Nature's Classroom


February has been a COLD month.  We've had four or five days of temperatures below zero (breaking all sorts of records), and many of our days have been in the teens or single digits.  (Yesterday my car thermometer registered -2.)

The cold weather has kept our family from going outside and enjoying the snow as we've been choosing indoor activities instead, but this doesn't mean that Lewie hasn't been enjoying the outdoors.  Since he goes to a kindergarten that has "Nature's Classroom" as part of the curriculum, they've been going out on explorations in all kinds of weather.  (Last week, I picked him up in the middle of a snowstorm, and he was outside making a snow fort!) 

Here's a letter that was sent out by his wonderful kindergarten teacher in mid-February:

Dear Families,

What fun we have been having with all of this snow! The children and I have gone on snow hikes, done some sledding and shoveling. Next week, we are going to get out there on snow shoes! Thank you all very much for your cooperation in providing the children with safe and appropriate outdoor gear. It is much appreciated.

Winter has been a time of great inquiry for the children. We have been experimenting with the ice and snow. We learned that liquid flows. It does not have a shape. Water is a liquid. A solid has a shape. It is hard. Ice is a solid. The children have been tracking their adventurers and discoveries in their nature notebooks. They have been drawing and labeling.

In the coming weeks, we will be tapping trees and beginning our maple syrup project. Keep your eye out for more news and information on that.

Last week we read about groundhogs in honor of Groundhogs Day.  We read some silly fiction books about the holiday and funny groundhog characters. We also studied groundhogs and worked with non-fiction materials. We learned some great new vocabulary. We now know what kits are and how groundhogs hibernate in burrows

Through our gardening lessons we have met many objectives:
We understand that change happens to many things
We can describe proper body care such as eating a variety of foods
We recognize that food is fuel for our body
We use observation skills
We understand plant adaptations for winter 
We understand that insects, birds and other living things depend on plants for winter survival

We have been hard at work with our reading! The children are doing beautifully with the literacy centers that I now have in place. They really enjoy rotating through and spending "private time" with me, partner work time with friends, listening time with books on CD and skills reinforcement time on the computer. Reading is great fun and celebrated in our room!
I have to say that getting letters like these really make me happy that Lewie's attending this kindergarten.  Childhood should be about fun, wonder, exploration, and imagination.  Building snow forts is just as important as learning to read; taking outside hikes is just as important as math drills.
I hope many years down the road, Lewie will look back at this time in his life with fondness.  I only wish there were more schools that would adopt this type of curriculum...

Happy Valentine's Day Week!


This year, we're celebrating Valentine's Day for seven straight days.  This decision came partly out of necessity (the snowstorms here have been brutal), but it mostly came out of our desire to celebrate our friends and family for longer than one day.

For us, Valentine's Day Week started last Friday, February 13th.  Lewie had his school Valentine's Day party, and parents were invited to attend.  I was thrilled to be able to use my lunch hour to go participate, and Lewie was ecstatic that I was there. 

Instead of the usual store-bought Valentine's Day cards, we spent Thursday evening making our own heart cards out of construction paper.  We also went to our local pharmacy down the road to buy everyone little gifts.  Lewie picked out pretty pens and stickers for the three girls in his class; "cool" little tow trucks for the two boys in his class;  a colorful scarf for his art and Spanish teacher, Miss Gabby; and a Willow Tree Angel for his very special kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kranz.

When we picked out the gifts, Lewie immediately started to daydream about what his classmates might buy him.  I stopped him in his tracks: "Lewie, I have an important secret to share with you.  Getting presents is nice and it makes us happy, but giving presents to others is pure joy.  You'll see."  I then proceeded to tell him that we were buying these gifts for our friends because we want to make them happy and to show them how much we love and appreciate them.

The Willow Tree Angel Lewie chose for his teacher because she loves flowers.
 It's called "Sunshine."

Making our heart Valentine's Day cards.

Lewie w/ Mrs. Kranz and his classmates.

