Monday, August 17, 2015

Noah's Fifth Birthday Party & Pre-K Graduation

My sweet and expressive baby boy turned fiver years old this year and graduated from CLIF BASECAMP. After five years and one of two boys to go through the entire CLIF BAR BaseCamp child care program, he is going to kindergarten. I have some mixed emotions but we are all developmental ready for this next phase. Noah can feel it and expresses he desire to learn more and more. I am ready to have what kindergarten and Eric and Noah being at the same school will offer. It is funny to me that I am not more sad to walk out the Basecamp doors. I am definitely nostalgic for time gone by, but my readiness to have more time with my family in new ways and more independence for all far overshadows sadness. Developmental readiness is not just important for kids but, also us parents who never stop developing in our constantly adjusting roles as parents.

Congrats Noah on turning and summiting all the major peaks:

Mt Hood - infant room
Mt Shasta - toddler room
Mt Rainer - junior pre-k
Mt Whitney - pre-school
Mt Denali  - pre-k

Noah’s last day as a pre-ker will be August 14th. Of course we will be dropping in plenty J Noah and Eric are pretty excited to be in the same place again. Eric likes to keep track of his bro and Noah likes doing what his bro is doing! And we like having one drop off and one school to keep track of. Our time at base camp has been extremely special and we are so grateful for all the love and attention our children have received, right next door.
Taavi has been Noah's best friend since Mt Hood - like brothers

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June CLIF BAR BaseCamp Newsletter

 Mt. Denali-Graduation Day is Here!

June was full of hellos, goodbyes, and celebration as we welcomed a new, yet familiar face, into the classroom, Abhaya Keatts! Abhaya's spunky, fun personality is a great addition to the classroom and if you haven't done so already, please don't hesitate to welcome Charles, Kate, and Abhaya into the Mt. Denali family!
Excited for new friends entering the classroom, we also had to say goodbye to a very special teacher, Ms. Keri, as she prepares for the arrival of her baby boy in July. Although we were sad to see her leave, we made sure to send her off with big hugs, warm wishes, and a list of potential baby names. Ms. Keri has been such an amazing teacher and support system throughout the year, we have no doubt she will make an amazing mother as well. We wish her the best of luck and anticipate her return in the Fall.
While Ms. Keri is out on maternity leave, we welcomed Ms. Jeanie into the classroom and couldn't be more excited! Already familiar with the children and the routine, Ms. Jeanie has jumped right in and made this transition a smooth one. We are confident that she will be a great addition to the classroom and make an amazing teacher. Welcome Ms. Jeanie!

With a month filled with hellos and goodbyes, it was time for celebration! Starting the month off with only three days until graduation, the children wasted no time getting ready for the big day, which meant practicing songs, going over dress rehearsals, and thinking about our aspirations for the future. The children sang three songs for moms and dads including the infamous "I Know my ABC's!" and two Mt. Denali originals called "Graduation Day is Here," and "I'm a Graduate!" Prior to graduation, each child was asked what they are excited about the most to learn in Kindergarten and what they will miss about Base Camp. Each response was then read as they received their diploma. Graduation was concluded with a slideshow of the graduates' journey throughout each class starting from their first day at Base Camp. Fortunately for us, this was a very special group of graduates, having transitioned all the way from Mt. Hood! Thank you to all those who came and joined us on our big day, we could not have done it without the loving support of all our families. Below, are Mt. Denali's Class of 2014 graduates along with a quote of what they are excited to learn about in Kindergarten and what they will miss about Base Camp.

"I am excited to play outside in a new place!" "I will miss playing outside at Base Camp." -Colt Hitchock"I am excited to play outside in a new place!" "I will miss playing outside at Base Camp." -Colt Hitchock
"I want to do math!" "I will miss Ms. Lisa and Ms. Keri." -Eli Dao Hoang"I want to do math!" "I will miss Ms. Lisa and Ms. Keri." -Eli Dao Hoang
"I am excited to play with legos and make robots!" "I will miss Share Day." -Reza Huemmer"I am excited to play with legos and make robots!" "I will miss Share Day." -Reza Huemmer
"I am excited to play outside in a new place!" "I will miss seeing Colt." -Lilian Briones"I am excited to play outside in a new place!" "I will miss seeing Colt." -Lilian Briones
"I am excited to learn about science!" "I will miss the toys at school." -Noah Thies"I am excited to learn about science!" "I will miss the toys at school." -Noah Thies
"I want to read more books!" "I will miss Lincoln Logs." -Taavi Walle"I want to read more books!" "I will miss Lincoln Logs." -Taavi Walle
"I want to learn more about letters!" "I will miss playing with my friends at school." -Cruz Hurston"I want to learn more about letters!" "I will miss playing with my friends at school." -Cruz Hurston

