A Week in February

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February presents opportunities for activities both inside and out! Inside our cozy building students who wished to do so made Valentines and Valentine decorations which are now adorning the school. Cut out felt hearts sewn together and several feet of colorful paper chains are hanging along the Woodland walls. Gift bags were adorned with sponge painting and salt dough cookies in the shape of a heart were painted. A group of chefs made absolutely delicious strawberries dipped in chocolate which was a treat for the whole school on Valentines Day. Paul presented to the students about ice fishing and will be taking students out on the ice next week.

Outside, a group of intrepid explorers went out to the Woods Trail and discovered running water under snow and ice, icicles hanging from glacial erratics, revisited their previously constructed forts, slid like penguins down the snowbanks, and simply played and ran freely. We also had a very blustery and snowy morning tubing at Bretton Woods, though it sure was fun!

Journey Share wrapped up our week as students presented their culminating Geography and Countries projects to their friends and families. From the Eiffel Tower to the Grand Canyon, Polar Bears to the Amazon, Switzerland to Australia, Japan to Rome and several points in between, we had a fascinating collection of student-generated work!

Pizza, Pizza!

We had an amazing day exploring the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury!. Students explored thermal imaging, bridges, propulsion and circuitry in the museums Exploration Station, as well as all the natural history artifacts and displays. Some students had the opportunity to actually see a particular animal they are studying during Journey such as the polar bear. A short walk to Cantina di Gerardo and a hands on pizza making experience topped off our day. Students learned how to work the pizza crust and then delighted in selecting their own toppings and then of course eating the delicious results. Thank you Colpitts/Grieco family!

Mornings at school students learned how to weave with one student weaving a rug to place in her dollhouse at home. Icy conditions led to some very creative ways of negotiating icy surfaces. Books were read about “Your Elastic Brain” and the origins of pizza, and students brought in photographs and fun toys from home during Share.

In Journey, students continued to research their independent topic choices for our ongoing Geography/Country Journey.  Topics include:  Big Ben, the Grand Canyon, Amazon Rainforest, animals of Australia, African animals, Madagascar, Switzerland, Paris, Japan, Antarctica, and the Colosseum.  It's been such an interesting week as students gather at the end of each day to share their favorite fact they discovered. Towards the end of the week, the school was busy with activity as students began their project piece.  Paint, cardboard, clay, popsicle sticks, felt, etc. were pulled down from the shelves to create models, posters, dolls, maps, and intricate drawings to represent their chosen topics.  We look forward to next week's Journey share!


Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America, all in one week

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Well, of COURSE we asked Emshika to come in and create with the students as we studied the continent of Asia! She brightened our day with her bubbly personality and gorgeous vegetables as she taught students how to make Thai spring rolls. Soaking the rice wrappers until they were “just right” and then filling them with a fresh assortment of vegetables and avocado topped with Emshika’s homemade hoisin sauce and peanuts…what a delicious morning!

Outside, students played “basketball” and continued work on forts and snow/ice slides. It seems our shovels make excellent sleds on the snow slides! Inside students learned how to draw elephants, played with Legos and dress up, built several map puzzles, and put their artistic skills to work making flags of the world. Teachers facilitated an amazing JC conversation about “claiming” snow banks and forts as everyone shared feelings and challenges, and came up with a common list of actions.

In Journey this week students took a tour of Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America.  Each day students chose a subtopic of interest to explore pertaining to the continent of the day.  Topics ranged from Machu Picchu in Peru, to the Sahara Desert in Africa, to Mt Everest in Asia, to the fjords of Norway in Europe, and many many more. Students came together at the end of each exploration to share their discoveries. Favorite discoveries included the mummification process of Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, the flooding of the Colosseum to showcase ship battles, and the 1300 species of birds in the Amazon Rainforest. Next week we look forward to students choosing their individual topics for our Walk Around the World Journey share. 

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Short and sweet!

