That month blew by!
We rolled right in…
...to school at the end of winter holidays, and the students returned with a renewed sense of work, growth, and partnership. Students who are new this year to Fig Tree have really stepped into the routines, the work, the expectations, and the responsibilities, and their growth is evident as we returned to school. The Third Year students are stepping up to a new level as well, gathering their momentum during this last semester, preparing for their final launch!
Then we glided back out…
...for a few icy days, giving us some long, juicy weekends! One sign that the students are really cruising along now is how well they adjusted to a couple of unusual weeks!
Then we stepped back in…
…to work and play and explore and help and learn.
Several Goings Out are in the planning stages, ranging from the local public library to (perhaps!) a trip to NASA in Houston. Several students are undertaking weekly baking projects, from planning to buying ingredients to baking and serving their creations. Other explorations include: studying Line in art, exploring methods of seed dispersal by plants, observing numerous specimens in our brand new microscopes (yay!!), practicing money and coins, refining their musical ear by matching and grading Bell tones, reading lots of poetry books (elementary kids love that Shel Silverstein!), acquiring new traditional handwork skills, conducting experiments on the plasticity of solids, reaching abstraction with a variety of math operations and topics, and cracking macadamia nuts that traveled with a classmate all the way from Hawaii!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
We’re seeing “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” at ZACH Theater on Wednesday, February 7th. The children are really looking forward to seeing a live performance of the sequel to our previous read aloud book, Magician’s Nephew. The entire play is performed by two actors “and a lot of theater magic,” so your children will probably have a lot to share with you about traveling through the wardrobe into Narnia!
Students are encouraged to make a set of 23 valentines at home to bring and share with their friends. Your child can make ANY style of valentine, from the very simple to something more complex. It can be easy and cheap--provide paper, pencils, stickers, or crayons, and let their imagination fly. They are expressions of friendship, not entries for a Martha Stewart magazine. ;)
We simply ask that they not have media characters or candy, and that your child signs his/her own name. Please do not put a specific recipient’s name on them; leaving them blank eases distribution.
Last year for Valentine’s Day, we hosted a Family Tea, and it was such a hit that we’re going to do it again! Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 14th at 2:45 to join us for tea, baked goods, and community time!
Keep reading to your kiddo at home! You can consult the Parents’ Handbook for a list of fresh ideas to read aloud to your child as you snuggle up on a wintery day.
As always, it is such a joy and honor to assist your children in their growth and learning. Thank you for the opportunity to be with them.
Here’s to another great month!
What a fun December!
On Friday, Dec. 1, students held a performance of the play “Three Little Elephants.” It was a cute and funny play that they discovered, and we sure had a laugh at the elephants’ antics as they confronted their fears and faced the Big Bad Mouse.
And dismissal was a HOOT on the 7th, as some students saw SNOW for the very first time! The energy and shouts of unbridled J O Y and elation were so fun. Some parents waiting in line at pick up said that even from inside their car they could hear the students erupt!! What a treat!
On the 14th, Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel attended Act I of the Nutcracker ballet at the Long Center. A docent from Ballet Austin had visited our classes one week prior, accompanied by a ballerina in classical tutu. They shared the history of ballet, the story of the Nutcracker, led us in learning positions one through five, and did a show-and-tell about pointe shoes. After the live performance, the children were full of stories and keen observations, with many favorite moments being shared. It was such an exciting day!
Sarah and I also held a Parent Education Coffee Talk about parenting through connection. Thank you for all who came out that morning. I feel like we just scratched the surface, so if any of you want a second round, especially if you couldn’t attend the first, I’d definitely make it happen again. Let me know if there’s enough interest for a reprise/part two!!
And thank you for all who came out for the Holiday Bonfire in the Clearing. It was a fun night with a big bonfire and kids playing in the woods as parents got to chat, visit, and meet more families. Thanks for an evening of good food and good friends.
We finished the calendar year with Fig Tree’s annual Pajama Palooza and Board Game Bonanza! The kids had a blast playing games with friends, sipping hot cider, making crafts, and even bopping around in a spontaneous dance party! What a fun way to start the holidays--celebrating with pure fun!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Remember there’s no school on Monday, January 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Please sign up if you can help our snack teams get to HEB each Monday at 1:30. Thank you so much!!!
