Autumn Warmth

It is hard to believe that a third of our school year has already passed us by.  It is equally hard to believe that this is our fifth year as a school community.  It has been a dream manifested to see this community form and to watch the children grow and thrive. What a joy to be a part of it all unfolding. 

Photo by: Beth Harvey, 2014

Photo by: Beth Harvey, 2014

Each year we watch the goldenrod.  When she shows her golden head, we know that autumn has arrived.

We spent the first weeks of school learning our rhythms together and becoming comfortable with our day and each other.  It is always a joy to watch the children come together at the beginning of the year.  Singing and moving together in circle time is always a fun way to get to know each other and learn new songs.

We start each morning with this simple verse:

Good morning dear earth,
Good morning dear sun;
Good morning dear stones,
And flowers every one.
Good morning dear animals
And birds in the trees.
Good morning to you!
And good morning to me!

 

Soon after the year began, we worked to prepare for our autumn festival, Michaelmas. 

This year we dyed capes and pressed apples when we gathered together as a community in celebration of the season.

Photo taken by Beth Harvey

Photo taken by Beth Harvey

As we moved beyond Michaelmas and became more settled together, the children's play changed.

It shifted into more a cooperative and imaginative play and, now, often the entire group comes together in play.  This autumn, the majority of that play has been focused in the sandbox.  The children will spend all of outside play digging tunnels and rivers, hauling water, and building towns and villages.  So much learning happens in these moments of pure, imaginative, uninterrupted play.  If you could sit close by and listen, you would hear a great deal of conversation around planning and problem solving.  You would also witness children working together to carry and move heavy objects, often quite a distance across the school yard.  This is no small task and involves the work and cooperation of multiple children. Play is serious work!

We love our sandbox and mud pie kitchen.  While we one day hope to create solid sides, for now our wooden rounds do the trick.  We fill the circular area with river sand from the river that runs through our town.  This is a safer and more affordable option than bagged silica-based sand. As a bonus, the children find lots of mica and small shells while digging.

Mealtime is a special time at the Little Round Schoolhouse.  The children work with the teachers to make each meal we eat.  Like most things we do, our meals follow a predictable rhythm.

Tuesday: Rice and eggs (from the hens the chickens raised) with rosemary tea

Wednesday: Oatmeal with lemon balm tea

Thursday: Bread and vegetable soup with chamomile tea

The food that we prepare and share is so important that we distinguish the days of the week based on what food we are eating that day.  Our first day together is "Rice Day," our second day is "Oatmeal Day", and our third day is "Soup & Bread Day."  This is a much easier way for young children to distinguish the days of the week!

On Soup Day, the children each bring a vegetable to add to the pot for "Stone Soup." Our pot begins the morning with only water and a stone.  The children help to chop the vegetables and add them to the pot.  Everyone has to eat their vegetables to find out who has the stone!

This year we are excited to have a grain mill in the school.  It has been a delight to grind wheat with the children to use in our baking.  The children have loved the hard work of cranking the mill. 

During certain times of the year, in the season of celebration, we will cook or bake something special.  This autumn, our apple crisp was a big hit.  We all traveled to the apple orchard together, picked apples, and returned to school to make apple crisp.

APPLE CRISP
Filling:
- 6 medium apples (peeled, cored, and sliced thin)
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoon of honey
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Topping:
- 1/2 cup of wheat, almond or coconut flour (we used coconut)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup of pecans chopped
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (we used far less; maybe 2 Ts?)
- 3 Tablespoons of butter (we used solid coconut oil instead)

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease pan/dish
2. Mix filling ingredients and put in bottom of pan
3. Mix topping ingredients (it should look crumbly when done) and cover filling
4. Bake 30-40 minutes and enjoy!

 

This was our first year to garden at our new location and we had a lot of fun.  The children helped to build garden beds, haul dirt, and plant seeds last spring.  This autumn, we got to enjoy quite a yummy harvest. 

Thursdays are laundry days at the Little Round Schoolhouse.  We wash our cloth napkins as well as our schoolhouse rags.  Children scrub on old-fashioned washboards and then hang the laundry in the sun to dry. 

Handwork and seasonal crafts are a regular part of the children's lives in our program.  We provide the children with high quality materials and give them the time to work on their projects at their own speed with the amount of support that best meets their individual needs.  One of our autumn projects was making wet-felted "comets." The children love working with the hot water and bubbles.