Life Cycling

The Grasshopper room is alive with new life!  Spring boarding off our chick hatching and a newborn curiosity about creatures that come from eggs, we decided to embark on a journey to discover new life.  Our discussion began by exploring what animals are born from eggs.  Our students soon learned that not just birds, but reptiles, amphibians, insects, extinct dinosaurs and the amazing duck billed platypus all begin life in eggs.  Beautiful representations of these creatures can be seen hanging in the main hallway.

We arrived at school one Wednesday morning to discover that our friend, Mary Merkle, had a wonderful treasure to give to our young learners.  A large cluster of frog eggs!  Perfect for the continuation of our exploration of new life.  We poked and prodded and observed our clutch of frog eggs and after a couple of days even observed movement and twitching from within.  Our tadpoles hatched and were carefully transferred to our aquarium and ever since have been the source of much discovery and conversation.  They have already grown to many times their original size and just this past week - tiny little back legs are forming.  Finally!

We have read and enjoyed many books about frogs and have discussed the difference between factual non-fiction books and made-up fictional stories.  Our students have learned about camouflage and even created their own hard-to-see frogs.  We have posters of the life cycle of frogs which include drawings of frog spawn (eggs), tadpoles and adult frogs.  The kids made their own mini life cycle chart to take home.  Ask your child to recite the "Polly-Wog" poem...  The MWF students shared this at Meeting last week.  All of the kids have become quite adept at listening for rhyming words in any kind of literature piece and are quick to point them out! Good listeners!

We have also embarked on another life cycle journey... butterflies!  Again, beginning from eggs, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly.  Our Painted Lady butterflies are now in the chrysalis stage and have been placed in the butterfly pavilion.  We are anxiously awaiting the dramatic rebirth of our caterpillars and will keep you posted!  Our students made their own caterpillars which have now entered into their own chrysalis.  Again, we are waiting for the transformation! We read the story, "Waiting for Wings" by Lois Ehlert and enjoyed the beautiful, bright pictures.  We also listened to the story, "Arabella Miller's Caterpillar" which made us more excited for the arrival of our own amazing butterflies!

Our Tuesday Thursday group had a very special, hairy visitor last week... Oliver!  Oliver is Amy's eleven year old golden retriever who is no stranger to Fairville.  He has spent many a day at school over the past few years and just seems to blend in with the kids and daily life at Fairville.  He was so excited to see the kids, run around, fetch tennis balls and chew on the the hand delivered sticks the kids were bringing to him.  Oliver then quietly napped as the kids went about their business in the Grasshopper room.  Not sure who enjoyed the day more... the kids or Oliver!

It is hard to believe that the end of the year is so fast approaching!  Many fun days are ahead including Grand Friends Days and the Art Show.  We will savor each moment of our final days with your children, that's for sure!


Andrea and Amy 



Has Spring Sprung?!?!

Welcome back to school!  We trust you had a wonderful and relaxing Spring Break.  School was quite busy leading up to break and while most of you were in for a conference and caught up on the happenings around the classroom, we though we'd give a brief recap along with some photo treasures to enjoy!!


We have the blessing of having a student in our T/TH class whose country of origin is China.  Nan and his family were gracious to share their nanny Vivi with us for a presentation on the Chinese New Year!  The children were captivated by the story, the lanterns, oranges and drum.  Vivi told the children what year they were born in (Year of the ___) and they were DELIGHTED!  We always strive to enrich our curriculum multi culturally and are extra excited when we have the pleasure of a student sharing his or her own culture.  The learning is so much more meaningful when the children can relate to it personally.  Thank you Stone family!

Our study of islands and ocean went out with a bang for the MWF students thanks to Ethan Cramer (Elias' Dad).  He shared his homemade volcano complete with food colored lava to the gleeful shrieks of us all!  Thank you Ethan and Elias!!  We had so much fun! This class also enjoyed a morning Yoga practice with Disha Mattive thanks to some generous parents.  It is always interesting that things present when they are most needed and the kids and teachers all needed that time to stop, stretch and breathe.  It was wonderful.  And if you haven't had the pleasure of a yoga class (adult or child) with Disha, please check her out.  As educators, we are so impressed with her program.  She REALLY understands how to teach.

We had a "successful hatch" of 12/12 eggs from Quiver Farms!!  Yay us!  Farmer Eric came to deliver the eggs and gave the children a little presentation about the hatching process and even brought two adult chickens (Rocky and Adrian...Yo!) from the farm!  We created observation journals for each of the children and when they came in to school, we would walk over to the incubator and observe then, record our findings.  We sometimes prompted with questions and also used the journals as we looked at other eggs (other than chickens) but have made teacher notations in the journals so when the journals come home, you should be able to figure out the process.  The children are great at explaining their journal work too!  It was unfortunate that the hatch happened overnight so the children did not get to observe the actual process.  Luckily, one of our teachers had captured a hatch from last year on video so we were able to show this to the children.  Our egg hatch is a wonderful, miraculous and delightful experience that our whole community enjoys. It is heart warming to watch the children bring their parents and siblings in to see the eggs/chicks in the mornings.

