Did you miss us? We weren't able to get our February newsletter out, so this issue is a combined edition. In some sections you'll see two articles, and that's why!
We've been super busy here at Blue Mountain in 2018, and we are getting ready for a busy summer. Be sure to check out our summer camps, and send an email to get signed up!
Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.
At BMS, our days are made up of many of the same things that make up school days everywhere; though we do have creative authority over many aspects of our school that other schools do not, in reality we are not immune to the same issues that arise in any school. And even though our students are young, the topic of gun violence in schools that weighs so heavily on the minds and hearts of many parents and school personnel across our country today also weighs heavily on our staff and parents. Keeping our kids safe can seem like an impossible task when the pattern of violence seems beyond the control of each of us as individuals.
Aside from practicing shelter-in-place drills and other safety procedures, what can we do at school to protect the people we care about so deeply? This question is like a kaleidoscope, the answer changing depending on how you move all of the pieces around. But we do know a few things for certain: human beings have a need to be seen and heard. We are social creatures, and we need to know that we belong, that we matter, that we have community supporting us on our unique individual endeavors.
And this is something: we can and do make space for each child as an individual at BMS. We can and do try to consistently see and hear our students and model this value for them in their own relationships with each other. We can and do communicate with our students so that they know they belong here, they matter, and they are supported as valued members of our school community. BMS is not immune to the things that other schools experience, but we are providing a school setting that consistently works to meet the needs of our students not just academically and socially, but emotionally as well. This is a gift not just for our students, but for all of us who are involved in this living, breathing school community.
The Burritos have been playing the Landmarks game with teams from schools around the world. Each week we receive clues from 18 other teams that help to lead us to their landmark. We are using the globe, maps, and internet research tools to figure out where each landmark is.
Through the Landmarks game, we are becoming immersed in the geography of countries and continents all over the globe. We are learning fun things
while practicing our map skills, learning how to use latitude and longitude lines to find locations, and familiarizing ourselves with the hemispheres.
For example, did you know that Taipei, Taiwan boasts an array of
? Or that the
in Ethiopia is the hottest place on earth, inhabited by extremophiles? Or that the Grand Canyon is home to 22 species of bats?
The students have enjoyed working in groups to meet the difficult challenge of searching for each landmark. The game has allowed us to journey across the globe, exploring its wonders.
The Pythons practiced having mindful tea every school day in January. We experienced different kinds of herbal teas using all of our senses. Here are some of the answers to the question:
"What are three things you have learned during mindful tea?"
- It can calm you.
- It's nice to drink tea slowly.
- If you put saliva on the tip of your tongue, the hot tea won't burn your tongue.
- Take time for myself.
- I learned that I like tea!
- Tea tastes good.
- When you feel overwhelmed, make some tea.
- Tea tastes warm.
Our tea practice has been to sit quietly while the tea is poured and then to hold our hands over the steaming tea to feel the condensation. Next, we wait for the chime to ring and smell the tea together: breathing in the steamy aroma and breathing out any distracting thoughts we may have. We then take five sips together with each ring of the chime. Finally, we enjoy the rest of our cup in the company of our classmates.
Along with our mindful tea experience we, we studied the history and culture of tea. We learned about the Camillia sinensis plant, which most tea comes from, and we discovered where tea originated and some of the different ways tea is prepared and celebrated around the world.
We watched a Japanese tea ceremony and created our own tea ceremonies, and we ended the month sipping tea together in a celebration of world peace with Jagadish and Sarah. The folowing is a tea ceremony created by one pair of students.
I am amazed at the beautiful way that my students describe their feelings. During our mindfulness circle we often check in to give a report on how we are feeling. All of the Pythons, without exception, name several different feelings they are having simultaneously. They have even come up with a word that means feeling sad, mad and happy all at the same time. That word happens to be "chicken." I am in awe of how these individuals understand the complexity of their emotions at such a young age.
This emotional intelligence was challenged in February when the Pythons experienced two very different emotional events in one day. On February 14th each year, we have our Special Person's Tea; this is a day all of our Blue Mountain Children look forward to. Unfortunately, when we arrived at school on the day of the Tea, we discovered one of our sweet little rats, Caramel, had passed away.
So, in the morning we buried our little friend, and in the afternoon we celebrated our special people. (What a lot of emotions!) We began the day full of tears and confusion. Some friends shared stories of other losses and the pain that accompanied them. We had a beautiful and respectful funeral and said our goodbyes. Then, we circled together to process our feelings about the morning and to give ourselves and each other permission to be joyful about our afternoon celebration.
As February 14th unfolded to reveal further heartache in the news of our country, I was reminded of how grateful I am to work in a school that commits itself to supporting the social emotional growth of growing human beings. In a day filled with so much heartache, I could also see hope.
