It was another beautifully full week here in the woods, with the wood stove still burning along with the promise of warmth and light and longer days ahead.
We began the week by finishing up our penpal letters to the students in Tanzania, which I would like to send off early this week. If you have been away these past two weeks, we would love it if you could have your child write a letter describing “a day in the life of …” and bring it along to school so that I can send these off as soon as possible. (The letters take weeks to get to Tanzania, so the sooner I can get them out in the mail the better!).
We also started working on design ideas for our stage building project, returning to a math concept we began exploring in the fall: calculating area. Given their deep connection to their multiplication tables now, and this very practical and tangible application, we were able to make sense of this concept very quickly. At first the children drew their own unique four-sided, right-angled shapes on graph paper, found the length and width and calculated the area. By the end of the week we were using plain paper and speed math as we moved around the room calculating various “stages” that would be appropriate for our performance needs. In a few weeks we will start building, so if you have any large planks of wood lying around that you want to start dropping off at school, feel free!
The stage holds so much purpose and inspiration for this group of children as they dive deeper into the world of Shakespeare, and into rhythms and music from around the world. This week we repeated the story of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and introduced Macbeth - balancing the light and dark of these powerful plays. We read a few different versions of the plays, as in their adaptations there are slight changes or omissions which the children love to point out as I read. We frame each story by laying out the characters, and recalling at least one famous quote from each. And as I read, the children are able to illustrate a scene or two from the story in their journal, gathering their own details that will stay with them indefinitely. This is also helping to guide their understanding of how to perform a play, given the spaces we have and the actors at hand.
At Rick’s this week the comfort level among the children grew exponentially, with the space, with their growing team of teachers - Rick, Lucas, and Rebecca - with the instruments, and with the rhythm itself. They grasped several different beats after being invited into a drum circle, simply following along to Rick and Lucas, repeating what they were hearing, breaking into two groups to share different beats, and creating a vibrant and healing sound together with such focus and determination (see their faces in the photos:). Lucas reviewed the exercise from last week where the children were creating different beats and were able to write them down in measures on graph paper. From lines to circles, we are exploring the patterns in music and then experiencing them through playing and creating spaces and art that represent those patterns. It feels intuitive and exciting for everyone!
Rebecca came and offered a spinning demonstration, after we had spent the early part of the week carding our own wool at the farm, so we are thinking that next week we will pull the two elements together and start creating some fiber art. She also taught us about natural dyes using plants such as lichen, indigo, and goldenrod, and we planned a watercolor project using plants as our paints once they start blooming in the not too distant future…
** We will be back to Tuesdays at Milokan this week, so drop-off and pick-up will be there on Tuesday, March 21st.
The children worked at the stream, continued their independent reading, and made our new favorite bread so far: sourdough bagels. We started sprouting seeds in jars for spring and this week our garden work begins! Spring is here, and its bright and colorful energy is shining through each of these children so vibrantly. How lucky I feel to begin another week with them tomorrow!
See you tomorrow, ~ Kaila
The Allen Farm program is for children ages six and older. Follow along our learning and exploration in the woods, on the farm, in our yurt, and across our island community, at the upper Woods School.