If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. – Vincent Van Gogh

We have had so many nourishing nature experiences lately, such as our 5/6th grade camping trip to revel in the natural beauty of one of Florida’s many springs!  

We are also so grateful for all of the beauty found right on our campus! We had so many volunteers and donors for our spring garden spruce up and potluck.  Thank you to Ms Jessica, Natalie Maute and Keshara for organizing this event!  Thank you to Michelle Roy, Kerri Loafman, Tracey Swenson, Rebecca Rothstein, Jon Stevens, Birte Hoag, Laura Barrett,  Chris Maute, Heather Green, Chuck Green, Birdman, Darcy Banks for your presence and/or donation.  Plus all of the students who came to help!!

Thank you to Troy’s Tropics, and Crowley Nursery for the many plant donations!

Our Giving Challenge and Rollathon was a huge success thanks to YOU!

Thank you so much to our sponsors: India Artisans, Michelle Roy, LMT, Kombucha 221 BC, Veronica Fish and Oyster, Saltmeadow School, Island Deoderant, Rodriguez Wealth Management, Keshara Alleyne, Marion Scott, and Birte Hoag!

Our deep gratitude to our donors:

Stephen Lallo
Linda Lallo
Stephanie Lallo
Erin Melia
Dawn Barca
Jeremy Thode
Kitten Linderman
Jessica Kramer
Angelo Chiroli
Dina Brantman
Erice Wilson
Dana Damico
Yolanda Benoit
LeeAnn Sanders
Thomas Melia
Marion Scott
Misty Tavenner
Diana Lennon
Suzanne McMillan
Vicki Bartnikowski
Denise Boccio
Bernard Stevens
Michael J Turillo Jr
Mark Caragiulo
Deborah Turillo
Alexey Logvinov
Laurie Duchamp
Laurie Duchamp
Ellina Logvinova
Karen Freggens
James Suter
Larisa Balykova
Heather Green
Sheri Hartnell
Laura Baumberger
Lisiane Jimenez
Arti /Karen Ross Kelso
Sarah Holton
Jon Stevens and Shivani Lash
Michelle Suter
Tiffany Hillary
Teresa Holton
Laura Barrett
Kerri Loafman
Jessica Rood
Billie & Ivan Miller
Nancy Albright
Jerry Fleming
Diana Huss
Brian Mackin
Maureen Burns
Fred Jones
Robin Maute
Danielle Duchamp
Kerry Cripps
Oden Torres
Timothy Williams
John Schroeder
Sheila Williams
Michelle Carroll
Nancy Heller
Ernest Pappanastos
Jessica Bromby
Francesco Bissaro
Tara Olesen
Joshua Hillary
Heather Green
Darcy Nelson
Aneta Lundquist
Cheryl Kindred
Ming C. Lash
Mathilde Brock
Rebecca Jaeger
Michelle Roy
Cal & Sue Lundquist
Robert Kindred
Judith Lescano
Diana Kanoy

As well as several anonymous donors!

Thank you to our families who reached out and garnered contributions. A special thank you to Laurie Duchamp, who bequeathed the largest donation of the day, and to the Lallo family, who secured the most matched donations!

What a gorgeous Festival of May!  Thank you to Gustav and Tatiana for providing the tunes, and for the many families who brought flowers.  Special thank you to Eric and Aneta Lundquist for serving as runners for the event!

Upcoming Events:

Ongoing: Satchels’ Donation Drive by the 5/6th grade.  Dog or cat food, as well as new or gently used pet supplies welcome.  Please drop off donations in the office!

Join us for I love the Earth Nature Camp! J’aime la nature!
Hosted by Miss Jessica
Little Naturalist French Immersion Summer camp

Week 1 – June 11-15
Week 2 -June 18-22
Week 3 – June 25-29

At summer camp this year we will focus on nature and loving the earth, while learning about trees, birds, insects and plants.
We will care for the garden and connect with plants and growing our own food.
We will play games, create art , and make organic home made popsicles.

We will speak and learn french!

We will play in the water!

We will sing songs from around the world!

We will dance dances of universal peace!

Free play too!

This camp will take place outdoors and inside, from 9am-1pm.

Please pack: bathing suits, towels, water bottles, snacks, change of clothes, and a sun hat.

Jessica has been teaching kids camps for 20 years and is a nature trained instructor, leader of the dances of universal peace, song collector worldwide, peace maker, traveler, gardener, french teacher, and lover of nature.

Limited space available. The cost per week is $175. Drop in is possible with pre-registration, and is based on availability. Mangrove students of 18-19 are eligible for discount, please inquire.
Camp registration forms available here:…-jaime-la-nature

Merci beaucoup ! Thank you very much!

5/6th Grade Play – Julius Caesar, Tuesday May 29th, 8:45 am  All are welcome to join!

Thursday, June 7thRose Ceremony for First graders/Spring Assembly/ Potluck/Early Dismissal 11:30

Friday, June 8th – Last day of School/Community Beach Trip – Meet at Siesta Key Beach at 8:30

From Our Classrooms:

Seahorse and Starfish

The last few months of school have been very busy for the Nursery and Kindergarten.   The children have had two new circles.  The first was about planting seeds and the children are little seeds that plant themselves in the ground and grow toward the light.  The second part of this circle is a handkerchief that is put around the teachers hand and really looks like a rabbit.  This rabbit has a song and the children are able to feed it carrots until it has had enough.  The children learn a lot in this circle, such as waiting their turn to feed the rabbit and what it feels like to be a growing seed.  They can feel empathy for growing plants and living things.  The second circle is about going on a picnic and floating little leaf boats.  It has a imaginative component that has the children imagine floating down a river on a leaf boat and finding a place to have a picnic.  They learn to use their imagination in this way and when they start academics in 1st grade will be able to  fully embrace the concepts of Math and language arts in a more comprehensive way due to the  expanded awareness of the imagination.

Outside the children have been helping to water the new baby trees that have been planted and move the mulch pile to under the new swing set.  Thank you to the 5/6 th grade, Ms. Erin, Bryan SUter and our woodworking teacher Mr. Eric.  The children learn to be the stewards of the play garden and love to watch the trees grow and make sure they are taken care off.  They learn that besides the earth it is good to take care of ones own needs too.  The children have enjoyed shoveling the mulch into the wheel barrows and rolling it over to the swing set.  They have learned how to work as a team and where it was the softest spot to shovel the mulch from the hill.  This activity helps with their balance, gross motor, and eye hand coordination, as well as taking responsibility for a task well done.

Inside the children have been busy with sewing balls using 5 colors of their choice, cutting veggies( thank you to those who have been sending veggies), and painting with three colors.  All three of these activities help with fine motor coordination, which translates into proper hand grip for holding a pencil and proper hand writing in the grades.

Our special projects have been growing wheat grass for the Spring holiday in baskets and the children have sewn little rabbits out of felt.  They enjoyed watering the grass and were very excited when it started to sprout.  Our Mother’s Day project was a hand print made out of homemade clay.  We made the clay in class and they watched a teacher roll it out and made their hand print.  They then picked the color tissue paper to wrap it in.  The children especially liked playing with the extra clay.  It was a different mix than the play doh, so had a different feel.  The clay was fun and the children enjoyed using their fingers as well as their hands to make shapes, animals and objects.  This strengthens their fingers and hands as well as promotes concentration on a task.

Recently, we had a puppet play about a little beaver.  He is looking for a place to start his own lodge and the children learn through the puppet play, how beavers do this.  They also learn the habits of the beaver as he builds his lodge.  Chewing through the trees dragging them to the river and eventually making a pond.  We  had many stories, some using  picture books and some orally with no pictures to look at.  We have also used beeswax to make different things, from the stories.  Modeling beeswax is handed out to the children before the story. The story is told and  they can warm it, by holding it in their hands and model it into something from the story or something else that they want.  This helps to hone their listening and fine motor skills.

An important part of the curriculum is Forest Fridays.  We have gone to Crowley Nature Preserve, Oscar Scherer Park, Phillipi Creek Park and Red Bug Slough.  At the parks we hike and spend time out in nature.  This helps the children reconnect with the natural world and observe how the birds and animals behave.  Their observation skills are heightened and they are allowed supervised freedom to explore.  This past Friday at Red Bug Slough, we had a visit from “Birdman”, (Christopher Akbar Miller).  He came and spoke to us about birds in the area.  Which ones were endangered, observing them and identification of feathers.  The children loved it and learned alot about birds.  Thank you!  Ms. Jessica and Mr. Jon also facilitated a game called Hawk and Bird.  Thank you, Mr. Jon and Ms. Jessica.

The Early Childhood has so many opportunities for children to grow, learn and start to explore who they are. It is just a matter of seeing the opportunities and engaging with them. We would also like to thank, Amy Rodriquez, Kalin Wilson, Ms. Brittany, and Miriam Cornell, for their kind help and donations.

~Ms Laura and Ms Birte

1/2nd Grade

The first grade began their arithmetic block by hearing a story about four gnomes who all have a job to do at the mine, either under ground or in the store, selling  gems. Polly Plus, Mindy Minus, Desmond Divide and Milton Multiply found themselves with a lot of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing that needing doing, and great adventures trying to work together for answers to problems that would arise each day! The children also worked individually, as which ever gnome I placed on their desk, and a basket of gems, to figure out arithmetic “problems” I presented.

We then began counting, first just simple counting to 50, then 100, reciting together as a class. We had number hunts around the room looking for the next number in line to put in the number line on the board. We walking around campus, counting the steps to our favorite places and especially had fun guessing what the number might be ahead of time. We then moved into skip counting. To begin, we clapped every other number, or hopped every third letter, or invented silly reminders to help us with the number of the day. These rhythms make counting a more integrated learning experience, and the children love the challenge of knowing the patterns. The children then drew number lines in their books, skipping along to each number. Most recently we have begun saying some numbers quietly and only the main numbers aloud, thus 2,4,6,8….., often while clapping or throwing bean bags to continue the rhythm. The first graders did a short form drawing block, but instead of individual forms, there were several forms, all combining to tell a story. This was lots of fun for them, to “read” a story, with no words!

The second graders arithmetic block focused on number place value. First with a simple representative drawing, then lots of different games and activities to work our way from tens, to billions. So much fun to try to figure out huge numbers!

We then returned to language arts, reading and their first spelling tests. The words were all from books we read, and written, several times, then the children write the word as I recite it. They then correct their own and enjoy seeing how they did. Writing practice continues through these tests as well as form drawing. We mostly have concentrated on horizontal repetitive drawing to help with future cursive writing. The children also did some mirror drawings, above and below a line, as well as left and right side of a line. They found many of these to be very challenging! We are now working with name, doing, how and picture words, as an introduction to parts of speech. We began with a story, with many clear examples, and are now writing short sentences that contain name and doing words such as:  I stand. We knit. The wolf runs.

The second graders are more and more enjoying “real” work, and are excited when I tell them I have something “really hard” for them to try!

~Ms McMillan

3/4th Grade

Our studies this spring have been abundant and expansive, ranging from the twilight of the Aesir to growing our understanding of the resurgence of the Puma concolor coryi.

Our second Math block consisted of exploring the four operations in the world of fractions. Confusion was a companion we learned to befriend during this block, as we journeyed through adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators, multiplying, reducing fractions, creating and utilizing the tool of factor candelabras, simplifying, cross simplifying, dividing fractions, and expanding fractions when adding and subtracting those with unlike denominators.  The children created what resembles a fractions “textbook” in their main lesson book, and used graphing notebooks to practice numerous problems.  Those who were ready for greater challenges completed problems of increasing complexity.  Simultaneously, children maintained the practice of making their knowledge of multiplication facts increasingly automatic through group challenges and card games.  Food, manipulatives, and consistently thinking about the problems in terms of pizza or pie (to ensure that nobody got more than anyone else) were ways we deepened our understanding of the fractional abstractness we encountered.

As spring proceeded, we set out on the journeys of Thor and his curious relationships with the Giants of Jotenheim, the service of the Valkyries, the tales of the warriors of Valhalla, the story of Idun’s capture and return, Loki’s role in the death of Baldur and finally Ragnarok.  It is a chaotic and destructive twilight of the Aesir, which was both subtly startling and captivating for the children. Many verbalized their recognition that many characteristics of various gods in fact were alive within themselves.  Odin said to his fellow Aesir before the battle with the fire-giants of Muspelheim, Loki, the Fenris Wolf, the Midgard Serpent, and the giants of Jotenheim, “If we fight with all our strength and courage, then even if we are destroyed, the powers of evil will be destroyed also.”  It was a fire set by Surt that transformed the world physically and metaphysically.  After some time of darkness, the light of a new dawn returned.  And with this light, new life.

And with this new light, we journeyed back to our present lives, to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.  We were immediately granted the privilege of witnessing a successful owl hunting expedition as we rode the tram through the park.  Many manatees, including Ariel, Electra, Lorelei, and Betsy among others were present as we approached the fresh spring.  Schools of fish were seen from the underwater observatory, and along the river turtles, birds of great variety, canines, deer and more.  We were so fortunate to spend time with Jayne Johnston, a panther outreach specialist of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Jayne shared a great deal of FWC’s research on the Florida Panther.  Students from Mangrove School were among those who asked questions during the presentation.  After attendees left, the children spent another 15 minutes with Jayne dialoguing about panthers. Jayne was nonetheless impressed with our children, and encouraged them to stay in touch with her as we learn about panthers.  Many thanks to Tiffany Blackden for driving, and Heather Green for her generous support!

After this exciting start to our second Zoology block, we spent time learning about manatees.  Children continued creating their on compositions after lessons, receiving revision and editorial feedback, and then writing in their main lesson books.  We are looking forward to attending a presentation on manatees offered by the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County on the 23rd of May.  After our time with Jayne learning about panthers, the children have a great appreciation and thirst for learning first hand information from inspiring scientists.  In the classroom, extra care is being taken to draw a manatee and panther in our main lesson books, as accurately sketching the forms of the animals along with an eye for proportion are our current undertakings.

The class unanimously decided to adopt Ariel, a manatee living in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Save the Manatee Club has many manatees who would appreciate your support if you wish to adopt one!  The children have also decided to support a program that raises awareness of Florida Panther and vehicle collisions.  In places not too far from Sarasota, there are nighttime panther speed zones that help our state’s panthers.  If you wish to learn more about manatees or Florida’s state mammal, the Florida Panther, ask a 3rd-4th grader.  We are excited to talk about what we are learning.  As our new scientist friends tell us, educating the public is the key to protecting these incredible animals who have just as much right to happiness as all humans!

5/6th Grade

This Spring, much of our time together has been devoted to our study of Medieval times.  When we last left off, the Roman Empire, once a robust and mighty coherent mass, had been overcome, and wild Germanic tribes had taken over.  Rich descriptions and stories were offered to the children, so they could grasp this stark contrast. The lavish lifestyle of the Romans vanished, and a long with it, much of the knowledge of humankind.  The earth had become dark, so we naturally went in search of illumination.

In this grade we offer the first part of the Middle Ages, the extreme polarity of Rome. We learned of the rise of the castle and monasteries, the two poles between which European life vacillated between in those times.  We received vivid descriptions of the lives of valiant knights, and the focused monks, then practiced their ways of life. In our books we printed carefully in Carolingian script, the primary script of the early middle ages, just as the monks once did.  They created their own Coat of Arms, originally used as a way for knights to distinguish one another, thus expressing their budding individuality. We saw a familiar concept in feudalism, the feudal manor, and why that arose; so many said, “Wow, that is just like the caste system we learned about last year!” (So very insightful considering the evolution of consciousness throughout last year, finally arriving in Greece, whereas now we are laying the foundation for the Renaissance).  We learned of the rise of France, Clovis, and his conversion to Christianity, and the last impact of this on Europe. We heard of Muhammed and the rise of Islam in the land between two rivers (Also familiar from last year…Mesopotamia, another evolution). We learned about the Muslim religion, and the challenge of a rapidly rising monotheistic religion in a formally polytheistic tribal culture. We learned about the consolidated power of Christianity and the exile of philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, and the subsequent great movement east of the remaining Greek philosophy and culture, finding the majority of  great texts, knowledge, and healing were mostly in Islamic lands. We learned of the gifts that this consolidation has brought us…beginning with…arabic numbers! Only in the monasteries in Europe did they hold to whatever they could; Europe otherwise laid in a dormant state…how can this be good?  We shall see…

From this block, and continuing through the end of the year, the students have embarked on a project to become modern-day knights, as we learned that in order to become a Medieval knight one had to commit to many virtues, including to always be courteous and truthful and to lead a brave and honorable life.  At this time in their life, it is appropriate that they begin to think about who they are as an individual in the world and to begin to think about what kind of person they wish to be when they are older. We talked about the importance of chivalry,  in modern times as well, and the positive impact one can have on those around them, by focusing on various virtues.

In the Middle ages, during his training, a page was taught the lessons of etiquette, to care for his belongings, and to be helpful and courteous to all.  They worked hard to develop the skills needed to succeed in his given tasks, which included strengthening both mind and body. In doing this, he became ready to serve the world with fortitude, determination and honor.

This was our task towards the end of the year.  Those who carried out these tasks in a manner worthy of knighthood will receive a final challenge, which when accomplished will result in an individual knighting ceremony. Part of our training included a  group community service project in which they  planned and executed an initiative to benefit a charitable organization in the Sarasota area, which was Satchel’s Last Resort Animal shelter.  (They are still taking donations in the office.)

In addition to etiquette classes, and increased mindfulness, each student selected and interviewed an adult they admire who possesses the personal qualities that they hope to cultivate in themselves. They each chose aspect of their lives that they would like to improve, and worked over the semester to improve in this area or areas.They participated in several service periods on campus, including Community Lunch, Courtyard clean up, and random acts of kindness.  In addition, they built a new swing set in the playground for the younger students, with the expert assistance of Mr Eric and Bryan Suter. They worked on a program to strengthen their bodies. We also engaged in a few physical challenges or skills along the way pertaining directly to knighthood or the qualities one must strive for to be a knight, such as bravery and courage. They completed their horsemanship block for this year, which went way  beyond basic horse safety, grooming, maintenance and riding. our students learned how to recognize and address the horse’s emotions, and how to treat these magnificent beings with the utmost respect, dignity and reverence! Such incredible connections were made between these developing preteens and these gentle souls.  They learned qigong, and how to move powerfully with grace. They faced big fears by climbing an adventure tower, with each student meeting their own personal goal, and some demonstrating they had remarkable cat-like prowess in this area! Modern day Knighthood now lies before them, with one more challenge to overcome!

We also spent some focused time in language arts, reviewing different types of letters, subject pronouns and object pronouns, and expository versus narrative writing, giving them two very different ways to view the world, and common grammatical errors.  We added an additional art class, in order to split the class for ukulele, and to introduce additional mediums such as pastels and clay.

We finally were able to visit the planetarium and were treated to among other things, a show exclusively about our current night sky.  Just as we have learned up to this point, all observations made with our eyes. The students were able to see which planets are visible right now, and which ones aren’t, and why not, as well as a few constellations we had spoken about in class.  The revealed in this interactive experience,with a gregarious astronomer, answering many questions during this interactive experience, about astronomy as well as history, from Greece to Rome. They were impressive students, as king thoughtful questions as well..   

Physics is our last block of the school year, and for good reason: it is very hands on and accessible to all, as we can make connections to many aspects of their lives.  Science is all around us, not just in a laboratory. At this age, we cover the basic properties of light, sound, heat, magnetism and electricity, and through our various experiments, students utilize their new capacities of thinking.   They experience phenomena through demonstrations and activities, then at our next meeting, we will review, allowing them time to digest their observations, and then draw conclusions and arrive at the concepts that each activity or demonstration is bringing them. This conceptualizing only occurs if students analyze and make conclusion from their experience.    The final part of this is the write up. This can be in many forms, such as, a lab report, an expository summary of what happened, and even a poem. This aspect of physics engages their will forces; it isn’t just about them taking in, they are also digesting this and then creating something from it, both a written summary as well as an illustration. This is a very engaging block as they try out various everyday materials in ways they haven’t before, such as the sound of a spoon hitting the desk through the air versus through a different media, or manipulating light sources to create different shadows,which of course we then drew, as we want to bring art into science, unifying these subjects for them.

The goal of Physics is to give us an understanding, appreciation and acceptance for the world human beings have created. Modern technology surrounds us, yet most don’t understand the basic principles governing these processes.  The founder of Waldorf education warned of this, as the beginning of “unsocial life”, the acception the inventions of modern man, without understanding them. In our times, this seems a very crucial aspect of our lives to grasp, rather than a mindless utlization.  As the students are geting older and beginning to use more technology, as they begin to  have a basic understanding of these creations, they can feel at home in this world and approach them with confidence and mindfulness. 

For their dedication to their knight training, the students embarked upon a trip to the springs; a time to unplug and simply enjoy the nature around them, while also maintaining camp, and helping each other.  Such a beautiful time!

~Ms Erin 

The earth laughs in flowers ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Congratulations to  5th/6th Grade students Owen, Ethan, Andre, Viveka and Grace on dominating, (as a Roman would!) the Suncoast Science Center Remote Control Car Open last weekend!  Read more about this competition here:…-car-custom-open/ ‎

Thank you!

To Ms Jessica and Akbar Chris Miller for creating the Love Project for Valentine’s Day, as well as for introducing us to the New Year of the Trees!  To all of our Community Lunch helpers Heather Green, Saltmeadow, 5/6  and 3/4 students, Aneta Lundquist, Ms Jessica, Shivani Lash, Ivan Miller, Natalie Maute, Lisiane Jimenez, Cheryl Kindred, – to our Legoland Chaperones – Natalie Maute, Aneta Lundquist, Tracey and Kurt Swenson, Jasen Benoit, Nancy Albright, and Tiffany Blackden! 

Heartfelt gratitude to our Garden water bearers – Jessica Bromby, Yolanda Benoit, the Maute Family, And Keshara Alleyne!

Upcoming Events:

Spring Garden/Play Yard Beautification Day Next Saturday, March 24th

Join us in celebrating spring from 9-2 pm! We will work and create more beauty together. Come when you can join in on the fun!

We will be building, planting, cleaning, clearing, serving, donating, and contributing our energy  to create an even more amazing atmosphere for your children in the last remaining months of school and the future of the many years to come. Hosted By Ms Jessica, Ms Natalie and Ms Keshara.

Wish List- what you can bring or help build or contribute 

  • Arch Way for entrance of Playground
  • Balance beam to play on
  • Benches around  the fire circle
  • Big Rocks for Fire Circle
  • New Sand box toys
  • Big Shells and Big Gems for Gemology learning (big enough so baby cant put in mouth and swallow)
  • More Watering Cans for playground and garden
  • Fix Fences – chicken wire, wood.
  • New Garden Gnomes, Fairies, Buddhas, Kuan Yin , Angels Guardians
  • Wind Chimes to hang
  • Signs saying – examples: no trespassing and please take care of our sacred play and garden area love the Mangrove School, watch dogs be aware.
  • More Bird baths
  • Little buckets
  • Prayer Flags – around the playground – we can all create beautiful flags that day and put up all around the play ground and garden.

Plants:  Banana Tree, Avocado Tree, Papaya Trees, Passion fruit, More Honey suckles, Louis Phillipe Roses – best roses to grow in Florida, Sunflowers, Sugar Cane, Bamboo, many beautiful spring flowers to plant to create beauty and add a beautiful last 3 months of school for the kids, Watermelons and Everglade tomatoes Any donations or inspirations of plants or flowers, veggies, herbs for the garden are welcome! Organic !  We will end working around noon, have a Potluck all together, play some music and have a nice social  spring community time party!

