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We are continuing our study of Brazil, the Rain Forest, and the animals found therein.  This morning we went for hike in the Amazon jungle, and imagined Jaguars napping in trees, kinkajous and monkeys hanging from trees, and the cobra and pythons watching from the trees rooftops. Our color by number continues, as does our discussion of many interesting facts about Brazil. We read Brazil ABCs: A Book about the People and Places of Brazil by David Seidman. We also practiced patterns (with numbers as in counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, and 100s, and game of SCAN with colors and shapes.

Our reading of Hugo Cabret continues.

Books We Read:

Brazil ABCs: A Book about the People and Places of Brazil by David Seidman.

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Today we celebrated May Day, the ancient pagan holiday of celebrating the awakening earth. We donned our capes, washed our faces in the morning dew (not much dew this morning, so it was enhanced by our own well water), and set off with sunflowers and raisins to feed the faeries. Upon our return, we sat at the fire circle and I told them the story of the Faerie’s Gift (see Mary Alice and Peter Amidon’s CD of the same name). In this story, a poor woodcutter lives with his wife and again parents, and each member of the family has their own wish (for a child, for sight, and for gold). When the woodcutter saves a faerie man’s life, he is given a ball of light—a wish—and he becomes confused by the competing demands of his family members. There is a wonderful singing part of it that the friends learned—ask them to teach it to you!

We also read two stories from The Magical World of Fairies by Nicola Baxter (The Butterfly Babies and The Blossom Ball). We each chose a faerie name, and called each other by it, as often as we remembered:

Charlotte: Sap

Kate D.: Bleeding Heart

Kate O’: Rosebud

Rhiannon: River

Stella: Buttercup

Sydney: Red Crocus

Zoe: Snowdrop

We danced around the Maypole in our capes and crowns, and sang a sweet song about the celebration of spring. Next Friday we will dance for Ruth at her home after we share lunch. We began our color-by-number project of the toucan, a beautiful rainforest bird.

Books We Read:

“The Butterfly Babies” in The Magical World of Fairies by Nicola Baxter

“The Blossom Ball” in The Magical World of Fairies by Nicola Baxter

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It was a cold, raw day, and we had a fire in the woodstove to cozy up and get back into the swing of things. We began the day with talking about our vacation week, and the changes that we see all around us as trees and flowers bloom around us. We had a quick walk around the area to check out the bleeding hearts, daffodils, and budding trees, followed by some outside time (before the rains came!). We returned indoors for a pattern game called SCAN. The game is comprised of two sets of identical cards with various shapes and patterns on them. We worked mostly with the color blocks that are comprised of a large square with a circle inside of it, with another square and circle inside of that. Four colors in varying order are used over 23 cards. The exercise game is not competitive but teaches how to “scan” for patterns. As we play, we talk about strategies for finding like objects. We compare and contrast the color patterns and what makes them similar or different. Friends enjoyed it, and asked for more.

We resumed our study on Brazil by examining the globe, and speaking about Brazil’s area, sea coast, and rain forests. We read the story How Night Came by Joanna Troughton that explains the Tupi Indians’ perspective on the creation of nighttime. We also began a color by number exercise of a toucan. We finished our day with some practice reading followed by “A Swim” (of the Frog and Toad Treasury), and our continuing story of Hugo Cabret.

Books We Read:

How Night Came by Joanna Troughton

“A Swim” in The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel

“Spring” in How Night Came by Joanna Troughton

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We began our day with the reading of When the Root Children Woke Up by Audrey Wood, Sibylle Olfers, and Ned Bittinger. We finished our week with another walk to refresh our memories on our poems of springtime. Each friend chose a subject based on a few walks, and we went around the table, and threw out descriptions of flowers, trees, the meadow, the sky, and our view of Pumpkin Hollow from the garden. After we threw out descriptors, we wove them into five syllable, seven syllable, and five syllable lines, usually leaving a surprise for the last phrase. Below are Haikus that we composed to celebrate spring’s arrival:

New yellow starbursts

Forsythia sparkles forth

Springtime says hello (Charlotte)

Tiny white flowers grow

Crawling up the hillside

Welcome Lady Spring (Kate D.)

Like cathedral glass

Birch leaves shimmer heaven’s notes

Springtime greens unfurl (Kate O’)


Yellow daffodils

Drinking up the sun’s rays

Little sipping cups (Stella)


Bright, warm, light, golden

The sun rises in the sky

Warm spring sun returns (Sydney)


Dark spring night, stars blaze

Crescent moon of spring arrives

Soft, young, new green grass (Zoe)


Today we had our monthly visit to Ruth’s home, and read the sweet Frog and Toad Treasury Story (by Arnold Lobel) entitled “Spring.” We walked around her glorious garden and made note of the forsythia, the daffodils, the narcissus, and all the flowering trees that have donned their colorful outfits. We read Ruth our haikus and showed her the artwork that accompanied them. Have a great vacation week and see you at April’s end!

