Archive for the what to do with kids Category

The Samantha Wright Community Garden Project

Sam’s Garden 

Kim, accompanied by the Ukulele, lead us in a song for our friend Sam after building and planting the garden.

Sam Wright, the founder of Maine Mountain Children’s House, came from farming roots.  When she started the school in 2006, it was in her nature to teach children where food comes from and how to grow it.  Sam encouraged her students to get their hands dirty, plant seeds and bulbs, search for worms and watch things grow.   It had always been her intention to start a community garden where people could come together to grow vegetables, converse and share with one another.


Sam and her students, breaking ground at 87 maple street in 2012

 Bringing the dream to FRUITION

In the spring of 2014, Maine Mountain Children’s House, along with our gardening guru’s Kim Roberts and Kerry Oulette, created a community garden in Samantha Wright’s name.   We gathered together in June of 2014 at our former location to build the gardens from the ground up.  Volunteers, current students, MMCH alumni, friends and family sifted compost, hammered together frames, shoveled soil, painted signs, and planted seeds and seedlings.  By lunch time we had a garden!  Over sandwiches and lemonade, we sang a song in tribute to our friend, admired our work and pledged to work together to keep this small garden and great spirit of Samantha Wright alive.

hammering nails, 2014

Quinn getting some practice with hammering nails before we build our raised beds

 And boy, did we!

The first year we were bountiful in produce!  With the help of the students, their families and summer and early fall volunteers, we harvested beans, carrots, kale, tomatoes, basil, chives, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, sunflowers, nasturtiums,  squash and pumpkins.  The children loved racing through the pathways, popping tomatoes in their mouths as they whizzed by the raised beds in the fall.

harvest, 2014

A variety of fresh fruits and veggies harvested during an “open garden” evening.

Summer of 2015

In 2015, as MMCH was in the midst of  moving to our new home, Kim joined together with local establishments to plant satellite gardens and perpetuate the goal of having community gardens.  MMCH hosted three raised beds: one at The Orange Cat Cafe brimming with squash and marigolds, one at Rolling Fatties full of red, gold and purple potatoes, and another garden at Webster Library with various strains of kale and sunflowers.  Once we had passed papers, we dug ground at our new home and created one final bed with more sunflowers, squash, broccoli and tomatoes.


Brynn at the Orange Cat Cafe location.

 And here we are today…

Sam’s garden continues to play a role in our day to day lives here at MMCH. Kale and sunflowers from our garden were used in our Harvest Festival celebration in late September. We said goodbye to fall by putting garlic and daffodil bulbs (donated by our dear friend Kate Dewar) to bed before the frost froze the ground.  In November, we scrubbed potatoes from our raised bed with Kim and enjoyed mashed potatoes for afternoon snack.  As a final gesture to our harvest this fall, we added our potatoes to our Stone Soup meal on January 7th, that we enjoyed with our parents.


Gathered together family-style for a meal of Stone Soup prepared by the children.

 A Look to the Future

Last week we kicked off our Sam’s Garden Organic Seed Sale through FedCo (click here for order form).  Just print off your order form, fill it out and send a check for your total to MMCH.  Seeds arrive as early as the first week in March.

Once our seeds arrive, we’ll start seedlings and begin the early stages of our garden. In May we will once again host an open house for the Samantha Wright Community Garden Day.  We welcome all past and present families as well as community members to help us prepare our gardens, enjoy the merriment of nature and each other’s company.  Stay tuned for event postings on our MMCH website  and our facebook page.

December at Maine Mountain Children’s House

Take a peek at our classroom during the month of December! We’ve been having some holiday fun!

Here N, S and I are playing the dreidel game!  Yesterday Becky made potato latkes with the children.  For circle time we all sat together and ate them with sour cream and applesauce.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of this but we sure did enjoy them!

This is our version of advent.  Each day that the children are here they open up an envelope and read their challenge of the day!  Yesterday they were challenged to say “Thank You” to the person that picked them up from school.  This has been fun because you can really write anything, including “ask a new friend to sit by you at circle,” or “notice something in nature.”  At then end of the day the children get to talk about what they did for the challenge.


During the holiday season it’s important to remind our children that it’s not only about receiving, but about giving as well.  Here our friend J just finished making his holiday gift.   He’s thinking about giving it to his dog Capi!


M and A used our blocks to make a small village.  M wanted to make a house for her dog.  When they noticed I was taking a picture of them they both struck a pose with out any prompting…pretty funny!

Though we have been doing some projects, they’re coming few and far between.  In an effort to maintain some sort of normalcy during this holiday season we are mostly sticking to our Montessori inspired lessons lined up neatly on our shelves…


Organizing objects into sets and then matching the corresponding number.  Look at all the treasures in there!





