Archive for October, 2009

Today we dressed for Halloween, and spoke of the “Day of the Dead” celebrated in Mexico. We learned that Halloween is a holiday that celebrates the time of the year when the curtain between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest point, so people have believed that the spirit world will visit with the living. In Mexico, families go to grave cites and plant marigolds and have picnics with special foods (often favorites of their ancestors). In America, we do “spooky things” to acknowledge the spirit world.

We finished our autumn trees today, using a dabbing technique to put autumn colored leaves on our “spooky” trees. A new friend, Rhiannon, joined our Peace Travelers today. Welcome Rhiannon!

Today was also a day of story telling. I retold Jane Yolen’s Child of Faerie, Child of Earth out in the woods, under the “umbrella tree” (a large hemlock) on our daily nature walk. This story celebrates the friendship of a human girl (I named her Summer) and a faerie boy (Leaf) that begins the evening and next day of All Hallows Eve. Leaf is up a tree when he greets Summer—he asks if she is nervous about being out in the woods by herself on a night when the curtain between the worlds is thinnest, and the faerie folk are about. Summer replies that she doesn’t believe in the faerie folk (her mothers says there’s no such thing!), and thus he proves to her they do. They celebrate a night of merriment with the faerie, brownies, sprites, etc., and then Summer invites Leaf to share a day with her in her home. They work all day—feeding the chickens, haying the cows and horses, cleaning the barn—at which time they ask each other to stay in their respective worlds. Each agrees their own world is where they belong, but they form a life long friendship, as they grow and age. The other story I told was “The Faerie’s Gift”-–a story that is on the Amidon’s CD entitled the same. The story is about a poor woodcutter (who lives with his wife and parents), who assists in saving a small faerie man’s life. The faerie man thanks the woodcutter with a wish. This confounds the poor woodcutter whose family members each have different wishes. However, the woodcutter is a clever man and delivers to all of his family members in the end.


We are currently working on the letter “C” for our Peace Travelers Alphabet Book. Whenever possible, please practice the American Sign Language letters with their accompanying sound with your friend. This assists in putting the letters and their meanings into their memories, especially creating a “body memory” with the use of finger letters!



Stories Told based on:

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth by Jane Yolen/Illustrated by Jane Dyer (This is a beautiful book to own by local artists here in the Pioneer Valley!)


The Faerie’s Gift by Mary Alica and Peter Amidon on their CD of the same name. (These are local musicians from Brattleboro who are amazingly talented!)


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Today we began our day with a walk at Natural Roots Farm. We have been discussing the change of seasons with the onset of the cold weather and diminished light, as well as the earth tilting away from the sun on its axis.

We were able to walk the fields and identify most of the crops that were being harvested for the last C.S.A. pick-up. From the field, we were also able to look at the trees that have held on to their leaves (Mostly, they are oaks and beeches.).

We began our tree project when we returned. We used straws to blow water-based latex paints onto the page, forming large trunks with branches reaching out to the outer page. These will be further decorated with leaves during the next school day.

We have also discussed the Inuit people who live in the coldest places around the Arctic Circle. In their own language, “Inuit” means “real people”—those who crossed the Bering Straight as they hunted for large elephant like monoliths and bison. We have been discussing their way of life and how they have adapted to the harsh winter environment.

Inuit Children Playing

Books We Read:

True Book: The Inuit by Andrew Santella

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Today we welcomed a new friend, Rhiannon, for a visit. We began our day with games of logic, working together to build castle blocks (A game called Castle Logic.) and getting out of traffic jams (A compact travel game called Rush Hour. They make great Holiday gifts!). Friends worked together giving each other ideas of how to solve problems. This is a great exercise in presenting solutions with words, and letting friends take turns working them out those solutions with their hands.

We began discussing the next country in our “travels,” Canada. We started our discussion with the book Count Your Way through Canada by Jim Haskins. The book details many of the important cultures and pastimes of the Canadian people: the indigenous Inuit people, the presence of both French and English as national languages, ice hockey, the Maple Tree (and maple leaf of the Canadian flag), the Group of Seven art movement, the importance of winter sports celebrated in the Quebec Winter Carnival, and the fortress in the old city of Quebec.


Books We Read:

Count Your Way through Canada by Jim Haskins.

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Today we culminated our life cycle of the butterfly with a visit to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. We also finished our American Indian/Mohawk unit, and have begun a study of Canada, our neighbors to the north. Throughout the beginning of the year, we have talked about and sung about the four directions, which leads to a discussion of geography and climate, as we “travel” to Canada. We finished our Mohawk unit with a discussion of a medicine shield and how girls and boys celebrate their entrance into their teen years with a special celebration. We have spoken about spirit guides (animal spirits) and have done visualizations to “find” them. Each of the friends has identified several animals, and requested a name, and today we finished those medicine shields, and have hung them proudly over our capes (that we will use for our spirit walks).

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Today we did a walk to a sweat lodge nearby and talked about how American Indians used the sweat lodge as a cleansing spiritual experience with others in their families and communities. We also talked about the sacredness of spirit guides in the lives of Indians. We have been scanning magazines and books for animals that “speak to us.” We also spoke of a young teen’s experience of going to be with an older woman and celebrating her joining the older women as she proved herself with her abilities to make clothing, cook food, and communicate with others. We each made a symbolic medicine shield and are working on the animals that belong on each of the friend’s shields.


We finished our Peace Travelers cutting and pasting and practiced our two vowels (A and E) and two consonants (T and M). We’ll be using letter boards and sounding out words using these letters to start.

(Remember to ask your friend about Monarchs migrating to Mexico!)


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Today we started with the book Why the Leaves Change Color by Betsy Maestro. We went down the Conway Pond, and walked around looking for collections of leaves that we do not typically see on our regular loop. We found some heart shaped leaves—redbuds, I believe—and saw some beautifully colored sugar maple and white maple leaves.

We began our Turtle Island project that is comprised of a decorated shell made of two layers of construction paper, and then cut tail, head, and legs out of poster board. Underneath is a pocket that contains the story of Turtle Island.


We have been working with the letters “T” and “M” in our Peace Travelers Alphabet Book. Please be sure to practice the signs and sounds with your peace traveler.

Books We Read:
Why the Leaves Change Color by Betsy Maestro

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Today we celebrated Zoe’s 6th Birthday with a visit from her Mom, Tony, who shared pictures of Zoe in each of her six years thus far. We sang our birthday song below, and paused to share photos and memories of Zoe.

We move round the circle like the moon, the moon, the moon, and sun
We move roung the circle and then we are born…1…2….etc.

After our lunch and cake, we enjoyed our umbrella walk in the woods, and paused to find our umbrella tree (a sweeping hemlock that protects us from the elements!) so we could tell the story of Sky Woman and Turtle Island. (This is the Iroquois creation story.)
We then did a visualization for spirit animal guides under the hemlock tree. Each of the friends “saw” an animal that they decided would guide and protect them.

Zoe: Deer

Charlotte: Whale

Sydney: Duck

Kate: Otter

WE had an umbrella walk in the woods, and the friends heard the Iroquois creation story called Sky Woman and Turtle Island. When we arrived back at Mt. View, we began our Turtle Island project which will house the creation story in a pocket underneath.

Books We Read:
We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger
When the Root Children Wake Up Retold by Audrey Wood

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