Any helping hands or donations from our wish list welcome!

We are all in it together and every little bit helps create unity and fun all together , for our children, our school, nature around us and our families .

If you can’t make it and have anything on the list or would like to drop off some plants on the list feel free to do so.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Giving Partner Giving Challenge: Be The One! AND Roll-a-thon! May 1st and 2nd – Noon to Noon!

This year as the challenge was moved to the spring, we are combining these two events such that every pledge between $25-$100 is DOUBLED by the Patterson Foundation!  

How it works:

We will send you a link to the donation page, which will be live for the 24 hour time period mentioned above (Tuesday, May 1st – Wednesday May 2nd, NOON to NOON)  This link can be shared with family and friends to gather support for your child in the Rollathon which will take place on Wednesday May 2nd!

We will also create a Facebook event as a reminder, and this can also be a place where you can invite family and friends.  All donations from $25-$100 are doubled, for each unique user.   (The same person can’t make several donations across several credit cards, only one donation per user will be doubled).  Only one donation per person will be doubled. The max doubled donation is $100.

How can you help?

We are asking each family to raise the equivalent of 10 $25 pledges.  This would then equal a $500 donation to the school.

When the donation is being made, please have the party indicate the child or family they are supporting.  Each child that has a donation sheet will of course also receive the latest Mangrove School t-shirt!

Sponsors welcome – each sponsor will be listed on the back of the t-shirt.  The sponsorship deadline is April 19th.  

Giant Water slide, pizza and snow cones will follow the event as well!  The children look forward to this event every year! With your support we can truly make this a win for the school!  To be apart of the Giving Challenge is an honor and such a privilege!

Please spread the word! There are flyers in the office – sponsors and donations are appreciated! For those looking for volunteer hours, take a few flyers to local businesses for potential sponsors – these shirts are well worn far and wide every year!  Or procure donations of gift certificates to local bike or skate shops, to be bestowed on the student with the most pledges,  or approach local grocers for  donations of organic fruit and water.  

Please let us know if you have any questions!

From Our Classrooms

In the heart of a seed, buried deep, oh so deep, a dear little plant lay fast asleep. “Wake” said the sun, “and creep to the light.” “Wake,” said the sound of the raindrops bright. The little plant heard; and it rose to see what the beautiful outside world might be.

Through the eyes of a child

Early Childhood

Dear Seahorse and Starfish parents,

Just recently I came across this little poem again,which has been and will be part of our spring circle time again in the classroom.  Why do I want to share this with you here in our school update? Because this is how we see and receive your children, very day anew. The beautiful and unique journey all the children on this planet are on, is exactly described in this poem.  We want to protect and nurture the little seeds that are still asleep and in their own world when they come to the Early Childhood here at Mangrove School.

Enjoying our time in nature.

Through time and hopefully only through that, we are observers of their awakening, and first peeking of when THEY are are ready to rise their heads out of the nurturing soil. Every child in their own time; just like little plants. Every single one looks different and unique and every single one is the most beautiful creation, we will ever see. Holding this in our heart, we support your children throughout their day in the Nursery and Kindergarten.

Woodworking in the kindergarten

We offer rich circles, where hand-eye coordination and ” listening ears” prepare the little ones for further years. These last weeks our circle contained of Old English Nursery rhymes, which were happily received by your children. They feel proud of memorizing and/or filling in blanks we leave throughout the circle. Movements and hand gestures are being followed; joyfully we sing and recite vivid language.   We had a wonderful Valentine’s tea party and children were asked to have their best “golden manners” on at the table. “May I have more strawberries, please?” and ” Please pass the bowl” are just a couple examples of the social skills we are modeling for the children naturally throughout the day. There is a small window within the early years of a child, where these skills will be easily received and happily copied. Once this window closes, it will be harder for children to learn these social capacities in later years.

Some older children have started several different handwork activities like finger-chaining, finger-weaving and sewing.

In smaller groups they are getting one on one time with a teacher and really enjoy this. Right now some of the Kindergarten children have started to sew a ball out of multiple felt pieces.

Deep play in the Kindergarten

Outside we all are enjoying the beautiful weather. Your dear ones are busy help watering plants and our new planted trees, sanding and hammering nails into a tree stump.  

Working with real tools in a safe environment is one of the greatest gifts the children can experience. Children feel proud of their achievement and practice delayed gratification. They need to work for it just like we do. Our attitude is contagious, and children catch it as soon as it becomes “their” job. We need to do our best to notice the rewards of the jobs we do: they are necessary, intelligent people do them, they are worth doing well. Children love and need to work out of imitation in their early years, so when given space and time to play freely, with models of meaningful work to imitate, children create the most varied scenarios and try out many roles that prepare them for later life.

In practical life activities, and free play, the child takes hold of her body through movement. Long hours spent sitting in front of a screen are not natural or healthy for young children. Rather, every bodily movement feeds the developing brain, and every bodily skill mastered forms a foundation for mental learning and spiritual freedom. This is the main gift of the first seven years of life.

This is why we work in our classroom through, helping set the table, sweeping and baking, moping and wiping, helping younger ones getting ready, watching and copying older ones how to do things. All these elements are an important part of  our day and prepare your dear ones for mastering skills and tasks in later years.

With much love and gratitude, Ms. Birte and Ms. Laura

1st/2nd Grade

The first graders have completed their Language Arts block. Working through a progression from story to words and letters, the consonants were introduced to bring a strong association of symbol and sound. M, the Mountain letter, S, the snake letter. Pictures were drawn from the story, introducing the form and sounds of the letters and linked these with a feeling connection to the story. Various activities, such as a treasure hunt, looking for X marks the spot, and rhythmic verses and games, quickly had the children choosing a favorite letter! The children develop not only an understanding of the alphabet letters and sounds but an awareness that reading is more than a series of sounds strung together, letters are part of a whole, and elements of entire words, verses and stories.

First grade made washcloths!

In addition, we reviewed Roman numerals, trying to write numbers in the hundreds and thousands! We returned briefly to form drawing, with more challenging continuous horizontal drawings, preparing the children for cursive writing in the coming years. The first graders have nearly all completed knitting their washcloths and have re-sanded their needles, wound a new ball of yarn and are excited to start a new project soon!

The second graders have been working hard writing words from their first books, sight words as well as word patterns. This writing practice is an excellent aid in developing reading skills. We have been reading from Shelly Davidow’s series, which the children have adeptly informed me are not “real” stories, they are just to teach you to read! The children enjoy their quiet reading time and the word games we’ve played to support becoming more fluid in sound recognition for writing as well as reading.

We did a short form drawing block, working towards more difficult forms and mastering the necessary precision. The children are nearly done knitting their slippers, and will begin to sew the leather bottoms on soon. They are so excited to be wearing one slipper, while knitting the other!

Part of the first grade play

First and second graders paint weekly. Wet-on wet watercolor painting brings much to the children. Through this work with technique, a range of growing skills will become the core of individual expression. The children are very excited to see which colors will play each week, which colors will visit each other, or are they too shy to touch, or will they join a friend to make a new color! Painting class is held in reverence, it is a quiet time, the children are encouraged to listen to the colors and be present in the experience. Being able to hold that sense of stillness is improving within the classes as our year progresses. The classes also enjoyed making kites, and of course flying them, as well as the string game and slip knot challenges!

Kite flying

3rd/4th Grade

With the coming of the new calendar year, the children jumped right into getting to know the characters of Norse Mythology.  We heard the story of creation, the growth of the great tree Yggdrasil, the creation of humans and formation all the realms.  Children met Odin, Thor, Loki, the Norns, Frey, Freya, Balder, Heimdal, Njord, Bragi and more.  After the myths were told, many of the characters were drawn into their main lesson books, along with the children’s versions of the myths in written form.  We’ll have the opportunity to hear more of these stories in a second Norse Mythology block in which the children will practice independently composing the myths in their notebooks as well as continuing to illustrate scenes from the myths.

Working together

From here we moved into our first Language Arts block of the year. Through examples and acting, we explored the four kinds of words, articles, the kinds of sentences, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, pronouns, verb tenses, and well loved punctuation. To add flavor beyond our typical joyful approach to all things learning, each child has been reading The Wizard of OzThe Phantom Tollbooth, or My Side of the Mountain chorally and/or independently.  It has been such a joy to hear the children’s thoughts on and reactions to the books, as well as their responses to questions I ask.  Having the opportunity to plan how much they want to read before chatting about the book with their teacher has resulted in some children assigning themselves homework and fulfilling many of their goals.

Outdoor reading circle

During our first math block we explored the hidden side of numbers, the casting out 9’s, using secret numbers to check multiplication problems, the 4 kinds of numbers and factors. We have spent the last few weeks befriending fractions, specifically adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators and reducing fractions. Next we will turn our attention to multiplying and dividing fractions, as well as practicing the skills of renaming fractions and finding the least common multiple. While we will utilize manipulatives (including food of course), our aim is to move toward working with fractions in their abstract form. Children will continue to practice multiplication facts as well as expand to division facts for short time periods during the week.

Math = delicious!

Outside the classroom has been quite rich as well.  Bringing balance and rhythm to our walking, breathing, and being has been a main practice that shows up when walking to and from the playground, playing new games, focusing our minds before and during lessons, and so forth.  The lessons that animals taught us from our first Zoology block are circling around again.  We have spent relaxed time during the past few Forest Fridays settling into our surroundings and practicing what the animals teach.  This has led us to look for finding the fit between two or more aspects of nature, following animals or their paths to gain new understanding, looking for the exact places where some balance shifts, sitting and walking quietly so that we disturb less and observe more, seeing activities of flows of energy and the different behaviors, seeing invisible flows, seeing upward spirals that lead to more possibilities, downward spirals, the world as flowing into itself rather than separate edges, and finally noting the direction in which we are putting our life energy with each breath, action and thought.

What do you see?

As we noted during our simultaneously musical and contemplative music theory blocks, rhythmic motion keeps the whole universe going.  In our lives our breath is both the cause and effect of this rhythmic motion, so the more attention we give to our breath, the more we understand about ourselves and the workings of the universe.

This group of exceptional children continues to move along as a community, looking to each other for connection, fun, increasing self-knowledge, and growth. I am looking to travel with the class to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park when we return to the second block of Zoology in May so as to get more face time with many species of animals.    

5th/6th Grade

What a whirlwind it has been; our days have been action packed!  After our very time intensive investment in Mermaid Faire, the students refocused on our Roman studies, this time during the time of the Empire.  We saw domination in a swiftly spreading outward expansion, and looked at their standardized process of building of a city – the expert planning and execution of sheer architectural marvels.  In this way, the Romans were in an historical sense part of what the children of this age are often experiencing, a consciousness of personal power and confidence: “I can do anything!”  In the video below, you’ll find them learning “stage combat” for their Roman play.

We also discovered the historical significance of Jesus of Nazareth, for whom we first went back for a short time to the much admired Alexander the Great and his occupation of Judea, then waded through years of Roman occupation to better understand the history of the area. Through this story we then saw a crossing of the Rubicon for humanity, as a new religion ebbed and flowed, all the while strongly influencing the course of history, particularly once Constantine came to power. There were many “a-ha’ moments here, as suddenly bits and pieces of stories they may have heard began to become part of a larger picture. We reflected on how Rome had changed over the centuries, from a power house to be reckoned with to something more like a house of cards – a shockingly stark contrast that was quite sobering. Rome’s spirit of conquest and ability to transform the world around them with roads, building structures, and aqueducts is inspiring, however, the cautionary tale of the important consequences of the excesses of this period, was quickly perceived by the students as we profiled the later Emperors.

We still have many more years of history to cover in order to fully understand the transformation of Europe, but through the fall of the Empire, they were able to see many things – and it led to wonderful discussions – they were at times outraged, at times empathetic, and it also gave them a sense of our own times – how difficult it can be to maintain something so large, or how people can have the best intentions but do something that is unethical. Some were eager to hear of the smoking ruins, whereas others were sympathetic to the Romans as they became the underdogs to Germanic tribes. There was some humor her as well as the students learned the advent of the “ugly, barbaric” language of…English!

In Business Math, we started at the beginning, first what a self-sufficient economy looks like, and then with our oldest collaborative economy – barter. We created our own barter economy in class with various snacks and were able to see how one assigns value – how many seaweed pieces can be traded for how many crackers, for example. Then we looked at the evolution of this type of economy into portable, non-perishable metals, and coins, through more modern times with the ending of the gold standard and the future of digital money. We reviewed the value of American money and then began to work with percentage. We then learned how to make a pie graph using percentage, and how we can use percentage in everyday life – sales, content (for example clothing), determining popularity (for example, elections), taxes and lastly interest rates. There were percentages in all facets of life as it turned out! We also learned about the history of banking, beginning with the Knights Templar, who will be explored again, shortly, as we begin our studies of Medieval Times. We of course continue to review fractions and decimals, converting between the two, operations of, and concepts such as prime factorization. We also reviewed square numbers, powers of two, and square roots. We created a line graph of the moon rise and set in Sarasota over about half a cycle, and were able to then visually see the pattern each day and over the month, and what can be predicted from this information.

Learning how to assign value in a practical, meaningful way.

Our Astronomy studies have included the apparent movement of the stars after careful observation, constellations easily spotted this time of year, a review of our Pole Star, and which constellations appear to rotate around it, and an exploration of the Zodiac.

We have also revisited North American Geography from the Fall, now moving further westward, towards new landscapes and resources, such as the Great Plains, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, getting a sense of how difficult it could be to settle there.

Last month we also helped to create the Chinese New Year celebration, as we followed the moon cycles to the second new moon after the Winter solstice, which was February 15th. Studying various customs when possible, fosters an openness to the world.

One of their favorite celebrations!

On our forest days we have been focusing mostly on awareness activities, which seem to be a perfect antidote to the characteristic inward focus sometimes encountered in this age group. We have done blindfolded walks through the woods, estimating distances blindfolded, and bird language activities. With bird language we have focused more on what we think the birds are trying to communicate, and to whom, rather than the specific birds (other than the very obvious ones many already know). The 5 types of calls help us to be more aware when we are in nature, so we explored this, as the students created their own alarm calls, male aggression sounds, and a definite favorite – begging.

Through this type of awareness, they might see things the wouldn’t normally because they aren’t tuned into these clues, such as a predator styling passing through or a mother bird feeding her babies.

Awareness activity – blindfolded walk.

The gratitude jar we started in class has overflowed, as the children find the positive throughout their day, one of the pathways to happiness. We also began an experiment, similar to Dr Emoto’s water experiment, with one plant being subject to words of love, encouragement and kindness, and the other received messages of a lower vibration – and see if the energy of our words affects other beings. We hypothesize that it may be that our words carry a lot of weight – that an unkind word can actually cause another being to not grow as well. We will report our findings in our next newsletter.

When we return from break we will behold the wonder of all things practical by applying our understanding of business math to borrowing, lending and the role of banks, and creating our own personal budgets. We will also delve into the Dark Ages of humanity, as we seek what may illuminate them, in the age old struggle between dark and light. This is also mirroring another aspect of what is happening within our own pre-adolescent children, as they struggle with self-consciousness, connection and social difficulties that accompany the balancing of their own needs and the desire to conform (here we see a polarity of the confidence mentioned in the first paragraph). In everything we are doing, we encourage a healthy interest, enthusiasm, and compassion for the world and its inhabitants, which leads to a better understanding of ourselves.

Connecting through shared interests.

Please be on the lookout for an email regarding our spring project, to be revealed to the students next week!
Adventures abound!

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~ Japanese Proverb

Thank YOU!  All of you!  We are so grateful for the many gifts our community has shared with each other.  From Community Lunches, to the Holiday Marketplace, to the Winter Spiral, the Winter Assembly, in our classrooms, our forest classroom, our camping trip – there have been many opportunities for us to come together and create special memories for the children and ourselves, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Our sincere gratitude to:   Yolanda and Jasen Benoit, Keshara Alleyne, Natalie and Chris Maute, Michelle Roy, Rekha and Angelo Chiroli, Geoff Pierce and Jessica Rood, Eric and Aneta Lundquist, Chuck and Heather Green, Suzanne McMillan, Tibisay Barios, Judith Lescano, Sean Stringer, Michelle Carroll and Ernie Pappanastos, Jon Stevens and Shivani Lash, Jennifer and Brian Suter, Jessica Bromby, Chris Miller, Tiffany and Gary Blackden, Souad Dreyfus, Kalin Wilson, Lisiane Jimenez, Amy and Eric Rodriguez, Adrienne and Dayo Abiodun, Miriam Cornell, Ivan and Billie MIller, Cheryl Kindred, Alison and Matt Goldy, Tracey and Kurt Swenson, Amber Heller and Brian Mackin, Sheri Hartnell, Brandy and Ben Gray, Rebecca  Rothstein, Ms Liz, Ms Carlann and Ms Lisa.

Special thank you to Marion Scott, school grandma for her very generous end of year donation, and to the Rodriguez family for donating a rug to the first grade after the unfortunate flooding.  

Upcoming Events

This is the big one!  We need all hands on deck for our upcoming Mermaid Faire, Saturday January 27th, 2-6pm Thank you to all who have already signed up to volunteer!

If you have not yet signed up, please check your email for the sign up link.   We still need several key positions filled in order to adequately staff each activity. Opportunities are available before, during and after the faire.

If you are unable to volunteer, or only for a short amount of time, we also need items donated, and are also accepting sponsorships for the Faire as well as individual activities. Please email us at for details

Thank you so much to Michelle Roy, LMT for sponsoring Journey to Atlantis, our entirely student run production by the 5th/6th grade.  They are so thrilled to offer this to the community!

We are so grateful to any help offered!!!!  Please ask questions if you are unsure of what you can do.  THANK YOU!!!

Are You Interested In Creating or Expanding Your Fitness Regimen? (Open to parents and friends of MSS)

Posture, Strength, and Mobility Class

Anya Adams, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and CHEK (corrective high performance exercise kinesiology) Practitioner, will be offering a four week exercise class focused on improving posture, strength, and mobility at the Mangrove School. Each one hour class will consist of a foot to neck warm-up, strengthening exercises for a different muscle groups, myofascial stretches, and spinal ELDOAs (postures that decompress specific joint regions).  Whether you rarely work out or are a seasoned athlete you are sure to benefit from this unique outdoor class that will begin directly after dropping your child off at school. This is also suitable for those with back and neck pain!  ALL proceeds go to the Mangrove School. Please bring a yoga/exercise mat. For more info on the instructor’s experience and qualifications visit

Dates: Wednesdays 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/14

Time: 8:40 am-9:40am


Suggested donation per class: $10-$20

RSVP and questions:

School Spirit Tastes Great!

Make dinner a selfless act by joining us for a fundraiser

to support our school and community!  Join us at Chipotle!

1707 Tamiami Trail South in Sarasota on Monday, February 12th

Between 4:00 pm and 8:00pm

We will be handing out flyers – bring in the flyer, show it on your smartphone or tell the cashier you’re supporting the cause to make sure that 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Mangrove School of Sarasota. Please invite friends and family too!


Community Lunch Changes!  We are so appreciative to all who have helped with and donated to Community Lunch.  As you may know, Community Lunch, while a lovely chance for our all of us to come together weekly, is also very time consuming, and difficult to execute without quite a bit of assistance – there is planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, set up, serving and clean up.  Unfortunately, our students can only help with latter three tasks most weeks.  So, we have decided to make our Thursday Community Lunch a bi weekly event, still rotating hosts by grade (unless someone wants to volunteer to coordinate): so, not THIS week, but NEXT week, it will be 1/2nd grade’s turn to host (1/25).  We would then skip a week, so the next Thursday would be 2/8.

Instead, since the students are able to help more easily, and the clean up is a snap, we will offer a second “Campfire” Community Lunch on Fridays that we are at Crowley.  Thus we are depending less on parental assistance, which we realize can be difficult to ascertain mid-day.  Parents are of course, always welcome to stay/visit/help if they’d like!  This coming Friday we will make soup, since it is likely to be quite cold, but we will also rotate other meals in, giving the students a chance to learn how to cook all kinds of things on the fire.

From Our Classrooms:


1st:  We are beginning the exploration of creative dramatics in our play.  Reading through the classic tales of Beatrix Potter the students listen to the story and then act out the story as it is read again.  Eventually we will choose a story we would like to show as a play.  These whimsical tales involve a variety of emotions and introduce characters that are relatable and recognizable in their animal nature.

2nd:  Our focus right now is the exploration of Aesop’s Fables.  After one is read we discuss what lessons can be learned from the story.  The second grade has enjoyed acting out these stories and we look forward sharing them as a play at at future date.

3/4th:  We have just begun casting and rehearsals for our next play: The Citrus Wizard!  The play tells the story of Lue Gim Gong and his agricultural influence in Florida.  The students have scripts and have been encouraged to memorize lines outside of class.  We look forward to sharing this play at a later date.

5/6th:  Busy prepping for Mermaid Faire has been our main focus over the last few weeks.  In addition to planning and creating, we have also incorporated some emotional intelligence exercises and played out scenarios to assist with empathy and emotional consideration.  This is helpful work in relating to others’ needs, opinions, and experiences, in addition to feeling they can share their own.

~Ms Liz


One of my favorite days this semester was our experiential day of the 5 senses: La Vista, El Olfato, El Oído, El Gusto, El Tacto. I brought show and tell items to make this day all about the senses , for example, I brought a bunch of different essential oils for smell that got passed around the room, and Hispanic instruments to listen to. They all got very involved in participating and getting all their senses involved.

During Thanksgiving week, I had them create their own Gratitude Tree they had to draw out with the Thanksgiving Spanish Vocab words and had a little game we played, where we took a journey through Frowny Forest, Mad Mountain, & Sad Swamp by yelling out the things are are grateful for to get to Grateful Garden. We went over how to say everything they are grateful for in Spanish, even the sun, the moon, nature, and all the elements: agua, fuego, tierra, aire.

After returning from break we reviewed how to say “Happy New Year”, New Year customs, the months of the year and various dates, such as how to say ones’ birthday.

Seahorse Nursery and Starfish Kindergarten

In December, the Nursery/Kindergarten was getting ready for the Holidays. During this time of the year, the feeling is about reverence and doing for others. The children dipped candles and made cards to give to their families as a gift. The candle dipping is a lesson in patience and care, as the candles are dipped many times to achieve the right thickness. Each child experienced the wonder with each dip as their candle got bigger.

Another activity that helped foster reverence and care was polishing the apples for the Winter Spiral.  The children enjoyed using a cloth to wipe the apples until they were bright and shiny.  Walking the spiral is a thoughtful process for the children as they watch the light from the many candles grow and grow as more people light their own candles and add them to the spiral.

In the classroom at that time,  the circle was about Dwarfs deep in the earth. This circle is repetitive in asking the children “Who is that I hear hacking and cracking at rocks and stones?”  They go through many different animals until it is discovered that it is the Dwarfs inside the hills.  This circle has many gross motor and fine motor movements and incorporates song.   Comprehension skills and Language arts are emphasized through song and movement as well as the circle finger games with a sense of enthusiasm.