Making an ornaments out of an orange and cloves.  Smells wonderful!





Handling fragile objects with care!  Listening to “Perry Penguin” can be fun while working with these glass penguins.




Flower arranging.  This morning N decorated our snack table with these lovely poinsettias!





Spooning red and green beads.  E worked on this a lot this morning, making sure to get every last one into the other bowl!






Stringing Jingle Bells!  P loves jingling these around her neck after she’s strung them all on!






I’d like to take credit for all of these clever holiday ideas, but I must say that most of them come from an incredible blog called, “counting coconuts.”  Use this link to check her out! Her ideas are fabulous and she makes you excited to try everything out in your own classroom!


And after a busy week at Maine Mountain Children’s House this is how we all felt…


Still to come…Winter Solstice and cookie decorating with Becky!  Stay tuned!  Otherwise, have a happy and healthy holiday!


Cayford Orchards Field Trip

We visited Cayford Orchards in Skowhegan on Thursday (9/20/12).  After four cars attempting to caravan and one carsick child we all made it to the orchard.  There were almost as many adults as students which made the experience easier for the teachers!  Here are some pictures to check out from our trip.

20 years ago a man drove this up from Pennsylvania to Skowhegan. I wonder how long that took?

Heather gives her talk (with her 10 month old Liberty on her back) teaching us how to properly pick an apple, what the bud looks like that will grow next year and about the "secret" shape inside the apple. The shape also tells us how many times the blossom was pollinated.

Everyone got a change to use the apple picker to pick and apple.













We even got a wagon ride around the orchard! This student estimated there were about 1 million apples in the orchard.

hhmmm when can we eat them??

Glad I wore my red matches the mac's we're picking!

They all exhausted themselves by gorging on apples, running around the orchard and picking apples.  We had a picture perfect autumn day for this trip!!






The wagon ride was a perfect time to take a little rest.

The mac branches were at the perfect level for picking. All the while a future students eats the fruits of labor in the tall, tall grass.

Twin apples!

I think next year I'll organize the students to do some work as we couldn't get them to stop picking!

Look a twin to one of the students. She loved this scarecrow!

We brought back 1/2 bushel & one peck of macs plus some apple cider.  We’re planning on making apple sauce and each student will get a jar to bring home.  We’ll probably make a few apple treats too….dried apple rings, apple crisp and maybe a pie!

Get out there with your families and pick some apples!  The season goes all fall and it’s a great way to enjoy the season and support our local farmers!!

Here is a link to check out more about apples and other orchards around the state to visit.











Spring Explorations

I was out tromping around in the woods the other day and realized this is the best time for exploring nature.  That time just before the leaves bud and the earth is thawing and reawakening.  Children love to explore!  Whether it’s on hiking trails, in a pond or puddle even in the backyard; they are in awe at everything new. The weather has been an advantage for getting out there, so here are some suggestions to exploring with your child(ren).  Remember you don’t have to leave home, it’s as easy as walking out the door and just exploring your backyard.  It’s all up to you, just remember your child will thank you one day for this opportunity!!  Oh yea, let them get dirty!!  Clothes can be washed, memories last a lifetime!!

Must haves: clothes to get dirty in, water/snack, time (the more the better), sense of adventure.

Equipment – this is a list of optional items.  It all depends on what you have time for and where you will be going.  Small container (for collecting samples or getting a closer look at something), bug net, binoculars, hand lens, first aid kit (esp. if you plan on hiking), water, extra layer, map (once again if hiking), sturdy shoes (this means no sandals or crocs), hat, sunscreen, TIME (I can’t stress this enough).

Places to explore (if going beyond your back yard):  snowmobile trails through woods (Black Fly Loop is a good start, but any trail works just as well), fields along Rt. 27 & Carrabassett River in Kingfield,  Narrow Gauge Trail in Carrabassett (there’s awesome side trails off the main trail), Smalls Falls Rest Area just on Rt. 4 headed towards Rangeley,  Maine Huts and Trails, Round Barn (Bigelow Preserve), Daggett Rock (off Rt. 142 between Salem and Phillips), Sugarloaf and Saddleback Mountain (ski areas can be a good place to find treasures, especially under the ski lifts!),  Cathedral Pines Pathways in Eustis.  All of these are merely suggestions, I’ve included links for you to find more information.   Maine Trail Finder lists the easy hikes in our area, and is a really good resource worth bookmarking.

Now it’s time to get out there!!  Any day is a good day for exploring because you never know what you’ll find!  Plan a picnic and let the kids take the lead (be sure to establish safety rules before setting out!).   As for the equipment, I recently scored at Target for bug collection stuff in the dollar bins!  Just keep an eye out for things @ Reny’s, Christmas Tree Shops, thrift stores and yard sales.