Snack Attack

Muffin Inspiration for the Next Time You’re Snack Parent

By Amanda Johnson

The Weekly Squeak just dropped in your inbox and you forgot you’re Snack Parent this week. Eek! Now you’ve got to figure out what to feed 12 hungry, picky preschoolers. What to do? You quickly run through your list of go-to snacks in your head. You and your kiddo are tired of string cheese. Mandarin oranges are overplayed. Yogurt is way too messy for school. Cookies: too sugary.

You surprisingly have a little extra time this week (play with me here) so you think maybe you’ll make something delicious. And nutritious. But what?

KidsBaking

Let me help. I have a couple of go-to muffin recipes my son loves that are great for snack time. When I bake, I make an effort to keep the ingredients as healthy as possible, but still taste delicious. I like to use ingredients like whole wheat flour and unrefined coconut oil. The results are a plate of crumbs so I must be doing something right.

Baking is a fun activity to do with your preschooler. My son loves to help, but I should add it’s always under supervision. Otherwise we’d end up with the entire bottle of vanilla in the batter. He also loves to get his hands messy.

The first recipe I’m going to share is for Apple Carrot Muffins. We brought these on our first snack day at BFCP and they were a big hit. A couple of people asked for the recipe, which we shared on our class Facebook page. I thought it would be fun to share with everyone on the blog.


Apple Carrot Muffins

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One of my favorite things about this recipe is I get to hide a veggie in them by way of the carrot. We struggle with vegetables in our house so adding them in surprising places is a great solution for us.

Last time we used this recipe it made SIX DOZEN mini muffins. That’s huge! We put about two-thirds in the freezer for later. If you’re making them for preschool, there will be plenty to share! Or you could always cut the recipe in half to make less. But why would you want to do that?

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple

  • 2 carrots (can substitute zucchini if desired)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 cup oats

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (melted)

  • 3 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 1-1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F

  2. Grate carrots and apple

  3. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl

  4. Grease two 12 cup muffin pans, or mini muffin pans

  5. Scoop batter into each cup

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min ( If using 2 pans of mini muffins, I’ve found 15 minutes is a good time frame for them)

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

I don’t always have fresh blueberries around due to the season. When that’s the case, I substitute frozen blueberries (I buy a big bag at Costco), and rinse them off before I add them into the mixture.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)

  • 1 egg

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries (2 cups frozen blueberries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners. My preschooler loves bite sized mini muffins so I use mini muffin pans.

  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

  3. Whisk vegetable oil, egg, milk and applesauce together in a separate bowl until smooth, and stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until moistened.

  4. Lightly stir in the blueberries.

  5. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full.

  6. Bake about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. You can insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin to test if they are cooked. If it comes out clean you’re good to go.

There you have it – two of our favorite muffin recipes. You can use these as inspiration for your next snack day

The Art of a Snow Day

By Amanda Johnson

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SNOW DAY! This month we’ve experienced some uncharacteristically snowy days in the Pacific Northwest. Classes have been canceled for a week! I’ve struggled to find activities to entertain my preschooler who has been stuck inside a lot of the time. Which is how I found myself daydreaming of the amazing art room at Bothell Family Coop Preschool. How great would it be to have a mini-easel like theirs set up in our living room, complete with a spread of toddler friendly art supplies?

I love the idea of my preschooler experimenting with art, but I very seldom think of it on my own. I am not Crafty Mommy. It doesn’t cross my mind to make up art projects at home. I only think of crayons when a hostess gives them to my son at restaurants along with a children’s menu.

I understand the importance of expressing yourself creatively and do want to encourage this in my toddler. I’m just not always the best resource to make that a reality. That’s why I’m grateful he can experiment with art at preschool.

“Kids are hard at work every day building their skills, and art can play a huge part in that process. Art allows for exploration, motor skill growth, problem solving, and working creatively,” says local art teacher Sarah Crumb. Sarah proclaims preschoolers are her favorite age group to work with because they are so curious and enthusiastic about new experiences.

