Acts of Kindness

Kindness is Cooler! In the picture below, a current student assists a new student by showing him around the outdoor playground. He led the new student up the stairs and to the slide, helping build connections and creating a wonderful start to the school year.

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Visit the Bellingham Public Library to check out, Kindness is Cooler, Mrs Ruler by Margery Cuyler and other kindness related books for preschool aged children.

Blossom's Clothing Swap

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Hello families!

Summer’s here, and many of you are opening up your children's closets and finding that last year’s summer wear doesn’t quite fit. As part of our school-wide commitment to stewardship, Blossom is looking at ways we can act as stewards not just of our campus, but of our community as a whole. While there are many different kinds of stewardship, one of the easiest, most accessible and just plain fun ways to do this is through a children's clothing swap!

 

On Wednesday, July 17th (Early learning campus) and Thursday, July 18th (Treehouse and Sunflower campus), we will be hosting a clothing swap from 4-6pm. We’re asking families to bring in any summer clothing they feel they don’t need any more two days prior to the event. This can include swimsuits, light cotton shirts or dresses, shorts, socks, water shoes -- any and all clothing is welcome, but preferably clothes that are in wearable condition and appropriate for a school environment.

 

Some of the clothing will be kept as extras for students at Blossom, but the majority will be donated to a local children’s consignment store called Little Bugs, in partnership with Lydia Place. Lydia Place is a local non-profit aimed at supporting homeless families in Whatcom County, and they’ve partnered with Little Bugs to the effect that families who qualify for Lydia Place’s services can get children’s clothing at no cost. 

Little Bugs is looking for:

-Lighter summer wear

-Swimsuits

-Baby gear

-Shoes/sneakers

P.S. -- While we’re primarily focusing on children’s clothing, feel free to bring in some of your own summer wear! Clothing swaps are a great way to build community for kids and adults alike!

 

Learning Through Play in Preschool: Best Practice for Kindergarten Readiness

  

“Too many schools place a double burden on young children. First, they heighten their stress by demanding that they master material beyond their developmental level. Then they deprive children of their chief means of dealing with that stress— creative play.” -excerpt from The Alliance for Childhood

Now that’s magic! Running watercolor over a crayon resist reveals the leaf—previously invisible.

Now that’s magic! Running watercolor over a crayon resist reveals the leaf—previously invisible.

 

The Alliance for Childhood is: “A nonprofit partnership of educators, health professionals, and other advocates for children who are concerned about the decline in children’s health and well-being and who share a sense that childhood itself is endangered. The Alliance was founded in 1999 and is incorporated in the state of Maryland. It is funded entirely by grants and donations from individuals, foundations, and businesses. The Alliance promotes policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living. Our public education campaigns bring to light both the promise and the vulnerability of childhood. We act for the sake of the children themselves and for a more just, democratic, and ecologically responsible future.

 

The Alliance’s campaign to restore play to kindergartens and preschools is supported by an advisory board of distinguished educators and health professionals.

 

Some of their recommendations include: 

  • Consider whether the learning objectives in place for children are causing typically developing children to develop behaviors that are wrongly identified as disorder or learning disabilities.

  • Evaluate what hinders play:  unsafe neighborhoods, over scheduled activities, screen time, homework that exists to support exam driven curriculum. 

And Blossom would add:

  • Take some time to volunteer in your child’s kindergarten classroom. This is a natural way to understand the classroom expectations, giving insight into how to help your child make the transition into this new setting.  Try to make sure this time is near lunch and recess so you can help with this busy time.

  • Ensure you understand the school’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum, and use the same language and problem solving strategies at home. For example, if in the Bellingham Public School District, familiarize yourselves with Kelso’s Choices and the Zones of Regulation.

  • Be cautious of over-scheduling your child doing the first three months of school. Children are exhausted from adjusting to so many changes in their day.

For more information: Visit:  www.allianceforchildhood.org , of particular interest  “Crisis in the Kindergarten” by Edward Miller and Joan Almon / Watch:  Ken Robinson.  “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” TED talk, 2006 / Read:

The Importance of Being Little, What Young Children Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis .   Penguin Books, 2016.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. Workman Publishing Company, 2005.