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Though we had such a short school week due to a weather-related closure and a holiday, students found plenty of time and energy to explore the humongous snowbanks outside! Our resident plowing experts (aka farmers!) piled up the snow and set up the best opportunities for digging snow caves, snow slides, forts, and overall fun. One group of students, in particular, can almost always be found outside during morning Choice time at Woodland. This week they walked on the brook testing the ice thickness, found spots where the water was still running underneath the ice, dug, shoveled, hammered and played. They also got to experience what it might feel like to be a polar bear in a snowstorm as farmer Matt blew snow from a roof, creating a very unique snow squall in our driveway!

Warm and cozy inside the school, some students learned the art of Japanese fan making along with the cultural history behind making fans. Puzzles were completed, skip counting by two’s backward from 57 challenged some, books were read, and lively conversations occurred at both lunch and snack. “Martin’s Big Words” was read aloud followed by students writing a reflection on their own individual special gifts they have to offer the world. During Journey students learned about Antarctica and Australia, while skiing at Bretton Woods rounded out our 3 day week.

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Mid-January at Woodland

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Our offerings this week included skating at the ice rink in Franconia! Students skated or slid on freshly groomed ice, falling, getting up, laughing and doing it all over again. Brent read a story to the group during snack in the warming shack and then the students hit the ice again before heading back to school. Another offering was that of mask making. Several examples of African masks were displayed and those who wished made their own mask out of clay one day, adding paint the next day. We had a special share this week as Emmy brought in her sister Jenna for share! Students continued to maintain and skate on the homemade ice rink at school, make snow angels, and Friday was another fun ski/ride day at Bretton Woods.  

This week in Journey we have jumped into exploring maps.  We have looked at many different examples of maps:  political maps, climatic maps, physical maps, road maps, maps of rooms, treasure maps and even a map to show bird migration.  To support our knowledge of our place in the world, we learned about the compass rose and had loads of fun playing interactive games to support this; one of our favorites was hiding a Lego guy and having students give directions incorporating north/south/east/west.  Learning how to orient ourselves using a compass was also introduced.  We used Google Earth to demonstrate all the different names for the place we live on earth; from planet, to continent, to country, to city, to road, to house.  We had a blast flying around the world.  The end of the week found students exploring different stations laid out around the school.  Some examples of stations included: country flags, coordinates, my place on the map, Google Earth, compass activities and much much more.  Next week we look forward to taking a deeper look at the continents as our Geography and Countries Journey of Discovery continues.

Choice on a winter's day at Woodland

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Choice time on a winter day at Woodland is as varied as the Woodland students themselves! Frigid, sub-zero temps drove even our most hardy outdoor enthusiasts inside this week as Lego play became a center of activity. “Special” pieces were discovered, such as gold coins, and particular helmets for the figurines were re-discovered and put into play. One student experimented with making a stop motion animation movie using our HUE animation camera, while others played imaginative games building ships and creating make-believe scenarios. Students, who wished to, learned how to make cut out snowflakes which promptly led them to create a snowflake shop in order to sell their creations. Cash boxes were set up and money handed out in order to encourage the purchase of these gorgeous hand made snowflakes. A trip to the ever popular wood pile also ensued as the students thought creatively about how to make a shelf in order to display their snowflakes! Another student wanted to replicate a picture of a weapon he discovered in a book, thus he worked intently one-on-one with a teacher learning about measurements and figuring out what materials he wished to use to make his own copy of the weapon.

Outside, Ani figured out a way to use a steel shovel, a towel and warm water to emulate the effects of a Zamboni machine to make smooth ice. She collected bucket upon bucket of warm water, soaked a towel in the water, then used a shovel to drag the towel across already shoveled off ice in order to make the surface as smooth as possible. Some of our youngest students worked steadfastly on building a snow fort only to have it cave in as they attempted to dig out an opening. Undaunted, they simple went back to work piling on more snow and talking about things they might do differently next time in order to prevent a cave in.

Students selected Geography and Countries as their next Journey of Discovery, we will tell you all about it in next weeks posting!

Two days of school, to Bretton Woods, too much fun!

