Archive for the ‘Field Trips’ Category

Our study of Senegal continues. We discussed jungle animals native to the Senegal preserves, and what animals feel special to us. We spoke about what preserves are (like giant zoos without that caged-in feeling), and how animals are protected from hunting in these special places. We spoke of the diversity of Africa as a continent, and explored city life and village life in a book entitled Africa is not a Country by Margery Burns Knight & Mark Melnicove.

Today we read a book on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream of having all people get along. We spoke about being left out, and how badly that feels, and then we spoke about being able to be treated with respect. We spoke briefly about civil rights and treating each other with kindness—everyone included, no one excluded.

We also practiced sums with dice again, adding sums up to 12, working with a partner. Remember to reinforce “counting up.” (Beginning with identifying the larger number of the two dice, and then begin counting up from that number. Afterwards, say the sum aloud.)

Today we also had our visit to our friend Ruth’s Home. We ate lunch together, sang some songs (The Valley of Vegetables, The Four Directions, and May No Harm Come to Us), and we read a couple of chapters from Gwinna. On Tuesday, we will have another new friend—Kate—join us.

Books We Read:

Africa is not a Country by Margery Burns Knight & Mark Melnicove

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.


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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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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 began our study of the Mohawk Nation–one of the nations that make up the Iroquois League. (During colonial times, the French called them the Iroquois, while the British called them The Five Nations. The other nations are the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, all located to our west in what is now New York state.) The Mohawk people were also called the People of the Eastern Gate (referring to their location in relation to the other four nations) and the people of the Flint Country because of all the flint found in the earth in the places where they lived.

We had our Morning Circle at the South River the home of our friends—Leslie, Sam, Elias, and Rosa. We began with our regular circle songs and then sang “The Earth is Our Mother” with ASL signs to the bountiful earth all around us.

We roamed the garden and saw two of the “Three Sisters” (corn, squash, and beans). We picked both, golden and red raspberries, and then went to the river and thought about what it would be like to of the Mohawk people living here, many years ago. We spoke of their homes—longhouses—and how people lived in large groups related through their mothers. Children called their mother and mother’s sisters “Mother,” and sisters and brothers were comprised of those plus what we call cousins today. We talked about how no one came from a small family! We also discussed food—meat, fish, corn, beans, squash—and how the Mohawks made it through the winter with stored food and food they hunted. Being on the river helped friends to understand the many uses it had for the Mohawk people—rinsing after a sweat lodge “bath,” as a source of food and water, as a means of water for growing.

In addition to the fun with berry picking and river time, we also spotted two monarch butterflies on the butterfly bushes in the garden. We returned to Mt. View with many berries and whipped some cream to top them off!

Books We Read:
The Life Ccyle of a Butterfly by Trevor Terry & Margaret Linton
Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop

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We are still working on base ten and base 1 with our grids. (They will be sent home with them.) Today we had our last visit to Ruth’s home. The friends refer to her as “our Ruth,” and indeed, she has become part of our learning community. To say farewell and thank you to her, we made her a crown with butterflies and a mobile with our words on it. The friends said the following when asked the question,


“In what ways are we thankful for Ruth?”:


“Her home is cozy and warm.”

“She’s friendly and she doesn’t bite.” (Something Ruth said the first day she received hugs from friends!)

“She likes us and she loves us, too. I like to see her in Ashfield at the Farmer’s Market.”

“She listens to us with patience.”

“She always nice to us, she loves us, and I like to see her beautiful things.”


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Today we began our study of base 10 numbers and discussed ones, tens Here we go round the Maypole High, Maypole High, Maypole High Here we go round the Maypole High, Hold Colored Ribbons High! Laddies and lassies go skipping by, skipping by, skipping by Laddies and lassies go skipping by, let colored ribbons Fly! , hundreds, and thousands. We focused on counting to 100 by ones, counting to 100 by tens, and counting to 1000 by hundreds. We work with manipulatives that are true to scale (ten small “one” blocks = one “ten” block, etc., ten “ten” blocks = a hundred slab, etc.). We also have placemat-type graphs that show all the numbers and we work on adding ten to each number. At this point developmentally, the principles that are important with numbers are as follows:

– each unit of one is assigned a number

– each number is in a correct, consecutive order, and 

– the distance between numbers on a number line are consistent.


