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A Magical Walk along the Creek June 24, 2012

Filed under: Montessori education — bevfollowsthechild @ 8:16 pm
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Red-Winged Blackbird (Male), Colony Farm Regio...

Red-Winged Blackbird (Male), Colony Farm Regional Park, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love going on walks with children.  They really help you to slow down and fill your senses with the sights, sounds and smells you encounter on the way.  I’d like to suggest a very special walk for you to take with your families.  Park in the parking lot of the Koppel Farm Community Gardens, on the Professional Mall end of Derby Street.  You can begin your walk by checking out what’s growing in the community gardens.  Cross the nearest bridge, and then immediately after the bridge, instead of continuing on the trail towards Bishop Boulevard, take the footpath along the creek.  Halfway along the way to Bishop Boulevard on this trail, you’ll see a trail head down even closer to the water.  Take this, and follow the creek.  This is a place where we have seen a pair of kingfishers sitting on low willow branches, intently watching the water for fish.  I’ve also seen a beaver swimming right here, and you can still see the remains of the beaver dam. Soon you’ll find plank bridges that cross the creek. Stop and listen to the water as you cross the bridge.  Or you can make a trip, trap noise with your feet, like the Billy Goats Gruff.  Children love this, especially when you add the gruff voice of the troll.

“Who is going trip, trap over my bridge?”

Soon you’ll come to the confluence of the South Fork of the Palouse with Paradise Creek.  Spend a moment watching the two streams come together and flow onwards.

When you carry on, you’ll be on the west side of the creek, running parallel to Professional Mall, but you’ll be in a little valley, hidden away from traffic.  You’ll actually go under the Bishop Boulevard bridge.  This is a great place to look for tracks in the mud and sand.  You’ll also see lots and lots of barn swallows who have built their nests under the bridge.  There are a few more plank bridges to cross as you follow the creek as it now runs parallel to Bishop Boulevard, heading toward the movie theatre.  Now you are surrounded by what we call cow parsley in England, or maybe it’s Queen Anne’s lace – anyway, very, very tall plants with white flowers.  You’ll also smell wild roses and the pretty purple flowers that grow all along the creeks.

If your child is getting tired, you can cross the higher bridge, before you get to the movie theatre, and then walk back along Bishop Boulevard, perhaps stopping at Sweet Mutiny for cupcakes or frozen yogurt.  If you still have strong legs, keep going, and soon you’ll be leaving Pullman behind and walking out along an old railway bed that is now in use as a trail.  The trail runs parallel to the Johnson Road.  Soon you’re in farm country, surrounded by green fields, farmhouses and barns, cows and horses.  Along this stretch, we’ve seen herons, red winged blackbirds, pheasants and today I saw a whole flock of quail, with babies that seemed no bigger than my thumb nail!

For variety, when you come to the end of the trail you can return via the Johnson Road trail that runs a little farther away from the water.  Along this drier stretch you’ll see poppies and large yellow daisy like flowers, and be surrounded by bird song.  As you return to the water, you’ll also enjoy the cool feel, like natural air conditioning, every time you pass under one of the cottonwoods or willows.  These trees soak up water from the creeks and the water transpires from the tree leaves, as a sort of gentle mist.  It’s like the trees are sweating!

This is a magical walk for children – full of variety, not too long, with a real feel of being far away from the town and with the excitement of all of the plank bridges to cross.  I suggest going early in the day, when it is still cool, and wearing shoes instead of sandals.  Otherwise you’ll be stopping often to take gravel out of your sandals, rather to smell the roses!

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Tight Squeeze June 10, 2012

Filed under: Montessori education — bevfollowsthechild @ 10:08 am
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From the beginning until the end, touch is so important.  I love this photo of our preschoolers lining up to give one of their very favorite teachers, our music teacher, a tight squeeze of a hug.  Our music teacher is retiring after over twenty years of sharing her love of music with so many children.  When you look at the face of the teacher, you can see how much each hug means to her.  Her smile is so big, yet she is also close to tears.  All of the other teachers were close to tears, too, and then one of the kindergarteners piped up with, “I won’t say goodbye because I know I’ll see you around.”  That made us all feel much better.

One of my very, very good friends starts each year with her preschool class with a footprint painting activity.  The children take off their shoes and socks, and take turns stepping into a basin of paint, and then walking along a long stretch of white paper to leave a trail of footprints.  At the end of the stretch of paper is a chair, a bucket of warm water, soap and a towel.  My friend carefully washes and dries all of the feet of the new children in her class, and in so doing begins to build a sense of trust between herself and each child.  Each child gets a little bit of undivided attention, too.  What a great way to start off a school year.

A friend commented on a recent post about how in so many settings, children are no longer hugged or touched.  One of the perks of my job is that it comes with a liberal sprinkling of hugs throughout the day.  The human touch is an important way to establish and maintain bonds.  To be a child and not be able to give and receive hugs is too sad.