Congratulations Class of 2015! We wish you all the best in Kindergarten and may all your dreams come true!
With Love,
Ms. Lisa, Ms. Keri, and Ms. Jeanie

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

May 2015 » Mt. Denali: "May" the Force Be With You

Happy Mother’s Day!
What better way to start off the month of May than by celebrating mothers! Working hard to keep our Mother’s Day surprise TOP SECRET, the children showed off their writing skills by practicing letter recognition through making heart tags with the words “Love (and their name.) To make the task easier, we used shrink paper that allowed for the children to write in normal size while challenging their fine-motor skills to stay
within the lines of the heart. Once decorated, we heated the oven to 350 degrees, slid our heart tags inside, and watched as the paper shrunk within minutes. Wanting to create something for our moms that would give them some much needed R&R, the children rolled up their sleeves and went to work making a lavender sugar scrub. To do so, the children labeled and measured three key ingredients: sugar, olive oil, and lavender essential oil. Developing basic math skills through number recognition, each child carefully measured every ingredient by identifying the numbers on the recipe and the measuring utensil. Using gross-motor skills to stir the mixture, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we weren’t going to be able to eat the scrub. Once our scrub was no longer liquid, we scooped it into individual mason jars to package up for our moms. Then, quizzing ourselves on how well we know our moms, the children answered a questionnaire that required them to think cognitively and recall previous information. We hope you all enjoyed your special gift and shared a few laughs as you read through our “All About Mom” fill in the blank sheet. Happy Mother’s Day!

With our alphabet-inspired curriculum all wrapped up, we noticed that the children had taken a great interest in robots and decided to explore the topic further by integrating math, science, and art through a variety of hands-on activities.
Collecting recycling materials from home and school, and reading a class favorite “Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit,” by Chris Van Dusen, the children were inspired to build their own giant robot using three large cardboard boxes as our base and body. Determining how wide and tall to stack our boxes, we wanted to make our robot as realistic as possible and measured ourselves
against it to make sure it was life-size. Then, using glue and tin foil, the class broke up into three groups and glued foil over every exposed area of the box so that our robot was “covered in metal.” Once our robot skin was ready, we rummaged through the recycling material we collected and used our inmagination to bring our robot to life. Adding pie tins for ears, bottle caps for eyes and buttons, and plastic tubing for arms, we had our very own robot!

Wanting to reintroduce our manipulative area and give the children the opportunity to create robots through the use of multiple manipulative materials, the class was given free reign and one-step instructions to create a robot using however many legos, conncecting cubes, and zoobs they needed. In doing so, the children were able to explore different textures, manipulate different shapes, and develop fine-motor skills. Along with 3D representations, the class also worked cognitively to create 2D robots identifying shapes and constructing their own robot from shapes cut out before them. In doing so, the children used these pictures as a platform for narration and created stories for their robots, narrating where they came from, what their job was, and what emotions they were feeling. Who knew robots had feelings too! And better yet, who knew they could taste so good! As a special project to stimulate creativity usingdifferent mediums, we made robots using large marshmallows, pretzel sticks, raisins, cheerios, graham crackers, and white frosting as our “glue.” Challenging ourselves to piece together a robot using all edible materials, the children went above and beyond as they created their robots with ease and overcame the challenge of making their robot stand without falling. Some robots lost their arms and buttons along the way and suspicion has it that they may have ended up in a few friend’s stomachs. Hopefully some of these robots made it home in one piece!

Practicing basic math and cognitive skills, the children were quick learners when it came to playing a game of dominoes where instead of matching numbers, we matched robots. Laying all our dominoes out on the table, the children took turns adding to our domino line, understanding we could only match one domino at a time. When a turn came around when we did not have any to match, we practiced good sportsmanship passing up our turn and cheering on friends who had matching robots. After awhile of teacher-guided facilitation, the children were able to facilitate the game on their own, following rules and instructions along with teaching the game concept with new friends joining the game. Way to go guys!