Yay for Valentine's Day!!
After Lewie's Valentine's Day party at school, we spent the weekend making sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies to deliver to some of our other special friends this week.  Since we had a snowstorm/blizzard on Valentine's Day, we barricaded ourselves inside.  My husband and I agreed we would have a date night sometime this week, and in the meantime, I'm prepared to use our last four days of "Valentine's Day Week" to show Lewie the true joy of giving.  Just like last year for Random Acts of Kindness Week, we'll be delivering special surprises to unsuspecting friends, family, and even strangers.

All set to go!

How was your Valentine's Day?

Miss Kristen


Like all parents, I am so proud of my little boy.  I am proud of what he learns in school; I am proud of his imagination when he builds amazing objects with LEGOs, and heck, I am even proud of how he can jump and swim under water without holding his nose. (Yes, I'm a pretty typical mom!)

Still, there is one thing that makes me the proudest, and that is that we are raising our child to be one sweet, kind, compassionate soul.  From day one, Little Lewie has been a very sensitive boy who is genuinely concerned about other people's feelings.  He likes making people laugh, and he easily becomes distraught if he thinks Mommy or Daddy might be angry, frustrated, or disappointed in him.  Although I would like to take credit for Lewie's "good behavior," I myself can't really pinpoint whether his loving personality comes from nature or nurture.

As you can imagine, his warmheartedness extends to the classroom.  His teachers adore him, and over the years, we've had teachers offer to babysit just so they could stay connected.  Two of his teachers from last year even came to Lewie's birthday party!

Still, we were pleasantly surprised when Miss Kristen, Lewie's summer camp teacher, called us out of the blue to come visit during her winter break!  Since she was home from college, she asked if she could visit Little Lewie, and so a pizza party was arranged.  She even bought Lewie a special Thomas the Train puzzle and "match" game for Christmas (which was so not necessary)!

Little Lewie was so happy to spend the afternoon with his favorite teacher, and we were absolutely thrilled to see her again too.  In fact, as far as we're concerned, Miss Kristen is now family.  We look forward to another great get-together in the summer when she moves back home from college.

Yes, we've been blessed, even spoiled, to have such amazing teachers for Lewie.  (Even his current teacher, Mrs. Kranz, has been bringing in her son's train toys, so Lewie can enjoy them during "Free Choice Friday.")  I am so happy Miss Kristen reached out to us last month.  Staying in contact with a teacher that's known my son since he was three is pretty special.   

Let it Snow!


It's hard to believe only a few weeks ago, I was complaining about having a "snowless" winter.  Now we have about 12 inches of snow on the ground due to a blizzard and some other random snow days. 

My colleagues at work want it to end, but while they're praying for an early spring, I'm secretly wishing for a few more weekends of white stuff.  It's fun to play in the snow, and it's even more fun to play in the snow on a day when I would normally have to be at work!

Here are just a few pictures of our 2015 winter adventures both at home and at Woodbury Ski area.

A quick winter shot of Lewie sitting outside on our snowy porch.

Daddy building a snow man.  (We helped, but it was definitely his project!)

Our long, skinny, pine tree from our side yard.  It was once a Christmas tree of ours from the 1980's.
 (Yes, I still live in the same childhood home.  I'll write a post about that someday.)

Playing around when he's supposed to be helping Daddy with the snowman.

Riding on the "magic carpet" to go snow tubing.

I wish I could have taken more action shots of us snow tubing, but quite honestly, standing at the bottom of the mountain put me right in the "line of fire" so to speak.  The tubers were basically bowling balls, and I was the pin ready to be knocked down at any moment from all directions...

While snow tubing has definitely been the highlight of our winter so far, I must say that our snowball fight at home came in a close second.  It was Daddy against Little Lewie and me, and Daddy kept winning by using his Ninja moves to throw us down in the snow. 

I couldn't fight back because quite honestly, I couldn't stop laughing.  Heck, I was laughing so hard, I couldn't even stand up...  Little Lewie made me laugh even harder because he kept saying, "Look Mommy, I'm protecting us," but the reality was that his little snow balls weren't even hitting a target...  We were no match for Daddy; he definitely had the upper hand.  Still, one day, the tables will turn...