Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Principal's Corner

Dear BFPP Families,

Please take a few minutes to look through the entire newsletter. I am in awe of the wonderful things included, the representation of care, resources and opportunities, and the depth of what is our BFPP community. There are families offering their insights and gifts, students organizing clubs and learning, community outreach, ways to connect and so much more. Thank you for leaning in and I am hopeful that if you haven’t participated in something previously or read the articles, that maybe now is the time to embrace that opportunity. Happy reading!!

At BFPP we hold flexibility as one of our main tenets. Whether in our enrichment class offerings, curriculum choices or in our thinking, flexibility is a core belief and practice. We have experienced a lot of flexibility this year, in the community at large as well as within BFPP. Another main tenet at BFPP is to be in the service of others, as felt during our Learning Together Workshops, community events, Learning Plan Partner relationships and many other programmatic elements. This year we have hopefully exemplified that in the service of Bellingham Public Schools as well, which is demonstrated in the growth of our program and supporting the ability for families to transition when needed.

In honor of both flexibility and service, our beloved Hanna Buehrer will be returning to teach at her neighborhood school when third graders return to in person learning. We have loved working with Hanna this year, and I know her LPP families and students have also loved working with her. She will be heading to Sunnyland (where she was originally assigned to teach and where her own children attend) for the remainder of the year. We send her lovingly to share her gifts with others and the full knowledge that once you are a family member at BFPP you are always a family member. Please join me in sending her off with gratitude and grace.

Hugs from afar, k

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The February Blahs....

It's February. If you, like me, are finding yourself low on patience, doubting that your kids are learning, wondering just how badly you're scarring them for life, and feeling like you're doing it all wrong.... take solace in the fact that it's not you.... it's FEBRUARY!

Even in regular times, February can be tough. The holiday season is over, but spring and its promise of new adventures and warm sunny days feels far away. The shine has worn off all my September school plans, grey/cold/wet days fill up the forecast, and I find myself short on both patience and energy. This February, as an added bonus, Covid has curtailed our vital social connections and pandemic fatigue looms large. I often feel like I'm in a grumpy holding pattern, lacking inspiration and motivation.

It has taken me a few too many years to learn what helps me cope while I'm in the throes of the February blahs. (Obsessively googling private school websites doesn't!) I don't need to scrap my whole homeschool plan, and you probably don't either! But I've found it's invigorating and a welcome distraction to mix it up and try something different.

Let's counter the February blahs by collecting Homeschool Hacks from our BFPP community.

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Examples: Start the morning with a chilly walk around the block. Use a page-a-day art calendar to spark creativity and conversation. Get up early and get schoolwork out of the way. Sleep in late and learn together into the evening. Use heavy duty sticky tabs to mark your place in workbooks.(This is my favorite hack, I really love these tabs!)

Whether this is our first or zillionth year of homeschooling (or it's your first, but feels like your zillionth because - February!!), we all have hard-earned nuggets of wisdom and flashes of brilliance to share. The idea is to collect these hacks and share them with the BFPP community in the next newsletter.

Send in all your homeschooling hacks via email or on the BFPP parents Facebook Group and you could win one of several donated "Shop Local" gift cards (which may also help with the February blahs!)

The more hacks we collect, the better! My hope is that we'll all find something we'd like to try. Please submit your hacks by Wednesday, February 24th. We'll publish all tricks and tips as well as the winners of the gift cards in the next newsletter: Friday, February 26th.

I'm looking forward to trying out some shiny new tips! Here's to holding out for warmer days....spent together on the BFPP playground.... :0)


Heidi Zollner

Are you experiencing more than the February blahs? Support is available.

Contact BFPP counselor Erica Wolverton

BPS Mental Health and Wellness Resources

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Nature Club

BFPP 5th grader Avalon is starting a nature club! Kids ages 5-8 are invited to participate with parent participation. The club will facilitate exploration of our natural world through discussion and activities, with a focus on learning ways to be better stewards of the environment. Club meetings are on Zoom, Thursdays at 1pm, beginning March 3rd. To sign up or for more information, please email Avalon's mom Alisha Porter.

