“Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves,
Rosy the apples, crimson the leaves,
Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white,
Autumn, good morning, and summer, goodnight!”
Parent –Teacher Conferences October 17-19 – No School
This is a wonderful opportunity to touch in with your child’s teacher and learn more about their progress so far this school year. Times are by appointment on these days, as well as throughout the month.
Mermaid Faire – Preparation day – November 11th – All Day; Faire – November 12th, 2pm – 8pm
We need all hands on deck to create this magical day for all ages! Please sign up in the email link you were provided. Thank you so much to the families who have already committed to helping!
Childcare is available for the preparation day if you need.
You may sign up for a 2 hour shift during the Faire, you do not need to work the entire event!
If you are unable to help, we also accept sponsorships – families or businesses can sponsor any of the activities listed in the email sign up and will be acknowledged on our website, Facebook page, and on the event program. Please email email@example.com if you would like to sponsor this enchanted event!
Lantern Walk – Friday, November 18th, 5:30 pm, Siesta Key Beach
The lantern is the symbol of our own light which we can shine on a dark world, and we celebrate this time of year by holding a “lantern walk.”
We will meet by the playground and then do our beach walk complete with lanterns made lovingly by our dear children (in class). The children will sing songs, and enjoy the stillness of the beach at night. As this is a reverent event, please do not allow your child to run the beach.
Parents are responsible for supervising their children during this event. Friends are welcome to join!
Local Artisan Outdoor Market – Friday, December 2nd, 5-9 pm. Accepting Vendor Applications –
Join us for an evening of stress free holiday shopping under the stars!
Shop local artisans with unique, handmade items for all the loved ones on your list this holiday season.
Free Childcare available in our Early Childhood classrooms – your child can make a surprise gift for someone special while you shop.
Enjoy refreshments and music while you savor the season.
Friday, December 2nd, from 5:00-9:00 pm
For vending opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Important Dates
Friday, October 21 – No Little Clamshells Parent Child Class
Friday, October 28 – No Little Clamshells Parent Child Class
Tuesday, November 1 – Delayed Opening – 10 am Before care available – please email email@example.com if you need care before 10 am on this day.
Some housekeeping items:
It is important to keep children home when they are sick – they need to rest in order to recover, and when sickness spreads it can impact the entire class or even move through the classes, risking teachers being out. Please see our illness policy in the parent handbook if you are unsure of when to keep them home.
If you do need to keep them home, please let your child’s teacher know ASAP in case they have certain lesson plans based on the usual number of students. A text directly to the teacher works well. If this can be done by 8 am, it would be very helpful.
Community Lunch will start back again on November 3rd. This is a wonderful weekly event that parents are always welcome to attend, and help with. We strive to make all-inclusive meals so that everyone can enjoy them together. If you are interested in helping out with this program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org each week, there are several hours’ worth of food prep, serving, and clean up that need to be done. Helping out with Community Lunch gives students a deeper sense of connection to the school, and a feeling of pride for your work.
Thank you so much to so many who have helped in various ways over the past few weeks! From festivals to the forest we have had so much support and we truly appreciate it! Thank you to Sheri Hartnell, Rebecca Rothstein, John Munroe, Laura DiMeglio, Alison Goldy, Geoff and Ben Pierce, Natalie Maute, Maggie Gerendal, Dee Gangi, Chuck Green, Saltmeadow School, Eric and Aneta Lundquist, and Marion Scott!
Thank you so much to our Giving Challenge 16 donors:
Chelsea Todd, Cal Lundquist, Brian Mackin and Amber Heller, Walter Heller, Sue Lundquist, Renee Moss, Christian Maute, Laslo Varodi and Andrea Kepics, Natalie Maute, Heather and Ryan Stubbs, Billie Miller, Ivan Miller, Mark Carguilo, Chuck and Heather Green, Angelo DiMeglio, Carol DiMeglio, Joseph Ayers, Laura DiMeglio, Viktor Mikolajek, Alzbeta Mikolajkova, Stefanie Mienhardt, Paul Cantor, Dan Gerdes, Kimberely Summers, Roger Pierce, Eric Rodriguez, Amy Rodriguez, Joyce Jewell, Evona Poplawski, Sean McDonald, Cathryn McDonald, Bonnie Rienhardt, Erin Cunningham, Eric Lundquist, Dan and Suzanne McMillan, Carolyn Kascher, Aneta Lundquist, Asa Kastner, Kombucha 221 BC, Michelle Roy, Maureen Burns, Laura Barrett, Sheri and Clarence Hartnell, Erin Melia, Mark and Annaleta Cunningham, Yolanda and Jasen Benoit, Saltmeadow School, John Schroeder, and Ethan Benoit.
We are so grateful for your generosity and support!!!
