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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A taste of New Orleans…


Having just returned from New Orleans this past weekend it seemed a necessity to bring the flavor, culture, music, and spirit of this amazing place back to Orca. Of course adding in a voodoo alligator foot charm helped bring a sense of adventure to the situation.


But we had some down home southern possibilities available in our garden…So we got to work harvesting the last of the green tomatoes (since the last of the sunshine has appeared around here and all hope of sun & tomato ripening have disappeared).


We wrote the recipe down, listened to music, and ate! A true EXPERIENCE (available in our cool cookbook!)


We got DOWN w/ this recipe and some true New Orleans brass band music: REBIRTH! Listen here:



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Changing of the seasons


It’s that fun part of the year where we have harvested as much as we can and then get ready to put the garden to rest for the season.


Students got divided up into 3 groups to partake in various garden related activities. Collecting leaves for mulch, spreading cover crop seed, and chopping old sunflower stalks and plants into compostable pieces. It’s active, it’s fun, and it is probably the last bit of moments we will spend outside before the rains set in.


Then we had a fabulous tea toast afterwards that really exemplifies the spirit of the Orca garden- hard work, celebration, and coming together to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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SUGAR!?!? Wowser…


4th grade is studying food chemistry this year and got to measuring sugar from common supermarket foods- mainly sugary processed snacks and foods. The visual of seeing how much sugar goes into foods is powerful. They can hold a ziplock bag full o’ sugarĀ  up and check it out. We are just getting into how to read nutrition facts and understand what we are eating.


We collectively made a poster that displays the sugar in servings & packages (quite a difference!). Once again- art and science meets knowledge & creativity.


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We have been collecting various herbs since the beginning of school to make the ultimate all-spice mix. It’s a delicious blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and summer savory. Kids could choose to call it a pizza spice or an all-spice.


The kids get a little tiresome of collecting herbs for many weeks BUT it takes a lot of harvesting & drying to produce enough spice for the kids to take some home. Taking these spices home and using them is an important part of the garden experience. Hopefully the student’s fall & winter will be extra spicy.



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