As we look forward to the Spring, we are hearing the children express an interest (coming out of the egg topic) in tadpoles/frogs and perhaps also chrysalis/butterfly!  Sounds like a scientific spring!!  We may see it turn toward reptiles, who knows. :)  We watch, listen and follow their interest!

As the weather warms we are looking forward to more bike track time!!  Of course, it wouldn't be Spring at Fairville without PLENTY of outdoor time and gardening.  We planted some seeds before break and will put plants in our G-hop garden plot as soon at it seems safe from frost.  PLEASE continue to send boots for children as well as a change of shoes.  Our play yard is muddy!

See you soon!

Andrea and Amy

Just Beachy!

We are warming up this winter season inside the Grasshopper room by diving into an in depth study of tropical islands and beaches.  Our exploration of this boundless topic started with a brainstorm of ideas of how to get on an island.  Many creative thoughts were discussed, including riding on a dolphin!  The kids had a blast with water in the water table, sea creatures, cups, funnels and even water pumps.  Our "nautical engineers" also designed their own block boats, hammering and gluing to build their creations.  Will they be seaworthy?  We'll test them out to see!

We switched gears a bit by shifting to a very sandy environment in our room.  A giant indoor sandbox (aka the beach) has been a wonderful area of discovery and creativity.  One day gems and gold coins were found in the sand.  Was there a pirate in our room?  The next day shells and other beachy things. Can you hear the ocean?  It is so fun to hear the banter back and forth between the kids - their imaginations getting carried away!  There was even a cooperative effort to build a volcano in the sand.  We learned that many islands are formed this way.

The children used sand for a number of artistic creations.  Sand splat painting was so much fun.  The splat effect was made with sand filled bandanas dipped in paint.  The best part was standing on a chair and dropping the bundle for the huge splat.  These paintings turned out brilliantly dramatic!  Making sand art pictures with glue and different colors of sand was a very enjoyable project for the kids.  There was an array of abstract multi-colored pictures, name writing, and representational art.  We also made beach pictures using an assortment of processes to complete.  These included water color painting, glue, sand, and cut paper pictures all layered for an amazing final result.  The kids were so proud of their masterpieces!

One of the many stories read was, "Milo and the Mysterious Island".  This was a particular favorite of the students, as we were given the option to read a happy ending or a sad ending.  Not surprisingly, almost all of the students wanted to hear the happy ending.  However, we stopped before the end of the story to draw predictions of how the story would end.  Many creative ideas were shared and discussed in our circle time before we continued on to read the end of the story.

We will carry on the island study by submerging into the underwater world.  Coral reefs, fish, crustaceans, shells...  There are limitless areas for us to investigate.  We will keep you posted on our discoveries and adventures!


The Giving Tree

Happy New Year to all!  We are looking forward to an exciting and fun filled 2013 in the Grasshopper room!  As we "buttoned up" 2012 in the G-hop class we found ourselves immersed in the season of giving.  We focused our attention on giving to others and had a wonderful time creating gifts and cards for our families.  This top secret project was a source of pride and joy for each of the children - smiling broadly as they left with their gifts from the heart to share.  So sweet!

We continued our study of trees and were very blessed by Linvilla Orchards (again!) with the arrival of our very own evergreen tree.  We enjoyed its fresh aroma and simple beauty.  Our mural in the hall came to life with many beautiful, artistic trees made from colored tissue, fabric pieces, paint, sticks and more.  We examined samples of wood from many varieties of trees.  We talked about the rings in the cross section pieces and what they signified.  We noted the color, texture and shape of the different wooden trees.  We read many stories about trees including, The Night Tree by Eve Bunting.  This is the story of a family who heads to the woods on Christmas Eve to decorate a tree for the animals.  The decorations are edible gifts and the family peacefully watches as the animals approach and enjoy the bounty.

The pinnacle of our tree study was the creation of our own night tree which we called our Giving Tree.  The kids carefully prepared pine cones with sunflower butter and loaded them with birdseed.  We also strung dried apples, and hung cranberries and popcorn.  The Butterfly class joined in the fun and added expertly strung cereal to the tree.  On the last day of school before our winter break we brought the tree outside as a gift to our animal friends.  The children were very excited imagining how the animals would enjoy the treats! 

As we arrived back at school in January - you can imagine our surprise to find our Giving Tree's branches completely bare!  All that lingered were a few stray cranberries, the leftover string and empty pipe cleaners scattered about the grass.  Our gift had been enjoyed by our wildlife.  Surely the chirping birdies we heard fluttering above our heads were saying, "Thank you!".