From Our Classrooms:
Dear Seahorse Parents,
We have had wonderful and busy days the last two weeks. Our stories went into autumn days and are all about Squirrel Nutkin, the old owl in the barn and harvest. The children especially enjoyed a little puppet-play about Winifred Witch and her lost golden cat.
We wet-felted pumpkins outside and made apple sauce inside, which was so delicious to smell in the room.
Aviana’s birthday was celebrated and in the Kindergarten room we made play-doh with herbs, using paprika and cinnamon.
Currently we are painting with the color “red” and all the pictures come out so differently.
Painting is very loved by all your children!
Have a wonderful week!
With much love,
Dear Starfish Parents,
The kindergarten class has enjoyed getting into the fall spirit. We have decorated the class with fall leaves and wet felted little orange pumpkins outside.
We have been doing a pumpkin circle about a farmer who watches a pumpkin get big and fat in his field. “Sing a song of sixpence” is another favorite and then the letters D and E. The children follow along with such enthusiasm!
Our stories have been from Tiptoes the fairy, about a crow who gets stuck in a pumpkin while trying to eat it. The puppet play was about the continuing adventures of the pony of strength. This past week he visited a castle and ate some more from the tree of strength and then helped some gnomes carry their gems from the mines where they work.
We made applesauce to go with our snack, and the children loved the smell in the room. We also gave some of the applesauce and bread to Saltmeadow for their wonderful presents to the play garden – the seesaw and the arbor. Some of the children made sun catchers and we will be making them again. Last week we made herbal play doh which smelled so good, using cinnamon and paprika.
This past week, we enjoyed a trip to Fruitville Grove with a hayride and feeding the animals.
A big thank you to Aneta and Eric Lundquist, and the crew of 221 BC for painting the jungle gym, the fence and removing the little garden fence in the play garden.
Dear First Grade Parents,
Gnomes have sneaked into the first grade room and as well as the hearts of your dear children. It started with a “clash and a clang!”, and their debut as gnomes has stayed within the unity of the first graders. The verse will lovingly strike into air and be spoken form the children while we work….completely out of the blue.
“We will work with our will with our strength and our skill.” This one line is also great reminder for us all in the coming months ahead with the turning of the seasons.
We completed the first block of Form Drawing last week by having a full body orientation experience while writing on giant pieces of paper and creating straight lines and curved lines as obstacle courses. One student created a Form Drawing game that we enjoyed playing.
We are all very excited to be moving into reading and writing. “M” was the letter we experienced this past week. Through a Fairy Tale entitled Simili Mountain, two “M” verses and acting out “M” words had us “Mmmmmm-ing” throughout our week. We found the “M” sounds at the beginning and the middle of many words. Everyone had some sort of “M” sound in their lunch. Discovering and discussing the “M” sound was experiential. We drew a beautiful Mountain to start our very own book to take home at the end of the year.
During the first two weeks, the first graders had their hands involved with brushing out raw wool to make it soft for our wet felting project. This was wonderful will work for the children. We sang as we worked and thought about where the wool came from and what other fleece wool makes that is around us in our lives. We finally had our fluffs of wool as smooth as could be and started with felting them this past week. A couple more steps to complete and we will have our own shooting stars!
There have been many stories about stars that have been told to the first graders. The Apple and the Star was one story in which we discovered that each apple has their own star inside. Applesauce was made out of each apple we investigated. What we found was that each apple was different. They all had different sizes and shapes of their very own, just like an apple thumb print.
We continue counting everyday with new verses and rhythms. Chestnuts are one kind of manipulative we have used for our counting. After the reading and writing block, our learning journey will take us deeper into Arithmetic.
French started for the first time this past Friday with our lovely Forest Friday teacher Ms. Jessica.
In Handwork, we have been making our very own knitting needles. There were many steps involved working with the whole child – head, heart, and hands. The next step will be their own knitting project.
You can find the First Graders where ever they may be. Experiencing, creating and loving. These simple activities that are the foundation for a sense of self-reliance and also create an unconscious pool of knowledge which can be drawn from when later subjects such as physics, geometry, or other areas of math, science and reading are encountered. We are in the early stages of taking ideas and putting them together to form more complicated thoughts for our future.
As we move forward, we will be experiencing new letters and their sounds, new stories to accompany the letters, and many seasonal projects to keep us engaged in our foundation year.
With love & gratitude,
At the beginning of October, we began our Math block, which will last six weeks. We’re learning how to multiply through drawing pictures in our math lesson books, using beads and shells, copying multiplication questions from the board and noticing patterns and sharing and lyrical math poems. The children are also involved in making a class set of multiplication cards. We’re currently up to the two’s and plan to cover up to the fives or sixes.
