Thank YOU!  

You, our Blue Mountain School community, donated over $22,000 during this year's Give Big Day! As part of our Find Your Five Challenge, Teacher Stefi created a mini-challenge and decided that whichever of her five donors gave the most would be able to choose the color of her hair. And the winner is...PURPLE!

All of your contributions help us bridge the gap between what it costs to educate a student at Blue Mountain School and what we charge in tuition. We couldn't do what we do without you!
  Now Enrolling for 2019-2020!

Blue Mountain School is enrolling for children ages 30 months through 12 years for the 2019-2020 school year. For more information, check out our website, email us, or call at 540-745-4234.

Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures. 

Shelly Fox & Heidi Dickens
Shelly Fox
Heidi Dickens
Where the Magic Happens...

Obviously a garden is not the wilderness but an assembly of shapes, most of them living, that owes some share of its composition, it's appearance, to human design and effort, human conventions and convenience, and the human pursuit of that elusive, indefinable harmony that we call beauty. It has a life of its own, an intricate, willful, secret life, as any gardener knows. It is only the humans in it who think of it as a garden. But a garden is a relationship, which is one of the countless reasons why it is never finished.
- W.S. Merwin (b. 1927 d. 2019)

Our children are not the only ones who walk into Blue Mountain School full of wonder and questions. We are all learners, and our curiosity is instrumental in shaping how we learn and how Blue Mountain School grows. We want to continue to create learning experiences to cultivate capable community members who possess the courage and wisdom to lead fulfilling lives.

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, now is a good time to reflect on the goals and aspirations that we started the year off with. Teachers use this time to ask students to reflect on their learning throughout the year. This is also a good time to gather feedback from parents to give our learning organization helpful information as we move into the summer break and plan on next school year.
  • We believe in starting from a positive place, so we want to know what we did well this year and why you think it went well.
  • We believe we need to identify what our areas for growth are and ideas on how we can address them.
  • What can we challenge ourselves with next year?
If you would like to share your thoughts with us, would you consider   filling out this form ?

Special Pickle Kids
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth

I remember the shelf of field guides that were kept in the cabinet of books in my home as a child. Each field guide was a trove containing a great variety of treasures from the natural world around me. The more I looked inside these books, the more I wished to find, to touch, to learn by name. I am still discovering the world through them, using them to pull me deeper into my place.
At Blue Mountain School, the little collection of field guides that I've curated is a focal point of our classroom. We dive into them regularly with questions and curiosities and see where they lead us.  
Recently, the students wrote fictional stories in which a character exhibited the traits and behaviors of an animal the student found in a field guide. Students invented characters who had warts like a toad, who made the thuck thuck call of a duck, who had the fangs of a rattlesnake. Imagining what it is like to be another creature, other-than-human, helps us develop empathy and respect for all living things. It breaks us out of our narrow, anthropocentric concepts of intelligence and opens our understanding of an intelligent universe. Empathy enlarges our consciousness and our vision and allows us to see connections-a vital practice in a world with more and more ways to tune out from caring, to pretend that we are not vulnerable and dependent on everything else. Students strengthen their empathetic muscles using the field guides as an avenue along which the imagination runs.
The field guides are used as maps as the students undertake their explorations. Recently, they have used the guides to help them see the minute characteristics of wildflowers that are blooming around the school grounds-to help them see what they have already seen, again and in new ways, which is a kind of seeing for the first time. They ask questions of one another as they look: "Is the stem hairy?" "Do the leaves have fine teeth?" "Is the flower radially symmetrical?" "Are the leaves perfoliate?" "Is it a vine?"  
Each question takes them deeper into seeing. The eyes have revelations. "There are tiny hairs on the stem!... Oh wow, it's kinda sticky!" Students gain appreciation for nuance and an ability to discern. By determining the names of flowers on the school grounds-bulbous buttercups, daisy fleabane, trumpet honeysuckle-they feel a greater sense of stewardship and pride for the school. In the era of federal curriculum standards that alienate students from their own lives and places, it is a profound gift to receive a place-based education, to be able to have the world around you as teacher.
As migratory birds make their return to the leafed-out canopies of trees in the BMS woods, we are listening to their songs and seeking to get a glimpse of their markings. Last week, we heard the heavenly notes of the wood thrush, my favorite summer resident of the Appalachian mountains. We also "pished" in the ovenbird (a noise we made that attracts birds), watched excitedly as it swooped down toward our circle and called out above us. Students will continue to use the field guides as a way to connect to the songs in the canopy, and we will throw a party to welcome our migratory summer residents home from the Caribbean & Panama.
As we continue our classroom adventures, our field guides will be in our hands, as ways to help us travel outward from ourselves, to help us see, and to help us imagine the possibilities of everything we might encounter in a day of learning.

