Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Presidential Visit

We welcomed Barack Obama for a short visit today. He arrived without any secret service agents. He told us that being president was a pretty easy job, because he could ask other people to do his work. His plans for the day included riding in a limo, eating lunch out, and then drinking a whole Coke.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Red Wigglers Are Here

Looking carefully.

A big clump of red wigglers- cool! Why do they like to clump together?

Our 2000 red wiggler worms are here. We are learning about vermiculture ( worm composting), and have been studying our worms closely. We hope to use worm castings to help our plants grow! Stop by anytime to take a look in our worm bin.

Friday, May 20, 2011

NAP Celebration and Plant Sale

On Friday, June 3rd, an end of year celebration will be held at the North Branch Nature Center. All UES families are invited to bring a picnic dinner, and enjoy the music of Dave Keller, and a second band, The Blue Fox. Please plan to arrive at 5:30.
This end of the year event, is also a fundraiser for NAP. Suggested donation is 10 dollars per family.
We will be having a plant sale as well (see sidebar note).
I am looking forward to this event, and hope to see many families there. If you need help with transportion, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Koch's Co-op

We have been reusing!
Our co-op has opened and at center time, the class has really enjoyed stocking shelves, shopping and checking out.

Thank you for sending in so many items for the store.
The class voted on a name for our store!

"You need some money. ""Okay I will make some."
Shopping with friends is so much fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011

From the Times -Argus Sunday, May 15, 2011

Where the wild things need to be

By Catherine Buni - Published: May 15, 2011
On the fourth day of spring, 15 kindergartners rejoiced in a sunny field a few blocks from downtown Montpelier. It was Friday, a school day, and teacher Susan Koch’s morning lesson, acting out a favorite native species, had just begun.

At my feet, the class squirrel turned somersaults. In the middle of the field, a white-footed mouse and monarch butterfly rolled in the melting snow, while a porcupine and yellow-spotted salamander simply licked it. At the edge of a wooded hillside, a red-tailed hawk and great blue heron skipped in circles and tossed glittering clumps of ice into the air.

E.O. Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and author made famous for studying ants, would have recognized the scene — a pack of small children romping around a field on a school day pretending to be wild animals — reminding us that we have been running in bands of hunter-gatherers for millions of years. Biophilia, he called our human wildness, “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”

Most outdoorsy parents have read or heard of Richard Louv’s best-selling “Last Child in the Woods,” or the recent films “Mother Nature’s Child” and “Play Again,” all cautionary tales about what is becoming known as nature deficit disorder. What I liked most about these movies and Louv’s book is that they put some science behind all the Thoreauvian intuition we’ve ever had about the inherent value of being in nature. Being in nature reduces the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Louv tell us, and can “improve all children’s cognitive abilities” and resistance to depression and “negative stresses.”

Even so, whether it’s technology, workload or fear of injury, infection or abduction to blame, our children are spending less and less time outdoors. Our national obesity statistics reveal that one in four kids is overweight, more than a doubling in a single generation, even as team sports participation has exploded. Our national “screen time” average for 8- to 18-year-olds is up to 37.5 hours per week, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Research out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links screen time to obesity. Another study suggests that spending a few hours a day surfing the Internet leads to higher rates of depression.

By getting outside, we might be saving not only ourselves but our planet as well. There is evidence that when we make time to fall in love with the natural world, we are more likely to take good care of it. Kind of like our kids.

It is for all these reasons that the teachers, parents and administrators at Montpelier’s Union Elementary School teamed up with the local North Branch Nature Center a year ago. Now, with the nature center’s grant-funded Amy Butler in the lead, Susan Koch’s kindergartners, and eight other classes totaling 150 kids, tramp off to nearby wood, field and stream every other Friday.

Because of collaborations like this one, Children & Nature Network President Cheryl Charles says, national participation in the No Child Left Inside movement is at an all-time high. She’s “inspired by the opportunities, especially in places like Vermont,” she says, where the outdoors is, well, everywhere.

On this early spring day, it’s two city blocks from Montpelier’s Union Elementary, and, after sitting in a circle in the field there, gnawing on bagels and watermelon, the animals are beginning to stir. Butler stands up and starts gently beating a hand drum.