We also practice memorizing the multiplication questions bean bag style, with ready hands and minds to answer the quick mental math questions but also in written form through some basic math practice sheets. Please reinforce the multiplication facts with personalized word problems peppered into your conversations with them at home and while shopping together. For example, in the produce aisle, ask them to gather two bags of apples with three apples in each. How many does this make all together? Or at a hardware store, request they collect two bags of nails with twelve nails in each. How many? Make it a game where ever you go!
Again, we are noticing that there are two groups of mathematicians emerging. With such a span, having two teachers in the classroom provides support to assist and guide each group. Whether it is explaining why, for example, two groups of three equals six or assisting them through the two’s times tables drawing a spiral graph, we are able to accommodate those with moderate needs either way.
We are continuing to read rich stories to the children during our math block and generate spelling words that come from their contexts. Some are short, such as the “Fox’s Snack” and “Three Trees”. Others are lengthier, with more complicated plot lines. We just finished Oliver Twist and will begin a new story “The Railway Children”. We encourage you to read to, with or be an audience to your child when he or she reads. Consistently reading with your child will help expand their vocabulary, increase their ability to read fluently and show them it is important. Please make time for this each day.
We are continuing to consistently emphasize golden manners and follow directions throughout the day. We insist that all students are respectful of themselves, their environment and each other and are practicing safe behaviors. Please help us at home with stories and modeling behaviors that reinforce this expectation. Our therapeutic stories continue with previous topics being reviewed and new ones being covered such as “The Cranky Crab” (a story for children with rough hands) and “The Queen and the Golden Ball” (a story about children who didn’t know what their mother looked like because she kept her face and ears wrapped up due hers children’s constant fighting.)
Wednesday is painting day and we are taking some of our form drawing into a new medium. It’s interesting to see the children so immersed in creating the forms carefully, even though the paint has other ideas!
Ms. Jessica has returned to the Mangrove School from Canada and she is teaching French to the children as well as structured games during Forest Friday. The children continue to enjoy Gardening, Eurythmy, Drama and Handwork as well. The garden is coming into focus each day. Volunteers are ALWAYS needed and Erin Cunningham, is in need of supplies, like organic starter plants and straw. We thank you so much for those who’ve brought in paper bags already to keep our weeds at bay in the garden!
We’ve also begun weekly classroom chores – an additional Earth Skill they can bring home to practice. Vacuuming, straightening out our books, watering plants, sweeping the entrance, cleaning off the desks and board….all valuable skills that build accountability and a sense of accomplishment.
Thank you for the parents who have brought in organic, non-GMO popcorn seeds and honey for our special snack on Wednesdays. We appreciate your generosity! Parent conferences are on the horizon and we have a sign-up sheet at pick up for you to choose a time, in person, to discuss how your child is doing in class.
Ms. Yolanda and Ms. Stefanie
After completing the first half of our Local Geography block, which focused on orienting ourselves in space, through map-making, navigation, and physical features of Sarasota, the past few weeks have been a journey through nearly 15,000 years of local human history, as the students are fully ready to orient themselves in time. This further enhances their connections to our local surroundings, which is an important way to unite the child to earth, and cultivate a feeling of belonging.
The first part of this study began with the Paleo-Indians, their culture and habits, and continued though the Mississippian period, as the students gained an understanding of how and why our earliest peoples’ way of life changed over time. As the glaciers melted, we saw the sea level rise, large game animals become extinct, and the more nomadic cultures slowly evolve into those of more settled communities, and eventually villages with religion and a hierarchical government. We learned how technology, eating habits, shelters, and other customs changed as the land changed from a drier environment to the sub-tropical environment we experience today. The students fully explored how the features of this location influenced the way of life, from prehistoric times until now based on their environment – the climate, the animals and plants that made up the landscape. From canoes to bow and arrows, they were able to understand and admire these innovative tools. Many mentioned how much they would have liked to live in the wilderness instead, longing for the days of living outdoors.
We are very grateful to the Public Archaeology Network for two days of hands on activities during this block – one session was devoted to fostering a greater understanding of what archaeology is, and how archaeologist use clues to create hypotheses of an area, and another session focused on the tools of the earliest people of Sarasota, including some hands on time with spears and atlatls. We also discussed the latest findings in the area which as of last spring included a midden right at Phillippi Park where we enjoy our Forest Fridays. In fact their favorite climbing tree with long low branches, sits directly on top of it!
