Archive for March, 2016

Seniors & kids gardening

Thanks to Orca parent Laura for connecting us with the Esperanza House in South Seattle. It’s a great senior community that had some garden beds that they needed assistance with. And so Orca being Orca, we jumped in and helped them dig out the beds and plant some veggies and flowers. It was great to see the 3 students jumping in digging and chatting with some of the residents there. We know that it meant a lot to the residents to make this cross-generational connection, so we will be back to help out as much as we can.

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Orca salmon release 2016!


Our 8th annual salmon release was a huge success. We released 231 Coho salmon parr that we raised from eggs. Throughout their growth here, classes studied salmon life cycles, ecology, Native American use of salmon, and the impacts that humans have on the fragile ecosystem of salmon.


First our salmon posse of 5th graders who have been fabulous caretakers of the salmon tank had to fish them out and count them.


Then I headed down to Seward Park to meet the students before they arrived. All the K-6 classes walked  1.1 miles down to the park from Orca. Many classes have been down to work with the Seward Park Audubon this year, so this has been a great connection for us. Getting the salmon in dixie cups was a challenge but this approach works well. Students got in small groups and got their cups.


After students got their cup o’ salmon, they got a chance to wish it good luck, name it, admire it’s strength, and just hope for the best! This activity was joyous and the kids loved seeing their salmon swim off into the great unknown.



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Massaged Kale Salad


Massagin’ kale? You must be crazy?!?  Kale is something we have a lot of in the garden- it’s hardy, grows plentifully, lasts through cold winter, and it’s delicious! This recipe is a great way to get olive oil & salt embedded in the leaves, all while caressing some of the toughness out of kale. Here’s the recipe we borrowed from Seattle Tilth : KALE!


Well it was a hit w/ tiny bit o’ raspberry balsamic vinegar added at the end. The kids really loved it and were enjoying 2nd’s and 3rd’s. With simple ingredients of olive oil, lemon, and salt- it’s an easy recipe and a crowd pleaser for sure. When else do you get to play with your food!?!?



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Agriculture Sit & Meditation


One of my favorite garden curriculum books is French Fries & The Food System– it is a book about gardening, food security, social justice, and many other fabulous topics we explore here in the Orca Garden.


A really great activity in there is the “Agriculture Sit” which involves finding a quiet spot in the garden at least 10 feet away from other students. They then answer a series of questions involving what they see, hear, smell, and more. So we sat outside on an incredibly sunny pre-spring day w/ a hot cup o’ Orca mint tea and enjoyed this activity.


It’s just amazing to see kids quiet and contemplative, focused and engrossed, and outside! These students are capable of deep reflections that they don’t always get a chance to explore.


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Native plants in the nature council ring

Orca has been transforming our playground in many ways this year. This includes an awesome nature council area in the NW corner of the play field.This is a great place for classes to meet and talk or for kids to play in a nature centered area.


We got a  grant to plant native plants in that area. Since the 3rd graders have been studying native plants, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to get these salal and sword ferns in the ground.


It turned out to be a glorious sunny day and a great experience transforming an area that will have these plants forever! It was great to have former Orca teacher & present Orca parent Laura Grow help lead this project.

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Pipeline Project at Orca

Thank you so much to our two Pipeline volunteers from the UW. Amy & Kyra contributed a lot of help for different classes. They bussed all the way down from the U-District every Tuesday all this quarter. It has really been a pleasure to have them work with students, contribute ideas, participate in reflections, and also participate in conversations concerning garden & environmental education. Thank you to the UW and these amazing students especially!

Check out the Pipeline Project HERE!


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Kindergarten soil & seeds

It’s been so much fun digging in the garden and being outside after this soggy winter. We are practicing safety with tools and learning about turning over the garden soil and getting ready for spring. We have also been doing our planting of seeds for the garden and for our annual plant sale too. These are some serious young green thumbs !!!


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The salmon continue…

As we are getting set for our March 24th salmon release date at Seward Park, it is time to remember all the tremendous activities we have done to explore the world of salmon. We have done a lot of new activities and have had fun learning salmon science through art, games, and hands-on activities. As we move forward, older grades will be exploring the human impact on salmon environments and strategies for helping the salmon on their incredible journey.


We have a 5th grade class that has a 5 person group each week- a “salmon posse” that oversees the salmon tank maintenance.  They have done a great job in keeping the salmon healthy and alive- in fact we have had ZERO salmon casualties (for the first time ever).


Our salmon wall is super awesome too in the kindergarten hallway. Check it out before the salmon get released.


The incredible journey salmon games we did were so great! Many students took them home and played them with their families. The K-2 students played a simpler version of the game that they had a hand in creating from start to finish.

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Chard Rolls


We brought back an Orca favorite. Chard is the gift that keeps on giving, so we fill it with rice, carrots, radishes, and some soy sauce and VOILA! Chard rolls.


Many students were going back to the garden again and again for seconds/thirds/fourths. As we come out of winter, there is not that many things growing in the garden- but chard is a tried and true friend in many different colors. I have heard from many different parents in the last week about how their kids are eating greens at home and it is shocking to them! Well we enjoy fostering a love of greens around here and we will continue to do so.

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Spring has Sprung (kinda)


We took full advantage of the brief bit o’ sun to explore the garden’s first signs of spring. We had a great worksheet for spring explorations and an awesome game of SPRINGO (spring bingo).


It just felt so good to be back outside, tasting & smelling the signs of early spring. Sometimes it feels like we are getting winter greenhouse cabin fever, so this was  a welcome activity that students really enjoyed.


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