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One of the most wonderful things to witness during Choice at Woodland is when students make their own discoveries and wonder at the natural world around them! Olivia and Pilot discovered undisturbed smooth ice under a couple of inches of fresh snow in several spots around the school. A gorgeous ripple pattern on the brook was noticed, along with the curiosity of what used to be a rather large snowball just balancing on a tiny piece of ice after recent rains and milder temps. When given unscripted time, it is always amazing what students discover and are drawn to on their own!

Our first day skiing and riding at Bretton Woods saw students overcoming shyness, fear, and other feelings that can be uncomfortable when trying something new. Others experienced joy and exhilaration riding the chairlifts and cruising down the slopes. Whatever the emotion experienced, we are so proud of our students for their strength and willingness to try something new and different!

Discussions began about a new Journey of Discovery and a couple of the topics being explored are Life Under the Sea and Theatre. Hmmmm, might be interesting to combine those two???

Journey Share

Journey this week was filled with lots of tinkering, designing, and redesigning as students prepared their machines for the final Journey Share on Thursday.  Students showed perseverance and creativity as they challenged themselves to turn their paper plans into actual working machines.  Problem solving, idea sharing, and teamwork propelled all students to have working machines by Journey Share day.  Students reflected on their process and shared that they all experienced moments of frustration and success.  All students were proud to share their final machines with their community.

Thanks to everyone who was able to come and celebrate our Simple Machines Journey Share Day! We had 13 student created machines throughout the school , each one incorporating a variety of simple machines in order to make one complex machine. Screws, levers and pulleys were all put together in a variety of ways creating original machines such as: Dollhouse LIft Up, Pop-A-Balloon 2000, The Ring-A-Bell 300, The War Fort, The Jobinator, The Extra Hand, and The World of Splat.

Additionally students saw a live show at the Catamount this week, enjoyed a morning of Open Gym at Evergreen gymnastics, played extensively outside, and did a great job pitching in as we wrapped up 2018 and cleaned out the school and all our cubbies.

Nature Art, Simple Machines, and the Joys of Winter

Sledding is currently the number one activity of choice during recesses and Choice time at Woodland. Whether actually on a sled or using their bodies as sleds…pretending to be penguins…students are enjoying being outside even on our most frigid of days. We welcomed Alex for a garland and wreath making workshop as those students who wished made gorgeous wreaths to take home, and they also made a beautiful wreath and garland which now adorn our entrance porch. Jacquie joined in the nature fun by leading a birdhouse decorating activity as students made a bird friendly “glue” and decorated their selected birdhouse with a variety of bird seed and other edible materials. Rounding out our week, students went back to the Littleton Studio School to glaze the clay ornaments they designed last week.

This week in Journey, students had the opportunity to use all of their simple machine knowledge in a real-life challenge. Each student identified a job that could be made easier using a combination of simple machines.  The jobs ranged from practical floor sweeping machines to Rube Goldberg-esque balloon popping and bell ringing machines. The creative energy and excitement filled every corner of the school as students worked through the process of planning, building prototypes, and fine-tuning their machines. We look forward to the unveiling of our final products at our Journey share on Thursday, December 20th at 2pm. 

Cooking, Machines and Clay

This week’s Journey exploration of simple machines included levers, measurement of force and distance, pneumatics and hydraulics. We traveled to the new space at WMSI for a workshop on pneumatics. Students created rockets, dancing people and a cow jumping over the moon, all powered by their pneumatics simple machines. We wrapped up the week with students being offered the challenge to prove the idea that simple machines actually make work easier. Challenge accepted! Students collected data through several lever and inclined plane experiments and a spring scale, and we all agreed…simple machines make work easier!

Outside play continued with an abundance of sledding and play in the snow. Inside play included construction of a “cupcake robot” making machine and the decorating of several dozen bags for Meals on Wheels. Renee led a morning of jam making, followed by a sampling of jam and butter on cinnamon bread, yum! Our week ended with our first day of ornament making at Littleton Studio School.