TheˈfəNGkē Wolf Gang
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan

I want to extend a big special THANK YOU to Gregg Sapp and Joy Gardner of Citizen Telephone Cooperative for taking the ˈfəNGkē Wolf Gang to the North Carolina Zoo!! 

Here is what the Wolves had to say about the experience....

"It was super-duper nice of them to take us to the zoo and spend time with us."  
"It was awesome that they took us to the zoo!  I was really happy to learn that a lot of the animals there were rescued and that they don't often take animals from the wild anymore."
"Greg and Joy were really nice for taking us to the zoo, and taking time out of their schedules for us.  I really loved the ocelots." 
"I really, really liked that the giraffes came out when we were there.  One giraffe posed inthe perfect position.  This all started by asking Citizens COOP for a computer donation, and we ended up at the zoo!"
It was really nice of them to take us to the zoo and do so much for us.  I really loved that a chimpanzee came over and gave us a show!"
"The zoo trip was really cool and I am so glad that Greg and Joy took that time to take us.  I am also really glad that zoo's don't often take animals from the wild anymore."
"I was really grateful for the experience Joy and Greg gave us.  It was really special to see elephants up close, and I learned that they always use positive reinforcement to train them, which makes me happy.  I was also happy to see all the other animals."
"I think it was really special that Joy and Greg took their time to take us to the zoo, and they were insanely generous!  I really enjoyed seeing the trainer work with the elephants."
"I enjoyed staying at the zoo for a long time, it felt really exciting.  It was sun seeing all the animals, but I am sad that we didn't get to see the ostrich."

Yellow Electric Wiggly Weasles
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman

On the last day of April, the Weasels spent the entire school day outside. We started in the morning with a trash treasure hunt on the playground. As you can see we found a fair amount of trash, along with a few treasures.  After sorting our loot into throwaways and recyclables, we ended up having many more recyclables than trash!

Following the trash hunt we collected some REAL treasures to create a mandala and set the intention for our day. The children collaborated mindfully in silence to create this beautiful work of art. The mandala itself was breathtaking, but even more breathtaking for me was witnessing their creative process. I saw them each find their strength in this collaboration and use it to add their own unique piece to the art. They shared, took turns, communicated with their eyes and hands, and worked together to balance, suspend, decorate and complete this beautiful artifact.

Our next endeavor was building bird nests. I loved this project because there was so much to be learned. The children had to think like birds as they worked hard to accomplish something that seems effortless for our fine, feathered friends. It wasn't an easy process, even though we have thumbs! One student said, "I think I could have done a better job with a beak."

In the afternoon we learned about our carbon footprints. We broke up into groups and worked on solutions to minimize our consumption and waste production in our lives at school and at home. We created a box poster using all recycled materials and including things we found on the playground earlier in the day. The poster communicates our ideas and invites the community to join us by adding ideas as well. Come see it hanging on the wall at the bottom of the stairs in the main building.

Into the woods and down to the creek we crept next, hoping to catch a glimpse of the garter snake family who have been sunning themselves there recently. They were not there but we did get to work on some ongoing projects that included building a dam and building a home for some small forest folk.

At the end of the day we reflected on our adventures. There was an abundance of talk and excitement about all that we had experienced and what we could do the next time we spend the whole day outside!

Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons
Tammie Sarver
Tammie Sarver
How do plants grow? What happens with a seed? Now that spring is finally here, the Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons' learning is continuing to GROW!

