Garden Gazette 1-29-21

Mark your calendar with these Garden happenings.

Valentine’s Day

Please bring Valentine’s to school no later than February 1st or 2nd

Class Celebrations
Ladybug and Honeybee’s -Thursday, February 11th

Crickets Friday, February 12th.

Picture Makeup Days

Our photographer Nigel will be back at the school next week to take pictures of students who were  not here for the first round  of pictures and retake pictures for families who were interested. 

Wednesday Feb 3
Cricket and Honeybee Picture Retake/Makeup

Thursday Feb 4
Ladybug  Picture Retake/Makeup

Children’s Garden Auction Kickoff

Please join us on Saturday, February 6th at 7pm as we kick off the Children’s Garden 2021 Auction! Check your email today for your invitation.

Winter Break

There is no school Monday, February 15 through Friday, February 19


Enrollment forms will be sent via email next week. Please return forms to the office by Friday, February 26.

From the Mousehole

It feels as though we are back into the full swing of our Branching Out Program, seemingly over the holiday spikes of the pandemic. Knock Wood! We so appreciate everyone adhering to the signed agreement to follow the detailed and well thought out guidelines that make our program possible and running smoothly. We’ve had a few kids in each class staying home a few days because someone in their bubble had an upset stomach or stuffy nose. Thankfully, none of these symptoms turned out to be Covid related, but precautionary staying at home helped us all feel more confident that we were being as safe as possible. We are so excited that some members of our community and their extended family bubbles have received the vaccine! Congratulations! Our program is still adhering to the current CDC guidelines which have us continue to social distance, mask, and quarantine if you have travelled or have contact with those who have travelled whether they have been vaccinated or not. 

This week, it was clear and very cold – Teacher Cara even had snow at her house! Thanks for sending the kids well prepared in layers and lots of gloves and hand warmers. 

We are using our deck space to do more of our curriculum as it is dryer and quieter for circle gatherings. Even on the days with no rain, our work surfaces in the forest and on the playground are damp with condensation and dew. The tarps provide wonderful large dry spaces, but the falling rain often drowns out story time and birthday circles. 

The teachers have enjoyed our Friday afternoon zooms with those of you who have joined us. We so miss our Gazebo gatherings to pass the time and get to know you all a little better. With just one zoom with each class under our belt, we already feel like we feel more like a community. Please reach out to us any way that you feel comfortable, email, phone, or text, if you have a question or need to communicate with the teachers. We are happy to chat with you. 

We are looking forward to celebrating Valentines with our students. The staff will each have valentine mailboxes also and can’t wait to see all of the homemade greetings. Please send the valentines in next week to get ready to distribute. 

Happy weekend everyone! 

Sqeaks and Hoots from Cari, Thea and Donna

Teacher Donna returned to class this week after her son’s wedding and heard all about how the kids absolutely loved Teacher Cari and Teacher Thea in their classes! Thank you to Cari and Thea for filling in for me! We had a fun week on the playground, very cold, but we all enjoyed painting at the easel, feeding the chickens and playing on the slide and swings. Have a great weekend everyone, and we’ll see you in Luna’s Forest next week!


We celebrated Seri’s half birthday on Tuesday and Porter’s 3rd birthday on Thursday. The children love to glue their picture on the birthday child’s banner, and the birthday child loves to sit in the birthday chair, meet our birthday puppet, Parsley Flakes the unicorn, and wear the crown that Parsley makes for them. They take as many trips around the sun as they are years old, and then beat the birthday drum. The birthday circle finishes with the special person making a wish and blowing out the birthday candle! With this year’s COvid restrictions, we are not passing out birthday treats from home, but we do plan on giving each student has their moment to shine, be it a half birthday or a celebration right around their special day. 

Ladybugs had fun doing their news and learning about squares. We painted on the easel, and made a great collage art piece of different sized squares. We acted out ‘Jack and Jill’ with a real hill and a pail! 

Be sure to start working on your valentines this weekend and start sending them in next week for distribution. We’re back to Luna’s forest next week! Have a great weekend!


We celebrated Loni’s half birthday on Wednesday, Zoey’s 4th birthday on Friday and said goodbye to our friend Kensie on Friday. Kensie is off to a different program that works better for her family but hopes to rejoin us for the Honeybee year. Cameron, our friend from Ladybug class last year will be joining us next week for the remainder of the Cricket year.  

