Back to School Shopping - Gear for the Adventurous Child!


It is that time of year again - back to school shopping is in full swing!  HCMA parents often ask me what school supplies they need to purchase for their children.  HCMA purchases all traditional supplies for the children.  We take care of pencils, crayons, markers, etc.  We ask that our parents supply their children with a backpack that fits them well, as well as a lunchbox and water bottle, on the first day of school.

As the weather changes, gear becomes very important to our children.  We spend a large amount of time outside and gear makes all of the difference!  Back in 2015 I wrote this blog post about items that make our days easier.  The list has been updated but the tried and true items like Bog Boots remain.  Please have a look at that post and start planning for cooler days.  Do not become overwhelmed by the list.  You are not expected to purchase the name brands mentioned or get the items new.  We have a wonderful HCMA community that shares gear that  alumni have grown out of!  Let us know if you are looking for something specific and be sure to share with the group if you find a deal on an item.  

Please take a moment to review the gear list here!


2017-2018 School Calendar


School Calendar 2017 - 2018

August 28th First Day of School Pre K, K, 1

September 1st - –  4th Closed Labor Day

September 5th First Day of School Nature Preschool                       

October 9th Closed Columbus Day Holiday

October 26th Closed for Teacher Workshop Day*

November 10th Closed Veteran's Day Holiday

November 22nd – 24th Closed Thanksgiving Holiday*

December 25th - Jan 1st Closed Holiday Recess

January 15th Closed Civil Rights Day

February 26th – March 2nd Closed Winter Recess

April 23rd - - April 27th Closed Spring Recess

May 28th Closed Memorial Day

June 7th Last Day of School Nature Preschool

June 8th Last Day of School Pre K, K, 1*

*Schedule differs from that of SAU 4

Heart Centered Multi-Age will close in inclement weather following Newfound Area School District.  Please watch the School’s website and tune into WMUR Channel 9 for closings or delays.  Snow days will be made up at the end of the year.

Should Newfound Area School District call an early release, due to weather, the school will close at 3:00. There will be no extended day.

Approved 5/7/17

Updated 8/1/17


Notes from the Naturalist Week 35: Nature Preschool at HCMA


Growth and change are inevitable. We bear witness to our children’s growth, may it be daily, monthly or within the course of a year. It is undeniable; they grow, they change and they move forward. And so it is that the school year is coming to a close but yet set before us is an incredible amount of growth. Look deep within nature at this very moment and you will see a beautiful sight. Look closer at the Hemlock trees, notice the brighter green at the very tips of the branch: growth! Look at the maple saplings, do you see that new bud: growth! Now look at your child, do you see how they use their words to problem solve, their eyes in observing a tiny flower on the forest floor, or their ears to hear that bird in the far tree: growth!

What a year it was for the wondrous Oak Tree! It certainly was a boom year for the crop – which means you can bet that the Squirrel and Chipmunk population may grow just a little bit in the next several months! During one of our muddy spring days we noticed how an acorn had sprouted out and were taking up roots to grow. Teacher Deanna, a curious gardener that she is, took home a handful and planted them with her family. So you see, that oak sapling your child brought home was a lovely gift form the generous and caring hands of a very special Teacher! Plant your tree with care, it will need lots of room to grow and it fully enjoys sun!

“Like many trees, oaks have irregular cycles of boom and bust. Boom times, called “mast years,” occur every 2-5 years, with few acorns in between. But the why and how of these cycles are still one of the great mysteries of science. Scientific research can tell us what a mast year is not. A mast year is not a predictor of a severe winter. Unfortunately, plants and animals are no better at predicting the future than we are.”

“Strangely, mast years are not simply resource-driven. Sure, a wet, cool spring can affect pollination and a hot, dry summer can affect acorn maturation. But annual rainfall and temperature fluctuations are much smaller in magnitude than acorn crop sizes. In other words, weather variables cannot account for the excessive, over-the-top, nutty production of acorns in a mast year. So what does trigger a mast year? Scientists have proposed a range of explanations—from environmental triggers to chemical signaling to pollen availability—but our understanding is hazy and the fact is that we simply don’t know yet.”

“Boom and bust cycles of acorn production do have an evolutionary benefit for oak trees through “predator satiation.” The idea goes like this: in a mast year, predators (chipmunks, squirrels, turkeys, blue jays, deer, bear, etc.) can’t eat all the acorns, leaving some nuts for growing into future oak trees. Years of lean acorn production keep predator populations low, so there are fewer animals to eat all the seeds in a mast year. Ultimately, a higher proportion of nuts overall escape the jaws of hungry animals.”

