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Breakfast day!

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Breakfast play food
Breakfast play food: pancakes, eggs, baguettes, and a frying pan to cook it all in.

This week our theme was centered around sleeping: the kids wore their jammies and brought their favorite stuffed animals. One of the parents set up a big tent with blankets, so everyone could get cozy and read bedtime stories. And instead of our usual snack, we had breakfast! On our day, we made amazing waffles to go with delicious blueberry syrup, bananas, strawberries, and sausage. The kids filled up their plates over and over again!

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!

Halloween seminar

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Our October seminar had, naturally, a Halloween theme. Of course, there were lots of fairies and princesses, but also a dragon slayer and (gulp!) two dragons, some owls, two Minnie Mouses, at least one cowboy, a pumpkin, and a good witch (Gail!), among others.

Little Ariel, Bode Miller ca. 1985, and Elsa search in the rice table for treasures.
Little Ariel, Bode Miller ca. 1985, and Elsa search in the rice table for treasures: pumpkin scoops, eyeballs, and frogs.

We enjoyed snacking on clever little ‘pumpkins’ (peeled clementines with celery stems) and apple cider and learned about the phases of the moon and nocturnal animals. After songs and high fives, we headed home. It was fun to see our good friends!

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The sensory table, where the kids used magnifying glasses to see the details on leaves, berries, chestnuts, and gourds.

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!

A seminar: Kent Hoffman live!

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We usually have a seminar the same night as our business meeting, but this month, all of the co-ops in the city had one big meeting at Spokane Community College. (SCC is in charge of all of the co-ops. Parents pay a fee to them each quarter.) Kent Hoffman was the speaker, and he was magnificent! I’d already learned the general idea of his theory–called the Circle of Security–from Teacher Gail last year, but his ninety-minute presentation was very beneficial and inspiring. (For more information on Circle of Security, see here and here.) I left the talk last night thinking hard about how I can be a better parent and looking forward to reading his book, The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing Attachment in Early Parent-Child Relationships. I foresee coming back to it often, to remind myself of the goal of creating a well-rounded attachment with my son.

As I mentioned, every month we have a seminar, some kind of parenting-related topic. So far, ours have included green cleaning methods, First Aid, and how to plan ahead to pay for college. To be honest, I thought I would dread these meetings, but the discussions have been thought-provoking and it is actually fun to get together with the parents who go on different days. (Also, there are always really, really good brownies. I don’t know if it is the same person who brings them every time, or if we are just lucky to have many excellent brownie-bakers in our group. But it’s a great enticement, for me, anyway.)