General

Going to the grocery store

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Two cashiers work hard to ring up their customers' food.
Two cashiers work hard to ring up their customers’ food.

Last week Teacher Gail set up a little grocery store, stocked with tea, crackers, tomatoes, orange juice, and more–the shelves were full of our favorite foods!

The group took turns loading up their grocery carts and hand baskets before lining up at the two cash registers–the one with a beeping scanner gun was very popular. Each customer pulled their money out of the purses and wallets and loaded up the cloth bags with their treats.

Peace on earth

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Decorating a felt Christmas tree

This week’s co-op day was practically perfect. The kids put ornaments on the felt Christmas tree and played in the rice table in the first part of the morning. After sharing some raisin bread for a snack, Gail read a story and the kids made some neat Christmas tree artwork with tinsel. Everyone had fun!

We even managed some staffing sessions, where half of the parents go into another room and talk about new developments in the kids’ lives and other topics, like what we do for holidays and how we manage travels. It’s a good way for us to share solutions to challenges that we’re having, as well as a chance for us to get to know each other better–co-op is about kids, but it’s also a community that has to be built.

Artwork!

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A young artist makes good use of negative space.

Our activity today was to make real art! The kids painted canvases large and small, so that we could have some of their fine art hanging on our walls at home. (And bonus! we made the mess of painting at co-op, which is well equipped with dropcloths, smocks, and an an array of paintbrushes.) We have a new family on our day, a fun addition to our group of friends!

Field trip to the fair!

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At the fair!

Our first field trip of the year was to the Spokane Interstate Fair, which was held the week before Labor Day. This is a fun field trip because there is so much to see and do, plus it happens the week before Co-op officially starts, so it’s a great chance to see friends we haven’t seen much of during the busy summer.

This year, a group of about 10 families met at the front gate, right as it opened for the day, to avoid the crowds, heat, and nap time! The kids were pretty excited to see the animals and tractors, and the parents were even more excited that the games and rides weren’t operating yet to distract the kids! We started out at the mini tractor exhibit and then moved on to the petting zoo. Most of the kids were really excited to see the animals they read about up close and personal. My son was pretty excited to try and communicate with the animals, saying things like “moo” to the cows and “baa” to the sheep. From the petting zoo, we ventured over to the large barns where the animals were grouped for judging. First up were the steers, followed by the goat barn, draft horses, pigs, and small animals like bunnies and chickens. The highlight for many of the kids was seeing a real camel in person. Dolly, the camel, was even willing to let the kids hand her a carrot to eat!

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A boy checks out a Brazilian cow.

After a big time of seeing all of the animals, it was time for lunch. Everyone gathered at the central park area and had some food before departing for nap time. This was the first of a number of fun field trips this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what else our field trip coordinator has in store!

Apple season

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Gail helps turn the crank while containing the long string of apple peel.

Last week, the co-op took a field trip to Greenbluff to celebrate the apple harvest, so for our class sessions, Gail brought in her apple peeler. The peel came off in a loooong string, and the apple was cut in a beautiful spiral. Everyone sat around munching on the different kinds of apples and talking about what parts of fall they’re looking forward to–so many things will seem new to our kids, even though they might have experienced them last year, like playing in leaves and picking out a pumpkin. What a great class!

Painting fun

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IMG_7425Our first class this year was great! As we trailed in yesterday morning, we washed hands and checked out our cubbies. Everyone put on nametags and got down to business with Gail’s activity for the first half of the morning: painting! She has smocks that keep clothes (mostly) protected, and the kids took turns stamping, brushing, and rolling the blue, green, and yellow paint onto their canvases (paper plates). We also had a delicious snack of zucchini bread, cheddar cheese, and apples, and then went outside to play on the slides and run in the sun.

 

Another year begins

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Local wildlife joined the meeting
Local wildlife joined the meeting. (It’s a bat, not a bird. This photo was taken as I cowered under the table. Nothing like a rodent flying erratically around the room to break the ice.)

We had orientation last night for the upcoming school year. It was great to see old friends from last year and also to meet the new families who we’ll be spending our mornings with.

Our fearless treasurer, Lisa, met us each at the door with binders containing the calendar for the year, schedules, standing rules, and contact info, the result of a hard summer’s work by our board. They are very organized, which I find helpful! We met our new preschool teacher, Erin, and learned about changes that the board made over the summer.

The biggest change is a new approach to monthly meetings, with one business meeting and one education-oriented seminar per quarter. The seminars will be topics pertaining to kids, who are welcome at these meetings. So we’re still meeting once a month, but there will be fewer nights where we have to make sure there is someone at home to watch over our kids.

I’m looking forward to a super year!

Snacks

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Teacher Gail stands at the slide to help the kids up the ladder. We love the romper room!

Another one of the duties that someone is assigned for each class is bringing a snack for everyone. This week our friends brought some apples (thinly sliced, which I appreciated for my son, since he still doesn’t have a ton of teeth!), cheeses (Babybels, which seem pretty popular, with that bright red wax coating), and granola-ish bars. Everyone generally follows a similar formula, and some other foods that have been served include clementines, carrots, rice cakes, crackers, banana cake (also popular with the parents), salami (ditto), and pumpkin bread or muffins.

The snack parent is in charge of getting the table set, but everyone pitches in–half of us are helping to clean up the toys, and the other half helps with arranging the chairs. Then all of the kids sit down at the table with a little cup of water and fill up their plates, and munch of the delicious goodies. Sometimes Gail asks us to share our thoughts about a topic, like our holiday traditions or if we have had a hard time with sleep habits. Mealtime is really important in our house, and that convivial feeling of enjoying food together is definitely part of our co-op snack time, too.

Clean up/ Penance

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A plastic croissant! And very realistic fruit.

The co-op has business meetings and a seminar one night a month. I missed the one last month due to a vacation, so Gail gave me a little homework to make up for it: cleaning all of the play food and dishes. My son was delighted to have three bags of toys arrive at our house!

Also on the topic of cleaning, one of the duties that someone does each day is straightening up after our session, taking out the garbage if necessary, running the vacuum over the carpet, etc. It seems like things get cleaned up pretty well after the snack, and the older kids know how to put things away, so it does not take more than ten minutes. This way, the class that follows starts in a tidy place.

A trip to the post office

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Teacher Gail reads a Clifford book at the end of our class.

We did a mini field trip this week–to the post office! First we all made valentines to send (using lots of stickers, doilies, glitter, and tape), and then we braved the cold and walked to the post office next door. Each of the kids got to put their card into the mail slot. For me, mailing a letter is an uneventful task, but it was exciting for our gang to go somewhere new.