so busy being busy and stressed out. I hope parents can take a few minutes to take a deep breath, feel grateful for the children in their lives and have some fun! Parenting is joyful!

Florence: Tell us more about your volunteer work at Sorenson—do you have a favorite moment that sticks out?

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Beth: My most enduring "take-away" from volunteering at Sorenson is that there are so many dedicated educators working wonderful magic on behalf of all children. I love the idea of enjoy-ing the child in front of me and letting go of notions of who they are and just getting to know them and connecting with them on an individual basis.

Florence: Switching focus to the school, you’re almost through your first year! If you could go back in time back to September and give newbie you a tip, what would you say?

Beth: Enjoy the journey! You don't have to know everything on the first day. Every time I think I have this school down, I learn something new. I love the traditions at BFCP. I love that I have been given the gift to rely on traditions and rituals embedded in the school but also the freedom to create something new and add something of myself.

I would also add that the more your put into it, the more you get out of it. I am continually im-pressed by how many members are thinking deeply and working hard to make this the best place for children and families. We have amazing people working together!

Florence: Yes, yes, it hasn’t been a year yet, but I’m sure you already have a favorite mo-ment at the school! What is it?

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Beth: Anyone who knows me well, knows that I revel in the small moments. I have an observ-er's heart. I love to watch how the children play, how the parents communicate with the children and with one another and how the community forms a bond. I feel grateful every day that I get to be a part of that experience and journey. It is a gift.

Florence: I noticed that next year, BFCP will be having a Toddler PM class! How involved were you in that decision (and how excited are you about it!)?

Beth: I am so excited! I appreciate that the board accepted the proposal for the Toddler PM class and that we will have the opportunity to reach out to families that may not otherwise have the time or flexibility to join a parent education program. It is going to be awesome! So much fun!

Florence: OK, enough about schools, let’s talk about what makes you you! From your bi-ography, you clearly love the Seattle area since your UW days! What about growing up—were you born and raised in the area, too?

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Beth: I grew up in Kirkland. My parents live in my childhood home. I am the youngest of six children. All of my family lives locally. I love learning about where our members come from...from those who also were born and raised on the Eastside to the far-flung corners of the globe.

Florence: What are your favorite Seattle places?

Beth: My current favorite Seattle place is Frankie and Jo's ice cream shop on Capitol Hill. Yum!

Florence: What is your favorite thing about Woodinville (*cough* aside from your awe-some BFCP-blog-writingtastic neighbor *cough*)?

Beth: I adore my Woodinville neighbors! I love to walk. You can often find me on the trail with friends. Terry and I often walk down the hill "into town". When the girls were little, we would wander Molbaks. (You can’t push too many plants up the hill with two girls in a stroller!) We have a green belt in our backyard so you can't beat the Location, Location, Location!

Florence: What about your free time? What books to you like to read and what kind of ex-otic delicacies do you like to cook?

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Beth: I just finished reading Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. Terry and Kelsey love fantasy and sci-fi so I often read what they put on my bedside table. I am also reading The Year of Living Danishly. Anna passes on books from her college readings...lots of great reading on social is-sues. I always have a professional book as well. Some of the SCC educators are excited about Howard Glasser's Igniting Greatness and the Nurtured Heart Approach so I am diving in to learn more.

I also love to read cookbooks and cooking magazines. I only read cookbooks with beautiful photographs...pictures speak to me! I must be a preschool teacher!

At home, we mostly eat vegan. I am learning amazing new things all the time. I was recently introduced to aquafaba. Magical! One super fun thing about cooking is that Kelsey loves to bring friends home to eat our food. It brings people together. Love it!

I love my gym buddies! Another awesome support system. I love surrounding myself with peo-ple who make me a better person. People who let me care about them and they care about me. Fabulous!

Florence: And of course, I have to save the best for last: Tell us about your family! How did you and your husband meet?

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Beth: Terry and I met at the UW. We were running buddies. He was my pal and all-around good guy. Here we are married for 25 years with two amazing girls, a beautiful home and a cat. So much gratitude for my family!

Florence: Who is mysterious Mindy—a friendly feline or a warden watch cat?

Beth: Mindy is our almost 16 year old cat that loves to snuggle and be cozy. She has a terrible habit of waking up at 4am but she is the best cat ever! she seems to know if you are having a hard day and she will come and give you some loving.

Florence: How are your girls enjoying college (and how does it even feel knowing you made it and your kids are now adults?!)?

Beth: Anna is ready to graduate from St. Olaf in May. She is working hard to figure out what is next. She is realizing that being an adult is "hard".

