Northwest Indian College Early Childhood Education Initiatives are for
and by the Lummi community’s children and families


We pass our Sensory Garden every day on the way to school

By Taja Oberly
Photographs courtesy of Jazeel Michel, Alex Stribling, and Treena Humphreys

As we pass our Sensory Garden every day on the way to school, the school day begins, as students notice the changes in the garden and point them out to their families. They describe various plants and talk about how things smell and feel. They take pride in caring for and sharing their garden.

Announcing NWIC’s Children’s Interactive Sensory Garden

Northwest Indian College has just finished constructing its Children’s Interactive Sensory Garden. The garden supports children’s education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). It has been thoughtfully designed to allow young children to observe, explore, and interact with a small ecosystem featuring plants that are indigenous to the area, hold traditional significance, and/or provide textural or botanical interest.

ECE STEM Education at our ELC

Native Children Living on Salish Sea Meet and Greet Sea Creatures
By Christine Edwards, Teacher, Northwest Indian College

In early November, the Salish Sea Research Center team from Northwest Indian College visited our Early Learning Center classrooms. Our students were excited to see what they had brought because the scientists arrived with a mysterious, big, red ice chest. The children called it “a treasure chest of sea creatures!”

Blackhawk Singers made a special visit to the Northwest Indian College’s Early Learning Center

Lawrence Solomon of the Blackhawk Singers made a special visit to the Northwest Indian College’s Early Learning Center to share his gifts with the children and staff. Mr. Solomon’s visit came during our celebration of traditional songs week to enhance our classroom learning and hands on experience. Children had the opportunity to listen and participate in the traditional song and dance.

Focus on Children Conference

On February 3rd, Bellingham Technical College hosted the 33rd annual Focus on Children conference. The conference, which draws early childhood educators from a five-county region and over five Tribal Nations, is designed to: (1) provide professional development and networking opportunities to those working with young children and families; (2) promote inclusive attitudes and practices and support awareness of and action related to diversity issues; and (3) support partnerships and collaboration among educators, families, providers, school, agencies and our communities. All Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Early Learning Center (ELC) staff, including teachers and administrators, were in attendance at this year’s conference.

Lesson Planning Workshop

By Johanna Phair

As we kick off a new academic year with Dr. Anna Lees, Alicia Allard and Nahrin Aziz-Parsons, Northwest Indian College’s Early Learning Center teaching staff created learning activities with items from our natural environment and art supplies. Teaching teams worked together and designed lesson plans that aligned with our newly developed Traditional Foods, Plants, and Medicines curriculum.

Hosting Early Childhood Educators from Southwest University in Chongqing, China

On Wednesday, August 2nd Northwest Indian College’s Early Childhood Education degree program and Restorative Teachings Initiative hosted 20 visitors from Southwest University in Chongqing, China. The group included ECE faculty and teacher candidates from Southwest University, and practicing teachers from their partnering ECE programs. Their day with Northwest Indian College focused on the land, water, and place based teaching with young children and families.

Participating in Professional Development: How Early Learning Center staff members engage in collective inquiry to design meaningful lesson plans for Tribal nations’ youngest citizens

While many Northwest Indian College (NWIC) faculty members and students were off for spring break, early childhood educators from our Early Learning Center (ELC) dedicated one full day to engage in collective inquiry. Administrators and lead teachers came together for a Professional Learning Community (PLC) co-facilitated by Dr. Anna Lees, Curriculum Coach, Alicia Allard, ELC Director, and Nahrin Aziz-Parsons, Early Childhood Education faculty.

2017 FOCUS on Children Conference: Nurturing Connections through Our Senses

Staff members at the NWIC Early Learning Center recently attended the 33rd annual FOCUS on Children Conference at Bellingham Technical College, sponsored by The Northwest Washington Association for the Education of Young Children (NW AEYC), Bellingham Technical College, The Opportunity Council and Whatcom Educational Credit Union. The theme of this year’s conference was Nurturing Connections Through Our Senses, and a the day-long conference provided numerous workshop sessions related to this concept as well as practical tools for classroom management and leadership.

NWIC Restorative Teachings Holiday Cedar Weaving and Storytelling Event

On a blustery and bitterly cold December night, the NWIC Early Learning Center cranked up the heat and welcomed families and community members to celebrate traditional plants and foods in Coast Salish culture. In spite of the winters chill, the event was an amazing success, with nine enrolled Early Learning Center (ELC) families, and eight families from the Lummi community.

Sandbox Rebuilding Project

During the summer of 2016 the Northwest Indian College Early Learning Center (ELC) Director made the difficult decision to remove the large natural log-lined sandbox from the main play area. This structure was built by volunteers in 2009 and reflected the tidal shores that surround the Lummi Reservation. The sandbox was filled with natural sand similar to what you might find on the local beaches, and surrounded by large smooth sections of split logs that brought to mind the weatherworn driftwood the children on the Salish Sea grow up climbing on.

13 Moons Garden

On August 4th, members of the Restorative Teachings Early Childhood Education Initiative Coordinating Team visited Northwest Indian College’s Swinomish Extended Campus Site, in order to research and learn more about their widely acclaimed and highly renowned Native plants garden.