Back in the first days of 2019, our class brainstormed questions to steer where our emergent curriculum would lead our studies.
Friends asked the question, How do plants grow? What happens with a seed?
We made plans to find the answer!
Our learning has been very experiential. We began with reading and researching, and continued by talking with local experts and using our own hands on learning to cultivate our answers!

We scheduled a field trip to Riverstone Farm! We got to see the special farming equipment they use to plant and harvest and the high tunnels and greenhouses where young plants grow.
We actually got to harvest asparagus ourselves! And Emily Grace the farmer let us all taste the raw asparagus, many of us loved it.
We started seeds in special scientific seed starting bags donated from a lab at Virginia Tech. We added scientific process to the experience by predicting and comparing how long it takes radishes and popcorn to sprout.
We sprouted new life into a willow tree branch! Our new baby tree will be an excellent contribution to our reptile room project.
We learned about plant families and increased our flower identification skills using a Flower Family card game!
We put learning into action when we collected spring flowers and created flower collage for our windows.
Our vocabulary grew when we played a sight-word flower picking game that Tammie was inspired to design after attending the VAECE conference.
We learned about the difference in annuals and perennials when we planted a few marigolds and a new kind of mint into the fairy garden next to our classroom.
Emily Grace brought us salad from Riverstone to take home to our families.
Riverstone donated seedlings for our school garden! We weeded our beds, conditioned the soil, and planted three different kinds of kale.
We look forward to celebrating our learning by serving our families the kale at the Bridging Ceremony potluck!

Secret Magic Amberwings
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway

The end of the school year, while an exciting time, holds many transitions for our youngsters. Even when transitions are happy and expected, they can cause unease for our young friends. Beginning a new summer rhythm, moving to a new classroom or new school, or settling into a new home can bring up some anxiety for children until they become familiar with different routines. 

As parents and educators, we know that anxiety in children can be demonstrated as being clingy, sad, angry, or irritabile, or it can even manifest as physical symptoms. Sometimes, as we end our school year together, children will have trouble regulating their emotions - for some kids (and grownups) it is easier to leave a place you love when you're upset.

As many of our students have learned in our mindfulness classes this year, awareness and acknowledgment of our feelings is very important. Below are some additional tips to help your child ease into the summer.   
  • Provide children with an opportunity to talk. You know your child best, and you know ways to allow her/him space to share feelings about changes that are taking place.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough rest and nutrition. 
  • Make time for fun together. 
  • Talk about the new rhythm for your days. Allow kids to have input (where appropriate) in what you'll be doing. Help your child know what to expect when your days may look different from normal. 
Again, you know your child best, and if you sense something is off during this time of change, please know that teachers can assist you in finding more resources to ease the transition.

Blue Mountain Flying Unicorns
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
Stefi Schafer
Angie Barrett

The Unicorns are becoming quite the chefs!  
We are now cooking at least once a week, and it shows. When asked what we need to cook, friends eagerly shared their knowledge: 
  • You have to wash hands before cooking
  • You need 'gredients and a recipe to tell you how to make it
  • Stirring gets it mixed up
  • The oven is a grown up choice
  • Be careful when you use a knife so you don't cut your finger

Friends are competently using measuring cups, stirring without spilling, pouring ingredients, and using a safety knife to chop fruits and vegetables.

One week we made individual omelets using eggs from one Unicorn's home flock. We mixed up all our ingredients by shake-shake-shaking them in a jar! 
Another week, we whipped up smoothies. Each child was invited to bring in their favorite smoothie ingredients, and we all custom made our own personal drink. Using the blender was a favorite; even the reluctant chefs wanted to push the button and see it go whirrrrrrr!
Lasagna was one of the more complicated dishes the children wanted to prepare. We decided to make both a vegetable and a meat version.  
Each family choose an item from our shopping list to bring to school. We used Monday for food prepation: washing and chopping zucchini, squash, mushrooms, carrots, and kale. Some friends wanted to try their hand at cutting all the veggies, others preferred to only cut the softer ones, and some decided to watch and observe.
Stefi and Angie cooked up the sauce overnight, so that Tuesday we could assemble and bake! 
A good lasagna is all about the layers. The challenge for the veggie version was to create even layers. We had a lot of discussion about when it was enough veggies and what exactly "even layers" looked like.
The meat version was all about the order of layers. Pasta, sauce, cheese, pasta, sauce, cheese, pasta, sauce, what comes next? Soon the children realized making lasagna is a pattern and chanted
Everyone liked the lasagna and many wanted seconds.
We still have a few more items on our menu. It's time to get cookin!