Kelsey is thriving at school! I am so proud of both of them for how they handle the challenges and difficulties of moving into adulthood.

Florence: Thanks so much for the interview, Beth! Any last thing you’d like to share from your own parenting journey?

Beth: Have fun! Rely on your support systems! Be kind and generous.

P.S. In reading through this interview, I realized I used a LOT of exclamation points and the word love and some form of gratefulness. That sums me up!

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Resources for school breaks

by Julia High

Here are some helpful resources to help you get through the change in routine that comes with the school break:

Fun inside activities:

Fun outside activities:

  • Egg carton garden

  • Build and fly your own kite

  • Make a simple scavenger hunt

  • Teacher Angela's famous bubble cups: punch a hole in the side of a paper or plastic party cup. Secure a paper towel over the top of the cup, then dip the paper-towel-covered top of the cup into bubble solution. Insert a straw into the side of the cup, and blow gently to make foamy bubbles.

And don't forget - play is good for grownups, too!

Have something to say? Send us an email and your question may be answered in a future Squeak!

Springing into April!

by Florence B.

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Wow; is it really April already? This must be a case of time flies when you’re having fun, because we’re certainly having fun over here at BFCP! By the way, slow clap and approving nod to the curriculum team for sneaking in a surprise week-ish long, sneak attack-ish (and I get the memos for both months so I should be surprise-proof!), super fun, dramatic play area makeover! Our airport turned into a little shoe store that was a HUGE hit! Kiddos had fun trying on different types of shoes and showing off their stylish footwear on a little stage. Soccer cleats, tap dance shoes, boots, fun socks, and more…these kiddos got to do some feet measuring and decorating!

After that short surprise, the curriculum team proved they still have the magic touch by transforming our dramatic play area into a little farm house and garden! Make sure you check out the chicken coop for some eggs, pick some vegetables from the garden, and whip up something tasty to eat in the kitchen area. As one budding BFCP chef commented, “I’m going to make egg soup for everyone!” Some familiar costumes from Halloween are back, including overalls for farmers, a bumblebee dress for…umm… two-legged bees, and butterfly wings for the little butterflies who can’t resist picking the flowers in the garden! Also, make sure the sheep don’t escape their pen, but do take the horses on a stroll!

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Well, the farm house and garden dramatic play area should give you a hint for some of the other themes to expect this month. Look for Spring, Eggs and Chickens, and Gardening themes throughout the month. For the older two classes, get ready to share interesting seeds or plants and then also anything alive like plants, insects, or eggs!

Speaking of the 2/3 and PreK classes, get ready for a double-dose of excursion fun in April! The older two classes already got to enjoy the first excursion at Adventure Children’s Theater in Country Village on April 2nd! If that sounds familiar (this is actually a make up excursion from January). The second excursion will happen at the end of the month; the kids will go on a Spring Farm adventure over at Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center. Their mission statement says the center “inspires people to eat healthy, sustainably grown food and to steward our natural resources for future generations.”

Aaaaaaand what a great way to transition into the All School Meeting since our speaker, Julie Miller, will be discussing strategies for raising lifelong healthy eaters! You can get a sneak peek by checking out her site here: harmonioustable.net or you can just read this little quote from the site: “At this table, children and adults sit down to savor mealtime, together. Everyone here is genuinely present, eating with appreciation, talking peacefully and sharing the highlights of their day. The food is whole, clean, appetizing and delicious. There are no cell phones or tablets. No one is rushing to move on. The people are engaged as their bodies and minds are nourished.

This is The Harmonious Table. Pull up a chair.” This will be at Inglewood Presbyterian Church at the end of the month. Also, this meeting will be the last chance to turn in committee job preference for the 2018/19 school years, so don’t forget!

Phew, those are the big items for the blog, buuuuut there are still so many important notes to note! So, here we go:

1) April 9 - 13 is Spring Break; there is no school this week! However, the fun doesn’t stop if the school’s closed so make some class playdates!

2) April 20 is shopping day! Umm… I mean, the BFCP online auction starts up, and the link will be available through the Member’s Only page of the website. This is like a triple of BFCP awesomeness since you get to get a great deal on an item, raise money for BFCP, AND use a percentage of your winning bid towards your fundraising obligation total. See? Triple. Awesomeness.

3) April 21 is party time!!!!! Well, Spring Work Party, but still fun, right? For a blast from the Fall past, here’s the blog post about that Fall fun. It’ll be from nine to noon in the morning, so see you there (unless you already went to the Fall Work Party already or paid the $75 buy-out fee)!

