Archive for the ‘Spirit Walk’ Category

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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We began our day with our first spirit walk of the spring. We walked silently and observed the spring’s onset with all of our senses. (Both Liam and Rosey were present as they were off from school, and friends welcomed old friends into the fold with both, old and new routines.


During snack we read Japan: A True Book by Ann Heinrichs. Again, we spoke of World War II and its impact on the Japanese people. Please note that I speak this history as well as I can, and in language that tells friends how important it is for us, as American people, to learn other ways to be safe in the world, with all people as our allies, working together. It is a challenge to inform them without making them fearful. They all are respectful of this story telling and story reading time. Later, at lunch, we lightened the mood with a story called “Woe is me bones” as told by Jay O’Callahan. (Ask your friend about it; he is an amazing weaver of tales!)


In mathematics, we made number lines to 20 which will be used to count, add, subtract, and again, reinforce the recognition of odd and even numbers. Odd numbers appear above the line with stars; even numbers are marked underneath the number line with faces. Next week we’ll begin using our number lines and the signs “greater than” (>) and “less than” (<).


We began our Empress and Emperor puppets by making their kimonos with special spring watercolors. Next week we will assemble them and make their faces.






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Our day began with free play. Three stations were set up: blocks and dominoes, puzzles and matching games, and the kitchen. As friends arrived, they greeted each other and got right into the routine of free, unstructured time.

At 9:55, we tidied up, and began our morning circle with “Four Directions,” by Sarah Pirtle and our “Good Morning Ritual”. Afterwards, we talked about the jobs that we have to do, and then launched into our discussion of a new year of school. I asked the friends to think about the question, “What is different this year?” Friends began commenting on the physical space, and eventually launched into a discussion of the people that they miss. We shared our feelings and spoke of many of the good times that we shared in the woods, in the snow, and in the river. We looked at pictures of them from last year’s cape ceremonies (that hang framed on the wall). We also spoke of the jobs we have in our learning community, and how we will accomplish what we need to in order to respect our space, environment, and each other. We also used the talking orb, and answered the question, “What was fun about your summer?” We had our snack and read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. We talked about how sometimes everyone gets a little bit excited and nervous about new beginnings–teachers, too. We had a discussion about starting something new, and the changes that occur as the seasons come and go.


What was fun about your summer?

Zoe: I liked when I went to Red Gate Farm. I went into the lake even though it was cold outside. It was perfect and very fun. I had fun one day at the Farmer’s Market and everybody got a ride in a wheel barrel. 

Maia: I got to play with my friend, Kayla. She lives right up the driveway, and I get to watch her get on the school bus.

Jayden: I liked miniature golfing at Pirate’s Cove. We were in the White Mountains.

Sebastian: I liked when I went camping out in Vermont for four days, and I liked when I went Cape Cod, too.

Elias: I liked swimming in the ocean and boogie boarding. I like the shell driveway, and my grandpa has a golf cart, and I liked that, too.

Leora: I liked going on a horseback ride with my Papa in front, and Elias in the middle, and I was in the back. When we went up a hill, Elias had to hold on tight to my Papa, and I had to hold on tight to Elias.


We had our first spirit walk and learned a new song that we sing to the hills and sky from our mountain view. (This simple act was inspired by Sarah Pirtle, and we have continued the tradition.) Its tune is from the Nields Sisters’ HooteNanny “Hello Song.” Its words are:

“Good Morning Gaia

Our earth so green and blue

Thank you for your bounty

All things so good and true


Good morning Big Sky

The wind, the rain, our air

We will take good care of you

And show you that we care”


(We got a couple of “first day of school” photos, and some shots of our first spirit walk of the year. Check out our Flickr website by getting in touch with Tony(a) Lemos. 

After our spirit walk, we came inside quietly, and drew a picture of what we experienced and shared that with the group as everyone finished.