Art Stations don’t usually have templates or step-by-step instructions, which allows children to express themselves freely using whatever color or material they choose. Different material stimulates the senses in different ways. Tiny hands molding clay is a different experience than holding a brush to paint bright colors across a piece of paper.

Kids can learn a lot at the Art Station. A few of the things art can help preschoolers learn how to do are:

  • Express their feelings

  • Express their creativity

  • Learn cause and effect (Ever squeeze too much glue out of the tube?)

  • Develop hand-eye coordination

  • Develop fine motor skills

  • Help with language skills

This is all well and good, but how does this help you on your fifth snow day when your kids are sick of sledding and you’re stuck inside with no more hot chocolate and you cannot watch one more episode of Daniel Tiger? How about you create your own art station? Chances are you already have a lot of the materials at home, but here’s a couple tips to make your art station top notch:

  • Protect your surfaces! Place something on the floor like an unused shower curtain or newspaper. Kids are cute, but they are messy!

    • Same goes for the table or surface you are working on, make sure to place a protective cover down first.

  • Curate your materials. It’s nice to have on hand some of the following items:

    • Paint

    • Paint brushes

    • Water cup

    • Paper of all colors and sizes

    • Crayons

    • Glue sticks

    • Kid friendly scissors

    • Liquid glue

    • Pipe cleaners

    • An easel

    • Markers

    • Play dough (check out BFCP’s recipe here

    • Paper towel/toilet paper rolls for crafty projects

  • Don’t intervene. Allow your child total creative freedom. Unless they’re painting your couch purple. Then you might want to step in.

“Let's let kids be kids for as long as we can! Preschoolers are the optimal age to encourage freedom and leave worksheets or step by step instructions by the wayside. Allow your child's creativity to shine!” says Sarah. I couldn’t agree more.

Sarah Crumb teaches art at Cloud 9 Art School in downtown Bothell. For more information visit: https://www.cloud9artschool.com/

5 Benefits to School Field Trips

By Amanda Johnson

The yellow school bus smelled of cheap leather and rain soaked children. A cacophony of voices rang out as I walked down the narrow aisle clutching my paper lunch bag with a peanut butter sandwich, the only thing I ate for the first 10 years of my life. Do I want the seat behind the bus driver so I could stay close to my teacher, or did I want to take the seat with the bump of the wheel underneath my feet? I loved that seat. I spot my best friend Stevie near the back and my choice is made. Before I know it, the bus bounces off. We were going to the zoo.

Once at Woodland Park Zoo, I’d forget the anxiety of leaving the classroom. I became mesmerized by otters playfully diving in and out of the water and by watching giraffes munch shoots off trees. I’d learn how chickens lay eggs and that bats really weren’t scary.

It was my first field trip.

There’s a reason my trip to the zoo has stayed with me for 20+ years. Field trips are a valuable learning experience for school age children and I’m grateful that our children get to participate them at Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool. Later this month, the BFCP toddler and 2/3 classes take an excursion to the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. Earlier this year, the older classes visited Oxbow Farm and pumpkin patch.

So what’s so great about field trips? Below are five key benefits to taking your kids out of the classroom and into a fully immersed sensory activity.

1. Field trips provide beneficial learning experiences outside your children’s everyday lives and their standard educational environment. Away from the classroom, preschoolers have the opportunity to see new things and learn about them in a more unstructured way.

2. In some cases, students have the opportunity to determine what they learn and how they learn it. Since kids master subjects at different speeds and have different interests, this places an out of classroom excursion in a unique position because field trips offer the opportunity to branch out from your usual setting and to learn at your own pace.

3. Field trips deepen the lessons that students are already being taught in class. Learning about pumpkins in a classroom is great, but it’s something else entirely to see a pumpkin grow out of the ground on a real working farm.

4. Many excursions are designed to spark curiosity and engage the child. This is a really fun way to learn new things.

5. Field trips encourage social interactions outside the preschooler’s normal routine. Our younger classes will learn this when they run from exhibit to exhibit at Imagine Children’s Museum playing, touching, exploring, and let’s face it, probably chewing parts of the exhibit too.

Above all, field trips are a blast. Am I right? I’m glad BFCP sees the value of them along with the fun aspect they provide. To me, a well-rounded education starts in the early years and that’s what we’re giving our children as students at BFCP.

