Field Trips and Sustainability days

We take weekly field trips. Yes, every Monday we hop in the van, take the city bus, or walk to a different destination around town. We are an all weather school, so we bundle up in the winter, throw on rain gear when its raining, and layer on sunscreen and wear hats in the hot weather. This year we teamed up with Earth Native Wilderness School for monthly survival classes. We practice making connections with nature and our earth, which is one of our core practices. In the beginning of the year, we ask for student input on places to visit and plan several wilderness trips around Austin. So far this year we’ve taken trips to Deep Eddy Pool, McKinney Falls, canoeing on Lady Bird (a schoolhouse tradition), backstage at Bass Concert Hall, Faulk Library, Eastwoods Park, and Hornsby Bend. Every Monday is an new adventure and we love every minute of it.

Our focus sustainability days happen once a month. Teachers plan activities around a theme and help students understand the importance of our earth’s resources. We talk about what we can actively do to take care of our earth and each other. So far we’ve learned about the importance of food, water, and waste.











Sit spot

On our recent field trip to Eastwoods park, we introduced and practiced sit spot. Sit spot is a core routine from coyote mentoring. The idea is to find a special place in nature, sit still and have a quiet mind. Here the space becomes personal, where they get to hear and see the diversity of life around them. They get to see the landscape change with each season, see plants and insects up close, and find nature as their home.

After our sit spot time we all shared our experiences. Each of us were within 50ft of each other and we all saw different things! Then we went back to our spot and made a few sketches in our nature notebooks to record our experience.





A day at the Schoolhouse

Every Monday we start out our week with a field trip to various places in the Austin community. We like to travel around by taking the city bus or walking to our destination. Sometimes we load up the van and ride around town, taking in the Austin landmarks and sights. We are excited this year to team up with Earth Native Wilderness School to have monthly field trips to McKinney Falls. Just this week we canoed to Secret Island on Lady Bird Lake, one of our annual traditions.

IMG_5261 IMG_5285Tuesday through Friday we are at the schoolhouse. Our day consists of group lessons and self-directed learning, a time where students have the freedom to pursue their interests and find their passions. IMG_5112



Laura’s class studying author Kevin Henkes. Leveled math, reading, and writing centers are available everyday.
One of Aaron’s math group.

The majority of our day is self-directed learning. As mentors, we provide a few featured options, like music center or fort building. By giving the students a few options, they have the opportunity to explore something new.

Making comic books during self-directed learning.
A featured geography center provided by mentors.


On Fridays after lunch, we have our weekly democratic meeting where students can discuss school-wide rules and proposals. We have an agenda and follow a shortened version of Robert’s rules of order. Everyone has one vote and can bring up any issues or ideas for the schoolhouse. IMG_5225IMG_5226

We end everyday with story time, announcements for the next day, a song, and a quick clean up. Right now we are reading The Cats of Roxville Station by Jean Craighead George. IMG_5289

Camp out at Guadalupe River State Park

Every spring we plan a camp out for our schoolhouse community. This year we headed to Guadalupe River State Park in Spring Branch, Tx. The river was beautiful, giant cypress trees lined the banks, and wildflowers sprinkled the fields. It was great to spend time with our community and get to know each other more. A few families went on morning hikes and almost all the kids went geocaching. There was even a night owl hike! In the evenings, we started a fire and gathered around to make s’mores, s’mores and more s’mores. Yum!IMG_2959 IMG_2949 IMG_2948 IMG_2946 IMG_2944 IMG_2941 IMG_2938 IMG_2936 IMG_2935 IMG_2932 IMG_2930

Self- directed time

Weaving! Legos! Rain! Origami!

Renee, Amelia, and Laura learned and practiced weaving by making colorful potholders using loops and looms. We are looking forward to crafting bean bags and learning to weave different edging. 

It RAINED! and a few buckets were poured onto the schoolhouse. It made for a peaceful day and Jonas had the idea to race leaf boats down the curbside. What a fun idea, Jonas!

We busted out the legos today and practiced using our fine motor skills. Our imaginations and creativity took us to create elaborate pirate ships and make up fun stories about interesting people.  

Origami club met today. Lots of paper art were beautifully crafted.  

Self-directed activites

Check out more pictures of our week!

Visit to Sy’s House

Today we headed north to spend time at Sy’s house. We all had a great time getting to know Sy, Nicole (Sy’s mom), and Sue (Sy’s grandma). We spent time exploring the spacious front yard, playing hide and go seek,  perfecting yoga poses in the studio, and building lego masterpieces.  

Amelia and Renee exploring the garden

Treasures are everywhere

Jonas and Sy in the front yard

Nicole made a delicious clove,

 ginger, and black pepper tea

Mia enjoying the tea

Nicole showing us a relaxing pose in the studio. 

Mia in full lotus

Renee and her lego masterpiece!

Caitlin getting us ready to catch the bus. 

More pictures to check out!

Thank you Nicole, Sy, and Sue for having us over! 

Week 5

We had a great time hanging out with everyone at the Potluck/Showcase last Saturday. We finally got a chance to share our work for our first unit and spend some quality time getting to know our small community. Click here for an album of photos:


Looking forward to seeing everyone at Mueller Park for our next park day – Sunday, October 21st. It’ll be a BIKE PARTY!

