Before I share about last week I want to acknowledge that our school community has lost one of its dear and precious grandmothers. Linda, Ky’s mother, and Frankie’s Nana, will be honored and celebrated later today with family and friends, and we are here celebrating her, singing to her, and appreciating her beautiful legacy. To Ky and Frankie, we love you so deeply and hold you here in whatever ways you seek.
Each year, the weeks around Ostara and the start of spring engulf us all in the overwhelming contrast of light and dark. As we witness the (re)birth of plants and animals, we simultaneously experience death and loss. The crisp air mimics the sharp, raw emotional nature of this time of year, and to observe and feel it alongside the children offers me such hope amidst the sadness and longing. A few moments this week brought these feelings right out onto the surface of the thawing ground.
The first was after a series of conflicts that had arisen down at the stream this week, as that space began to transform from a quiet work zone to a sought after play area with the weather warming (and the desire to cold plunge growing increasingly strong). As I mentioned over the past few weeks, the emotional current has been picking up and all of the children have been moving through some transformative personal and interpersonal shifts. I can sometimes feel a sense of failure or exhaustion when the children are going through repetitive conflicts. This week, however, I watched as the younger contingent of the group was able to sit together and thoughtfully, and compassionately share their feelings and their needs and gracefully move on. My only role was to ask them to gather and sit in a circle outside and they did the rest. We all felt quite literally lifted off the ground from then on.
Another moment was at Milokan, when we all spent time together after the school day ended on Tuesday. The children had built a fire and created sacred spaces within the greenhouse to welcome guests, after which we cooked and ate and played together outside, surrounded by that visceral community connection. Before leaving, we sat together to share our perspectives on how our collaboration has been going and where we all envision it moving forward. After having shared such rich and rippling experiences over the past five weeks, I had expected to begin a bit of a "slowing down” of our time there, and yet during and after the meeting the children expressed almost entirely the opposite feeling - that they simply want to continue our weekly full days there and the work that we are doing with Rick and Rebecca. Both Rick and Rebecca also shared their desire to continue, and the impact of this gift of simply being together each week, for which we all are so grateful. So for the time being, our Tuesdays will remain at Milokan, and we will take it week by week, listening to the children and connecting to their needs as the season continues to move us all in new and different ways.
A third moment of spring was when Laura came to sing with the group on Wednesday, and began by asking the question, “What is life?” The children’s words that sprang forth were jotted down verbatim, and the list of them is pasted below. (Suggestion: read this out loud to yourself or others)
love, time, clock, heart. death.
something that is not an object
sometimes hard and sometimes good
life is hope
life is alive
life is me
A lifetime is a time you have here
on this Earth.
The fourth moment of the week that shone through for me was during a burial celebration for two of the wild bunnies for whom the children had been caring. The group returned to their animal burial ground, in the sandy valley below the culvert, dug a hole and decorated the site with rocks, flowers, drawings, sticks, and leaves. We gathered there for morning circle and sang (truly belted out) songs they chose; songs they considered to be both “sad” and “beautiful”. Huddled around a candle they lit, arms around each other we sang “Deep Inside my Heart,” “The River is Wide,” “The River is Flowing,” “We Shall be Known,” and their newest song obsession from our geography unit “The Star Spangled Banner,” which they felt truly held those two sensations. As a participant, all I could feel was gratitude and hope, and I imagine the feeling was mutual.
Beyond these moments, the week was full of so much else. We talked about the connection between Ostara and Easter as we hollowed fresh eggs with Rachael and dyed them for our baskets. We shared the story of Passover and made matzah together as our bread for the week, building upon the themes of spring, and that unavoidable dichotomy of hope and pain, of freedom and slavery, of joy and grief, that is represented in each of these spiritual traditions. We had quiet reading and reading groups, always a wondrous sight to behold the children in corners of the yurt and outside, tucked together quietly consuming books. We started a new math and logic game, called Nim, and revisited our math gnomes as we begin the division function. And we worked on cookbooks, plays and stories we are writing, and completed three sentence synopses of the 8 Shakespearean stories we have read. Whew!
And now we get to start a whole new week!
