Mangrove Update November 25th, 2017


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




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