Last month on Give Big Day, you--our family, friends, and neighbors--donated nearly $7,000 to help us grow and strengthen our outdoor education programs. You also contributed your time and energy to give our outdoor areas a Spring spruce up. In just one afternoon, we planted climbing trees, added a new garden, and gave other areas of our campus lots of love. What a difference one day can make!
We are so grateful for everyone who supports Blue Mountain School in so many ways! We couldn't do what we do without you!
Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.
We promote environmental stewardship by participating in nature-based activities and by exploring the connection between all living things, to establish a genuine sense of wonder and responsibility in our students.
There are many aspects of our school that inspire reverence in our students, families, and staff. But one of the simplest yet most profound is the value we place on time spent in nature. Whether this comes from classroom time held in the woods, enrichment activities held outside, or even simply recess time on our playground held by the surrounding woods, our students know nature, and they know the nature around BMS like home. Some of you were able to join us for our Earth Day Celebration, Tree Hug and Give Big Fundraiser. In case you weren't able to be there, I will tell you a story...
Once upon a time, there was a small school in a small town. The school was not fancy and it was not perfect, but it
was filled with happy, growing children and happy, growing teachers. There was even a beautiful orange and black cat named Luna, who lived at the school and acted like she was the Queen.
This small school was very lucky to have a comfortable home, with trees and woods and a small stream. In fact, the children at the school named the special places in the woods around their school because they loved the places so much. There was
Silverberry Hideout, Skunk Hollow, the Old Peace Place, Stick Mountain, Fort Village, Stump Trail, Spring Valley, and Sliding Hill.
The woods were an important part of every school day for the students and teachers at this lucky school, so in honor of Earth Day the whole school decided to show the trees how loved they were by hugging them. The children and grown-ups hugged many trees that day and learned about taking care of trees and listening to trees, too. Most importantly, they learned that trees and people have a lot more in common than many people ever have the chance to know.
And that is The True Story of the BMS Woods.
One of our core values at Blue Mountain School is reverence for life. In teaching this value, we explore the connection between all living things and work to inspire wonder and a sense of responsibility. As we celebrate this value throughout the spring semester, the Lunas are learning that everything on the planet is connected through water. We began our water unit with an investigation of the oceanographer Sylvia Earle's statement that, "
With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea."
Through our investigation, we learned that one in every five breaths we take is generated by Prochloroccocus, a microscopic phytoplankton that is the most abundant photosynthesizing organism on the Earth. (Up to a million of them can live in one drop of water.) Many scientists say that these cyanobacteria are responsible for life on Earth as we know it!
We are continuing our investigation with a study of the water cycle that will soon bring us to our own watershed.
The rest of our year will be devoted to an in-depth watershed study and a mapping project. The students are taking a canoe trip to Philpott Lake-an impoundment of the Smith River, which is a tributary of the Dan River- to talk about watersheds and explore a local waterway.
Thank you to everyone who supported the Lunas at the Farmer's Market and school by purchasing their peace cranes, watercolor greeting cards, and baked goods to raise money for their trip.
"This is impossible! How does a bird even do this?" These words were spoken by one of the Golden Black Koalas during a nest-building activity.
The Golden Black Koalas have been learning about animals. We started with classification and how scientists group animals by their different characteristics. We moved to habitat and the different ecosystems where animals find their resources. Finally we have been studying the beauty of adaptation and how animals evolve over time to adapt to their environments.
Our nest building was one of many activities we have engaged in as we have been working to both learn about and gain a deeper reverence for the living world. Our classroom has had a few recent visitors to aid in this study including three baby bunnies, a tortoise, tadpoles, and salamander larvae. As we finish up our year, we will be taking a trip to the Mill Mountain Zoo.
We have also been listening to, reading, and writing poetry this month. We wrote animal poems and poems in the style of George Ella Lyon who wrote
Where I'm From. Here are some excerpts from the poems written by the Golden Black Koalas...
"I come from curiosity and knowing" Otis
"I'm from fields and gardens and the woods" Kanaya
"I come from Christmas at my grandma and grandpa's house." Anya
"I come from pizza and duck sauce" Wubi
"I come from the woods and mountains and books. " Eva Rose
"I come from crab on New Years." Elektra
"I come from pancakes" Loic
"From 'please' and 'thank you' " Avery
"I come from 'I love yous' and 'are you okays?'" Teja
"I come from scorpions and leopard gekos" Cedar
"I come from playing pass the ball and chase the goat" Rhys
Hari Berzins & Jenni Heartway
Worms, and soil, and plants, oh my!
The Rainbow Jellybean Wormsnakes know about worms from first hand experience. Our classroom worm bin is full of thousands of worms who eat apple cores, bread crusts, and any food scraps we have after lunch--except citrus!
