have always been an outdoors kind of person. When I was in the second grade my family moved from Yakima to Lynnwood. I had been used to the weather in Eastern Washington -- no matter if it was cold or hot we had lots dry outdoor time. I was not used to days and days of rain. I was surprised when I realized that children could play outside in the rain! Once I realized I could play in the rain I was outside all the time.
My sons had lots of outdoor rain adventures growing up. One of my favorite memories is of our annual camping trips to Mt. Rainier. We went with our family friends every year. Back in the ancient days you had to go up to the mountain to see if there were any camping spots available -- no reservations were taken. Every other year we would be the ones to go up on a Thursday to try and secure two camping spots. This particular year it was pouring rain! We got up there and found two side-by-side camping spots and started to set up camp. It was raining so hard we could not even start a fire. As Curt and I set up the tent I realized the boys were off in the woods collecting pieces of bark from the cedar trees in the area. I wasn't sure what they were doing until they started setting up a gutter system around the perimeter of the tarps we had hung over our tent and the picnic table. It was a great gutter system that sent the water away from the tarps and kept the area under the tarps completely dry.
We tried again to start a fire and finally gave up. Soaking wet we drove up to Paradise Lodge and stood in front of the huge fireplace eating a bowl of chili we bought at the little cafe. Warm, and full, we drove back to the campsite and fell asleep listening to the rain hitting the tarp over our tent. The next morning we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning. I was glad it was sunny but was happy we had such a fun time in the rain. When our friends arrived the boys were eager to show them the gutter system and tell them all about our rain adventure. I must admit that I preferred a day hiking in the sunshine to a day of hiking in the rain but I know we would have had a great time no matter what the weather.
I hope you have a chance to get outside and create your own rain memories. One of the preschool parents sent me a note and thanked me for introducing her to the concept of playing outside in the rain. She had the same realization I had had as a child -- children can play in the rain! She sent me a note, laughing that they had the whole playground to themselves!
A few years ago when I was talking to my sister-in-law in California I could hear her son in the background. I asked why he was home and not on his Boy Scout camping trip. "Oh, they came home because it was raining." (I knew that his soccer games are cancelled if it rains and children are not let outside for recess on raining days because it it is wet and slippery on the playground) but I was definitely surprised that the Boy Scouts would call a camping trip due to rain. I laughed and told her that if we didn't go camping in the rain (or play soccer, go to a park, ride our bikes) we would never go places at all!
I have so many fun memories of being outside in the rain. I miss those days outside with the boys. I am so glad that Danielle and Joel take Zoe and Ansel outside in the rain and invite us to join them on evening Rain Walks ..fun fun fun!
It is Train Week. Little kids are drawn to things that move and trains are a favorite of many of them. When our sons were little we had trains all over the house. They loved playing with their trains. They also loved playing at the beach so it was always a bonus to be at the beach when the train went by. If the engineer would blow the horn at them while they were standing on the beach waving they would get so excited.
Ansel loves trains and he is very excited to play with PaPa's remote control trains. My brother-in-law collects trains and he gave us one that blows steam out the smoke stack while it chugs down the track. Every few minutes a voice yells "all aboard''. He was so happy the first year we set it up at Christmas and he was given the remote control! He loves anything to do with trains. Danielle takes them on 'train adventures' where they go to try to find trains chuggin' down the track. He is especially excited if it happens to be a BNSF orange engine pulling the train. Curt and I were on a snow hike at Lake Easton and we heard a train coming. We found a good spot to stand on the bridge over the tracks to get a video (and still photos) of the train. We knew Ansel would be so excited when he saw the video of an orange engine coming around the bend. And then, even better, we discovered it was a train with two BNSF engines! It was pulling a very long string of cars and at the end of the string of cars was another set of two BNSF engines but they were facing the other way. It was a 'push me/pull you' train! Ansel loved it. We had hit the BSNF engine jackpot!
This Is a fun online virtual tour of the BNSF railway.
This week we will be reading about trains and talking about the wheels on the train, how they make the train (and other vehicles) move. We will do some magnet experiments with the trains they have at home and do experiments to see what sticks and doesn't stick to a magnet. We will continue to talk about colors when we read The Freight Train.
I hope you have fun talking trains this week!