Our New Class...
We had a slow start in our new classroom space with winter weather and illness playing major parts in keeping us home. We did have the opportunity to vote on and choose a new class name; we are the Magical Flying Basilisks! The Basilisks worked on settling into the rhythm of our new space. Our schedule is very similar to the one we had as a part of the Lemon Turquoise Discovery Dragon Butterfly class, so it was a smooth transition.
We really enjoyed preparing for the Special Person Tea. The Magical Flying Basilisks were especially excited to decorate our space and have their special person join them for tea and treats. We also began working on a song to present at the tea, and some friends made plans to dress up for the big event.
In the first few weeks as a new class, we talked a lot about goals for school and life. As a school we decided to set goals for ourselves for recess and outdoor time. The Magical Flying Basilisks paired up and talked about their individual goals with a partner. We're going to try to help our partners remember their goals and use their help to remember ours.
February was a busy month. We all enjoyed our Special Persons Tea, and treasured the wonderful, sunny weather, spending as much time in the sunshine as we could. We also began reading "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." Everyone seems to be enjoying the magic of the book.
In Language Arts, we been exploring different parts of speech and grammar and punctuation. The Magical Flying Basilisks especially enjoyed working with compound words and have been excitedly discovering different compound words as we move through our days at school. Our work with punctuation marks has had observable effects on how we read and write. We've seen a lot more exclamation points in writing over the past few weeks!!!!
We're wrapping up our work with mammal research. Each student chose a mammal to research, and in addition to learning more about their chosen animal, this project is developing the Basilisks' understanding of what information needs to be given in a research paper. Questions like "If tigers live in jungles and in mountains, can I just write about them living in jungles?" have given us lots of opportunities to understand what information we should give our audience, and how it changes their understanding of our research subject.
We're looking forward to more warm, sunny days to come!
Since our return from Winter Break, the students have been particularly interested in two boards on our playground. These are sturdy, heavy, long boards, that require more than one person to easily move them.
The way the children have used the boeards has changed over time. At first they were balancing, seesawing, and sliding. Later their explorations included lifting, elevating, rolling items, changing the location of the fulcrum, and adding other obstacles to create a course.
The boards have provided many opportunities for collaboration, problem solving and conflict resolution. It can be hard to communicate your ideas for a board without physically showing your friends what you want to with it. The flexible thinking and trust required for a collaborative process can be a challenging but very rewarding experience.
As educators, we refer to these boards (and tires, and rocks, and tree cookies) on our playground as loose parts. To some they may look unintentional, but they are part of a careful plan for interactions in our play yard.
The Theory of Loose Parts
was written in 1972 by Simon Nicholson. This theory, in short, says that the more items with no definite purpose there are, the more likely people are to engage with them and each other. This is a key part of the
approach, which inspires the practice in our early childhood class and flows well with our schools' philosophy of using evidence-based practices.
Loose parts are a great addition to any playroom or outside play area. The next time you're in the woods or at the hardware store, take a careful look for items that may spark inspiration or creativity in your home!
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Every February, we take time to celebrate those we love by inviting them to our Special Persons Tea.
As we began preparations for the party, the Inchworms were very excited. (Who isn't excited to have a party?) But what were we celebration? W
e took this opportunity to talk about the concept of love: How do you know you are loved? Who do you Love? How can we show people that they are loved? What is love?
Here are some Inchworm answers for that last question, What is love?
Leilani: "They love for ever and wanna sing and dance."
Arianna: "Hearts and hugs."
Kingston: "It's made of true love."
Ellie: "When they love you, they give you hugs and kisses."
Ayianna: "It's about hugs, kisses, and getting a dog"
Ari: "My Mom & Dad love me 'cause I come from their body."
Elyce: "Hugs and kisses, and more hugs. There is enough hugs and kisses for everybody!"
Ruby: "When everybody sees you, and they make love in their heart, that's great!"
Soul: "Soul Rebel Jones!"
During our Tea, we invited our guests to write their own answers to this question onto strips of paper and then attach them to each other, creating a chain of love. Many links in our chain are about family, friends, and children. It is the love of children that unites us all and brings us together as a community of teachers, learners and families.
How to Have a Party...
Having a party is a lot of fun, but there is a lot of work involved, too. The Inchworms were ready and willing to take on the challenge of hosting their special people!
