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Archive for January, 2009

January was a month packed with events to celebrate. We spent the first few days “reorienting” ourselves to the routine. We had a long hiatus from school due to the ice storm that shut down power for a good five to seven days. Therefore, we started slowly, finishing up our St. Lucia’s crown and Sweden map. On January 6 we greeted a new friend, Satya, who is almost five, and lives in Shelburne. We also celebrated the Feast of the Magi (the Old World Christmas celebration) with a gift of Scandanavian chocolate for each of the friends from Tony(a). (Thank you!) We are slowly getting through Desperaux by Kate DeCamillo.

 

On January 9, we began the day with a celebration of Satya’s 5th birthday. Meredith told the story of his birth and showed pictures, and we shared a tasty birthday treat. After circle, we bid goodbye to Sweden, and “traveled” to our next destination, Australia. We began our study with Australia’s unique geography. It is place unlike any other because it is both, a country and a continent. Because it is so separated from all the world save for some of its neighboring islands, its flora and fauna are like no other countries.

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We began our studies talking about the Aborigine people, their “sacred center,” Uluru (also referred to as Ayer’s Rock, as renamed by the white folks who came later), and the stories that are passed down by the Aboriginal people—considered to be one of the oldest, continuous, long-living groups of folks in the world. Each of the stories we read throughout our travels was a story with a lesson to be learned and a explanation for an animal’s colors, behaviors, and habitat. (So, we wound up getting some life lessons as well as hints about an animal’s evolutionary path.) We shared some of our knowledge and stories with our elder friend, Ruth, whom we visited on Friday afternoon. We had a walk from her home to Elmer’s store at the end of the day.

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On January 13, we began our art project focusing on the cave drawings and particular artistic style of the Aborigine people. We began with heavy brown paper bags that would became our “cave wall” for our drawings. Friends worked in pairs or triads rolling and squeezing the bags to soften them while giving them the texture/feel of a dappled cave wall. We have been working a lot on working together so that we may accomplish tasks collaboratively and give opportunities for cooperation. Even our most independent friends are willing to work together, and those who are quickest at accomplishing their own tasks (getting dressed to go out, for one!) have been helpful to those friends who are a bit slower. This opportunity to learn to accept assistance is just as important learning to do it one’s self, and the group of friends is bonding around those shared experiences. I have also heard evidence of friends internalizing and becoming a person who is a “peace traveler.” When there is a disagreement there is often a reminder, “Hey, we’re peace travelers. We can work this out.” It also took me by surprise to hear one of them say (as they were working out who would do the finishing pieces to a large puzzle), “We’re collaborating; we’re working on it together.”

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On January 16th, we celebrated Annika’s 5th birthday. We also continued our art project with stencils, pencils, and pastel crayons. After looking at many elaborate drawings from our Australian storybook, we stenciled and colored our own designs. Again, friends assisted each other by holding stencils for each other, and passing them around as a pair of them finished with one stencil and passed it around the circle. We also began a very basic conversation about colors and their complements, one that we have had before when working with watercolor paints.

 

On January 20, we celebrated Elias’ 6th birthday, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama. We all met at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, and thanks to the cooperation of and coordination with Tony(a) and her apprentices, we were able to secure front row seats for the actual “swearing in.” Before hand, we were able to move to the small room, do a morning circle, and talk about the oath/promise that the president was about to take. We did an oath ourselves (a similar one), and talked about the importance of such a big promise. We also read the story of Obama’s life (so far!) entitled, Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes. Amid about 200 people we shared seats and sat on laps and witnessed President Obama take office. I’m happy that I was convinced to take them all to Elmer’s (Thank you, Tony(a), and thank you to all parents who commuted to and fro) because the atmosphere was wonderfully exciting, and I believe the friends will remember it for always!

 

On the 23rd and 27th we continued our travels in Australia. While observing the intricate art work, we enjoyed three animal fables entitled The Cockatoo and the White Gum Tree, The Flying Emu, and Shotu, the Greedy Crocidile. We again assisted each other with stencils and pencils, and worked further on our Aboriginal cave drawings. They are hanging proudly on the clothes line over our table. On the 30th, Leslie came and shared her stories and pictures of Urulu, and her travels in Australia. Friends enjoyed seeing Rosa and Leslie, and hearing about Leslie and Sam’s adventures in the land down under. (Thank You!)

 

We then prepared for our travels to Tibet where we will say goodbye to the year of the Earth Mouse (2135) and happily greet the year of the Earth Ox (2136). As we look ahead, may we have peace, justice, and freedom for all!

 

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