We celebrated Ansel and Danielle's birthdays last Saturday. While Ansel was playing with his new train we started talking about Thomas the Tank Engine and how so many of the things children have always liked are now connected to a specific brand -- trains have always been something children are fascinated with and now it is just not "a" train but "Thomas". When my sons were little it was just the "toy" not a branded toy. Tools were tools with a construction worker not Bob the Builder, trains were trains, and dinosaurs were dinosaurs until Land Before Time. When the movie came out Pizza Hut started giving away the dinosaur puppets that went with the movie. It was no longer a Triceratops but it was Cera and her friends Littlefoot, Spike, Ducky and Petrie. And of course, a Tyrannosaurus named Sharp Tooth. I had decided I was not going to fall for this commercialization of children's interests in dinosaurs. Ha! Never say never. I rationalized that we all liked pizza and if they got a toy from our Friday night pizza dinner then so be it ...but it was only because we were already going to have pizza -- right?!? It was not because the boys were begging to go and get another dinosaur puppet for their collection. Soon they had collected all of the dinosaur puppets except Sharp Tooth. And you cannot have a proper dinosaur collection without a Sharp Tooth! So we go to Pizza Hut only to discover they are out of that puppet. I start to call around to find a Pizza Hut that still has a Sharp Tooth -- I cannot believe I am doing this, I say. Well, two little boys standing next to me in the kitchen as I make the phone calls have convinced me it is something I need to do. I finally find two puppets and, yes, the manager will hold them for me if I make the order over the phone....huge smiles and laughter as we climb in the car and drive to ..... Mercer Island!! We had a great pizza dinner. with a favorite relative who lived nearby and the boys had giant smiles on their faces as they played with the complete set of dinosaurs in the backseat as we drove back home.
We still have the dinosaur puppets and Ansel will be playing with them, as well as Zoe. They have never seen the movie and have no idea what their YaYa and PaPa had to do to complete their Dada's collection. Fun, and funny, memory.
This week we will be learning about dinosaurs, bones and volcanoes. The children will be building a volcano and adding dinosaurs to the volcano before it ‘blows up’. We will use descriptive words while we discuss big and little,
loud and quiet, in and out. The kids will be using tools (technology) as they add the dino-bone powder to the volcano as you make your volcanoes at home during class. You can also dig for 'bones' in your sensory bin and examine fossil prints in your playdough. Children love being paleontologists and learning about dinosaurs.
We have been talking about things that match, size and colors. This week you can talk to your child about size and comparisons. You can ask questions that compare things the child is familiar with: big as an elephant, small as a kitten. Talk about the difference of loud and quiet. When is a cat loud? What is loud in the house – the vacuum? the hair blower? the blender? Give them an opportunity to make loud sounds and quiet sounds with a tool that can do both. A tooth brush can make both loud and quiet sound. The soft brush side of a toothbrush will make one sound while the plastic handle side makes another
sound. What can you use a toothbrush for? At preschool we would have been using toothbrushes to dust off the sand from the bones in the sensory table. This is also the month that we talk about brushing our teeth and how important that is. You can talk about how they use it as a tool to brush food off their teeth An easy way to show them how a toothbrush works is to brush 'dirt' off of an item or toy.
Dinosaur Week will be filled with STEM activities: Science: study of dinosaurs/volcanoes, Technology: paleontologist tools, Engineering: building
the volcano, Math: adding/counting/comparing/categorizing. All of this while we play with dinosaurs! I love Dinosaur Week!
Thumbs in the thumb place…. This will be a good week to add to your child’s vocabulary: words that describe the weather, colors, temperature and textures. Our children have lots of words for wet and rain but not as many about cold weather. The snow we had will give you an opportunity to add those words to their vocabulary with an understanding of the cold snow. We will have a chance to talk about textures this week along with colors. The children will be playing matching games with colored mitten cards. You can extend that play with giving them things to match at home – socks when you are doing laundry, spoons/forks when unloading the dishwasher and putting the silverware away, memory card games and picture dominoes are fun both for learning how to play a game as well as matching the pictures.
As I wrote this note I remembered when Joel was 9 months old he was sitting on the couch with me while I was folding laundry. He had picked up the cordless phone and I finished folding the towel and then took it away from him. Just as I was about to set it down the phone rang. I answered and the person says: This is the Seattle Police Department. We just received a 9-1-1 from this number. I was shocked and explained my son had been holding the phone and must have pushed the button for 911. She informed me I needed to have a discussion with my son and let him know the seriousness of calling the police. I explained to her I would but that he was only 9 months old. Ha!
My mom had her class do the math to figure out what the chances were to randomly call 9-1-1 on your phone. It was definitely not something I would ever have thought he would do in a few seconds while he sat on the couch next to me!