Each day we would review and recall what we had learned previously in earlier time periods, as a way of taking a long look back before moving forward, inspiring an appreciation for the many transformations this area and its people have undergone. After learning about the great changes that occurred in each time period, we also acted out each one in succession – the back of our room started out completely empty, then came a few nomads, spears, and a fire; next, little by little the students added in props from around the room to represent the full evolution of culture to include different tools, weapons, shelters, vessels, farming, religion and so on until the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s. Floor mats became shelters, bamboo sticks and pool noodles became bow and arrows, benches became canoes. Through this exercise, they displayed their understanding of this flow of time, in a compelling way. They also showed me how quick-witted they can be as this was also an improvisational exercise!
In addition to creating our own time line of each major time period, and how the cultures changed over these thousands of years, we also did a composition about more modern (written) Sarasota history. A trip to the Sarasota Historical Center gifted me with many old photos of recognizable landmarks, such as downtown, the Ringing bridge and St Armand’s circle to compare to, as we saw many people, and several industries playing a role in making Sarasota the world-wide vacation destination it is today.
This past week we began our first math block, which starts with a thorough review of all that we have covered in previous grades. Typically grades 1-4 are for planting seeds, and grades 5-8 are for weeding and harvesting. This makes it a perfect year to ensure the students have a solid foundation on which to build higher mathematics, both throughout this year and beyond, as they will make a huge cognitive leap in sixth grade. Part of the end goal is to also cultivate a love of, or at the very least a lack of anxiety, of math. We play a lot of games to practice skills, so the children feel joyfully engaged in what they are learning.
Each morning, after our opening verse, we concentrate on one poem related to our curriculum. At this age, the idea is for them to learn this poem very well, and as they have a strong capacity for memory now, it can be quite long. Once they know the poem well, they are expected to say this audibly, clearly, and with feeling, which aids them in public speaking, drama, and even spelling.
We also do tongue twisters, and singing, daily. This class is able to harmonize with relative ease, so I have been able to introduce more complex songs that we look forward to sharing with you all at future assemblies. Again, the emphasis in on quality, rather than quantity, so we will practice one song for many weeks starting with one part in unison, and gradually increasing the complexity as the need for challenge is a strong impulse at this age. We are also beginning to read music as we learn each song.
We continue the morning with mental math problems, for example – which two numbers add to 24 and also subtract to 14?, number journeys, halfway numbers or math involving the calendar, another opportunity to orient ourselves in time. We incorporate new spelling words each week from our Main Lesson content, dissect sentences into various parts of speech and correct grammar, practice cursive hand writing, and do written dictations in the form of one riddle each week. Here is our most recent:
“You throw away the outside, and cook the inside. You eat the outside, and throw away the inside. What did you eat?”
These riddles encourage a flexibility and creativity in their thinking, and motivate them to do dictations, which are important for their comprehension, listening capacities, and practicing punctuation and spelling.
In addition to our Main Lesson activities, we have also enjoyed eurythmy, handwork in the form of cross stitch, Spanish, water color painting (veil painting) which requires one to apply thin layers of water color onto dry paper creating a kind of three dimensional quality, French, sculpture, violin, wood working, yoga, and form drawing. Our study of medicinal plants has yielded new seedlings in the garden, and a few products from local plants we harvested ourselves, which we hope to share with the community soon.
Despite the weather last week, we still enjoyed playing a rousing 2 hour (!) game of Hawk and Bird Tribe with Ms. Jessica in our wooded back field. We continue to cultivate an environment or respect and kindness to others, through occasional reminders about “The Three Gates” words must pass through to be said fear of hurting another. We practice gratitude before our closing verse, and practice forgiveness and grace when the need arises.
They have begun rehearsing a new play based on the first novel we completed this year, The Sign of the Beaver.
In the coming weeks we look forward to a class camping trip to Ginnie Springs, and a Circus Arts block.
Every day with these children is such a joy. Their enthusiasm for learning and doing is so inspiring and energizing. The days are just flying by!
If you haven’t already scheduled a conference, please contact me for a Parent-Teacher conference date to discuss your child’s individual progress.
From Our Friends at Saltmeadow:
The Saltmeadow students continue to enjoy productive days.
They have published the first Tortoise Times newsletter of the year, and are busy at work on the second.
We are so happy to welcome Ms. Jessica back to teach Human Relationships, French, and Singing. The students are creating masks for their Commedi Dell’ Arte drama block with Ms. Liz and have begun to read their chosen classic novels for literature with Ms. Yolanda.
The class has completed their cosplay costumes in handwork and will begin hand and machine sewing with Mrs. McMillan. Their first project is to design and sew a knife roll for holding the knives they will use in Ms. Jean’s cooking class.
In guitar, the students have progressed from one on one instruction to group instruction of two sets of students. The students will be performing a classic and original piece of music at the Winter Assembly.
Last week we visited the South Florida Museum to visit the planetarium as part of the astronomy block. We very much enjoyed the new show, “Journey to the Stars”, learning about the life and death stars, including our sun.