The Hurried Child by David Elkind.  Originally published in 1981 but still very pertinent.

Curriculum in action

Is it all the construction happening around Bellingham that is inspiring the children at Blossom to be architects and builders?  Whatever it is that inspires them, they do love to build!

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Working with blocks and other manipulatives gives the children a chance to develop many skills including cause and effect, how to work with another friend, an opportunity to learn about shapes and how objects can fit together.

 

It’s also an opportunity to develop vocabulary and tell stories.  When asked what they were building the girls explained they were building a castle for the princess. 

Parent Night: Connecting as a Community

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At Blossom we believe it is critical for children to take risks in order to learn. Mistakes are not viewed as failures but opportunities for growth. On February 18, 2019 we gathered for a parent night. One of the child guidance techniques discussed was the importance of showing children we are confident in their abilities. The following is a summary of questions brought up by parents and the answers provided by Blossom Staff. All handouts referenced in this article are available on the counter outside the main office at the Early Learning Center.

Presidents’ Day Parent Night 2019: 

Breakout Session Summary

Advice about continuing Social/Emotional Learning taught at Blossom when children enter Public School.

  • Continue teaching Second Step and other social/emotional language at home.

  •    Bellingham Public School uses Kelso’s Choices (similar to Second Step).  Ask the school counselor for Kelso’s Choice and other SEL literature for a home/school connection.

  •      Write a letter to the school principle and district leaders about increased funding for outdoor/physical education programs and social/emotional learning. February and March are the months that Bellingham Public Schools determine budget priorities.

Big Feelings (Meltdowns):

  •   Be Proactive: if you know your child’s trigger, set expectations in advance.

  • ·Talk about the behavior you are trying to encourage. Tell your child that you know they can do it!  Read Meeting the Challenge and Moving Forward article.

  • Give your child a chance to restart and save face.  We call it, “Flipping your Pancake” at Blossom.  Use empathy! Tell your child that you know they are having a hard time and ask if they would like to restart and try again.

  • Give them a space to have their big feelings and be available (for coaching/comforting).  For toddlers it may be more appropriate to pick the child up and reassure them you are there.  Offering a comfort item can also help.

Consequences:

  •   Make the consequence logical.  If your child dumps a bucket of toys, have him or her clean them up. If your child refuses to clean them up, state the consequence (parent or child determined). Give your child some time to think about it--you can even use a timer.  Follow through with the consequence.  A logical consequence for this situation is the toys will be removed for a determined amount of time.  When the toys are returned, revisit why they were put away and remind your child of the toy expectations. Resource: Love and Logic for more information & ideas.

Car Rides:

  •   Set expectation prior to ride about the volume level.  See Levels of Talking.

  • Talk about why a quiet voice is an important safety rule for the car.

  • Play an Eye Spy game where your child looks out the window searching for something specific.

  • Play the quiet game – Can you talk quiet like a ninja?

Grocery Store:

  • Give your child something to hold.  Some stores handout free fruit, which keeps hands and mouth occupied.

  • ·Eye Spy works well in stores too and involves your child by having them help “spy” grocery list items.

  • Know meltdown triggers and avoid them if possible.

Sibling Squabbles:

  • Comfort the child that is hurt first.  Explain how the action must have felt to the injured child.

  • Ms. Darian’s Tip: “Do you want space, a hug, or an ice pack?”

  • Don’t be afraid to give a “delayed consequence”.  For example, consider the scenario where an older sibling is hitting a younger one and a consequence of taking something away is not working. The next day when the older child wants to play with the younger one, a parent could say “I’m remembering that you had a hard time playing with your sister yesterday. I’d like you to choose a different place to play tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll give it another try; I know you enjoy playing with your sister.”  (Love and Logic)

 

We appreciated all that attended this event and look forward to more opportunities to connect. Parenting is hard; it’s such a good feeling to know we have a Blossom Community that supports each other’s parenting goals!

