Happy New Year

     January 2019 surrounds us with the gifts of an ever changing southern blue sky, to the hues of snow filled clouds...   aaaahhhhh the excitement of winter weather!  Children explore the changes from moment to moment and day to day.  The  windchime-like, falling, crystal icicles from the trees, as the sky opened up to blue yesterday was magical.

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Windchime-like, Crystal Icicles

Aaaaaaaaah the excitement of winter weather!

 
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At The Garden Schoolhouse, we happily give much time and awareness to nature - including our investigating, researching and observing of the habits of animals in winter.  We read and speak of the creatures who migrate, hibernate or gather in preparation for the winter months.

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“And the turtles, of course...
all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe,
all creatures should be.”
— Author: Dr. Seuss "Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories"

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Bird feeders

Preparation for the winter months..

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Students tend to the refilling of the bird feeders and even make their own out of pine cones to nourish our creatures with whom we share a habitat.Often, children will request to bring out binoculars to seek out our feathered friends.

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Children watch the bird feeders from the window.

We are amply blessed with birds of all kinds who frequent our schoolyard.  Yesterday, we shared the beautiful winter day with two red-shouldered hawks (which a student or two may refer to as Humpty Dumpty from their love of the story "After the Fall")

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The river, made out of blue wooden blocks that previously paralleled the railroad tracks in the student-made replication of the city of Richmond, was re-established in a new setting. After reading poems from "The Forest has Eyes", students used the artwork within the book as the background to the wooden river and established around it woods and mountains. 

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As children created together, they told the story of how the bear will fill his belly by eating so many fish from the river and then travel far from the scene (all the way across the room) to his cave (a yellow beach bucket on its side) to hibernate.  When asked why the cave was so far from the river, he responded 'Because it's noisy by the river and that would wake him up.' 

 

  We also celebrate the fallen snow and appreciate the children in their winter gear of waterproof gloves, extra socks (amazing how the snow and rain finds the babes' toes!) and even snowpants!  Chasing each other's footprints in the snow was a treat as was the rolling of the snow family bodies.  We thank you for sharing this season and new year with us!    

Amy Snow, Master Teacher

Light and Shadow Play with Storybook Characters

While exploring the changing shapes and colors with the light and shadow play, children began to draw and trace on the paper taped to the wall.  Students traced letter shadows and allowed freedom to their writing and drawing on such a vast canvas. 

 
Soon the students were celebrating their favorite characters of our most treasured books by drawing these characters on the mural.
— Ms. Amy
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It was missing a piece.
And it was not happy.
So it set off in search
of its missing piece.
And as it rolled
it sang this song—
“Oh I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece
I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece
Hi-dee-ho, here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.”
— http://www.shelsilverstein.com/books/missing-piece/

.  Students honored Shel Silverstien by including The Missing Piece and The Giving Tree.

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The Giving Tree

Shel Silverstein

 

.  Rudecakes and Stick and Stone and Pine cone were all invited to the party too!! 

2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award – New Illustrator Honor

Who knew that cakes were so rude?! In this deliciously entertaining book, a not-so-sweet cake—who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents—gets its just desserts. Mixing hilarious text and pictures, Rowboat Watkins, a former Sendak fellow, has cooked up a laugh-out- loud story that can also be served up as a delectable discussion starter about manners or bullying, as it sweetly reminds us all that even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways.
— https://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/rude-cakes.html

Children often invite these characters to our activities throughout the day - interpreting instruments and numbers to represent these characters, especially Stick and Stone. 

. Such a beautiful way to be...never forgetting the characters we meet, liberating them from the two dimensional realm of a page in a book, to include them in our fourth dimension - our present time, to dance, to explore, to create with us!
— Ms. Amy, Master Teacher

Children Design a City

Students engage in the evolving recreation of our cherished city of Richmond by combining many of their favorite modalities, such as: Legos, blocks, railroad tracks, animals and folk, Hanukkah candles, and imagination! 

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All students found elements of the city to gather and contribute.  Lego buildings and homes create a vibrant, colorful, place to live!  Most lego homes are clustered together, but one mansion resides on the other side of the train tracks and looks over the James

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The detail and dedication to the intricacies of what the students create demonstrate their depth of developing their own ideas and collaborating joyfully and respectfully. Children even welcomed animals to the city... some live in the zoo and some wander free. 

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In the outskirts of town, a student declared that this is the airport - as he constructed legos into the shape of an airplane. 

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Another student gathered the Hanukkah candles and placed them so gently throughout the city explaining they are streetlights. 

This is a welcoming world of imagination and reality - all blessings!
— Ms. Amy, Master Teacher

Yoga as a Peace Practice to Build Resilence

In August, I was blessed to attend Yoga as a Peace Practice at Yogaville, Satchidananda Ashram.  The weekend workshop reminds us that Yoga is not solely a physical practice - but a mindful, spiritual and so importantly  - a contemplative practice.  As quoted from the Yoga as a Peace Practice literature@, Contemplative Practice helps to:

 
Develop compassion for ourselves and others
Develop clarity and discernment
Develop concentration
Refine thinking
Trust our intuition
Develop discipline
Open creativity
Develop curiosity
Cultivate awareness
Sharpen perception
Develop listening skills
Connect with compassion
Support conflict resolution
Improve observational skills
Diminish cynicism and despair
Discern choices that enhance well-being
Bring awareness to mental and conditional habits
— Yoga as a Peace Practice literature@, Contemplative Practice

I am so grateful for the ladies who wove these truths into their purpose and dedication to encouraging, imploring that this practice is so necessary in our world.  I Furthermore, I am grateful for Mala's grandfather, who was powerfully present at the Yoga as a Peace Practice weekend.  He teaches that peace is work.  And we are the work.  Thank you am also grateful for how every single one of these strands is who are at The Garden Schoolhouse:  they are Reggio Amelia, The Habits of Mind and The Nurtured Heart Approach! .  