Do you have a favorite field trip memory?

Holidays Around the World

By Amanda Johnson

 As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it can be easy to be lulled into hibernation.  I get it. It’s cold and wet and it’s no fun to play outside in those conditions. Winter can be especially difficult when you’re stuck indoors with young children.

 But did you know that there’s actually a ton of fun celebrations happening during the coldest time of the year? Sure, you may have heard of a few of them (Santa Claus, anyone?), but there is a lot more going on in the world than you can imagine. Wanna get in on the fun? Check out the following winter holidays and festive, easy ways to celebrate them with your preschooler.

 Hanukkah

 For eight days in November or December, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah, a day honoring the Maccabee’s victory over King Antiochus. Each night during the celebration a special candleholder called a menorah is lit in remembrance of an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days.  To celebrate, children play games, sing songs and exchange gifts. Latkes, a special type of potato pancake, are often served.

 Activity: Make a colorful menorah using Popsicle sticks.

 

Photo: Creative Jewish Mom

 

 

 

 


St Lucia Day

 St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13 in Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden. The festival of lights marks the beginning to the Christmas season and is meant to bring hope and light into the darkest time of the year. On this special day the eldest daughter wears a traditional white gown with a red sash and a lighted wreath on her head and serves her family and visitors treats such as saffron bread and ginger biscuits.

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 Activity: Make a St Lucia Day crown. Cut a piece of green construction paper to fit your child’s head. Trace candles onto white heavy weight paper. Have the children color the flames. Cut them out and glue onto the crown piece. Use a stapler to connect the headpiece together.

 


Three Kings Day

 At the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. This holiday is celebrated as the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. On this day in Spain, many children get their Christmas presents. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on January 5, they leave a box with hay under their beds so the kings will leave good presents. In France, they bake a special king cake. Sometimes there is a coin, jewel, or little toy inside baked inside.

 Activity: Make a king cake with your kids and hide a toy inside. It’s like a game discovering which piece has the toy!

 

 

 

Christmas

 Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas in the United States brings together many customs from other countries and cultures. Around the world, family members help to decorate the tree and home with bright lights, wreaths, candles, and ornaments. We’re most familiar with the tradition that on Christmas Eve, Santa comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts.  Around the world, Santa arrives in different fashion: in Hawaii it is said he arrives by boat; in Australia, Santa arrives on water skis; and in Ghana, he comes out of the jungle.

 Activity: Help trim the tree by making red and green paper garlands. Cut strips of red and green construction paper. Make a circle with a strip of paper by gluing the ends together. Loop the next strip through the circle and glue together. Keep going for a festive garland!

 

 Kwanzaa

 Kwanzaa, which means ‘first fruits’, is celebrated December 26 through January 1. It is a holiday to commemorate African heritage, during which participants gather with family and friends to exchange gifts, light a kinara (a special candle holder) and decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables. The candles in the kinara symbolize the seven basic values of African American family life: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

 Activity: put together a fruit basket with your preschooler. Fruit represents the harvest and is one of the several symbols of the holiday.

 

 

New Year

 Presently, New Year’s is the most widely celebrated holiday.  It marks the end of the old year and the beginning of the new on January 1st. The day is often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. Traditions include making New Year’s resolutions, calling friends and family and generally making lots of noise.

 Activity: Break out the bells and noise makers and and teach your kiddos this song:

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 Ring The Bells (Tune: Row Row Your Boat)

Courtesy: Child Care Lounge

Ring ring ring the bells
Ring them loud and clear
Let's tell everyone around
That the New Year is here!!

Chinese New Year

 The Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It falls on different dates each year, between January 21 and February 20. Visits to friends and family take place during this celebration. The color gold is said to bring wealth, and the color red is considered especially lucky. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, people carry lanterns and join in a huge parade led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength.

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 Activity: Make a Human Dragon   Courtesy: Child Care Lounge
Have children line up in a row putting their hands on the persons shoulder in front of them. The first person is the dragon’s head and the last person is the tail. The head tries to catch the tail without the kids coming un-hooked. Let the children take turns being the head.