Building Social Skills

by Crystal Holtzheimer

Do you find that helping your child with social emotional learning (SEL) or executive functioning is on your list of current learning goals? Are you looking for quality resources to help you that are age appropriate and also fun? Thankfully, there are a few new ones that can help. These are books we’re currently using in our homeschool, and have found fun and/or helpful.

The first two are published by Sky Pony Press and are Minecraft-themed. They are Friendship-

Building Activities for Minecrafters and Confidence-Building Activities for Minecrafters. both by Erin Falligant. These are in a pretty standard workbook format, but with high-interest characters and scenarios inspired by Minecraft.

The third book is Social Skills Activities for Kids - 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social Rules by Natasha Daniels, LCSW. While the first two are helpful and interesting to kids who love Minecraft, this one is the standout to me. It still has a workbook style, but the activities require the kids to actually practice what they’re learning, while still being fun. Explanations are easily accessible to kids without being condescending. This book takes the approach that some of our kids really need social rules to be made explicit in order to learn them effectively. And then, of course, practicing them is the key. :)

So, if you’re looking for some new SEL resources that are fun and engaging, I’d recommend checking these out.

Sehome High School Film: Connect/Disconnect

See the trailer and get tickets for this feature-length film written, directed, and produced by Sehome drama students!

Connect/Disconnect is an artistic response to teenage life in quarantine, and centers on the stories of 8 teenagers during the 2020 pandemic and school closures. Since September, students have created this film from their hearts, writing original music, designing costumes, filming at home, and more.

Tickets are now available for Wednesday, February 17 at 3pm.

Black History Events at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is offering programs for all ages this February.

A list of events is available here:

(Please note all times are ET)

Of note is the Joyful Fridays program for 4-8 year-olds offered 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. ET each Friday in February. This special program is inspired by the museum’s Joyful ABC’s activity book series.

Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

All Whatcom County residents (including students grades k-12) are invited to participate in the annual Boynton Poetry Contest. Entries will be accepted March 1st - 31st. Winners will have their poems displayed on the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk outside the Bellingham Central Library. Visit the website to learn more.

Boynton Poetry Workshop with John S. Green

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 from 11am - 12:15pm (on Zoom)

In this FREE CHILDREN’S POETRY WORKSHOP, John Green will present poetry as a fun, engaging act of creative writing. His workshop will be interactive, inviting all participants to write in response to a variety of prompts.

NOTE: While the workshop is designed for young poets, all ages are welcome! Families, please feel free to accompany your child/ren as well, and… if you feel inspired, write along!

To sign up, please email - with your/your child's/student’s name, contact email, phone number, and title of the workshop.

The Public Library: A Treasure Trove of Homeschooling Resources

Whatcom County Library System librarians have put together a fabulous presentation highlighting the many free library resources of particular interest to homeschoolers.

You probably know about downloadable audiobooks and Kanopy, but have you explored Mango Languages, Culturegrams, or CreativeBug?

The library system also has a board game collection and wifi hotspots available for check out. They have a robust calendar of Zoom activities, including Mindfulness in Motion, Teen Gaming, Teen Paint Night, and Pajama Storytime.

Finally, Library Elf is a terrific service that keeps track of your family's library cards, due dates, and holds all in one place.

Materials Pick Up & Returns

Materials pick up and return will continue in February on Wednesdays from 9-10 am and 4:30-5:30pm.

Please return first semester class materials, in a bag labelled with the class title and your student's name.

Remember: If you or someone in your household has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, please do not come onsite for supply pick up/materials distribution or any other reason until your quarantine period is over. Thank you!

For Your Consideration...

How Much Learning Is Really Lost When Children Aren't In School Buildings?

"Warnings about academic loss are not just dubious; they’re dangerous. They create pressure on already-stressed-out parents (teachers) to do more teaching at home — and, worse, to do more of the most traditional, least meaningful kind of teaching that’s geared toward memorizing facts and practicing lists of skills rather than exploring ideas."

School Wasn't So Great Before Covid Either

"Like a tsunami that pulls away from the coast, leaving an exposed stretch of land, the pandemic has revealed long-standing inattention to children’s developmental needs—needs as basic as exercise, outdoor time, conversation, play, even sleep."

Getting to Know a Parent Partnership with the Sky Valley Education Center

A fun podcast about a parent partnership program similar to BFPP.

Newsletter Contributions Welcome

Please email Heidi Zollner with your news items.