Before closing this very long email I want to share one more announcement:
We are going to hold our second parent gathering on Sunday April 16th, from 2-5 pm, with our friend and acupuncturist Ty Romijn who is going to lead us through more zero balancing techniques that we can use to support our children. I will cover the cost again, and I would just ask that each family brings some food to contribute so that we can nourish the children during, and perhaps just at the end of, the gathering before we all depart. Please let me know if you can make it!
Thank you all, and see you soon,
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
This week we traveled to Africa, exploring the vast and diverse continent by focusing on a few countries with which we had some personal connections. We began the week by making a traditional Nigerian flatbread, which varies regionally but is almost universal in its basic form - a sourdough base that is kneaded and stretched and cooked over fire. We used the wood stove and the flatbreads were delicious - we will surely be repeating this recipe regularly.
We drew our maps, locating a handful of the 54 countries in Africa (though some of the children opted to draw every country), each in a different cardinal direction: Senegal in the West, Tanzania in the East, Tunisia in the North, South Africa in the South, and Nigeria in the center. We were able to connect to each of these countries through personal stories and folk tales we read. We had looked through photographs from the year I lived in Senegal, and I had read a few pages of my journal so they could get a sense of the smells, foods, and people with whom I had interacted. We learned that Robin’s grandfather’s family come from Tunisia, and we were able to hear a little bit about its history. We began our penpal exchange with a school in Tanzania, The Precious Project (http://preciousproject.org), and the children were so eager to write their letters, put together homemade packages, and learn more about the community in Nshupu, Tanzania. We will be sending off the letters this week, and will be patiently awaiting our first letters that will be on their way this week as well! And we read a folktale from Nigeria called Why the Sky is Far Away.
We continued our flag studies in our homemade passports, drawing the flags of each of these countries (and more), and learning about the significance of the colors and patterns of the flags. The children are working so diligently on their independent country projects, some visiting the library to do their research and writing pages of notes, learning words in the native languages, and exploring the foods and customs that they will be sharing with all of us in just a few weeks.
We reviewed our math skills with the abacus, which was a great challenge. In music we are diving deeper into the story of Peter and the Wolf, with each child having chosen a role and beginning to find movements to follow the music that represents their character. Rachael came to teach another form drawing, spending two days going through the full process with the children - from drawing it in the dirt, to building the form in nature, to drawing it on the whiteboard, to finally completing it in their form drawing journal. We made bird feeders, and learned more about yerba mate and the incredible collection of mate that Nacho has!
Finally, one of the most powerful moments of the week was when a group of children decided to go on an adventure to Fulling Mill at the end of the day. We have traveled the paths of Fulling Mill Brook for the past few years, but the children have never gone on their own before so this became quite an adventure. After about 20 minutes, I gathered the children from the trail and guided them back to school. Having not made it to their desired destination this first time around, we discussed how they could perhaps go about it in the future. To my surprise, the following day they came to school highly prepared - bags packed with tools, extra clothes, snacks, and sleeping bags. I offered them the last half hour of the school day to try their navigation skills again. After giving them 15 minutes on their own, I followed their path and soon heard voices at their destination: the brook. They had fully set up a campsite on a massive boulder on the opposite side of the brook. Some of the children were dancing and singing on the boulder, others were maneuvering the rocks along the brook, others were gathering firewood. It was a magical sight to see. After a few minutes, I reminded the children of the timing and the plan, and they quickly - without a single complaint - packed up their belongings and asked me to follow them back to the school. In one day they had taken a thin dream of an adventure and transformed it into a wildly successful mission which taught me, as they endlessly do, just what they are capable of once given the freedom to explore on their own. I told them on the walk back that their school campus had just expanded. Their grasp on their surroundings has grown stronger, and their newfound confidence will not only help to guide them in future adventures, but has also inspired every other child at the school to step out just one bit further into the unknown.
While I do not hold age as a measurement of capacity, I do want to mention that the children that initiated (and completed) this adventure were the youngest of the group:)
The infinite learning journey…and now another week is ahead of us.