We all had fun painting at the easel and learning about squares. Boy, we had such a cold start to the week, but these kiddos are pros at busting out their hand warmers and bustling their bodies to keep cozy! One group discovered rain in the wheelbarrows and buckets from the weekend and spooned it over to the slide to have a splashdown zone at the bottom. So fun to watch them experience the simple joys of getting dirty! They also did a nice job of taking turns so that each Cricket that wanted to had an equal opportunity to splashdown!

We started our ‘Second Step’ curriculum. This is a social emotional curriculum that teaches the kids how to read someone’s emotions by their facial expressions, or body language, and how to best support someone who might be going through some hard emotional feelings. One thing that we notice with all 3 of our classes, is that the pandemic has not allowed them as much time with others to learn how to work through some age typical friendship issues. We are seeing some tears and feelings around asking someone to play, and if someone says “I’m playing something else or with someone else right now”, or the concept of asking “Can I play with that when you are done?”, rather than grabbing the toy or pushing someone off of it. Our Second Step curriculum addresses interactions like these at circle time and the group works together to come up with a plan of how to work through them. We are so grateful to have the program that we have so that we can continue to focus on the social emotional curriculum that these children are needing. Thank you again for all of your continued support.

The sound of the week was ‘l’ and several of the Crickets learned the Days of the Week song. Please work on your valentines this weekend and send them in next week for distribution.


What a full week we had on the playground! The kids really did a great job of practicing their poems over the weekend and we gave out lots of stars! Thank you parents for your help! We sent home a new poem about Jack Frost and enjoyed teaching the kids about the mischievous sprite who paints our windows with frost! Imagine him walking around with an icicle cane! We all enjoyed making art on the easel with tin foil accents to look like frosty winter scenes. 

Our letter of the week was ‘p’, and we talked a lot about heroes. Don’t forget to send in their Hero posters next week and help your bee practice their presentation. They should be able to tell the class the hero’s name, what they did that is heroic, and why they chose that person. This is a great practice for their World Culture Report coming up after winter break. We will send home more details about that after everyone has done their Hero Presentation. 

We started reviewing our “Second Step” curriculum this week, our social-emotional curriculum that teaches empathy, communication, how to ‘read’ someone’s emotions, how to help someone, and how to ask for help. The Honeybee class typically has mastered the ability to use words instead of body to invite someone to play or to share. And they are at the stage where they are working more as a team, than best friend groups. This year in the Bee class, after being away from classmates for 7 months, we noticed that our Bees started the year with more typical Cricket behavior, struggling with friendship sharing, “I’m only playing with this person today…” “He doesn’t want to be my friend anymore, because he is playing with someone else”. The staff felt that a review of Second Step would be helpful. We are so proud of The Children’s Garden and The Branching Out program that provides these kids with the social emotional education that they so need. 

We are also working with the Honeybees to be respectful with our natural outdoor environment. We’ve had to limit some areas from play as the wonderful imaginations run wild at times, and entire branches and ferns are stripped of greenery to make nests and beds for their imaginative play. Please help us reinforce this at home, so that we can continue to have a beautiful natural setting for years to come. 

Along with their Hero poster, we have received some of the kids’ valentines. Make sure you work on them this weekend and send them in next week for distribution. 

Thanks everyone! Have a great weekend!





Squeaks and Hoots from Brook and Cara

Wow!  What a cold week we had.  There were days that the teachers were wearing at least 6 layers to keep warm.  We noticed that our kiddos in all classes are more prepared for the colder weather with hand warmers, lots of layers and hats.  Thank you parents!  It could also be that these amazing children are getting used to being out in nature and the cold and have learned that when they get cold, it is best to play freeze tag with your friends.


It is wonderful to have all 9 children this week up in the forest.  Our group has really grown close to each other and they look out for one another.  If someone falls down, a teacher will remind the other students to go and check in with the child who fell.  Ask them “How are you feeling?  Are you OK? Can I do anything to help you?”  After modeling this interaction with the children, it is fun to see how many friends come to the rescue when someone falls down (which is quite often).  This week we focused on squares.  We made square art and looked around for squares in nature.  Next week will be about circles.  Maybe you can start this weekend by looking for circles in your home.