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4) April 28 is the day to hang out at The Hangar in Kenmore for the BFCP Screen Free Week Kick Off Event *throws confetti*. And I quote from the amazing organizers: “The goal of this event is to give families with children 0-5 some tools to understand the benefits of turning off their devices, along with some tools to make it easier to do so.” So come on out from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm to help spread the word about going screen free (and maybe learn some new strategies as well)! If you’re free to volunteer that day, check the Weekly Squeak for the signup link!

Well, there you have it! Our penultimate school month is packed with fun (and by the way, how often do we get to use the word “penultimate”?! Score!)! Feel free to shout out in the comments below or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org if you have any feedback!

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Busy with Busy Bags

by Florence B. 

The inspiration behind this post comes from a conversation I had with a friend who also has a toddler. She lamented that she takes the time to set up fun stuff for her kiddo…to only have a bored toddler after about 10-15 mins. That meant she needed more time to set up another fun activity. Ten to fifteen minutes later, I’m guessing you can figure out what came next…time to set up another activity. And of course, this is all happening during the desperate attempt to make dinner without buuuuuuurning it again.

So, I asked her if she’s ever heard of busy bags. I mean, really, 10-15 min attention span? No problem with busy bags! You’d think I’d offered her the Holy Grail, because she had never heard of busy bags! If you know what busy bags are, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Ah, I do love busy bags” as you reminisce about that magical busy bag moment when your child was playing by him/herself as you slowly backed away like someone trying to not spook a horse. If you don’t know what a busy bag is…well, reader, you’re in luck with today’s post!

OK, busy bags. Think of them as little repeatable activities stored in baggies, which you can pull out whenever your kiddo needs entertaining. You can bring them on planes, in cars, at restaurants, at the doctor’s office, or even just in your own living room! You create the little activities so they’re totally customizable with what you’ve got lying around the house and what you want your kiddo to learn and practice! If you search “Busy Bags,” you’ll find so many fantastic ideas! Even better, grab some friends and have a “Busy Bag Party!” After all, at BFCP, you already have a class of friends with similar aged kids, so go for it!

I’ve had the awesome luck to be part of two busy bag exchange groups—one in a large toddler group setting (where each mom made sixteen copies of the same busy bag ahead of time and then passed them out to the other fifteen moms at a set time so we all ended up with sixteen unique bags) and another as a small playdate (where we all brought materials to make our busy bags to pass out at the end of the playdate). The awesome thing about forming a busy bag group is that you can buy materials in bulk/packs, only have to focus on creating one item multiple times, and you can get the benefit of having so many different ideas go into your final busy bag collection!

So enough talk, how about some pictures to give you some ideas to get your own busy bag collection growing?! First note: I am not a Pinterest mom! You do not need to be a Pinterest mom with amazing artistic/creative skills to make busy bags! In fact, all the pictures you’ll see are straight from my busy bag collection and made from other moms who just love their kids and want to make fun activities for them (you know, like you, if you’re still reading this post!). Second note: since many of these are from other moms, I have no idea where to reference where these ideas came from so sorry in advance if there’s a certain printable you adore and want to find out where it came from!

 

1. Busy Bags: Different Levels of Complexity Yet All Are Tons of Fun.

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Let’s start out with the fact that busy bags can be easy to make or require a bit more effort/materials to make! Here are four examples where let’s face it, the top two were probably made by Pinterest moms or at least moms who are familiar with making busy bags! In the pizza box busy bag, this mom even provided pizza boxes and cups for the “toppings,” which is where

buying in bulk/packs/lots for a busy bag group comes in handy! She also made the pizza and toppings out of felt (again, great if making a bunch and you have a rhythm going) and made some recipe cards to truly make a game out of this busy bag! This is a great little idea that can last over time since you can just make pizzas or add in the cards for older kiddos learning math skills! Also, don’t feel like you need to make recipe cards all by yourself; many of these can be found as a printable ready for you to print (in fact, here’s a link with some more ideas and a set of pizza recipe cards right here for you). 

The second busy bag is another perfect example where you can buy pieces in packs for a busy bag exchange party! Here we’ve got pom poms, tongs, silicone cupcake cups, and the potential for some much fun and learning! In this little game, kiddos match pom pom colors to the cups. For an added challenge, use the tongs!

In the third example, this mom made a quick and easy memory game out of foam stickers and foam cards—easily customizable depending on what foam stickers delight your kiddo! The fourth example is so perfect of something surprisingly entertaining! With this easy to make activity, kiddos can practice some fine motor skills matching the nut to the correct bolt and spinning them on and off.