See you all tomorrow,
This past week was a wonderful reunion, and an inspiring start to a new year. We started our geography unit, exploring the North American continent, and its three countries. While exploring the US we played games, did (and re-did) puzzles, and learned a song to help us memorize all 50 states (I can only imagine how many times you may have heard bits and pieces, or perhaps the entire song in your home:)
We told stories, sang songs, learned the national anthems for both Canada and the USA, and cooked. We used a cookbook, aptly titled The United Tastes of America, which features each state and a recipe that helps to represent that state. We chose the recipe for Massachusetts for our Thursday closing circle treat - turns out that chocolate chip cookies were first created by accident in an inn in Massachusetts!
Each child made a passport, which will help us explore the world over the next few weeks. At the end of the week they drew the flags from Mexico, Canada, and the US, as their “stamps” in their passport. It will be a wonderful keepsake for them as they reflect on this unit, and all of their newfound knowledge about their world.
We took trips to the library so that each child could have focused time to choose and then find books to help them research a country. They will spend the next few weeks reading and creating a final project that they will present at the end of our winter season. While unsurprising given their innate enthusiasm and immense curiosity, it was nonetheless incredible to observe their eager and passionate selves dive so immediately into this project. They are sharing information, inspiring each other as they come up with ideas for their final presentations, and meticulously studying their maps.
We studied the Peters Atlas, thanks to Scarlet and Georgie for sharing that resource, and talked about the creation of maps and our responsibility to understand the perspective of the mapmaker. We discussed why there are so many different versions of world maps, and why most maps represent Europe in a skewed and enlarged format. The Peters Atlas represents the continents and countries as they are in direct proportion to each other, based on their area. We will be using the Peters Atlas as the children draw their maps of their chosen countries as well. If anyone has access to more maps, feel free to bring them in. The more perspectives the better!
We baked our bread, visited the farm and worked in the greenhouse. With Laura we started listening to Peter and the Wolf, and enjoyed an activity as we tried to guess which instruments were representing each character. It is a wonderful opportunity to deepen our understanding of the vast array of instruments, and their diverse sounds.
We started a felting project with Rachael, which is perfect timing as I am guiding a group at the Aquinnah Library this coming Saturday at 11 am through the process of “sheep to shawl.” (This was meant to happen weeks ago but was postponed). If any of your children would like to join in, they would be welcome co-facilitators, able to teach others about carding, spinning, wet felting, needle felting and finger knitting. Just let me know, and I’d be happy to help with transportation to and from.
Also, if anyone is interested in Pam Benjamin’s art class continuing this winter, she is open to having us drop in on Fridays again. I may organize at least one class for those who did their ceramic project to finish and paint their pieces, but if you would like to do this more regularly do let me know and we can see how many others are interested as well.
This week our focus is South America! Feel free to bring in stories, recipes, and photos!
Thanks and see you tomorrow,
We are approaching our last week of 2022 - full to the brim with the solstice, yule, Hannukah, and Christmas - what a whirlwind time. As such, the children have been in and out of school, taking rest as it is very much needed, and we’ve been having warm and nourishing days in the yurt. Firing up the wood stove to warm a space within which we can read, write, craft, sing, play our ukuleles, work on our abacus, learn about our brains, and explore improvisational movement. A beautiful way to close out 2022 together.
In smaller groups this week we were able to focus on our individual projects, and wrap up as much as we can before we head off into our break. We are putting together our handmade gifts, sewing, making balms, teas, and writing cards. We are working on poetry for our calendars, which we will continue into the new year as a rich and inspiring writing exploration.
We had our second visit with Corinne deLangavant, a pantomime, movement teacher and singer, and it was further enlightening for both her and the children. She taught them about the history of ballet (rooted in ice skating, originally, which was solely a winter survival skill from over 10,000 years ago, and then Catherine de Medici founded the “ballet de court” in France as a military strategy to train soldiers to move on ice against the Dutch!) At one point after moving around together outside practicing ice-skating without the ice, we moved into the yurt to dance. She took out her guitar and asked the children, “do you sing?”, and then clarified and asked, “do you know that you all can sing?”. Whether or not she is accustomed to children resisting singing out of discomfort or lack of confidence I am not sure, but the children’s response was loud and clear. They looked at her a bit confused at the question, and then replied, “Yeah. We know we can sing.” They proceeded to belt out Gillian Welch’s “Miss Ohio,” and then asked for their ukuleles so they could all play her the song they are writing together with Laura using their three chords - F, Am and C. Corinne was left a bit speechless, and deeply inspired and uplifted.