As I am remembering this event I was thinking about the world we are living in right now -- things are happening that we would never have imagined could happen. Please, take some time to focus on something positive today. For me mittens are cozy and remind me of fun walks in the snow with my family or by myself. I love the quiet beauty of a winter snowfall. It is so magical to take a long walk in the snow. My sister knows how much I love the snow and for Christmas she knit me the most beautiful pair of mittens. Now I will think of her as I go for my walks in the snow. We did not get along as children so it is nice to know that we have a wonderful relationship now and can share family memories that no one but family would know. I have always been so happy that Joel and Nick have always been best friends. It makes me so happy to hear them laughing together and remembering fun times they had together as they grew up. Laughter brings me joy -- which may be another reason I love snow so much -- children laughing is always something I hear while on my snow walks. Children's laughter brings me joy, hope and memories of fun times with my family. Please, find a time to laugh with your child this week.
I used to love seeing the snow start to fall and I'd cross my fingers we would have a snow day. If the snow started in the evening hours we would wake up the boys and stuff them in their snow gear (jammies still on!) and go play in the snow. Our whole neighborhood would be outside playing in the snow as we all knew there was no guarantee the snow would still be around in the morning. If we were lucky enough to have snow in the morning, and Seattle Schools cancelled for a snow day, we would have a family fun day because Curt would have the day off as well as the boys. We would start the day with a pancake breakfast then head outside for some snow fun. Our neighborhood would have a sledding party on the little hill at the end of the street or meet up at the community center. It was fun to see the neighborhood kids wearing the snow gear that was passed down from family to family. We were so lucky to have a tight knit neighborhood -- family friends for a lifetime. After the sledding it was time to make our snowman. One of my favorite things to do when it snows is to make a snowman -- yes, mine were usually snowmen as I would be building them with two boys who wanted a 'snowman'. We have also made snowdogs, snow iguanas and snowdinosaurs...depending on the amount of snow we had in the yard.
Now I am usually alone on snow days. I enjoy walking the neighborhood and seeing all the snow creations that have been made by the families in the area. I remember the days when we would be the ones making creations in the snow. Curt doesn't get snow days any more - he is off by 4am to make sure those college students don't get hurt on the slick sidewalks - haha. Joel will call me and tell me it is snowing at his house and send video of Ansel on the same sled Joel used as a child. After 8 winters in Wisconsin Nick is not as excited to see the snow as he used to be but he is still happy to play in it when he is home.
Two years ago it snowed on Christmas Eve. It was magical. Nick and Greta were here for the holidays. We walked around Olympic Manor as it snowed and looked at the lights. Then in the morning we built the biggest snowperson ever -- and yes this one was a snowperson because Greta was here to be sure she was a she! Ansel was duly impressed by our creation. We watched as our snowperson leaned over - further and further - until there was just a round pile of snow in the yard with two sticks laying nearby. It was fun to see how long our snowball stayed in the yard after Nick and Greta went back to Wisconsin.
Such fun memories of time laughing and working together as we would build our snow creations. Now it's just me and Curt building the snow people in the yard but Curt is always game to build one with me even if it is after he comes home and its dark outside. We have built more than one snowman in the dark using flashlights. I will take a picture of it and send it to Joel and Nick. This week while we are doing our Snowman/Snowperson activities I will be thinking of all the fun our family had in the snow. I hope this winter you have a chance to play in the snow and start a tradition that will stay with you when your children are grown -- and continuing the tradition with their child. It is so much fun to have these memories. I enjoy watching Joel and Danielle make memories with Ansel and Zoe as they continue family traditions from their own childhood and as they build new traditions together. Enjoy 'playing' in the snow this week.
We won’t have snow in Seattle but lots of snow in the mountains! We will have some fun investigating snow,
snowflakes, cold weather and mittens this month.
Just as no two snowflakes are alike your child is not like any other child. Yes, they may have family
similarities or are right on target with other children their age on the development charts but they are
all unique little people. Enjoy those special qualities that make your child a ‘snowflake’ – unique and
This week we will be talking about snow and snowflakes.
The Science of Snowflakes: Facts and Activities for Children
December 9, 2015
Six is the magic number for snow - did you know that? If you had a big magnifier and stepped outside with your
children on a cold winter day to watch snow fall from the sky, here is what you might observe - six-sided hexagonal
crystals, needles or flat six-sided crystals, and a wide variety of six-sided shapes. All snowflakes are a combination
of the number six for simple chemical reasons - they're all variants of the water molecule. Despite all snowflakes
having six sides, not two snowflakes are exactly identical. How crazy is that? Here are a few more fun facts about
snowflakes as well as simple science activities you can do with your children.