The last three days of school were held outdoors at Crowley Nature Center.  Some families chose to camp and it was a wonderful experience for the children to experience helping set up tents, organize the camp  and carry the camper’s belongings to the campsite.  These activities give the children a window into working as a community and how things can be accomplished when we work together.  Many children, in helping to put up tents, got to use their problem solving skills, such as what poles to use and where they would go and what order they would be used.  The children also learned about fire safety, how to arrange the sticks and what to use to create a fire that is safe and burns well.  Many holiday and winter songs were sung and the children loved going from campsite to campsite singing.  The zip line and feeding the “cracker cows” are other activities that the children love doing when they go to Crowley.  The children learn to treat the cows with respect and have found out they they love hay to eat.  At the zip line, the gross motor skills are put to the test as the children find out new ways to get on the zip line seat and they work to help each other by brainstorming together.  

For the New Year the children cleaned the room with warm soapy cloths.  The wood shone and the room smelled wonderful as every child took part in making their surroundings clean.   Outside in the play garden, we saw that the orange trees were full of ripe oranges ready to be picked.  The children enjoyed the fruit and learned to share what was on the tree and to even leave some for the animals that live in our neighborhood.  That same day we had a small fire in the fire pit in the play garden using cedar that we had found.  It smelled so good and the children again learned about starting a fire and the safety needed around it.     

Our circle for this new year is about a mouse that runs from the basement(toes) to the attic(head) in a quest for cheese.  It requires the children to stretch their legs out in front of them and reach to their toes and then like little mice walk their fingers up to their knees, waist, shoulders and then their head.  The mouse goes up one floor at a time and then runs down each time he doesn’t find cheese.  The children think this is great fun and enjoy getting to the head and wiggling  their fingers in their hair.  This circle is fun and gives the children the chance to appreciate the rhythmic aspect of language and improve their ability to concentrate.

Our trip to Crowley this new year included, cooking popcorn, chopping vegetables for a delicious soup, a trip to the zip line and feeding the cows.  We look forward to adventures in the Nursery/Kindergarten in the new year.

Best wishes,

Ms. Birte and Ms. Laura

1/2nd Grade

Our arithmetic work in first grade centered around the qualities of numbers 1-12. Where do we find each number in nature? What comes in threes? Fives? We had fun discovering three leaf clovers, and watching for numbers as we took a walk, as well as singing and playing number games.

We then moved into a language arts block, specifically the consonants. This is brought to the children pictorially, first hearing a story, then drawing  a picture, pulling the letter from the picture and practice writing it. Once again they enjoyed discovering letters around the campus as well as recognizing the sounds they’ve learned and often sharing it as they hear words that contain our first letters!

The first graders are enjoying their knitting experience, having completed their needles, they are now knitting washcloths, and are excited to take a bath to use them!

The second graders have completed their arithmetic block. Addition and subtraction review was first, both writing and verbal problems. We then moved into multiplication tables, 2-8. We used writing, manipulatives, rhythms and writing. They loved the challenge of “skip counting” the tables and making their “house of numbers”.

After the break they started a form drawing block, reviewing forms from last year, and a few new ones, working toward cursive writing.

Our weekly rhythm continues for first and second graders to include painting, beeswax modeling and specialty classes. The children are also enjoying learning string games such as “witches broom” and “winking eye”, most recently moving on to speed challenges to demonstrate their growing skills! ~ Ms McMillan

3rd/4th Grade

The children enjoyed using the secret numbers to check their work when practicing double digit multiplication.  While multiplication facts are not yet automatic in most of the children, they each were able to master the process of double digit multiplication without the assistance of the guides we created.  While some worked on multiplication, others began learning long division.  The children will continue to work on multiplication, division, addition and subtraction several times a week and return to focus on Fractions in March.   

We then turned our attention to Zoology during the last week of November and two weeks of December.  We started off this block playing animal form games.  After considering the bodies of humans in its three-fold form, the head, trunk and limbs, we began playing games using only one or two of these components.  Games without a head meant no sight, hearing, communication or smelling.  Students attempted to find pine cone “food” without their senses or limbs.  We took limbs away and tried to play soccer and so forth.  Without sight students played a game called Nutty Squirrel in which they relied on their parent to find food.  Awareness games including Predator and Prey were played as well, all to help us get into our bodies and senses and to answer the question, “What is it like to be an animal?”

In the classroom we began with discussing what the four kingdoms (minerals, plants, animals and humans) do, and which gift they hand on to the next kingdom. The children surveyed the animal kingdom, noting particular animals that were specialized to be mostly head, trunk, and limbs.  After exploring the nerve sense, rhythmic, and metabolism of the three-fold nature, we connected them to the forces of thinking, feeling, and willing and how to use these forces to move toward joy and creativity.

Rounding out the first block of Zoology was giving our attention to animal expertise.  Through stories and illustrations, we explored some of the countless ways that animals teach us, through their mastery, the laws of nature.  Some of these teachings include finding the fit between two pieces of the world, seeing the edge of balance, patterns, change happening in spiraling relationships, the invisible becoming visible when we sit and walk quietly, the two levels of behavior within a flow, and everything on earth being a part of a flowing cycle.  To succinctly summarize, we began learning to see the world as a giant flow of energy.  Because everything is energy, and it is moving/changing/flowing, we can track the spirals of change, see invisible flows, recognize the need to constantly adjust to the world, see the flowing “up” of energy toward more possibilities, see the flowing “down” of energy toward fewer possibilities, and recognize that these laws of flow apply to our own thinking, feeling and willing.  Many stories were told, including the young turkey vulture landing upside down, the white gull in the thermal, cormorants feeding in the ocean, the water strider near the cascade, tundra buttercup, crabs in the tidepool, fox hunting the squirrel, eagle hunting the rabbit, the flock of feeding snow buntings, antlers and squirrels, and snowshoe hares.  

We have just commenced our journey into Norse Myths with the telling of the Norse creation story.  I look forward to the lively discussions, reactions, compositions, and discoveries that these myths will bring forth.



5th/6th Grade

Dear Parents,

When reflecting on 2017, the time spent with your children fills me with inspiration and gratitude.  Thank you, dear parents, for your continued support!  

In our first meeting after the break we played a few games that focused on really listening to each other (as of course they were all really wanting to talk to one another) but could they listen and remember what everyone said?  

We also created a gratitude jar – an empty jar that they can fill with slips of paper containing thoughts of gratitude they have during their school day.  We can ALWAYS find something to be grateful for, even if it is just the chair we are sitting in…but it takes practice, so this is something I wanted to foster, with the hope that they can use this throughout their lives.  

We also touched on communication, which, despite their penchant for talking, isn’t always easy!  They love to talk, but are they able to speak freely and meaningfully without fear of judgement?  There are times when play goes too far, or feelings are hurt, can they have the courage to say so in the moment? Or can they clear the issue later without harboring bad feelings? Can they remember the three gates their words need to pass through?  These are all things that take such an immense amount of practice, as they re-learn through a different lens, than from their younger years, before the (perfectly natural for this age) tendency to conform and go with the crowd began, so we continually check in with class meetings and role play in drama class to boost their courage and confidence in social situations of all kinds. As an adult it is easy to say, “You should just….” but it simply isn’t that easy, as they begin to navigate their social lives more independently, with big, sometimes confusing feelings.

Over the past several weeks, both before break and after, the focus of our main academic times have been four fold. On the one hand we have spent time studying the nature of the earth itself, in Mineralogy, while at other times gazing up into the heavens to consider what is happening beyond what we can see with our eyes.  We have also looked back in time to a particularly difficult period of human history, when power reigned supreme in Rome, a time when law and order, but not necessarily justice prevailed.  Finally we spent much time entranced in a different kind of law and order,  the wonder of number, as we discovered many patterns we can count on.

In Mineralogy we looked specifically at quartz, as we live in the unique geographical location of abundant quartz sand beaches, and learned about its various properties and applications, from how we feel when we are at the beach, to  its essential role in building technology (talk about a polarity!)  We learned about the history of glass making from its first appearance in human history to the present, as well as visited a glass studio and tried our hands at fusing glass.

We also looked at limestone again, this time for its role in the manufacture of cement and thus, concrete.  (For which Romans were renowned).  We experimented with making our own mosaics in the style of Rome as well, after learning about the highly skilled craftsmen of that time.

In Astronomy, the big leap we take is in extrapolation.  This can be difficult for some as they have to imagine what is happening without being able to see it themselves.  We often use models, or have students represent different celestial entities to more easily visualize what is occurring.   We began first by bringing consciousness to the moon and its phases, understanding what movement is happening, and why we see what we see at any given time, and the patterns to look for.  

Then we focused on the sun, and its relationship with the earth, and the seasons.  Many students know various anecdotes coming into Astronomy but they can’t explain the why.  So we looked in detail from various geographical locations on earth so we can understand and make predictions of what we could expect to see.  The seasons were of particular interest as where we happen to live the changes are less obvious.  Examining these other clues gives us more of an awareness of what is happening around us and why. Many remembered that we had experienced a total solar eclipse in parts of North America over the summer, and we also simulated our own eclipse, using balls to scale of the earth, moon and sun.  The students were surprised to see just how far the sun had to be in order for this to actually work.  The length of Ridgewood Street, as it turns out!  Lunar eclipses were also examined, particularly why they don’t occur every month during a new moon.

On our camping trip we were able to do some star gazing together as a class; students were given two constellations that they could see this time of year easily here at 27 degrees latitude, that they could then practice looking for themselves.  Then, we will see what happens a month from then, or two months from then.  They were also given an assignment to do their own stargazing and sketching one star in each direction in relation to a landmark, over a 2 hour time period, so we can begin to look at the apparent movement of the stars.  We will continue to look at this over the semester, so they can begin to have a map of the sky of sorts, understand what to look for when, what they can count on, and hopefully continue to gaze up once in awhile, and imagine the thousands of years of human civilizations who have seen the same sky.

Our Roman studies before the break included the end of the Roman Republic, with various biographical accounts for the students to debate and discuss.  From Hannibal, to Marius, to Sulla, they were given much to either delight in or be dismayed by depending on their own perspective.  One thing they were all able to see is that all of these people, despite their rough exterior have positive qualities or have made positive contributions to society.  It isn’t so black and white, as it turns out!

After the break they have picked up again with Julius Caesar (who received cheers when he appeared in our stories) and we are currently learning of his crossing of the Rubicon – a poignant time in our classroom, as our students begin to  cross a Rubicon themselves, leaving behind childhood for puberty. Many of our Roman stories are also acted out as the students work through the material.  We discuss motivation and intent.  We revisit the consciousness of the various civilizations from our previous year together – how strikingly ideals have changed!  We have also looked at Romans marvels of architecture and building as contributions of modern times.  We have studied Latin words and phrases, seeing many familiarities in our own time, such as solving the mystery of “am” in time keeping.  They were excited to learn more as they found meaning in their own lives; there were many “a-ha” moments.

In mathematics we have begun graphing data we have compiled over the semester.  The students have consistently worked towards more and more difficult daily mental math problems, and our math practice of vertical operations, fractions and decimal review grows shorter as they complete them more quickly.  We continue to add new “tricks” into our repertoire, with the caveat that they have to figure them out!  Like a good riddle, the answer will never be revealed by me!  They help each other with strategies for more difficult problems, and are often excited to know there is more than one way to complete one, and are happy to share “their way”. Next month we will again be invested in practical application, this time in math in the form of economics, or business math.

As always we also focus on our class community and our own inner work, whether is be from meditation as a group as short daily exercise, or weekly with Ms Natalie, or awareness activities, such as at Crowley to strengthen and fortify the students.  We continue to recite poetry, sing (currently focusing on a song for a Roman play in the spring that is a challenging harmony) and incorporate some movement to wake them up and get them ready to focus.  You may see us marching around campus in unison as we channel our inner Roman soldier, for example. Woodworking, handwork, and artistic activities allow the students to focus outwardly and create pieces that are often quite challenging, gently stretching their capacities.  Before the break they also created their first issue of Mangrove Messenger of the year:

Mangrove Messenger Fall 2017

In everything we are doing I picture these children in my minds eye, getting stronger and more solid, while simultaneously becoming more aware, more questioning, searching.  Rules they can count on bring them comfort;  the law and order they crave balances them as other aspects of their life seem to spin out of control as they become more and more social as individuals.  I picture them finding calm, balance, and peace amid the chaos as the world opens up before them. 


It’s a whole other kind of adventure!

With Gratitude,
Ms Erin

From Our Friends at Saltmeadow School

Our weekly Navigators class allows to explore various locations in Sarasota and nearby areas, where we can explore and immerse ourselves in nature. Studies show this time in nature actually helps boost cognitive skills in academic areas cumulatively.



The Sunlight Fast is Dwindling,

My little lamp needs kindling.

Its beam shines far in darkest night.

Dear lantern guard me with your light.


Thank You’s

We are so grateful for all of the support for our first annual dance party – Arabian Nights!  Huge thank you to all who helped bring the party to fruition – Jean Kowacki for catering, Yolanda Benoit and Rita Radi for food service, John Schroeder and Jared Mitchell for setup, and Heather Green for managing the silent auctions.

Thank you so very much to our very generous donors – Art and Body SRQ, Kombucha 221 BC, Vintage Vixen, Natalie Grace, Tiffany and Gary Blackden, Yolanda Benoit, Island Deodorant, All New Again Sarasota Paintless Dent Repair, and Suncoast Science Center.

Thank you to all who came to support our school programming!  If you missed it – don’t worry we will be doing it again soon!

Thank you also to Keshara Alleyne, Yolanda Benoit, Marion Scott,  and Jessica Bromby for their tireless work in the garden.  Thank you to Saltmeadow School,  Keshara Alleyne, Yolanda Benoit, Natalie Maute, Souad Dreyfus, Heather Green, Tiffany Blackden, Judith Lescano, Brandy Gray, Rebecca Rothstein, and Aneta Lundquist for donating to and/or hosting Community Lunch.

Our bountiful community garden!

Upcoming Events:

Holiday Market, Thursday, 11/30 8:30am – 2:30pm

Enjoy shopping a wide variety of handmade goods, craft kits, and organic, natural items while your children are at school! Refreshments available too!

Some of the items we will have on hand:

Rocker boards – a versatile toy for imagination, activity and balance!

Pocket silks – a great open ended toy!

Fidget bracelets!

Sensory sequin pillows!

We still need volunteers to  label and price items Tuesday and Wednesday, assist with refreshments, expedite purchases during the sale, and help break down afterwards.  If you are in need of volunteer hours, this is a great opportunity!

Winter Spiral Garden, Thursday December 7th, 5:30 pm

Families gather in the North Hall to walk the Winter Spiral.  Children will sit with their classes, and one by one, each child will take a turn to slowly walk the spiral, holding a red apple with a small unlit candle inserted into it. As the child reaches the center, he or she lights the candle and then returns out of the spiral, when they will place the apple and candle near one of the golden stars. Each child lights the way for those who will come after them. As children take their turns, more and more lit candles light the spiral as the room starts to glow. The evening is quiet and moving. With the winter days being short, and the nights long, the spiral celebrates a kindling of our inner light, and holds a promise that spring, light, and life will begin again.  Sunday best is appropriate for this event.  We will need assistance:  bringing palm fronds for the spiral, setting up the spiral after school on Thursday, December 7th, and coring the apples.  Friends are welcome, but RSVP is required so we have enough candles ready.  Please RSVP with the number of people coming by Monday, December 4th.

The stillness of the Winter Spiral.

Santa Lucia Day, Wednesday, December 13th (in school)

This festival celebrates the warmth of light and giving.  The 1/2nd grade, dressed in white and singing a traditional song, visits each class with a special treat for each student.  

Winter Assembly, Friday December 15th, 11 am

Our Winter Assembly will take place on the Friday before Winter break, with an early dismissal for all at 12:30 pm.  Parents, grandparents and friends are warmly invited to attend as each class offers a performance for the rest of the school, followed by a potluck lunch.

Winter Solstice Camping Trip, Monday December 18th – Wednesday December 20th

Join us for a camp out at Crowley Museum and Nature Center, in celebration of Winter.  We will meet Monday at 9 am, and stay through Wednesday at 12:30 pm.  If your family is unable to camp, students can be dropped off for the day; please speak to your teacher for pick up details.

From Our Classrooms:


Seahorse Nursery and Starfish Kindergarten

Our mixed age Kindergarten had a beautiful time around Halloween with a circle that contained of songs about witches, pumpkins and other “spooky” things. The children enjoyed this a lot and sang along pretty quickly. Repetition of songs, rhymes and stories are a core element in Early Childhood (EC).Only then can a the young child have the images sink deeply in and it can live in their heart.

Indoor play in the Kindergarten.

We carved Jack o’ lanterns, made little necklaces out of felt and the older children helped sewing and finger chaining, while the youngest ones were pretty satisfied with picking the color, stuffing the inside and watching the teachers finish the project.

Some days the weather has been so perfect for staying outside for snack.

On some days its even cold enough to build a fire!

In early years the child operates out of imitation.  Our positive attitude in fulfilling our daily tasks are living in the child and so it is the teacher’s work in the Kindergarten and Nursery to be always worthy of imitation. If we want to foster a love for learning and working, we have to have the love for it first. Only then it is real and can be imitated by our precious little ones.

Making lanterns in the EC.

After Halloween we moved slowly into ” lantern time”. While singing our traditional lantern song and listening to different stories about the ” glimmer and shimmer” that lives in us, we made our lanterns for the lantern walk. Every child had a big part in making them and projects like these are helping tremendously with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and the feeling of achievement.

Exploring the woods

Thank you for all you do!
With much love,
Ms. Birte and Ms. Laura


1st/2nd Grade

The First/Second grade class has been busy with numbers.

The first grade is exploring the qualities of each number 1-12, through stories, drawing and movement experiences.

1st graders illustrating their main lesson books.

In second grade the children are working on addition and subtracting skills, though mental math, manipulatives, and writing horizontally as well as vertically.

The class recently sang a song, in a two part round, at community lunch, which they had worked diligently to learn, and very much enjoyed performing for the school.

Our days are busy with stories, songs, verses, knitting, beeswax modeling, painting, and playing together.

Second grade handwork, held outside on a beautiful fall day.

The class is very enthusiastic, and greet each new experience with an excitement reflective of the young child discovering the world around them.

Making up their own tricks on the playground!


Ms McMillan

3rd/4th Grade

Greetings Parents!

In October our studies of local geography continued as we learned about the six watersheds that stretch across Sarasota County. Children drew a map, colored in the watersheds, created a key, and identified the watershed in which they live.  This naturally led us into investigating watersheds in greater depth, exploring and drawing pictures of wetlands including marshes, bogs, fens, swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and estuaries.  Using materials from Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, we learned about the impacts of humans on watersheds, including air pollution, water pollution, domestic waste and so forth.  With more and more property development, habitats are stressed and all living beings suffer.  The children explored ongoing projects of restoration and wiser use of resources.  This was another occasion that showed us that every single action counts and impacts others.

Our main lesson book work.

Our focus then turned to approximately 100 million years ago when the continent on which Florida rests was under the ocean, firmly fused to the west coast of Africa.  Our approach was one of studying the biohistory of Florida, as this gives proper attention to the community of fauna and flora, not just humans.  Approximately 35 million years ago the Florida peninsula was an archipelago of sand covering limestone.  As the glaciers increased in size and ocean levels decreased, Florida expanded to nearly twice as large as it is today.  A great number of animals migrated from the mainland, arriving in a land abundant with grasses and palm trees of many kind.  Eight foot tall birds, rhinoceroses, saber-toothed cats, mammoths, giant tortoises and more once lived here.  That all changed when humans arrived about 12,000 years ago.  Through story telling and some writing, we explored these animals, the first people, Florida throughout the time of Europeans arriving, and Florida today.

Building primitive shelters

We also delved into the history of Sarasota, viewing many pictures from the past and paying close attention to the evolution of technology and impacts humans had on the land, water, and air.  This lent us to creating a timeline of Sarasota’s past, beginning with the hurricane of 1848 splitting an island into Longboat and Lido Keys. The legend of Sara de Soto was shared, as well as the arrival of folks like Phillippi Bermudez (we also took time to explore Phillipi Estate Park), Peter Crowley (we also explored the offerings at Crowley and pictures along the Myakka River), the creation of the Tamiami Trail, the arrival of electricity and so forth.  While history is subjective and often the stories of the wealthy, we maintained our focus that Sarasota is really all who live here.  We enjoyed discussion about what drew the children (and you) to Sarasota, and what we are called to do here. The children shared that Sarasota is made up of people they know who enrich, inspire, ennoble, share what they love, fertilize, bring joy to others, honor all, are of service, feed others, and help all heal.

Connecting with our local roots

After wrapping up this block, we began turning our attention to arithmetic.  Fractions will be our primary focus during our second block in March, thus we have been preparing by reviewing multiplication facts, the four operations, place value, and number patterns.  Every child would benefit from practicing the multiplication facts (from 1 to 12) at home so that they become more automatic.  If you would like ideas about how to do this, please let me know.  We will continue to review and practice multiplication facts, double digit multiplication, and long division.  This week we began our study of secret numbers, the strategy of casting out 9’s, and using secret numbers to check addition and multiplication problems.

Bringing creativity to arithmetic.

We have gotten into the rhythm of practicing the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) every day by completing review problems from last year.  We have also begun our study of spelling on a daily basis, often just before or after math review.  Our method of practice has been exploring a spelling pattern, sorting a list of spelling words into the group that best matches its spelling pattern, taking a spelling assessment to see which words we already know how to spell, and then practicing the ones we haven’t yet mastered.  Thus far we have studied short vowels, the long vowel a, and the long vowel e.  As the lessons become more difficult, look for your child to bring words home to practice midweek.

Exploring secret numbers in math

I have enjoyed spending time on Tuesdays teaching and experiencing music theory with the children.  Upon my arrival in Florida I was gifted a tamboura, an Indian instrument said to have been invented in the court of Vishnu.  This instrument supports the musical system raga, or Indian Classical Music.  As I have some training through the Chishti Sabri School of Music, I thought this ancient form of music would be our first topic of study in Music Theory.  Raga has a 5,000 year old history, when Rishis studied the effect of different pitches of the scale and how the notes combine so as to use them in a way to change the condition of the heart.  All things in the universe vibrate, making tone, which is music.  Thus by singing, you are getting to know the universe.
The Tamboura provides the note that we all tune to, or the tonic in western terms.  Every other note arises out of and is in relation to this note, which we name “Sa”.  We have explored each note, singing it, discussing the elements it represents, and have begun delving into the joy that living music causes to arise in our beings.  Because life itself is music, we shall continue to develop our ears to recognize songs of harmony, disharmony, and find ways to practice resolution in our every day lives as well as in the songs we sing.

Our time at Crowley has been rich and full of discovery.  Due to the numerous down trees from the hurricane, we have spent a great deal of time traversing the obstacle-filled trails to get to know the four habitat zones and their inhabitants.  Whether your children know it or not, we have been practicing a number of Core Routines to build our habits of awareness, concentration, curiosity, asking questions and uncovering patterns and connections.  The Core Routines include Sit Spot, Expanding our Senses, Questioning, Tracking, Animal Forms, Wandering, Mapping, using Field Guides, Journaling, Survival Living, Mind’s Eye Imagining, Bird Language, Story of the Day, and the practice of Thanksgiving Address.  Children have completed entries in their Nature Journals on Oak Hammocks and Marsh/Tatum Sawgrass habitats, explored the Pine Flatwoods, and wandered through a small portion of the Swamp.  We’ve located a beautiful spot underneath a giant live oak that we will create a primitive home base using materials from the forest.

