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.