Each day, we create plenty of scrap paper for recycling, and it's a favorite classroom job to take the paper to the office and shred it. Then it's the daily worm keeper's job to layer the shredded paper on top of the worm bin and wet it down. Worms need to remain moist, so this paper "bedding" is essential to a moist environment, and the worms eat the paper. We now have a bucket full of rich worm castings to add to our spring plantings. But not before separating the worms from the castings--a dirty job that little fingers love.
As we've learned about the worms' ability to turn paper into castings, we decided we could make seed pots from paper, too. Once it's time to plant, the pots can go directly in the ground, and the worms will eat it away.
It was a joyful project, making pots. The students took the project seriously and devised their own assembly line. Cutter, roller, folder. Filling the pots with soil was a highlight of the week. Soil makes us happy!
We decided to experiment with our first seed planting project, and we mixed a ratio of 1 part worm castings to 4 parts top soil, leaving a control group of straight top soil to compare. All seeds are up, and we continue to observe for differences in the groups.
As we continue our study of soil and plants, we will learn the parts of a flower, the parts of a worm (there's talk about worm dissection!), and we'll continue to develop our understanding of the connectedness between all living things.
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Spring is here, and we have been observing the ongoing changes outside, including all the changing colors. We have been seeing so many colors inside and outside of our classroom! As part of our exploration of color, we decided to take a closer look at the daffodil. We put out vases of daffodils and some yellow and green paint and invited the Turtles to create a representation of spring. As a literature extension, Tammie read a poem about the daffodil during group time.
One thing that hasn't changed with the new season is our use of American Sign Language (ASL) in class. All year we have been learning about ASL during our daily group time, which starts with the Friends song. The song includes each child by name as we sign the first initial. We have also explored the signs for various animals when singing
Old McDonald Has a Farm
. So far, however, the signing seemed to be more a form of a finger play rather than a way to communicate and its own language. In order to give the kids a deeper understanding of ASL and its use we invited Diana Faye, a local sign language teacher to come talk to us.
Diana visited with the Turtles during a recent morning circle and shared her story of being a young child and attending a school for the deaf. She showed the children her hearing aid and explained that without it she cannot hear, not even the dog barking or the door bell ringing. Diana was happy to teach us some new signs, and we discovered that we had been signing the number 3 in our song wrong! The Turtles are now keenly aware if we, the teachers, use the wrong 3. In preparation for Diana's visit, we asked each child what word they wanted to know, and we learned many new words. We also learned that some signs are specially made up to represent people or things. Connecting the kinesthetic aspect of ASL to letters and words not only helps children with their literacy skills but also teaches about inclusion and other languages.
How we can all learn from the rhythm of a children's yoga class
When writing these articles, I reflect on why I teach yoga and what we can learn from it. While there are new activities we do to keep the classes fresh, sometimes it is the repetition that might be the most rewarding. As you know, we start our class with quiet as we arrive. We sit down, bow, breathe, and tune in to how our body and minds are in the moment. We then progressively move into more active games and activities. After movement, we go back into a quieter space to refocus as we end class.
This rhythm could be helpful in our daily wonderful-but-busy active lives. I have had a busy (okay, way too busy!) month and just writing this is reminding me of how I have not paused enough these past few weeks. I know how to do it; it is actually really important to me! But now it is time to take a step back and say "yes" to it again!
May we remember to find a rhythm in our lives that includes moments to pause, moments to rejuvenate, moments to be in quiet wonderment. Perhaps if we wake up reminding ourselves of the glorious day ahead and committing to taking some mindful moments during our day, it might seep into our busy day and we can have more balance. May it be!
What have we been up to in Yoga and P.E?
The youngest two classes have been listening to and doing yoga to some spring stories The most recent story was one I have told before about a LONELY SEED. This funny story is about a flower seed that just doesn't seem to know where to land. A storm comes, and the wind takes the seed. It lands on a table, then the wind carries it again, and it lands on a dog's nose. The dog sneezes, and the seed goes flying again. It encounters a tree, bird, and other animals until it almost touches a cloud. Finally, the seed finds its way to some soil when a cat stomps on it. You know what happens next...the seed grows into a beautiful flower. Blooming Flower is a favorite and fun yoga pose. Oh, the magic of spring!
Speaking of magic, the Rainbow Jellybean Worm Snakes had an amazing class that was very inspiring to me, and reminded me of the magic that can happen when we are open to new experiences. We share poses often in this class, and some of our friends had really been thinking about some poses that they wanted to teach us. The creativity had a chain reaction, and every student that day had a fabulous new pose. I was so inspired that I wrote them all down to add to the asana repertoire:
Not all the Wormsnakes were present for these additions, so we will take time to share the new poses with the whole class and see what other poses come about. I am sure we will have more amazing creativity.
- Avery P.B. created "frogdog," a sequence starting with downdog, jumping to frog then ending by rolling onto the back.