December already?!?!?

It  feels as though the month of November flew by.  We spent much of the month reading and talking about gratitude and recognizing all that we have to be thankful  for.  It is a very big concept for our younger minds to wrap around, but we were pleased to see them begin to put things together.  Each day as the children brought in food to share with the West Chester Food Cupboard or pennies for those who suffered losses in the hurricane, we tried to talk about the effort and bring the concept home a little per se.  As a community, we gathered 333 POUNDS of food!  Pretty impressive.  While we were in service mode, we also helped Vicki make handprint turkey napkin holders that were distributed to a few homes for the elderly.  They were very sweet and I am sure cheered up the diners!  The Grasshoppers really loved the hand prints so we decided to make one for home with a message about what it is we are thankful for in our lives.

We are feeling blessed to have a new student in the Tuesday/Thursday Grasshopper class!!  Casey Kennedy joined our class and we are thrilled to have her.  She is a delightful little girl and already a terrific member of our community!  Welcome Casey and family!

The Kindergarten has been learning about ecology and as they began to learn about composting, they were visited by a worm expert who got them started with their composting bin and gave them background and instruction as well.  Our Tuesday/Thursday class was fortunate enough to have a mini lesson and visit with her as well.  We had some very brave worm holders!!

 While we were waiting for the BRIEF dusting of snow the other day, we played with some of the shaving cream variety in the classroom.  TOO much fun!!!

We've also taken advantage of any of the warmer days to enjoy the bike path.  These days are dwindling, I am afraid but we'll keep trying if the weather allows.  The children do enjoy it!

We are getting BATTY in the Ghop room these days.  We began our exploration of bats just before the break and have been really enjoying learning about these interesting creatures.  The first day of our discussion, Amy found a bat clinging to a playground ball (and to life unfortunately) in the taxi yard.  It was really unusual and crazy timing!!  We know MANY bat facts (ask your G-hop).  We learned some new words like ECHOLOCATION and NOCTURNAL.  We've built a bat cave and created many variations of bats.  One of the favorite activities was the Echolocation game where one student who is the bat and blindfolded, sends out a beep.  The rest of the students, acting as insects, are scattered throughout the room standing still with shaky eggs.  They shake their eggs in response to the bat beep.  The bat has to use his/her echolocation skills to find the insects.  The kids LOVED playing and it was great listening practice.

We are also spending some time looking at trees.  Naturally, we've been observing the seasonal changes to the trees around school.  We've taken this a bit further to create different kinds of artistic trees.  Take a look in the hallway and watch as our tree landscape mural comes to life.  We have painted with pine branches and will be using a fir tree for still life drawing and painting.  We hope to create a Giving Tree of sorts for the wildlife near the school with birdseed ornaments and berry garland etc.  We're open  to any suggestions or ideas.  We plan to create the items, "decorate" the tree with them and then take it outside and leave it while we're on break.

More October Fun!

We had a bountiful reaping from the apple orchard and decided that in addition to apple prints and we could make some applesauce!  So we washed, peeled and chopped up the apples and cooked them down with a a little cinnamon.  The school smelled WONDERFUL!  Instead of using the applesauce to eat, we chose to then take the process one step further and make applesauce cinnamon fragrant ornaments.  We measured ingredients, stirred and rolled out the dough and cut out shapes that baked at a low temperature.  The process was very fun and sensory stimulating.  These "everyday practical activities" like cooking and baking have many advantages for  children.  They address the child's basic desire to feel competent, to be independent, and to work in community while teaching about order and sequence, helping to develop muscular coordination, hand/eye coordination, and they also provide an opportunity for concentrated purposeful work.   I also loved that as we were making the ornaments, the kids thought that it would be very nice to make one for each of the other classrooms and as a thank you to the firefighters that came to visit our school.  I am extremely impressed with their generosity.  We have been learning a poem about apples that the MWF children will recite on Friday when we have the first of several Meetings for Sharing.  At this Meeting, the children will also present their gift ornaments to the other teachers.

The Longwood Fire Company does a wonderful job when they come out to talk to the children about fire safety.  The children were delighted to see their special equipment and breathing apparatus and MOST excited about visiting the fire truck.  Some of the kids made fire hats and others made fire hoses to show the firefighters.  And of course the firefighters made a big deal about their efforts.  It was really cute!  Please ask your children about the visit.  They learned about calling 911, remembering to Stop, Drop and Roll, getting the firefighters attention instead of hiding even if you are scared and a big one is practicing your exit plan from your home in case of an emergency or fire.  The firefighters asked the children how many of them know their own addresses (in case they had to call 911) and not many of them did of course.  The firefighters reminded us that for young children, its a good idea to have the address posted near the phone for this reason. It's always best to be prepared.