Big hugs, and stay warm!!
Hello, dear families,
It’s with a grateful heart that we share all the events from another very full, busy month together!
We started our new month by celebrating Dia de los Muertos and learning about the traditions, symbols, and rituals connected to this meaningful holiday. Many students shared about departed loved ones, and we created an altar filled with paper marigolds, mementos, and photos to honor them. Students were attentive and compassionate as they learned about each other and our families.
We also enjoyed each other’s families at the Fall Fandango! Thanks for all of you who came out! It was laid-back and a good time. It was also very successful as a fundraiser. Fig Tree offered artwork in which students had “drawn with scissors,” inspired by the work of Henri Matisse, and it raised $250! Thank you for every generous bid!!
We also had our fall parent conferences, which I really enjoyed. I think of sitting with each of you by that big, open window, talking about your child and learning about each other. Thank you for your partnership and your support.
I also appreciate how many of you came to observe in our classroom in the weeks surrounding conferences. I recommend it for anyone who hasn’t joined us yet, or anyone who’d like to see us again. Fig Tree has an open door, so let the office know whenever you’d like to drop by for a visit.
You also showed your support for Fig Tree’s first ever Talent Show! It was an endearing performance on a sweet and sunny afternoon. The students were so excited! And we are so grateful for all the love you shared with us that day--from purchasing tickets, to buying baked goods and handmade gifts, to shouting out your love and support for all of our children. And it was really somethin’ to see the variety of all their talents and joys: we have magicians, martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, comedians, musicians….it was such a delight to see so many of them sharing so much of themselves.
And it was a tremendously successful fundraiser too! All together our community raised over $200 that afternoon, which will be donated to help the animals at Austin Pets Alive. Thank you!
Music is filling the classroom in other ways, too. Fig Tree shares a set of Montessori Bells with another class, and from now on we get to house them in our room! That means that students can--and do!--use them anytime (perhaps I should say “all the time”!). Students are learning more about pitch, matching tones, and notes moving up and down the scale. They are being exposed to the chromatic scale as well as the tones of the C Major scale, and we incorporate movement as much as possible. Everyday someone enjoys filling the air with music, and it’s so wonderful to have this material that allows such exploration and expression.
One afternoon some students also enjoyed a lesson in which we listened to Smetana’s “Vltava,” an orchestral tone poem about a river traveling first as a mountain stream, then a large river through the forest, then finally down through Prague and under Charles Bridge before joining the Elbe. The many students who chose to attend this lesson sat with rapt attention, and hands flew up at its conclusion so that they could share what they heard, imagined, saw, and noticed. Your children are so inspiring.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
So many of you have done so much to support us--we really appreciate it. Even with all the help so far, we could still use a few more volunteer drivers to help our snack teams get to HEB each week. If you have some room in your schedule this winter and spring, or if you want a first-hand look at an elementary Going Out, please use this sign up to volunteer if you can. Thank you!!!!
On Friday, Dec. 1, come see some Fig Tree students in their performance of the play “Three Little Elephants.” It’s a cute and funny play that they discovered, and you’re sure to enjoy it just as much as they did in independently casting, rehearsing, and staging this show. See you at 2:30 at the stage!
On the 14th, Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will attend Act I of the Nutcracker ballet, performed at the Long Center by Ballet Austin. It is a rich cultural and musical experience that the children enjoy, whether it is a familiar favorite or a dramatically new experience. We prepare students by telling them about the history, plot, and characters of the story, as well as etiquette as an audience member so that they realize the theater is a shared experience between the performer and the viewer. This year, our preparations will also be supported by a docent visiting the class one week before the show. Attending the Nutcracker is a personal highlight for me each year, observing Fig Tree’s children as they experience the beauty and wonder of a live performance.
Don’t miss the Holiday Bonfire for all elementary families! It is a joyful night with a potluck, a bonfire, holiday lights, and kids playing under the stars while parents kick back with their community. Join us for good food and good friends on the evening of December 14!