Fall Enrichment 2018

Fall Enrichment Curriculum

 

The Enrichment Program is something the children look forward to with enthusiasm each week.  The multiple levels of engagement offer different layers of learning for the children, while strengthening skills needed for everyday life.


MUSIC WITH MR. JOEY

Each week Mr. Joey visits the Sunflower and Blossom classrooms to sing and teach music to the children.  Even the youngest children in the Buttercup and Sweet Pea rooms enjoy listening to music played on a variety of instruments. Joey teaches concepts such as soft and loud, fast and slow.   Music sessions incorporate songs that involve movement and participation from the children.  The preschool children have recently been singing about windy weather and apples; while the toddlers have had lots of practice sharing space. 

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On one of the last sunny autumn days here in Bellingham, music was held for the toddlers on the deck.

GARDENING WITH MCKENNA

 McKenna, who assists Coleen in the kitchen, has assumed a new role. With Ms. Debbie’s assistance, she is serving as our master gardener. Drawing on Debbie’s many years of experience and McKenna’s internship on a farm, they are building a garden curriculum unique to our school community. One goal is to be more intentional by planting ingredients needed for Ms. Coleen’s recipes. They began the Fall curriculum, by introducing children new to the Sunflower House to the “big” garden. Those who tended our garden through the spring and summer months, were encouraged to lead by example. After, weeding and planting fall crops of spinach, beets, and carrots, the last few tomatoes and beans were gathered up for eating and seed saving.

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McKenna and the children examine a sunflower from the garden.


SUNFLOWER HOUSE KINDER-PREP CHILDREN EXPERIENCE WALDORF INSPIRED ARTS WITH MS. SUZANNE

 Paper making is a transformative process which is truly magical for children. Tearing up paper or cutting into small pieces strengthens fine motor development as well as allowing for the eco experience of recycling! The dry-to-wet mash process provides sensory contrast; it is exciting for the children to observe and handle the products of each step! Sensory sensitivity is encouraged when playing in the wet mash and applying it to the screens to press out flat.  The pressure activity of squeezing out water from the pulp, yields a cause and effect experience which sets a foundation for other natural sciences.  Final products of fine and thick paper is a joy to behold and evolve into more crafts as a foundation for cards, art work and gifts.

Pressing leaves and flowers includes the art of gathering through the summer and fall months. Collecting these materials from the forest and garden supports interest for the children in observing the season changes.  It also respects their eye for beauty; what the children select to preserve is honored. Keeping the pressed items in a form that allows the natural beauty of the plant to be exposed and sustained in time is a rich and rewarding experience. The children learn that capturing the essence of beauty in nature can be used for decoration, cards and invitations when applied to the handmade paper or other natural material. This year, the paper was used in the Kinder-prep children’s invitations to their Stone Soup luncheon, an annual event for where the children prepare lunch for their parents.

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Darian and a group of children squish pulp to make paper.

Blossom's Dietary Program

Blossom's Dietary Program

Blossom prides itself on providing a comprehensive nutritional program to support our developing children. We strive to use whole foods and ingredients. To ensure quality and nutritional value in every meal, our dietary manager cooks and bakes a great majority of our foods from scratch ingredients. As available Blossom will supplement foods grown on-site through student and family participation. Our philosophy views the process of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing meals together as valuable learning experiences for all of Blossom Children.

Learn more in the video below.

Blossom's Curriculum...and Beyond!

Blossom's Curriculum...and Beyond!

From infancy to pre-kindergarten, Blossom incorporates curriculum and standards that align with each developmental stage. We strive to offer a holistic approach, including academic and social-emotional based models throughout our curriculum. This supports the 'whole child’ as they transition to learning environments beyond Blossom’s program.

Learn more in the video below!

Fall Enrichment Curriculum 2017

Fall Enrichment Curriculum 2017

Reflections from Ms. Suzanne

Ms. Suzanne rolling felt with Lilac & Daisy Toddlers. These creations became additional playthings in their classrooms  (Lilypads, 'soft'stones and accessories for their large play-mat ) 

Ms. Suzanne rolling felt with Lilac & Daisy Toddlers. These creations became additional playthings in their classrooms (Lilypads, 'soft'stones and accessories for their large play-mat

The Enrichment Program is something the children look forward to with enthusiasm each week.  The multiple levels of engagement offer different layers of learning for the children, while strengthening skills needed for everyday life.