 

2. Clothes Pins and Popsicle Sticks

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Yeah…some of these picture groupings don’t really make sense, but since clothes pins and popsicle sticks are both made from wood, I’m going for it! Here are some more examples where you can buy in packs for a busy bag exchange group. Notice how you don’t really have to do a super stellar handwriting job on the clothes pins and popsicle sticks to have a fun activity! The third example has little black velcro pieces, in case you were wondering what those were, so they can be stuck together and made into shapes! In this case, they’re little pens for animals. Another variation for younger kiddos is to print out shapes directly for them to put the popsicle sticks on.

 

3. Stringing, Chains, And More…

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…also known as the three pictures I had leftover after grouping the others. Again, these are some more great examples (well, the 1st and 3rd) of how buying in lots/packs for a busy bag exchange group works out! The mom in the first example cut up pool noodles to make a large scale fun version of stringing beads on a string! She also used circles made from cardboard boxes as a stopper at the end, so that shows busy bags don’t have to be fancy to be fun! My kiddos also had fun stacking the rings on each other and then dropping beads/pom poms in the hole!

The second example shows how velcro and felt strips can be fun. Another variation of stringing and felt is to cut out felt shapes with a slit in the middle to be strung on a piece of ribbon. Finally, the last picture is three busy bags that I ended up combining since the materials were similar! With this set, kiddos can string the beads on the pipe cleaner, make shakers by putting beads in the plastic eggs, and match bead colors to the plastic eggs (there are actually several more pipe cleaners and eggs not shown in pic).

 

4. Print and Laminate!

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I only learned earlier this year that a basic laminator machine can be picked up for $20! Well, guess what I got and haven’t regretted?! Getting a laminator made my busy bag collection grow quite a bit since there are so many more things to be made without worrying about getting destroyed with repeated use. Here are some fun examples of print and laminate games.

The middle example shoes how you can also customize the games. The ladybug example is supposed to be a color matching one, but I added some stickers to form letters when matched up properly. The third example is actually a printable for scissor skills that I repurposed into a matching puzzle game. Once you have a laminator in hand (er…on table?), you can get started searching for “printables” if you think this is a style of busy bags that you like!

 

5. Buying from the Store Is Sooooo Not Cheating.

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Guilty confession: these examples aren’t homemade and were pretty much ready to go at the store! While I love making busy bags since they won’t break the bank, there are some fun activities already out there if you can find them! The first example is one I found at the dollar store (yes, all three lacing cards with 3 laces!) and perfect to add to my busy bag collection! The second example is a busy bag with only nine of the original twenty-six cards since we lost a card and I realized my toddler enjoyed this activity much more when not overwhelmed by so many options. Don’t forget to check out those bargain bins and incomplete toy sets since you might just find some busy bag possibilities for cheap!

Just a warning, the beauty of busy bags is that the activity is reusable and easy to rotate through to keep your kiddo entertained! Getting already built play packs with coloring books and markers are typically one-time use and repurchasing can really add up over time! Although I have an activity bag that I take places to keep my kids entertained, I’d say that 25% of that is the non-reusable stuff (i.e., play pack sets, coloring books, stickers, note pads, etc.) and the other 75% is reusable busy bag stuff that I occasionally swap out to keep interesting!

Well, I hope this post inspires you to get your busy bag collection started (or help give ideas to grow it!)! If you’re ready to dive in and want some more examples, there are so many sites to give you great ideas! Consider forming a busy bag exchange group for even more fun (like ask your BFCP class!)!

Here are a few links to get you started:

- “Ultimate Guide of Busy Bag Ideas – 100+ Ideas Sorted by Category” from Powerful Mothering

- “OVER 100 AWESOME BUSY BAGS PERFECT FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS” from B-Inspired Mama

- “Busy Bags 101 — and Lots of Busy Bag Ideas!” from Teaching Mama

Thanks for stopping by! Shout out in the comments below if you know an amazing link with busy bag ideas or if you have a favorite busy bag idea you’d like to share!

Marching into March

by Florence B.

Wow, time sure is flying by fast! How is it March already? Well, if you haven’t registered for a spot for the 2018-2019 school year, make sure you reserve your spot soon! Registration is now open for everyone, so please let your friends know it’s time to get excited about getting a spot for one of next year’s classes!