Thanks you for all you have done to make this November and all our events so fun and prosperous!
Wowsa! That was one full month!
The lemonade stand in September was quite a success! The girls (and you!) helped to raise hundreds of dollars that were donated in early October to the Children’s Shelter, Austin Diaper Bank, and Austin Pets Alive in a relief effort for those who suffered through Hurricane Harvey. They delivered the toys and donations with the tremendous satisfaction that comes from true and real service. Thanks again to all of you who came and supported this effort (and enjoyed those homemade snickerdoodles!).
We loved seeing so many of you at Silent Journey, which is typically one of my favorite events of the year. It was a delight to share the lessons in area, checkerboard, and fractions, which resulted in gasps of delight and discovery from parents! So fun and inspiring! Please do come again next year to this always-rich event.
The Full-Cycle Campout in the Clearing was also a success, even if it was a bit cold once the front moved through! [Thank heavens it wasn’t the next night, though, when it plummeted to freezing temperatures!] We had the largest group to date for our Clearing campout, and it went so, so smoothly--not one squabble!! Many of the nearly 2 dozen students were camping for the first time, and being on familiar land was helpful and fun. Students built a fire in the evening and again in the morning, and we enjoyed cooking over it and gathering around it for warmth. Some students saw an owl, and of course all of us heard the nearby roosters, too. Students were *wiped out* the next day from all the fun the night before--it was so funny to see them sprawled across their belongings the next day while waiting during pick up. ;)
We also enjoyed the great outdoors as a whole class when we went hiking together at McKinney Roughs. A highlight to me was when we hiked one section in total silence, using signals to help others notice what we were observing. Students noticed so many things--their wonder is so moving.
We continued our trajectory along fun events by preparing for November’s Fall Fandango. We had several lessons and stories about the artist Henri Matisse, particularly regarding his later life when he began what he called “drawing with scissors.” The students then created organic, abstract shapes that will be assembled into our art auction piece for the Fandango. Mark your calendars!
And of course, what is October without Halloween?? Two full-cycle students initiated, organized, and executed a celebration for students that day, including a hilarious rendition of “Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin,” a scavenger hunt on the playground, and, of course, Silly Hair Day. It was a fun, lighthearted day for the community.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Conferences are coming up! I look forward to seeing you on November 3rd or 6th!
FALL FANDANGO! DON’T MISS IT!
Our Fall Fandango is our fall fundraiser for the school. It’s a blast! We eat pizza and garlic knots, kids run through the field or dance on the dancefloor to Two Hoots and a Holler, parents relax and laugh under the twinkling lights in the barn. Get your tickets and join us at Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza!
We’ll be seeing Act I of Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker” downtown at the Long Center. Each year we see an act of the ballet, and the kids always return to Cedars full of stories about the costumes, the music, the dance, and the scenery. In addition to the cultural and musical benefits of experiencing a ballet, students also learn the story of the Nutcracker and receive grace and courtesy lessons about attending a live performance.
We’ll be sending you permission forms and more detailed information in the coming weeks.
Thank you for being such a supportive, rich community!
Whoa! What a strong start!
We are humming along in ways that I haven’t observed so early in the year before. I’ve never seen a group dive in so fast with such Big Works--it is very inspiring! In addition to snack teams’ Goings Out to HEB, students have already planned and executed Goings Out to public libraries and the Botanical Garden. Students also created a service project for Hurricane Harvey relief, and another service project is underway for our local animal shelter. In addition, a play is under production, students completed a baking project with its own Going Out, and two additional classroom events for October are being planned by different groups of students. And that’s not even mentioning some of the truly epic-scale academic works that are taking off in all directions in geometry, art, science experiments, and math. This group certainly has vision and momentum, and I’ve never seen those qualities with such force this early before!
I’m gonna buckle my seatbelt with this crew….!
Our class held a very successful bake sale and lemonade stand to raise money for Hurricane Harvey survivors. They raised over $210!! They are so excited to provide that money to the Austin Animal Shelter and to Austin Diaper Bank. Toys were donated, and the children will deliver them to the dropoff point for the Children’s Homeless Shelter. Thank you, Fig Tree community for making such a difference!!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Fall portraits are coming up on October 4! It is still a standard school day, so if your child comes ‘dressed to the nines’ for his/her picture, consider bringing a change of clothes for them to romp around in later at recess.
