Friday, April 16th, 2021

Conversations with Erica~ Wisdom of Geese

Each Tuesday during our BFPP team collaborative time, one of our team members picks a topic to present to the group. This Showcase of Practice, as we call it, is an opportunity for us to really SEE one another during this long-drawn-out time of physical distancing.

Recently, Kristy Tice, one of our new team members this year, offered us a beautiful Showcase of Practice comparing “the ways of geese” with the ways she has deeply appreciated our tight and supportive team of practitioners at BFPP. Her main message was based on the following information about geese:

“When you see geese flying along in "V" formation, you might consider as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone — and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they catch up with the flock or launch another formation.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.”

Kristi’s presentation gave rise to a new way of being together….we now offer a resounding goose-like, belly-full, HONK, HONK any time one of us is feeling alone, or afraid, or worn out so we can once again feel encouraged and emboldened by the strength of our group. As we continue to come back together to an in-person community, don’t be surprised if you hear a honking sound throughout the hallways and if you begin to see a goose, or a flock of geese, or baby goslings showing up in and around the building, know that this is a reminder message for all of us:

We are better together.

You are a part of this honking flock of geese too. Each one of you contributes to this robust community in your own special and unique way. One of us, or several of us, will always drop down to be with you should you need extra support, and you can always re-join us at any point in your journey. We will honk for you and flap for you and fold you into our V-shape formation as we continue to head towards an innovative, creative, and unique learning experience for your family, each one of us taking turns sharing the load and the lead.

For further inspiration take a few minutes and immerse yourself here:

Embracing Transitions

If you are planning to attend your neighborhood school in the fall, please be mindful that all schools are beginning to plan for the fall. Now is the time to reach out to your neighborhood school and ask to be included in all their fall planning communications.

Fifth graders transitioning to middle school will want to be aware of upcoming presentations by middle school counselors, possible school visits, and opportunities to choose enrichment courses for 6th grade.

Eight graders transitioning to high school will want to be aware of making choices for their 9th grade schedules and getting connected with their high school counselor. Schools are also reaching out to ask families about placements for classes such as math and science.

If you are still unsure about your choice for next year don’t worry – there is still plenty of time. However, you might consider joining Erin McCarthy in her Fumbling to Flexible Learning Together Workshop next Wednesday April 21st from 11-12:30. (more info below)

Also, please know you will always have the opportunity in the fall to choose classes. It is never too late to sign up or register.

Reach out with wonders to

Mark Your Calendars

See below for more info:

  • Fridays 12:30-2:30: Kindergarten Outdoor Play
  • Thursday, April 22nd, 6:30-7:30: Killer Whale Tales with Jeff Hogan
  • Wednesdays, April 28th & May 5th: Children's Art Walk submissions accepted

More info coming soon:

  • BFPP Talent Show: Wednesday, May 19 at 1:30
  • Celebration of Learning: Wednesday, June 9 at 1:30

Kindergarten Outdoor Play

When: Every Friday 12:30-2:30pm

Where: Larrabee Elementary

How: With masks and distancing

Why: To build community & create friendships

Play Date Menu

April 23rd Hula Hooping

April 30th Scavenger Hunt

May 7th Egg & Spoon Race and Egg Art!

May 14th Charades

May 21st BINGO!

May 28th Simon Says

June 4th Yoga

June 11th Obstacle Course

Every playdate we will have crayons, markers, paper and coloring sheets available for kids who might feel hesitant to join the group at first. Check out our menu and pick the dates you would like to join your peers for some play!

Families need to fill out this Health Attestation Form just once for these drop-in classes. You do not need to register for this class, just swing on by!

*An adult must stay with their kindergartener during each class.

*If it’s a rainy day we will put our raincoats and boots on and make the best of it!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to

BIG LOVE, Sammy and Kristy

Presenting Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales

Join us to learn more about our Southern Resident Killer Whales and their habitat (our backyard!)

When: Thursday, April 22 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm (Earth Day!)

RSVP: to Anne Madsen-Boydstun to receive the zoom link

More info:

Children's Art Walk: Oh, The Possibilities!

For our local Art Walk, students are invited to submit one piece of art that will be displayed in the window of a local business from May 7th-20th.

Need inspiration for an art walk submission? Or are you looking to do some art just for the joy of it?

Volunteer Christina Miller has put together a Zentangle Art Lesson for us!

Have fun creating!

Submissions may be dropped off at BFPP during normal materials pick-up times, Wednesday April 28th or Wednesday May 5th.

