Mangrove Update, March 14th, 2018

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!

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