Birthday in a Wooden Canoe

destination: island

Today we gorged ourselves on the beautiful Central Texas autumn weather with a Town Lake canoe trip.

Started the day off in the shady back yard, after a couple of puppet shows, of course, and some tic-tac-toe on the dry erase board. I painted their faces, and arms too, in honor of Eli’s birthday and island adventures.

Then Laurie arrived and whisked us down to the Festival Beach put in, where a couple of police officers were using multi-modal transportation. It was observed that they arrived in a truck, one left on a boat and another left on a bike. I asked if they were patroling for ACL but was informed that no, it was for another purpose. Ah hah.

We had a brief paddle school, parts one two and three, to learn the parts of the boat, basic paddle strokes, and how to move so you don’t tip your boat.

We paddled out to the island, talking about the different vantage point you have from the water. We could see the I-35 bridge to the west and the Longhorn Dam and the Holly Power Plant to the east. We learned how to “gunnel” up to connect the boats when we see something cool or want to talk to the other boat. There was a lot of talk about racing and pirates, but none were spotted.
The island was a paradise. Andrew regaled us of stories of past island adventures, including a real pirate sighting. From what I understand, islands in the Colorado can’t be owned, so we were truly free there! As we raced up the little path we could see there was already a huge swing hung from a branch, a still-warm fire pit, chairs, and tables. Plus, tons of treasures to be found. These kids are Thing-Finders, like Pippi, so it was no trouble to gather loot, of both people and natural origins. We also went searching for tracks, and speculated about the various signs we observed.  Mountain lions, snow lions, bats, and fairies were on the loose. Survival skills were practiced.

Rio collected firewood and Andrew got the blaze to life. We heated up our burritos on a skillet over the coals, which gave the meal a super special taste.

Our feast in the forest!
Eli enjoyed cupcakes while swinging, and everyone sang the birthday song at least twice. Eli even put the candles out in a color pattern and helped light them too.

Icing was the best part.

We had to head back to the mainland eventually. Everyone got a ride in Andrew’s amazingly beautiful hand built wooden canoe, although not everyone wanted to paddle the whole time. Good thing they’re light.

 It truly was a magical day, a perfect celebration, and we thank Andrew and Laurie for making it possible!

glitter leaf adorns a water fairy

Our Place

Today we read “Another Way To Listen” by Bird Baylor, to inspire our exploration of and attention to our neighborhood. In Bird’s poetic prose, a girl learns to listen to earth and creatures from her grandfather, who can hear seeds burst open and corn singing. We each made a picture map of what we saw or felt on our way to the school park at 11th and Salina. (We also had a blast with fantasy play: took Ghost Train rides to Mexico, ran a currency exchange / bank, and bought or sold milkshakes and burgers and snow cones and pancakes from the walk-up window run by yours truly.)
Next we returned to the schoolhouse for lunch and reading time. We enjoyed some more of Peter Pan, and also acted out a nonfiction book about storms.

Puppet Theater / TV Reclamation Project Begins!

Real tools!

To spruce up the dramatic play offerings around here, we began deconstruction of an old TV set. Can’t think of a better use for one of those things! Put kids’ imagination behind the screen!
Rio and Eli tackle the circuit board with Rio’s Very Sharp Very Good scissors.
Eli and Bruno work on using a socket wrench to remove the busted tube.
Rio snaps one through the TV screen.

Posin’ for photographer Rio.

Next steps for this project: finish cleaning it up; paint it; make curtains; and make puppets! Then, of course, On With The Show…

*Safety Note: This TV was found at least six months ago on the curb in the neighborhood. The TV tube had already been broken, so there was no risk of electric shock, and the harmful vapors were long since dissipated. The kids wore protective eye wear and close-toed shoes and washed hands thoroughly after working with the TV. As part of our project, we will research and discuss proper handling and recycling of the components, as they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into groundwater or the air if taken to a landfill or incinerated. We will also locate a recycling facility  to  which we can deliver the parts, and try to get a tour so we can see what happens to electronic waste. We may be inspired to write our legislators or the EPA after that… who knows what direction our research will take us!*

**Don’t try to take apart a TV without taking proper precautions first!!
For starters, read about it here.**

A Glimpse of Farm Day

We spent our morning hours in the Neighborhood Garden today, starting out with weeding our plots, quickly moving to mulching the paths from the mountain of mulch, and then built the beginnings of a fort. Although at times it was a plane and a rocket too. Here’s what the kids said about it:

Rio: Today I built a seat, a bench with a foot board at the bottom. And I found some treasures. [I put them] under a board. There was a trap door. There are some more treasures… [you’ll have to get the juicy details from him!]

Bruno: Today I played batman in the garden. I used the white batman watch that [Caitlin] painted. And a stick for the batman sword and I’m wearing a batman sock. I didn’t build anything today.

Eli: I built part of the plane. A thin log that was straight, and a fat one. It was round, but not as round as a ball.

Then we discussed what makes “real” building. Bruno and Eli were of the opinion that it takes using hammer and nails, but Rio and I brought up the fact that we created a new structure just by putting logs together. So we’ll be doing some “real” building soon, to compare. Our hypothesis was that if you use hammer and nails it will last longer, but we agreed that we still built things today.

We also mixed playdough from flour, salt, and warm water, and had a sensory experience kneading, pounding, rolling, poking, and shaping our dough. 

First Day at the Schoolhouse!

And we’re off!
Whoooo Are You?

Today we took a try at some of the materials in the Study; went on a rainy Wander and checked out the Neighborhood Garden; created collage posters sharing a bit about Whoooo We Are (because the owl keeps asking us questions…); made black beans and rice for lunch; and ready so many stories we were at it for a whole hour. All in all it was a wonderful beginning!


Orientation Day: Friday 9/3

We were so glad to welcome enrolled students and families to tour the schoolhouse today and get an idea of what our time together will be like! Nathan and I have been hard at work transforming the space. Here he is creating some shelves from reclaimed wood for our art supplies.

It was so satisfying to see the kids checking it out in its new incarnation; that’s what we’ve been working towards. Hopefully some anxieties were soothed and some curiosity sparked. I’m thrilled for Tuesday, to begin this learning adventure and see where these kids want to go.

Meet and Greet

It was lovely to gather folks at Rosewood Park on perhaps one of our last chilly mornings. I shared my vision for next year, and then we went around the picnic table and heard what parents are looking for in an alternative to public school. Several kids came and romped too. I’m looking forward to building this community and to the possibilities ahead. Next steps: contact me with any further thoughts / questions, and we’ll set something up at my place to envision the space at the end of May. Here’s to new beginnings!