After some discussion, we decided we needed to get treats, more chairs, and decorations. Director Shelly helped us send in our treat order and find some extra chairs in the storeroom. After that it was time to get to work on our decorations!
days leading up to the event, we supplied the kids with heart-shaped doilies and paint in colors typically associated with
. While some friends only painted one or two pieces, others went into production mode--creating multiple
of art. Once the hearts were dry, we encouraged the kids to hang them up throughout the classroom.
sticky tape and attaching the painted hearts to walls, windows, doors, and furniture is easier said
done! The students had to choose and agree where to hang each piece, practice
while waiting for strips of tape, and figure out how to get decorations hung in higher spots. Using tape was a particular challenge for many of the Inchworms. They had to learn how to make the tape stick to the paper and to the wall without getting it
stuck to hands or crumpled. Phew! This practice fostered cognitive and fine motor skills and strengthened our problem-solving abilities.
Next up on our To-Do list was setting up the tables and chairs. Moving the furniture around our classroom was a great practice for working large muscles! After the room was arranged to our satisfaction, it was time to set the tables! First up -- the table cloths. Maneuvering the large pieces of fabric required collaboration with friends.
We also provided strips of red and pink paper and staplers to make paperchains; an activity that fostered fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. The children also gained experience using a machine (stapler) that required focus and attention to detail--the strips had to be aligned just so--as well as considerable hand strength.
Once the classroom was set up, all that was left to do was to wait for our guests. Each child welcomed their special guests and showed them where the treats where.
It was evident that our youngest leaners were excited to have friends and family in our space as they proudly showed off all their hard work. After the tea and goodies, our guests were invited to add strips to our
chain of love, making it longer and stronger.
Before heading home, the children and their guests took turns making Valentines for the birds with peanut butter and birdseed. The Valentines were hung in the trees near our class to spread our love and kindness outside.
We purposely choose not to clean up the classroom after every one went home. Instead we waited till the next day to again involve the children in the process. They eagerly removed tablecloths and carried the extra chairs back outside, helped move our tables back where they beloned, and rearranged the chairs to restore our party-room into a place for play and work. We decided to leave some of the decorations up to remember the event.
The seriousness with which the Shining Inchworms cooperated and worked showed us how much love they have not only for their friends and family but also for each other.
May the world be filled with the loving kindness of the Shining Inchworms!
Sarah McCarthy & Jagadisha
Sip for Peace...
Jagadisha and I drink tea every day, and it has become a way to slow our lives down. At school, Jagadisha has been sharing this practice of "mindful tea" with the children a few times a year, and so having tea is already a part of our culture at BMS.
Back in the summer, Jagadisha and I attended a tea festival in Boulder, Colorado, where we met Babette Donaldson, who started the Sip for Peace movement. This movement reminds us that even in times of unrest at home or abroad, even when we might feel helpless or alone, tea connects the world. Tea has inspired great thinkers of the past and has the potential to fuel powerful visions for a better future.
Inspired by our discussions with Babette, we decided to bring Sip for Peace to Blue Mountain School and Floyd and host our own Sip In.
On the day of the Sip In, we all felt a tremendous sense of sacredness and importance for the event. In each of the classes, we were able to sip our tea and be in the present moment with our classmates around us, quiet and content. We thought of others and sent positivity to all beings around the world.
We drank tea and nibbled treats, all sitting in a circle surrounded by the kids' handmade lanterns. The candles in the lanterns reminded us of the inner light we always have with us and can share with others.
Our biggest Sip In group was at the end of the day as we circled at the community space at Zion Lutheran Church. Students and staff from Springhouse Community School, BMS parents, and local community members joined our oldest class members. Together we shared the Metta Sutta, which is a tea meditation for sending peace to oneself then out to others. Then we lit flying wish paper to send wishes for peace in our world.
As educators, we sometimes wonder how much of the core teachings the students are taking in. Are they understanding the yoga beyond the physical movements? Can they see their inner strength? Are they learning how to let go and accept themselves and others? Are the mindfulness practices that Jagadisha and I and all the BMS teachers weave into our day "sticking?"
The Sip for Peace celebration and tea showed clearly how much the students are taking these practices into their being. It was a truly beautiful day, and we plan to make it a yearly event
Humorous collage, exploration of color, found object sculptures....there is a lot going on in the art room!
With six classes to teach in the schedule now, the day is packed full of creativity and fun. Despite the extra work of an additional class, I am thoroughly enjoying the smaller class sizes as there is more opportunity to connect and work with students individually.
We are spending more time looking at and discussing our work, which can be tricky to do in a bigger class.
And simply being able to arrange the space so that we all sit around the same table helps keep the group more focused and connected to their work.
As we settle into our new routines, I look forward to moving through the rest of winter with wellness (no more flu!), presence, and appreciation for what a beautiful place we live and what special children I get to work with at BMS.