Luna’s forest had several visitors this week and the children loved hearing about all of them and then searching to see if they could find more animals or animal remains.  We saw deer, worms, birds and even saw raccoon poop.  Let me tell you that we had many conversations about animal poop after that.  The children were so excited to share about the different animals they had seen in the forest, so we turned it into our weekly news.  It sure would be fun to read these stories to your children at bedtime.  We finished up Jack and Jill this week.  I am sure you have all had your kiddos coming home telling you jokes about, “Jack fell down and broke his _________?”  The silliest answers can make the children roll with laughter.   (pizza, tooth, water bottle, ……..)

We hope you are having fun working on your Valentines for the class.  You are welcome to send in a little treat if you would like to – but of course that is just an option.  


Wow!  These crickets sure know how to have fun in the forest.   We set up a new mud kitchen and enjoyed such culinary delights as worm soup, chocolate mud muffins and salad with dressing.  We also did more of our Second Step curriculum. (Please see Donna’s explanation above.)  It is important that children this age become aware of other people’s emotions by noticing their friend’s faces and bodies.  It is developmentally appropriate for children to start thinking outside of themselves and learn to be aware of other people feelings.  Second Step also teaches children how to use their strong voices when something happens that they are not happy about.  In the past, if they become upset or hurt, they would go to an adult to solve their problem.  However, they are now learning that they themselves have the power to solve many of their own problems.  

The letter this week was L and we came up with a lot of words that start with that sound.  Please have fun with your children at home by looking for objects that start with an L.  This is fun and educational.


We are so happy that our dear friend Emmie is coming back to our class on Monday.  Please add her to your Valentine’s list. We hope you all are having fun making your Valentine’s for your friends and teachers.  

We are really looking forward to seeing our class’s My Hero report this next week.  We have talked about many different types of heroes this week – including Rossie the service dog – and have given the students many ideas of people in the homes, community, or world who have acted in ways to help someone or something.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cara or Brook.  We are hoping that this is a fun project for you all to work on and that your child will really get to know what made their hero a hero.

We celebrated Axel turning 5 this week.  It is amazing how fast these little ones grow up.  We are so thankful that the teachers get to be a part of these children’s lives for the 3 years at The Garden.

We have been going through more of the Second Step curriculum with our kiddos.  (Please see Donna’s explanation above.)  The children’s social and emotional maturity has grown since the beginning or school.  We often have children’s checking in with one another if they sense someone is sad.  These are all important aspects of being in person at school which is why we are so happy to have our Branching Out program.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!




Closure & Inclement Weather Policy

With snowfall more likely to be in our forecast in the coming weeks please review our Closure & Inclement Weather Policy.

As an entirely outdoor program, Branching Out at the Children’s Garden is more affected by extreme weather than indoor schools. We closely monitor Issaquah School District’s inclement weather closings, while also considering the conditions at The Children’s Garden. If conditions are safe at The Children’s Garden, classes will operate on a normal schedule despite any closure that may occur in surrounding school districts. Any schedule changes or closures will be communicated to families at the earliest opportunity via text and email.

Assessments of the weather, the weather forecast, and road conditions all factor into the school’s decision to close school. The School’s primary concern regarding closures is always the safety of our students, families, and staff. However, the final decision about coming to school or staying during inclement weather is yours. Our families live across a broad geographical area and conditions in your neighborhood or on your route to/from school may differ from that at The Children’s Garden. If you are concerned that it is not safe for you or your child to be on the road, please do not hesitate to stay home.

Please note the following school closure policies and considerations:

  • If severe weather is forecasted (including but not limited to AQI, high winds, flooding, snow or extreme temperatures), The Children’s Garden will make every effort to cancel classes by 6:00 p.m. the evening prior or, in the case of snow, by 6:00 a.m. on the morning of classes. Notification of cancellation will be sent via text and email.
  • If unexpected severe weather occurs at/immediately before drop-off (lightning, hail, etc.), in lieu of health checks, teachers will send parents a text message requesting that they either:
    1. wait in their cars for up to 30 minutes to evaluate if the weather will pass
    2. return home if it is deemed unsafe to hold classes
  • If unexpected severe weather/conditions occur during the school day (hail, lightning, earthquake, fire), teachers will seek shelter with students as is appropriate and, if necessary, parents will be contacted to provide emergency pick-up if it is deemed unsafe to remain outdoors for the remainder of the scheduled class time.

You can view our Closure and Inclement Weather Policy at any time in our updated Branching Out handbook on our Branching Out page or directly here.

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