 

A Sense of Community and a Spark of Curiosity: An Interview with Teacher Kathy

By Amanda Johnson

I have a special treat for you today, reader. Our very own Teacher Kathy joins me on the blog. I am very excited and honored that Teacher Kathy agreed to this interview. This is my first year at the preschool and Teacher Kathy is not my son’s teacher, so our interaction has been limited until now. I was thrilled to get to know her better. We even discovered we had a fun fact in common that relates to preschool – read on.

1. In your bio on the website, I read that you went to school in Maryland. Are you originally from the east coast?

I WAS BORN IN RICHLAND WASHINGTON, MOVED TO TENNESSEE WHEN I WAS 13. I MOVED TO WASHINGTON DC MY SENIOR YEAR OF HIGHSCHOOL AND THEN WENT TO UNIVERSITY OF MD WHERE I STUDIED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. MY HUSBAND AND I MET ON THE EAST COAST BUT WE BOTH CONSIDER OURSELVES WEST COAST PEOPLE. (HE WAS BORN IN COLORADO). WE MOVED BACK TO THE WEST COAST 40 YEARS AGO TO ATTEND UW GRADUATE SCHOOL AND WERE BOTH FORTUNATE TO FIND JOBS IN OUR FIELD RIGHT HERE. THIS IS HOME.

2. What made you switch from teaching in public schools to being a preschool teacher?

I DID TEACH ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE TO PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR A COUPLE YEARS, BUT MY PASSION HAS ALWAYS BEEN TEACHING PRESCHOOLERS. I HAVE TAUGHT IN BOTH PUBLIC SCHOOL PRESCHOOLS AND PRIVATE PRESCHOOLS. MY FAVORITE PRESCHOOL EXPERIENCES HAVE BEEN HEAD START AND CO-OP PRESCHOOL.

3. What was a highlight for you when your children attended BFCP?

WHEN MY CHILDREN ATTENDED THIS PRESCHOOL IT WAS CALLED LAKE FOREST PARK CO-OP. THE LOCATION WAS IN A SMALL HOUSE BETWEEN KENMORE AND LAKE FOREST PARK. THE BEST PART OF CO-OP FOR ME WAS FINDING ADULT FRIENDS WITH KIDS THE SAME AGE AS MY DAUGHTER. THEY WERE MY LIFELINE AS I EMBARKED ON THE PARENTING JOURNEY. I STILL HANG OUT WITH SOME OF THOSE SAME FRIENDS.

Here's a fun fact about me, Teacher Kathy – I went to Lake Forest Park Co-op too! I was a few years ahead of your kids, so I don’t think we would have overlapped at all. It’s fun to have this special connection to the school.

4. In your opinion, what benefits do children and parents get out of being part of a co-op and why do you choose to teach at one?

ALL SCHOOLS BECOME COMMUNITIES OF CHILDREN AND THE TEACHER. IN THE CO-OP SCHOOL THE COMMUNITY IS MADE UP OF THE CHLDREN, FAMILIES AND THE TEACHER. THIS FAMILY COMMUNITY MODEL PROVIDES INVALUABLE SUPPORT, RESOURCES AND MULTIGENERATIONAL FRIENDSHIPS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.

So true. That sense of community is one thing that really attracted us to the co-op model.

5. What’s one thing you hope families take away with them as they graduate on to elementary school?

BECAUSE MEMBERS OF A CO-OP HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND GROW IN COMMUNITY I WISH FOR THEM THAT THEY TAKE THOSE COMMUNITY BUILDING SKILLS THEY LEARN IN THE CO-OP TO THEIR FUTURE SCHOOL. IT WILL BENEFIT THEM AND THEIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMMUITY. THE WORLD NEEDS COMMUNITY BUILDERS IN OUR MIDST.