Here is a video link of the children playing their chord changes for the first time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7IS9zVmWb8
We finished our chapter book on the Blackfeet tribe, called Om Kas Toe, by Kenneth Thomasma, and have started another by this same amazing author, as the children are enthralled with these historical accounts. Om Kas Toe shares the story of the Blackfeet as they discovered horses in the early 1700’s, and how that drastically changed the trajectory of their people. We are now reading Naya Nuki, which tells the story of the Shoshoni tribe and Sacajawea.
We did venture out of the warm yurt each day, walking to the greenhouse to harvest and eat fresh sorrel, dinosaur kale, herbs and arugula. We visited the stream and noticed the seasonal changes in the water pattern. And we cared for the bunnies who are settling into their winter home out at the yurt. On Thursday, Bryn came to teach us more about the brain - this week the amygdala and prefrontal cortex - such powerful learning.
Before we end the year, the children are eager to share some of their work, particularly their books. We are planning to have a Solstice celebration on Thursday this week - we will have school at Rachael’s house on 16th street in Edgartown, and we invite families to come join us at 2 o’clock for a read-aloud and sing-along led by the children. We will have some warm snacks and drinks together before we head off for our break!
* For Thursday, you can either drop off at the yurt at 9 am and I can shuttle to Edgartown, or you can drop off at Rachael’s house anytime between 9 and 9:30. Pick up will be at Rachael’s in Edgartown, unless anyone needs a ride back up-island. Just let me know what works best for you.
And just a reminder, our break is for two weeks - we start school again on Monday, January 9th.
Thank you all,
We started this week with a simple art project to review some of our spanish language learning, using the translated “5 Little Pumpkins” or “Cinco Calabazas”. Soon after we dove right back into our creative writing, either working individually or in small groups to finish up our stories and start working on our final drafts. One of the most wonderful things to watch as the children are working on their stories is their incredible ability to absorb everything around them and weave it into their own creations - from other stories we are reading, to characters from their own group play, or concepts we are exploring as a group. We are currently reading Ethel Cook Eliot’s Little House in the Fairy Wood, as a group, and if you haven’t had a chance to look into Ethel Cook Eliot’s work please do. It is beautifully written, and speaks so gently and clearly to where many of the children are in terms of their awareness of their own place in the world. At their age, they are undergoing a significant development in their prefrontal cortex, and thus adjusting their understanding of who they are in relation to this wider, more complex world around them. There is so much out there to read and explore as we attempt to understand cognitive development and neuroscience, and I have found Rudolph Steiner’s writings from over 100 years ago powerfully insightful and inspiring. I found this brief reflection, and thought I’d pass it along in case you wanted to read a bit more: https://www.sophiainstitute.us/blog/not-so-strange-after-all. And if you have other resources or articles along this vein of research, please pass them along!
As this group of children move, developmentally, from the willful mind to the emotional mind they face fascinating conflicts in their work and play. This week we approached a question as a group, which I think is one that most adults, and nations, face each day: how can we find a balance between protecting a space we have created (individually or as a group) and remaining generous and welcoming to others, who in turn can feel honored and respected enough to then share with us? This initially comes up with the issue of sharing, which these children have mostly shifted away from struggling against. At their stage, they are now experiencing group/tribal dynamics, exclusion vs. inclusion, and the deep emotional sensations of being “left out.” We practiced a short spatial activity to introduce communication strategies to move through these conflicts, and talked at length as a group. This will be an ongoing dialogue, and please feel free to share parts of this that may come home, questions that arise, or insights that you and your family have around this issue. I do wonder if there is anything more important than this issue at this moment in time..
To help clear out any heaviness of this complex topic, we made smudge sticks with herbs we had harvested from the farm. There are so many healing modalities that we seek to explore together as a group, and this is one simple practice that they each can do for themselves, or each other. In terms of how we, as a community, can support the children in new ways, I have been working with Ty Romijn for over a year, who practices Zero-Balancing and Five Element Acupuncture, and he has offered to lead parents through some helpful methods of bodywork that we can use with our children. He was also a Waldorf teacher and this work ties so well into the learning environment we are creating with our children. I am planning to host a session for any of us that would be interested during our Thanskgiving Break, and will let you know the details soon!