Or little legs are getting stronger and more competent on the bike path!  We are taking as many opportunities as possible to enjoy bicycling.  Please continue to send a helmet or pick one up for us to keep here at school.  Thanks!!!

Bikes and Trikes

The path is ready, shed is up, helmets are coming in and we're off!  The Grasshoppers had a wonderful time trying all of the bikes, trikes and scooters on our brand new bike trail.  After a quick walk of the path and review of the "traffic" rules and regulations a very excited group of kids were off and rolling.  It takes some strong muscles to get started up the slight incline, but the effort is worth it.  Smiles were huge as the kids rode around the path together.  We look forward to spending lots more time in this new, beautiful space!


Apples All Around

We are so very blessed at Fairville to have wonderful neighbors who just happen to live on a farm with abundant apple trees.  Each year, as fall approaches, we ask ourselves the question, "Should we take the kids apple picking - AGAIN?".  One would think - been there done that, perhaps.  But, when we posed the question to the kids (many of whom had been apple picking the previous year or years even) we were met with a resounding "YES!!".  So, off we went to the orchard.  A small trek for us adults, but to the children it is an adventure.  Our Grasshoppers truly value this tradition in all of its simplicity - and that makes us so very proud! 

Since the weather did not cooperate earlier this week we ended up doing many indoor apple activities. These included:  Apple stories, a poem, apple coloring, cutting and glueing, apple printing and apple racing (using cardboard ramps).  Our activities will continue into next week, as we put on our chef's hats to prepare apple sauce that will be used for an art project (yes, art project).  Stay tuned!



Blessings abound!

Elliott and his family welcomed a baby girl on Thursday.  She was 8lbs, 14ozs and had not yet been named last we heard.  We are all so happy for their family and can't wait to meet her!  In celebration of her birth, the MWF Grasshoppers clipped "babies" from  Barbara DesJardins' (the founder of Fairville Friends School) Spider plant to take one home.  :)  Thanks Barbara!!

Peace Garden Meeting

In honor of the International Day of Peace, the Grasshoppers who come to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays met with the whole school for Meeting for Worship outside in the Peace Garden.  Sharon read The Peace Book, by Todd Parr and our query and songs were peace centered.  Each class had created a stepping stone and they were gathered on a table for all to see.  It was a beautiful and peaceful start to our day.

Back to School!!!!

It is so terrific to have the children in the classroom happily getting to know our supplies, routines and each other.  The first few weeks we spend time honoring the process of the children's adjustment back to school or to their new school.  There is exploration of our classroom and campus, learning the names of our teachers and friends and most importantly, making sure each child knows that they are safe and an honored member of our community.  All of this while we are having a BLAST!!  (We're pretty tricky like that;))  As we have bonded as a group, we created a Friendship Quilt which is hanging on the wall outside the Meeting Room.  Each child's first initial is on their quilt square with the decorations they chose.  We were both quite impressed and intrigued by how much the children knew about quilts and how much interest they showed in knowing more.  We think we may be looking more closely at quilts and various aspects of them.

The weather has been quite cooperative and we have made the most of it by enjoying outdoor play.  Our new climbing hill has been a BIG hit with the Grasshoppers.  We've run down it, rolled down it, hidden behind it, jumped off it and challenged ourselves by rolling hula hoops down it.  Great fun!  We are also enjoying the new Peace Garden.  While we've only had a brief exploration, the G-Hops seemed quite interested in being in touch with their inner zen musicians.

Friday. September 21st is the International Day of Peace and this week we have been reading, singing and learning about Peace.  As Peace is one of the Quaker Testimonies, we appreciate the opportunity to focus on it school-wide right at the beginning of the year.  In the Grasshopper classroom, our discussions have ranged from how people "see" peace every day, to how we can be more peaceful with each other, to simply how the word "peace" is spoken in countries around the world by children just like them.  Each class created a mosaic stepping stone for the Peace Garden that we will present during Meeting for Worship on Thursday and Friday.

I know we say this often but we genuinely mean it:  Thank you for sharing your children with us.  They are a delight!

In Friendship,

Andrea and Amy


A few reminders:

  • Back to School Night is September 27th at 7PM. 
  • Please remember that no food is to be brought in to FFSand we'd ask that you check with a teacher before you bring anything from home in to our classroom.  Even some arts and craft supplies can contain allergens.  Thanks for this attention.
  • We have papers to go home hung on clips in the doorway of the classroom.  When you drop off, if you would please check to see if you have any, we would appreciate it.
  • Please send your child with appropriate clothes for outdoor play.  In the fall, the grass can be damp in the morning so rain boots are helpful for the children.  And please, label EVERYTHING with your child's name.  :)