Fall is here and we are, most of us, 6 to 8 weeks into the 2023/24 school year.
First, please CONGRATULATE yourself for completing the first cycle of CORE Integrated Reading & Writing units, and likely introducing APPLICATION materials such as Calendar of Days, Operation Lexicon, One True Sentence, or Tools of Style. Be encouraged! Take heart!
“A power of Butterfly must be –
The Aptitude to fly
Meadows of Majesty concedes
And easy Sweeps of Sky —”
This butterfly, a California Buckeye, was spotted this week when I took a moment to enjoy a lovely fall day in the garden. And I thought of Emily Dickinson’s amazing observation of the butterfly’s aptitude to fly.
And this got me to thinking of education and childhood.
A power of Childhood must be –
The Aptitude to fly—
Your students are stretching their wings.
You are likely getting ready to add Earlybird Introduction to Animals or your first Research People of the year or one of the Research Science units on top of the second CORE unit. And you might be a bit overwhelmed. You are not alone!
Sometimes, after the delightful anticipation and early days of back-to-school fades, fatigue sets in.
You may be experiencing that oh-so-familiar desire to countdown to the holidays!
We say: Not yet!!!
Don’t give up!
Take a moment in the garden. Enjoy the sights of fall.
Now is the time to take a breath and join hands with the teacher built in to your materials!
Let October-Focus-on-ELA-fest begin!!!
1. Look back on your student’s first completed CORE unit. Make note of the small steps of progress.
3. Read (again) through the “How to Use this Guide” in the front of the student workbooks.
Primary (Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade)
At the primary level, foundational skills are introduced and reviewed, and put into practice. This is where students learn to delight in the joy of stories and the taming of ideas begins. Watch the Professional development for parents and teachers from August session for inspiration this October.
Elementary (3rd, 4th, and 5th grade)
Elementary readers and writers are becoming confident with grammar, mechanics, and form—sentences and paragraphs—and style! Writing at this level involves learning to craft an amazing Hook and working through the process of crafting an idea the happy way. Watch the Professional development for parents and teachers from our August session for inspiration this October.
Middle School (6th, 7th, and 8th grade)
High School (9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade)
The goal is for middle and high school writers to transfer their creativity and courageous ability to write an idea to more advanced forms—poems, literary, descriptive, and persuasive essays, and longer research. Watch the Professional development for parents and teachers from our August session for inspiration this October.
During the months of October, watch for weekly festive posts to boost you on toward November!
And the ability to tame an idea begins with some foundational skills introduced and practiced in the primary grades—Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd!
Our Grade Level Collections include everything you need to introduce and reinforce phonics for reading and writing, plus a multitude of creative opportunities for idea making to motivate students in this important work.
Click through to watch a recording of the August Professional Development session with Mrs. B. & Ms. Clare. Be inspired this fall:
This time, last year, I was leading an Earlybird Pages session using our Spring Stories thematic unit—such beautiful stories and pictures about spring. Every time we read a new story, we sensed the anticipation in the air. How exciting, to simultaneously see things growing, blooming, changing right around us!
Colors so bright. Food so delicious. Bugs and wildlife transforming.
I planted a garden of my own about the same time. We planted some vegetables from seedlings. We planted some from seed. This garden has been so much fun to watch— from the breaking of ground to the first little glimpse of green as the plant slowly starts to unfurl.
I always research the authors and illustrators before any class I teach. Two of the authors we read about were motivated to write books about their gardens because of memories from their childhood. Monica Wellington wrote, Zinnia’s Flower Garden, and was inspired by her early childhood living in a small town in Switzerland, surrounded by mountains, woods, lakes, orchards fields and farms. Monica writes about subjects she knows about and subjects she wants to know more about. She constantly writes down words and thoughts and collects photos and pictures. She has a big box where she stores her “seeds of ideas”. She rustles around in it when she is thinking of her next book!
Grace Lin wrote her first published book, The Ugly Vegetables, based on her childhood experience of growing Chinese vegetables with her mother, while their neighbors grew beautiful flowers. When interviewed about her ideas for her books, Grace mentioned she travels everywhere with a sketchbook so she can always capture her ideas no matter where she is.
I love this idea of collecting words and pictures from right around us to fuel our BIG ideas! These ideas, once planted, grow inside of us and start to unfurl just like our own gardens. The more we tend to these ideas the more they grow and develop into something bright, open, strong, into something we want to share with the people around us. Our curriculum, over time, helps students collect “seeds of ideas” and supports them in planting and tending them.
Consider our brand new Operation Lexicon Word Collecting. Tied to the workbook, three beautiful books will guide students into the wonder of collecting words. Students learn to tease out word meanings and play with application. Words, like food, can be full of flavor and fun.
Last spring I talked to my students about starting a “seeds of idea” box and carrying sketchpads. I shared with my family my desire to create my own idea box. My son Grady created beautiful flowers on the front. I expanded my idea to include those of my family too! I am excited to continue the work of gardening my ideas this spring and watch them bloom.
There are no limits!
Strong words. Great stories. Beautiful illustrations. May our ideas bloom forth!
Sinking your teeth into a marshmallow is like biting into a cloud!
Let’s make marshmallows! Before we do, let’s ask a beautiful question: Where did the idea come from? Marshmallows, after all, are not naturally occurring.
If we want to encourage our children to engage in the work of writing their ideas, sharing stories of successful idea-making is a terrific inspiration.
Did you know that this treat has a long, sweet history?
Begin by teaching your children that marshmallow is a plant. It has a scientific name: Althaea officinalis. You might point out that scientific names are capitalized differently than names of people. Only the first name is capitalized. It got its name because it is a “mallow” plant and grows in marshy areas. Marshmallow sprouts light pink flowers and grows very tall.
Next share a bit of history. As early as the 9th century, Greeks used marshmallow medicinally by making a balm from the sap. They discovered it soothed wounds, stings, and tummy aches. Later the Romans discovered marshmallow worked well as a laxative. By the Middle Ages, marshmallow was a treatment for a wide variety of ailments including insomnia! But it was the ancient Egyptians who made a sweet treat by combining marshmallow sap, honey, and nuts. The French took it from here. Their concoction was still semi-medicinal (used often as a throat lozenge), but interestingly it was also advertised as anti-aging cream! Eventually, through France, marshmallows landed as a sweet indulgent treat.
Marshmallows arrived in the USA in the 1800s. And we can thank the Girl Scouts for S’Mores.
Before you begin to cook, share this amazing fact: We consume 90 million pounds of marshmallows every year!
Here is a simple recipe:
For the syrup: Combine in a saucepan with a candy thermometer: 3/4 cup Water + 1 1/4 cup corn syrup + 3 cups sugar + pinch of salt
For the body of the confection: In a heavy-duty mixer, sprinkle 3 tablespoons gelatin over 3/4 cup water
Let the gelatin dissolve in the water in the mixer with the whisk attachment ready to go.
Boil the syrup mixture to 240 degrees. Immediately pour the syrup slowly into the mixer. Increase to high and beat until very thick!
Add flavoring—a tablespoon of vanilla, or 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond or peppermint. Here you can be creative!
Now pour the marshmallow mixture into a greased with spray oil 13″ x 9″ baking pan. At this point you can sprinkle sparkle sugar to decorate. Let set overnight.
Turn pan over onto a large cutting board heavily dusted with powdered sugar. Cut the set marshmallow into cubes. Roll each cube in organic powdered sugar—you will need about 1 cup.
Even if you have never made marshmallows from scratch, remember the kitchen is a classroom. Enjoy the adventure creating this campfire friendly confection!