Observations will open soon. The office or Fig Tree will update you as this becomes available. I strongly urge all of you to come see Fig Tree in action!
Remember to sign up for your Parent Conference in early November.
If the students’ planning is successful, Fig Tree might be having its first-ever Talent Show! Some students would like to host it as a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, so we’d love to have your support! Details, as they are finalized, will be sent to you in a flyer and/or email.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the DON’T-MISS EVENT: Silent Journey. This is such a special evening...Parents often share stories decades later about how moving and important this night was to them. Come to Silent Journey and experience for yourself what it’s like for your child to make discoveries and direct their own education. It’s the best opportunity to use and understand the materials that your child is always talking about. You get to feel the progression from Primary through Upper Elementary, and you get a much deeper sense of how it all fits together. Join us for a quiet, reflective, insightful, and powerful night together on October 12.
The next morning, on October 13, we’re going to get these kids out into Nature together! We’re going on a community hike at Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. It will be a relaxed exploration together of the beautiful (and hopefully cooler) surroundings.
One of my favorite topics is coming up for Parent Ed! Please join me and director Sarah Critchfield as we discuss Freedom & Responsibility: Parenting from Connection. We will briefly cover the science and psychology of child development, and then we'll dive deeper into the discipline models based on that science. We will explore boundaries and limits, authoritarian parenting vs collaborative parenting, and positive discipline, among others. Best part: you'll walk out with actual *tools* based on this research that you can start using immediately (and for years to come). I am so, so excited to spend some time discussing these topics with you, shared from Sarah's and my perspectives not only as Montessorians but also as fellow moms who use the teachings of Ross Greene, Jane Nelson, Faber & Mazlish, Rudolf Dreikurs, and more--in our classrooms and in our own homes. Join us in mid-October; official date and time to be announced.
October 26 brings a fun ritual: our autumn Full-Cycle Students’ Camping Night at the Clearing! Full Cycle students from Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will spend one night in the Clearing after pitching our tents and cooking supper together. It’s such a fun way to practice our camping skills before our Spring trip, enjoying time outside on the familiar grounds of Cedars.
Your child can pack their own lunch--I promise! Provide time for training and skills, be on hand at first, and then over time watch the beauty unfold as your child packs healthy food they’ll actually eat and you are freed to tend to other things! Ask me for tips if you need support in making this shift for your family. You’ll be glad you did!
Thank you for all of your support. This community is such a gift!!
Goodness gracious, that was one full month!! The poet T.S. Eliot said that April mixes memory and stirs dull roots with rain…and we experienced precisely that after such a high volume of varied events this month--whew!
April started with our springtime Parent-Teacher Conferences, which were very successful. I enjoy the time we spend together; thank you for taking the time to be with me.
We headed right into Student Led Tours after that. They were so fun! I get so tickled watching your children shine, and watching your own interest and insights bloom. I’m glad so many of you could come for this very special time.
The very next day, we headed downtown to see Zach Scott’s production of “Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play,” written by Mo Willems, the author of the same beloved books. It was a hilarious musical, with lots of laughter and participation from our students. Once again the children shined when it came to theater decorum, and we had a blast! Thank you for helping us make it possible for the children to experience the arts and to support live performances.
Some of our own performers hosted a Poet’s Springtime Tea. They created and served homemade snacks and tea, and we enjoyed poetry readings, both original and famous, from several students. It was a relaxed afternoon of words, cookies, and playtime. An ideal April afternoon!
We’re grateful that so many of you could join us for the Spring Festival! We had several auction winners in our class, including the raffle winner of the “tulip” full of gift cards! Our class art project was a hit, too; the highest bid went to Fig Tree again (woot! woot!). And some of our students made the Dunking Booth very, very popular when they climbed in--thanks for braving the water on a chilly day, Fig Tree! Congratulations to all who won, and a deep thanks to all who came, contributed, volunteered, and supported our school in this fun event.
