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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Exploring Our Community Part 2: A Visit from the Fire Department

This week we had an exciting visit from out local Fire Company.
As it is Fire Safety Month, we took the time this week and last week to talk with our students about the importance of knowing what to do in a fire.

Of course adding the element of play helped the children process the information.

Our local Lowe's saved a refrigerator box that the children transformed into a very fun fire truck.
Above is the crew painting the outside, and below are the lights created by a couple of boys who asked to find a way to add the "flasher lights."

Some cute fire fighters poking their heads out of the truck before and after they finished painting it.

Working hard at putting a fire out!

The crew piled into the truck after saving the day.

During the week we practiced fire drills, talked about our safety spot if ever there was an emergency, and asked if they had a fire plan at home.  Many of the children were not sure, so we talked about asking their parents to set one up with them so they would know where to go in an emergency.  We talked about important things to do in a fire such as not hiding, calling out for help, staying low, and stop, drop, and roll.

We had the fire department come into the school to help the children gain further information, but also to help them not be afraid of firefighters.  They often idealize the typical image of a firefighter, but in a fire, firefighters are often quite scary to children.  They are coming out of the smoke with gas masks and axes and often sound frightening.  It is important for children to know this because young children will often run away or hide from fire fighters for this reason.  Seeing their equipment, understanding what they may look like, and what to do in a fire is so important. 

Above is the Fire Chief showing how a fire fighter might enter a room, and below he is demonstrating how a child can grab onto the tool and be pulled to safety.  He also let them test their strength and hold the tool (with assistance of course.)

The children were very attentive and answered and asked many great questions.
Some things the fire fighters asked were:
Do you ever go back into a fire to get a favorite toy or pet?
One answer to this was: "No, Never, Zero.  That means nothing!" A.C.
The firefighters expressed that often if it is still safe they will go into the fire to save a pet.  They mentioned dogs, cats, guinea pigs.
One of the children asked: "Have you ever gone in to grab a fish tank?" L.P.
This one stumped them, we are not sure.
Some other points the fire fighters made where to remind parents to turn the handles of pots and pans in when they are on the stove in case a little one goes near the stove.  They told the children that if they are in a room and can't get to an exit or near a window, to shut a door and try and put clothes under it, then lay low in the middle of the room if it is safe.  They also mentioned closing doors as they leave a building that is on fire to try and slow the fire in a building.  And of course they re-emphasized that they should never hide in a fire, to stay low, and if their clothes are on fire to stop, drop and roll.  Many of the children were excited to demonstrate this technique.

A very exciting part of the visit was getting to try on the fire gear.

The kids were excited to show the fire fighters the truck they made in the school.

And of course the most exciting part, getting to go outside and see the truck!

The Chief talked through all the parts of the truck.  His audience was captivated.

Checking out the Thermal Camera which helps find fire within the walls, but can also help find people and pets.

Taking all the information in.

Demonstrating more tools and parts of the truck.

The children as a final treat were given the chance to sit in the truck with the lights flashing and the siren going.  Some of the kids thought they were heading out to a fire, you can see in the window the excitement that many of them had.  

A well educated and excited crew of young firefighter idols.
Hopefully they will never need to use the information they learned, but it is important that they know.
I am so grateful to the firefighters volunteering their time to visit the school, but also all their volunteer hours and their compassionate courage.  I was informed that the Catskill Fire Department goes to an estimated 400 emergency calls a year.  It amazes me that we have such selfless men and women in our community to volunteer their time and risk their lives for our community, as well as educate our youth. Our deepest appreciation to you all. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Exploring Our Community: A Visit to the Local Urban Farm

We had a wonderful opportunity last week to take a walking field trip and explore our community.
A family at the school has been working hard at cultivating an Urban Farm in our neighborhood.  You can find out more about their project at Spring Side Organics
Our school was invited to take a tour of the farm, do observational drawings, harvest seeds, and of course taste some very yummy vegetables.

Before we left to go on our trip a question was presented to the children: What makes a farm?
Many of the children answered animals, a barn, and vegetables. 
 I asked does a farms have to be in the country to be considered a farm?
The children responded yes, that a farms needs lots of land.
When asked if anyone ever heard of an Urban Farm, the children said no.  
This led into a brief discussion about a farm being a piece of land that is devoted to producing a product that can be shared or sold to others.  With this in mind we talked about there being all sorts of farms, and explained that they were going to visit an Urban Farm, which is a farm that is located in a town or city.

Of course we wondered what we would see along the way?  Some said squirrels, others said chipmunks, another shouted out a bunny, and one very excited little girl exclaimed, "a unicorn!"  We did happen upon squirrels and chipmunks, and even men standing on top of a roof, but unfortunately we did not see any unicorns on this day. 

The crew heading out.

Meeting up with Ashley at the farm.  Of course she was greeted with a harm hug.

Our friends heading into the Labyrinth Garden.

A captive audience as Ashley shares about the different types of plants.  

We got to experience some very unique crops such as Indigo Blueberry Cherry Tomatoes, which start out red then turn a bluish/black in the sun.  

We also were introduced to Dragon Carrots that are purple on the outside and orange in the inside.

Trying out the celery, many even put some in their pockets to save for their parents, or to share with parents on the trip.

Ashley showing the children a new crop of plants emerging.

Discovering beans to taste!

The children were shown what a carrot looks like when it is ready to harvest.

"The magic bridge", which was a favorite for many of the children when they were asked what they liked best about the trip.

The "Mirror Lake" and two Koi Fish, another favorite that the children brought up later in the day.

Here we are huddled around the potato bin.

A potato discovered in the bin.

"This is so cool," she exclaimed as she discovered where potatoes come from. 

A harvested collection put out for the children to explore, and draw. 

Many were eager to draw things they found on the trip or from their imaginations.

One little artist showing his drawing of the house while friends look on.

We discovered a nest, and another little artist drew the nest and the eggs that might be inside.

It was wonderful watching the children so naturally pick up their drawing boards and express their ideas about the trip, or find an object they wanted to observe and draw.  Not only does it show their ability, but lets them take a moment to digest all the information they learned in a way that visually displays their learning, but also slows them down for a little while to take it all in.  

Many just enjoyed being out in nature and looking at all that nature offers us.

Near the end of our adventure, the children were taught how to harvest beans which they collected in envelops to take home.

As we neared home, the children enjoyed a final sprint through the field.  
I am always impressed with what our community offers us and the many opportunities for learning something new.  I do have to say, everything is so much more magical when you experience it through the eyes of these little ones.