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,
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.