Discovering the treasures to behold at Crowley

With Gratitude,

Mr Jon


5th/6th Grade

Dear Parents,

As you recall, last month our perspective widened as we studied the various regions of North America.  We emphasize our study of  geography because it has the capacity to truly unite the child to the earth as they become familiar with how an area came to be – how the land and water shaped the earliest humans and later settlers, how they in turn shaped their environment,  as well as how it all fits together with neighboring regions. As they mature, their ability to grasp a broader span increases, moving them closer to being a true citizen of the world, as they also gain a feeling of brotherhood between our neighboring nations.  Here the class creates a collaborative needle felted map of North America:

After reaching the mid-west, we paused to turn our main focus to Mathematics, expanding on our short daily review of the previous month, which included mental math, fractions, decimals, vertical operations, and long division.  Our almanac work continued, bringing more consciousness to shorter days as well as daylight savings time.

We reviewed square and triangular numbers, area and perimeter of various polygons, circumference of the circle, calculating pi,  the Pythagorean theorem, and measurement conversions, always allowing the students to figure out rules, patterns, theorems and formulae through exploration, practice, and trial and error, rather than simply showing them what to do.  As they attempt to understand why, they thinking deeply  and creatively, and benefit from the challenge it brings.

Outdoor classroom

After this short math block, we turned our attention to Ancient History, this time in Rome.  Last year, we recapitulated the evolution of human consciousness as we journeyed through ancient civilizations beginning with India and through Greece, which met their budding interest in the deeper thoughts and questions of existence. Only in Greece did we find historically documented times, and the advent of rational thought.  This year, in comparison, we reviewed the mythical origin of Rome very briefly, with the epic the Aeneid, an account of how Trojan prince Aeneas joined his people with the Italians to form the basis for the later city of Rome.

Touring the museum with a new perspective

We also looked at and discussed the remnants of the impulse of Rome to understand the significance of Roman Civilization.  Here in Sarasota we have a superb resource for legacy of Rome – The Ringling Museum, which contains many works of art as well as an architectural replicas.  From the sculpture garden we could see the imitative aspect of Roman culture quite well – the physical sculptures as well as the subjects – many gods and goddesses who were all too familiar – Artemis is now Diana, Hermes, now Mercury.   From there we learned of Romulus and Remus, and the ominous founding of the city which left one brother dead by the hands of another.  With the seven kings of Rome we found leaders alternating between an  inclination  towards peace, then bellicosity.  With the overthrow of Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh Roman king,  by Brutus and the Roman Army,  we grasped the establishment and structure of the Republic. We also spent some time doing introductory figure drawing to aid in our artwork that will accompany the biographies we will encounter in the Republic, and later the Empire.  Additionally we  drew from Roman sculptures, learned the rules that accompany Roman Numerals, and some basics of the Latin language. In later blocks we will explore the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and discover more parallels to our own time.

I’m always so pleasantly reminded of well these subjects meet the children developmentally – although the Romans were often aggressive and ruthless, the students find them engaging, even if they are engrossed merely by their disapproval, shock and outrage by these behaviors.  Our stories and discussion are often left as cliffhangers, allowing for student predictions and often debates of what is to come, or what should  happen.  Once satisfied by dreamy myths, their natural skepticism and judgmental nature brings endless philosophical musings on the consciousness of these intriguing Roman figures.  

Caving in 5/6th

Simultaneously, our Mineralogy class has drawn us into the earth’s depths to view its many marvels. Thanks to the Tampa Bay Area Grotto our class spent a Saturday exploring five different cave systems.  After learning about how caves are formed, stalactites, and stalagmites in class, the kids were thrilled to explore  the inner features of this karst landscape firsthand. This was also an opportunity for them to challenge themselves, as they were sometimes faced with small spaces, long tunnels, and of course actual darkness; they also helped and supported each other through hesitation.  In class, we drew caves using only block crayons, creating layer upon layer of color to create the sedimentary rocks.

In addition, we learned about the three types of rocks and the rock cycle, and how to identify them, utilizing a rock collection through the Suncoast Science Center.  Next up,  we will learn the practical applications of quartz and limestone in the manufacture of glass and cement, respectively, which also ties into our study of Roman history.  

The 6th grader stands firmly on the earth, ready for adventure.

We continue to create complex geometric drawings, either weekly or every other week, although it is their most requested activity. In the past month we attempted to figure out the secret to five-fold symmetry, and created a three- fold symmetry.   Again we are stressing careful, precise, accurate drawings.  They all put a great deal of effort into the process and the finished product, working meticulously, and helping each other as they go.  A few of their earlier drawings can be found downstairs on a bulletin board in the courtyard. Next up will be nested hexagons.

Five-fold symmetry

After becoming familiar with the ukulele they are quickly learning more complex songs, now with three chords, and are learning how to pick out individual notes.  Their learning is accelerated by their enthusiasm, as well as their discipline for distributed practice at home.

Woodworking continues to inspire and unite the class.  Each project fosters different woodworking skills, as well as self-discipline, self-awareness, and the will to create something functional as well as beautiful.  This month they created planter boxes, desk organizers, and have started sunflower seed dispensers.  

Inspired woodworking

  We continue to do various activities each morning to set the intention for the day – meditation, singing, trust walks, and  nature observation.  We talk about the qualities we wish to bring into the classroom and to each other, bringing consciousness to our behavior and accountability to each other for the experience of the group.   

After we return from the break we will continue our Roman studies with biographies from the time of the Republic, as well as turn our attention to the stars in Astronomy, taking advantage of the longer nights of the season.  

Always an adventure with these dear children!


Ms Erin




We have been learning different animals in french, singing  songs,  the colors and numbers, and how to say please and thank you.  We also learned about the elements and words in the garden. Also how to greet each other and say goodbye. They are learning how to ask for a drink of water and  to go to the bathroom too. They are also learning how to say sorry.


We have been learning how to say “where is __________?”  “où est  ________?” The cardinal directions as well as directions like left, right, above, below, straight ahead etc.  We also sing several french songs together and the children love it. We practiced and wrote out in our books the  days of the week . We practiced counting up to 30 now. We learned  the parts of a tree- roots , branches,  leaves etc.  We also  learned how to say gardening words in french and the vegetables we planted.


We have learned how to say several  locations, directions, how to ask for them and  how to answer in french. We hope to go on a quest after Thanksgiving using our knowledge. We have learned the alphabet and practiced spelling out words to help us remember. We have learned the days of the week and also  practiced counting. We also sing a french Grace before we eat lunch together called Bon Appétit! The children are  learning how to write and pronounce the words and sometimes we also leave the words on the board so they get to glimpse at them throughout the week to help them remember.


Ms Jessica



First grade continues to explore empathy through a variety of creative games and activities. Each day we engage in movement or music or acting/ensemble games. We’ve also been creating characters to their number study and learning verses as well.


We are so proud of our first play: Bridget and the Wolf!!! The students brought a reverence and professionalism to their production and are eager to begin their next project. We have been reading stories of heroes and saints and discussing the qualities they bring. This is preparing us to have a day of service for the school and to dress up as a character we have been particularly inspired by.

Second graders perform Bridget and the Wolf


After studying about ancient Florida and the mapping of their local community, the students wrote a song to celebrate what they’ve learned. The music parodies a popular song on the radio today and we’ve been adding some cool moves to go along. We can’t wait to perform the song for you at the winter assembly!


We are in Mermaid Faire mode already! The 5th/6th grade is responsible for designing, creating, and executing a walk thru labyrinth full of interactive challenges. This project has already begun to test our teamwork skills and time management versus creative brainstorm awareness.

With Love,

Ms Liz

Gardening/Nature Studies


We planted milkweed for the monarchs, red lettuce, baby bok choy, tomatoes, and marigolds.

The children really enjoy watering together and discovering in the garden.  We give thanks for Keshara and Yolanda  for also helping and caring for the garden too. A couple weeks ago the school got to enjoy lettuce the kids planted and cared for at community lunch!

During Crowley Forest Fridays we have been exploring scat and prints and  learning about local birds (names, habitat, beaks, and bird language).  Each child got a nature name last friday, to help them connect and learn about the local wilderness . We have done group silent sit spots, fort building, we explored the boardwalk and other trails. We had a close encounter with a black vulture, it was the highlight last week. We had sweet potatoes on the fire and created leaf prints, learning a bit about the local plants and trees at Crowley too. We also practiced  fox walk, deer ears, eagle eye, and learning how to work together as a team and respect nature and each other.

Forest Friday with 1st/2nd


We planted dinosaur kale,  potatoes, cucumbers, baby bok choy, lettuce and each student also planted their own herb to care for; so far we have planted 10 different ones. We planted a milkweed plant and learned about the different varieties that grow in Florida. We found baby monarch caterpillars eating the milkweed, and discussed how they only eat milkweed and the importance the milkweed plant plays in a monarch caterpillars life. We witnessed the monarchs and learned the difference between male and female monarch butterflies. The children enjoy time to explore freely and discover the gardens treasures. They are doing great job at working as a team caring for the garden and all it’s creatures, plants, insects, and birds ( we always fill the bird bath ). It is beautiful to witness their passion for nature.

In the garden with 3/4th grade


Ms Jessica




Golden is the garden, golden is the glen.  Golden, golden, golden, October’s here again.  Golden are the tree-tops, Golden is the sky.  Golden, golden, golden, October’s passing by.

Upcoming Events

No School – Fall Break and Parent Teacher Conferences Monday, October 30th through Wednesday, November 1st

Teachers will touch in with you regarding their schedule availability to meet regarding your child’s progress either during the break or the days that follow.  These conferences are a wonderful opportunity to get a sense of your child’s role in the class community as well.


Arabian Nights Dance Party – Saturday, November 4th, 7-11 pm at private residence near Proctor Rd / I 75 

Please join us for our first annual DANCE party fundraiser!

This year’s theme is Arabian Nights – featuring a delicious Middle Eastern / Mediterranean vegetarian farm to table buffet, adult libations aplenty, henna art and a few surprises too!

Dress up if you’d like…themed costumes welcome!

Click here for tickets:

Feel free to invite your friends by emailing the link above!


Come Craft with Us – Saturday November 11th, 10am – 12pm – Lantern Making

All ages welcome, please tell a friend as this event is also an open house and a great opportunity to learn more about the curriculum.  Bread baking and a puppet story round out the morning for littles ones as well.

Please RSVP to so we have enough materials for all.

Lantern Walk – Friday, November 17th, 5:30 pm, Siesta Key Main Beach

The lantern is the symbol of our own light which we can shine on a dark world, and we celebrate this time of year by holding a “lantern walk.”

We will meet by the playground and then do our beach walk complete with lanterns made lovingly by our dear children (in class). The children will sing songs, and enjoy the stillness of the beach at night. As this is a reverent event, please do not allow your child to run the beach.

Parents are responsible for supervising their children during this event.  

Friends are welcome! We always have extra lanterns, or bring your own homemade creation. 🙂

Hope to see you there!


Thank You’s

We are so grateful for all of the time and care so many have taken already this year, for the betterment of our community. Thank you so much to the Green Family, Geoff Pierce, the Benoit Family and John Schroeder for installing our new floors!  Thank you again, to Geoff Pierce for donating and installing our new basketball pole system!  The kids LOVE being able to play again!  Thank you to all who helped bring together our first festival of the year on the equinox – The Benoit Family, Keshara Alleyne, Chris Maute, Natalie Maute, Tiffany and Gary Blackden, as well as all of the parents, grandparents and friends who came together for the morning – the pictures say it all!

The trials for the brave and courageous!

Preparing the set for the Equinox play.

Facing the dragon.

The dragon is tamed!

Dragon themed challenges.

Dragon trials!

Many students attempted the challenges!


3rd/4th planting romaine lettuce in the garden.

Thank you so much to Kai Green, Jessica Bromby, Keshara Alleyne, Yolanda Benoit and Jasen Benoit for taming and maintaining our garden!  It is a big job, and we so appreciate all you have done so the children are able to enjoy all the benefits of learning how to garden organically, get their hands dirty, do some hard work, and harvest their bounty for our community lunches.

Thank you so much to all of the students who helped with our Hurricane Irma clean up – from our first grade, through Saltmeadow school, many hands made for light work, especially when it came to big branches!  Thank you also to Chris and Natalie Maute for their assistance, and to  Geoff Pierce for all of the repair work needed outside.  

Branch clean up by 3/4th and 5/6th.

Love the can do attitude in 5/6th! Repairing shade sails.

Thank you to our yard sale team – Yolanda Benoit, Rita Radi, Keshara Alleyne, Natalie Maute, Jasen Benoit, Jennifer Suter, our 3/4th grade, and our 5/6th grade for setting up, managing and disassembling our sale, and of course to all of you who donated to the cause!  A huge thank you to the Chawkins family and Symphony Salvage for hauling off and purchasing all leftovers!  What a huge help!

 From Our Classrooms:

Seahorse Nursery and Starfish Kindergarten:

Some of our early childhood students celebrating the fall season with their annual trip to Fruitville Grove.

Older ones assist the younger ones in the mixed aged group.

The Nursery and Kindergarten are combined this year full time and we have been reveling in the benefits of this union.  The Kindergartners have been enjoying helping the younger children and setting a fine example.  The Nursery children have appreciated having older children to play with, who show them things and help convey a sense of security in the classroom.  This group approach helps to establish a community feeling for all.  The class rhythm works smoother and everyone feels that their opinion and ideas are important.

We started out the year with a focus on the Fall Equinox festival.  The children made dragon bread and created dragons with fiery breath using crepe paper.  Our circle was about a knight that defeats a dragon and the story was from Tiptoes Lightly.  Tiptoes Lightly is a fairy and her friend Jeremy Mouse witness the taming of the dragon in the story.  This time of the year, when the outer light gets dimmer, we can look inside ourselves for our own inner light.  We can look at our own dragons and work to tame them to become better human beings.  We read these stories to the children as a fun activity but even  for the youngest children this translates as being able to accomplish something they haven’t been able to do before.  The children feel a sense of accomplishment and support from their teacher’s and school friends.

Making dragon bread in the kindergarten.

We have celebrated three birthdays already, with candles, a puppet play and many gifts from nature.  A child’s birthday is a reverent experience in the class.  The other children get a chance to focus on their friends special day and serve them with their special hand made presents.  This helps the children to feel empathy and care for others.

Recently, we visited Fruitville Grove for our Fall outing.  We visited and fed the goats corn, took a hayride and explored the Grove, its various farm animals and playground.  Each child took a small pumpkin home as well.  

Feeding the goats at Fruitville Grove.

Our current circle is about Squirrel Nutkin and a few lively Halloween songs.  The circle is a wonderful way to help the child with memory, manners, being in a group, and gross and fine motor coordination.  

Some of the children have been sewing gnomes, hearts and a star.  They also have been introduced to twisty twirly.  This is the beginning of handwork in the Kindergarten.  Handwork in the Early Childhood is a wonderful way for children to work on their fine motor coordination, focus, concentration, will to complete a task,  and use their imaginations to create a toy or gift for their family.

The Nursery and Kindergarten have also delighted in their new weekly Forest Friday outings.  We have gone to both  Crowley Nature Preserve and Phillippi Creek for outdoor immersion and discovery.  

Exploring in the woods at the Phillippi.

The benefits of all of this outdoor time is very important for the children.  They develop a healthy respect for nature and a wonder about all that’s around them.  They find so many interesting and exciting items in nature to ponder and ask questions about.  Being out in nature also has an overall positive effect on a child’s well being.

As Halloween approaches, we have pumpkin carving, wet felting and sewing projects to look forward to!

Best wishes,

 Ms. Birte and Ms. Laura


1st/2nd Grade:

First Grade:

Discoveries. The first graders have been exploring many new experiences, in and out of the classroom.

Can they hear their teacher calling them into join their classmates? Can they walk in a straight line, or follow as the line curves and turns?

Can they be ready to see who’s day it is to light the candle? Can they say the verse all together? Can they find their voice to join the morning song?

Can they respond to the attendance call? Can they listen to the story being told? Can they find their crayons and their book and be ready to work?

Can they shut their desk so quietly? Can they find their next page in their book? Can they try their best to draw a straight line, a curved line following the teacher’s drawing? Can they roll their crayons, tie a bow and put their things away?

Can they be ready, with their cloth down and their snack or lunch upon it, waiting quietly for all their classmates to sing the blessing song together? Can they pack up their things, wash their desk and be ready for recess? Can they play with friends, work out the disagreements, or find a teacher for help?

Can they make a slip knot, or many slip knots on their string? Can they measure and saw the wood to help make their knitting needles? Can they find the color for their painting? Can they warm their hands to model their beeswax? Can they listen when a new teacher comes to share?

How can they remember so many experiences?  Discoveries. It’s what first grade is all about.

Making their knitting needles


The joy of the first grader!


Second Grade:

The children have brought an increased sense of confidence with them into second grade. They have a new and exciting perspective on their school days and meet it with bold strides.

They are beginning to become more independent, questioning everyone and everything around them. As we build on the foundation from first grade, the children experience the gentle, kind, empathetic qualities in the stories of the saints, and from fable stories, the tricks of the wily fox, thus reflecting the ever contrasting polarities that they too are seeing in their lives.

They are ready to be challenged with more difficult arithmetic problems, paintings with several colors, adding purling to their knitting projects, learning new drawing techniques, printing evenly and precisely, beginning to read their work, modeling more complex beeswax figures, singing in rounds and playing their flutes.  They are also confronted with what is often the most difficult trial of all:  experiencing differences among their classmates and choosing to call upon their kind heart to work it out, be a friend to all and show forgiveness.

The second graders have stepped forward on their journey this year with a joyful spring in their step and are experiencing their new challenges in the special way only a second grader can.

Purling in second grade.

Second grade math.

A beeswax dragon.

With Love,

Ms McMillan

3rd/4th Grade:

Field work in 3/4th grade.

Greetings Parents!

After embracing the strong winds of Irma, the third/fourth grade has delved deeply into the building our class community, returning to the rhythm of school, and into getting to better know where we live.  

We began our first block, Local Geography and Humans, by finding a sitspot near our classroom.  We’ve spent time nearly every day sinking the roots of our awareness into our surroundings.  Children practiced several times wandering around their spot, each time look as if they had never seen the species of plants and animals before.  After looking at small parts of the school campus with new eyes, we created habitat maps.  Each cartographer/naturalist determined which habitats made up their sitspots, and then decided how to represent them in a two dimensional model.  As an exercise in map making, map reading, and joy, each child was handed the map of another student and was tasked with finding another’s

Mapping in 3/4th grade.

sitspot (x marked the spot).  The success brought excitement and new appreciation for their budding cartography skills.


A birds eye view.

Measuring the classroom.

Next we turned our attention to representing our classroom from a bird’s eye view.  This allowed us to begin to consider how objects are oriented in space and how to represent them on paper.  Some students naturally wished to draw exact details of objects on tables, and others were content with rectangles and squares.  We noted that some students drew smaller objects quite large, and large objects quite small.  Our desire to represent objects proportional to their actual size was born.  

Measuring our campus.

Measuring our strides.

This desire carried over to the first maps of our school campus.  After discussing ways of measuring small and large distances, we set out determined to create a map of the campus that accurately represented the buildings, gardens, vernal pools and playspaces.  We measured the length of Ridgewood Street by counting our steps.  Inside, we measured our strides and then calculated how long Ridgewood was for each of us.  Our measurements ranged from 644 feet to just shy of 1,000 feet.  Amused, we brainstormed ways that would be efficient (not measuring with rulers) and accurate.  A trundle wheel was mentioned, and Max volunteered on of his father’s (Thanks Gary!).  We proceeded to measure each road, building, garden, pool, playground, the distance between our sitspots, sidewalks, and even how long spilled water traveled on the sidewalk.  

With all of these measurements, we set off to create maps in our main lesson books.  But still lingering was the question of how to represent everything proportionally.  We learned about scale, and it was suggested that we use the scale of one inch equals one hundred feet.  Calling on one of the many purposes of decimals, we used moving the decimal two place values to the left to transform feet into in inches.  Aided by lightly drawing a grid of one inch squares, each child created a clear and accurate map of their school campus.  Other lessons on cardinal directions, symbols, keys, and so on were embedded throughout the creation of these maps.  

We moved on to widen our definition of community by investigating our neighborhood, and then our routes to school.  Children viewed a map of Sarasota County, taking delight in finding major landmarks.  Many found the roads they live on, and still others found the three roads that surround our school campus.  Next we will uncover the watershed of which Mangrove School is a part.  We’ll follow the water and elements as we learn about the land that drew each of us to live with at this moment in history.  The children will continue to expand their map making skills, echoing the cartographers of all time, mapping the world as we continue to find our place here.  This will lead us to investigating the early inhabitants of Sarasota Bay, all the way up to current personalities.  All along the way we will pay close attention to how the local habitats affect humans and humans impact their habitat.  We will seek to uncover what this land asks humans to do here in this unique ecosystem.  

An introduction to woodworking.

Forest Friday explorations.

Making connections in Music Theory class.

I appreciate all of your dedication to your children.  They certainly stand out as some of the most empathetic and kind children with whom I have spent time with.  I look forward to continuing on our learning journey together!

Much gratitude,



Fifth/Sixth Grade:

Dear Parents,

Once again we began the year with torrential storms, however in the 5th/6th grade classroom, we have enjoyed relative harmony as we set off on an odyssey of sorts, with many points of interest around the world, now venturing further, into the earth, and into the sky for these curious, kind, funny, wild and always interesting human beings.

First day pictures.

First day pictures.

In geography, our perspective widens this year, as our studies encompass a much larger span – beginning with the continent of North America.  We were first introduced to the whole, looking at the basic geographical features of the continent, how the land changes as we travel in various directions, and discussed the contrasting ecosystems.  Included in this introduction, we looked at the interplay of climate, altitude, soil, flora and fauna, and how they generally impact the possibility of exploration and settlement.

Recalling Florida heritage at Crowley.

We very briefly reviewed our local studies from last year, when we focused on our immediate surroundings, which then radiated out, into the city of Sarasota and the state of Florida.  From here we explored what we divided into ecoregions: The entire Gulf Coast, focusing on the bodies of water, and how they influenced settlement, which we then followed up the eastern seaboard – the South Atlantic Coastal Plain and Piedmont, including the fall line cities, and the role of the plantations, then New England, and the Canadian Maritime provinces.  Here we discussed  the role of the Atlantic Ocean, fishing, exploration, the colonies, and whaling.  Next we went to the the North Atlantic States,  through the Erie Canal and its role in the expansion into the Northwest and the impact its creation had on the state of New York. Most recently we looked at the formation of the Great Lakes region, its natural resources, as well as its later  development as a major center of industry, contributions to agricultural technology, transportation, and architecture.  With each place we find an overall gesture  – the independent impulse of New England, and the industriousness of the Great Lakes, for example.

Team work whenever possible

Regional cooking to deepen our geography studies.

We make it an immersive experience by incorporating regional literature, songs, Native American legends,  and dance.  They cook and experience the taste of indigenous foods.  They read books that not only take place in, but richly describe of the areas we have studied, such as Misty of Chincoteague, Seabird, Rascal, and more.  At the same time, they are being exposed to excellent descriptive writing that exemplify how words can be used to give us a vivid picture of our surroundings in various time periods.  Carefully drawn student maps help orient them in space.  In our current veil painting, mountains are slowly rising above the plain.  Studying geography in this way, is not only interdisciplinary, it is much more meaningful.  The students are also so very social and love to share, so recalling their own experiences in different areas, and reconnecting to those areas with a fresh perspective has been exciting for them.

