Category Archives: review

Teacher Sarah’s Autumn Review

Celtic Trinity Knot by Kristen Fox

Celtic Trinity Knot by Kristen Fox

The Apples have enjoyed researching and sharing about the festivals of Lughnasa and Samhain (SOW-in) that have Celtic origins.  In our study of Celtic history, we have learned that much is a mystery due to variations among Celtic tribes, scattered archeological finds and little written history before Patrick came to Ireland.  What the Romans and Greeks wrote of the Gauls and Keltoi was somewhat biased as they sought to conquer the invaders from the North.

We began some map-making of the various Celtic territories in Europe ending up with the Celtic fringe of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The oral folktales and deities were varied, yet we learned of the Coming of Lugh and the Second Battle of Moytura that tells of the sun God, Lugh, and victory of the mythological people called the Tuatha De Danaan. Other stories presented were the Sons of Tureen and the Children of Lir. While listening to the latter story, all students created a beeswax swan.

Apples honored the Celts connection to nature with sharing of favorite places outdoors and brought in a branch, leaf, stone, or even an apple from these special locations. Some students researched the importance of herbs and oak groves to the ancient Druids. Students also brought in verses about nature or Celtic poems to bless our snack.

What a pleasure in October to have Peter Watson, the NY bagpiper, join our class to teach about the bagpipes, Scottish garb and piping competitions! He played the kitchen and large bagpipes for us.  We are grateful for his generosity in returning on Dec 17th with fellow piper, Mary Taylor to shepherd the grade students to our winter festivities. What fun to dance to the jig the pipers played!  Several students and I attended the Irish Cultural Day at Nazareth College (sponsored by Irish Rochester). We heard a variety of traditional Irish music and instruments including a jam session where the Giraldo girls spontaneously shared some Irish dance!  At the end of October, we took a field trip to Grandview Farm for apple picking; we had a bonfire for Samhain and carved Celtic designs into pumpkins (the tradition is to carve turnips). We also painted lovely Celtic knots this season.

In November, we participated in movement activities and games (led by Sue M.) and continued singing some Irish songs (Three leaf shamrock, I’ll tell me Ma); we worked on our 3 part harmony and rounds. Our handwork consisted of Celtic 4 strand braids with assistance from Barb M. (Corey’s mom) and Molly C. Previously we had drawn Celtic twists and knots.

Birthday affirmation flurries abound with additional qualities shared by parents. Students have also shared their own clever written summaries of the Coming of Lugh. Our elder students have volunteered to write a script for our play from the story of the Quest of the Sons of Tureen. We remain a dramatic, energetic and talkative bunch! Much creativity and connection continues to flow and we shall see what we can weave into Imbolc and Beltane.

With Celtic spirit,


Teacher Sue’s Autumn Review

The beginning of the Lilac year brought some changes to the Bayberries, with a larger class for some children, and a new room and teacher for others.  The children have come together so beautifully, and we have been having a lot of fun so far this year.

One new aspect of the year has been enjoying some movement time at the beginning of each class.  We have been fortunate in having Fellowship Hall made available each day so that the classes have some time for large-motor activities.  We have joined with each class in turn for balancing and strengthening exercises, bouncing and catching balls, playing a variety of danger/pursuit games, and learning the Hebrew dance and songs that were presented at the holiday potluck.

Our main lessons so far this year have centered on Native American creation stories, starting with the stories of the Haudenosaunee, which were followed by “how and why” stories of other Native American cultures.  We’ll be switching gears in January with some traditional folk tales of China.

We have some very nimble fingers in the Bayberries class!  We began the year with knitting – a review for some, and a new skill for others.  Molly, our handwork guru, has been a wonderful help as the children worked on their first creations – a knitted chicken, cat, or project of their own choosing.  We made a start on some crocheting, but the holiday season caused a temporary interruption of our handwork time, so we’ll continue with crochet work in the new year.

The Bayberries are a very musical group, and have been learning songs for voice as well as for recorder at a rapid rate.  We like to end our day with some rousing music – the sillier the better!  It has been such a pleasure so far to work with this great group of kids, and I enjoy seeing them grow and learn, develop and strengthen friendships with each other, and bring their delightful energy to each class.  I am grateful, as always, for this special community and for the privilege of teaching your children.


Teacher Sue

Teacher Tom’s Autumn Review

A review of autumn in the Mulberry class for 2013


17th-century Seneca Bark Longhouse

As we said goodbye to summer, the Mulberry class now in grade four, looked back in history to the people who were the soul caretakers of this region of the world currently known as New York State.  The class spent time writing and drawing in their main lesson books, recording the story of the formation of the five nations of the Haudensaunee.  They learned about the struggle of  Peace Maker Hiawatha and the unifying Great Law.  The Mulberries visited the site of the Seneca nation town called Ganondagan, where they became familiar with how native peoples lived prior to the time of European colonization.  Back in the Lilac classroom, the dad of Mulberry Tsali, Tom G-S, shared his Native American heritage with the class.

The Mulberries are a musical group, and using recorder, drum and voice, they devoted time and energy to a Native inspired tribute “The Earth Is Our Mother”.  They also worked to memorize the Haudenosaunee “daily thanksgiving” which was inspired by the Onondaga Nation.  The Mulberries mastered the technique of singing in a round with the traditional “Hey Ho Nobody Home”.

During their watercolor block, the Mulberries worked on an imagined interior of a Haudenosaunee longhouse.  Knowing a bit about how long houses were constructed and imagining what things might look like when the only source of light would be a central fire, they each created thoughtful wet on dry studies.

Inspired by the resourcefulness of the first people of this land, the Mulberry handwork this autumn involved the weaving of baskets using local grapevine, cane, and flat reed.  Handwork expert Molly C. was the guide for the class as they faced the challenges of these new materials.

This past autumn we enjoyed many lovely afternoons, and on more than a few such afternoons, the Mulberries were outdoors involved in orienteering activities and mapping their movements.  Often, in teams of four, the Mulberries would follow, or create a series of compass settings to find a designated location.  Once there was even a treasure to locate; stashes of a Native American invention known as popcorn!  The Mulberries honed their skills at map making as they charted their route to and from Lilac Children’s Garden.  Later in the season they each worked at making a map with directions for how to travel to their family’s Thanksgiving.  As far as is known, everyone enjoyed their holiday.

The daylight was ever diminishing as we approached the end of autumn, and so with the handiwork of honey bees from seasons past, we dipped wick into wax to form candles.  And with clay from the earth, we rolled out slabs and formed sconces to hang on the wall.  These together may joyfully usher in the light of a new year for the Mulberries and their families.