Make sure your can of monster spray is full and your flashlight has fresh batteries because it's about to get spooky! Later this month, our beloved Blue Mountain School will vanish into thin air to be replaced by the mysterious BOO! Mountain School.

As the mundane representatives of BOO! Mountain School, we invite you to join us for a Halloween Celebration on October 31 at 2:00. Everyone is welcome to attend, so be sure to summon your friends and family for this kid-friendly event. As they say at B!MS, "The more, the scarier!"

Stay tuned to your email and the Blue Mountain School Family Group and the Blue Mountain School Page for more information about BOO! Mountain School's Halloween Celebration. 

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
Usually we have our Fall Harvest and Equinox Celebration during the school day, which is fun for our students and staff but doesn't make it possible for all families to attend. This year we wanted to offer an opportunity early in the year for our families, staff, and students to connect and have fun together, so we tried something new for our first celebration of the school year. We were so happy to have many BMS families join us for our first Friday evening Fall Harvest and Equinox Celebration!
The celebration began with some Coyote games, inspired by the Coyote Mentoring work that we are doing with our students. Next, we moved on to circling and eating; the potluck was delicious and there was plenty of food for all. After filling up our bellies, we were led in some of the Dances of Universal Peace.
There was so much joy around the circle, as even adults and kids who were at first a little unsure joined the dance. When doing the Dances of Universal Peace, it is very clear that the need for community, connection, and celebration is profound for large and small humans alike. We finished up the celebration with some songs and stories around a 'fire' of string lights.
Thank you to all who helped make our Fall Harvest and Equinox Celebration a success!

Flossing French Fries
Tammie Sarver
Tammie Sarver

Flossing French Fry days are feeling happy and productive and full of joyous learning and community building!  
As we're settling, we've collaborated on our daily rhythm and created routines that allow a lot of individual learning pursuits within the structure of our curriculum. While students have flexibility in choice within the curriculum, it is a great opportunity for me to get to know their individual learning styles while tracking their preferences, passions, progress, and timing in their academic pursuits.

The Fries been inspired by their love of the creek and dam building, and we've gone full STEAM ahead developing our creek love into a Stream Study Project.    
In addition to exploring the Creek Studies resources we already have, continuing our dam building, and catching macroinvertebrates around the creek, we have also added in lessons about watersheds and the water cycle. For a special adventure, we've invited Flossing French Fry dad and wildlife biologist, Eric Wolf, to be a guest member of our Stream Study Team. Eric has already taught us the real Stream Assessment protocols that biologists use in the field!
As we continue to work in small groups to assess the different sections of our creek, we look forward to Eric visiting more and teaching us about using the data we collect in the next steps of our Stream Study.  
Recognizing the importance of balancing all of our learning styles, we've included art with our Stream Study. As a part of our routine, we bring a variety of artistic media to the creek when we visit. The Fries are invited to use the materials to record what they see around them. I enjoy watching my friends spread around the creek, some on a blanket painting, others perched on a log drawing, and others stooped over the creek getting the right mix of sand and water to add to a really mixed media piece. 
Our creek enthusiasm spilled over into the art room. In collaboration with Lore, our class createed a creek for the school-wide sculpture we brought to Hokie BugFest. See Lore's article in the Art section
for more about BugFest.   
In addition to creating the creek itself, the Fries researched and created the many macroinvertebrates that live around our creek.  
I'm really proud of our project and very pleased with the Flossing French Fry's high level of collaboration, group dynamics and great ideas! It was exciting to visit BugFest and see that our school had earned a first place ribbon for the nature sculpture. Other Flossing French Fries placed in the art contest as well. I am very proud of our class and our school for all of their wonderful art creations.
We look forward to more project based learning as we collaborate with Preserve Floyd and local foresters on a tree planting project. We're also looking forward to working with Kari Kovic using songs for social change that we hope will grow into a special event honoring Dr. King in January. Learning is busy and fun for Flossing French Fries!