We finished out this very full month with our Full-Cycle Camping Trip to Pedernales Falls State Park. It was absolutely lovely. The weather was perfect both during the day and overnight (how often does that happen??!), and the students loved hiking all over the falls, swimming in our private section of the river, and hiking in the woods before heading home. S’mores were devoured, epic games of tag were played, and lots of wildlife was sighted, like boar, lizards, fox, fireflies, deer...and we even heard baby goats!
Camping is such a fun way to conclude their Lower Elementary years; thank you so much to all volunteers for loaning us equipment and driving us there. You helped make some really sweet memories.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
All Sign-Ups are filled and complete for the remainder of the year! THANK YOU, Fig Tree community!!
The school is planning an End of the Year Swim Party on Wednesday, May 24th. Stay posted for details!
Last Day of School is May 26th!
Although the children will share a snack that day, we will not have lunch together as a class. It is an early dismissal.
“What do you recommend we do this summer??” is a common question from families this time of year. An email will be sent to your family at the end of the year with “summertime suggestions” catered either to your child returning to Fig Tree in the fall or to “movin’ on up”!
Here’s to the home stretch!
With deep gratitude,
Dear Fig Tree families,
Oh my goodness, where is the time going??! Spring is definitely here, which means a flourishing garden, lots of outdoor time, and many upcoming events!
March brought some new developments to Fig Tree and to Cedars. New, beautiful wooden swings were hung from tree boughs near the elementary playground, and the kids love them! Another new development was the popularity of Literature Circles (or Book Clubs) that Rockwood students initiated last month, which led to Lower Elementary students picking up the torch after Spring Break and starting some Book Clubs of their own!
Right before March, we enjoyed a presentation about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, complete with the history of the celebration, a King Cake baked at school, and of course, beads!
Parents also attended a very successful Coffee Talk in March on Cosmic Education (the curriculum in Montessori elementary), an annual favorite. The turnout was great for this rich and insightful talk!
This month students have enjoyed whipping up cooking projects just for fun, setting up a Going Out to a Presidential Library, learning about the work of water during a river lesson held in the woods, planting monocotyledon and dicotyledon seeds in the garden to make some discoveries about their characteristics, fractions aplenty, how orographic rain happens, explorations of ancient Sumerians, various shapes and lines used in art, the behavior of solutions, separations, and mixtures, and more…!
And of course Hazel continues to grow and grow and mystify us all. She has already started rolling over (!!), she loves to ‘chat’ and ‘sing’ a lot lately, and boy does she love being read to by the children! The students’ love and enthusiasm for her is so clear and so sweet.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Right after school on April 5 or on April 6, your child will host your family at a Student Led Tour. During this time, your child will give you a tour of Fig Tree and then demonstrate a few lessons that s/he has enjoyed recently. It is a delightful time to share a “sneak peak” into your child’s day. We look forward to hosting you!
If you haven’t already, please contact Sarah or Pat if you are interested in volunteering for the annual Spring Festival, which will be held on Saturday, April 22. It is such a fun day in our community--we hope you and your friends, neighbors, and family can join us!
If your schedule permits, we also ask that you take a moment to sign up as a Volunteer Driver to assist our weekly snack teams. We have several slots available in late April and in May.
And of course, conferences! I look forward to this meaningful time together in the coming weeks! You will receive a copy of your child’s Progress Report ahead of our conference; please review it so that we can spend our time answering questions and looking at your child’s work.
Mark your calendars!
Full-Cycle students from Fig Tree and Mountain Laurel will be camping together on Thursday, April 27th at Pedernales Falls. We have our own private access to the river, and it is glorious! It’s going to be a fun, joyful time together in nature. We can’t wait!
Some Fig Tree students are planning a Poet’s Tea for early April. Details to come as the event’s preparations get underway….
Thank you for this opportunity to enjoy and observe your children as they grow--even more magical than the spring that’s unfurling outside!
February sure felt warm...and fast!!
With this gloriously warm weather, we accomplished a lot in the garden this month, with a bushel of support from Cedar’s gardener, Gitana. Children weeded, turned soil, planted seeds, laid mulch, and harvested some winter carrots. The carrots went into a jar and were fermented...we’ll reap the benefits any day now with crunchy, pickled carrots!