In September, Sunflower House children were introduced to oral storytelling, followed by opportunities to respond while exploring the capacity of their hands. Painting and drawing were followed by making paper and leaf rubbing. Sunflower House children also learned to wash dishes, as well as to both wash and iron napkins.  The garden was carefully tended and the last few tomatoes and beans were gathered up for eating and seed saving.

In October during the warmer days, we worked outside with wool felting and moved onto spiraling apples on a hand crank peeler.  These apples found their way into many snacks through the whole month.  As the days grew shorter, more activity moved indoors.  Wool craft has been very well received by the children in Blossom’s Early Learning Center; the community of children made a lovely play-mat with the products of their wool work.

Felted playmat created by Blossom Children.

Felted playmat created by Blossom Children.

A few peeks into what the Sunflower House children have been making came down to Blossom in the beeswax crock pot.  All the older children were able to experience the magic of dipping candles and the warmth of beeswax.

At the Sunflower House, November began with making bread dough and hearing stories from Stone Soup and fairy tales.  Building up to the Stone Soup family lunch, we gathered to make harvest crowns and garlands—good practice for making our Winter wreaths.  Baking and making lanterns will be the work weaving through the holiday season.  Children will craft lanterns with paper mache  and recycled tins.

Staying Healthy - Cold & Flu Season

Staying Healthy - Cold & Flu Season

Please have children wash their hands upon arrival at the center, a licensing reg.   Ask a teacher for a copy of one of the hand washing songs we sing here.

Please have children wash their hands upon arrival at the center, a licensing reg. Ask a teacher for a copy of one of the hand washing songs we sing here.

Staying Healthy when cold and flu season is upon us is our goal! 

There are several things you can do to help us keep each other healthy. To help us keep our youngest, most vulnerable group healthy, we ask that only those parents and children who have a child in the Sweet Pea or Buttercup rooms enter these.  Many of our older children like to greet the babies, but each time they grasp the gates they may be leaving an unwanted germ behind that may make a baby sick.   

Teaching children to “cover their coughs" is a smart way to reduce the spread of germs.

Teaching children to “cover their coughs" is a smart way to reduce the spread of germs.

In addition, please follow the guidelines for keeping your children home when sick.  If a child looks or acts ill when being dropped off, we will ask you not to leave her.  If your child becomes ill while in our care, you’ll be notified to pick him up as soon as possible. If we can’t reach you, we’ll begin calling your emergency contacts.  We require all parents to have a current back up plan for illness, and to ensure their child is picked up within an hour of being notified. Having a sick child is stressful in itself, without having to figure out what to do when you get the “dreaded” call that your child is sick. If you haven’t done so recently, now is a good time to revisit your back up plan.

If your child is sent home, they must be symptom free for 24 hours WITHOUT FEVER-REDUCING MEDICATION before returning to care. If medication is needed to cease the symptoms, a doctor’s note is required to ensure they are not contagious OR they need to have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.  If your child has been home ill, we ask that you take his temperature within an hour of returning to care. Upon return, expect to be asked when your child’s temperature was last taken, the degree, and when he or she was last given fever-reducing medication. 


Read on for more information and tips from Whatcom County Health Department's Communicable Disease Prevention Team Member, Kim Hankinson.

Kim Hankinson, RN BSN CIC - from the Whatcom County Health Department, Communicable Disease Programs provides more information and tips for community members.

Kim Hankinson, RN BSN CIC - from the Whatcom County Health Department, Communicable Disease Programs provides more information and tips for community members.

Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting

As working parents, we know how stressful mornings can be and how easy it is to fall into parenting traps--things that make it hard for children to get into a good morning routine.  Examples include getting up late so everyone is rushed and having to look for things you need that morning. This often leads to parents taking over and doing everything for their child.  Children learn faster when they have opportunities to practice their skills. Additionally, if parents give too many reminders to “hurry up”, children may learn to rely on this, and only get ready after repeated reminders. Here are some suggestions to help establish a good morning routine and AVOID MORNING TRAPS!