At lunch we read Possum’s Harvest Moon, and spoke about last year again, and how we did a play about possum’s party last year at the beginning of the year. We spoke of the Harvest Moon on the 15th, and how some friends saw its beautiful assent into the sky, and how some friends were already fast asleep! We spoke of the end of summer, and the beginning of the autumn. Friends played outside for about 35 minutes, and rediscovered our forsythia house and the play structure.

After lunch, we began our first phase of “Peace Travelers,” a program that Tony(a) and I are developing that is designed to teach positive social skills, conflict resolution, and the understanding of many cultures around the world. Each friend will receive a “World Citizen” passport that will document our “journey” through eight countries beginning here in America with our own indigenous people. The countries that follow are: India (Oct.), Mexico (Nov.), Sweden (Dec.), Australia (Jan.), Tibet (Feb.), Japan (Mar.), Bolivia or Peru (April), and Kenya (May). (If you have stories, craft projects, or ideas about various celebrations in terms of the cultures mentioned, please let us know! Thanks!) We will explore one culture a month through festivals, storytelling, food, crafts, housing, and transportation. Reading, writing, math, art projects, and music will be integrated into the Peace Travelers curriculum.

We read two afternoon stories. The first, MoonFlute by Audrey Wood was about a girl who takes a journey in her dreamtime and visits with the moon and animals in various venues (the hills and valleys near her town, the ocean, and the jungle). We discussed flying journeys and visits with animals which was our introduction to our second afternoon story entitled “Earth on the Turtle’s Back” (An Onondaga story of creation as told by Joseph Bruchac in Keepers of the Earth.)

We talked how people make stories to speak of their lives and pass that knowledge along to the children and then, their children.

We spoke of totem animals, and later we did I took them on a guided visualization (after they were all tuckered out near the end of our day). The visualization was used to have them identify an animal that feels special to them, and we will have “totem time” throughout the year, and compose a “research book” filled with art and facts about their special totem animal.

The visualization went something like this (accompanied by the “beating heart” made by a drum. Thanks for the idea, Tony(a)!):

“Picture yourself under the canopy of a large tree. The sunlight is shining down on your body and you feel warm and cozy. You open your eyes and you see that are in large golden meadow and you stand up and look around. You notice that far off in the distance you can see and hear the big, beautiful, blue ocean, and you can feel the sandy soil beneath your feet. You look around and see a path that will take you down near the water. You walk slowly and quietly through the woods. You open your eyes and ears all around you and hear the sound of birds overhead, and hear the chatter of all the creatures that live in the forest. As you arrive on the beach, you notice the ocean’s rolling waves, and the small waves that wash over your feet. You feel happy and peaceful as you look across the ocean’s surface and see fish, dolphin, and whales. You look out over the waves and back to the path from which you came. You listen to all the sounds and take in all the colors around you. Slowly, you go back up the path to the beautiful tree where you began your journey. You sit quietly and think about the animal that has come to greet you and offered you a gift.

When you are ready, you can open your eyes and come back to this room, and we will share our special totem animal.”


The animals that spoke to friends are:


Zoe: dolphin

Sebastian: turtle

Leora: horse

Maia: deer

Elias: river otter

Jayden: turkey


At the day’s end, we sang our good-bye song that you heard a couple times last year. I wrote the music to the words from the Tibetan prayer that we learned from book, Tenzin’s Deer. We gathered our things and got in the car very smoothly and were down the hill by 3:05. (The scheduled time is 3:15, but I wanted to be sure I was there for Liam’s bus!) A reminder to be sure to take all your child’s items from the trunk! Thanks!


Our ending song from Tenzin’s Deer is:


May no harm come to us

May we love each other well

May we be kind to all the people of the earth


“May no harm come to us

May we love each other well

May we be kind to all the creatures of the earth.”


We will also sing “See Ya Later Alligator” from Lui Collins’ Kids’ Jam program that goes as follows:


“See ya later alligator

Bye-Bye Fly

After awhile crocodile

Time to say goodbye

Toodaloo Kangaroo

Chau Meow

Adios nanny goat

Goodbye for now

Bye-bye (name), Bye-bye (name), Bye-bye (name)

Bye, Bye, bye.”



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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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