“Whatever the reasons and mechanisms behind acorn cycles, mast years do have ecological consequences for years to come. More acorns, for example, may mean more deer and mice. Unhappily, more deer and mice may mean more ticks and, possibly, more incidences of Lyme disease. Many animals depend upon the highly-nutritious acorn for survival. Oak trees, meanwhile, depend upon boom and bust cycles, and a few uneaten acorns, for theirs.” -

Before I sign off for the summer, my departing words to you are this: Take your kids outside, even in the rain! Let them be muddy and wet. Challenge them to try new things. Take them off trail, have them balance on logs, and rocks. Throw rocks into the river! Hike up and down! Read maps, listen to birds and sit under the stars. We grow through experiences and memories guide us through the best and worst of times. Don’t fret about the academics, it will come! Nature is a great classroom that inspires us all! I urge you to let nature help your child further develop their core strength, their endurance to keep up and go the distance and let it surprise you. The growth in all areas will come, but please, let nature help your child grow!


Notes from the Naturalist Week 32:The Nature Preschool at HCMA

Can you imagine the surprise on my face this morning when I pulled up to the Slim Baker parking lot and was greeted by a log truck and a large excavator! Oh my! We quickly pulled together our “Plan B” and back down to HCMA I went. But before I left, as I waited for the last few families to arrive and instruct them on our new plan, I was serenaded by the lovely songs of birds (with the excavator humming away in the background!). In comparison to last week, it is quite evident that many more birds have arrived from their long journey from afar.

I am not sure if it’s the new subject of study or just the sweet presence of birds, but the children were so excited to dive into this new unit. Several children kept talking and asking about different birds….oh how my heart burst with excitement to hear their EXCITEMENT. We talked about “Birding” and using a pair of binoculars to seek out the birds we hear. We read a cute book on “word phrases” that we as humans interpret from that what we hear in a bird’s song or call. And we talked about the different types of songs, calls and nests.

As the birds migrate north they are in search of the perfect nesting habitat while also in search of areas with an abundance of insects and plants. Once the season changes and food drops off, they will once again migrate south to warmer climates. “Migrating birds can cover thousands of miles in their annual travels, often traveling the same course year after year with little deviation. First-year birds often make their very first migration on their own. Somehow they can find their winter home despite never having seen it before, and return the following spring to where they were born.”

“The secrets of their amazing navigational skills aren’t fully understood, partly because birds combine several different types of senses when they navigate. Birds can get compass information from the sun, the stars, and by sensing the earth’s magnetic field. They also get information from the position of the setting sun and from landmarks seen during the day. There’s even evidence that sense of smell plays a role, at least for homing pigeons.” –

Before heading back down to HCMA, I recorded a short video on the birds that I heard. In the clip you can hear a Yellow Warbler and an Oven Bird. Many more were singing their hearts out but with the hum of the excavator it was hard to decipher who was out there. For many of us as we learn to recognize the birds around us, we first learn their song, followed by physical identification. I taught myself by listening to Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CD set. My personal favorite bird guide is The Sibley Guide to Bird Identification but you could use any book that you feel works best for you and your family. There are also many great apps out there as well and Audubon has one that is fantastic. The app will give you an instant opportunity to dial in what and who you are hearing.

The silly book we read today is titled “Bird Talk” by Ann Jonas. She writes, “based on words used by the people who study birds to help us hear and remember birds songs, the words they use are called Memory Phrases”. Remember I told you I heard an Oven Bird and a Yellow Warbler. The memory phrase for Oven Bird is: Teacher-Teacher-Teacher (rising in pitch each time). And the memory phrase for Yellow Wrabler is: sweet, sweet, sweet, little more sweet. For more information on birds and to listen to bird songs and calls visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at: I must warn you that you may become addicted to birding, it’s a fun activity to do in the woods!


Little Pioneers Nature Playgroup - Friday June 2nd and June 9th


Little Pioneers Nature Playgroup offers parents, caregivers, and children ages 18 months to age 5, an opportunity to play outside and discover the sights, sounds, and sensations of the forest and fields at the Slim Baker Area.  Engaging with nature's seasonal offerings stimulates curiosity and a sense of wonder while fostering self confidence and empathy for all living things.  Join us for 1.5 hours of spontaneous play, exploration, and discovery.

A spring, pilot, schedule will run on Friday June 2nd and June 9th.  It is our hope to continue these nature immersion playgroups next fall.

Meet at the meeting area by the fire pit at 9:30.  Come dressed to explore!