“Guess what?” she calls out. “We have to go into the woods!”

Left, right and center, the kids scatter, crawling on hands and knees, volunteer parents scrambling to keep up. Koch heads for the ridge, whereshe surveys her class exploring the sun-striped hillside below. The class river otter, a girl wearing a powder-pink balaclava with a silver fleece crown and the word “Princess” stitched on top, runs up from behind, clutching a crust of ice in her arms.

“Look what I found!” she shouts. “A print, and we got it out of the snow!”

Koch pulls a pack of track identification cards out of her coat pocket. Another girl, the snowshoe hare, plops down on the snow next to her. Bear? Muskrat? A dad joins in. Ruffed grouse? Turkey? The river otter hops to her feet.

“I’m going to go play!” she announces and runs off into the woods.

The owl crests the ridge, a stick in each hand, his one-on-one paraeducator kicking steps into the snow a few paces behind him. The boy, who I’d been told talks only on these outdoor days, looks at me and points to the sky, porcelain blue between pine boughs swishing in the wind. “Sky!” he calls out excitedly. He turns his brown eyes to the sun. “Trees,” he says. “Wind.”

Catherine Buni is a writer living in East Montpelier. The illustration for this column was drawn by Adelaide Tyrol. The Outside Story is assigned and edited by Northern Woodlands magazine and is sponsored by the Wellborn Ecology Fund of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


 1. The lower playground is now open for morning recess. Please remind your child to go to the lower playground before school or to the library for quiet start. They should NOT be coming into the room before 8:20. Often I am at morning meetings, and there is no adult present. Today three kinder kids were alone in the classroom before 8:10. An adult guided them outside! Whew! Please help with this safety issue!

2. There will be NO SCHOOL for kindergarten kids on May 18 and 19. Kindergarten screening will take place in the current kindergarten classrooms, and classes have been canceled for K kids. Grades 1-5 will have regularly scheduled classes.I will be substitute teaching in Mrs. Reagan's first grade while she conducts kindergarten screening in our classroom.

3. On May 20th, we will have Nature Adventure Program.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The parent's group meeting scheduled for 6:30 tonight will feature the Nature Adventure Program.Come for some nature games, great conversation, and activities with Amy Butler. Next year, first graders will have NAP on Mondays!

**** North Branch Nature Center will provide a program for children during tonight's meeting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lettuce Planting Field Trip

We are going to the high school on Tuesday at 12:45 to plant lettuce and learn about the compost cycle, the greenhouse, and where our lettuce comes from.

We would love adult helpers for this walking field trip.
Please give me a call if you can join us on Tuesday.

6th Annual UES/MHS Lettuce Planting Field
Spring has arrived and it is time to plant.

This is a walking field trip only
Sorry, No Bus Transportation
Sponsored by UES Parents’ Group and
Central VT Solid Waste Mgt District

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Encouraging Inquiry

Have you been wondering how to support young learners in Nature Adventure Program and Four Winds? Here are some suggestions for prompting to support inquiry.( just click to change slides)

A Visit From An Artist

Maria's Uncle John visited the class this past Monday.He visits from New York City, and shares his passion for creating art. Uncle John kindly answered questions, and gave advice to aspiring artists.  Some of the kindergarten kids remembered Vincent Van Gogh living in poverty, and using his "food" money to buy paints. Uncle John confirmed that an artists life can be difficult at times. Some of the kindergarteners are excited to learn more about classic artists such as DaVinci and Rembrandt.
Uncle John shares his sketchbook. He advises that anyone interested in drawing carry a small notebook to draw what they see. He also takes notes in his sketchbook to remember what is sketched, and where.

Sketching shapes, and learning about perspective.

Shading with white!

Using a globe to explore how light hits surfaces.

Everyone wants to be an artist now!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Thank you so much for  the lovely flowers, pictures, poems and cards. I love my job, and you are one of the reasons why!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Looking for Recycled Items

We will be setting up a storefront in the dramatic play area. Please help us stock the shelves by sending in boxes, and containers from your recycle bin. Please make sure that items are clean and safe for play. Thank you for your help.