Guidelines for submissions:

1) We are able to accept ONE piece per student

2) We are set up to accept 2D submissions of 5x7 to 11x17. If you have a student with a piece that does not fall within that description, please contact Lisa or Taylor. We may be able to accommodate other types of pieces if we are aware of them in advance.

3) Please include Student’s Name, Grade Level, Title, and Medium either on the back of the piece or on a separate sheet AND

4) We strongly suggest student’s 2D art be submitted in a folder, (or some type of protective enclosure) with parent/guardian’s contact info on the outside. This will protect the artwork and simplify the process of picking it up after the show ends.

Please contact BFPP parent volunteers Lisa Spreyer or Taylor Mohr with questions.

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Supporting Your Struggling Reader: 3rd-5th grade

April 26th and May 3rd 1:00-2:00pm (please attend both Mondays)

In this Learning Together Workshop, we will spend 2 sessions together working to build our knowledge and skills around how to help support our readers who struggle. We will build an understanding of how the brain works and how reading and language is processed. We will create the agenda for the second day around the needs you have. I am excited to work with you to support your reader. Please come prepared to be present with cameras on and a willingness to share in large or small groups.

Can’t attend on a Monday?? These classes repeat on Friday mornings in May/June!!

Please RSVP to Carrie Vining.

From Fumbling to Flexible: A Conversation About Envisioning the Fall

Wednesday, April 21st from 11-12:30pm

This 90 min. workshop—facilitated by BFPP teacher and homeschooler Erin McCarthy, is for families who are unsure of their plans for the fall.

If you are seeking a forum where you can field your wonders about returning to your neighborhood school and/or are curious about how you could make another year with BFPP work for your family, then come to this workshop.

Erin will share some insights about how to identify what you want in your child’s learning experiences and what frameworks and support systems you could incorporate to maintain your role as the primary educator. Please come with your questions, concerns, and wonders.

Please RSVP to Erin by 3pm, Tuesday, April 20th.

Math Games and Problem Solving K-5

Thursday, April 29th 3:00-4:30pm

BFPP parents and math enthusiasts Rachel Blum and Heidi Zollner will share math games, puzzles, and problem solving strategies for the elementary level. We'll play a few games, learn some others, crowdsource a list of our favorite math games, and more. Games are an enjoyable way to keep math concepts fresh during the summer!

Please sign up here to receive the Zoom link.

Book Club: Becoming Better Grownups

May 10th & May 24th

Order your book now and have fun reading! More information coming soon...

Becoming Better Grownups by Brad Montague

A New York Times-bestselling author looks for the meaning of a good life by seeking advice from the very young and the very old.

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Inspiring Play in Young Children

by Sammy Cousens

“Children feel productive when their work is valued, and when they do not feel a sense of failure. Working with loose parts teaches them that their work has merit.”

--Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky

What Are Loose Parts?

You know those little things you have hiding out in places like your jewelry box, a junk drawer or a tool box? They may be shiny, rough, smooth, waxy, flat, round and maybe roll. They may be sort of heavy, you may have a lot of them lying around, but you don’t really know why? Or perhaps you think they have only one purpose. These are the things that kids are drawn to because by nature kids are curious, creative and love the novelty of these items. Loose parts have endless possibilities, inspire unconventional engineering and problem solving! The old things become new treasures and this is where the magic lies!

Why Loose Parts?

Working with loose parts and materials shows the value in how we learn versus focusing on what we learn. It’s a type of creative play and learning that works well to:

  • invite conversations
  • create a new way to interact
  • encourage collaboration
  • practice cooperation
  • support creativity and innovation
  • find flow and captivation
  • invite open ended play
  • build strong spatial relationships
  • develop new language skills and concepts
  • foster numeracy and computation thinking
  • promote critical thinking and classification skills
  • safely take risks and try new things

Loose Part Materials

Leaves, Duct Tape, Pennies, Straws, Nuts and Bolts, Toothpicks, Tape Measure, Paper Clips, Scarves, Hangers, Ribbon...


Pebbles: Stack, balance, sort by shape, color, texture, use as cars, or people

Rocks: Make a path that leads you to safety as you jump and dodge the alligators, build castles, make a Mandela

Sticks: design patterns, roads, make letters and shapes, line up from shortest to tallest

Things to Remember

Kids need space, time and materials to create, recreate and then start all over. Next time you are thinking you need something new or inspirational for your child to learn I encourage you to create a Loose Parts Kit. There is no right way or wrong way, no directions or need to tell anyone what and how to do “it.” Kids will just begin to design and create from their imagination- just provide them with some thoughtful materials. Once you get the idea of “it,” you will see the endless possibilities. Kids will let us know when they are ready to move on to new materials, if not with their words, then by their interest level.