Valentine’s Day was a lot of fun with our classroom valentine exchange and preparations for that afternoon’s Family Tea. It was a lovely, sunny day, and it felt wonderful to have our front porch filled with parents and siblings as we enjoyed sugar cookies and hot chocolate prepared that morning by the students. We look forward to the next one!
February also meant a lot of observers! If you haven’t had the chance, or if it’s been a while, please do come in for a visit. Arrange it with the office, and join us in the mornings to see all the activity that keeps our room humming along. You might see play rehearsals, party planning, flower arranging, perspective drawings, sewing, grammar boxes, sentence analysis, long multiplication, reading to Baby Hazel, how water moves up a stem, abstract long division, using formulas to find area, and convergent, divergent, and parallel lines---and that was just *this* morning’s work! Come have a cup of tea and watch these collaborations!!
And something totally new….! Some thoughtful and enterprising Upper Elementary students really enjoyed a literature circle conducted in their own class and thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to bring this to Early Elementary??” So three Rockwood girls organized Literature Circles for Early Elementary, using two different Roald Dahl books. Interested Fig Tree students have been meeting with them every Friday to discuss what they read and to review analytical and vocabulary questions. The students have really enjoyed this new way of examining books. After this round, we hope to enjoy more literature circles hosted by Rockwood in the future!
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Just a reminder...there are still VOLUNTEER SPOTS AVAILABLE for the following Sign-Ups:
weekly drivers for snack teams
If you haven’t signed up for each one, or took one spot this year so far, we recommend adding your name one more time if you can help us out. Thank you so much, dear parents!!
Stay in touch--a lot is coming this March and April!!
In March, we hope to attend a play at Zach Scott Theater with Mountain Laurel. The play stars Piggie and Gerald of the famed--and adored--books by Mo Willems. It should be a fun morning watching a live performance about the beauty and importance of friendship.
Students are busy making plans for a Spring Party, as well as a “Poet’s Tea.” We’ll keep you posted as these intentions approach fruition!
We also intend to host two afternoons of Student-Led Tours, during which your child guides you on a tour of the room and even gives you a few lessons on some materials! It’s a special, enriching time for families and a unique window into your child’s typical day at school. I am confirming with Sarah the best dates for these, and I’ll keep you posted!
Also, be watching the calendar for a Coffee Talk on Cosmic Education, the Montessori term for our Elementary curriculum. This is a very informative topic, whether you are new to Montessori elementary or a veteran of several years. The talk is akin to a “Part 2” to our previous Coffee Talk, “The Transition to Elementary,” and it may be the single greatest source of insight into how and why we do certain things in elementary. I highly recommend your attendance. It is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, March 8; we hope to see you there!
Keep up that math-fact practice! Any amount helps--keep it fun, and keep it consistent. It is a great way to support your child, no matter what age, and it is a huge benefit to your child’s progress in math lessons and adventures.
Thank you for all of your support as we enter our time of blooming!
With a warm and grateful heart,
Goodness, a lot of fun has been packed into our winter so far!
In early December, we enjoyed a class trip to see Act II of the Nutcracker at the Long Center. It was a cold day, just right for setting the mood for the holiday performance.
We sat with Mountain Laurel, and together we occupied about two and a half rows of seats. The sight took my breath away: amidst a theater house filled with a thousand children--with all their movement, with the tremendous amounts of sound behind, near, and below us--right in the middle of this rowdy hubbub, our two rows made a v i s u a l r i v e r o f c a l m, and it was a stunning sight to me. They were happily sitting and waiting, chatting with friends with big smiles, full of decorum and delight. I sat, watching the beauty of your confident, happy, centered children, simply waiting with happiness….
During the performance, I overheard several students who had never experienced the ballet whisper, “This is so fun!!” When Mother Ginger emerged, one student’s whole face lit up, his eyes got huge, and his mouth was a little “o”! And it stayed that way for quite a while!