Our Form Drawing work is truly expanding the children’s spatial awareness, and opening all of us up to the incredible natural patterns we observe all around us every day. The abacus is helping the children visualize and physically interact with the world of numbers, and this week we focused a lot on place value. We wrote down numbers up into the thousands, and they had to represent those numbers on their abacus, challenging each other with higher and higher numbers. We also introduced multiplication on the abacus, which is quite similar to division, so those will hopefully be practices your child can take home and try out over the break.
We had many moments of quiet reading, we played our ukuleles and sang with Laura, and we made an amazing nettle seed cake with Gaby! After harvesting nettle leaves for years, this was the first time I had every harvested the seeds and it is a wonderful autumn activity (especially given that the sting of the nettles is much more mild at this time of year, if there is any sting at all, and the seeds have no hairs to sting so you can harvest without gloves). We ate the seeds raw and then Gaby guided the group in making the most delicious lemon nettle-seed cake. This article conveys so beautifully all that the nettle plant can do for us: https://www.sophiainstitute.us/blog/not-so-strange-after-all. Thank you Gaby for sharing this, and for your gift of cooking you are sharing with the children.
That feels like a hefty email already, so I’ll stop there. But thanks for reading and sharing in this experience. Please reach out with any thoughts or questions, as always.
And see you tomorrow!
This week we dove deep into our new instruments of music and of math.
We spent hours at a time exploring the abacus - each child in their own time having that spark, that moment when the visual of the beads and the concepts of place values suddenly came together. It was truly magical to watch. The excitement grew exponentially as another child began to understand how to count up to…one BILLION on the abacus. They could pair off once they grasped the concept, and challenge each other by placing beads on their own abacus and having their partner figure out the number. Some children went up to the 100’s, some went to the 1000’s, and everyone wanted to keep playing. This coming week we’ll take it further and start working through all four math functions using the abacus. Using integrative math, the beginning takes a slower pace, as they children understand the numbers through song, movement, and stories. With all four math functions together, they are approaching the system as a whole from the start. As I observe their experience through this systems approach, when a new element/tool is introduced the learning accelerates at a significant pace. When they are ready, when they have a foundation, and when their own creativity is part of the process, this is where great change occurs, and it is powerful to see.
In a similar way, the children have taken to their musical instruments rapidly and with such passion. They added two more chords on the ukulele this week - C7 and F - and are strumming away as they sing together. The patterns in the notes, the scales, and the relationships between the notes is quite mathematical and is arriving at an opportune time as the children grasp these concepts together. We wrote thank-you cards to the “Ukuladies” and their words to express their gratitude, along with beautiful images of themselves playing their instrument, were so poignant. Perhaps in the spring we can invite the “Ukuladies” to a performance…
We reviewed telling time this week, using our clock and our 5’s tables, and writing out the different ways we see the time out in the world. The children worked on their creative writing pieces, some of them beginning to write in their hardcover books, others going deeper in their plot lines and character development. They worked in their reading groups, and continued their workshop with Laura on what it means to “judge” someone else and how to make others feel comfortable as they prepare for interviewing.
We harvested nettles, some experimenting with tasting raw nettle leaves which they agreed tasted very much like cucumber. Not only have they no fear of being stung by a stinging nettle, they are happy to put those leaves right into their mouths:) If a child happened to get a sting, a group created a “hospital” at the far end of the nettle patch where they gathered mullein, plantain and dock leaves with which they made bandaids and compresses for their classmates. We feasted on “crispy nettles” and brought some to Rachael’s on Thursday where we made nettle sourdough rolls.
On Thursday we spent the beautiful fall day at Rachael’s, where we dipped our foraged foliage in beeswax, took a lovely walk through the meadow looking for winterberries (not a great year for winterberries it turns out!), and made pulled venison with Gaby. The children also practiced their play, and said a bittersweet farewell to our dear friend Astrolis! (Take a look at him this week in the last photo, with his hen, Scorpius, whom he named while she was still in her egg, and became our first hatched chick all the way back in February)
It looks like a bit of a rainy week ahead, so be sure to send along rain gear and extra clothes and boots!