Loose Parts by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky

Children's Books by Tana Hoban

Creative Investigations in Early Math by Angela Eckhoff

Until Next Time,

Sammy Cousens

What is a Decodable Book?

by Carrie Vining

Ever heard of a decodable book vs a trade book? Wonder what the difference is? Think of how a baby bird needs to hop around in a nest and flap its wings for a while in order to get strong enough to fly. That is what learning to decode and using decodable texts is like—the exercise that gets the brain ready to access the lifelong ability to fly into reading.

I’ll start with describing trade books. Books that are considered “trade books” are all those lush picture books, engaging read aloud story books, chapter books that take us to exotic places, rich classic stories…getting the idea?

Decodable books are for practicing specific skills and known sight words within a text. Perhaps your child has just learned their short vowel sounds and some basic sight words. Maybe your older reader has learned vowel teams or r-controlled vowels (or, ar, ur, ir, er). Learning their spelling patterns in isolation is a great start. The next step is putting them into practice in a controlled text. That is where decodable texts come in.

BOB Books are a classic example of decodable books, but there are many, many more. One of my favorite sites for all things reading is Reading Rockets. They have compiled an impressive list of resources for decodable books.

Here are some free resources online:

Flyleaf Decodables Scope and Sequence

Flyleaf Decodables Free Online Library

World Language Supports

by Piper Mertle

One of my very favorite French films for families is “Kirikou” et la Sorcière” (Kirikou and the Sorceress). This delightful, animated film from West Africa tells the tale of a magical little boy who is clever and courageous. The music and colors and animation give a real feel for the region and culture of this part of the world.

If you dare, I recommend you try watching the French language version with your kindergartener (read the subtitles to yourself, explaining to your child as needed). Reading subtitles is a great reading skill!

Watch the trailer

Buy the DVD

*The DVD will soon be available at the public library*

You and your child will start to recognize certain phrases and expressions in French! (The film also has an English language “dubbed” version, but it’s not as authentic).

France was a colonial power in northern and West Africa. In fact nearly 50% of the world’s French speakers live in Africa! (Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Benin and more).

Some scenes, in which the sorceress is trying to catch the children, may be scary to some kids. The film opens with the birth scene of Kirikou, and depicts traditional clothing, games and indigenous nudity, all shown in a natural and sensitive manner.

Senegal is 95% Muslim. The Muslim holiday of Ramadan started on April 12 this year.

Kids Explain Ramadan

Here are some coloring pages of West Africa:

Book Recommendations

by Kristy Tice

Dear Readers,

Here are more of my favorite read alouds I have compiled for you. I wish you many precious moments reading with your child(ren)!



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Extra Plants Wanted!

Paging all you green thumbs out there! If you're dividing plants this spring, the garden committee would love your extras to give them a home in the garden at BFPP. Please contact Jackie if you have plants you'd like to donate. Thanks and happy planting!

Scholastic Book Order

Please place your online order by Monday, May 3rd.

New to ordering? Here’s how:

1. Go online to:

2. Click on 'Connect to a Teacher' and enter our BFPP Class Code: RT8NH

3. Sign up using your student's first and last name.

4. Shop the flyers and pay online for your order. You can choose from any and all of the many different flyers available. You can choose to have your order shipped to school for free, or to your home (free with $25 purchase).

5. Choose a free book (up to $5) with a $25 purchase.

6. Please email Heidi Zollner and let her know you've ordered so we can arrange delivery of your books.

7. Books should arrive the week of May 17th.

Thanks for supporting the BFPP library with your purchase!

Every purchase earns us free books and other goodies for our school.

WWU for the love of SCIENCE!

Is your child naturally curious about the world of science? Are you looking for a way to keep your 3rd-5th grader engaged in science learning? Join us for a great time exploring science!

WWU is offering three, engaging and interactive lessons for 3rd-5th graders. Each lesson is designed and taught by Western students training to be teachers. These free lessons give elementary students a chance to work with instructors who share a passion for science and meet new friends. Each session, students will listen to books focused on science topics and work with other peers to extend their ideas in our virtual classroom. We hope you join us!

Sign up for either the Wednesday or Friday classes:

Wednesdays at 1:00pm : May19, May 26, June 2 or

Fridays at 1:00pm: May 21, May 28, June 4

Newsletter Contributions Welcome

Please email Heidi Zollner with your news items.