Where Do Snowflakes Come From?
As obvious as this may sound, snowflakes—or more scientifically, snow crystals—are formed in clouds. However
they are not frozen raindrops, called sleet or hail. Snowflakes are a different cold weather phenomenon
formed from water vapor that condenses around a tiny particle—the seed crystal, usually a speck of dust—in
clouds. Cloud droplets condense around the seed crystal and freeze on the surface of the particle, patterns
emerging as the crystals grow.
The shape of snowflakes is determined by the altitude and temperatures at which they are formed. When several
crystals stick together or create puffy white balls, they become snowflakes. Once the snowflakes are heavy
enough, they fall to the earth. The average snowflakes fall at an average speed of 3.1 miles per hour!
I hope you have a chance to enjoy the simple joy of a snowflake falling to the ground.
This is a fun time of year to share the wonder of lights with your child. There are so many lights this year -- both in the sky and in the neighborhoods!
Lots of homes have put up inflatables, lights and ornate decorations. Our neighbors have gone all out and I will admit we added more lights this year as well.
Nature is also putting on quite a show this year. We have had a lot of conversations with Nick about what is happening in the sky. Not only is this an event that fascinates him but it happens on his birthday! So we are all excited to join in the sky gazing with him.
With it getting dark so early you will have time to go outside and look at stars, planets and the moon before bedtime. It is one of the perks of it getting dark before supper time. Zoe is so excited to see the moon in the evening and is always looking for it in the sky.
Children love flashlights. At preschool we would have been going on flashlight explores in the climbing room. I hang shiny stars on the wall and turn off the lights so they can find the stars with their flashlights. You can go on an "Eye Spy" walk with your child both inside and outside. Inside make a list of things to find with their flashlight. Turn off the lights and hunt for things you have added to the room (like shiny stars and the moon) or items they already know are there (the lamp, their bed, stuffed animals, etc). Outside they can shine their flashlights on a tall tree, a fence, the grass, your car, a big rock, etc. This is a fun time to talk about light and how it illuminates - make (something) visible or bright by shining light on it; light up.
They can take their lanterns and go on a walk and illuminate the path they take on that walk. I love taking walks in the woods using flashlights. The trees are so awesome when you shine your light on the branches and light them up. Gazing through those same branches and getting glimpses of the stars in the sky is one of my favorite winter walk activities.
Have fun exploring your neighborhood using flashlights and lanterns!
This week we will introduce sounds. There are a lot of ways you can include sounds in their everyday activities. One of my favorite activities is to go for a Sound Walk. Of course, one of my favorite activities is to go for any kind of walk! HA!
On your walk ask your child what they hear. Look for birds in the trees, vehicles on the street, airplanes in the sky, people talking and pets barking or meowing. You can make a Bingo card and mark off the sounds you hear on your walk.
If you have instruments in your home you can do the same with different instruments and have them identify what instrument makes what sound.
Another fun game is to make a recording of sounds they hear during their day and identify them. A vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher, water running, a lawn mower, the car engine, voices they know and sounds from the kitchen. It is fun to have them think of sounds and make the recording so other family members can guess the sounds. This is an activity they can do with family and friends they interact with on a video call and the other family members can do with them. It is an interactive activity that works well on a screen.
We will be singing songs about bells this week and next. We introduced the song Jingle Bells in class and will sing it as well as some other fun winter songs. If you have a song your child likes to sing please let me know. Frosty will be a song we will sing in January when we start our snow themes but we can add him now if your child is singing it at home.
A fun activity that includes Sight / Smell / Sound is making popcorn (or toast). If you have an airpop popcorn maker they can see the popcorn swirling around, smell it and hear it as it pops. Then taste it! Yum!
Making toast is similar as they can smell it as it toasts, see it come up out of the toaster and hear it as it 'pops' up.
Cooking activities are great science activities as well as fun memories you can make with your child.
The activities this week are activities all the children can do with minimal expense and preparation. If your class is not doing the activity you may want to do it with your child on your own. Children love making instruments and interacting with different materials that make noises. Enjoy!
