Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peace Day Plans

Tomorrow, to celebrate Peace Day, we will have some special things planned.

On Monday, we sent to parents a package with instructions for how to fold a paper crane a white square paper and a small slip. We asked them to fold the crane at home, hopefully with their child, and decide on a message to write on the slip of paper that is appropriate to Peace Day, then to string the crane and slip together with a needle and thread. Tomorrow morning, as the children get dropped off at school, the parents will hang their homemade cranes along the entrance to the building. I can't wait to see how beautiful our tree lined entrance will look with all the white cranes and positive messages.

When the moment is right, we will gather the children to play a modified version of the Osani Circle Game (pictured above) that a friend emailed me from this website. Our variation will be for the children to pick a friend to sit next to as we "build the circle with our feet touching" and then we will pass a ball of yarn from person to person and talk about how we are all connected.

And if the mood is right, at the end of the day we will offer for children who want to sit in silence together with the sand clock to stay a little longer, "because silence is peaceful."

Do you have any plans for Peace Day? Share in the comments section if you like!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The circle is complete.

This week we had our whole group and staff together for the first time since the new year began. I felt that this was an important even to honour. We all sat in a large circle and lit our special "birthday candle". I told the children that I'd like the light of the candle to travel around the whole circle, passing in front of every member of our community, until the lit candle got back to me.

I was prepared for our group to not succeed in passing the candle around the whole circle on the first try. I was thinking of the children for whom it would be a challenge NOT to blow it out, or who would have trouble passing it to the next person. But the moment was solemn enough that the candle made it all the way around, passed from little hand to little hand.

The children cheered when it made it to the end, and I heard one of the children spontaneously break out into our community song. Someone suggested we sing our "School Family" song:

(to the tune of "You are My Sunshine"- borrowed from this website)

You are my family
my school family
I feel happy
when you are here

You'll never know friends
how much I love you
When you are gone
I'll keep you here (hand on heart)

At the end I invited the oldest child to pick someone to snuff out the candle. Without hesitation, he walked to the child that had been missing for a week because of a broken arm, and gave him the candle snuffer.

To my delight, our assistant captured this lovely moment in video!

We are always looking for new community building activities or rituals- if you have any favorites, please share in the comments!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cultural Exchange Box Project

A teacher recently wrote to me from Chicago and asked if we'd be interested in setting up pen pals with the children at our schools. I've tried that in the past, and because our mail system is so slow and somewhat unreliable with small letters, the children have become quickly discouraged. Not wanting to dismiss this great opportunity I came up with a project that is making me giddy with excitement.

We have 6 eldest children in our school this year (5-6 year olds). Each of them is going to put together a box of items to represent our small Island and school. They will each write a letter, draw a picture, include a class photo and some typical food items, make a flag, and include one souvenir, and perhaps include a recording of what the native language (Papiamento) sounds like.

My big idea is that each of them will exchange their box with a school in a different continent. I have found schools who want to participate from North America (in Chicago), Asia (China), and Europe (Norway). But am still reaching out to anyone interested in exchanging with us from Africa, Oceania, or South America. Is there a teacher out there who would like to sign up for this with us?

Let me know!

The excitement of receiving these boxes from around the world will be such a special occasion for us, and a great way to reach out across the world from our small Island.