Oh-Ho! What a month!
November started with Fig Tree’s Day of the Dead celebration, honoring many loved ones with stories, photos, mementos, and paper marigolds on our ofrenda (altar). We also participated in Rockwood’s parade, full of music and painted faces.
In the first weeks of the month, Mr. Braden, leader of Adventure Class, began showing children how to build fires using safe, effective methods and choosing materials as stewards of the earth. He continues to teach them nature skills as well. Students were elated after completing the fire-building challenges!
In mid-November the children cut and built concentric circles of felt to create a pillow for the Fall Fandango auction. They enjoyed making a three-dimensional abstract-art piece, and the auction and the fundraiser were both a great success for our entire community...thank you so much to all who contributed!
Cedars’ inaugural CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was also a huge success! The 12 boxes sold quickly, and they were full of all kinds of goodies from our gardens. Every student from all three elementary classrooms helped with inventory, harvesting, cleaning, estimating, bundling, beautifying, and selling our bags. Others researched and wrote recipes to inspire CSA patrons with new ways to cook their bounty of kale, herbs, zucchini, cucumber, Asian greens, basil, collard greens, and more. Your local “farmers” thank you! The proceeds will go right back into new plantings for our gardens--to keep our CSA self-sustaining--as well as ‘hoop houses’ to keep our plants happy through the winter.
Right before the colder temperatures really kicked in, Fig Tree students invested in their future springtime by making seed balls of native wildflowers. They mixed clay, water, and seeds, rolled them up into tiny, muddy bundles, and threw the seed balls around the classroom and playground to await the first signs of spring. We look forward to how many will pop up around Fig Tree when warmer temperatures return. We hope it will be a blanket of color!
Students also dove head-first into formal art lessons and science experiments. Art explorations included drawing negative space to create the object and drawing an object by focusing on its contour alone. Fig Tree scientists examined how jet engines work, the science of rainbows, overcoming drag in launching rockets, solar weather, water displacement, and more. Students approached both art and science with a lot of energy and collaboration!
Another explosion of interest in science came from the unveiling of the Timeline of Life, presented after the Second Great Story. Students heard the story of all the various lifeforms shown in the fossil record and how incredibly long the earth prepared for a very special being: humans. Many students studied the timeline, recreating it as a team for over two days. Their enthusiasm was palpable and inspiring.
For Thanksgiving we held a gratitude circle. The students came together, and after a brief visualization, they created a community gratitude poster. I was awed by the silence as children huddled around the large sheet of paper, taking turns to write what they were grateful for... their siblings, mom, dad, school, cookies, my house, potatoes, my dog, peace, music, love,....Their open hearts are so beautiful.
Suggestion Box: Lunch
Interested in taking something off your “to do” list? Permanently?? By early elementary, students are able to pack their own lunch. If you haven’t enjoyed this liberation yet because you feel your child will take too long to pack it, consider it an investment--for you and your child. Once the process is established, you enjoy one less responsibility while your child benefits from a significant boost in self-esteem as well as a lunch s/he is more likely to eat. All that from one task!
Dr. Montessori emphasized “taking the time to train,” so don’t choose a harried moment. For my own two children, I found it helpful to begin by teaching them about the four basic food groups and that a lunch should have at least one healthy item from each. My children’s lunch containers are within reach, as well as lunch foods and snacks in the pantry and fridge. Each day after school they load their dirty containers into the dishwasher, and at night they pack lunch for the next day.
Many, many strategies exist to support a child in packing his/her own lunch, but I wanted to share what was successful in my own home in case it helps you in yours.
Observations and Conferences
Thank you for a successful start to our year. It is wonderful to have you join us as observers, and I appreciate the time you took to connect at our parent-teacher conference. Students are all transitioning well into elementary and/or Fig Tree’s “new ways of doing things.” I am grateful for your partnership.
As winter holidays approach, I feel blessed to share each day with your children. I give thanks for this community!
Fig Tree Cottage