Yoga & P.E.
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
We have been spending as much time as we can having our classes outside! Recently, the kids have been creating their own obstacle courses together.

Each group gets a basket of random equipment to create a movement- and yoga-pose-based course, and then the games begin! This is a fun activity you can try at home with items you find around your house.

Contemplative Studies

Taking care of a plant is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Each year, I like to make a plant project with the students, and this year, we created kokedama, which is loosely translated to "moss balls."

We began each class by mixing the peat moss and water together until all the material was wet.
Next, we formed balls of soil. This step took a lot of patience as the soil fell aparty easily if not properly supported. Some children expressed a desire to give up, but with encouragement from teachers and classmates, everyone successfuly created their soil ball.
Each friend chose a plant and waited their turn for help splitting the soil ball in half and tucking the plant inside. A few balls needed more soil added to make sure the roots were safely covered. The plants we had to pick from require lower light, so they will thrive indoors. You could pick more light-loving plants if you wanted to put your kokedama outside or in a bright window.
After the kokedama was covered in damp moss, students could choose between thick and thin twine to tie everything together. You could also use yarn or colored string.

Each finished kokedama had a dunk in a bucket of water to make sure everything was nice and damp.
Friends lightly applied pressure to remove excess water and set the kokedama aside to let final drips out.

This is the same way you will water your kokedama at home each week.

Forest Programs
Jenni Heartway & Tammie Sarver
Jenni Heartway
Tammie Sarver

Registration for 2019-2020 is Open!

Visit the website for more information about Forest Kindergarten and Forest School, or email us to sign up!

Forest School

We are wrapping up our time in the woods with the Forest Schoolers. For our final day at our Blue Mountain Base Camp, the students were given an Element Challenge.

The water challenge involved carrying water from the creek to Fort Village, using only natural materials. For the fire challenge, they had to build a one match fire that burned through a string holding a bow and balloon at the top of a tree. 

For the earth challenge, each student completed a scavenger hunt and plant identification. In the air challenge, each student had to hit a balloon target with an arrow in order to move the earth challenge.

The Element Challenge was a great way to review many of the things we've learned this year and explore all the wonderful places on Blue Mountain's campus.
Forest Kindergarten

We have had a lot of rainy Fridays. Can you imagine all the adventures we'd miss if we never went outside in the rain?
One of the best parts about a rainy day is all the mud it makes! A piece of fabric, a paintbrush, and a little mud paint is all you need for a lovely morning of creative expression.

Although we spend most of our time up in the woods during Forest Kindergarten, we couldn't resist heading over to the play ground for some mud puddle exploration.

We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.

Be sure to  it to anyone you think may be interested.

Thank you,

The folks at

In This Issue
May 10: Make-Up Day
May 21: Field Day
May 23: Project Fair & Open House 
May 27: Memorial Day - No School
May 28: Field Day 
May 30: Pet Day  
June 6: End-of-Year Celebration (1:00 to 3:30)  
June 10-13: Conferences
June 17-21: Celebrate Summer Camp
June 24-28: Art in Nature Camp
July 8-12: Art Explorers Camp
July 15-19: Forest Camp
July 22-Aug 2: Summer Child Care
July 24-28: Child Care at Floyd Fest
Aug 22: Back-to-School Tea
Aug 26: First Day of School 
Have you signed up for our summer programs?  
Whatcha waiting for? Summer will be here before you know it! 

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.   


