Farewell

Our final circle together was filled with appreciation and fun. So and Pinar could not join us, but Arielle was and brought her joyful and playful presence. We began our short time together playing foxtails, a favorite of the girls. After getting out our energy, we sat together for an appreciation circle. So and Pinar had prepared beautiful words of appreciation for the girls in advance to be read and given to them. Sharing with each other the girls were honest and heartfelt about what they appriciated most. Lydia was appreciated for her kind heart and ability to make others happy. Kaitlin was appreciated for her observation skills and joke telling. Lauren was appreciated for her silliness and love of learning. Savannah was appriciated for her scouting skills and love of adventure. Finally, Francessca was appreciated for her leadership and ability to make others feel better. Though our time together was short we shared beautiful memories of the season and celebrated with family and food during the potluck. Cheers to a great Robin’s Circle and many more to come!

With Gratitude,

Mariah, Arielle, Pinar, & So

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Honey

We shared a sweet Robin’s Circle together this past Tuesday. We started our day off with a game of tree tag. So led us by calling out the name of a plant or tree that we had to touch to be safe. The girls identified Oaks, Pines, Spruces, and lilac’s. After our game we shared a delicious snack together, So and Pinar had thoughtfully brought the girls sweets from Lucky’s bakery (which they had been asking for every Robin’s Circle :).

During snack Pinar shared a story with us about about the connection we can have to plants and how they can protect us, their’s specifically being Devil’s Club. After story and snack we continued our sweetness by gathering plants to infuse our honey with. Heading up to deer meadow and playing sink and fade along the way, we searched for Oregon Grape, Wild Oregano, Clever, and fresh pine to infuse our honey with. The girls were great at identifying the plants and Kaitlin was able to find a patch of Wild Oregano that slipped past the mentors.

With our harvest ready we headed back to the picnic shelter to infuse. Each girl picked out different plants to infuse in their honey and set intentions of when they would open and eat the honey again. We closed Robin’s Circle with a bittersweet goodbye as it was Pinar and So’s last time with us for the season. We all left with honey in the heart.

With Gratitude,

Mariah, So, & Pinar

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Orientation

Robin’s Circle gathered for a beautiful sunny Tuesday. Orientation was the theme of the day, and we started off practicing our awareness and orientation skills in a blind fold game. Dividing into pairs one partner was blindfolded and the other partner stood in one spot. The blindfolded partner tried their best to walk in a straight line and after 20 feet would stop and using the other still partner as a measurement would determine which foot was dominant from which direction they swayer. This practice helps you when you are lost because you are aware you are more likely to go a certain direction based on which foot is dominant.

Pinar shared a personal story with us about getting lost when sheep herding in Arizona and how orientation is a crucial skill for survival. Donning the blindfolds again, each girl was blindfolded and stood across the field from Pinar. Pinar had a drum, and was lightly drumming while the girls practiced their fox walking and deer ears to make their way across the field to Pinar.

Our final activity of the way was a scavenger hunt. Some of the items on the list such as bark an elk scratched, mountain sage, and deer poop were all found previously at Robin’s Circle in the deer meadow. It was a good orientation practice to remember how to find something, and we found several of the items on the list including deer poop, mountain sage, and fur. The scavenger hunt brought our time together to a close :)

With Gratitude,

Mariah, Pinar & So

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Birds and Buddies

 

A few weeks ago we teamed up in Village again to reprise our epic game of the Hawks and Flocks Bird Language game that was such a hit in the Fall!

This time we paired up the Chickadees with their older or younger “Buddies” that have been paired together a number of times in different ways this spring! It has been really great to see the older guys and gals start to mentor the younger kids without any prompting. (OK, maybe occasional prompting ;) )  There seems to be some real bonds between them now!

The game was a rousing success and we could have played for hours more!

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Making Pine Needle Baskets

 

Over the past few weeks, the Chickadees have been working hard! I wanted to give them the opportunity to take on a project that would take some time, focus and hand-eye coordination! If they were up to the challenge, the boys were invited to stitch together a Pine Needle Basket using wood slices I prepped at home, artificial sinew or thread and Ponderosa Pine needles.

I hadn’t posted this one yet because some of the boys wanted to give thier baskets to Momma’s for Mother’s Day! I hope those that got them enjoyed them and appreciate all of the hard work that went into these!

It takes a lot of focus and concentration to complete one of these Pine Needle Baskets! With this in mind a few of the boys decided that coming from a full day of school they would be better served by moving thier bodies and exploring the natural world in different ways.  During these times: crayfish were caught, trees were climbed, dead squirrels discovered (then examined and buried), dams built, snakes handled, spring wild plants eaten and more! There can be much magic in these times and the kids working on the basket bounced back and forth between these two worlds!

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Drizzle

Robin Circle met for a drizzly Tuesday at Chautauqua. FullSizeRender.jpgWe began our time together playing Noodle Ninja and practicing our stealth skills. Noodle Ninja is a game where one person stands in the middle of the circle blind folded and tries to use their intuition and ears to hit the people that are trying to sneak up on them, and tag them with the noodle.