By now, I’m sure everyone has seen the amazing dramatic play area (and if you haven’t, don’t worry, I have some pictures)! Ok, let’s just say that the curriculum team deserves a medal for all their designs, and this one is definitely one of my favorites! Ready to fly the open skies? Welcome to the BFCP Airport! Where should we go today?

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The pictures don’t do justice to how cute this set up is! I love all the little details that the curriculum team included. There are little luggage tags on the luggage, a pet carrier to take a pet on the flight, and a metal detector that actually swings so the kiddos can put it where they want for just a few examples! I got a huge kick out of the flight control panel. Did you notice the calculators attached to the wall?! How can you not fall in luuuurve with this setup?! Oh, and I have another reason for you as to why being part of a Co-Op is awesome—the 3/4 and PreK classes got to meet an Alaskan Airlines pilot and hear about his job! How are Co-Ops and pilots connected? Well, that awesome AA pilot is also one of our awesome PreK dads!

You’ll also see plenty of “Things that Go” books along with plenty of flying in the sky books, but let’s give a special call out to our author of the month: Donald Crews! My kids absolutely love his Freight Train book, which is also one of the 1979 Caldecott Honors books. That’s right, 1979! I guess it’s pretty timeless since kids still love this book almost 40 years later (and since it still hits top lists like New York Public Library’s “100 Great Children’s Books | 100 Years” at https://www.nypl.org/childrens100, I guess adults love this book, too!)? Anyway, it’s hard to describe this simple book, so just check it (and the rest of Donald Crew’s books) out, and be amazed when your kiddo is highly entertained by it!

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Other themes you’ll see during March are Jobs that People Do, Wind and Weather, and Rainbows! The rainbow one will be sooo much fun since this is also interactive! The 3/4 and PreK classes will be “eating the rainbow” during the week of March 12th! Kiddos will bring one piece of whole fruit to share with the class, and then the PreK class will go even further by creating a graph of all the different fruits brought to class (go go early math!). On March 14th, it’ll be rainbow day for the older 2 classes, which means wearing rainbow colors to school! On March 16, the 2/3 class will have “Green Day,” so don’t forget to wear something green to school!

Well, I talked about the rainbow and the color green, how about the color red?! As in Fire Station red!! I’m so excited for this: this month, the toddlers and 2/3 classes are going to…wait for it…wait for it… are you ready for it…FIRE STATION 51 in Kenmore!!! Oh, there are just not enough exclamation marks in the world for this excursion!

*Phew* well, we have so may wonderful things going on during school, how about after school for our evening parent ed? On March 21, get ready for our our PAC All Schools Speaker: Julietta Skoog! This will be held in the Shoreline Community College Theater, and she’ll discuss Positive Discipline! You can check her out at her website here.

Here’s a quick quote from her website: “Learn to discipline with firmness and kindness, have fun as a parent, and set the foundation for important social and life skills.”

Well, I hope you’re enjoying March so far and looking forward to some fun and interesting topics ahead for you! If you have any feedback or thoughts to share, feel free to comment below or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org!

Kitchen Science

by Florence B.

We’re half-way through the mid-winter break, and I hope you’re having fun trying new things and revisiting the old ones! For this mid-month blog post, I decided to do kind of a second part to my mid-Nov blog post “Playing with Your Food” and continue with “Kitchen Science!” Let’s face it, whenever educators talk about STEM, high-level science experiments, computer science activities, and other other high-level engineering topics are probably the first things that come to mind. Well, STEM fun at home doesn’t have to be all about expensive science kits that get mailed to you; you can have science fun with stuff you find in your kitchen!

There are tons of fun kitchen science ideas you can find online or in books, but here are some of my favorite experiments for little ones to get you started! The best thing about kitchen science is that it’s so adaptable! You can adjust depending on the level of what your kids can do, and for many of the experiments you can change ingredients depending on what you’ve got lying around in your cupboards. So, shall we get started? Here are five easy and fun kitchen science experiments!

A) Sink or Float with Orange Buoyancy:

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Let’s start with a surprisingly fun kitchen experiment where all you need is water and some delicious citrus fruit that’s pretty much a staple in any household with a kid! Get ready to play some ‘sink or float’! This one is great for our smallest friends, because a) it’s water play and b) a clementine/mandarin/orange is involved!

For this experiment, it’s pretty simple: do you think the orange will float in the water? Let your kiddo make a hypothesis (or gnaw on the fruit depending on age) and then put it in a container of water and watch your citrus sail the high seas (or container, whatever). Next, let your little one peel the orange and then put that orange in the water and watch that peeled anchor sink!