- Mena created "rolling mat," which uses the yoga mat to hoist the body into a backward roll.
- Zaila created "wiggle stretch," a cat pose where you do hip rotations that feel really nice!
- Bailey created "funder," a dynamic pose that starts standing bringing hands to heart then breathing out a thunder noise while bending the knees and bringing the hands out to the side quickly.
- Sully created "utra roll," where you go into plow pose then flip over.
- Avery A.B. created "trap," by rolling himself up in the yoga mat.
Meanwhile, the older two classes have done some long yoga sessions. They have made great progress in their listening and built their confidence as they move through the poses. We learned some new breathing techniques like "woodchopper breath," which is a dynamic, energizing, and stress-relieving breath. To do "woodchopper," stand with your legs a hips-width apart, inhale and clasp your hands over your head, then exhale as you lower your arms down between your legs.
These older classes seems to thrive on team building activities, so we have also been doing some new personality guessing games and other games to strengthen confidence and relationships among students.
It is so nice to see kids progressing and becoming more confident with yoga and movement as they have had lot of time to practice as we near the end of the year. They are such a joy and continue to teach me about so many aspects of life. Thank you!
I can't believe we are so close to the end of the school year, with only five art classes left!!
Projects are wrapping up nicely in the art room with most of the classes studying form by creating sculptures with recycled material. We discussed the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art, which was a little tricky because our sculptures were created off of flat pieces of cardboard that will be hung on the wall. So is it 2-D or 3-D? And what is one-dimensional, one student asked?
I love when art-making brings about these bigger questions of what things are and how they can they can be perceived in many different ways. There have been some great questions and discussions throughout the school year, and I so enjoy the free spirited, unencumbered minds of children. I really should keep a notebook in the classroom to jot down student quotes! Another idea, for another year.
But for now, with the completion of our studies in form, I will have all the artwork from our last month of school on display during the BMS Project Fair, for parents to take home. Please come by to see your child's artwork and take home the treasures that they have created. I hope all parents also received and enjoyed their child's artwork from the last round of conferences. The kids really have worked hard this year, and I am so proud and honored to be their art teacher!
So thank you as always for sharing your children with me!!!
As the school year is coming near its end, I can't help but think about all the progress our students have made in their mindfulness practice. This is something we could build on by continuing the practice not just on Mondays but every day as a family. The practice might be something simple, like practicing mindful breathing for 5 minutes to start the day. Or you could explore walking meditation and mindful eating. There is no end to the possibilities. Be creative and perhaps let your children lead the practice time!
Here is an essay from one of our Upper Elementary students, Iris:
What Does Leading a Mindful Life Look Like to Me?
It means to me to always be present in the moment, to not rush what you are doing unless you have to go somewhere. I lead a mindful life by always being aware no matter what you're doing. Don't be on your phone while driving through nice scenery, pay attention to your surroundings, don't get sucked into a screen.
I think to lead a mindful life means to enjoy even not your favorite things to do because mindfulness is an amazing practice. It teaches you to have calm energy and to not always be so crazy. By sitting you focus on one point and not a thousand million things at once. To focus on one point means to calm your mind from all other distraction. It will teach you to be aware with what you say.
Flying Rainbow Turtles
We have learned so much this year! With so many of our new found skills, we put on a play in our classroom. We were playing with our theme "Dinosaurs and Paleontologists" for many months. Each time we played this drama game, we would add more information about dinosaurs, digs, museums, or a paleontologists job. And everyone had a chance to take a turn performing all the different parts. Finally the Turtles chose the part they each liked best, we finalized our story, made costumes and props, and practiced for our performance.
Watch the Flying Rainbow Turtles in the premier of "A Dinosaur Play."
Thank you to Lori for help with costume painting, and Stefi and Tammy for prop help and costume change during the performance. And thank you to our wonderful audience!
Rainbow Jellybean Wormsnakes
The RJWS performance is coming up at the end of this month, June 5th at 3:30, We'll be performing next door at the outdoor stage at Zion Lutheran Church. Usually with this age group, I take a story and let them change the characters and problems while keeping the gist of the story. However, the Wormsnakes had so many ideas and their minds are constantly adding, changing, and creating that we ditched my original plan and created our own concept and outline from start to finish. (I did have to use some of my producer powers to scale the show down from a 3-hour production with a million dollar budget to about 20-30 minutes and under $50.) The Wormsnake production is a lot of fun, but it does have some tricky timing and takes a lot of control, focus, and mindfulness to pull it off, so audience goers will be asked to keep super quiet during the show! See you there!
The GBKs are performing their play on Thursday, June 1st at 3:30 at Zion's outdoor stage. The Koalas will be performing three variations of The Three Little Pigs. It may seem like an easy tale that they all know, but the story is quite different when viewed from different perspectives. This play will be a feet in timing, memorization, backstage ninja support, prop building and acting. You won't want to miss it!