Star Wars has made a comeback and is all our friends have been able to talk about! Overhearing conversations about Yoda, R2D2, and Darth Vadar along with multiple Share Day items revolving around Star Wars, we decided to explore the topic further, with the exclusion of weapons of course. Curious about starships and what they look like, we recalled on previous information from Star Wars books and used our imagination to create our own 2D representations of a starship on paper. Once all the arms, legs, controls, and traps were added to our starship design, we used our handy thumbs-up technique to cut out our starships and glue them onto black paper to represent “space.” Posted up inside the classroom, the children were able to use these 2D pictures as a blueprint for the construction of 3D starships out of legos for “Racing for Freedom” race. In this race, the children tested out two locations, inside and outside the classroom and quickly discovered inside the classroom was not big enough. Practicing balance and control, each friend was able to participate in “Racing for Freedom” outside in the big yard running laps individually and with partners. But what is a starship without a pilot! R2D2 to the rescue! Using fine-motor skills and following 3-step instructions to create our own R2D2 puppet, the class had to first identify shapes and sort which shapes they needed to complete all of R2D2’s body parts and controls. Once sorted, the children worked in pairs to glue and piece together their puppet, coming up with different functions for every “button” on R2D2’s body. Noticing our puppet was too large for our starships, we constructed our own star station out of wooden blocks and created our own Star Wars scene for friends to act out and narrate. May the force be with you!
Happy May!

With Love,
Ms. Lisa and Ms. Keri

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Camping attempt

Friday-night post-work camping trip in Tennessee Valley is apparently wildly ambitious. Not until pulling into the parking lot at 9:30pm did we realize the full extent of the feat before us. A half mile hike to our campsite, too much stuff to carry or roll in bike trailer , one child sound asleep and the other telling us his legs were too tired after just getting out of the car. We are now driving back home. I am laughing at our attempt and wondering what about this idea sounded good enough to us that we set out in the first place. Chalking it up as good learning for our second attempt. I know! It was waking up in the outdoors. Now to pitch the tent in the backyard!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Noah's White Board Inspiration

When your son visits your office and entertains himself while you try to finish up "just one more thing that will be done in a minute" It would be wise to make sure that the permanent markers are not within a four-foot radius of your white board.

This white board has been stationed near my desk for months. We had high hopes for this board's ability to hold inspiration and help us track on things that might otherwise be forgotten. Alas, most of the time it exists only to isolate us in our open and "collaborative" (never distracting...oh no) work space. So when Noah drew his beautiful design on the board my first reaction was "oh shit, where did you find a permanent marker?" The real question needing to be asked was how would I not suspect he would find a permanent marker.

So in a world wear nothing is permanent I have decided to be thankful for Noah's creativity. It is the most creative and inspiring this silly white board has ever been.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Live from Boston

Noah and I are on our first trip of just the two of us. So far his living the dream on the plan. No brother to compete with. Non-stop six hours of cartoon network and Momma handing him food to sustain him. He has hardly said a peep. So different from Eric who asks questions about everything going on and how much longer.

Noah became a big kid on his birthday. He turned five. When Eric was fiver years he got to go on a work trip with Momma too, also around the time of the Boston marathon.

This will be a brand new experience for Noah. He will have undivided attention of both me and Grandma, not to mention Nana and Auntie Janice who he last visited at nine months old. Younger siblings don't really even know that undivided attention exists.

I am heading to work at the Boston Marathon. Grandma is meeting to hang with Noah while I work. It is going to an adventure for all of us. Clif Bar is the official organic sports nutrition food of the Boston marathon for the first time ever and it is a huge activation.

Noah is really ready for something new other than pre-school. His frustration with learning  and trying to do things like write letters, numbers, and read without yet having been taught is just like when he was learning to articulate with words he didn't yet have to express what he wanted to say.

I know he senses the transition to kindergarten is near and he has no hesitation but it probably not soon enough.

Soooo good time for his first big kid work trip with Mom! It will be interesting because Eric is such a good big brother, Always watching out for Noah and giving him direction and answering for him before he gets a chance to speak. Sometimes I think this makes Noah a little less outgoing because brother is always there to lead the way.

Let's not forgot to mention that "Mom-of-the-Year" is sitting two rows behind us on the plan with two little boys who we have not heard a peep out of the entire flight. I just keep hearing her bitch, swear, scold, put down, and ridicule these poor little boys who are doing nothing than being 2 and maybe 4 year olds on the plan. Very well behaved. The ask her lots of questions and have a lot of needs and I get that she has been traveling with them on vacation for a week and is desperate for a break but that doesn't make up for the fact that she puts them down. Listening to her reminds me that even on my worst day I am never that bad and that my worst days will now have me thinking back to how hurtful her parenting was to her children and how I don't even want to come close to that!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Marching through Mt Denali

Clif Base Camp

March 2015 » Oh, the Places We Went in March!