 

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After some noodle fun we had snack and were visited by our friend Mrs. Blossom Eater (a pregnant squirrel that has nested by the picnic shelter) and we followed her up a near by tree. It was a learning experience because Mrs. Blossom was storing food in her cheeks which was awesome to see. Lydia had the idea to leave Mrs. Blossom Eater an offering and Pinar happened to have some seeds that would be perfect. All the girls contributed to leave Mrs. Blossom a wonderful offering.

 

The rain picked up and we layered up to go on a wander with the intention of finding bird activity. When walking through the residential area at the base of Chautauqua we were surprised by the high amounts of bird activity. We saw Hatch Nut’s, Mag Pie’s, and Robin’s on our way, and asked the girls why they thought there were more birds here than by our picnic shelter. Lauren said that it was because the houses provided more shelter and there were more trees. We came back to the picnic shelter to escape the rain and had a lovely dinner and entertainment provided by the girls as our time came to a close.

With gratitude,

Mariah, Pinar, & So

 

 

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The Bobcats Roar While The Mentors are Silent

 

Wendy and I decided that we were spending too much time talking on program! This can happen naturally on a program with the lead instructors. To balance this out we “lost our voices”. Then we split the kids up into a boys group and a girls group and gave the kids a scavenger hunt of sorts!  We would not recover our voices until the tasks were completed!

The children were all nervous and excited at finding out this news! Over the course of a few hours they bonded strongly while working together and gaining some real independence!  These kids are amazing and capable of great things when we give them a shot.

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Meet a Tree

Robin’s Circle began with a game of Fire in the Forrest. Lauren started off as the person in the middle was it and picked monkey, rabbit, and flying fish. The girls on the side lines each picked an animal and ran across the field trying not get tagged when Lauren called their animal. After Fire in the Forrest we had snack by the fire pit. Lydia brought the grave offering she made for the Northern Flicker that we found last week, and while she was showing us her offering a Northern Flicker visited us and sang a song. During snack we discussed eating wild plants and their medicinal benefits.

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Our tummies satisfied we played meet a tree in the lower field. We divided into pairs, one partner would be blindfolded and the other would be leading them to a tree. The blindfolded partner would touch, smell, taste, and hug the tree trying to get an understanding of the barks texture, the leaf shape and branch height so that they could identify the tree without their blind fold. Francessca found he tree on the first guess.

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With the time we had left, we went over the five bird songs: song, companionship, territorial, junior begging, and alarm. Lauren, Lydia, and Francessca helped go over the 5 songs to fill in Savannah and Kaitlin who were gone that week. Our time together came to a close playfully with a spin through the play ground on our way back to the shelter.

 

With gratitude,

Mariah, So, & Pinar

 

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Life & Death

Robin Circle gathered for another sunny Tuesday with intentions of bird watching and shelter building. We started our day together playing raccoon steals donut. Lydia took guard of the donut first and was an amazing guesser, it took the rest of us raccoons several times to steal the donut from her! After playing a game we headed to Robin’s Rock to eat snack and set intentions for the day. We were accompanied by Mrs. Blossom Eater, a pregnant squirrel who was eating blossoms high in a tree above our rock. Mrs. Blossom Eater was incredibly cute and held our attention for 20 minutes. Lydia build an altar to celebrate Mrs. Blossoms pregnancy, while Kaitlin, Francesca, and Savannah took closer inspection of her through binoculars.

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After our lovely snack and time with Mrs. Blossom Eater, we headed towards the creek to look for a good shelter location. Pinar taught us the 5 W’s of shelter building: Water, Wood, Weather, Widow Makers, and Wiggles.  Looking for a good spot to build a shelter Kaitlin spotted the remains of a Northern Flicker whose bright orange feathers stood out. We learned that the Flicker had been eaten by a larger bird predator because it’s feathers had been picked clean rather than sheared off as another predator would have. Several body parts were found in the remains and this opened up a good discussion of the cycle of life. So and Pinar left the girls with the following message. Death is necessary and beautiful, the Northern Flicker’s life gave nutrients to the bird that ate it and the bugs the feated on its remains. Those bugs then returned the nutrients to the land to help the plants grow, and those plants helped feed the living things that surrounded them.

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We began our time together with the life in Mrs. Blossom Eater, and ended it with the death of a Northern Flicker. It was a great day of learning and connection to nature for the girls.

With Gratitude,

Mariah, Pinar, & So

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One Tired, Hard-working Kiddo

So, last week, the entire 3rd Grade (all of the Chickadees) had an overnight trip to an awesome environmental center in the Foothills and returned about 20 mins before program was supposed to start.   As you might imagine the kids were all just about spent.  One after the other the went by like zombies and letting me know they would not be making it after all.  When all was said and done, only one kid remained: Alden!

I was there as was our volunteer, Rivi, so the Student to Mentor ratio was out of this site!

I brought the materials to make Pine Needle baskets and it proved to be the perfect task for a super tired 3rd grader! We sat by the creek for 2 hours and worked the whole time except for the obligatory tree-climbing break and river exploration and stretch time.
By the end of the day, Alden and Rivi both had pretty good starts on their first pine needle baskets! I am excited to bring this to the rest of the kids who are interested this week!

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