I hope you enjoyed this rainy weekend, as we say goodbye to summer and welcome the autumn season. This moment of balance was felt quite strong through the week with the children, and also into the weekend when several Woods School families gathered together to celebrate Mabon, sharing in the harvest of the growing season and setting intentions for the quiet, internal months of winter.
This year the maturity of the children is opening space for greater independence, and also a deeper need and calling for the larger community to help support their learning paths. We are so grateful for the wise guides in our community who have been and continue to be supporting the education of the children. We have a growing list of mentors and guides including Roberta Kirn, Valerie Reese, Clare Ives, Papa (Binney), Margot Datz, Steve Solarazza, Pam Benjamin, Rick Bausman, and Rebecca Gilbert. During their mentorships the children are engaging in crafting, art, engineering, building, herbalism, and beyond. They are also being offered a weekly opportunity to do independent work, including research at the library with Mochi.
Mochi (Mimi, Marcy) is our librarian, reading teacher, field trip guide, and inspiration for so much of what we do here. Mochi comes on Mondays for reading, as well as many other days to support the children as they explore the wild world of words. She introduces games, stories, and a most passionate curiosity that emanates outward and engages the children in deep wonder and adventure. Thank you, Mochi, for all that you give to this space and to all of us.
Beyond our mentorships, this week we returned to our Monday Math work. For the returning children, we reviewed our multiplication tables from 1-12’s in our journals, using our songs and our movements which we continue to practice in our morning circle. For new students, we are beginning with using color and numbers to visualize the sequences and patterns as we see them in various ways. This week the children will be making their own math cards, as well as beginning our annual calendar project to integrate numbers into our own worlds. In the past our calendars have held themes connected to various realms we are studying - zodiac signs and astrology, poetry through the seasons - and this year the connection will be a bit more personal, and will involve a little input from home!
In their deepening understanding of themselves, I am noticing the children discovering their own personal connections to time as it passes - the rhythm of their week based on our school rhythm and their after-school activities, the rhythm of the seasons from the rituals they practice both at school and at home, and birthdays and holidays as the ultimate anchors for each year. Their calendars this year will be a glimpse of the rhythms you experience as a family, for the children to both recall and look forward to. What I would love from you is a way for your child to come to school with a sense of at least one experience they will have each month of the upcoming year - from January to December 2024. For example, perhaps at home this week you sit down together and share things you have done in the past that may like to do again - a winter trip off-island, a beach adventure in the summer, a visit with relatives during the holidays, etc - and you can also have an opportunity to lay out a few plans that you may have for the coming year. This does not need to be completed this week, but it would be wonderful if the process could start this week and we can carry it along together for another week or so.
Our creation story this week introduced us to Ancient China, where we learned about Phan Ku and his birth from the cosmic egg, from which everything arose. The children are now begging to write their own creation stories - they are, of course, charging ahead with immense passion and creativity - and we will move towards that writing project in another week or so. We are continuing our writing work with Papa, engaging in a writing workshop this week where the children were able to practice listening and offering (and in turn receiving) feedback for their works in progress. Our words of the week were revelation and revolution, which were chosen at random from our dictionary but which seemed entirely relevant to our studies of creation:)
We spent time down at the farm, harvesting apples from the apple trees, planting greens in the greenhouse, and playing one of our favorite games - “seed, root, flower, fruit”. We spent the morning reacquainting ourselves with our astrological and elemental signs, and created a compass in the dirt with the four quadrants of earth, air, fire and water. The children stood in their elemental sign and created representations of their element to then share with the group. As each element is connected to a part of the plant/a phase of the life cycle, we flowed right into our plant life cycle game. We also visited our bees, some children suited up while we examined the hives to see which were active and which were not, before we move into the colder months.
On Thursday, some children went to the library to check out independent reading books and books on ancient civilizations; some children went to their mentorships; and some children stayed with Rachael and worked on form drawings and crafts. In the afternoon they made a beautiful apple crisp with the apples they harvested for our weekly nature together cake, and used their pressed flowers from summer to make glass plate collages - keeping the spirit of the vibrant flowers and plants alive through the fall and winter. They continued their embroidery and also learned how to make friendship bracelets for each other.
Ok, thank you all as always, what a gift to be spending my days with these magical beings,
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.