“Wait!” your kiddo asks. “What’s the deal with that?!”

“Well,” you say with a knowing smile. “The peel is the orange’s floatie, just like floaties help you swim in the pool. Since we took off the floatie, the orange sinks.”

“Ah, what a wise parent. You know so much,” you wish they would say, but let’s face it, this dialog is fantasy.

Well, you can pretty much stop here, because you have an unpeeled orange, a peeled one, plenty of peelings, and a container of water that your kiddo can play with. But…if you’d like even more of a challenge for older kids, here comes the even more fun experimentation part! Can your kiddo peel *just enough* for buoyancy and gravity to balance somewhere between totally sinking to the bottom and floating at the top? Can your kiddo peel enough for the orange to sink…and then remove some of the orange slices so it floats back up again?

B) Naked Egg & Osmosis

This one is a short and simple experiment with a lot of downtime. First, have your kiddo touch an egg and figure out if it’s hard or soft. Next, leave that egg in a container full of vinegar and watch that calcium carbonate egg shell wither away into nothingness. This is actually interesting to watch as you’ll see bubbles form as that poor shell gets dissolved away. Now, like I wrote earlier, there is a lot of downtime. After your 10 second shell toughness check, you can pretty much stick this back into the fridge for the next 24 hours while the vinegar works it’s magic—um…science.

If all works out well, you’ll have a naked egg with only a membrane surrounding it! If not, change the vinegar solution into a fresh vinegar solution, and cough awkwardly as you put the eggs back into the fridge informing your little one that you’ll need to wait a little bit longer. Back to assuming that all worked out well, this is when you do another hardness test to see that your hard egg has turned into a little softie!

So that’s it, pretty easy! Don’t forget to wash all hands involved since this is a raw egg experiment! You can take this experiment even further (with more downtime) by experimenting with osmosis. You can stick your egg into a cup of corn syrup and see what happens the next day. If you have multiple eggs, stick them in various liquids, and see what happens to each of the eggs. Since you’ve been soaking your eggs in vinegar, that’ll be your control. Can you figure out which liquids make your egg plump up and which ones deflate (tip: distilled water and corn syrup are probably the easiest way to see the biggest difference)?

C) Magic Milk

For this dairy experiment, you’ll need milk (the fattier, the better!), food dye, toothpicks, and dish soap. In a wide dish:

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1) put a thin layer of milk down,

2) drop a few drops of food dye in different spots,

3) dip a toothpick in some dish soap,

4) put the toothpick in the center of the drops in the milk, and

5) watch those fireworks go!

If you have an older kiddo, this one is great for exercising those fine motor skills, because you need to get the soapy toothpick end in each dot fast! For younger kids who can’t quite do that, even swirling around the toothpick and hitting each dot will be artistic fun! What’s going on here? You’ve got milk fat and soap molecules rushing through the crowd of milk proteins and other stranger molecules to find each other like long lost friends. And there are a LOT of these molecules searching and bonding. At once. Poor food coloring—all it did was get in the way!

D) Ice and Freezing Fun:

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Ah, ice. Simple, yet so often overlooked. With melting experiments, you can actually buy yourself time to make dinner. In. Peace. Perfect over the summer, your kiddos can cool down while playing with melting ice. Freeze a block of ice. Supply salt. Supply warm water. Supply cold water. And of course, supply whatever fun supplies you can find in your drawers: medicine droppers, spoons, brushes, straws. Let your kiddos see how their block of ice changes over time as they experiment with what they’re given! For older kiddos who want a challenge, freeze some items like beads (pro tip: freeze in layers so all your beads aren’t at the bottom or top) and have your kiddo rescue the beads with the given supplies! Does the salt help melt the ice? Why isn’t the warm water warm anymore? There are so many fun ways to explore!

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And then if your kiddo is over melting and wants to explore freezing, try a freezing experiment where you try to figure out what liquids freeze first! Your kiddo will get to see how different items freeze at different rates, and you’ll realize you have a lot more liquids in your fridge and pantry than you first thought! If you use a small enough ice tray, you’ll start noticing differences as soon as 15 mins!

E) Wizards Brew

Great for a Halloween themed experiment, you can make Wizard’s Brew or Witch’s Potion (although this is so much fun any time of the year!). Think erupting volcanos. For this one, you’ll need vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap at a minimum. All you need to do is:

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1) fill up a container with vinegar,

2) add dish soap,

3) add baking soda, and

4) have fun watching your kiddos laugh!