6. How do you design the science/discovery and creative play stations each month?

I LIKE TO DESIGN AREAS/STATIONS THAT INVITE CHILDREN TO PLAY AND PROVOKE SOME QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ANSWERED. FOR ME IT IS ALL ABOUT SPARKING CURIOSITY, ENGAGING CHILDREN IN THINKING AND SETTING UP OPPORTUNITY FOR SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT. THE PROCESS IS ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT THAT THE PRODUCT. EACH SETTING IS DIFFERENT AND EACH CHILD HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF APPROACHING THE AREA. I LOVE WATCHING HOW KIDS LEARN AND THEN TWEAKING IT THE NEXT DAY TO BUILD ON THE LEARNING THAT HAPPENED THE DAY BEFORE.

I love that! I didn’t know that you adjusted the stations according to what and how children learn. That makes so much sense.

7. How do you define your role as a parent educator?

PARENTING IS HARD WORK AND I ALWAYS HOPE PARENTS WILL SEE ME AS THEIR ALLY. SOMETIMES I AM THEIR “CHEERLEADER” AS I PROVIDE ENCOURAGMENT AND SUPPORT. OTHER TIMES I AM A THEIR “COACH” AND TRY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS AND HELP CONNECT PARENTS TO INFORMATION AND RESOURCES SO THEY HAVE THE SKILLS TO BE THE BEST PARENT THEY CAN BE.

8. How old are your children now and where in the world are they?

LORI IS 31 - SHE WORKS AS A MICROBIOLOGIST, IS MARRIED AND LIVES IN BOTHELL

KERI IS 27 - SHE IS A GRADUATE STUDENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH AT UW AND LIVES IN NORTHGATE

JAIMIE IS 27 - SHE IS AN APPAREL DESIGNER, JUST GOT MARRIED LAST WEEKEND AND LIVES IN BEACON HILL

Here is a wedding picture of our family and the groom’s family from the weekend. It was taken in our back yard.

9. My husband and I run a family travel blog, so I was excited to see you like to travel and camp. Did you do both when your children were young? What are your favorite places to visit?

WHEN OUR GIRLS WERE YOUNGER WE WERE ABLE TO TRAVEL WITH THEM TO CHINA, SOUTHERN EUROPE, NORTHERN EUROPE AND THE SCANDANAVIAN COUNTRIES. NOW OUR FAVORITE PLACE TO “VISIT” IS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. WE THINK IT IS THE BEST PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. LAST SUMMER WE TOOK A FAMLY TRIP TO STEHEKIN THAT WAS A LOT OF FUN. WE ALSO LOVE TO CAMP AT MOUNT RAINIER AND PICK HUCKLEBERRIES IN THE CASCADES. MY HUSBAND, DON, RECENTLY GOT A BOAT SO WE HAVE BEEN ENJOYING SEEING PUGET SOUND FROM THE WATER.

We’ve been enjoying camping in the Northwest too – in fact we picked huckleberries on a hike in the Cascades last summer!

Thank you so much, Teacher Kathy, for joining me today. This was a lot of fun. I find it invaluable for parents to learn about your approach to the co-op and how we fit into the community. As you mentioned – parenting is hard work! It eases my mind knowing that you are out there as our champion, helping our children learn and cheering us on. BFCP is lucky to have you

Playing with Your Food

By Amanda Johnson

One of the things that sold me on Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool when I visited last year was the creative play station. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and could instantly imagine students having a ball playing shoe store and post office.

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It is well documented how important creative play is for preschool age children. Through play, kids learn how to share responsibility, take turns and problem solve. When a child engages in creative play, they build imagination and cognitive skills. It can also serve as a way for young children to work through their emotions and act out the grown up stuff they see their parents do on a daily basis. Because we all know being an adult is a non-stop blast. ;)

Creative play also is a great tool for relationship building and learning about inclusion. Children pick up the concepts of inclusion and exclusion from adults easily. It can be difficult to navigate when a child experiences exclusion and we tend to celebrate when they exercise inclusion. Especially if their particular brand of play aligns with our values. I read about this lately on Teacher Tom’s blog. Tom Hobson, of Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool, is the speaker for our all school parent meeting on November 15. Teacher Tom is an advocate of play based curriculum as a way to teach kids to learn and grow in a healthy way. I love what he has to say regarding inclusion and teaching our children how to navigate the often scary world of making friends. You can read more about his post here.

