A Day in the Life
Kiddos arrive at school, unpack at their personal cubbies, and gather with their cohort of five or six other students.
The entire school gathers for morning meeting. This is a time set the tone and focus for the day. Today's theme is Rest. A group of older students do a funny skit about the importance of sleep and how our attitudes can change when we're tired.
Cohorts split back up and set their agenda for the day. While the older students are off prepping for the morning project, the younger students (and teachers) change into their farm boots and winter gear, grab a couple of cameras, and head out for a morning walk...and there is fresh snow!
One of the teachers starts a conversation about Rest by asking if all of the trees are dead. This quickly snowballs (hah!) into bears hibernating but not coyotes, deer, and pigs and why that might be.
Many animal tracks are pointed out. A few of the higher-energy kiddos follow some rabbit tracks across the field to a hedge.
Early learners now have a choice of activity: join the older students to work on a forestry project or head back to the break room for stations. A handful of students go with one teacher and choose to work at a sensory station and then read The Napping House and Giddeon.
The remaining students and teacher head to the barn and join the high schoolers to inoculate shiitake mushroom logs. The older kids immediately greet the early learners and form small groups with them.
Groups are each responsible to make 5 logs, which consists of drilling holes, hammering in wooden dowels, and sealing the holes with wax. Before anyone begins, one of the older students leads a briefing of the project and a reminder about safety, particularly with the drill and wax.
During the project, the older students lead a conversation by asking what the difference is between these logs, which are dead, and the trees outside, which are resting.
While the group in the break-room moves on to playing house with the wooden items the high schoolers made for them last spring, the other group loads their completed logs onto a trailer and heads back to the woods to unload and stack them until the fall.
Cohorts regroup for snack. Today it's a granola mix the students made earlier this week while learning about ratios!
Cohorts split between three groups, trying to evenly distribute ages for a good mix.
One group prepares a large batch of smoothies from frozen fruits and fresh herbs and veggies from the hoop-rows. These will be served at lunch.
One group works on making bird feeders from pine cones they found last week and sunflower seeds from the fall.
One group works on painting the scenery for a skit they'll perform just before spring break.
For lunch all of the cohorts get back together at their respective tables, same as for the morning pow-wow. Appreciation is paid to the group responsible for the smoothie, then each cohort is invited to give thanks and dig-in. It's fun to see how the different cohorts have decided to give thanks. The youngest students have a song they like to sing. One group holds hands and each says one thing they are thankful for. One group takes a moment of silence. One group selects an individual member to say a prayer or blessing each day.
Once lunch is finished, each student is responsible to clean his or her own area. Each cohort selects one student to remain behind and help clean room.
Meanwhile, all other students get their winter gear back on in order to go take care of farm operations. Pairs of high schoolers select a handful of younger students and head off to complete their chore. A couple of groups head out to feed and water the livestock, one group tidies up the barn, and one group works on clearing snow from some of the parking spots.
As groups complete their chores, students head back to the break-room for siesta. For younger students, this is a time for sleep or silent reading. Older students may choose to play a quiet game as well.
This afternoon the older students are pruning fruit trees. The younger students who are finished resting work together to gather up all of the trimmings into baskets and take them back to the break-room for their afternoon project: Planting new fruit trees!
Students are each invited to personalize a small pot using paints and chalk. The teacher leads a line of questioning about whether students think the twigs are alive, dead, or resting. Then they take turns applying a rooting agent with a small brush and placing the twigs into their pots.
After cleaning up from the last project, it's time for a reading block. A few students complete word puzzles while the rest of the group listens to a rousing interpretation of Goodnight Moon - and three encore performances.
Once each student has tidied up any materials they are responsible for, they gather up personal items and play "I Spy" until pick-up.