November 2009 Newsletter

 Over the past couple of months, the children have touched their depth. For a while the boys were more settled than the girls. The staff decided on several ways to work this out. All the girls tied rakhis to every boy to strengthen the brother sister relationship. On a few Sundays the girls got to make cookies in the school kitchen. This seemed to help settle their attention.

Last Sunday was one auntie’s birthday. She was asked to hide in her room (that is what everyone does on his/her birthday at the school) while everyone else was busy blowing up balloons and decorating the dining room with streamers. A special birthday chair was being prepared. When everything was ready for the celebration she was called out, and the cloth got dropped: “Surprise!” There was a delicious cake and cards full of love made by each child. Music and dancing went on for a long time.

An auntie who was in Vaitarna at the Sahaj music academy for four months is now teaching the children music. One of the songs they are practicing will be the accompaniment for the term video. The auntie plays the harmonium and the keyboard, and is passing on to the children some of what her teacher taught her: They are learning the basic scale of SA RE GA MA PA DA NI SA.

In the schoolhouse classroom the children make crafts such as lanterns that were hung on the ceiling for Diwali. Recently they made a wall hanging using vegetables and fruits cut in half and painted and then printed onto paper. They also used rubber prints and cut forms out of sponges.  Discovering the sense of smell, the children explored blindfolded several scents starting with the letter “c”: cabbage, camphor, coffee, etc. For the sense of taste they got to taste popcorn, first plain and “Not that yummy,” then with butter and salt: “This tastes good!” For the sense of touch they got to guess hidden objects in a bag. For the sense of seeing the children again got blindfolded and had to find their way around the house using their other senses under the aunties’ watchful eyes.

The children are learning about some basic kitchen and classroom safety. One day they made a firemen-hat-snack: A pineapple slice with half a banana in the middle as the candle and some gummy bears for the flame. An auntie with the whipped cream spray bottle extinguished the “fire.” The children learned the phone number 911 to call in case of a real fire.       

The older kids have been learning how to draw animals with very focused attention. Basic art techniques are being explored: mixing colors, printing, recognizing colors beyond the basic few, for example the color turquoise. The children remember even the difficult new names easily using color cards. Exploring the world of animals the children learn about pets, dolphins and whales, and farm animals. The children are learning to sort and line up toy animals. Recently a ranger from a wildlife refuge in the area came to the school with three large birds (they are wounded and cannot survive in the wild anymore): an owl, a hawk, and a turkey vulture. The children learned that not all birds are pretty and cute, nor are all birds vegetarian. The turkey vulture was smelly beyond imagination. None of the children were scared but curious, though they kept a respectful distance. This coming week the children will read and explore about bears. They will read “Blueberries for Sal” and learn about the sense of hearing and about the many different sounds.

 The whole school went on a field trip in two parts: first to the library where there was an exhibit about the different means of transportation (this library nicely serves also as the local museum). There were old sleighs, early train carriages and one of the first steam engines, as well as model bridges. Everyone had a snack at the library cafe. Then all went back in the van heading to a local alpaca farm. Alpacas are much like llamas but less aggressive, and of course well known for their beautiful wool, at the farm referred to as “fiber.” The children got to pet a baby and mother alpaca, they got a demonstration of how to shear an alpaca and then gather the fiber. This farm is breeding the animals for shows. The farmers would like to start the industry in the US. The wool is made into boot liners, mittens, hats, coats, sweaters, etc. The farm is connected to a high quality fiber mill; the colors of the natural fibers vary in 12 different shades from very dark brown to an off-white and from very dark to very light grey. This was very exciting for the children to learn about.

The term is coming to an end very soon. All the aunties thank the parents and all the yogis involved for their wonderful continuous support!

 With love, from the ICSC staff members


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