Books We Read:

“Spring” in How Night Came by Joanna Troughton

When the Root Children Woke Up by Audrey Wood, Sibylle Olfers, and Ned Bittinger.

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We began our day with a number scavenger hunt. Patterns of numbers were written on the sidewalk and blacktop, and friends followed them with their feet, identifying numbers as they went along in pairs. Each set of numbers began with a star as a starting point, and after walking and identifying the numbers, friends sat down, and found the numbers on a number chart (that goes from one to one-hundred in rows of tens). Over and over again, we explore various combinations of numbers (mostly in sequences counting by ones), and trying to predict where we will find them on a chart. Now we are exploring patterns with numbers—how we speak them, how they are written in sequences, and how we predict what comes next. Whenever possible, count everything—steps, beads, peas, whatever. Count by ones, by twos, by fives, and tens. This will assist in reinforcing patterns with numbers and help them gain familiarity with numbers from 1-100.

We are using our finger alphabet to decode rhyming words.  Flashcards that contain a picture depict three rhyming words, are scattered about, and friends work together putting them together and saying them aloud (e.g. Snug as a bug in a rug.).

Friends work together giving each other ideas of how the pictures tell the rhyming word story. Knowing the finger alphabet and the sounds that go with them are very helpful (along with the clues from pictures) in reading the rhyming words.

We have begun our travels to Brazil to explore the African and Portuguese influences on the native people of Brazil. We have talked briefly about slavery, and how people were taken unwillingly from their homelands in Africa and forced to come to Brazil to work the land there.

We have also begun a book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by David Selznik. It is an illustrated story of a boy who is working to build an automatron that can actually write. In the process of his adventures there are many twists and turns. It is set in Paris in the 1920s.

April is National Poetry Month and we have been reading various poems that deal with the coming of spring. We have also explored syllables in preparation for writing our own Haiku.

Books We Read:

The Amazon Basin of Brazil: Vanishing Cultures by Jan Reynolds

Swing Around the Sun Poems by Barbara Juster Ebensen

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(photo credit t.lem0s)

We have been outdoors looking for signs of spring from the ground to the sky. We have visited the beaver pond on the main road, looked for the pair of geese that build their nest nearby, and listened for the peepers that inhabit the wetlands. We have heard more that we have seen—lots of birds have returned, the woodpeckers have made themselves known, and the chickadees have been wondering around on the front lawn where we have scattered bread. We have observed the wondrous colors that have returned and livened up the bland color scheme of late winter/early spring. The palette of yellow-green buds, red buds, and the white, purples, and golds of crocuses have come!

Thanks to Tony for the wonderful little nests that we made with recycled bags and blue construction paper. We filled them with eggs we had tie-dyed with masking tape and numerous dipping.. The warm weather has been a welcome relief from the damp cold of the season, and Mother Earth wakes up and surprises us as we too, emerge from our winter dormancy…

Books We Read:

Mongolia: Enchantment of the World by Allison Lassieur

Festivals of the World: Mongolia by Frederick Fisher

Cultures of the World: Mongolia by Pang Guek Cheng

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Silas arrived late on Tuesday, March 9. All are happily recovering, and Sydney is ecstatic about being a Big Sister! Congratulations to All!

We continue our exploration of pattern blocks and combining the two to form other shapes. (Two squares equal a rectangle, two triangles equal a rhombus or diamond, two half circles become a full circle.) We’ve talked a little bit about angles and how some angles we see all the time. We have actually fit right angles into a corner, and have talked about them in terms of function in constructing solid, sturdy furniture and buildings.

We eagerly await the change of seasons. And we’ve been looking for signs of spring on our walks. Thus far, we have hears birds singing and brooks/rivers running. We have seen snow melting, examined small buds on trees, and are alert for the first new green coming up from under the snow.

We read The Snow Child by Freya Littledale about the circular nature of the seasons, and a child sent to mark the joys of winter and the welcome signs of spring. Our reading of Key to the Treasure continues with three clever siblings uncovering clues from a treasure hunt made for their ancestors back in the time of the Civil War.

We have begun making our portable model Mongolian homes (gers of the nomadic people) that we will be working on for the next few weeks. In place of lattice and thick felt, we are using popsickle sticks, twine, modeling clay (for “feet” or stantions) and light felt to construct our model-sized homes. Come check out our progess!

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