Before the Winter Break, two parents shared holidays that are celebrated throughout the world: Diwali and Hanukkah. Neha, Aaryan’s mom, came one morning and told the children about the Festival of Lights celebrated in Hinduism. She told us about the origins of the holiday, and she helped our children experience some of the traditions. Children dressed up in traditional clothing for boys and girls, including gold bangles; children learned about the diyas and their traditional designs; the students enjoyed one sweet and one savory treat from India to celebrate; and some students elected to have traditional henna designs drawn on their hand.
That afternoon, Nicole, Josie’s mom, joined us to share the meaning and rituals of Hanukkah. Nicole told the story of the miraculous oil, and she explained the ritual of lighting the menorah. Students then took turns lighting the candles one by one. Nicole also brought dreidels, and the children really loved learning how to play with them--they didn’t want to stop! We also shared (American!) doughnuts to represent the sufganiyot enjoyed this time of year.
We are so grateful to Neha and Nicole for sharing such beautiful, meaningful traditions that open the children’s eyes to a greater world.
We also enjoyed our annual winter party, which the kids this year dubbed “Board Game Bonanza!” We came in our PJs, played board games, and made crafts, which were really popular this year--some children made paper chains for hours with their friends! And of course we all stopped to enjoy some hot apple cider together before heading off into the holidays.
January brought a return to school and friends (and warm, sunny weather?!?!). During this time, we really enjoyed the guidance and care of Ms. Claire, who assisted while Ms. Lacey recovered at home with Baby Hazel. Claire really shined in her observations of the children, in the ways she spoke to them, and in her highly skilled handwork--skills which she generously shared with us. For example, she suggested knitting a blanket for Hazel, and the kids loved the idea. Claire led a “knitting workshop,” with several experienced students stationed around the rug to support others. Over the next few weeks, the students knit squares or crocheted borders and embellishments, which Ms. Claire knit together to complete the blanket. The community was humming for weeks with handwork and love. <3
January started strong, and after about a week’s adjustment we were back in full swing. Some students who had performed a play called “Little Late Riding Hood” for fellow classmates in the fall wanted to perform it again, this time for Primary students. They sewed costumes, made props, and then created flyers to invite the 3 younger classes to attend. It was a huge success! The students definitely ‘got bit by the acting bug,’ judging by their euphoria afterward backstage!
Recently we (FINALLY!) got to enjoy the annual Cedars Holiday Bonfire at the Clearing. It was another relaxing evening with families enjoying some starlight, a warm fire, and community. Thanks for being patient with the rescheduling and for coming out!
Lastly, we enjoyed welcoming back Ms. Lacey and sweet Hazel! We had so enjoyed having Ms. Claire, so it was also a tender day saying “thank you” to her.
We started that transition by having Hazel visit on a Friday afternoon to meet all 20 of her older brothers and sisters (!), and we learned a lot about her needs and how to support her (and her immune system!) as a member of our community. And she loves her blanket :)
The following Monday, we got to enjoy her company full-time. I was telling Lacey that she and Hazel are a marvel--they’re both such pros that I can’t believe they’re a “first” baby and a first-time mom! Their first day in Fig Tree went exceptionally well. Mom, baby, and all the students hummed right along as if we’d always been this way. It’s been deeply moving--and so fun!--to enjoy Hazel while seeing how self-regulated and loving the children are.
Reminders and Sign-Ups
Please send in a set of extra clothes for your child that are appropriate for winter weather, if you haven’t already done so. We will add them to your child’s current set. Also, please label every item with your child’s name. Thanks!
We are looking for a volunteer each Monday to drive 2 children to HEB for the week's snack. Ms. Lacey and Ms. Claire used to do this, but now there's no room for a baby carseat and our students' boosters! This SignUp Genius link has all the details. Click it to read more and to sign up if you're interested!
Last year for Valentine’s Day, we hosted a Family Tea, and it was such a hit that we’re going to do it again! Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 14th shortly before afternoon pick-up to join us for tea, snacks, and community time.
Keep reading to your kiddo at home! You can consult the Parents’ Handbook for a list of fresh ideas to read aloud to your child.
Thank you for being so supportive this winter. It’s led to some really rich experiences these past two months, and we are grateful.
Fig Tree Cottage