Rainbow Electrifying Fire Breathing Dragonflies
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman

Spiders are fascinating creatures! Did you know that the largest spider web ever observed was built by one small spider and was 80 feet wide, spanning a river! The Rainbow Electrifying Fire Breathing Dragonflies have spent the last month getting to know each other, getting to know new learning routines and getting to know spiders.
"September Spider Days"
Spiders have been misunderstood and vilified in our culture. Maybe it can be chalked up to giant spiders in movies and books or web covered haunted houses. Many people are afraid of being bitten by spiders but spiders are not really prone to biting people. Their structure and biology is geared towards small insects as prey.  Research has shown, in fact, that most people seeking medical help for spider bites have actually been bitten by something else. The Dragonflies spent their spider time researching spiders in books and online.   
"Reading Together"
They created beautiful spidery art, some of which you can see hanging in the hallway of the main building like the anatomical models they drew of a spider with the parts labeled. The Dragonflies also went on a spider web hunt and counted how many webs (372), how many different kinds of webs (18), and how many spiders (45) they found on and around the Blue Mountain School property. They also went outside and measured to see how long 80 feet really is. It was a lot of spidery fun.
"Spider Web Hunt"
As the Dragonflies were learning about the amazing and wonderful world of spiders and how easy it was to open up their hearts to these tiny beings, my friends were also opening up their hearts and minds to each other. They were communicating their awe and wonder to each other about the natural world around them. They were creating the building blocks for empathy by trying to understand the misunderstood spider.   
"Other Creatures We Love"

Jade Sparkling Turtles
April Seiple
April Seiple
I can't believe we are already into the month of October! This past month we have really come together as a class and started to develop great friendships!
The Jade Sparkling Turtles really enjoyed exploring building as part of their project time. What started out as a math activity with dominoes, led to an exploration into domino runs, then marble runs, and finally a combination of it all in chain reaction machines! We watched videos and read books on force and motion and used that information to help us improve and experiment with our own building!
We also love to be in the woods! Friends are creating tag type games to run and play among the trees, and everyone is so wonderful about making games for all to play together. Some games they've invented are: Taco Man, Vampire Frogs, Harry Potter Wand Wars, and Wolf Capture. The creek has also a popular place to explore!
Talk Like A Pirate Day was a blast!! We dressed up, made pirate-y crafts and snacks, AND concluded our building exploration with a fabulously constructed booby trap for our chest of treasure.
I'm excited to see what this next month brings!

Turquoise Flowered Fox-Tailed Nature Spiders
Jenni Heartway & Naomi Crews
Jenni Heartway
Naomi Crews
Moving Through the Stages of Writing
If you've been at BMS for a while, you may have read this piece before, but it continues to be relevant to help us remember what it looks like as children work on their writing skills.
One of the most exciting parts of being a teacher in the Early Learning classroom is watching students transition through the early stages of writing. Working in a multi-age classroom gives you a real opportunity to watch student writing develop over the course of two years. This allows you to better individualize instruction and, therefore, better serve your students. As a group, we talk about the story of how we learn to write, and we revisit this story to affirm that we are making progress as writers and storytellers.  
The earliest stage in writing development is scribbling. We've all watched youngsters make scribbles and marks on a page. This is an important developmental milestone. Scribbling helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  
There are many stages of scribbling. The earliest form of scribbling is known as Exploratory Scribbling. This is followed by Disordered or Uncontrolled Scribbling. In this stage, children are still making many marks across (but staying on) the page. They often use their shoulders to move the pencil, rather than their hands or arms. As children move into the Controlled Scribbling and Shape stages, they are making more controlled movements and often drawing and repeating shapes such as circles and lines.   
This leads into the Named Scribbling or the Design Stage and the beginning of representational drawings. Mandalas (circles or squares with lines intersect and divide the inside space) are a key component of this stage. It is also during this stage that many students become aware of the social aspect of drawing and begin giving drawings to the people they love. This stage moves smoothly into the Representational Stage, where drawings represent objects in real life.
It is around this time that a child's first attempts at writing words become apparent. Often, the words appear as wiggly or jagged lines anywhere on the page. Even these squiggly lines can tell a great deal about a child's understanding of writing. Just by watching a child "write" the words to a story, you can find out if they understand that words move across the page from left to right, if they leave spaces between the "words," and if they realize that letters have different shapes. As a child gains understanding, they will begin to include letter-like symbols in their drawings. This stage is followed by drawings with strings of letters that do not correspond to letter sounds.   
The next stage is one of the most exciting for the students and their teachers, the Beginning Sounds Stage. In this stage, students often write one-letter words to represent their writing. Gradually the consonants will appear and then the vowels. Teachers have a special knack for reading the writings of students in the Invented Spelling Stage. As students gain more control of their reading and writing skills, they move into the Conventional Spelling Stage.   
One way to support your child through these stages of writing is to make sure the adults in the child's life are modeling both authentic reasons for writing and a love of writing and the written word. Allowing children to keep journals or assist with grocery and chore lists is an excellent way to nurture those budding writers. 