What’s going on here is that you have the vinegar and baking soda chemically reacting to create Hydrogen Peroxide. When that occurs, Carbon Dioxide gas is formed and gets trapped in the dish soap, making bubbles! Lots. Of. Bubbles! You can add glitter or food coloring for some added fun. You can change the containers and make different effects (you can even use a Jack-O-Lantern during Halloween!).

To get different reactions, you can try changing what liquid soap you use, how much baking soda you add (dump a lot or little sprinkles), stirring the mix (do bubbles form faster?), or drop in different colors of food coloring without mixing and see what colors you get! Even if your kiddo isn’t old enough to understand the chemical reactions going on, they’ll LOVE all the insta-bubbles!

For older kiddos or if you’re ready for more of a challenge, you can add yeast to the mix for a slower reaction that now has an exothermic effect (you’ll feel your container get warmer!). You can learn more about that HERE 

There you have it: five easy kitchen science experiments to get you started! If you have a favorite kitchen science experiment you’d like to share, shout out in the comments below! Feel free to email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org as well!

Loving February

By Florence B.

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Who can resist loving February when we get to celebrate Valentine’s Day! We also have a parent meeting where we can choose between TWO speakers covering sleep (oh, bliss!) and couple/family relationships (who can’t love that?!), class photos (these are the BEST!), mid-winter break, teddy bear picnics, and saving the best for last: REGISTRATION for 2018-2019 (*throws confetti*)! It’s a short month, so we’ve got to pack in as much fun as we can!

OK, so let’s start off with what our awesome curriculum team has in store for us, eh? For themes, you’ll see friendship, Valentine’s Day, Post Office, and Bears! Get ready for the dramatic play area to take on a new look for some Post Office fun! Know all those junk mail and catalogs that go straight to recycling? Bring them in to the BFCP Post Office where they’ll be put to good use! Those stickers and old envelopes you probably won’t ever use? The BFCP Post Office wants them!

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You’ll also notice some fun animal books by Sandra Boynton, our February Author of the month! Her short and simple stories are fun and perfect reading material for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers! If you haven’t had a chance to check out her books, Blue Hat, Green Hat (a turkey just can’t get dressed right, oops!), Are You A Cow (trying to figure out if the reader is an animal), and Opposites (works with singing, which is weird, but I somehow can’t read the book out loud without forming a tune) are favorites in our house and extra silly for young toddlers (and babies and older siblings and parents) to love! You can check out her website here.

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But what you’ll REALLY notice? Valentine’s Day! Woohoo! We’ve got lots of hearts, hearts for those hearts, and more hearts to collage and put on those hearts with a side of hearts and a splash of pink (no really, the water in the sensory table is tinged pink!)! For the older three classes, don’t forget to make your Valentine’s bag in the art room so you can get some Valentine’s Day mail from your friends! All this lovely, loving love leads us to our Valentine’s Day parties, complete with Valentine’s card exchanges (and don’t worry, you can dress up and not worry about any messy projects on party day)! The older 2 classes will celebrate on Valentine’s Day, the toddler and 2/3 class will celebrate the day after on the 15th, and finally the parent/baby class will party on Feb 16th!

Backing up a bit, a week before the party, everyone will get a chance to dress up for class photos! These are so much fun to have as a little keepsake to look back on! The class photo is $9 and worth it to have. Even if you’re not planning on buying any photos (individual or class), your kiddo is still DEFINITELY wanted to sit with the rest of the class for the class photo, so let them know ahead to SMILE (or POUT like my kiddos if that’s your kiddo’s picture thing!)! By the way, if you’re in one of the older 3 classes and don’t feel like brushing your hair that day or finding a shirt that doesn’t have a stain on it, don’t worry; only the kiddos and teacher will be in the class photo! For the toddler class parents, get ready to smile since you WILL be in the class photo, too (and don’t forget to match your socks since missing socks only happen on laundry day and days when you’re going to be immortalized not wearing shoes)! Unfortunately, the Parent and Baby Class won’t be doing a class photo, but our littlest friends can still stop by during the Thursday classes to get an individual photo done (so toddler and 2/3s classes, don’t forget to say hi to our smiling visitors)! The teachers aren’t planning any messy activities during picture day, so have fun dressing your best (although you’ll probably want to bring a change of clothes for outside time!!).

ALSO that week on Feb 7th, the 3/4s and Pre-K class are each having a Teddy Bear Picnic at Teacher Kathy’s home! What a fun excursion for our kiddos and their favorite teddy bears (or other stuffy, no toy discrimination here!).  

