Constellations of Learning

Dear Friends-

Sometimes writing the weekly note can be a struggle. Either I can’t figure out what I want to say, or I have too much to say and have to fight to whittle it down to an edible bite. Sometimes, however, the note is basically written for me through the amazing projects or events that are happening at the school. This is such a note.

The entire school has spent the week focused on the theme of stars. Everywhere I turn there is some sort of outer-space themed activity popping up. Even walking from the main building to the Carriage House yesterday, I stumbled upon the Downstairs pre-K children mixed with the 5/6/7 year-olds from the Treehouse snuggled onto hay bales by the evaporator, listening intently to Samantha read a story about the Man in the Moon.

A physical transformation of the school has happened. Windows have been covered with cotton ball constellations glued to black paper. A cardboard space ship has taken over the Bird Room downstairs, and a “Mission Control” replete with keyboards, buttons, phones, and giant dial has been created in the Great Room. The upper part of the loft has become a space observation deck (attached to a huge cardboard tube rocket launcher!) while the black fabric hanging around the lower section is being used as a makeshift “planetarium” for kids to explore with flashlights. There are “space rock” exploration centers, and a huge swath of wall is covered in wax relief paintings of the night sky, with cut out painted paper plates showing the phases of the moon.

Meanwhile, the kids have been busy making their own constellations accompanied with their own legends. Some students have been learning about zodiac signs, and almost everyone is reading and listening to stories about space or constellations. The air is thick with space chatter. Allie has been teaching the spanish names for constellations and planets, and teachers have been doing even more than their usual amount of visiting in between classes. At any given moment this weekend, you might have seen the K-1 students working hand in hand with our 4th and 5th graders on their constellations and stories, or perhaps you might come across those same older kids sharing the stories they had written inspired by Native American legends with the youngest students. If you were lucky, you might even get a glimpse of our Downstairs kids on their back underneath tables, struggling to keep paper in place on the reverse side of the tabletop as they practiced fighting gravity while making space art.

The skies are cloudy as I write this, but I know that as soon as the rain breaks a bright night sky will eventually appear. I can’t help but think our students will be looking upwards when that happens, with a gleam in their eye and a smile as big as a crescent moon.

Be well,

Ben


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