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

Feeling Thankful for November!

by Florence B

How is it November already?! I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween and didn’t stay up too late running on sugar! I loved seeing our Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool friends dressed up in costumes during our class party (ours was last Friday and the start of our Halloween fun), and I’m sure you all did with your class parties, too! The curriculum team did a spooky, fun, and AMAZING job with the Fall, pumpkin, and Halloween themes; I hope no one missed the giant spider web on the ceiling downstairs!

 
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Alas, wave goodbye to October and bring on November, the month that reminds on to give thanks with families and strangers as well as new friends and old. Curriculum-wise, this month we’ll see themes of food, traditions, thankfulness, and turkeys (because we can’t have November without these fowl friends!). Downstairs in dramatic play, get your pizza serving skills ready, because you’ll find a pretend pizza restaurant for our little chefs. Search around and you’ll find books by Salina Yoon, November’s author of the month!

Look forward to family and soup nights at the school! Each class will get together on a different night; the infant and toddler class will celebrate family night while the older three classes will celebrate soup night! For soup night, we’ll each bring 1-2 cups of cut-up veggies for a delicious soup to be cooked during class and then served later on in the evening. As a bonus, we’ll get to meet all the mysterious siblings that we hear about during class!

On the 16th, get ready for our November parent meeting! We get a treat with Ann Hollar, a wonderful speaker from the Center for Child and Family Well Being, UW. Her topic of discussion will be: “Learn about how cultivating a culture of mindfulness in the school and at home can help shift the parent-child dynamic to one of gratitude and self-compassion.” Here's a link to learn more about Ann Hollar. One of her answers from her FAQ caught my eye; when talking about what she has learned from her own mindful practice she says, “I have learned to listen more fully, react less often; be more curious and less judgmental.” I’m excited to see what she has to say!

Speaking of what people have to say, look forward to some class sharing. The 2/3, 3/4, and Pre-K classes will have the opportunity to decorate a turkey picture for the Turkey bulletin board at school. In the older two classes, keep an eye out for anything turkey that you want to share!

And continuing with our 3/4 and Pre-K friends, they get to go on another excursion this month! We all enjoyed visiting the pumpkin patch last month, but this time the 3/4s and Pre-Ks are going to see where many pumpkins and other veggies go. They’re heading off to the grocery store, but not in a shopping cart playing Grocery Search with a shopping list! These lucky kiddos will get to go behind the scenes to learn how a grocery store works!

We have so much to look forward to in November in class, but don’t forget to make note of the holidays so you don’t find yourself missing class or looking at a locked building. Class will be closed on Nov 10 (Fri, Veterans Day) and Nov 22, 23, and 24 (Wed-Fri, Thanksgiving Break). There will class the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

Here’s to a fun month ahead! Give a shout out in the comments or email me at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org if you have anything November-related you’d like to share! Any topics you want to explore? Just let me know!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and More Pumpkins: Tips for the Pumpkin Patch and for Decorating the Pumpkin you Take Home

By Florence B.

It’s October, and we’ve got a great curriculum set up to celebrate the month that’s all about Autumn fun! We’ll be covering Fall (because who can’t help but fall for Fall with all the fun it brings?!), pumpkins, corn, and feelings and emotions. You’ll see our Autumn Home Center set up in the dramatic play area with costumes making an appearance the last week in October (because we can’t have October without some Halloween and make-believe fun!)!

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Let’s rewind a bit and focus on that second bit of awesomeness I mentioned in the curriculum--pumpkins! Our first excursion is coming up in mid-October! Wait a sec--what’s an excursion? Well it’s one of the fun things that BFCP provides so that members and their children can explore the many fantastic places that the greater Seattle area has to offer! These mini-adventures allow us to learn about our community while strengthening our own community at school, because who doesn’t like to go and learn about new things and visit places with friends?

For those of you not familiar with the classes BFCP has to offer, the parent & baby and toddler classes both go on two excursions each year, the 2/3 class goes on three, the 3/4 class goes on six, and the ever adventurous Pre-K class goes on six to eight a year! For those of you alumni, I’m sure this is one of your favorite things to do in the program; and for those of us new folk, I’m sure it’ll end up being one of our favorites, too!