Rather than memorizing the state capitols and other random facts of each state; we imbue the children with the crucial aspects that have been a driving force in a particular land’s development, and they gain a greater comprehension of how the world works.   We weave in many relevant subjects – botany, mineralogy, economics, and more, so they get  a sense of how these affect one another.  Then throughout the year we can continue to recapitulate these ideas from several angles, helping them to understand the larger picture.

The subject of geography has the capacity to truly unite the child to the earth as they become familiar with how an area came to be – how the land and water shaped the earliest humans and later settlers, how they in turn shaped their environment,  as well as how it all fits together with neighboring regions. The sense of belonging to their local surroundings that was solidified last year becomes much broader,  moving them closer to being a true citizen of the world, as they also gain a feeling of brotherhood between our neighboring nations (even deeper with our weekly language classes of Spanish and French), which seems crucial given today’s political climate.


Crystals grown on seashells in Mineralogy.

We have also begun our first science block, in our study of mineralogy, drawing attention into the depths of the earth, where we will discover polarities in minerals, their optimal conditions, and their contrasting creation. We began the block with a discussion of and examination of various types of rocks from all over the continent, and discussion of what types of clues rocks can tell us where we find them.  Then from the whole, we move to the parts – the minerals that make up rocks, and elements that make up the minerals.  We looked at two minerals that seem to be complete contradictions – dark, soft, dull graphite, and a brilliant, clear, hard diamond.  The students were amazed when they discovered both minerals are simply the element carbon, and their extreme difference is based only on the bonds of the molecules; the very loose bonds in graphite allow us to use it daily for rubbing on paper, whereas the very tight bonds of the diamond allow it to be hard enough to scratch any other mineral.  We grouped minerals based on common mineral classes, such as silicates, carbonates, and more, and were able to find many examples we already knew, such as quartz, clay, limestone, and salt, as well as how to identify minerals in nature.  We also examined some less common minerals and tried to guess what they had been used for historically, such as optical calcite, a double refracting clear mineral, once used by Vikings for navigating.  We then used our powers of observation to describe various minerals – carefully recording color, luster, hardness on the Mohs scale, streak color for example.  Most recently the students have begun some experiments to see how minerals form their crystal structure, as well as how temperature can influence the structure.  Using common household minerals – epsom salt and borax,  students grew their own crystals, and were able to see the optimal conditions for growth for each.  Looking ahead we will now be moving onto the rocks the minerals come together to make, and delve more deeply into the clues they give us about the earth and its history.

In the first week of school we also revisited the circle, the shape we have done freehand for years in form drawing and then later in freehand geometric drawing, all the while honing our ability to connect our hand, brain and eye in search of perfection.  Now that it was time to introduce an instrument to create this, the compass, we naturally recapitulated its origin, at the sand  with various materials trying to figure out all the ways we could make  the most perfect  circle, which they figured out right away – a stick and a rope, creating  a compass of sorts.


Then we did this again in the classroom, with pencils and string.  Then finally the students were presented with their compass, and they were elated.  After years of trying to sneak cups or jars around the room to trace, they can finally make perfect circles!  After some basic instruction on compasses, we began our first geometric drawings, all of which will be constructed within a circle.  Each one is done twice, the first time we learn the form, the second time we learn from our previous mistakes!  So far they have completed Six-fold Symmetry, Six-fold Symmetry II, and the much more arduous Five-fold Symmetry.

Learning to use their compasses.

Great stress is laid on careful, precise, accurate drawings.  This subject is one that unites the class; they all put a great deal of effort into the process and the finished product, working meticulously, and helping each other as they go.  They were incredibly excited to show all of you parents their new found capacity at our parent meeting as well.

The students become the teachers, in recognition of their desire to stand on their own.

Along the way we have continuously engaged in math review, from place value to decimals, measurement to fractions, taking nothing for granted, as well as placed a special emphasis on mental math each morning.  We have also began creating an almanac of sorts, recording the weather, sunrise and sunset times, which we will then graph.  This practice also brings more consciousness to the seasons and cycles of the year, length of day, the equinox and solstice. In the coming week we will review practical applications of geometry.

The students have also begun their practice of the ukulele this year, kicked off with a trip to the Rhythm Inlet in Nokomis, to learn the history of the instrument, which was first made in Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants who worked the sugar fields, and is based on the native Portuguese braguinha.

Introducing the ukulele.

After becoming familiar with the instrument, again recognizing growing independence, they are learning to tune their instruments on their own, and are currently learning simple songs that use two chords.  With each step they find success and the encouragement to keep practicing.

Woodworking has also been a source of motivation for the 5/6th grade, and is an effective way to get them to focus externally, rather than at the internal drama that is bound to bubble up at this age.  It also fosters self-discipline, self-awareness, and the will to create something functional as well as beautiful.  So far they have have learned the different types of wood, how to choose the appropriate sandpaper, made their own twig pencils, and wood stampers.

On our Forest Days our focused class time activities  have reflected the students’ ever expanding capacities – identification and recording of various vegetation and animal tracks, mineral specimen collection, creating a sundial, and orienteering.  At other times, they are simply savoring their connection with the woods, being free, climbing, exploring and building forts.  This week they were delighted to see three bluebirds at Crowley, a first hand observation of the impact of their service from last year’s blue bird house building and installation.

Creating an orienteering course.

Discovering Crowley

Singing, meditation, fine arts, handwork (sock knitting) and verse recitation are just a few of their other activities.  Class meetings help address the occasional yet  inevitable social dissonance of the age, fostering healthy communication, empathy, and accountability to one another and the group as a whole.

Although many faces are the same I am always struck when I meet a brand new class each year, with new capacities, interests, and proclivities. It is inspiring to see them come together again, like a family – sometimes squabbling, but always caring for each other, even if in subtle ways.

I am beginning to see elements of conformity common of the age – wearing the same outfit to school, coordinating Halloween costumes, as well as  the very obvious priority of their social life, and a frequent, very pronounced division between the boys and girls, which lends itself to playful mischief and pranks of all kinds.

Thank you dear parents for your continued support as we take a  journey of a different kind –  into the tumultuous waters of pre-adolescence!

As for the coming weeks, these wild, willful horses are ready to be driven to the rigid structure of laws and order of Rome!  🙂

Also, a reminder that our caving trip will be on Saturday, November 18th.  I will be in touch with more detailed logistics soon.

Always an adventure,

Ms Erin


For all grades the beginning of the year is a lot of review.  They are recalling what they learned last year, and as there are new students, it is an opportunity to help each other remember the various words, pronunciations and very basics of the french language.

Our first/second graders have covered:

Greeting each other in french, saying thank you, please and saying goodbye .

Reviewing the colors; color games

Learning the numbers through 10, ABC’s

Frère Jacques in french

Pomme de Reinette er Pomme d’apis song

Element song in french

Learning how to say family members mom, dad, sister, brother, grand -maman, etc

Our third/fourth graders have covered:

Greeting each other in french , saying thank you, please, and saying goodbye

Reviewing the numbers to 20, playing games to reinforce them

Learning  Lundi matin song – days of the week, J’ai perdu le do de ma clarinette, Il y’avait des crocodile, Elements song, AEIOUY song

Libellule Dragonfly in french

Reviewing  Colors

Our Fifth/Sixth has covered:

Greeting each other, saying thank you, please, and saying goodbye

Reviewing the colors with a drawing

Learning the numbers to 30

Learning the ABC’s – we created alphabet cards with pronunciations to be displayed in the room

Word challenge for the year; spelling.

A la claire Fontaine <3 french song <3

Il pleut bergère song

Michaud a tombé dans un grand pommier <3

Nature Studies and Gardening:

First/Second and Third/Fourth Grade:

We studied the Oak Tree and resurrection ferns

Learned a few florida wildflowers ( yellow primroses)

Learning about beauty berry

Tree climbing on oaks, sharing and teamwork

Poison Ivy review

Created a nature alter

Nature games, such as Hawk and Bird Tribe

Studied the Dragonfly

Prepping the garden and beds

Cleaning and clearing

Study the soil a bit, hands in the earth


Hay for mulch

Choosing what we want to Plant

Wild edibles (lemon sorel, spanish needle and honeysuckles)

Garden friends  – birds , insects , butterflies

The elements

Observe, exploring , listening

The directions

The sun

The moon cycle

The Fall season in Florida

What grows this time of year in nature and in the garden

Sing  songs

Planting with love and intention

Tuning into nature

Sit spots


Ms Jessica

Spanish for 3/4th and 5/6th Grade:

1st week- Introductions- we went around room and each student would say phrases like…  hola! mi llamo _____ . Me encanta ______, then personalize it with their favorite things. We ended class with a review from last year with the fun game of Simon Dice, especially to review body parts and verbs.

2nd week- I cut out different colored squares to play a color/pattern game with students. I would call out different color patterns in Spanish, like azul, rosa, azul, morado, azul rosa, azul morado …… and they would hop from one square to another calling out the color name in Spanish and trying to remember the exact pattern. Started with simple patterns then would make them a little more difficult. With 5/6th I had them put a finish goal in middle and separated them into four groups where they would ‘race’ towards middle remembering the pattern and hopping from color to color. with the 3rd/4th I had them just go in a line and make a pattern recognition train.

3rd week- Cultural Day- The beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.  We began class with a little show & tell and discussion of HHM and why it came to be. I brought some special artesanias from Mexico that I got from my travels and from my grandmother who used to help las Tarahumara Indians from Chihuahua, Mexico (where I am from) sell their wonderful textiles and artesanias. So they got to see and feel first hand some of these specials things made by las Tarahumaras. Since Mexico was in the spotlight during this class, and I had brought an special copper armband that I got on a solidified volcano that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the day of the Virgin Mary (December 12th),  I explained to them the story of why The Virgin Mary is seen as the Mother of Mexico and how she unified the natives and Spaniards under one – the Mexican people and why she is so celebrated and her image is everywhere in Mexico. Then I finished the class off with sharing with them a very popular and uplifting song from Superstar Cuban Singer- Celia Cruz – song- La Vida Es Un Carnaval – and translated the main part of the song of why it is such a great and uplifting song that inspires people to not let life get them down and to celebrate life no matter what.

4th week – The continuation of HHM with  more show and tell items from las Tarahumaras, but this time the different clothes the Tarahumaras made.  They made Mini Piñatas, and learned about Folklorico dancing.

5th week – The students explored and discussed the various senses in Spanish.


~Ms Marivi


1st Grade:  First grade is immersed in a variety of games and activities to complement their skills and challenge them to discover new ones!  Occasionally we will play jump rope, hula hoop, or create obstacles to challenge our physical skill set.  We have also been playing a variety of classic acting games which focus on turn taking, accepting new ideas, going with the flow, creative expression, and build a sense of family.  Many songs have been sung as well and we are continuing to practice a few we hope we can show in the near future!

2nd Grade: Second grade has taken a tremendous creative leap and has begun the application of their studies into dramatic play.  We have begun to rehearse our first play as a class and will be performing our work on October 26th!  More details to come soon : )

3/4th Grade:  To compliment 3/4’s study of Florida the students will present a play that showcases the very very very early life of Florida’s first beginnings in addition to a play relevant to their more modern Florida stories.: The railroad, the circus, the citrus groves, etc.  We hope to perform this before winter break.

5/6th Grade:  This grade eagerly awaits their opportunity to put on a full play with stage and scripts and with all the responsibilities this totes.  In preparation for this, we are working on Improv games and activities to enhance empathy, increase emotional awareness, and build the much needed focus and ensemble skills.

~Ms  Liz



From Our Friends at Saltmeadow School:

Saltmeadow students have begun their studies in World Cultures with the fascinating country of South America.  In addition to the history and geography of South America, they have explored the music, dance, mythology,  poetry, animals, and food of the South American countries.  They made a delicious chayote soup with Miss Yolanda.  World Cultures studies are complemented by a Foundations in Social Justice course.  Lively discussions regarding the Spanish Invasion, income inequality, and the environmental impacts of Western desire for South American resources have deepened the students’ understanding of the human experience in South America.


Scientific studies are a hands-on experience at Saltmeadow!  Our very first day included a water bottle rocket launch.  The students made observations to determine the perfect timing and materials needed to get the highest and most satisfying launch.  They are now studying thermal energy, which has included creating crystals and observing the conduction of heat.


The language arts are being explored through literature, grammar studies, and creative writing.  The students edit a silly sentence or paragraph as a daily practice for keeping grammar skills sharp.  As part of both drama and creative writing, the students are creating their own radio drama in the style of War of the Worlds.


The Saltmeadow newsletter, the Tortoise Times, continues to be student-run this year.  The project manager is responsible for all aspects of making sure the Tortoise Times is complete and published on-time.  The students continue to learn about journalistic integrity, formatting, and graphic arts.  The Tortoise Times has expanded into a live newscast that the students are writing and filming themselves.


Math is a rigorous experience, as we continue to solidify foundational math concepts while delving into new and more complex ideas.  


Our scouting program, the Navigators, is in full swing.  The students have been hiking and geocaching at Oscar Scherer, Jelks Preserve, and other local wild areas.  Observing and identifying the local plants and animals is a favorite component of the scouting program.


The students continue with lessons in Guitar, French, Spanish, Yoga, Singing/Songwriting, Building Community through Entrepreneurship, and Human Relations and Sexuality.  Human Relations includes a special focus on discovering the Self and our interconnectedness to all things.

Artistic book work makes the studies more meaningful to the students.

Always exploring.


Far up in the deep blue sky, Great white clouds are floating by; all the world is dressed in green; Many happy birds are seen; Roses bright and sunshine clear, Show that lovely June is here.


Dear Families,

What a year it has been!  We had many successful events, including the Autumn Equinox Festival, The Mermaid Faire, The Lantern Walk, Santa Lucia and the Winter Spiral.  This spring our students created kites and set them aloft, boisterously rolled around the campus on scooters and bikes , then joyfully sped down a water slide.  We camped at Crowley Museum and Nature Center; we also engaged in service for them as well as Transition Sarasota and All Faith’s Food bank  at Jessica’s Organic Farm stand.  

We came together weekly for delicious organic meals with much gratitude for Ms Aneta and her mission of healthy nutritious foods for all.  We shared songs, dances, and performances of all kinds, while eating wholesome meals.  We decorated rooms and halls together; we crafted many a Saturday.  

This year we welcomed many new families, new students, and have made some new friends around the community, such as Longboat Key Turtle watch, Sarasota Honey Company, Crowley Museum and Nature Center, and the Circus Arts Conservatory.

When I look at our mission as a school, I see great strides we have taken this year, with many thanks to our faculty members, to live these ideals. We collectively brought interesting and meaningful developmentally and geographically appropriate activities and ideas to our children.

 I see this education as a conduit for belonging – through the curriculum itself, which appeals to the internal experience of the child, the emphasis on our natural surroundings, as well as our sense of community –  not just our own entity, but for those around us. Ultimately,  there is no more important lesson to teach a child, through modeling especially, than to learn to say, in any situation, “How can I help?”; “How can I use my knowledge/skills/resources to help those around me?”  Studies have shown that this is the mark of a successful, content, adult.  One who values not personal accomplishments, but  is working for the benefit of others in some way. This starts now!

Our vision of the child goes beyond the immediate childhood period, as we seek to support the development of well-rounded human beings: people who are confident, capable, and kind.  These are some of the qualities we are fostering here through this unique educational experience, that will serve the children throughout their lives.  

We hope you have enjoyed this year as much as we have. Seeing your smiling, engaged children each day is truly uplifting to the spirit! Thank you for all you do to support our school.  Have a lovely and relaxing summer.  

With Gratitude,



From Our Classrooms:

Seahorse Pre-Kindergarten and Starfish Kindergarten

Dear Parents,

The Nursery and Kindergarten have been very busy enjoying many activities.  In the classroom, we have been stringing beads to make necklaces and bracelets.  This activity is fun and helps the children with their fine motor capabilities.  Parent Agnes Nagy came in and explored with the children how to make a collage.  We used canvases along with paint and anything else you could think of to create the perfect collage.  Thank you Agnes!  This project was wonderful practice for following directions and listening along with sharing of materials and artistic work.

Our current circle has a Polish Haying song, 5 little Monkeys, Simon says, and a finger play called “I have 10 little fingers”.  The Polish Haying song is rhythmic and uses the days of the week for the children to learn.  The “5 little monkeys”, counts from 5 backward to 1 and involves jumping. “Simon says” is to help with focus and attentiveness.  Sometimes we do clapping games for rhythm and beat and freeze dancing.  The children especially enjoy the freeze dancing!    

Parent Kalin Wilson came in and did origami with the children and it was a big hit.  They enjoyed making bunnies and bluebirds.  Thank you Kalin! This project was fun as well as helped the children with fine motor coordination and listening to directions.

The children made Mother’s Day presents using blue felt and wool to stuff it into a heart.  They also drew a picture on a water color card and picked a ribbon to finish it up.  

This past week was Bubble time and the children really relished making bubble wands out of straws and pipe cleaners to see what worked the best.  We will be continuing this next week too as it was so well received.

The children have really enjoyed making puppet plays and doing shows for their friends.  This activity shows how creative they can be with the materials in the classroom and helps with their imaginative play.  

Parent Alison Goldy came to class to share with us about turtles, she even brought some of the Mote turtles!  There are some wooden fish that the children have spent a lot of time sanding and we will be painting them beautiful colors.

Recently, we have introduced to each child a friend.  These friends are a knitted cat for the Nursery children, and a doll for the Kindergarteners.    The little ones were found under a tree and each child could name their own.  These dolls are more than just play things, but  their own little friends who can help the children with big feelings they may be having.  The children are taught  to treat them with love and respect;  they are played with only in class and at the end of the year will go home with each child.

With love and respect,

Ms. Birte and Ms. Laura

First Grade:

Dear Parents,

We have been busy in the first grade finishing the letters of the alphabet. The children’s favorite letter was discovered after following a treasure map to find ‘X’, and the hidden treasure! We have been challenged by singing our alphabet song forwards and backwards!!

We have been reviewing numbers 1-12 in many ways and recently introduced place value.

Our bean bag challenges continued, with times tables, throwing and catching, juggling and basket dunk.  The children visited with a local animal rescue, interacting various animals they learned of in their Nature Studies class, as well as made fidget spinners as an end of year surprise project.

The first graders are all good knitters now, and are finishing up their final projects and are looking forward to showing them off!!


Ms McMillan

2/3rd Grade:

Dear Parents,

The second and third grade is a classroom of do-ers!  Students have been experiencing many hands-on activities, such as making acorn pancakes, and sewing buttons. Students were introduced to the ‘C’ flute and are practicing scales along with a new song.  We’ve traded Fridays at Phillippi Estate Park for fun stations and slip & slide play by the garden.  With the recent Maypole celebration, the students practiced their weaving of the maypole ribbons.


We spend the first part of the morning practicing various seasonal or German songs and circle and game activities to begin our day.  Students are enjoying reading aloud and summarizing “Stuart Little” and finishing up the writing of their own short stories, represented in their own little booklets as written and illustrated by them.

Other lessons included  non-fiction material (an educative book about manatees) – they also did a combined wax crayon / water coloring drawing of a manatee; as well as the story of Joseph and the Multi Colored Cloak.

Math is a daily continuation of the four processes as well as a good dose of mental math, which is so important to critical thinking.  All students are getting the level of academics that is appropriate for them, with some students receiving one-on-one tutoring and others working on more challenging material.  Cursive writing has come to completion, with all letters dutifully practiced, and  we have begun practicing some short poems in cursive.  

The last weeks of school we have been  patiently awaiting our praying mantis egg case to hatch and study, practicing bean bag math, and completing the book Stuart Little along with a small preparation of a scene from that story in drama class.  Mental math with time and money along with Rehearsals for the end-of-year parent presentation are a main focus this week. We’re in a busy time of year and appreciating each day!

With Love,

Ms Yolanda and Ms Stefanie

4/5th Grade:

Dear Parents,

Over the past months our class has been doing some serious time traveling!  From Ancient India, to Persia, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, we finally arrived in Ancient Greece.  This expansive study was an opportunity to see how human consciousness has changed over thousands of years, and how each of these cultures lived within their unique geographical conditions and belief systems.  

For example,  in Ancient India we saw they did not much care for life on earth, but rather looked forward to the time when they would die and leave earth behind.  The most noble of actions was to give up all comforts and pray.    In Persia we saw the advent of farming, and other organized work, however, the people of Persia still looked forward to going to the kingdom of light to Ahura Mazda after their death.  Still later, in Babylon, people were much more at home on earth.  They built cities, watched the stars and measured time.  We saw how these comforts brought uncomfortable feelings about death – we heard in the epic Gilgamesh, of how very hard he tried to find the secret of living on earth forever.   In Egypt we found those who became even more at ease on earth, learning to measure with accuracy, and build with stone.  Although they had gods they revered, everyone attempted to take their earthly belongings with them;  not just their possessions, as seen in their overflowing tombs, but their physical bodies also, in their mummification practices.  

Conversely, in Ancient Greece, we saw a definite disconnect occur between people and the spiritual realm.  A large focus of our Greek study was that of the golden age of Athens, only fifty years long, yet an enduring  influence on cultures around the world, even to present day.  We learned about their democracy, architecture, sculpture, theater, and of course, rational thought.  We learned of a new concept – philosophy – or love of wisdom.

We heard about Socrates, Plato and finally Aristotle who led us to our final chapter of Greece – Alexander the Great.  Aristotle was the tutor of this unique ruler.  Alexander’s quest for unification of Greece with Asia led to the largest empire the world had ever seen, along with a unprecedented purpose – to unite the knowledge of these cultures – the ancient wisdom of Asia, along with the new wisdom of Greece.  Alexander didn’t desire to conquer and enslave, rather, he envisioned humanity coming together.  His capital city, Alexandria, in fact, became a hub of culture and learning for philosophers from all over, with an extensive library and museum.  Alexander’s rise and fall were the perfect ending point for the block – the fact that he was so young, yet so accomplished and also flawed, left quite an impression, and also mark an important step – from mythology to history.

With the study of ancient civilizations in this order, the children experience an evolution of human consciousness that meets their budding interest in the deeper thoughts and questions of existence.

Our Ancient Civilizations block concluded with the children captivated in their task to emulate some of these figures in our first ever “Living Wax Museum”

The pinnacle of the curriculum of the year is undoubtedly the Greek Pentathlon, which we participated in with various other Waldorf and inspired by Waldorf schools in the Southeast region for the first time.  This event, included not only the traditional athletic portion (Wrestling, Javelin, Long Jump, Discus, and Running) but also the artistry and reverence of the games, just as the Greeks did.  Activities are completed with beauty, respect, and dignity.  The children from all schools are divided into four major city states – Sparta, Athens, Thebes, and Corinth, by temperament.  This is an opportunity for independence, a true rite of passage, with all of the students emerging strengthened in various ways, by this event.

Our ancient studies would not be complete without learning of some of the mathematical accomplishments of these times. The term geometry often elicited groans before we began to talk about how much of our lives depend on these discoveries.   We imagined the origins of the concepts we take for granted, such as the circle, triangle, and square.  We learned about the rope stretchers of Egypt,  Thales and his shadow discovery, and of course Pythagoras, and all of the practical applications for these ideas, and how they changed how these civilizations were able to accomplish their goals in areas such as irrigation,  surveying, and stargazing.  

