Chickadee is located in the Cedar Mill area of unincorporated NW Portland, in an accessible location a block south of Cornell, at 10175 NW Leahy Road. The living room and family room of the well-kept older two-bedroom house are dedicated to the children. The two bedrooms serve as office and bedroom, as a place for certain special kids’ activities, and as nap room or rooms. Legally, Chickadee is registered with the state as a CCD-Certified Family Child Care Home, approved for 15 children. Chickadee is a true “casa,” Maria Montessori’s Italian term for “children’s house.”
We are blessed with this 3/4 acre property – an expansive, lovely, and peaceful outside environment, with a stunning, open, forested area, all fully fenced. Earth education begins naturally, as the children explore and experience daily life here, and as we adults share our sense of wonder and respect for the natural world.
In Chickadee’s first two years, thanks to four parent work parties fall and spring, we successfully reclaimed the forest area from invasive ivy and blackberry. The forest area continues to evolve. I use branches and stumps to edge “protected areas” where native plants can grow freely. With all their running and playing the children have naturally created their own paths, along with ever-changing stick forts and special spots. They make the forest their own, in all seasons, and learn about native plants and trees in the process.
We also have grass and raised garden beds in the front yard, a chicken area on one side, blueberries, and various, random spots for plants. A unique sand area enclosed by stumps is well-loved and well-used. Our “playground equipment” is simple: overhead bars and two slides, and a small concrete area for bikes and trikes. The emphasis and focus is always on our natural playscape.
With the care of our gardens, forest, and chickens, the yearly growing cycle of flowers and vegetables in our raised beds and garden areas, free exploration and outdoor time, and conscientious recycling and composting, we nurture the children’s innate sense of kinship with all life.