Well, pumpkins...excursions; I guess it can’t be too hard to guess where the first excursion will take us! We’re heading to a pumpkin farm! Check your class calendar for the date and time for when your specific class is going; each class will be going during their respective class time! For those in the parent & baby class, after we enjoy a picnic lunch at Meadowdale Park, we’ll head to the Fairbanks Animal Farm and Pumpkin Patch! We’ll be able to check out the farm animals as well as take the Hidden Bear Trail to visit Pumpkin Land to find our perfect Fall favorite pumpkin (or gourd if that’s your fancy--they’ll have plenty of those, too)! For the rest of the classes, we’ll head out to the The Farm at Swan’s Trail. We’ll explore some of their 50-acre pumpkin patch, go on wagon hay rides, and check out their Fall Festival Fun event, which includes a fantastic play area as well as farm animals!

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Here are some handy tips for visiting any kind of pumpkin farm:

1) Have your camera ready at all times, because there’s a good chance your kids will have a blast! You may find your kids pointing at little pumpkins, big pumpkins, different colored pumpkins, and pumpkins that you cannot discern why your kid is pointing at them. BUT, they will have a huge smile on their face so you won’t want to miss that!

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2) Get dressed for mess! Let’s face it; pumpkins don’t grow in nice bins like the grocery store will have us believe. If it’s raining or has rained during any of the days before, there will likely be mud, and no matter your best efforts, that mud will get on you. If you have rain boots, wear them! Depending on the type of pumpkin patch, rain boots may or may not work for your little one. Some places have lots of thick vines on the ground that might be hard to maneuver in the larger rainboot footwear. Be prepared for little feet slipping out of boots, so pack extra socks or even an extra pair of sneakers!

3) Bring large trash bags and a large cardboard box (or something that can stop that round, muddy vegetable from making your trunk look like a mud fight happened and your trunk lost) if you plan on bringing a pumpkin home (and really, who wouldn’t want to take a pumpkin home?). Oh… this we learned the hard way. Once you picked out that once-in-a-lifetime specimen of all-that-is-great-in-the-world-of-pumpkins (at least according to your child), you will have to figure out a way to get said pumpkin home, regardless of how muddy it is and the fact that you just cleaned out your trunk. With. A. Vacuum.

4) If you are terrible at judging size, bring a string to help you take measurements out in the field. Many pumpkin farms have you ‘size’ your pumpkin yourself, meaning they have example pumpkins ordered by size and price so that you can compare the one(s) you find against theirs and figure out how much you owe. If you don’t want a surprise when you go to check out, take a measurement of the pumpkin in your budget beforehand!

5) Bring a bag! If you’re planning on getting many little pumpkins, consider bringing a very sturdy bag, kind of like those heavier duty reusable shopping bags. While most pumpkin patches have wheelbarrows or wagons to help you lug around your pumpkins, they’re usually limited and are best used when going from the pumpkin patch to your car (trying to maneuver a wheelbarrow in a pumpkin patch is not the easiest thing to do). With the bag, you can place it down when needed (even as a ‘this-is-taken’ sign when placed next to bigger pumpkins you may set aside) and follow your kiddo as they find another amazingly awesome gourd that you must take home!

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Alright! So you’ve made it home and you have your pumpkin(s)! Now what? Well, now you can have even more fun! The fun doesn’t end when you leave the excursion! Don’t forget to share what you and your kiddos ended up doing by posting pics in your class Facebook pages! AND if you’re feeling extra proud of your creation, share with the main BFCP Facebook page!

If your infant, toddler, or preschooler doesn’t quite have the dexterity or skill to carve a pumpkin yet, (yes, let’s says it’s because the kids can’t carve, not us) don’t worry; I’ve got some ideas for decorating those pumpkins right here for you!