Wow! We have made so much progress this week for our cardboard creations. We spend most of our self directed time crafting, painting, cutting, and putting the final touches on our designs. Click here for photos!

Cardboard Creations

We will play with at the Corrugated Creations event on Saturday. New additions were a chessboard, a carwash, and a super cat palace with a scratch post. 

For lunch this week we enjoyed breakfast for lunch! Yum. We made loaded pancakes with berries, chocolate chips, and bananas. Everyone loved it! We also got to harvest our first patty squash. We will save it for next weeks lunch. We voted today to spend more time in the garden for self directed time.

Tuesday was a special day! We met at Rio’s house where we played with the physics of water and legos/Kapla blocks. Here’s an album of photos:
Building and Water play

The weather was perfect and we started inside with an explanation of the new water creek in the backyard. We learned how it was built and why there are limits for the feature. We took a vote on which we wanted to do first. Build or play with water. The verdict was to play inside while it heated up outside, then jump in to cool off. Building with kapla blocks, magna tiles, and legos was a blast! After a quick lunch inside, we put on our swimsuits and got into the beautiful creek. We explored, experimented, and played with pvc pipes and water pressure.

Caitlin’s class worked with arrays and factors this week in maths. We recorded definitions in our center journals. We took photos of arrays around the house and grounds, labeled them, and found multiplication expressions for each. We looked for factor patterns and build arrays with cubes.


In language arts, we learned how to do a dictionary dig. Sy and Rio finished a vowel sound sort and recorded words with the same vowel sounds in their center journals. Renee worked on her book project: a sequel to Chester’s Way by Keven Henkes.
In our animal unit, we perused a huge stack of animal books and began taking notes and drawing in our project binders. Each student will have an individual project focused on an animal of their choice. The whole group will learn about Texas Endangered Species and create a film as our culminating project. There are lot of other interesting facets to our study, including tracking, behavior and adaptations, animal rescue, food webs, biomes, and habitats. We’ll have a full unit for sure!
If anyone has books on Texas Endangered Species, Elephants, Frogs, or Domestic Cats, please bring them in!

Laura’s class worked on place value and numbers to 100. Mia and Jonas worked on place value and expanded form. We used a chart, number cards, and value blocks to help us with placement and practiced saying and writing the numbers. Amelia worked with the hundreds chart and practiced counting and writing numbers consecutively. We also got to work with groups of ten. The domino game and cover up game also were played due to popular demand. 
In language arts, Jonas and Mia worked with word families and practiced writing them in their journals. They also read together Six Dinner Sid, which is a favorite around here. Amelia worked on letter sounds in the alphabet as well as making words she knows using the movable alphabet. We read a Dr. Seuss book on Alphabet and alliteration. We even had time for Magic Tree House!
We all discussed our upcoming Art unit this week and decided to pick several artists, study them, and find inspiration for our own art. So far, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, O’Keeffe Da Vinci, Smithson, Matisse, Mondrian, and Nevelson have been voted on. We also decided to create our own original pieces of art that shows our style. If you have any books on these artists or are an expert in an area, we would love for you to share with us. Thank you to those who have already brought in art books! They will be put to good use. 

Visit to Amelia’s House

On Tuesday we took a short walk over to Amelia’s house for our weekly field experience. We packed a picnic and spent the day enjoying all the fun things to play on and with. There was a treehouse, a swing, a trapeze, various games, and cardboard boxes to play inside. We played hide and go seek, guess which box, and took some time to take in all the beautiful nature around us and sketched in our nature notebooks. Thank you Molly and Brian for letting us visit! We had such a fantastic time.

This was the last week to wrap up our projects for our first unit ‘Free to Be You and Me’ and we finally have them posted up and around the Schoolhouse. We have been working hard on them and can’t wait to share them with our families. The timeline of milestones in our lives turned out amazing and we all learned new things about each other. Apparently, in 2010 lots of things happened! 
In Laura’s class, we worked on estimating numbers, we found several patterns in the 100 chart, and wrote number sentences using manipulatives. In Caitlin’s class, we worked with factor patterns. We used counters to create equal groups and then we drew rectangular arrays on graph paper and wrote the corresponding multiplication expressions. 
Friday was sushi day! The kids got a big kick out of it. We spread the sticky rice, filled them with fresh veggies and smoked salmon, and rolled and squeezed. What a treat! 
Our next big project is the Cardboard challenge. We viewed the videos of Caine’s Arcade and were all immediately inspired by his creativity and perseverance. So many ideas came to mind and we took some time to draw and design our own projects. We had a great discussion about what we were going to make and that only inspired more designs. So, we spent most of our time Friday cutting, taping, cutting, taping, and creating! Tons of ideas and creativity filled the school house and we were all knee deep in cardboard. Literally, we had to move all our cardboard inside the house to protect from rain which made for a cozy space.  They made a ticket booth, an interactive world, all kinds of arcade games, copy machines, and tickets. We can’t wait to share our creations with everyone! 

