Archive for the ‘Special Days’ Category

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 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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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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Thanks to a delayed opening, Liam and I were able to make fresh dumplings (more like whole wheat clazones) filled with yummy vegies for February 7th, and we ate them for luck for our upcoming year. We read Tenzin’s Deer by Barbara Soros (Thank you Tony) about a boy who nurses a deer back to health by listening to his dreams, the voice of the deer, and his own heart. We have echoed the prayers we learned in this book, and will continue to do so. They are: “May no harm come to us. May we love each other well. May we be kind to all the creatures of the earth.” Today we did an abbreviated spirit walk against the backdrop of the magical snow covered trees and mountains, and we uttered the prayers as we walked quietly into the splendorous, glistening world. Blessed be this learning community.Usually with a delay, we stick to the basics of our day, and have art projects, outside time, our circles (with reading aloud) and our eating times and that’s that. The snow has been magical up here (with no wind and the snow outlining all the amazing trees) and we’ve spend time building snow structures, sledding, and reading about snow. Our book entitled Snowflake Bentley of Jericho, VT has been a favorite.An aside of graditude: Thank you to all who have really pitched in with cleaning and helping, especially on Fridays. I know that all of us have busy, overscheduled lives although we really try not to, and we appreciate all you do for us. Thank, too, to those of you who check in with me about my life. If I had my way, MVEC would be all I did, but college life has its perks as well, and I am doing both. It has been crazy and wonderful, but stressful. Doing this for the first time and all the planning it takes can be overwhelming, but I am grateful to my co-teacher Marcelle, and all in the community who really assist in “picking up the slack.”Blessed be!

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With the upcoming Lunar New Year (This year, the Chinese New Year and the Tibetan New Year fall on the same day, February 7: The year of the rat.), we have been reading stories about dragons (friendly and a sign of good luck in Chinese culture) and the customs associated with the New Year. This is, literally, one of the biggest celebrations in the Asian world. Folks travel far and wide to be with their families and sweep out the old year and welcome in the new with special food, fireworks, and age old customs. (It holds the importance of our Thanksgiving in terms of being with those we love.)We have also begun our Chinese lanterns, and will began planning some of the special things we will do to celebrate the new lunar year. We have also begun planning for Valentines Day—a day to celebrate friendship in our learning community.

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