This month the creative play station will be a restaurant and pie shop. I can’t think of a more perfect choice for the season of thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. But in all preschool seriousness, what Teachers Beth and Kathy have done here is pretty brilliant. Weaving the month’s themes of food and tradition into the creative play station enriches our tiny students’ minds in ways they won’t even realize.

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While casually serving a platter of turkey and mashed potatoes they may meet a friend for a lifetime. Slaving over an apple pie in the make believe oven may spark a love of baking that turns into a career as a pastry chef. Purchasing a meal at the restaurant can teach kids how we use math in our everyday lives. Sitting down to a meal with your class ‘family’ at the restaurant can help enforce the traditional importance of Thanksgiving.

Or not. Maybe (most likely) none of that will happen. And that’s okay too. In fact, that’s the beauty of creative play. It doesn’t have to be all that serious. Chances are your child will never remember selling a pecan pie to a cash strapped three year old when he was in PreK.

What they may remember is they had a lot of fun at preschool. The details will most likely be fuzzy.

Trick or Treat: A Brief History of Halloween

By Amanda Johnson

One of my favorite things about writing a blog is that I get to research subjects I find interesting but know little about. One of my favorite things about writing a blog for the preschool is that I get to relate my findings back to our children in a really fun way. Today I’m going to take a closer look at Halloween since it’s just right around the corner.

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Halloween is a big deal. 600 billion pounds of candy are bought each year. ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?’ is often a question people ask as early as August. Serious thought and creativity goes into Halloween costumes. It can be overwhelming. But can we all agree there is nothing more adorable than a gaggle of mini Supermans and Moanas shouting ‘Trick or Treat’ on your doorstep?

Yet a lot of kids grow up thinking Halloween is all about dressing up, trick or treating, eating candy and carving pumpkins with no understanding of where the tradition came from. I know I did. And I had a blast. But as a parent, I find myself wondering what the meaning behind All Hallows Eve is, in part so I can give my son more context about the celebration as he grows up. I recognize two years old is a little young to start a history lesson, but it’s never too early to educate myself.

In brief:

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival nearly 2000 years ago during which people felt especially close to spirits of their ancestors. Usually celebrated at the end of October when the prosperous summer months turned dark and cold as they entered winter. The Celts left food at their door to welcome good spirits and wore masks to scare off the bad ones.

Halloween was slow to start in America. By the end of the nineteenth century new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween in America. Borrowing from these traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

It’s pretty interesting to learn how Halloween has shifted over time to become more of a children’s celebration of costumes and candy. Sure, it can still be a dark and mysterious occasion, but for the most part it’s a lot of fun!

KidPumpkinColoring

We can’t talk about Halloween without mentioning pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. The preschoolers learned about pumpkins earlier this month with their visits to Oxbow Farm and at the Fall Family Fun Event. There are many stories pertaining to the origins of jack-o-lanterns, but the most popular one comes from Ireland. The Irish used to carve radishes and light a candle in them to ward off bad spirits. Can you imagine trying to carve a radish? Dad would have a hard time with that one!

At BFCP, each class will have its own Halloween celebration, starting with the Toddler PM class on Wednesday. Check your October schedule to find out when your preschooler gets to join in on the fun.

Just like in ancient times, children – and parents too! - are encouraged to wear their costumes. Remember to bring a change of close for outdoor time. And please nothing scary and no weapons!

Here’s a quick rundown of the Halloween Party dates:

Wednesday, 10/24: Toddler PM

Thursday, 10/25: Toddler AM

Friday, 10/26: Parent and Baby and 2/3’s

Wednesday, 10/31: ¾’s and PreK

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Happy Harvest!

By Amanda Johnson

October is an exciting month at the preschool! We’re getting the hang of the school year, leaves are falling, and pumpkins are popping up on doorsteps. And at BFCP, we’re gearing up for our first excursion for the older classes and Fun Family Party for the younger classes.

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If you’re anything like me, and this is your first year with a preschool aged child, you may be wondering what the kids do at Oxbow Farms. I reached out to our Excursions Coordinator to find out more.