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A playful week in the snow and Simple Machines Journey

Naturally a trip to Woodland Mountain was in order with all our glorious freshly fallen snow! Students took sledding to a whole new level as they careened down the path, built up banks and created a trail!

Inisde our cozy school some students opted to work on sewing projects. Cutting fabric, learning the “candy cane” stitch, threading needles, drawing and implementing their designs, all this fine motor skill work takes oodles of concentration and tenacious attitudes as projects spanned several days.

Making snow balls and rolling them in to the brook kept other students busy as they played around with trying to break through the ice that had formed along the brooks edge and creating a snow dam.

Simple Machines, our latest Journey of Discovery, began this week. Through videos, group experiments, and hands on exploration, Woodland students are learning about the ways simple machines make Work (w) easier for us by changing the amount of Force (f) we need to move, lift, or carry an object even though we may need to move it a greater distance.  The new fallen and heavy snow gave us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how inclined planes (a simple machine) can help us to lift a load, that we had no chance of lifting on our own, to a new height!  I'm sure you've seen our massive snow people out on the front playing fields!  Our ramp, or inclined plane, helped us to get those massive and very heavy snow person body parts to their spot.  This was a group effort as we first tried to lift the snowballs on our own (impossible!) and then fixed our ramp and found that, working as a group, we could push the balls up the ramp.

The pulley was the next simple machine we explored.  After getting some basic info about a pulley, students were asked to create a simple fixed pulley out of whatever resources they could find at school.  Students got to work and created some truly fantastic models. The next day, students were challenged to create a pulley system to lift Delilah the Diving Elephant up to her diving platform.  Students had to create a paper plan (using more than one pulley) and then, after their plans were approved, were allowed to visit the pulley 'Store' to 'shop' for their materials, and then they got to work building.  Students were impressed by the loads they were able to lift with their systems. 

We concluded our week with a field trip to the Montshire Museum of Science, where the wonderful staff led the students through a balls and ramps workshop with the end result of creating amazing roller coasters. Students were then free to roam about the museum exploring the many other simple machines and other exhibits the museum has to offer.

Woodland gives back.

We are grateful for so many things at Woodland Community School, and having the opportunity to share our gratefulness in our broader community has been a wonderful Journey for the students this week. Our days have been peppered with reading several books about being grateful along with giving back and what that might look like. We have a student group who is particularly fond of animals, so they made dog treats out of peanut butter, flour and pumpkin - and took them to Above the Notch Humane Society as a gift. Of course, several barks and licks later, smiling Woodland students who wished to do so were able to feed the treats to the dogs as well! Pam at Above the Notch shared with us about how she and many others care for the dogs and thanked the students for their gifts.

Our next activity involved making cards for residents of Riverglen House, an assisted living community in Littleton which currently takes care of 34 residents. Each student either wrote independently, or followed writing prompts, to share a little bit about his or herself. Each card was then personally decorated. Students let their creativity shine!

Our Literacy groups created “thankful” writing which will be shared within the community next week. Choice time included opportunities for making Music with Mikaela, creating colorful turkey’s, sewing pillows, lots of play in the freshly fallen snow, and our final week of either swimming or rock wall climbing. All of this (and more!) in a school week of only 3 days!

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five........

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Exciting culminating event to our Space Journey! Endless thanks to Brent for his support, teaching, patience, time and expertise! Additional thanks to Ski Hearth Farm for the launching location and Alan for assisting. Loved gathering with the teachers and students at Gale River for this exciting morning!

Halloween Happenings, Boo!

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Woodland was replete with multiple cowboys and Jedi, a unicorn, Pippi Longstocking, a fairy princess, a boxer, The Three Bears, a vampire, and Tigger…just to mention a few of the Halloween costumes that arrived at school on Halloween Day! Students made donuts and had a blast trying to nibble away at them as the donuts were hanging from yarn tied to our crab apple tree. Pin the heart on the skeleton was another fun outdoor game while inside…the older kids had created an AMAZING Haunted House full of spooky sounds, skeletons, tomb stones, and unexpected surprises galore! No Halloween would be complete without pumpkin carving and decorating the inside of the school as well.