In Gratitude We Thank
Albert Skipper, Alonzo Emmett, Amelia, Amolee Tally, Andrew Sullivan, Andy Volker, Anonymous, Anya, Ashera Rose, Avery, Ayianna, Bert Avellar, Betsy Walker, Brad Green, Brea Kelley, Brecc Avellar, Carol and Rick Luttrell, Carol Phelps, Carol Volker, Caroline Thomas, Cassie Pierce, Catherine Bernard, Cedar Heartway, Charles Lang, Cheryl Carter, Chris Carter, Chris Wolf, Christina DiEno, Colleen Lewton, Corey Avellar, Corrine and Bill Graefe, Craig Carter, Cynthia Stubbe, Dana Green, Dave Buszczak, David Volker, Debra and Larry Grimes, Denise Ludwig, Diane Volker, Ed Gralla, Elia Sarver-Wolf, Elisha and Jamie Reygle, Elizabeth Daystar, Elizabeth Hammond, Elizabeth Larson, Ellie Avellar, Emily Grace Sarver-Wolf, Eric Wolf, Ericah Garton, Eva Rose, Gabriel Miller, Georgia and Mike Crews, Gladys Lee, Gloria Barrett, Gracie Ryan, Gracie Sherman, Greg Sherman, Hari Berzins, Harvest Heartway, Heather McCarthy, Heidi Dickens, Helen Dickens, Hope Sharp, Inge Terrill, Izza Avellar, Jagadisha , James Belcher, Jan McGilliard, Jane Broderick, Jane Crouse, Jane Crouse, Jay Gonzalez, Jean Stark, Jeff Green, Jenni Heartway, Jeremiah Sarver-Wolf, Jim Wilkey, Jody and Tom Franko, Johanna, Judd Barrett, Judy McPhail, Justin Miller, Kaitlyn Gonzalez, Kari Reeves, Karren Garrity, Kathleen Brennan, Kathy Guy, Katrina Gravely, Kelly Tunstell, Kim Bimestefer, Kimberly Coburn, Kostya, Larry Tueller, Layla Emmett, Lester Gillespie, Lily Miller, Linda Buszczak, Linda Fox, Lora Giessler, Lore and Justin Grimes, Lucy Sherman, Luke Staengl, Lynn and Carl Whitaker, Mads Fox Emmett, Maegan, Maggie Avellar, Marsh Green, Martha Sullivan, Martha Taylor, Mary and Latham Davis, Mary Kay Belcher, Matthew Colbert, Michael Maslaney, Missy Branks, Molly Meyerhoff, Morgan Stubbe, Nancy Parrish, Nancy Volker, Naomi Crews, Patrick Sherman, Patti Talbot, Perrin Heartway, Pippi Heartway, Rachel Crews, Rachel Theo-Maurelli, Randye Schwartz, Reuben Miller, Rick Parrish, Rick Ryan, Rosemary and Walter Wyman, Sara Wahls, Sarah Compton, Sarah Merfeld, Sarah Rotella, Sarah Wolf, Satya, Seth Bain, Shanti Posadas, Sheila Dillion, Shelly Fox, Shelly Sherman, Sherry Wade, Soo Foundation, Stefi Schafer, Sue Harmon, Susan and Bob Sisk, Susanna Smith, Tammie Sarver, Taryn Collinsworth, Teresa and Clyde Hedge, Theresa Smyth, Thomas Donahue, Tracy and Scott Long, and Wren Heartway for donating during Give Big.

The Community Foundation of the New River Valley for organizing Give Big Day and the Non-Profit Accelerator Program.

Dana Beegle for donating school supplies.

Theresa Smyth for organizing storage areas.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services
and for taking the ˈfəNGkē Wolf Gang to the zoo.
Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax for keeping our books.  

Clark Gas & Oil for keeping us and our water toasty warm. 



Shopping on Amazon?

We encourage everyone to support local businesses whenever you can. However, if you find yourself shopping on Amazon, be sure to link your Amazon Smile setting to Blue Mountain School.

Also, if you use the link below each time you open Amazon, even more of your purchase will come back to BMS for our scholarship fund!
Going Krogering?

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 QK830.

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091