Corrugated Creations

Thank you to Sofia for coming again this week to read to us. We love love loved it! Also, we want to send a huge thank you for those who brought in cardboard to make our creations possible. Keep it coming! 
Just a reminder that the Cardboard Challenge is on October 6th at Givens Park from 12-3 pm.
We can’t wait to see everyone at our first Showcase/park day Saturday! 3-5 pm at the Schoolhouse! 
Our second week at the Schoolhouse was filled with exciting events! We had our first field experience on Tuesday at Deep Eddy Pool. We hopped on the #4 Metro bus, cruised down historic 6th St., and spent the afternoon swimming and soaking up the sun. 
Back at the Schoolhouse, fort building is still a popular choice for self directed time, and we even got a new load of sturdy cedar polls to build up and lash. We explored art in the studio to express our creativity. Some chose to make kaleidoscopes, secret envelopes, key cards for the forts, dioramas, drawings, and pictures using different kinds of textured tape. There is even an exciting project of creating a comic book about ‘Blaze’ one of our many chickens that is in the beginning stages. Super the cat has been hanging out with us in the backyard and some of us have been petting, holding, and getting to know him better.
Kitchen patrol and cook crews are improving at light speed! We are eating fresh, local food everyday. Quinoa was a new experince and almost everyone enjoyed the stir fry tofu with rice and veggies. During lunch on Wednesday, we also opened the time capsule and got a chance to see old friends and see if we had changed over the year. 
During siesta there has been lots of interest in read alouds. This week, we read Sing a Song of Tuna Fish by Esme Raji Codell on the porch while the rain fell beside us. 
We love having special visitors and this week we had Mollie come in to show us the magic and power of essential oils to repel mosquitoes. Emily is hosting a popular origami club on Fridays and lots of interesting animals and intricate folds were made. The change in weather this week was so refreshing and exciting! We played in the rain, stomped in puddles, searched for frogs, and loved the feeling of fall approaching. 
For our classes we start with a maths (Wednesday and Fridays) or a language (Thursdays) lesson, followed by a project for our unit, ‘Free to be You and Me’. We made new Schoolhouse ID cards with our pictures and included current information about our hobbies and things that make us happy or sad. We started a new project Friday using watercolor and our profile silhouettes which will be debuted at our first Schoolhouse picnic/showcase on Saturday the 29th. 
Exciting things are brewing up at the Schoolhouse and we are having lots of fun getting to know each other and beginning the new year. 
Deep Eddy and Week 2

Day in the Life of the Schoolhouse Roosters

As we all transition to life at the Schoolhouse, we wanted to share our day with y’all so you can familiarize yourselves with our routines.
When they arrive we expect them to choose their drink for lunch by putting a card with their choice into their glass. 
Each person decorated his/her glass with Laura’s hula hoop tape!

Your child then goes to the “Where are the Roosters?” chart and thinks about their self directed activity for the morning. This is a chance to follow up in a project they did before, see what their friends are doing, and see what new activities are available.

This week the backyard was a popular site of activity. Some kids made forts out of different building materials. (They must have been scheming all summer, because those structures went up fast!) We are working on lashing and adding different levels to enhance the fort experience.

Tree climbing was another proving ground to display skills.

 In our prepared environment there are several math centers with manipulatives and games to start out the year.

The studio has been open for business with painting, origami, and diorama-making underway. It’s amazing to see the creative outlets the kids have chosen!

 The library was another constant for those who wanted to avoid mosquitoes and those 102 degree temperatures. (C’mon cold front…)

After our lunch crews have made lunch  (cooks) and prepared the tables and drinks (kitchen patrol), it is time to feast and reflect with a given prompt or question for discussion using a talking stone.  
tacos family style
After lunch is Siesta. Siesta is a time to rest and read. There are several options to choose from: read aloud, reading to a buddy, reading to self, get help with reading, listening center, literature circle, or resting. We just voted in a meditation option!
To beat the heat those who feel inclined take a dip in the pool. Since the Schoolhouse lives and breathes with the seasons, we don’t have AC. We have other ways to cool off: we close up the house to preserve the cool, swim, and sit under the fans to take advantage of evaporative cooling. 
taking the plunge!
first one in!

 The long-awaited class lesson time has arrived! The kids are pumped to learn because we sent out a survey to gather input for our interdisciplinary project-based units. The first unit is “Free to Be You and Me”. We are drawing from the Marlo Thomas classic and making creative works that share authentic pieces of ourselves, with plenty of time for social and emotional growth.

Letters of our names

Intentions for ourselves and the world – will be flown in the yard to carry our wishes on the wind.
Water bottle holsters for our excursions – we’re an Outdoors In All Weather crew!

Then we wrap up the day with clean-up duties. Each class is responsible for their own space, and then we move on to community areas. Inspection conducted by Laura and Caitlin follows – to be turned over to the youth when the routines are familiar. We rate the work on a scale of 1 to 10, with style points as bonus!

Rio and Amelia get the broom and dustpan.

 We are so honored to be working with your precious children and are looking forward to this partnership in education throughout the year. It is amazing to see their budding selves emerge already in our community.

so much love!