New blocks for us this past month include a sailing block with Sarasota Youth Sailing, which is an exercise in bravery, courage, independence, and responsibility, as the children build their boats each session, then head out into the bay for several hours of hands on learning of sailing.  

We finished the year with a final block of botany (medicinal plant were studies earlier in the year).  Here the children were introduced to plants in a different way, first with the theme of metamorphosis, or how plants grow.  We talked about how the major plant parts, how plant gathers nutrients and water; photosynthesis and why it matters.   We studied the bees, and how important their role here on earth is.  This study included a visit to Sarasota Honey Company, where they children could see the hives, and learn more about the bees of this area, and how we can help them.  This block also included learning how to identify and organize the plants groups.  On our field trip to Crowley we used this more in depth knowledge to identify plants on our walk.  

It has been quite an action packed year!  Looking forward to what is to come next year in 5/6th.  Wishing you all a renewing summer.

Always an adventure,

Ms Erin

Thank you’s:

In case you missed it, here is a post on our Rollathon:

Another Successful Roll-a-Thon!

Thank you again to our sponsors, volunteers, and students for their dedication!

Reminder – Refer -a – Friend Program!

For every new student you refer, you will receive $100 off your total tuition bill, as will they! All referrals are greatly appreciated!

Bluebird House Service Trip to Crowley Museum and Nature Center 

Our grades students, along with Saltmeadow School completed our second service project of the year for Crowley Nature Center!  This project involved building bluebird houses, with the expert assistance of their woodworking volunteer, Eric McGrath.  Thank you so much to Ms Yolanda and Ms Jessica for organizing this project – the students built the houses, then inserted tiny cypress scrolls with encouraging messages for the future inhabitants.  Once we delivered the houses to Crowley, each student had the opportunity the mount the house in a thoughtfully chosen spot.  It was such a special day of community, service, and nature.  




Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.


Upcoming Events

Grades Service / Camping Trip at Crowley Museum and Nature Center – Thursday and Friday, February 9th and 10th – no Community Lunch on Thursday, February 9th.

No School Thursday  and Friday February 16th and 17th – Parent – Teacher Conferences; No School Monday February 20th – President’s Day

Wednesday evening February 22nd – 6-7:30
Learning and Loving How Energy, Colors and Crystals Heal Our Children with Natalie Grace

Energy healing is available for everyone to access. There is no special background required. This type of healing comes from the universal energy that surrounds us and makes up everything we see and do not see. Energy healing can be directed for mental, physical, emotional and spiritual purposes.

Natalie will guide you on how to tap into the frequencies and living vibrations of color, energy and crystals to transform and direct them beneficially to aid your children. When directed with pure intention we are amazed and in awe of the power of love and benefits of modalities that are at our fingertips everyday and in every way. Accessing these sources and maintaining their presence initiate practices you can use in the comfort of your home, car or grandmas house, even a field trip, to guide little ones and our own beings into a smoother and more effortless journey.

This class will be part presentation, part question answer and part hands on while she guides you through these steps and then we will practice them together.
Upon completion you will have attained the techniques and knowledge to:

1) Find your happy place!
2) Gain an understanding and usage of color and crystals and their energy.
3) Learn about transmuting what we don’t want with pure intention
4) Learn grounding exercises
5) Experience a sense of all over calmness and serenity

Healing is a selfless beautiful act that is every persons right to access and apply.
Please come in comfortable clothing and bring plenty of water to drink.  Course cost is $20 per person and tickets are available in advance.

Saturday February 25th, Florida Heritage Festival 9 am – 5 pm – at Crowley Museum and Nature Center – We will be spinning jump ropes and enjoying all of the other amazing demos on display at the festival.  We would love help with set up, break down and chatting with prospective families and friends of the school.  Please email if you can help!

Save the Date – Friday March 3rdMessages from Loved Ones in Spirit – Presented by Natalie Grace and Karen Slember

Enjoy an “Evening of Reunion” with loved ones in Spirit, as two Evidential Mediums, Medium Natalie Grace and International Medium Karen Rose Slember team up to bring an evening of Evidential Mediumship.

These well experienced, talented and compassionate mediums will bring specific and accurate information about the person in Spirit, touching shared memories and a message of joy and love from the Spirit World to as many of their loved ones as possible in the audience.

This evening, filled with warmth, love, understanding and humor is certain to warm the hearts of those present with the knowledge that love never dies and that our loved ones are just a breath away.

Love is the strongest and most healing energy in the universe. Join this event for a loving and healing evening of Messages from Spirit.  This evening is a benefit for the Mangrove Sarasota School’s conflict education program for students.

Tickets are $25.00

Legal Disclaimer: When purchasing tickets you are acknowledging that attending this event does not guarantee you will receive a personal reading and or connection to a loved one. For legal reasons we must inform you that this demonstration is for entertainment purposes only, and is at no time a substitution for medical, financial, legal, or psychological services.

Friday, March 31st – Spring Festival – Kite Flying and Potluck –  During the month of March our students will be creating their own kites in school in preparation for the Spring KITE festival at Siesta Key Beach!  Join us from 9- 12:30 for kite flying, sand castle making and nature exploration!  A potluck will conclude the festival at 11:45-12:30.


Tax Credit Scholarship families – please drop off your renewal letters for 17-18 in the school office as soon as possible!

 Thank you’s:

This past month we have been so blessed by the service of so many families!  We appreciate these deeds, big and small, more than we could ever properly express.  Thank you so much to Aneta Lundquist, Natalie Maute, Chris Maute, Dee Gangi, Erin Cunningham, Jack Schmitt, Eric Lundquist,  Jasen Benoit, Yolanda Benoit, John Schroeder,  Keshara Alleyne, Rebeeca Rothstein, Alison Goldy, Geoff Pierce, Sheri Hartnell, John Munroe, Heather Green, Michelle Roy, and Laura DiMeglio!

From Our Classrooms:

Seahorse Pre-Kindergarten

Dear Seahorse Parents,

We have had a lovely time these past couple of weeks. We have been busy learning a new circle and new songs, we made play-doh, and painted winter pine cones.

Outdoor painting in the Seahorse class.

Some children have completed a  window star already, whereas others are patiently waiting their turn.

The children are busy with household tasks like cleaning the floors, sweeping, serving the meal, pouring the water and such. It is beautiful to see how much pride they take in these tasks and how important they are to them.  Please keep doing these tasks at home with your children as often as possible.

Upcoming events in the classroom include a  Valentine’s Day celebration for which you will receive more info via text.

With Much Love,

Ms. Birte

Starfish Kindergarten

Dear Parents,

The Kindergarten class has enjoyed many days in the woods with the Nursery class. We have played on the playground, made fishing poles to fish off the dock, taken nature walks in the woods and created many imaginary games along the way.

Our circle has been about robins and welcoming the day. We also played, “Bello who has the bone”, when we have been at the park. The children enjoyed finding new paths through the woods and would find berries, pine cones and seed pods. Some of the children made bird nests with berries. Being in nature has helped with our gross motor skills, enhanced our connection to nature and we have seen how our surroundings change over time. There is a bee hive high up in a tree that the children really enjoyed walking under.

Forest Fun!

Now we will be returning to the school full time and look forward to being in our lovely play garden more often.

We have shared a puppet play called “Mice on Ice”, from the Tiptoes series. The children really enjoyed it and after made up their own puppet plays.

Our newest circle is about a bear hunt and the children get to act out going through tall grass, mushroom field, wide river and a dark cave. I’m not scared!

The children each got to make up their own games that we all played, including hiding the orange.

We look forward to February and all it brings  – especially our Valentine’s tea party!

Best wishes,
Ms. Laura

1st Grade

Dear Parents,

The first graders have been busy learning the qualities of numbers 1-12. They have been listening to a story about two children that have to answer twelve questions to unlock a secret door (which has caused a lot of speculation in the classroom!).

They have also been working very hard writing the numbers in their main lesson books, as well learning how to draw with block and stick crayons.

Qualities of numbers “4”

Qualities of numbers – “7”

During circle time, they are using rhythm sticks to keep the beat in several new rhymes and songs, and  one day we took the sticks outside to try them!

In handwork we are working on making new knitting needles, and dyeing yarn for our next project. The first graders are very enthusiastic learners, and enjoy new experiences every day!


Ms McMillan

From Ms Jessica:

We have been exploring birds, snakes, as well as knowing the difference between live oak and laurel oak.
We have been playing Fish and Osprey , an educational game I made up after the fish was dropped by an Osprey at school . The kids love it and we have shared it with the other grades as well.

We have learned how to count to 12 in french, as well as the body parts , the colors , how to order at a restaurant , greetings and saying please and thank you and goodbye.
We have learned several songs to reinforce the vocabulary, and keep singing them during our time together.

We often light a candle to make wishes and prayers for our lives and others and our world. We will sing songs for the earth and healing and love.

For our story time, we have done yoga nidra in french , a story about a bear eating apples in the red woods, and another about the forest and all it’s animals.

We have been sharing stories and lessons on friendship and compassion , and how to serve our classmates and clean our classroom and how to care for others and our school.

We did a scavenger hunt a couple weeks ago and they knew where to find each plant!   They often walk with me during our free time and I teach them all kinds of things, they are very inspired and are such good listeners .

I love being with your children, they are so wonderful and it is an honor to be with them.

2/3rd Grade

Dear Parents,

Since our return from the holiday break, we have started our language arts block. This includes an exploration of creation stories from various cultures, including the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, the Hindu tradition, and several Native American traditions – all told from the story format. The children look forward to the progress of these stories, as they build upon each other.

Developmentally, children are ready to understand their and humanity’s beginning, and as such our block will look at early practices of food preparation, early clothing, farming, animal husbandry and dwellings. During Earth Skills, we have already made a fire, made soup and are currently making early foot wear. More hands-on skills to come!

Our 2/3rd grade has been busy!

We have also moved into cursive writing, which the children are deeply engaged and improving in.

With humanity becoming aware of and marking the passage of time, we are also learning how to tell time. Market places and use of money will be studied and so too we are working with money in our own classroom marketplace.

Building reading skills are also and will be at the forefront between now and the end of the year, with some students receiving one-on-one reading instruction from volunteers. Experienced readers in class are engaged in peer-to-peer reading pairs with other emerging readers.


Ms Yolanda and Ms Stefanie

4/5th Grade

Dear Parents,

This past month has been full and action packed! We were so honored to host two visiting students, Oskar and Arthur, from a Waldorf school in Germany, as well as welcome several new students and families into the class and community.

Since returning from break we have again been fully immersed in mathematics. Our main focus was decimals – practicing the four operations, as well as applying our knowledge with hands on activities with money and measurement. With math, attaching meaning and significance to their lives is essential. We also kept looking back on our previous work with fractions, and included a comparative analysis of each of the four operations with decimals and fractions. By doing so, the children can understand that decimals are merely a wonderfully convenient convention of fractions. As always with math, we don’t want to present anything blindly, we want the children to comprehend the “why”.  This allows them a deeper understanding and application of what we are doing.

We also completed our Circus Science block with a trip to the Sailor Circus to see the life-sized version of the chain reactions we created in class. The students were on the edge of their seats as they saw the physics in action. Mass, potential and kinetic energies were never so entertaining!

We were are also thrilled to participate in a day of team building and orienteering with Pathfinder Outdoor Education.  The purpose of the program is to develop leadership, increase self-confidence, and enhance communication through trust and team-building activities. The children worked together to identify and achieve common goals and in the process, gained new skills in problem-solving, resolving conflict, listening, observing, and working effectively in a group.

It was magnificent to witness this kind of social learning in real time. One activity included a “river” (about 30 feet of grass) to cross with each child given their own “raft”(mat), that they must remain on. They could not scoot or shuffle the “raft” forward. The caveat was that they must cross the “river” with one hand or foot on their raft at all times or the raging river would wash it away. The class quickly realized that they needed to work together and share their rafts in order to meet their challenge. Even more quickly they learned that they needed to communicate clearly and observe each other closely or they would all be right back at the start of the challenge again. This is just one example of the opportunities they had to be thinking of the group as a whole.


This captures the mood of the 4/5th grade so well – you can see one foot is still firmly planted in childhood.

The orienteering portion also had them working in teams to create a course for another team to complete with their new found skills with the compass. We definitely look forward to working with Pathfinder again in the future!

In an effort to foster cooperation in the classroom at this age it is prudent to engage the children in helping to establish what the rules need to be.  As such, we revisited the topic of rules in the classroom, as well as the consequences for breaking them, that we established last year, in our weekly class meeting.
This was productive in several ways – allowing all students to voice likes or dislikes, enabled the children to see how much they actually have in common – they all want the opportunity to learn in an attentive environment, to have their space respected, to be treated with kindness, etc.  Hearing each other say these things, helped them to realize that they all need to uphold the principles that they too find important.

It also sets the stage for our study of Ancient Greek civilization – this is the ideal I have been pointing them toward over the entire year so far – since their culture and customs had such an impact on our society. In the year 507 B.C., the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people.” This was one of ancient Greece’s most enduring contributions to the modern world, so this is also an opportunity to begin to explore the tenets of democracy, and how we participate in it.  This seems especially important these days – what it means to have a voice, and how to use it.  I look forward to delving deeper into this subject, and practicing these ideals in our class meetings.

Other items on the agenda included activity and subject matter requests. Last month, the students expressed an interest in more practical arts, so we added a weekly session of seasonal and/or curriculum related projects. Other additions per their requests was a Valentine’s Day celebration, and the Chinese New Year performance we shared at Community Lunch last week.

Each morning we begin class with a nature meditation, which sets the tone for the day, allows the students to connect with our natural surroundings, and supports a practice of “checking in” with our inner feelings and adjust as necessary such that negative emotions are not misdirected at others.

As the students approach these middle childhood years, their social life comes to the forefront. At this point, friendships become a very high priority, with seemingly “small” social incidents feeling monumental to them.   As they are also on a quest for individualism, their lives become infinitely complex, as they may suddenly feel very unsettled by differing opinions between friends.  It is an excellent time to talk about respecting other people’s opinions, even if we don’t agree with them.

They have a strong need for social guidance, as misunderstandings and  miscommunication happens often.  Lately I’m reminded by how profoundly important social education is, as I  find myself planting seeds that will hopefully bloom as they navigate the increasingly complicated issues as they enter their teen years or perhaps even adulthood.

In the coming month we go back in time to the earliest civilizations where we will walk back through the stages of human consciousness. Our first stop is Ancient India. Also in the pipeline is a service camping trip to Crowley Museum and Nature Center, and Pentathlon training as we prepare for our Florida Pentathlon with other Waldorf and inspired by Waldorf schools in the state in April.  We will also publish an issue of Mangrove Messenger, detailing our class happenings from the students’ perspective.  The kids are so excited for more and more challenges to come.

Always an adventure,

Ms. Erin

From Our Friends at Saltmeadow:

Commedia dell’art  – an afternoon performance for the community.

A new sport – rowing!




A head I have for thinking deeply,
Listening, and learning, and looking with care.
Hands I have for work and creating
With fingers skillful to make and repair.
In my heart I can carry the sun
Shining with love for everyone.

Mermaid Faire Is Here!



Thank you so much to everyone who has already done so much to make the Mermaid Faire a reality for our children!  It takes many hours and many hands to create this unique, enchanting event.  We have so many extra little surprises this year – you do not want to miss it!  We have mermaids coming ashore from various places, and they will all be sharing their unique gifts with the children.  Here is a rundown of the program:

Activities include:

Ship’s Light Candle Room (Create a beeswax lantern while listening to delightful music in an enchanting space.) Located in the 2/3rd grade classroom. 5 tickets.

Mermaid’s Cove – Children will crawl through an enchanting cave to reach the Mermaid’s grotto, where they will receive a handmade gift. Located in the Seahorse classroom. 4 tickets.

Poseidon’s Treasure Challenge – Step into Posideon’s realm and solve the mysteries to lift Zeus’s curse upon our deep water ally. Multiple chests to unlock and written and math riddles to decode within a dark, curious setting. Third grade and younger requires a parent escort. Maximum of three in a party. 4 tickets

Painted Sea Horse – Transform yourself with an artist’s touch and a bit of sparkle. Henna or traditional face paint designs. 5 tickets

King Neptune’s Wand – Prepare a magical wand using a crystal and special ribbons! 4 tickets

Meet the Mermaid – Meet a real live mermaid and tell her your holiday wish!

Magical Puppet Story -The Fisherman and the Quiltmaker – A captivating tale, enjoyable for all ages – located in our kindergarten. $5 per family.

Adding to the wonder of the experience, don’t forget the magical Mangrove Mother Faerie as she roams among the children to offer treasures in exchange for a ticket.

Delicious Organic Non-GMO Faire Food + Live music too!

A variety of selections – including gluten free and vegan options.

Gather around the fire for some delicious hand toasted Norwegian Fire bread.

We will have several raffle baskets as well with items perfect for gift giving!

Thank you so much to all who are volunteering their time tomorrow.  We have a few spots left for ticket takers throughout the event if you have some time to spare, as well as helping with the breakdown.  We also gratefully accept sponsorships!  We would love to have 100% participation please let us know how you can help make this THE family of event of the season for SRQ!



Creative Movement Classes


Dance. Play. Explore.  We are so excited to introduce a new program for all ages.

Creative dance classes develop musicality, coordination, and spatial awareness in a nurturing environment as each child is encouraged to express his or her individuality through movement.

Each 45 minute class is led by
Wendy Johnson, who received her ballet training in New York City at the Joffrey School of ballet and the David Howard School of ballet. She has been teaching creative movement and ballet technique to children for over twenty years first in Santa Monica, California and later for School of Richmond Ballet as well as locally in Sarasota and she is passionate about bringing a love of dance to students of all ages.

She homeschooled her own children using the Waldorf curriculum through high school age, and is well-versed in creating developmentally appropriate childhood learning experiences from toddlers to teens.

Classes run in 4 week sessions and are offered Wednesdays 9:30-10:15 for Early Childhood age students, and Tuesdays 2:45-3:15 for Grades age students.  Each 4 week session is $65.

Lantern Walk


The lantern is the symbol of our own light which we can shine on a dark world, and we celebrate this time of year by holding a “lantern walk.”

Our lantern walk will be held on Friday, Nov 18th at 5:30 pm, on Siesta Key Main Beach.

We will meet by the playground and then do our beach walk complete with lanterns made lovingly by our dear children (in class). The children will sing songs, and enjoy the stillness of the beach at night. As this is a reverent event, please do not allow your child to run the beach.

Parents are responsible for supervising their children during this event.

Friends are welcome!

Hope to see you there!

Forest Kindergarten Program Begins November 29th!


In line with our vision of a deeper connection to nature for our students, we are so excited to offer a Forest Kindergarten program to Early Childhood age children!  Using an innovative curriculum, the children will experience the wonder of nature immersion our Grades students have enjoyed for several years.  In this program, they will be able to explore Mother Nature in a developmentally appropriate way, with their teachers as loving guides.  Plant investigation, outside projects, and wildlife watching are a few of the activities that will be a part of this new creative endeavor.

In an article published by the American Medical Association, its authors synthesize years of research to summarize how nature play boosts the following skills:

Cognitive – creativity, problem-solving, focus and self-discipline.
Social – cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness.
Emotional – stress reduction, reduced aggression and increased happiness.

Their conclusion was: “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors.”

Please spread the word about this new Early Childhood option!  Our Early Childhood teachers will be on hand tomorrow at the Faire to answer any questions you may have.

Winter Break Camp, December 19th-23rd

Need more time to get it all done?
Your child can enjoy delightful seasonal stories, games, activities and crafts for gift giving with a mix of outdoor and indoor play in a nurturing environment over the break!
Available December 19th – 23rd
$185 for all 5 days
$160 for 4 days
$125 for 3 days
$95 for 2 days
$45 for 1 day
Sibling discounts available. 
Please call 941.927.3711 to register.

From Our Classrooms:

Dear Seahorse Parents,

The Seahorse Pre-Kindergarten is having a great time.We have been having class outside many days a week since your children and,really everybody, is enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

We have been carving pumpkins into Jack o’ lanterns, singing Halloween songs and rhymes and watched our beloved Halloween puppet play about the “naughty hobgoblin” who plays tricks on everyone.

We are now slowly moving into Thanksgiving time and have a circle with “Little eagle feather” and started to sing a native american song accompanied by drum.

Our garden is growing slowly and beautifully, thanks to all the little hands, that help tending to the plants every day.

We hope you are all enjoying the beautiful Fall weather as much as we do and see you all at the Mermaid Faire.

With much love,

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Dear Starfish Parents,

The kindergarten has spent a lovely time outside as the weather has been cooler. We have roasted apples in the fire pit and planted beans in pots around the teepee. A big thanks to Erin Cunningham, Yolanda Benoit and crew for cleaning up the play garden. It looked wonderful! Thank you also for the purple zinnias that we planted in the new garden beds.

Some of our other activities have been a puppet play called “Winifred Witch and the Golden Cat”.  We also did leaf rubbings, and wax dipping with leaves. We used our fall cookie cutters to make special bread for snack and celebrated Zoe’s 5th birthday. Zoe’s Mom Agnes came in and read to the children one of Zoe’s favorite books. The children really enjoyed this. Ms. Jessica also came with the 1st grade to sing happy Birthday to Zoe in French.

More recently, the kindergarteners have been busy carving pumpkins outside with the Seahorse children. We really enjoyed the funny faces that were carved in the pumpkin and look forward to eating the pumpkin seeds that will be roasted over the fire. We heard the story of “Pumpkin Crow” from the Tiptoes books – about a crow who gets his head stuck in a pumpkin and can’t get it out.
We planted the rest of the purple zinnias, chocolate mint, and lemon balm herbs. The pea plants are growing very big and they almost reach the teepee wire.

Charlie’s 6th birthday came and we had a wonderful celebration. We got to see pictures of Charlie when he was little and hear about his life.
We can’t forget about the Hobgoblin puppet play that Ms. Laura, Ms. Birte and Ms. Renee did for the Nursery, Kindergarten and 1st grade. On Halloween we had a story called “Owl and Witches”.

After Halloween we started a new circle about Little Eagle Feather and his quest for fire to save his village.

Many more projects and fun are yet to come and we look forward to them all.

Ms. Laura


Dear First Grade Parents,

A few new changes have been welcomed by the first graders. The weather has been glorious in the mornings, so before we start our morning verses and main lessons we have been joining the kindergarten and nursery children out in the play garden. Last week while outside the children collaborated together and created a faire. They worked together and raked up a big pile of pine needles and jumped into the big pile. It was like a Florida version of jumping into a big pile of fall leaves. They also made hay rides at this faire. Cooperation, collaboration and communication at it’s finest.

We have been playing new games. It’s fantastic because they don’t realize that they are actually learning. The games are a phonemic awareness and pre-literacy. Children who are aware of phonemes move easily and productively into inventive spelling and reading.

Our favorite one right now is listening to sequences of sounds. This game helps to develop the memory and attention abilities for thinking about sequences of sounds and the language for discussing them. I have fun trying to come up with new sounds and they giggle at the new sounds and experience sounds in a new way.

We continue to make our first knitting project. I, too have been learning how to knit right beside them and I am really enjoying it! We have many more exciting times ahead of us. With flute playing and lantern making on the horizon, we joyfully go about our days while painting, singing and creating lifetime memories.

