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

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 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! 

Week 3, What an adventure!

Week 3 and library/Carver museum

We started our week with a walk down to Carver library on a refreshing Tuesday morning. We packed snacks, water, and took our backpacks that held our newly chosen books. We explored different genres, talked to the librarian, and found interesting bits of nature along our path. We decided to visit the Carver Museum next to the library. There we found artifacts of Carver’s life, sculptures, and beautiful wood carved relief panels. There was an exhibit on Juneteenth and we learned about the Emancipation Proclamation and the festive tradition. We also explored several founding historical african american families that have lived in the Austin community.

Great things have been happening during self directed time. Some planned and developed a lemonade stand that had several customers. (secret ingredient was honey and handmade origami cups) Origami, bead-making  painting, and sword fighting were other popular choices.
We got our new handmade burlap supply pouches! We started making them last week. We cut the burlap, pinned the hem, and started to sew, but Dan took over and volunteered to finish them. Thanks, Dan! They came out beautiful and we will use them everyday.
We planted some fall veggies early in the week. Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asian greens, and brussel sprouts were added in the rows. We can’t wait to watch them grow!
We ended our Free to Be You and Me unit this week. We worked on our Family trees, started a timeline of events that happend in our lives, and finished our silhouettes. All of our projects are looking fabulous!

For Maths this week, Caitlin’s class has been working on concepts of large numbers, place value, and orders of magnitude. We started by modeling a one-centimeter square cube for one unit. We worked with the concept of 10 makes 1: ten cubes make one long (a ten-bar); ten longs make one flat (a hundred square); and ten flats make one cube (a thousand). Then I asked the students to figure out What Comes Next? They began to recognize the cube, flat, long pattern as we had to leave the confines of the studio to measure out ten thousand. We grabbed meter sticks and headed for the alley to contemplate the power of ten. Once we got to a million, the cube was so large we estimated it was as tall as the neighbor’s two story house (10 meters tall!) We also worked with recording the numerals and reading big numbers. Encourage your child to practice at home!In Language Arts, Rio and Sy worked together to sort word family cards to recognize spelling patterns. They then selected one of the word families and read a story featuring that pattern. Renee selected a book project from our folder of choices and will write a sequel to a story of her choice. This project is due Thursday 9/27.
Laura’s class has been working on instant recognition of amounts using dots. (like on a dice) We used dot cards and discussed the patterns and relationship between different numbers. Dominos was a huge hit! Using the patterns on the dominos, we played different games like, one more than, and one less than. This helped with fluency of numbers and relationships that will help with computation in the future. 
In Language arts, we all read together the book You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You to work with sounding out words and reading with expression. This helped by getting a good idea where they are in reading levels. 

Thursday during siesta, we had Sofia, Rio’s mom, come and read to all of us. We loved the books she chose, like Chester’s Way, Unique Monique, Widget, Jamaica Louis James, and Dream Catcher. What a treat to have her visit! Thanks, Sofia! 

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!