Mangrove Update, January 16th, 2018

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.


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