With Love,

Ms Renee

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Dear 2/3rd grade Parents,

In the 2nd 3rd grade class, we have been continuing our work with the multiplication table and we are now up to the 5’s.
Ms. Stephanie has been taking a few students to the Wednesday Market at Phillippi Park with shopping lists and money to practice their math skills too.



Song has come to our classroom! We have been learning a few songs in preparation for our winter assembly and the children are enjoying singing very much.

We are continuing to learn how to spell new words from the stories that we are reading with a little check in weekly to see how we’re doing.
We are making lanterns in preparation for the lantern walk, with many weeks of painting and oiling.


As we have since the beginning of the school year, we continue to learn about how golden manners help us all feel comfortable and appreciated.

The children are looking forward to the much anticipated Mermaid Faire and all the special memories that come along with it.


Ms Yolanda and Ms Stefanie

Dear 4/5th Grade Parents,

Time flies when we’re having fun – it is hard to believe we are nearly mid-way through November!

Over the past few weeks, the children have been fully engrossed in the world of numbers.  This block began with a thorough review of everything they have learned so far, making this an excellent time to be a new student, as they get a chance to do all sorts of dynamic math exercises they may not have been exposed to previously.  Ten and eleven-year-olds,  developmentally, are very much in a threshold space, taking a long look back on their childhood, as well as looking forward to adolescence and beyond, so math review, then moving forward in complexity is an excellent exercise for them on a soul level.  Vertical operations, math puzzles, and fractions are a few of the elements we have built upon so far.  In addition, as previously mentioned, Grades 1-4 are for planting seeds, and grades 5-8 are for weeding and harvesting, so this is an important year to solidify all math operations and procedures as they move forward and take a huge cognitive leap in sixth grade.  And again, the hope is to cultivate a feeling of capability in math, so we do a lot of hands on exercises, games, and activities so the children are enjoying themselves, even if math isn’t their favorite subject.  We have had fun using math to figure out all kinds of things that interest us from day to day- sea turtle eggs, road trip miles, votes in elections, and more.

We have been busy in other ways as well!

This month the class also enjoyed a camping trip to experience the truly magnificent springs we studied in our Local Geography Block.  They delighted in swimming right above where the spring was coming up from the aquifer, taking a kayaking trip, telling stories around the fire in the evening, and building forts in the jungle beside our campsite.  Lifelong memories were made, for certain.






Local animals, and their conservation has come more into our consciousness, deepening our connection to the area,  as we began a study of the common sea turtles that share our gulf and beaches.  Long Boat Turtle Watch came by to give us some hands on experience with our new knowledge –  the children learned how to identify, label and excavate a sea turtle nest.  They also learned some first hand stories about local sea turtles, how each one of them can help to save them, and why it is so important to do so.


Excavating a nest with Longboat Turtle Watch


We also began a “Circus Science” block, courtesy of the Circus Arts Conservatory. This is another way of linking to our past, as the circus played a significant part in Sarasota’s more modern history.  Using math, science, engineering, art and team problem-solving the students will produce a contraption-based circus performance over the next six weeks.  They are really enjoying this experimentation, and it has been a wonderfully motivating way for them to collaborate together.  The culmination of the unit will be attending the  performance of an arena sized Circus Machine at the Sailor Circus.

Thank you to the Circus Arts Conservatory!

Thank you to the Circus Arts Conservatory!

Their dramatic presentation of  The Sign of the Beaver is nearly ready, and they would like to present this to you in the beginning of December.  I will touch in with you regarding performance times.

They continue to enjoy Handwork, Woodworking, Eurythmy, French, Form Drawing, Spanish, Violin, and their Forest days.  They also planted their medicinal plant seedlings, and have been rotating through yoga, partner yoga, and fitness drills.

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This past week they also contributed to the map portion of the Mermaid Faire program.

Looking ahead, the students will be creating an issue of the Mangrove Messenger,  completing acts of service out in the community, and sculpting with a new medium – wool!

Always fun, always an adventure with these children!


Ms Erin


From Our Friends At Saltmeadow


Saltmeadow is very happy to be sponsoring a new Navigators Scouts chapter (#142). We believe that the Navigators philosophy is a good fit for Saltmeadow: inclusive, co-ed, and secular. We’ve begun to earn our paddle sports badges with a kayaking expedition from Philippi Park. For more information about Navigators USA:


We have also been very busy putting together an intriguing activity for the Mermaid Faire.  For those who love a good sleuthing, stop by “Poseidon’s Quest” tomorrow!







“Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves,

Rosy the apples, crimson the leaves,

Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white,

Autumn, good morning, and summer, goodnight!”


Upcoming Events:

Parent –Teacher Conferences October 17-19 – No School

This is a wonderful opportunity to touch in with your child’s teacher and learn more about their progress so far this school year.  Times are by appointment on these days, as well as throughout the month.

Mermaid Faire – Preparation day – November 11th – All Day; Faire – November 12th, 2pm – 8pm

We need all hands on deck to create this magical day for all ages!  Please sign up in the email link you were provided.  Thank you so much to the families who have already committed to helping!

Please note:

Childcare is available for the preparation day if you need.

You may sign up for a 2 hour shift during the Faire, you do not need to work the entire event!

If you are unable to help, we also accept sponsorships – families or businesses can sponsor any of the activities listed in the email sign up and will be acknowledged on our website, Facebook page, and on the event program. Please email if you would like to sponsor this enchanted event! 

Lantern Walk – Friday, November 18th, 5:30 pm, Siesta Key Beach

The lantern is the symbol of our own light which we can shine on a dark world, and we celebrate this time of year by holding a “lantern walk.”

We will meet by the playground and then do our beach walk complete with lanterns made lovingly by our dear children (in class).  The children will sing songs, and enjoy the stillness of the beach at night. As this is a reverent event, please do not allow your child to run the beach.

Parents are responsible for supervising their children during this event.  Friends are welcome to join!

Local Artisan Outdoor Market – Friday, December 2nd, 5-9 pm. Accepting Vendor Applications –

Join us for an evening of stress free holiday shopping under the stars!

Shop local artisans with unique, handmade items for all the loved ones on your list this holiday season.

Free Childcare available in our Early Childhood classrooms – your child can make a surprise gift for someone special while you shop.

Enjoy refreshments and music while you savor the season.

Friday, December 2nd, from 5:00-9:00 pm

For vending opportunities, email

Other Important Dates

Friday, October 21 – No Little Clamshells Parent Child Class

Friday, October 28 – No Little Clamshells Parent Child Class

Tuesday, November 1 – Delayed Opening – 10 am   Before care available – please email if you need care before 10 am on this day.

Some housekeeping items:

It is important to keep children home when they are sick – they need to rest in order to recover, and when sickness spreads it can impact the entire class or even move through the classes, risking teachers being out.  Please see our illness policy in the parent handbook if you are unsure of when to keep them home.

If you do need to keep them home, please let your child’s teacher know ASAP in case they have certain lesson plans based on the usual number of students.  A text directly to the teacher works well.  If this can be done by 8 am, it would be very helpful.

Community Lunch will start back again on November 3rd.  This is a wonderful weekly event that parents are always welcome to attend, and help with.  We strive to make all-inclusive meals so that everyone can enjoy them together.  If you are interested in helping out with this program, send an email to  each week, there are several hours’ worth of food prep, serving, and clean up that need to be done.  Helping out with Community Lunch gives students a deeper sense of connection to the school, and a feeling of pride for your work.


Thank you!

Thank you so much to so many who have helped in various ways over the past few weeks!  From festivals to the forest we have had so much support and we truly appreciate it!  Thank you to Sheri Hartnell, Rebecca Rothstein, John Munroe, Laura DiMeglio, Alison Goldy, Geoff and Ben Pierce, Natalie Maute, Maggie Gerendal, Dee Gangi, Chuck Green, Saltmeadow School, Eric and Aneta Lundquist, and Marion Scott!

Thank you so much to our Giving Challenge 16 donors:

Chelsea Todd, Cal Lundquist, Brian Mackin and Amber Heller, Walter Heller, Sue Lundquist, Renee Moss, Christian Maute, Laslo Varodi and Andrea Kepics, Natalie Maute, Heather and Ryan Stubbs, Billie Miller, Ivan Miller, Mark Carguilo, Chuck and Heather Green, Angelo DiMeglio, Carol DiMeglio, Joseph Ayers, Laura DiMeglio, Viktor Mikolajek, Alzbeta Mikolajkova, Stefanie Mienhardt, Paul Cantor, Dan Gerdes, Kimberely Summers, Roger Pierce, Eric Rodriguez, Amy Rodriguez, Joyce Jewell,  Evona Poplawski, Sean McDonald, Cathryn McDonald, Bonnie Rienhardt, Erin Cunningham, Eric Lundquist, Dan and Suzanne McMillan, Carolyn Kascher, Aneta Lundquist, Asa Kastner, Kombucha 221 BC,  Michelle Roy, Maureen Burns, Laura Barrett, Sheri and Clarence Hartnell, Erin Melia, Mark and Annaleta Cunningham, Yolanda and Jasen Benoit, Saltmeadow School, John Schroeder, and Ethan Benoit.

We are so grateful for your generosity and support!!!

Mangrove and Saltmeadow students performing for the community in celebration of Autumn.

Mangrove and Saltmeadow students performing for the community in celebration of Autumn.

From Our Classrooms:

Dear Seahorse Parents,

We have had wonderful and busy days the last two weeks.  Our stories went into autumn days and are all about Squirrel Nutkin, the old owl in the barn and harvest. The children especially enjoyed a little puppet-play about Winifred Witch and her lost golden cat.

We wet-felted pumpkins outside and made apple sauce inside, which was so delicious to smell in the room.
Aviana’s birthday was celebrated and in the Kindergarten room we made play-doh with herbs, using paprika and cinnamon.

Wet felting pumpkins outside in the play yard.

Wet felting pumpkins outside in the play yard.

Currently we are painting with the color “red” and all the pictures come out so differently.
Painting is very loved by all your children!

Have a wonderful week!
With much love,

Dear Starfish Parents,

The kindergarten class has enjoyed getting into the fall spirit.  We have decorated the class with fall leaves and wet felted little orange pumpkins outside.

We have been doing a pumpkin circle about a farmer who watches a pumpkin get big and fat in his field.  “Sing a song of sixpence” is another favorite and then the letters D and E.  The children follow along with such enthusiasm!

Our stories have been from Tiptoes the fairy, about a crow who gets stuck in a pumpkin while trying to eat it.  The puppet play was about the continuing adventures of the pony of strength.  This past week he visited a castle and ate some more from the tree of strength and then helped some gnomes carry their gems from the mines where they work.

We made applesauce to go with our snack, and the children loved the smell in the room.  We also gave some of the applesauce and bread to Saltmeadow for their wonderful presents to the play garden – the seesaw and the arbor.   Some of the children made sun catchers and we will be making them again.  Last week we made herbal play doh which smelled so good, using cinnamon and paprika.
This past week, we enjoyed a trip to Fruitville Grove with a hayride and feeding the animals.

The children were delighted by the 11 baby goats born at the farm this past week!

The children were delighted by the 11 baby goats born at the farm this past week!

A big thank you to Aneta and Eric Lundquist, and the crew of 221 BC for painting the jungle gym, the fence and removing the little garden fence in the play garden.


Ms. Laura

Dear First Grade Parents,

Gnomes have sneaked into the first grade room and as well as the hearts of your dear children. It started with a “clash and a clang!”, and their debut as gnomes has stayed within the unity of the first graders. The verse will lovingly strike into air and be spoken form the children while we work….completely out of the blue.

These little first grade gnomes!

These little first grade gnomes!

“We will work with our will with our strength and our skill.” This one line is also great reminder for us all in the coming months ahead with the turning of the seasons.

We completed the first block of Form Drawing last week by having a full body orientation experience while writing on giant pieces of paper and creating straight lines and curved lines as obstacle courses. One student created a Form Drawing game that we enjoyed playing.

We are all very excited to be moving into reading and writing. “M” was the letter we experienced this past week. Through a Fairy Tale entitled Simili Mountain, two “M” verses and acting out “M” words had us “Mmmmmm-ing” throughout our week. We found the “M” sounds at the beginning and the middle of many words. Everyone had some sort of “M” sound in their lunch. Discovering and discussing the “M” sound was experiential. We drew a beautiful Mountain to start our very own book to take home at the end of the year.

M is for mountain. A first grade chalkboard drawing to copy in their Main Lesson Books, along with a million m words!

M is for mountain. A first grade chalkboard drawing to copy in their Main Lesson Books, along with a million m words!

During the first two weeks, the first graders had their hands involved with brushing out raw wool to make it soft for our wet felting project. This was wonderful will work for the children. We sang as we worked and thought about where the wool came from and what other fleece wool makes that is around us in our lives. We finally had our fluffs of wool as smooth as could be and started with felting them this past week. A couple more steps to complete and we will have our own shooting stars!

Carding the wool in preparation for felting.

Carding the wool in preparation for felting.


The first graders wet-felting their shooting stars.

The first graders wet-felting their shooting stars.

There have been many stories about stars that have been told to the first graders. The Apple and the Star was one story in which we discovered that each apple has their own star inside. Applesauce was made out of each apple we investigated. What we found was that each apple was different. They all had different sizes and shapes of their very own, just like an apple thumb print.

First graders enjoying the applesauce they helped prepare.

First graders enjoying the applesauce they helped prepare.

We continue counting everyday with new verses and rhythms. Chestnuts are one kind of manipulative we have used for our counting. After the reading and writing block, our learning journey will take us deeper into Arithmetic.

French started for the first time this past Friday with our lovely Forest Friday teacher Ms. Jessica.

Some of our first graders enjoying french class with our beloved Ms. Jessica.

Some of our first graders enjoying french class with our beloved Ms. Jessica.

In Handwork, we have been making our very own knitting needles. There were many steps involved working with the whole child – head, heart, and hands. The next step will be their own knitting project.

You can find the First Graders where ever they may be. Experiencing, creating and loving. These simple activities that are the foundation for a sense of self-reliance and also create an unconscious pool of knowledge which can be drawn from when later subjects such as physics, geometry, or other areas of math, science and reading are encountered. We are in the early stages of taking ideas and putting them together to form more complicated thoughts for our future.

As we move forward, we will be experiencing new letters and their sounds, new stories to accompany the letters, and many seasonal projects to keep us engaged in our foundation year.

With love & gratitude,

Ms. Reneé


Dear Parents,

At the beginning of October, we began our Math block, which will last six weeks. We’re learning how to multiply through drawing pictures in our math lesson books, using beads and shells, copying multiplication questions from the board and noticing patterns and sharing and lyrical math poems.  The children are also involved in making a class set of multiplication cards.  We’re currently up to the two’s and plan to cover up to the fives or sixes.

Beginning our math block in 2/3, using various methods for every learning style.

Beginning our math block in 2/3, using various methods for every learning style.

We also practice memorizing the multiplication questions bean bag style, with ready hands and minds to answer the quick mental math questions but also in written form through some basic math practice sheets.  Please reinforce the multiplication facts with personalized word problems peppered into your conversations with them at home and while shopping together.  For example, in the produce aisle, ask them to gather two bags of apples with three apples in each.  How many does this make all together?  Or at a hardware store, request they collect two bags of nails with twelve nails in each.  How many? Make it a game where ever you go!

Again, we are noticing that there are two groups of mathematicians emerging.  With such a span, having two teachers in the classroom provides support to assist and guide each group.  Whether it is explaining why, for example, two groups of three equals six or assisting them through the two’s times tables drawing a spiral graph, we are able to accommodate those with moderate needs either way.

We are continuing to read rich stories to the children during our math block and generate spelling words that come from their contexts.  Some are short, such as the “Fox’s Snack” and “Three Trees”.  Others are lengthier, with more complicated plot lines. We just finished Oliver Twist and will begin a new story “The Railway Children”.   We encourage you to read to, with or be an audience to your child when he or she reads.  Consistently reading with your child will help expand their vocabulary, increase their ability to read fluently and show them it is important.  Please make time for this each day.  

We are continuing to consistently emphasize golden manners and follow directions throughout the day.  We insist that all students are respectful of themselves, their environment and each other and are practicing safe behaviors.  Please help us at home with stories and modeling behaviors that reinforce this expectation.  Our therapeutic stories continue with previous topics being reviewed and new ones being covered such as “The Cranky Crab” (a story for children with rough hands) and “The Queen and the Golden Ball” (a story about children who didn’t know what their mother looked like because she kept her face and ears wrapped up due hers children’s constant fighting.)

Wednesday is painting day and we are taking some of our form drawing into a new medium.  It’s interesting to see the children so immersed in creating the forms carefully, even though the paint has other ideas!

Ms. Jessica has returned to the Mangrove School from Canada and she is teaching French to the children as well as structured games during Forest Friday. The children continue to enjoy Gardening, Eurythmy, Drama and Handwork as well.  The garden is coming into focus each day.  Volunteers are ALWAYS needed and Erin Cunningham, is in need of supplies, like organic starter plants and straw.  We thank you so much for those who’ve brought in paper bags already to keep our weeds at bay in the garden!

We’ve also begun weekly classroom chores – an additional Earth Skill they can bring home to practice.  Vacuuming, straightening out our books, watering plants, sweeping the entrance, cleaning off the desks and board….all valuable skills that build accountability and a sense of accomplishment.


Everyone pitches in to help keep our classroom and campus clean!

Thank you for the parents who have brought in organic, non-GMO popcorn seeds and honey for our special snack on Wednesdays.  We appreciate your generosity!  Parent conferences are on the horizon and we have a sign-up sheet at pick up for you to choose a time, in person, to discuss how your child is doing in class.

Ms. Yolanda and Ms. Stefanie

Dear Parents,

After completing the first half of our Local Geography block, which focused on orienting ourselves in space, through map-making, navigation, and physical features of Sarasota, the past few weeks have been a journey through nearly 15,000 years of local human history, as the students are fully ready to orient themselves in time.  This further enhances their connections to our local surroundings, which is an important way to unite the child to earth, and cultivate a feeling of belonging.

The first part of this study began with the Paleo-Indians, their culture and habits, and continued though the Mississippian period, as the students gained an understanding of how and why our earliest peoples’ way of life changed over time.  As the glaciers melted, we saw the sea level rise, large game animals become extinct, and the more nomadic cultures slowly evolve into those of more settled communities, and eventually villages with religion and a hierarchical government.  We learned how technology, eating habits, shelters, and other customs changed as the land changed from a drier environment to the sub-tropical environment we experience today.  The students fully explored how the features of this location influenced the way of life, from prehistoric times until now based on their environment – the climate, the animals and plants that made up the landscape.   From canoes to bow and arrows, they were able to understand and admire these innovative tools.  Many mentioned how much they would have liked to live in the wilderness instead, longing for the days of living outdoors.

Some artifacts and replicas of tools used in various time periods, from Paleo-Indian , to Mississippian. Thank you Public Archaeology Lab, Southwest region!

Some artifacts and replicas of tools used in various time periods, from Paleo-Indian , to Mississippian. Thank you Public Archaeology Network, Southwest region!

We are very grateful to the Public Archaeology Network for two days of hands on activities during this block – one session was devoted to fostering a greater understanding of what archaeology is, and how archaeologist use clues to create hypotheses of an area, and another session focused on the tools of the earliest people of Sarasota, including some hands on time with spears and atlatls.  We also discussed the latest findings in the area which as of last spring included a midden right at Phillippi Park where we enjoy our Forest Fridays.  In fact their favorite climbing tree with long low branches, sits directly on top of it!

Two of our 4/5th graders trying out the atlatl, an innovation of the spear, which in Sarasota occurred in the Woodland period.

Two of our 4/5th graders trying out the atlatl, an innovation of the spear, which in Sarasota occurred in the Woodland period.

Each day we would review and recall what we had learned previously in earlier time periods, as a way of taking a long look back before moving forward, inspiring an appreciation for the many transformations this area and its people have undergone.  After learning about the great changes that occurred in each time period, we also acted out each one in succession – the back of our room started out completely empty, then came a few nomads, spears, and a fire; next, little by little the students added in props from around the room to represent the full evolution of culture to include different tools, weapons, shelters, vessels, farming, religion and so on until the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s.  Floor mats became shelters, bamboo sticks and pool noodles became bow and arrows, benches became canoes.  Through this exercise, they displayed their understanding of this flow of time, in a compelling way.  They also showed me how quick-witted they can be as this was also an improvisational exercise!

In addition to creating our own time line of each major time period, and how the cultures changed over these thousands of years, we also did a composition about more modern (written) Sarasota history.  A trip to the Sarasota Historical Center gifted me with many old photos of recognizable landmarks, such as downtown, the Ringing bridge and St Armand’s circle to compare to, as we saw many people, and several industries playing a role in making Sarasota the world-wide vacation destination it is today.

St Armand's Circle, circa 1930's. Development stalled during the Great Depression.

St Armand’s Circle, circa 1930’s. Development stalled during the Great Depression.

This past week we began our first math block, which starts with a thorough review of all that we have covered in previous grades.  Typically grades 1-4 are for planting seeds, and grades 5-8 are for weeding and harvesting.  This makes it a perfect year to ensure the students have a solid foundation on which to build higher mathematics, both throughout this year and beyond, as they will make a huge cognitive leap in sixth grade.  Part of the end goal is to also cultivate a love of, or at the very least a lack of anxiety, of math.  We play a lot of games to practice skills, so the children feel joyfully engaged in what they are learning.

Each morning, after our opening verse, we concentrate on one poem related to our curriculum.  At this age, the idea is for them to learn this poem very well, and as they have a strong capacity for memory now, it can be quite long. Once they know the poem well, they are expected to say this audibly, clearly, and with feeling, which aids them in public speaking, drama, and even spelling.

We also do tongue twisters, and singing, daily. This class is able to harmonize with relative ease, so I have been able to introduce more complex songs that we look forward to sharing with you all at future assemblies.   Again, the emphasis in on quality, rather than quantity, so we will practice one song for many weeks starting with one part in unison, and gradually increasing the complexity as the need for challenge is a strong impulse at this age.  We are also beginning to read music as we learn each song.

We continue the morning with mental math problems, for example –  which two numbers add to 24 and also subtract to 14?, number journeys, halfway numbers or math involving the calendar, another opportunity to orient ourselves in time.    We incorporate new spelling words each week from our Main Lesson content, dissect sentences into various parts of speech and correct grammar, practice cursive hand writing, and do written dictations in the form of one riddle each week.  Here is our most recent:

“You throw away the outside, and cook the inside. You eat the outside, and throw away the inside.  What did you eat?”

These riddles encourage a flexibility and creativity in their thinking, and motivate them to do dictations, which are important for their comprehension, listening capacities, and practicing punctuation and spelling.

In addition to our Main Lesson activities, we have also enjoyed eurythmy, handwork in the form of cross stitch, Spanish, water color painting (veil painting) which requires one to apply thin layers of water color onto dry paper creating a kind of three dimensional quality, French, sculpture, violin, wood working, yoga, and form drawing. Our study of medicinal plants has yielded new seedlings in the garden, and a few products from local plants we harvested ourselves, which we hope to share with the community soon.

Fall breezes bring us outdoor yoga and meditation.

Fall breezes bring us outdoor yoga and meditation.

Reviewing previous grade's form drawing using clay.

Reviewing previous grade’s form drawing using clay.


Our 4/5th graders started a medicinal garden for the community.