Purple Orange Salamanders
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
Stefi Schafer
Angie Barrett

A lot has happened in our classroom and outside of it since our last newsletter. The biggest news is the opening of our new mud room! This addition opened up our indoor space, so we could have the media tub open and easily accessible to the children.  
When we opened the media table for the first time this school year, we simply filled it with packing peanuts, scoops, and bowls. This allowed for practice of hand-eye coordination while scooping the peanuts into bowls. Simple activities like this also support beginning math concepts of more, less, few, some, and most. 
Next we added our family counter set: small figurines in various colors representing women, men, children, babies, and even pets. At morning circle, we talked about our families. While playing with the figures in the media tub, we noticed that the brightly colored figurines were a stark contrast to the white peanuts and encouraged our friends to seek and find the figures in the "snow." This led us into further learning about families while continuing to support math concepts.
September 19th was official "Talk Like a Pirate Day," and we had a day filled with pirate filled activities. We also "pirated up" the media table. 
We added glass gem treasures to the packing peanuts and placed stickers with numbered dots in a set of bowls. Several friends eagerly accepted this invitation to add counting and numeracy to the list of skills we are gaining from the media table. In addition to the more obvious mathematical concepts the children had to negotiate the physical space, working on turn taking, collaborating and sharing of resources. At the end the children helped clean out the bin, practicing sorting the various items into their categories, families, treasure gems and packing peanuts. They figured out that the bowls themselves could be used to shovel the peanuts into the bag, showing resourcefulness and problem solving skills. The media table and its new location will continue to provide us with a myriad of learning opportunities.
More news: we are planning to create a book!  We are continuing our "All About Me" study during Show and Share times, and the theme has been favorites. So far the children have shared items representing their favorite color, food and toy.  
While the children show their favorites, we are collecting the data. (Did you know that several friends have the same preference for pink and everyone likes pizza?) We will use the data we collect to create a "Favorites" book for our class.
Now for our most exciting news!!! We have a class name: the Purple Orange Salamanders!
This was no easy task! It took many discussions where we generated an abundance of ideas and then lots and lots of voting before we settled on our name. Initially, nearly everyone had suggestion. So, how do we decide? We created charts and used our name rocks to vote for our choice. There were a few ties, so we had to vote more than once to narrow down options. Everyone had a chance to be heard and to express their individual thoughts to the group. These were important lessons of letting go of the self to come to a common agreement through the democratic process of majority voting. We voted, counted, eliminated choices and narrowed down the field, voted again and counted some more until we became the Purple Orange Salamanders.

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
The artwork we made for the Virginia Tech Hokie BugFest was a hit! Our student's work looked beautiful in the show, and the all-school installation was incredibly well received with lots of compliments from all sorts of people working and attending the festival. 
All of the students at Blue Mountain School contributed to the installation, and I so enjoyed this project for the beginning of the school year ~ a beautiful representation of all of our unique gifts and talents, coming together as one.  
Friends checking out the finished sculpture at BugFest
BMS work matted in black at top.
Flossing French Fries Working on the Creek

Spiders made by the Turquoise Flowered Fox-Tailed Nature Spiders

Every student at school and in the Forest Programs helped create the sculpture.
Many students also chose to create individual projects.

I am so enjoying being back in the art room, reconnecting with all the kiddos in the school, getting to know our new friends, and discovering all the unique artistic talents. I look forward to where the year in art takes us, and as always, thanks for sharing your children with me!

