Last week we challenged ourselves in several different ways. First, we spent an afternoon at the Broyhill Adventure Course. After getting harnessed up and conducting a safety check, the students were coached to a height of their choice on the tower. Some children chose to start small and allow their courage to build gradually, while others went straight to the top and were then lowered down by their ropes. It was scary, but there was a great sense of personal accomplishment when those fears were overcome! The children also got to experience the giant swing and conduct some team-building exercises. It was evident that they have grown in their ability to work together since the beginning of the year. They really listened to one another and respected each others' ideas. They also did a great job supporting one another in challenging themselves without pressuring one another to do more than they were comfortable with.
We also challenged ourselves in our school work. Up until this point, our Spanish classes have focused on oral conversation. Last week, we added literary language by listening to the story, Tres Cerditos, or The Three Little Pigs, and then illustrating it in book form. The books do not contain an English translation, so the students had to use their illustrations to explain what was happening. Literary language is much different (and much more complex!) than conversational language. In addition to Spanish, our students also study Latin. Our Latin book is based on the history if Pompeii, ending with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It happened that their science study coincided with this through the study of volcanoes. Of course, we had to make one!
Finally, we went to South Mountains State Park for the third time this year. We decided early in the year that we would visit the same place through the seasons and note the changes. Through these trips, the students have learned to identify trees, insects, fish, diseases, and parasites. They have also learned about the mountain and river ecosystems through direct contact. We may have some future park rangers at our school, but our main goal is to make ours a school of naturalists--to foster a love of creation that will lead to good stewardship of our Father's world.
We are getting good at Spanish! Our students study Spanish for 15-20 minutes each day. At first, we only listened, so that we could begin to understand spoken Spanish. Now we are starting to learn to read what we understand orally. The children in the photos below are matching pictures with sentences. We are also learning the folk tale, Tres Cerditos, or The Three Little Pigs, in Spanish. The students are creating their own storybooks and will learn to read the story by the end of this school year. The literary language adds much to the study of conversational Spanish.
On Friday, we went to visit with our senior friends at Wood Creek Apartments. These residents love to play games and win prizes. And guess what? So do children! It was a special time of service and fellowship with people of differing ages. As we looked on, the teachers commented that our students have grown significantly in their ability to be both gracious hosts and gracious guests this year. They have discovered the joy that comes when we step outside ourselves to serve others.
Today we walked over to Art Blooms Studio to work on a project to commemorate the successful completion of our inaugural year. Students drew a self-portrait on clay tiles and began to paint them. Next week they will finish painting, then the tiles will be fired and mounted together to form a collage that will hang in our school.
We had several treats last week. First, Chelsea came with Tucker, a one-year-old Labrador who is training to be a service dog for the blind. Chelsea talked with us about her time with Tucker, in which she was responsible for teaching him basic obedience. We learned that you should never approach a dog that is wearing a service jacket, because that means he is working and needs to concentrate on helping his master.
While playing at home on Tuesday, Susanna found a spectacular insect in her driveway! Of course, she caught it and brought it in for Nature Study on Wednesday. With a little research, we found that it was an Eyed Click Beetle. If these insects are placed on their backs, they sit still for a few minutes. Then, with a loud "click", they bend their heads back and launch themselves into the air to turn over. Our beetle did this while he was in the jar, but when we put him on the table and tried to video this trick for your viewing pleasure, he was uncooperative (or tired!). On the same day, Brett brought in the skin of a copperhead snake that he found at home and mounted on a board for us to study. While the children did their paintings, we read about poisonous snakes in our area and learned that copperheads are more aggressive than other snakes, but their bites are generally milder, since they do not inject as much venom as rattlesnakes or cottonmouths.
On Friday, we went to Catawba Science Center. It was, to quote Justin, "AWESOME!" We saw many specimens that are native to our area. We also explored principles of physics and played with technology. At least one cricket was eaten during the day!
We have been busy! Last Friday, we prepared a meal of lasagna, salad, and brownies for Dr. Joe Collins, who makes and plays mountain dulcimers. A parent sent in a hammer dulcimer for comparison. We picked kale out of our garden, and since it had bolted, we used the flowers for centerpieces. Dr. Collins showed us how the dulcimer works, and we sang some American folk songs.
We also had a yard sale fundraiser on Saturday and cleared over $800! Thank you to all of you who donated and came out to support our school. It was great exposure in the community, since many people who came in had no idea there was a school there.
The students finished their art projects on a favorite artist. Now they are working on self-portrait tiles that will be put onto a keepsake board and hung in the school to commemorate our first year together. Can you believe it's almost over?!
We are still enrolling in grades K-9 for the 2012-2013 school year. If you or someone you know is interested, call or come by!
Contact us at 864-761-6484 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Jen Spencer is the Director and Lead Teacher of Willow Tree Community School. She enjoys hiking, writing, and discussing philosophy and education reform.