Some of our 4/5th graders working the chisels. In this mild weather, we do as much as possible outside!

Some of our 4/5th graders working the chisels in woodworking. In this mild weather, we do as much as possible outside!

Despite the weather last week, we still enjoyed playing a rousing 2 hour (!) game of Hawk and Bird Tribe with Ms. Jessica in our wooded back field. We continue to cultivate an environment or respect and kindness to others, through occasional reminders about “The Three Gates” words must pass through to be said fear of hurting another.  We practice gratitude before our closing verse, and practice forgiveness and grace when the need arises.

They have begun rehearsing a new play based on the first novel we completed this year, The Sign of the Beaver.

Play rehearsal in 4/5th grade.

Play rehearsal in 4/5th grade.

In the coming weeks we look forward to a class camping trip to Ginnie Springs, and a Circus Arts block.

Every day with these children is such a joy.  Their enthusiasm for learning and doing is so inspiring and energizing.  The days are just flying by!

If you haven’t already scheduled a conference, please contact me for a Parent-Teacher conference date to discuss your child’s individual progress.


Thank you!


Ms Erin


From Our Friends at Saltmeadow:


The Saltmeadow students continue to enjoy productive days.

They have published  the first Tortoise Times newsletter of the year, and are busy at work on the second.

We are so happy to welcome Ms. Jessica back to teach Human Relationships, French, and Singing.  The students are creating masks for their Commedi Dell’ Arte drama block with Ms. Liz and have begun to read their chosen classic novels for literature with Ms. Yolanda.

The class has completed their cosplay costumes in handwork and will begin hand and machine sewing with Mrs. McMillan.   Their first project is to design and sew a knife roll for holding the knives they will use in Ms. Jean’s cooking class.

In guitar, the students have progressed from one on one instruction to group instruction of two sets of students.  The students will be performing a classic and original piece of music at the Winter Assembly.

Last week we visited the South Florida Museum to visit the planetarium as part of the astronomy block.  We very much enjoyed the new show, “Journey to the Stars”, learning about the life and death stars, including our sun.


“The Autumn winds wail through the wood,
Through rushes and through reed.
Who is the rider of radiant light
On the snowy white, shimmering stead?
Of garment of gold he rides along,
His face like the sun so bright.
O Michael, lend us your starry sword,
The darkness of Earth fill with light.”

Upcoming Events:

Giving Challenge Noon to Noon Tuesday 9/20 – Wed 9/21 LIVE NOW!

From Noon to Noon September 20th to 21st, our school is one of the 449 non-profits in the Sarasota area qualified to participate in the Giving Challenge, through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. During this time, we are asking for you to help support our vision of providing children with a developmentally appropriate education and real childhood experiences, by making a donation, and/or sharing our donation page with family and friends.

What is the Giving Challenge?

The Giving Challenge is a 24 hour online fundraising opportunity for non-profits in our community. All donations are matched! 2:1 for new donors, and 1:1 for returning donors.

Who is Mangrove School of Sarasota?

Mangrove School of Sarasota is a non-profit educational center providing children and families in the Sarasota area with developmentally appropriate programming that supports real, lifelong learning.

Where will my donation go?

All funds donated to Mangrove School will go directly towards programs for children.

How do I donate?

Starting on Tuesday, September 20th at Noon, go to:

Click donate now and enter your information to complete your secure donation.

The link above will go LIVE on Tuesday 9/20 at Noon, and will remain available until Wednesday 9/21 at Noon.

With the generous matching by the Patterson Foundation, your $100 donation could become a $200 or $300 donation to our school! Additionally, there are tons of matching grants and prizes to be awarded during the challenge. For example, the non-profit with the most unique donors can receive an additional $7000 grant!  With your help, perhaps we can win this grant!

This event is completely online, allowing anyone, anywhere, to donate. Last year we raised over $14,000!

Be the one to support developmentally appropriate education in the Sarasota area!

You also received an email you can forward to family and friends with the direct link to donate.  Subject: “This Week – Please read!”


Be The One To Support Our School!


Autumn Equinox Festival Thursday 9/22 8:15 am – 10 am


The Autumn Equinox Festival is the first festival of the school year and it is held on the first day of autumn – when day and night are perfectly balanced. This equilibrium also represents the duality of light and darkness that exists within human beings. This festival honors the courage and strength in each of us, as we face this part of the year, of longer nights – a natural time of turning inward, reflection, and facing our own darkness. This is traditionally pictured as the brave warrior in the act of subduing a dragon, which represents the dark side of human nature.


For the children, this message is not overtly stated, but rather, this time of year is filled with stories and songs of the brave and true.


The children learn that with great valor, dragons can be beaten.


For our festival, the Grades students perform a play for the community that depicts a person summoning the courage to beat the dragon who is frightening their village.   Afterwards, the community enjoys a potluck breakfast and a few fun activities before the students return to their classes to complete their school day, with a regular dismissal at 1:30.


Festivities officially begin at drop off (8:15).  For those who live close by, or are otherwise up early, there is an optional pre-festival gathering at 7 am for a bonfire and watching the sunrise together near the Early Childhood playground   (No pressure at all to attend this pre-festival gathering!)


When you arrive, please meet at the early childhood playground, near the basketball court.  We will have tables set up for a potluck breakfast, and benches and chairs set up for watching the play.  Grades children will go with their teachers to get into costume at 8:25.  The play will begin at approximately 8:45, and is about 15 minutes long.  After the play, please stay to enjoy the potluck, while the children test their strength and courage in some fun and engaging games.


One of our past sweet gnomes!



Thank you so much to those who have offered to help with set up and break down!  A few more hands would be quite helpful.  Set up for the play will be at 7:45.  Break down approximately 9:45.  Please email if you are able to assist.


From Our Classrooms:


Dear Seahorse Pre-Kindergarten Parents,
We had a beautiful start with your wonderful children!

The children started making friends immediately and it is amazing to see how they already take care of each other.
Our circle time has consisted of ocean themed songs and rhymes, which most of your children know by heart already. We are getting used to our daily rhythm and rituals and are looking forward to them every day anew.

We did our first water-color paintings, made little shell boats and last week plant dyed silk for a longer fairy project.

They listened to the story “George and the Dragon”, and as soon as it was over, they immediately began gathering props and acting it out.

We have had a few different puppet plays which shared the themes of “making friends” and “sharing a house”. These are therapeutic stories and often used in Early Childhood to help with transitioning from home to a school setting and all the challenges that come with this.

I hope I will see many of you at our Autumn Equinox Festival on Thursday.  Even if Thursday is not one of your child’s attendance days, you are still very welcome and encouraged to come.

Please always feel free to text or e-mail me with any questions you have.

Have a wonderful week!

With much love,


Some of our Seahorse and Starfish children grinding grain to make flour.



Dear Starfish Parents,


The Starfish Kindergarten children have been working very hard on their gnomes. There have been small and large gnomes made by all the children.  It is amazing how well they have all taken to sewing and some are even creating their own gnome patterns.  Soon we will be working on gnome hats for each of the children, per their request.

The class has come together rather quickly and they are learning how to be with each other in a fun and respectful way.


Our first circle was about honeybees and had a counting rhyme, “This Old Man”, and a letter song about the letter A.  We drew the letter A and walked it, as the children thought of different words that started with an A.  They thought up quite a few.  The circle we are doing now is about Michael, “strong, pure and shining bright” and we moved on to the letter B.  We drew the letter B in the sand and thought up B words to sing to the tune” Do You Know the Muffin Man”?   Our circle also included a skipping song that they laughed and enjoyed very much.

The first week we had a puppet play about a little girl and a rose that Ms. Birte and I put on for the children.  The story was about a little girl and how she needed patience to wait for the roses to open as they are more beautiful that way than trying to make them open before their time.  I have read “The Pancake Mill” and “Michael and the Dragon” to them and they have really enjoyed it with not a peep as they hear of George’s battle with the dragon.

We have been with the Seahorse class outside in the earlier part of the morning grinding rice into flour, cutting vegetables and fruit, and making bread.  Thank you so much for your lovely donations, the children love to see their fruit and veggies that they have brought in the bowl at snack time.

I look forward to a wonderful year with your children and have some exciting and fun projects we will be working on.  Some of these will be candle dipping, lantern making, and wood working.  If you have a talent that you would like to share with the class please feel free to contact me and arrange a time to come in and share.

Best wishes,
Ms. Laura


Our Early Childhood students making bread outside on “bread day”


Veggie cutting time in the Early Childhood!


Dear First Grade Parents,

One can hear excitement streaming from the First grade classroom every day. There has been pure joy being expressed from your children as our eyes, minds, hearts and souls have been experiencing the world around us anew!

Our excitement lives in our Form Drawing. Form Drawing is the foundation linked to all subjects (reading, writing and arithmetic/geometry, as well as soul work), and begins with straight lines and curved lines.  We will continue this experience throughout our year, and it will stretch and weave into the following years of our lives to come.

Every day we work with numbers and are quite busy counting as we move with a full rhythm about the classroom. Currently, our goal is that everyone can count backwards from 100 with a rhythmic, fluid confidence. This seems simple. As we climb higher with the numbers, however, it takes quite a bit of will to remember which number we are on and what comes next. We are laying the foundation of a strong sense of number for our first arithmetic block and beyond. We will continue to have counting be a part of our everyday journeys.

Rich stories have been shared with your children. After a new story is told, the next day we revisit the story told the day before, each taking turns to recall what lives with each one of us. Listening to how words in a story are pronounced is a wonderful way to become great spellers. Stories are woven into each week and are sometimes told daily.

The First graders are very much looking forward to their début at the Autumn Equinox play. You may have been hearing their lines that they will share with the community this Thursday.

In addition to our Handwork and Eurythmy classes we look forward to the wood flute and French.

We will be found living in the first grade room or outside, laying down a glorious foundation for the LOVE of learning!


With love & gratitude,

Ms. Reneé


An example of a first grade form drawing.


Dear Parents,

The beginning of the school year, for our second and third grade class, began with joy and friendship.  Many new and happy faces joined us, so we set about introducing class rhythms and work habits.  Because we have the benefit of a native German speaker in class, Ms. Stefanie begins each day with some basic German conversational elements and German songs accompanied by a lively German game; followed by mental math (so far addition and subtraction up to 20). Ms. Yolanda joins us after those activities and we transition into our Main Lesson block (which the main focus right now on Language Arts).

We are also learning about how we can use our golden manners and exploring what makes us thankful. Please ask your child about the “Bag of Nails” and “The Little Zebra” story; the first was about how words can make a lasting impact and the second one was about being patient.  Also, ask your children how Sam and his friends explain how the children can practice not interrupting or showing off.

With this age, the children are able to take on practical household chores, such as laundry folding – which we are also practicing in class. This task gives them a sense of contributing to their family and the children take pride their work.  We thank our parents for sending in clean laundry for the children to fold.  More ‘Earth Skills’ will be added to throughout the year and we encourage families to allow children to practice these skills at home.

Laundry folding in Earth skills class.

Laundry folding in Earth skills class.

We are noticing that there are two groups of writers and readers emerging.  With such a span, having two teachers in the classroom provides plenty of support to assist and guide each group.  Whether it is working one-on-one with helping them write a word or guiding them through paragraph construction, we are able to accommodate.

Rich stories, such as “Two Goats”, “The Rat Catcher” and “The Enchanted Kingdom” are also in full bloom along with wet-on-wet painting and a special snack each Wednesday.  Form drawing is also being practiced with a new breathing technique accompanying each stroke of their pencils.  This helps to slow them down and make their scripting more deliberate and clear.

Math is practiced bean bag style, with ready hands and minds to answer the quick mental math question but also in written form through some basic math practice sheets.

Just a reminder, on September 29 at 7:30 pm, we’ll come together as a community for the 2/3 Class Parent meeting.  We’ll discuss upcoming class events and discover how we can all work together for the benefit of our children.

Ms. Yolanda and Ms. Stefanie

Laundry folding in Earth Skills class.

Laundry folding in Earth Skills class.

Laundry folding in Earth Skills class.

Dear Parents,

The new school year has begun splendidly, with new students welcomed into class with enthusiasm and grace.

Our first block started us off with an immersion in Local Geography.  At this age the children are developmentally ready to orient themselves in both space and time.  We begin with a very small scope, and then widen our perspective, gradually awakening the children to a new sense of space and relationship to the physical world. Learning ones local surroundings is an important way to unite the child to earth, and cultivate a feeling of belonging.

We started with simple map making, from a bird’s eye view –  of our bedroom.  A familiar small space is a nice introduction to this new perspective of drawing, which requires some imagination!  From there, we mapped the classroom, in which we also introduced how to scale a map, then our campus, and then a map to our own homes, which collaboratively on our chalkboard gave us a good sketch of the area from Englewood to Downtown Sarasota.  We then explored maps of the city, then the county.  We studied the four cardinal directions, drawing our own compass rose, and by becoming human compasses –  turning north, south, east and west; then adding in primary intercardinal directions as well.  We began working with a compass in a simple way.  We will revisit this activity later in the year in more detail with an orienteering course in cooler weather. We also learned how to navigate when one doesn’t have a compass.

We talked about landmarks, and added some to our maps, then moved onto physical features of Sarasota, particularly bodies of water.  We discussed how water flows through the state, pointing out – “Geo-graphia” – which essentially means “earth writing”  – is  the natural boundaries that are carved out by water. For the second half of the block we will move on to Cultural Geography – how people have used the landscape to live, and how the features of this location influenced their habits and way of life, from prehistoric times until now. We will continue to look at the maps of our area over time, to emphasize the changes that have occurred.  This study will include two days with the Public Archaeology lab over the next two Fridays at Phillippi, as well as a trip to Spanish Point, date TBD.

This block has been a wonderful way to ease them back into school – by reawakening their work habits, stoking their curiosity and natural desire to learn, and incorporating foundational work (math, reading, and writing) in an organic, dynamic way.

Each day we use the first half hour of the day for recitation – reciting tongue twisters (to wake our mouths up), or a poem related to our block of study, during which the emphasis is on enunciating and speaking at a proper volume – tools helpful in other areas, such as spelling and drama/public speaking, respectively.  We also sing – we are currently working on a four part song, with four unique parts, which is a huge leap from last year when we did only two part rounds, as well as a song for our play, on Thursday.  After these activities we do a complex mental math problem or two, orally, such as several step number journeys, halfway numbers, or guess the number I’m thinking, which can have a very large range, say for example, between 0 and 10,000 and beyond.  (They have to ask yes or no questions regarding the qualities of the number to figure out the answer) This helps solidify their sense of larger numbers.  I love to stretch their capacity for numbers by engaging them in “fun” word problems or games, so they enjoy themselves while practicing these skills. We will also “dissect” a sentence or two, sometimes a paragraph, into parts of speech and correct the grammar. We practice commonly misspelled words over several days of the week. In an effort to shake out the cobwebs of summer, we have also done some bean bag work with the times tables.  After this first half hour, we move into the main content of our block, energized for the rest of the day ahead.

In addition to the main block, we have also enjoyed eurythmy, handwork (cross stitch), Spanish, wood working, water color painting (veil painting), sculpture, violin, and form drawing. We look forward to French beginning next month, as well as a few specialties that will be offered as blocks over the year.

We have started reading a book together, as a class, and we do written mental math practice sheets several times per week – to keep our basic math facts fresh, to practice doing 2 digit problems without needing to write it out vertically to carry or borrow,  and to encourage a flexibility in our thinking of numbers by knowing our operations both backwards and forwards – so,   8 + 8 = 16  and  8 = ____ –  8.

We have also begun a study on medicinal/ wild edible plants, which is currently focused on useful native plants, (again, this sense of knowing one’s surroundings is a wonderful way to foster a connection to the world) and we will be harvesting some to create a few products to present at the Local Artisan Outdoor Market in December. So far we have made an insect repellent using beauty berry infused water. The students harvested the beauty berry plants, created the infusion, then made the insect repellent using natural ingredients.  Beauty berry is a nice plant to start with as it is easily identifiable.  You cannot mistake its beautiful berries for any other plant!

Your children are wonderful beings, and I feel truly honored to spend this time with them, exploring the world and its ways, which of course also includes social relationships.

The verse below has a powerful message for this age group- this is the age when a desire for special friendships begins to emerge, but, like with any life skill, at first they can be clumsy at times and feelings can get hurt.

Recently I shared this with them – you may want/need to ask them to recall from time to time, as needed:

The Three Gates (translated from Persian text)

“If you are tempted to reveal a tale
someone has told about another,
make it pass before you speak,
three gates of gold.

First: Is it true?

Then: Is it needful? (In your mind give truthful answer.)

The last is narrowest: Is it kind?

If to reach your lips it passes through these gateways three, then you may tell your tale,
nor fear what the result of your speech will be.”

I have a lot of plans for the year for these dear children to continue to cultivate their love of learning, and I look forward to sharing them with you all at our first parents meeting on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 2 pm.

Thank you!


Ms Erin

Harvesting Beauty Berry plants for our insect repellent. We can make anything we need!

Harvesting Beauty Berry plants for our insect repellent. We can make anything we need!

Preparing insect repellent together in our classroom.

Preparing insect repellent together in our classroom.

Putting our knowledge of Cardinal directions to the test with a treasure hunt with various clues hidden around campus.

Putting our knowledge of cardinal directions to the test with a treasure hunt with various clues hidden around campus.


From Our Friends at Saltmeadow:

The Saltmeadow teachers and students are off to a great start this September.  We have welcomed back Ms. Yolanda and Frau Mienhardt, as they lead the way in the foundational skills of language arts and math concepts.  Miss Liz has returned to teach drama, and has expanded her role to include science and dance, as well.  We are very grateful to Mrs. McMillan for joining us again for handwork.  Miss Chelsea returns to teach art, a favorite class.   We are also very happy to introduce Mr. Gater for guitar and Mr. Chuck for woodworking and 4-H.  We also welcome new students to Saltmeadow, who have swiftly become our good friends.


This month the Saltmeadow students have been working diligently on the latest edition of The Tortoise Times in Ms. Yolanda’s Journalism class.  They are creating detailed cosplay costumes with Mrs. McMillan in handwork.  They built a beautiful wooden see-saw for the early childhood and wood boxes for the garden in woodworking class.  They have chosen personal projects for Social Studies and have begun a bi-weekly meditation/yoga/fitness program.  The first 4-H trip included a trip to Lido for snorkeling and dip-netting near the reef.  The students are looking forward to taking part in the Autumn Equinox Festival play!

As a service project and part of their woodworking class, the Saltmeadow students built a seesaw for the early childhood students at the Mangrove School of Sarasota.

As a service project and part of their woodworking class, the Saltmeadow students built a seesaw for the early childhood students at the Mangrove School of Sarasota.

Our tennis block in full swing!

Our tennis block in full swing!


Thank you!

Although we are only in week three, we have already been so graciously offered so much help with so many tasks in the community.  Thank you all who have taken time out of your own day to lend a hand!

The Cunningham-Schmitt Family

Aneta Lundquist

Kalin Wilson and Akio Otomo

Miriam Cornell

Kathleen Smith

Sherri Hartnell

Eric, Amy and Brayden Rodriguez

Laura DiMeglio

Billie and Ivan Miller

Geoff and Ben Pierce

Jennifer and Jaya Ignagni

The Maute Family

Rebecca Rothstein and John Munroe

Andrea Kepics

The Benoit Family

Dee Gangi

Kimberely Summers and Cora Gerdes

Michael and Angelina Mienhardt

The Saltmeadow School crew

Chuck Green

John Schroeder


Many hands make for light work!


Even the smallest hands can be quite helpful!


Fostering responsibility for our surroundings through chores. Here, one of our fourth graders is helping to fill our new garden beds!

All School Meeting Summary

The focus of our first All-School Meeting of the year was to orient new families on many of our traditions, some new events we have coming up, and how important it is that everyone work together for the betterment of the community, and of course, our children.

Each teacher offered an introduction to their class, and shared a few activities they have already completed.

The vision of the school: We are building a school that honors childhood as a precious time – if this is where a child spends most of their day, most of the year, it should be enjoyable!  We choose to not inundate them with facts, cramming in a bunch of information they cannot possibly digest, but rather draw out capacities and help build skills at the developmentally appropriate time.  We follow the Waldorf curriculum for guidance regarding the child’s internal experience and meet them with this, as well as experiences that are therapeutic for all children – nature immersion, for example.  We seek to help foster a balance between academic capacities, confidence in skills and activities, along with a strong sense of community. Helpfulness and kindness starts in our interactions with peers, and gets wider, to the community as a whole, to the local area, and then to the world, as they get older. We cannot expect peace on earth if students are conditioned to believe they are competing with everyone around them from the time they are young.   The ultimate goal is well-rounded, balanced human beings who look out into the world and wonder, “How can I help?”.  We don’t know what the world will be like in even 10 years from now.  Fostering certain qualities in children – kindness, confidence, responsibility – these are things that will serve them throughout their lives.

The next event coming up is the Giving Challenge, 2016, described above, here and here.  We would love to have 100% participation of all families, teachers and staff.  Please share the donation link with family and friends who would like to help contribute to your child’s education – not only are all donations matched 2:1 (new donors) or 1:1 (returning donors), but there is a 7 k grant for the non-profits with the most donors, regardless of donation size.  Given the amount of dedicated parents we have here, we could actually win that!

After this, we will celebrate with the Autumn Equinox festival, described above.  We realize 7 am is very early, please do not feel pressured to come at that time.  It is nice if you can make it, but it is also a nice morning potluck and play at 8:15 as well.

A new twist on an old tradition comes in the form of Mermaid Faire – our antidote to rampant overstimulating and over-commercialized family events during the holiday season.

Together we put on this festival and the magic your child will experience, yes, even older children, is truly priceless.  We will need all hands on deck for this too.  We all, together throw this event.  From transforming the campus, preparing food, becoming an enchanting character, this event is 100% the hard work of parents and teachers.  A handout was given with a list of the various activities as well as what type of help would be needed.  You will be contacted as we put this together, to see how to best use your skill set.  We understand that everyone has various obligations, there are many ways to help – it may be loaning props, preparing food, manning a booth – we can find something that works just right for you.  Your children will beam with pride when they see you contributing.

A separate event is the Local Artisan Outdoor Market, which is an adult evening of stress free shopping under the stars, with free childcare for children – they can make a gift for a loved one while parents mill about the outdoor market, browsing the various treasures just perfect for everyone on your list.

Some housekeeping items:

It is important to keep children home when they are sick – they need to rest in order to recover, and when sickness spreads it can impact the entire class or even move through the classes, risking teachers being out.  Please see our illness policy in the parent handbook if you are unsure of when to keep them home.

If you do need to keep them home, please let your child’s teacher know ASAP in case they have certain lesson plans based on the usual number of students.  A text directly to the teacher works well.  If this can be done by 8 am, it would be very helpful.

Community Lunch will start back again on November 3rd.  This is a wonderful weekly event that parents are always welcome to attend, and help with.  We strive to make all-inclusive meals so that everyone can enjoy them together.  If you are interested in helping out with this program, send an email to  each week, there are several hours’ worth of food prep, serving, and clean up that need to be done.  Helping out with Community Lunch gives students a deeper sense of connection to the school, and a feeling of pride for your work.

Under development: Our VPK program.  Over the summer we began to take steps to make this program a reality for families with four year old children.  We will keep you updated on the progress.

Thank you all who were able to make it to the meeting.  Together we can all make a tremendous difference for our children this year.







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