Hi! My name is Chrissy Larson, (also known as “Teacher Balsam”), and I am the creator/lead teacher for the “Nuts About Nature!” and “Nature’s Playground” programs through Portland Parks & Recreation – City Nature. I would like to let you know about some pretty cool nature programs happening in and near your neighborhoods this coming school year for children and youth. There are three main programs as detailed here.1. Preschool children (ages 3-6) can become “Lil’ Nature Kids” and spend a couple hours a week with our outdoor teachers learning about and playing in one of our wild Portland Parks. “Lil’ Nature Kids” classes run at the following parks: FALL SESSIONS @ Mt Tabor Park, Hoyt Arboretum, and Sellwood Riverfront Park; WINTER SESSIONS @ Mt Tabor Park, Peninsula Park, and Sellwood Park; SPRING SESSIONS @ Mt Tabor Park, Whitaker Ponds Nature Area (NE PDX), Hoyt Arboretum, and Sellwood Park/Sellwood Riverfront Park.
2. Homeschoolers (ages 4-8) can take part in our “Nature School for Homeschoolers” class and spend time learning about Pacific NW ecology while at the same time having a lot of fun playing and exploring one of two bigger parks. This program runs all year! We meet Monday afternoons at Mt Tabor Park or Tuesday mornings at Hoyt Arboretum. (Tuesday class during the Winter Session runs at Sellwood Park.)
3. Youth who are in first or second grade (ages 6.5-8) can join us for “Nature’s Playground – After School Program” on Thursdays after school at Mt Tabor Park (fall & spring sessions). Children will love the crafts, stealth games, hiking and physical play – it’s like nature recess!
And lastly, here’s a little about me (Teacher Balsam)! Besides having a true passion for teaching, nature, and children, I have my Masters in Education with a focus in Environmental Education and Early Childhood. My thesis project researched the social benefits of unstructured play in natural areas, and many days I feel the research only continues as I observe the amusing silliness of young children in Portland’s Parks. I began teaching environmental educator to children ages 3-17 in 1997, and I started the Nuts About Nature program in spring of 2008 after I moved to Portland. My goal has always been to put children in a position where they have the mentors, the time and the space to connect to nature in their own individual way. Programs I facilitate use exploration, experiments, music, games and play to teach concepts and facts about local ecology. I love dogs, puzzles, running, playing the guitar, writing, and cooking. I love working with young children and families and am happy to answer any questions about the program! Last year I heard from a lot of parents who signed up their child because they heard about the program in a Neighborhood Association newsletter or email, so I want to make sure to give the Neighborhood Associations in the appropriate neighborhoods a heads up again! I’ve attached a flyer that can be circulated that gives a lot of information about the program and tells people where to find the details online. Or, interested parents can take a look at the full brochure on the PP&R website: <http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/preschool>www.portlandonline.com/parks/preschool, and then register by calling the PP&R Customer Service Center at 503-823-2525, or online at <https://www.portlandparks.org/register/Start/Start.asp>https://www.portlandparks.org/register/Start/Start.asp.
Chrissy Larson (a.k.a. Teacher Balsam)
Portland Parks & Recreation
Environmental Education – Preschool | Carnegie Annex
2909 SW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97201