In past lessons, we learned and practiced odd and even numbers so we are using the number lines we created to instill these principles. In order to practice all we have learned count, add, and subtract any examples that come up in those teachable moments we call life. Friends are in different developmental places based on age and experience, but they’ll let you know where they are on the continuum. Please ask them questions like, “If you add one more to “x” what do you get? What about 10? What about 100? Piaget called these questions and the assistance that follows these questions the learning space known as the “zone of proximal development.”  A child can almost get there, and by providing them questions that she/he can understand, can stretch their understanding.



We carried our Maypole to Ruth’s house and did our sacred circle maypole dance and singing for her in her front yard surrounded by blooming lilacs and flocks and singing birds. What a glorious celebration of springtime!



 Here we go round the Maypole High, Maypole High, Maypole High

Here we go round the Maypole High, Hold Colored Ribbons High!


Laddies and lassies go skipping by, skipping by, skipping by

Laddies and lassies go skipping by, let colored ribbons Fly!




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Happy May Day!

Today we began our day with a celebration of Sebastian’s birthday with fresh out-of-the-oven blueberry cobbler. (Thank you, Lauren!) We prepared our Maypole, by digging a hole and installing a 18” 1 and 3/4” pipe for our 10 foot Maypole. Friends chose ribbons for our dance, and we decorated the top of the Maypole with ivy and our favorite shorter ribbons.


We then donned our capes and crowns and washed our faces in a stone bowl of morning dew and rainwater collected earlier that morning.



We then had a procession out to our chosen spot. (Look just beyond the faerie circle/fire circle where our Maypole stands.) We then established our circle with birdseed and song, and finished with a Maypole dance.


Our Maypole celebration is an adaption from Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill.

The song we used is an adaptation of an old Negro spiritual hymn entitled “Train is a Comin’.”

The verses are as follows:

1. Come and wash your faces, oh yeah

Come and wash your faces, oh yeah

Come and wash your faces, come and wash your faces, come and wash your faces, oh yeah.

2. Greet the Goddess Gaia, oh yeah, etc.

3. Greet the Queen of Springtime, Queen Maeve, etc.

4. Make the sacred circle, etc.

5. Come and dance the May Dance, oh yeah, etc.


We finished our celebration with the story of The Sacred Cauldron, also adapted from a story by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill. It entails two children, a son and daughter of earth traveling with Brother deer and Father Twilight, to meet Queen Maeve, Goddess of Springtime (and new beginnings) and the Grandmother Winter (and endings/death). After a remarkable journey on Brother Deer’s back, and then, guided by Grandfather Twilight, over a long lake in a boat made of birch with a sail of spring green moss, the children journey with Queen Maeve. She makes the path they walk upon blossom as she passes. The children greet Grandmother Winter and look into the “Cauldron of Life.” There they see all the rainbow-colored souls that have passed from this earth, and all of those waiting to be born. The children taste from the broth of life, which is the most wonderful broth they have tasted. It tastes like the most wonderful foods they have ever tasted, and it fills them up and gives them hope. Queen Maeve and Grandmother Winter tell them that they must remember the feeling they had as they tasted the broth; it will always make them feel in connection with all of humankind, and give them hope when they need it.


We continued our May Day celebration with an impromtu visit to Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. We kept our capes and crowns on, and became colorful butterflies on the ground! We gathered in the special gazebo and read All Kinds of Love, again, by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill. The story is a Rachel Carson-like version of Silent Spring, and a child who longs for the flowers to bloom and the birds to sing again. It involves honoring all kinds of love (friends, partners, and love of earth) and bringing all into the circle of life to help heal the Gaia, and respect her goodness.



Thanks to the five parents who consented for us  to go at a moment’s notice; with three friends out that day, it was convenient to get us all there and back quite easily. I believe the friends will remember this May Day with fond memories! And don’t worry, we’ll get there again before the end of the year.)

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