*Phew* let’s step out of class and switch over to some night time parent education! Thursday the 15th is our February parent meeting! There will be two speakers for you to choose from: Julie Kennedy will cover sleep (Gentle Sleep Coach) and Joan Niehaus will cover couple/family relationships! Julie’s website can be found here: if you’re curious what a Gentle Sleep Coach does. From her website, she writes that “The GSC approach is a gentler alternative for families who emotionally or philosophically resist letting their babies cry it out.” But let’s face it, when you’re checking out her website, you’re probably desperately searching for the secret to getting some sleep. Who knows…you may find it for your family! By the way, here’s a fun fact I just discovered last week, did you know that all our quarterly evening parent ed talks are held jointly with our sister co-op, Inglemoor Cooperative Preschool?! So, if you’re sure you’ve met everyone in BFCP and see a face you don’t recognize, don’t feel shy—make sure to say hi! Lastly, this meeting will be held at Inglewood Presbyterian Church from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM; see you there!

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Alrighty, get ready for the. BEST. Part. Of. This. Post: Registration for the 2018-2019 school year!!(pretend there are 2,018 and 1/2 exclamation marks here for effect)!! If you’re already a member of BFCP and are planning on returning next year, registration opened last Monday, Feb 5 so go, go, go! In-house registration will run until Feb 16, so don’t delay in reserving your kiddo’s spot for next year! If you’re someone who will be new to the BFCP family, then welcome and make sure to snag a spot early! Registration for you will begin on Feb 26, and we’re excited to have you join us! If you find yourself on the waitlist for a spot you want (that happened to us last year for the 2/3 class), don’t fret! There is still plenty of time before the new school year starts for a spot to open up (ta da! Like the one for us did last year!). You can find more info on the Registration & Tuition page HERE.

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So here’s some more details about registration if you’re looking for some more in-depth coverage (if not, then go ahead and skip to the next, next paragraph!). If you’re a current member and are wondering how on earth are you supposed to register for next year—well, step 1 is: Check your email! If you’re in a class now, I’m sure you remember turning in some paperwork to secure your kiddo’s spot. Go ahead and put away that pen you managed to scrounge up from a dark corner of a drawer that your child has not yet discovered; BFCP is now doing online registration system for the 2018/2019 year! That means you will be getting a direct link in an email that gets you to your personal “family portal” (no username or password required, but this personalized link will expire, so hurry!). This new system also means registering will be quicker and easier than last year since most information will already be there (although don’t forget to verify and make corrections as needed)! So, if you find an unexpected email from Jovial, don’t delete it if you’re planning on registering (plus now you know what to expect so it’s no longer unexpected, yay!)! But, if you already deleted it or if your SPAM blocker works REALLY, REALLY well, then hop on over to www.jovial.org/bfcp/family and enter your email to get an access link.

ALUMNI! Don’t worry, I know you feel like you’re in a gray area since I’m mentioning current BFCP family and new member registrations—but you actually register when current in-house members do! So, get your access link and get registered! In fact, for anyone curious about how  kiddos are guaranteed a spot during the in-house registration, there’s an actual priority list of: “1) continuing students; 2) those students repeating a class; 3) those students skipping a class; 4) siblings of current students; 5) children of alumni. Thereafter, advanced registration shall be open to the general public based on space availability.” There you go, curiosity satisfied.

Finally, after talking about all the fun stuff to expect in February, I’ve got one last important bit of info for you; Mid-Winter Break is from Feb 19th to 23rd so don’t show up to school that week! And don’t worry, if you actually do and remember just as you pull into the parking lot, there’s always the nearby Bothell Library to visit to find a good book to read or the Park at Bothell Landing to get those winter wiggles out!

Wow, there’s a whole bunch of important dates up there so here’s a summary:

Feb 5 - In-house registration for current BFCP families begins (ends Feb 16)
Feb 6 - 3/4 and Pre-K school photo day
Feb 8 - 2/3 and Toddler school photo day (Parent & Baby welcome to take individual photos)
Feb 14 - 3/4 and Pre-K Valentine’s Day parties
Feb 15 - Toddler and 2/3 Valentine’s Day parties
Feb 15 - Parent Meeting at Inglewood Presbyterian Church from 6:30PM - 8:30PM
Feb 16 - Parent & Baby Valentine’s Day party
Feb 19 - Mid-Winter Break begins (ends Feb 23)
Feb 26 - Registration for 2018/2019 school year opens up to the community

There you have it! If you have any comments, feel free to shout below or send an email to blog@bothellfamilycoop.org