I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating with family this week. There were many opportunities to Taste and Smell at our house even though it was a totally different Thanksgiving. We were divided by a large window -- we ate outside and Joel, Danielle, Ansel and Zoe ate inside. Curt hung a plastic divider in the stairwell so I could be upstairs cooking and the kids could be downstairs playing with the model train. We set the food in between in the doorway of the French doors on the deck. Ansel loved getting to drink his cider in a stemmed glass and Zoe enjoyed playing with the pilgrim salt and pepper shakers we were given as a wedding present 42 years ago. They had fun eating and we had fun watching them enjoy their food. We had to talk loudly to be heard but I told Danielle it was just like if we were inside but at the two far ends of the table! Ha!
We had a 2 hour chat with Nick and Greta in Paris. During the chat Nick made his first cappuccino with a little help from Greta (an amazingly artistic barista). It was fun to be a part of their day and to see Nick develop a new skill. He was quite proud of himself. They are cat sitting for a friend that just finished renovating a 3 story loft home. A kitchen that is full of all sorts of cooking toys! A big upgrade from the teeny tiny apartment they live in that has a hot plate and a toaster. We had sent them a Thanksgiving box and when I heard they would have an oven to use I sent a pumpkin muffin mix. They had them for their Thanksgiving breakfast. We will definitely add pumpkin muffin tops to our Thanksgiving menu from now on.
On our pre-dinner hike Ansel and Zoe had a gnome to add to the gnomes on a Hobbit Trail near the house. I think we have found a new family tradition to add to our Thanksgivings. We will take a Hobbit Trail hike before Thanksgiving dinner and then, hopefully by next year, we can end it as we always have with a big family ping pong game called Round Robin by the Jacobsons and 'Roundy Town by Greta's family. Nick was so surprised when he went to the big 3-day Hippensteel Thanksgiving event and got to play ping pong there as well. Of course he did let them know that the proper way to play the game is to use our rules!
It was a very different Thanksgiving for sure! The important part was that we had time to enjoy family conversation and see each other.
I hope you are able to find some fun activities to add to your family traditions during this completely different place in time and have some special memories to add to your thankful list for next year.
Some of the things we took for granted will be treasured blessings post-covid.
In the book I read the children last week one of the pages held such a different meaning for me than if I had read it a year ago. I have always loved our walks on the beach and holding hands as we walk but now "Give thanks for the ocean, Give thanks for the sand. The sweet, simple pleasure when we're holding hands." means so much more to me. I look forward to walking the beach with Ansel and Zoe next Thanksgiving and holding their hands. I will always remember to be thankful for our times spent with family.
I have always enjoyed time in the kitchen. For my 8th birthday I was given a cookbook and a cookie sheet. I still have that cookbook and my sons used it often when they were learning to cook. We have a lot of memories connected with food and family.
Joel loves to come up with new combinations of foods. We have a wonderful camping story about Joel that involved fresh trout, bacon and a special apple chutney he whipped up to make a bacon wrapped stuffed trout for our dinner when I had planned canned chili! haha. Danielle enjoys cooking with Ansel and Zoe. This week she had the kids make applesauce with the apples from her parents tree. Ansel and Zoe are so proud of their adventures in the kitchen. When Ansel was two he would imitate the adults cooking in the kitchen at his little kitchen that was set up near the stove. He would have us sample his delicious meals while we were making the evening meal.
Both of our sons enjoyed spending time with us in the kitchen. They enjoyed eating what they made as well! Being together preparing a meal makes a memory and the aromas from those foods will bring back memories when the smells come wafting through your kitchen again. When Nick was in college he would come home and chat in the kitchen while we made cookies. The smell of cookies baking in the oven brings back the memories of those times together in the kitchen. Children enjoy being part of the family meal planning and being involved in the making of that meal. Cooking with children can be a fun learning experience that can create some wonderful memories and develop family traditions.
Here are five ways to enjoy cooking with your children while raising an adventurous eater along the way.
Along with cooking children develop a sense of belonging when given responsibilities at mealtime. They can help set the table, tear the lettuce for a salad and bring the dishes to the kitchen after the meal. With the table centerpiece they create they will be so proud of what they have contributed to the meal time table. I hope you find ways to include your child in the meal preparations for your family. The holiday season is a great time to create some family traditions in the kitchen. Some of these traditions will become memories of activities that you will remember with the scent of cookies coming out of the oven, bread baking or the smell of pancakes on the griddle. I know I am transported back in time with a variety of aromas in the kitchen...yummy food, lots of laughter and family fun. Enjoy making your own memories in the kitchen with your child.