See you tomorrow,
For those new to our group this year, each week I will send a reflection email that shares with you the concepts we are exploring, questions that are arising, ongoing projects, field trip ideas, and more. I include photos of the children, and trust that for the sake of privacy and respect for our school community all of these emails and photos are kept within this group. If you have a grandparent or caregiver you would like for me to add to this list, please let me know and I’m happy to connect them.
This week was both a reunion of a group that has been together for anywhere from 1 to 6 years, and the beginning of new friendships with two new students. We are welcoming Eilish and her family to our homeschool this year, and what a beautiful, seamless integration it has been. Her light and joyful spirit, and her enthusiasm to learn and grow alongside this group of children is something we are all fortunate to observe and share.
We are also welcoming Linden, after he has spent the past year with Ariana’s group, and is now moving up to our older group for half of each week this season. What a sweet and loving friend he is becoming to everyone here! The way the children have all opened their arms, both literally and figuratively, to both Linden and Eilish is inspiring. It is clear this is a community they have been building themselves, with their caring and creative souls, and as a result it is one they are proud to open and share with others.
Our days start with morning circle, and this week we reviewed many of our morning circle songs and games. We are always adding to our repertoire, and each child has their favorites - Mirabai requests "pass the squeeze”, Audrey loves the “human knot”, Astrolis and Arlo are very excited about our new bean bag tossing game, while Zelda, Tavi and Georgie like to lead our multiplication table songs. Robin tends to jump into our “Just Round the Kitchen” song, Ayla guides us through “Good Morning Brother Sunshine,” and Francesca, our fluent Spanish speaker, helps us through “Buenas Dias a la Tierra”. Linden and Eilish joined right in this week, and their voices are an incredible addition to this choir.
We visited each of our main learning spaces this week outside of the yurt: the main farm, to harvest pears, dahlias, and to visit our “elements” garden from last year; the laneways where we were sure to harvest autumn olives, check on the sumac (we estimate another week or two before the berries are ready for harvest), and collect mullein leaves and red clover flowers to dry; the stream, with its endless life and changes throughout the seasons; and finally the trees, our maple grove at which each child has developed their own relationship with a tree that serves as a home to them throughout the year.
We began our journal work, which serves as a place to document our days and includes new stories we are sharing together. We are continuing our greek myths, which weave in and out of other tales and legends from around the world, and this week was the story of Icarus and Daedalus. These stories are powerful, and rarely subtle, and bring forth deep messages about relationships and emotions that we all experience in life. Last spring we became quite familiar with the stories of Daedalus, Theseus, Ariadne, King Minos, Medusa, Perseus, Cassiopeia, King Cepheus, and Hermes, among others. We will continue to draw the stories together, and explore the various meanings and feelings they inspire in us. These stories connect to our past studies of the astrological cycles and we will revisit our star gazing this fall and winter after the equinox when our night skies are more accessible.
Our math work this year began with recognizing the different languages of numbers that have been used throughout history. We shared a story of the Roman numerals and then used our popcorn math games to play with these new numbers. I am attaching our math curriculum for fall/winter, which begins to work through area, perimeter, volume and various forms of measurement that the children will use as they build structures. As always, each child is at their own stage, so working together and at different levels and paces is how we accomplish our projects. Please look through the curriculum and let me know if you have any questions or ideas.
This week we spent hours reading in the yurt - with the children asking/begging if they could read at various times throughout the day, during the sprinkling rain or waiting for our math popcorn to be ready. Now that the children are sounding out words, reading proficiently, or reading fluently in chapter books, there is an incredible amount of resources they share as they help each other through sentences, read silently in nooks, or pass on their favorite books to the next child.
We will have literacy support multiple times throughout the week, math support once a week, craft support once a week, and music once a week. This year feels full to the brim with a community of caregivers that are sharing their passions and skills - thank you all so much.
As always each week we bake our bread, explore the stream, care for our animals, and have a sharing circle at the end of the week. There are never enough words to express my gratitude to be alongside this group of children, and share a space that they have created themselves. It is a true honor.
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.