Paper Mache’ Planets!

I wanted to assist our fabulous 1st grade teachers & students w/ their environmental science projects. It was about the solar system and especially our planets. I have not done paper mache’ too much w/ students because of the time & mess of it all but……we got inspired around here and got to work making an absolute mess of the greenhouse. A fun mess I should say! One class paper mache’d the balloons….


The other class painted…..


It’s hard to tell who made a bigger chaotic mess. But it was beautiful chaos and well worth the clean up time once the efforts paid off and the planets made it to our enviro night.




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Snowday & Snow-cream


The garden is about as snowy as could be and we just had to take advantage of that. We made some incredible vegan snow-cream treats from harvested snow, maple syrup, and whipped coconut milk.dsc_0542

What is more a more sustainable, free, and harvestable resource than snow?!? This activity was  a lot of fun and a great return to eating & cooking- which is welcomed in the middle of this garden-less winter.



We wrote the recipe down of course and hopefully the kids can enjoy this treat at home for a couple more days.


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Worms Worms Worms

Kindergarten was getting down with some worms this past week in preparation for Environmental Science Night on Feb. 16th. They will be be showing you all the cool facts and info about red wiggler composting worms and earthworms.


It was pure joy ( a’ight- terror for a few!) as we picked up, studied, and investigated these cool worms. They are descendants of the original batch of red wigglers acquired 9 years ago from the Yelm Worm Farm .We spread them and the wormbin fixins all out on the table and had a blast.


We then got to make an artistic representation of what is inside the wormbins (fruits, vegetables, newspapers- yes. Nachos, sundaes, pizza- no).


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Connecting Orca with Native culture & history

Here in the Orca Garden Program, we try and incorporate Native NW culture & history into different programs & activities. For example, look at this quote from Chief Sealth of the Duwamish Tribe and the responses from our amazing 6th grade scholars. The responses were insightful and incredibly interesting!


The 3rd Graders are learning about Native NW plants and much of what they learn is traditional Native uses of plants as medicine, food, clothes, and more.


Today we stripped Western Red Cedar bark off the tree to demonstrate sustainable harvesting. The bark was used for clothes, baskets, diapers, and more.


It is through these reflections and investigations that we learn more about the Duwamish tribe. Their treaties have still not been honored and it should be compulsory to learn that we are on lands that were originally inhabited by these fascinating people. Today many students learned of Chief Sealth and the Duwamish Tribe for the first time. The #1 source of food for Native people was of course….SALMON! So as we grow our salmon, we see their history and connection to this land. Also we see the importance of being stewards for the environment and preserving their history and legacy.


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The mighty Orca Salmon 2017!


It seems like only yesterday that we brought the salmon program back to Orca- but in fact it was 9 years ago, my first year at Orca. Our salmon program & release are a serious source of pride for Orca and something that students absolutely love to be a part of. Through the years, students learn about salmon life cycles, habitats, environmental dangers, and historical Native American connections to this incredible fish.


They start out as 200 eggs (Thank you Nancie Hernandez & the Salmon in Schools program Students watch them grow through the alevin and fry life cycle stage until they are released into the wilds of Seward Park’s Lake Washington shores. See last year’s release here. Until that release though, we learn about salmon through art and science lessons that are creative, scientific, and fun.


This salmon game is such huge fun, teaching about the trials and tribulations of the journey of salmon in their short lifespans.



We even get in some serious math to get the true picture of the perils of salmon life.


And check out this panorama shot of our giant diorama in the greenhouse of the salmon journey. Enlarge the picture at the bottom of this post.


We will release them around Earth Day in April and we hope to see you there at Seward Park. Until then- watch them grow…




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A Kid- A Can- A Month!


We have always maintained a great relationship with our local food bank Rainier Valley Food Bank– it is a critical food lifeline in our community. We at Orca have donated hundreds (thousands?!) of pounds of produce and thousands of packages of food over the years. This year we are getting a little late in starting our “A Kid-A Can-A Month” collection program. We are shooting for 10,000 cans & packages this year!


Help us with our goal by having your student bring food in every month. There is a collection box in each classroom. The class with the most cans/packages will win THE GOLDEN CAN each month- a trophy of sparkling goodness and social justice pride.

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Monster Kale Rolls


That giant monster kale is still growing strong in the garden, even after it seeded and I thought it was done for. In our continued quest to EAT EVERYTHING POSSIBLE out of the garden, we harvested kale and made some delicious rice & veggie rolls. This is an easy and tasty way to get kids to enjoy greens.


We still had some carrots & cucumber from the garden, added some daikon radish, and sprinkled some rice vinegar & soy sauce on it. It’s our own version of organic vegan sushi.


It was a delightful hit that most kids really enjoyed. I was given this small starter plant of monster kale as a gift but I was also told from our resident Southerner Barbara in our first base preschool & daycare here that it is actually tree collards. Either way, this plant has given us a phenomenal output.

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