Contemplative Studies
Model Contentment
To be a wise parent you must become like water.
It is content to nourish all it touches
without discrimination.
While people struggle to move up,
water flows joyfully down,
filling the low places.

As you care for your children
keep their environment uncluttered,
free of useless gadgets and distractions.
Keep your conversation honest and straightforward,
free of control and manipulation.
Keep your decisions fair and generous,
free of punishment and shame.

As you conduct your life,
be serene and joyful,
content and at peace.
This will be your greatest legacy.

Nothing nurtures a child like a parent
who takes great pleasure from a simple activity,
and is content with the present moment.
Are you modeling contentment
or always wanting "more?" 
From The Parent's Tao Te Ching

Yoga & Movement
Jenni Heartway & Lore Deighan
Jenni Heartway
Lore Deighan
Jenni says... 
Our younger Yoga and Movement classes had such a great time on Talk Like A Pirate Day. We learned and practiced Bubble Breath, played a round of musical mats (at each mat we tried a new sea/pirate yoga pose when the music stopped).  Our groups also read Portside Pirates and practiced more pirate related poses.   
Port Side Pirates! 
Port Side Pirates!
Our favorite activity of the day was practicing locust pose and 3-legged dog to the Beatles' classic, Yellow Submarine. We are looking forward to celebrating this fun day again next year.  
Lore says...
Along with practicing yoga and playing fun movement games, we are about to expand the meaning of movement class to also include an eight week study on social and environmental movements around the world. (While also continuing with the physical movements as well!)  Please stay tuned for the November newsletter for a more in-depth explanation about what we have planned! 

Rooted Living
Julia Bollinger
Julia Bollinger
In Rooted Living class everyone has been enjoying some of the fall bounty. We enjoyed a mint and lemon balm tea and tried some roasted chestnuts harvested from local Chinese chestnut trees. One class had the opportunity to make a jam from autumn olive berries, an invasive shrub-like tree that can grow just about anywhere and produces a massive amount of fruit. We have a number of these trees at BMS, and the kids love the delicious edible berries.
The older classes have also been learning the basics of sewing. We made stitch-bound paper sketchbooks, and we are working on making cotton pouches we can use in place of a plastic bag we might normally use.  
My youngest friends have been exploring different plants of the area using my Nature Box. The top of the box is covered with a blanket, and we feel the object and use our sense of touch to see with we can learn without using our eyes. The reveal is always thrilling and sometimes surprising!   

Forest Programs
Forest Kindergarten...   
Our Forest Kindergarten has been playing, creating and exploring in our beautiful woods. Many of our friends worked with Lore to create insects for our Bugfest sculpture.  
As we explore, we have been working on making collections. One day, we  found 16 oak apples and organized them by size before beginning the search for more. We also enjoyed acting stories for each other.  
Forest School...
Collecting and gathering is an important part of human nature.  For many of us this is now done at grocery stores, but when you watch children in the woods it is easy to see that those skills and instincts from our ancestors are still there.    
The forest schoolers have been very interested in collecting acorns and silverberries from our woods. On our final day of this session we turned our acorns into acorn pancakes (after leeching the tannins and then roasting and grinding the nuts).  

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

Oct 11: Fall Conferences
Oct 17: Original Works Orders Due
Oct 22: Second session of Forest Programs begins 
Oct 31: Boo! Mountain School  
Nov 26: Thankful Celebration at Zion Lutheran Church (12:00)
Nov 26: No After-School Child Care 
Nov 27-29: Thanksgiving Break 
The weather is finally turning to Fall! Please be sure your child comes to school with the gear they will need to play outside in rain and cooler temperatures. Also, be sure to switch out warm-weather extra clothes for cozier choices.
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

Ashera and Luke Staengl, Cheryl Utley, Rick Parrish, Jeff Tiebout, and Rachel Theo-Maurelli for sharing their dance and musical expertise at our Fall Equinox and Harvest Celebration.

Christina Alba for a cozy chair for the Salamanders.

Aileen Buckland for donating bookmarks.

Margaret McGee for donating class materials.

Upon the Earth Services for keeping our grounds mowed and trimmed.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services
and for taking the ˈfəNGkē Wolf Gang to the zoo  .  

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