1) Wait a sec--why do anything at all?! You have an awesome pumpkin (or pumpkins!) that you just spent time picking out with your kiddo. Let that veggie shine in all its natural glory as fall decoration at its best! By the way, pumpkins can last quite a while as long as the skin is solid but degrade rapidly once you carve or break the skin, so keep that in mind if you want your pumpkin greeting your Halloween visitors!

2) Stickers! Who doesn’t love stickers? ‘Tis the season for Halloween stickers so pick some up and have your kiddo go wild! Smaller stickers work better depending on pumpkin curve, so keep that in mind! You can also find some “googly eye” stickers to bring your pumpkin to life! If you’re planning on showing your new work of adhesive art outside, plastic-based or foam stickers work great so they won’t get ruined by moisture like the paper ones!

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3) Markers! If you’re not quite at the point of handing your kiddo a Sharpie and hoping for the best, go with good old washable markers! When your kiddo is done making their masterpiece, you can trace over the art with permanent markers to make their design ‘pop’! OR...spray with a sealant and call it a day!

4) Paint! Grab a smock, put on some old clothes, and take the acrylic paints off the highest shelf you have, because painting a pumpkin is a great way to let your little budding artist shine! For a 3D effect, look no further than puffy paint for a one-step colored 3D effect or tacky glue as your 3D design primer before painting.

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5) Paint...WITH glue and glitter! If you’re brave and entrusted with the mightiest of vacuums, grab some clear-dry glue, food dye (or watercolor), and bottles of glitter (also sequins, bits of tissue paper...you get the idea!). Water down the glue a bit (not too much!) to make it easier to paint (or use as is), and then sprinkle your glitter after painting. Add the dyes to the glue if you want more color! If you use washable glue or tissue paper, make sure to use a sealant before placing outside! Tip: if it looks like a fairy stopped by and left an explosion of pixie dust at your house, you can use contact paper, lint removers, or plain tape to pick up strays that your vacuum rejects!

6) Crayon drip! So you know all those broken crayons that can’t be used for coloring any more (at least according to your child) or that stash of freebie crayons you keep getting from restaurants in the same three colors? Never fear, those crayons are the stars of this idea! Arm yourself with some glue, a hair dryer, and aforementioned crayons, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a fun and unique way to decorate! Glue (tacky glue is great) your peeled crayon bits at the top of the pumpkin, let the hair dryer melt them, and then have gravity do the rest! You can keep adding more layers, so keep going!

7) Carve! Yes, I have to include this Halloween staple even though this is a “list of ideas if you don’t want to carve your pumpkin” (details, meh)! As you lament your artistic ability, remember it’s all about the journey for you and your kiddo, not the destination. No matter the age, taking out the pumpkin innards is a messy blast! Younger kids can enjoy the sensory adventure as they investigate the pumpkin seeds and pulp. Try to pick out the seeds and put them in a cup, use a spoon to mix, smear the pulp around--there’s so for these investigators to do! Once you pick out a design for your pumpkin, your kiddo can help transfer it over. You can use contact paper to draw directly on the pumpkin and have your kiddo poke or trace the lines of your design onto the pumpkin. They just need to bruise the skin a little for you to see the design when you take the contact paper off. Any pieces you remove from the pumpkin as you carve goes straight to your kids to explore. Cut a hole through and remove a big chunk; investigate the difference between the tough pumpkin skin, the soft inner flesh, and the slimy pulp. Chip away at the skin for your design and show the color differences between skin and pumpkin flesh. When you’re done and drop a light inside, show the differences with the carved sections versus the skin. What about the areas that were carved deeper? What about the hole you cut through?

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Well, there you have it for this week’s post about pumpkins! Sound off in the comments if you have any tips or ideas about pumpkins to share! If you have feedback or ideas you’d like to see featured in future blog articles, send me an email at blog@bothellfamilycoop.org.

Community Apple Pickin’

On Tuesday Sept. 29th our 3/4’s and Pre-K classes went on a field trip to visit our neighbor Kory Schue’s home and do some good ole fashioned apple pickin’. After walking 2-3 blocks hand in hand we arrived at her beautiful garden adorned with fusion glass art depicting dragonflies, peacocks, suns, and much more.

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