  • Plan ahead. Before going to bed, be clear about the activities for the next day.  
  • Be organized and get everything ready the night before (clothes, food, etc).
  • Avoid distractions (phone, tablets and TV) 
  • Discuss morning rules & create an activity schedule (a chart with photos or drawings for each step your child must complete)
  • Prompt your child to use the schedule—what’s the first thing you need to do? Praise them initially for each step completed, even if reminders are necessary. Once your child can do the step by themselves, reserve the praise for when it’s done without a reminder.  Provide a reward such as an after school activity they enjoy. Gradually reduce the prompts and rewards once the routine is established.

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Five ways to connect more deeply with children:

  1. Be intentional about your language

  2. Know your hot buttons

  3. See and honor their strengths

  4. Share with children something you love

  5. Be mindful about what you say and how you say it


Ms. Debbie says: “Sing with Your Children!”

There’s a wide-eyed owl with a pointed nose, with two pointed ears and claws for his toes.  He lives high in a tree and when he looks at you, he flaps his wings and says, “Whooo, Whooo!”

A tip for learning new songs:  Write down the words to the song by hand. If it’s short do it more than once.

Some Tips from Ms. Keri…

  • Remember that little things matter
  • Embrace Play
  • Turn off distractions (simplify, slow down)
  • Have relentless compassion for children

Nature/Biology + Nurture/Experiences = Whole Child.      

The quality of our relationships with the children we care for is the most important factor that contributes to their growth, development and success.

Blossom - Curriculum and Enrichment

Blossom - Curriculum and Enrichment

Blossom strives to offer diverse experiences through its curriculum and enrichment activities. We focus on seasons and universal concepts to support a broad family base and backgrounds. This aspect of our philosophy can be seen throughout our programs and classes, as teachers offer rich experiences throughout the children's day. While activities may vary from class to class, teachers and program supervisors plan activities that are developmentally appropriate and meaningful to children. 

Learn more in the video below!

Blossoming since 1998

Blossoming since 1998

Blossom Childcare and Learning Center, Inc. has lovingly served families and children of the community since 1998

Do you have a testimony or experience with Blossom you would like to share? Please visit the link below and share your experience!

Our Snow Plan

Our Snow Plan

When snow or icy conditions are predicted, we closely monitor the weather. Most often, decisions are made in the early morning rather than the night before to factor in the most current conditions.

Ms. Keri’s Rainy Day Movement Ideas for Families at Home

Ms. Keri’s Rainy Day Movement Ideas for Families at Home

Roll the Ball: Roll the ball, roll the ball, roll the ball to me. Pass it, pass it, pass the ball to me. Replace me with the child’s name & replace pass with bounce or kick.

Animal Race: Besides engaging children on a rainy day, this game is a great one for boosting mental flexibility, an executive functioning skill.

Have children line up at one end of a hallway or room and tell the children, “When I say horse, you are going to gallop to the other end of the hall/room.”

Start by calling out the names of other animals, followed by horse. Next time, change it. “When I say crow, you are going to fly to the other end of the hallway.”

When saying other animals make sure you say horse and see how many children try to gallop! Continue the game, changing the animal and motion.

Ms. Debbie’s Cocoa Snowballs

Ms. Debbie’s Cocoa Snowballs

Felting seen here, like these treats,     also includes squeezing & rolling.

Felting seen here, like these treats, also includes squeezing & rolling.

This simple recipe is a great one to try with children. It’s an opportunity for toddlers to do one of their favorite activities--   dump and fill!

Older children will feel a sense of accomplishment, and both will benefit from the sensory experience of squishing ingredients together & rolling into balls.

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1⁄2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • a pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls about one inch in diameter. Best if chilled for 4 hours before eating.

*Inspired by Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles.

Playground Renovation

Playground Renovation

Hooray!! Our playground renovation project made BIG headway this fall. Several Blossom Families joined forces with RAM Construction who donated time and equipment for a weekend work-party. Thank you again Blossom Family Volunteers and RAM Construction!!