The Fall Farm Adventure at Oxbow Farm is a 75-minute program where students experience the beauty of the autumn harvest – in terms preschoolers understand. An Oxbow farmer introduces the students to their favorite fruits and veggies and explains how they are made up of six different plant parts each with a special job to do. The kids are then led on a scavenger hunt to find those six plant parts. As they find each part, they get to harvest and eat them in the process! How delicious does that sound? Kiddos get to take home a sugar pie pumpkin.

For more information on the program, click here.

Directions should be arriving in your inbox soon, if they haven’t already so keep a look out. The schedule for the older classes is as follows:

* 2-3's will meet at 9:30, Thursday, Oct 11 at Oxbow Farm

* 3-4's will meet at 11:00, Tues, Oct 9 at Oxbow Farm

* Pre-K will meet at 12:30 Tues, Oct 9 Oxbow Farm

That covers the older kid classes, but what about the toddlers who may be too young for the pumpkin patch just yet? The answer: a Fun Family Day hosted at the preschool! Teacher Beth has a lot of fun things in store.

The Family Fun Day is scheduled for Saturday, October 13th from 10-11:45 am. It will be a combined day for both the Toddler AM and PM classes. It is an alternative class date for missing the AM October 11 class while Teacher Beth is at Oxbow Farm with the 2-3’s and the canceled PM October 31 class because of Halloween. I have to say, the Family Fun Day sounds excellent so I don’t think our toddlers are going to be too upset over the canceled classes.

At the party there will be lots of pumpkins and harvest themed activities in the giant outdoor space at the preschool. Possible activities may include a mini-maze made from bales of hay, pumpkin rolling on big paper and pumpkin painting. Yes, please! I’m all for hay mazes and fall themed events. Coming together for circle time to sing some favorite songs is also part of the plan. We will also have a potluck lunch.

Welcome Back

By Amanda Johnson

Hi there. Welcome to the beginning of the preschool year! My name is Amanda and I’ll be joining you this year as your blog writer. This is my first year with the school and I’m very excited about what the year has in store.

I was recently asked if I was nervous about my son starting preschool. I answered truthfully that I am looking forward to it! I know that he is in excellent hands with Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool.

Last week was Slow Start for our kiddos at BFCP. Before Preschool Orientation, I had no idea what that meant. This is my first experience as a parent of a preschool aged child and there are a lot of new things for me to learn. I know some of you parents might be feeling the same way. At least, I hope I’m not the only one! I found comfort in talking to our teachers and board members – our local experts leading the way to a successful year. Orientation Night was a great learning experience. We got loads of information about the school, found out September’s class schedule, met other parents in our class and my personal favorite: we were treated to a spirited enactment of what a day in the life at the school looks like.

boyplaying

So, what is Slow Start? It is a brilliant concept where our kids are eased into the routine of school with an unstructured first day. A day to explore the school’s environs, meet the teacher and play with new classmates. I think this is important when your child is used to being at home and suddenly is thrust into an unfamiliar environment where he’s expected to finger paint on command. While parents know that BFCP is stock full of fun, imaginative activities, try telling that to an anxious two year old who’s never worn a smock in his entire little life.

Anxieties aside, I’d say the Slow Start week was a success if my toddler’s smile is any proof. Sure, he was unsure at the beginning of the day as he often is in new experiences. So were a few of his classmates. But by the end of outdoor play he was rocking the sand pit.

Speaking of outdoors, this past weekend was the Fall Work Party. Neil Devlin, the preschool’s Facilities Chair, organized the event. They pruned. They painted. They fixed up. I can’t wait to see how good the school looks! There are two work parties throughout the year so if you didn’t get a chance to go on Saturday, we’ll see you in the spring! Each family is expected to take part in one work party per school year as part of the cooperative curriculum. Part of being a member driven preschool is that the members, us parents over here, take part in maintaining, beautifying and running the preschool. It’s a pretty cool way of getting involved. Not to mention a great way to meet other parents in your community.

There are some pretty fun things coming up in October. The older classes will visit Oxbow Farm to learn about pumpkins. The younger classes will have a Fun Family Event at the preschool. I plan to talk more about those more in my next blog post. I’d say we’re off to a great start!

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?