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Archive for November, 2009

Today we talked about the things that we are grateful for, and sang a song familiar to many of the friends. I told the Inuit story of Sedna, Beautiful Goddess of the Sea. (I modified the story some, because it is a bit gruesome, and Sedna’s parents hurt her, and I wanted to temper it a bit!) It is the Inuit story of creation, and Sedna and her parents are at the root of it. It is told that they were giants that inhabited the earth long before people. Sedna’s appetite was so voracious that her parents feared that she would eat them. So they brought her to the sea, in the hopes that she would find food to feed herself. She hung on to the boat, and in the cold sea, her fingers froze and fell off, and she sunk to the bottom, but was still alive. Her frozen fingers became all the sea animals—the seals, the sea lions,  the walruses, the dolphins, and whales—all the food that was needed to feed the people that came after. Ofcourse, Sedna was very bitter about being left behind….Now, it is said that the Inuit people worship Sedna because they know that she is the giver of life, and the people need her to survive their cruel winters. The medicine man of the Inuit clan makes a hole in the ice, and he sings and talks to her at the bottom of the sea. As she forgives, she is transformed to a beautiful sea goddess and sends food for the people.

We ended our Inuit/Canada visit, and will begin our Journey to Senegal in December. (This unit will continue into Janaury because we are busy during our Winter Workshop as we prepare gifts for our family members.)

“Thanks a Lot”

by Raffi

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the sun in the sky
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the clouds so high

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the whispering wind
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the birds in the spring

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the moonlit night
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the stars so bright

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the wonder in me
Thanks a lot
Thanks for the way that I feel

Thanks for the animals
Thanks for the land
Thanks for the people everywhere

Thanks a lot
Thanks for all I’ve got
Thanks for all I’ve got

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Today we had our first spirit walk down by the river. These brief, quiet excursions begin with a song about building our community with trust,  and  being known to each other. We put our capes on in silence, and then “listen” with all our senses to the beauty around us. We sat the river and faced the majestic pines, and sat quietly for a few minutes listening with all of our senses. Each of the friends spoke about what they perceived on our walk:

Zoe: I felt the wind on my face and water splashing up.

Rhiannon: I felt the rocks under my body.

Charlotte: I felt the river splashing under me!

Sydney: I felt rocks under the blanket.

Kate: I saw those five pig pines across the river and wondered how long they had been there. If they could see and think, I wondered what those trees were thinking as they looked down upon the five people sitting on the other side of the river, looking at them!

We spoke of the first Thanksgiving that probably took place some time closer to the end of the growing season, and how the Mohawks and other American Indians (The Wampunang were also here in Massachusetts, in the Plymouth area.) helped the Pilgrims to adjust to their new environment and prepare for the long, cold winter ahead. We brainstormed about food and pelts that they found here—fish, deer, moose, turkey, wolf, coyote, quail—as well as crops that were planted and harvested—squash, beans, corn, berries, potatoes and other root vegetables. We tried to imagine what it must have been like to live in a long house with extended family members and stay warm by the fire that was central to the home.


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Today we put our Inuit knowledge into action, and went to the woods to “hunt” for various animals. We saw dog and raccoon tracks, deer and bear scat. We found a small pond where we looked for life. Then we got our our imaginary harpoons and special skinning knives and we searched for whales, seals, polar bear, and other Arctic animals. What imaginations we have here! If the Inuits were as successful as our young huntresses, they would relax all winter under many pelts and never have to worry about food again! We pretended to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is still a difficult name to remember!) and visit far away villages of our distant relatives.

We arrived back indoors eager for snack and lunch time after our journey to far-away lands.

Books Read:

Treasury of Inuit Tales by James Houston

Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox

If Peace Is….by Jane Baskwill


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We have been working on our Peace Travelers Alphabet book. The general gist of this exercise is to prepare a page a week that begins with a certain letter. We practice the ASL letter, the phonics that goes with it, and we work with pictures of flowers, animals, and many cultural symbols (pictures of flags, countries, natural wonders, people who have changed the world in a peaceful way). We usually follow the exercise with working with letter boards and making small words that rhyme while practicing our ASL letters and phonics. Use your ASL banners at home to spell out words with your friend while using the appropriate phonics. While the expressive part of making the letter with their hand can be difficult, the receptive part of “reading” your hand is a bit easier for them.

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Today we began work on our Inuit totem poles by coloring the pieces (a bear, a wolf, and an eagle) that we will assemble next week. We spoke of our Inuit story about Tiktalituck and his quest for survival in the Arctic cold. We are learning about Canada—a vast country with many time zones and many cultures—our neighbors to the north.

We began our study of the letter “I” For beginning learners,  vowels (with their multiple sounds) are the most difficult to master. So, we have interspersed them with many of the consonants. Please be sure to practice the American Sign Language letters as you practice the phonics with your child.

In the afternoon, we made inuksuks (pronounced short e-nook-sooks) with the river rocks we collected last week. Inuksuks are used to mark trails, to signal places rich in game or fish, or to honor ancestors who are no longer in this world. Like Stonehenge, some inuksuks mark the place of the rising or setting sun, or serve as a place to leave messages for neighboring villages. We held our stones together with sculpy, and made inuksuks to take home, as well as a large circle with each of our individual inuksuks  in a circle to signify our circle of friends.

We read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, a beautiful picture book that uses leaves in collage art to tell the story of the autumn leaves on the wind. In the near future, we will dip the leaves we collected a month ago in bee’s wax, and preserve some color for the long season of winter.

Books We Read:

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

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Today we began our day with looking through a book on Inuit inuksuks (pronounced e-nook-sooks)—cairn-like stone statues used to respect a person, show directions, leave messages, or frame a sunrise or sunset. We then took a trip to the South River to collect stones to build our own. (We collected lots, and I’m happy I have a strong back and an excellent backpack to transport them!) We brought them back and cleaned them in warm buckets of water to be ready for Friday’s assembly.

After lunch, we read a story entitled Tiktaliktak (“butterfly” in Inuit) about a young adult accidentally separated from his family and island while hunting. He becomes stranded on a an ice floe, takes a chance and gets himself to a deserted island, and finally, builds a makeshift boat out of inflated seal skins to get himself home. One of the friends commented about all of his skills—making clothes, an ice house, catching food with his tools and his bare hands. It was an exciting story, and they seemed to understand his resourcefulness. The pictures in the book are simple and beautiful, and express much about the beauty of the Arctic surroundings.

We finished our day with a book entitled The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, and had some outside time before the rain came.

Books We Read:

The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper

Treasury of Inuit Tales by James Houston

Make Your Own Inuksuk by Mary Wallace

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