The Lunas are performing a light-hearted comedic mystery on May 18th at 3:30 the Zion stage. After months of searching and pondering, we picked a play from a company called Youth Plays, where different authors can post their plays for others to perform. The Catnapper Mystery by Isabella Russell-Ides
has has many lines to memorize, a lot of character building, and a subtlety of humor and timing that will test this troupe's skills and endurance. We have worked hard to build our drama skills, and the Lunas are definitely up for the challenge! It should be a lot of fun, and we hope you can make it.
This month in
, our young journalists have been practicing their photography skills, developing their researching and collaboration skills, and exploring their editing and revision abilities.
We have also begun to master computer skills such as copying and pasting to move images and documents. Keep your eyes open for the next edition!
As a special treat, the Press Corps welcomed a special visitor. We were grateful to have Matt Gentry from the Roanoke Times come speak to our
. He brought each of us a copy of the paper, showed us his photography equipment, and told us about the important five W's. Thank you, Matt!
Our second session of forest kindergarten is off to a great start. We spent the first day at the creek. What was most noticeable was how long the children were engaged in this familiar spot. In our past sessions, Forest Kindergarteners have been constantly on the move. Becoming familiar with a place allows children to dig deeper, to study closer, to lazily explore.
Our efforts did not go unrewarded. We found many interesting creatures in the creek that we had never noticed before. We learned more about the familiar creatures: their habits and diets.
I look forward to seeing where this new group will take us the rest of session!
We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.
Be sure to it to anyone you think may be interested.
The folks at
Project Fair & Open House (6 to 8)
End-of-Year Celebration (1 to 4)
Forest Forts Camp
Tinkering to Treasure Camp
Keep an eye on the calendar! We have a lot of fun activities coming up these last few weeks of school!
Board of Trustees
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, June 14, at 6:00 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.
Amy & Mason Adams, Corey & Brecc Avellar, Maggie Avellar, Ellie Avellar, William Avellar, Jayn Avery, Angie & Chris Barrett, Hari & Karl Berzins, Missy & Scott Branks, Kathleen Brennan, Aja Buhler & BJ Harris, Shirleyann Burgess, Chris & Cheryl Carter, Craig Carter, Robert & Loraine Coker, Jean Creswell, Naomi Crews, Georgia & Mike Crews, Jane Crouse, Lore Deighan & Justin Grimes, Linda Fox, Shelly Fox & Justin Miller, Alonzo Emmett, Layla Emmett, Madeline Emmett, Lily Miller, Gabriel Miller, Reuben Miller, Lora Giessler, Bill & Corinne Graefe, Ann Hammond, Elizabeth Hammond, Jenni & Perrin Heartway, Cedar Heartway, Wren Heartway, Pippi Heartway, Harvey Heartway, Susan Icove & David Lander, Virginia Klara, Michael Maslaney, Sarah McCarthy & Jagadisha, Medina Baskets, Ashley Morales, Kristan & Barry Morrison, Rick & Nancy Parrish, Cassie & Scott Pierce, Shanti & Kelly Posadas, Jamie & Elisha Reygle, Ann Mary Roberts, Veronica Santo, Tammie Sarver & Eric Wolf, Emily Grace Sarver-Wolf, Elias Sarver-Wolf, Jeremiah Sarver-Wolf, Sarah Wolf, Stefi Schafer, Ellen Shankin, Hope & Eric Sharp, Shelly & Greg Sherman, Bob & Susan Sisk, Luke & Ashera Staengl, Pat Stroud, Martha Sullivan, Patti Talbot, Amolee Tally, Martha Taylor & Lester Gillespie, Carol & Andy Volker, Anya Volker, Kostya Volker, Diane Volker, Steve Weber, and Leia Wood
for donating on Give Big Day.
for sharing his journalism stories and tips with the Press Corp.
Enone Mellowspring, Hope Sharp, Bob Sisk, Martha Sullivan, Jamie Reygle, Andy Volker, Eric Wolf, Justin Miller, Gabriel Miller and our students and staff
for helping with our School Spruce Up.
for donating to our scholarship fund.
Zion Lutheran Church
for allowing us to hold our plays at the Oak Grove Pavillion.
for bringing goodies for staff meetings.
Wenona Scott & Sol Atkins
for delivering a truck load of sand.
Perrin & Jenni Heartway
for donating a rain barrel.
Justin Miller & Shelly Fox
for donating a new play structure.
for donating seed potatoes for the garden.
for donating extra clothes for the early childhood class.
The Farm at Selu
for hosting the Golden Black Koalas.
The Floyd Farmers Market
for inviting the Lunas to have a booth.
who baked for the Luna sale.
for helping in the classroom.
Susan C. Heath, CPA,
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.