 

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Furthermore, I am grateful for Mala's grandfather, who was powerfully present at the Yoga as a Peace Practice weekend.  He teaches that peace is work.  And we are the work.  Thank you.  

Children of all ages, grow through this practice - this way of being.  Even a few moments of yoga bring us to more genuine joy.  Personally, as I study and sometimes struggle with the work,  my husband reminds me, "All you have to do is love, care and teach.  And you already do two of those things just as you breathe.  That's not true.  You do all of those things all the time."  Thank you all, for believing in us, for living in a place of gratitude and peace. 

Smiles and Laughter

Our Garden Schoolhouse smiles with the laughter and happiness of children.  Ideas, observations, explorations and declarations of friendship sing and echo through the classrooms.  These first weeks of school, we dedicate ourselves to establishing ritual, routine, and community. The Garden Schoolhouse community requires a deep,unconditional kindness and respect for one another, for our materials, for our space and for our earth.    Students are choosing symbols to represent themselves - to connect self with a name, as we begin to be aware of the symbols of letters and sounds.  A few of the chosen symbols are the earth, the sun~moon and a deer. Children will use the symbols to communicate through the message center and to attach to projects and artwork.

Our Garden Schoolhouse smiles with the laughter and happiness of children.  Ideas, observations, explorations and declarations of friendship sing and echo through the classrooms.  These first weeks of school, we dedicate ourselves to establishing ritual, routine, and community. The Garden Schoolhouse community requires a deep,unconditional kindness and respect for one another, for our materials, for our space and for our earth.

Students are choosing symbols to represent themselves - to connect self with a name, as we begin to be aware of the symbols of letters and sounds.  A few of the chosen symbols are the earth, the sun~moon and a deer. Children will use the symbols to communicate through the message center and to attach to projects and artwork.

 
Personally, I thank you, families and all who believe in us. I thank you for my days that are blessed with the gift of knowing your children. Aaaaaahhhh…. Such a delight to observe and learn the languages of our students. The language of the builder, explorer, engineer and scientist. The language of the dancer and the storyteller. The language of dirt and earthworms!! Their laughter and joy are now part of me already forever!
— Ms. Amy, Master Teacher

May my mind be filled with thoughts of love, friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity like rain… all the way down to the summertime roots… and rainbows.

May I be generous.  May I be gentle. May I be relaxed.  May I be happy and peaceful, playful like the branches in the wind.  

May my heart become soft… and mighty!

May my words and my actions be kind..

May all that I see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think….

All to create love and friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, like rain.. All the way down to the summertime roots… and rainbows.

May all beings, everywhere, have good hearts.

May all beings everywhere… be…. free!  

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New name, new website

In the fall of 2017, a design team from the Collegiate School redesigned the branding for the school formerly known as the Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls. The following is from the design team's project overview document.

Introduction

The Garden Schoolhouse, currently known as Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls, is a non-profit school for girls ages three to seven. The school is united, diverse, friendly, and devoted to girls becoming independent learners and developing their leadership skills. The school is grounded in the Reggio Emilia approach.

Using the Reggio Emilia method, The Garden Schoolhouse focuses on the development of each child, through collaboration, the Hundred Language Studio, and a reverence for the natural world. The school believes a child's roots must grow so deeply that her branches can withstand any storm.

We believe the new name expresses the individuality of the school, open and happily magical. The idea of using the garden comes from having a diverse community of students. A garden is peaceful and meaningful and requires care; with a garden, you water and tend it until it grows into something beautiful. Every garden has different seasons of growing, just as children mature.

The Garden Schoolhouse relates to the morning meditation: rain...roots...playful like the branches in the wind. We believe this name incorporates the friendliness and "butterfly" idea that the girls wanted and the school’s connection to the Earth. A garden is always growing, but each plant retains individual properties of grace, beauty, and integrity. The sprout, in the new logo, illustrates how living things grow from tiny seeds, develop strong roots, and mature with resilience.

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Why are we doing this?

The previous school name (Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls) did not do justice to the mission of the school and its students - the name was limiting and long and difficult for students to say and spell. There is also a stigma around the use of “Academy.” The goal of our project was to provide a new name and logo for the school to use in its future.

Every student deserves a promising future, and the Garden Schoolhouse gives each student the best by enlightening their minds and spirits. When we visited, we walked into the school, and we were immediately welcomed; we received hugs and a proper introduction from each student. We were impressed with the school and the choice of using “schoolhouse” matched the message of a small school that is close knit, unified, and affectionate.

Our inspiration for the new name and logo was seeing the girls’ faces and our feeling of being part of the school community.