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Stitching, painting and climbing!

We began our week with Farmer for an Hour. Our farmers this week made delicious homemade pumpkin muffins which were a warm and tasty treat on one of our more frigid and damp autumn mornings. These muffins paired with freshly squeezed carrot and apple juice were a welcome treat at snack time! Our third week of Music with Mikaela once again filled the building with music, and top secret Halloween preparations continued. Additionally, our busy mornings saw several offerings involving sewing that challenged fine motor skills and were fun all at the same time. One student expressed an interest in knitting and is knitting with a teacher once a week. Our Body Smart Friday’s are now taking place at either the North Country Climbing Center or Evergreen Aquatics as students learn the basics of climbing the indoor rock walls and play in the pools. Three fall birthday’s were collectively celebrated with popcorn and song, while the fort workers added a splash of color to their creation this week. Guest parent reader Brent is reading “Astrotwins” to one of our Read Aloud groups, complete with sample computer bits and pieces to bring the story to life and a beautiful tie in with our Space Journey.

Speaking of Journey, our Space Journey continued this week.  After our week of exploring the topic, the younger Journey group chose to dig more deeply into constellations/stars, the solar system, and rockets.  This week they looked into why the constellations we see in the night sky change each season, created their own constellation stories, and began gathering facts on a planet of their choice.  Next week ideas of creating models of their planets and building planetariums have been voiced by the students. Our older group continued to work on their individual space related topics. With the majority of the group choosing rocket science, they set off to create a series of rockets powered in a variety of of creative ways including balloons, mentos/coke, vinegar and baking soda, etc. Next week will bring more experimentation and refinement of ideas. 


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The future's so bright, they gotta wear shades........

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Thanks to Shannon and Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank for a great tour of the bank! Students had a full tour of both upstairs and downstairs offices, were taught about the coin machine, visited the tellers and went behind the teller counter to learn about making deposits, checked out the safety deposit boxes and learned about how they work, and got to actually walk right inside the vault! Everyone received a shiny red apple as a snack courtesy of the bank, along with pretty cool sunglasses and coin savers, thank you!

Exploration both inside and outside at Woodland

Farmer for an Hour explored the compost pile this week and several buckets full of “volunteer” vegetables were harvested: carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, dill, gourds…you name it, they found it! In case you are wondering what we did with all the farm fresh food that was harvested, Farmer/Parent Renee turned much of the produce into delicious soup while one student experimented with making a boat out of one of the gourds!

Several students are knee deep in making spooky plans for our Halloween Happenings slated for October 31st of course, though it’s all very hush hush! Students have so far adorned the school with black cats, bats, ghosts and witches, along with a spider web and owls perched in a tree underneath a full moon. Our second week of Music with Mikaela once again filled the building with sweet voices and music inside, while outside the music of hammers hammering and saws sawing continued as our intrepid fort builders added hooks to their newly created closet along with a draw-bridge complete with a repurposed hydraulic hinge.

The first snow of the season brought joy and laughter as children rolled in the freshly fallen flakes, made mini-snow people, and of course initiated a snowball fight! Bike riding continued to be a popular activity as well.

During Journey, students continued to explore our selected Journey topic of SPACE early in the week. Explorations were offered in both Rocketry and Constellations. Highlights from these exploration days included reading about constellations in the dark by flashlight and student created original constellations along with accompanying original stories. Students also explored basic rocket propulsion by creating straw rockets.The end of the week found students reflecting on their week of exploration and generating questions and ideas for how they would like to 'dig deeper' into specific topics of interest. Questions and ideas that were generated included building a planetarium, constructing a solar system, writing a space story, black holes and quantum physics, aeronautic suits, and a in depth study of rocket design and power.

It has become a tradition at Woodland to offer to students the opportunity to complete a “big” hike at the end of our fall hiking season. This year two students jumped at the opportunity to hike the 4-mile Welch and Dickey Loop Trail. They were greeted with spectacular views on a beautiful fall day - what a perfect way to end the week at Woodland.

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