This month, we got to celebrate an honorary friend's birthday, Dr. Suess! Very familiar with his work, the children were excited to explore and celebrate literacy by reading a few classics and adding a few new stories to our collection. Among one of our favorites was “Ten Apples On Top” where the children were given the opportunity to integrate both literacy and math into an art and gross-motor activity. Warming up our fingers and working on fine-motor skills, the children practiced signing numbers 1-10 in ASL. Curious how someone could possibly balance ten apples on top of their heads, we decided to test out the theory and see how many different types of objects we could balance on our heads. Using various books from our library, each friend took turns making predictions and estimating how far they could walk before the book fell off their heads. Realizing we needed to come up with a strategy, it didn’t take long to discover that the slower we walked, the farther we got before the book fell. This challenge was harder than we thought! Afterwards, we decided to step into the illustrator’s shoes and create our own representation of the story. Using imagination and creativity, each friend drew their own Dr. Seuss character and using one-to-one correspondence, we counted and numbered 10 apples. Then using basic math skills, we practiced numbered sequencing and glued 10 apples on top!

Of course, we couldn’t celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday without dressing for the occasion! After reading “Fox in Socks” and noticing all the crazy clothing and antics the characters were up to in the book, we decided to experiment with mixing colors and dye socks! Using a homemade recipe, teachers mixed together three colored packets of koolaid with vinegar to create three bowls of red, purple, and yellow dye. Once the koolaid packets had dissolved, the children practiced using fine motor skills by pinching droppers into the dye and releasing drops onto theirsocks. Curious how well this homemade recipe would work, the children were excited to see what colors the dye made once they mixed together. Then we bagged up our socks, laid them to dry in the sun and washed them to see if the dye would stick. Sadly, once all the pairs of socks were bundled and mixed in water, the red dye dominated the mixture and turned all our socks a pinkish red. Here, the children were able to make predictions about cause and effect observing what would happen once we dyed and washed our socks. On the bright side, the koolaid made our socks smell great!
As we move closer to the end of the year and taking that next step into Kindergarten, Dr. Suess provided us with some helpful advice for the future in "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Here's a look at where to find us in the distant future as each child was asked what they want to be when they grow up:
Colt: "I want to be a garbage man!"
Noah: "I want to be a football coach."
Owen: "I want to be a veterinarian."
Eli: "I want to be a garbage man too!"
Reza: "I want to be Lightning Man!"
Silas: I want to be a dump truck driver!"
Lilian: "I want to be a mom."
Taavi: "I want to be a football coach too!"
Cruz: "I want to be a motorcycle race driver."
Jackson: "I want to be a garbage truck driver."

A little bummed that St. Patrick's Day was on a Tuesday, we decided to go ahead and get into the holiday spirit by exploring leprechauns, shamrocks, gold, and Irish culture. Discovering mysterious footprints all over our classroom, Denali detectivesjumped right on the case and grabbed their magnifying glasses to search for clues in the classroom and figure out who could’ve left them. Noticing clover-like footprints, we realized it could only be one thing, a leprechaun! Not only did the leprechaun leave behind footprints, but he also left behind some gold coins on his way out of Base Camp. Decorating pots of gold to use on our hunt, each friend took turns hunting for treasure outside on the yard. Once there were no more traces of gold, we counted how many gold coins we found using one-to-one correspondence and discovered the leprocaun left behind 50 pieces! Good thing we were there to clean up after him!

Among some of our favorite green day activities was exploring shamrocks through the use of beads and green bell peppers. Practicing fine-motor skills and basic math skills to create patterns, the children prepared themselves for the “tickles” coming their way in case they forgot to wear green on the big day. While creating patterns, we noticed that even though all the beads were in the shape of a shamrock, they were also all different colors and sizes. So, to help classify the beads, each friend worked in pairs to sort by color and size using our sorting trays. Afterwards, we made a surprising discovery when we noticed that slicing a green bell pepper in half created a shamrock shape, and were even more surprised when we realized that we could use a bell pepper for a new art medium! Dipping each half in green paint, the children made shamrock prints and added a stem by finger painting with one finger.

Curious to learn more about Irish culture and food common to the region, we decided to make our own Irish Soda Bread to share with families for Family Picnic. Working together as a team, the class helped one another label and list ingredients, identify measurements, and mix together all the dry ingredients to make the bread. Developing both fine and gross motor skills, the biggest challenge was being able to knead the bread and shape it into a loaf. But, three loaves later we had our very own Irish Soda Bread! We hope you all enjoyed it as well!

Happy March!
With Love,
Ms. Lisa and Ms. Keri