Alas, our all school play has been postponed again due to sickness and snow days till the spring. Meanwhile we have moved on to our skits, which will be performed towards the end of March/ beginning of April. Each class will have their own Skit Performance, and the different performances will be taking place Thursday afternoons around pickup time. I will send out a schedule soon. One of our themes/challenges for the skits is working with invisible props. It will be lots of fun! Hope you can make it!
We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.
Be sure to it to anyone you think may be interested.
The folks at
Make Up Day
Spring Celebration & Open House (5:30 to 7:00)
March 23: Make Up Day
March 30: Conferences
Apr 2-6: Spring Break
Apr 18: Give Big Day & Earth Day Work Day
Apr 20: Make Up Day
If someone other than a parent or a regular pickup person (such as a regular carpool person, a grandparent, or a caregiver) will be picking up your child, be sure to communicate this information with your child's teacher at drop off time.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees meets regularly in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend. If you would like to learn more about the Board, please contact the office.
Dogtown Roadhouse and the Sun Music Hall, Skyline National Bank, Classic Caterers & Longfin Grill, Floyd Future, The June Bug Center, City Magazine, Sol Roots, Seph Custer, Jordan Harman, Music Road Company, Gyroscopic, Shamama, Flirting with Chemicals, Griz Lewis, Jake Retting, Nelson Oliver, Michaela Perdue, Taryn Collinsworth, Cate Gardner, Stephanie Sky, Paul LeMay, David Hall, Brad Collier, Addictive Lighting, Mystic Witches of Floyd, Venture Out Creative Agency, Under the Sun Tattoo, Red Rooster Coffee Roaster, Buffalo Mountain Kombucha, Five Mile Mountain Distillery,
our Floyd Mardi Gras sponsors and performers.
A Little Monkey Business, Abby Reczek Pottery, Adam Lake Ceramics, Agatha Grimsley, Amy Avery, Andrea Goodrum, Anna Nation, Anne Vaughan Designs, Appalachian Press, Apple Ridge Farm, Ashleigh Bowman, Ashley Morales, Aven Tanner, Barb Gillespie, Beeswax Delights, Bell Gallery & Garden, Bentwood Oddities Rustic Woodwork, Beth Spencer, Big Indian Farm, Black Dog Salvage, Blue Heron Pottery, Cameron Woodruff, Carol Volker, Cassie Wilson, Chantilly Farm, Chris DeMaria, Claude Breithaupt, Cocoa Mia, Confectious Shenanigans, Corey Avellar, Darbi Jewell, Don Charles, Dr. Perrin Heartway, Ed Gralla, El Charro, Elisha Reygle, Elma's Corners, Emily Williamson, Enone Mellowspring, Eric Wolf, Fat Bean Farm, Floyd Center for the Arts, Floyd Community Theatre Guild, Floyd Country Store, Floyd Eco Village Farm, Floyd Yoga Jam, Floyd Fest, Gallery 111, Gnomestead Hollow, Greg Sherman, Haley Leopold, Healing Tree Wellness Center, Heart of the Child Music, Hey Helen, Holly Haworth, InStill Mindfulness, Jagadisha, Jamie Reygle, Jayn Avery, Justin Grimes, Justin Miller, Local Roots, Lore Deighan, Lori Klein, Luke Stangel, Marilyn Farrah, Martha Sullivan, Mary Brown, Mary Via,
Medina Mercantile, Michael Keyes Photography, Mickey G's Bistro, Mystic Witches of Floyd, New Mountain Mercantile, On the Water in Floyd, Patchwork Farm, Phoenix Hardwoods, Pine Tavern, Poor Farm Pottery, Red Rooster Coffee Roaster,
Republic of Floyd, Riverstone Farm, Sarah McCarthy, Scott Perry, Seth Phelps, Seven Springs Farm, Shelly Fox, Shelly Sherman, Southern Print & Copy, Spikenard Farm, Stefi Schafer, Tammie Sarver, and Woodland Wonders
for contributing to Floyd Mardi Gras.
for bringing treats for the staff.
Zion Lutheran Church
for allowing us to hold our Sip In in their community room.
Iris P. and Mary Freday
for donating books to our library.
Marjory and Randell Wells
for donating to our building fund.
for donating craft supplies.
for donating jade plants to the Inchworm classroom.
for donating board games to the Owl classroom.
Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax
for keeping our books.
Shopping on Amazon?
We encourage everyone to support local businesses whenever you can. However, if you find yourself shopping on Amazon, please use the link below, and a portion of your purchase will go into our scholarship fund.
With all the wonderful and farm fresh food in Floyd, it's hard to imagine spending much time in Kroger, but if you find yourself there, please help the school earn a little extra for the scholarship fund.
Link your Kroger Card to BMS with the
Community Rewards Program
. Our Organization Number is 84005.