Choice on a winter's day at Woodland


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!


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.


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!


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.


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. 


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


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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Blast Off!


Woodland Community School

After having chosen our Journey topic of SPACE, we moved into our EXPLORE phase of our Journey of Discovery.  The Blue Chalk room of the school house has become Space Central where books, puzzles, posters, displays and current events about space have been put out as invitations for students to begin their exploration.  Journey began with a brainstorming session on 'What do we know?' 

The rest of the week (and beginning of next week), teachers, guided by student questions, have been /will be sharing information about Space .  Through a variety of resources, (short movie clips, read aloud books, informational texts, hands on activities), students have been gaining an awareness about the topic.  Some highlights of the week included:  Toilet Paper Solar System:  Students measured the relative distances of the 8 planets (sorry Pluto) from the sun using sheets of toilet paper as our 'yardstick.'  Life in Space:  After watching a video on life in space students chose their own 'earth activity' and brainstormed how they would do that activity in space. (e.g. doing a cartwheel, riding a bike?)

We finished our week with a trip to the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, NH.  Students were treated to an amazing planetarium show called 'The Dawn of the Space Age' and then wandered around the 2 floors of the museum.  Highlights from the museum trip included:  Flight Simulator, Fit for Mars activity, Infared Display, and many other interactive displays.

This week also saw the first of six Music with Mikaela opportunities. Woodland was reverberating with music from voices, keyboards and ukuleles! A culminating musical event is planned for November 20th at which time students may share their musical talents with the Woodland community.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, while our full day students were in Concord, our half day program was in full swing trying to keep up with Eliza! Her morning began at the Littleton Co-Op for a sampling of fruit and a chat with Jane in the deli, a hop back to Woodland to paint a pumpkin, a jump to Littleton for a walk which encompassed three different bridges and musical instruments along the river, and a skip over to Remich Park for swinging, sliding, and other additional active pursuits!


Choice time at Woodland


We never know what the students will wish to do during Choice time each day at Woodland! This week one student wanted to work on a floating candle experiment from a Wizardy book, while other students delved into the chest of dress up clothes and put on a Dance Party. A swing was built out of a milk crate and is now hanging from our favorite crab apple tree. Biking continues to be a favorite past time, rain or shine - and the more puddles the better! Students are making signs to alert passers by to their activity. Big news in the fort as plumbing was added this week! A trench was dug for PVC pipe and a sink created along with an overflow channel built under the flooring. On top of all this activity, students engaged in workshops for Mathematical Investigations and Reading/Writing, a Space Journey was decided upon, and NVC activities continued!

Robotics Journey Wrap Up

Woodland students began their week by working with Farmer Jim and learning about how to care for chickens…including collecting eggs! They made apple sauce and of course found creative ways to eat the warm sauce. One group of hikers hiked the Sugar Loaf Trails and experienced stellar autumnal views and interesting rock formations, while another group hiked around the trails at Woodland and experienced waist high grasses followed by a snack of hot tea and popcorn. Teamwork was prevalent during Choice time as fort building continued with hammer and nails, building a wooden floor, and the addition of a vinyl tarp to serve as a roof. The excitement over biking continued during Recess and Choice as this week, students added the element of ramps and jumps into their play. Games were played during Numeracy and poems and stories were written duriing Literacy.

During Journey, the younger groups explored creating code through group games and challenges.  Students then worked in small groups to put together their own 'Milo' robot. After assembling Milo, students learned how to use the WeDo programming blocks to create code for their robot.  They were elated to watch Milo respond in anticipated and unanticipated ways in response to their block code programs.  The students then received a challenge to design and build their own Woodland Lego robotics playground.  The designers took a field trip to a local playground to study structures and gather ideas, they made designs on paper and then created their designs with Lego bricks.  Their final challenge was to choose one part of their structure that they wanted to move, build that part, and then, using the WeDo tech, create a program to animate their structure.  

The older group incorporated their knowledge of WeDo into a project on animals. Each student chose and researched an animal, the choices ranged from grasshoppers to bison. The students explored the local library, website and World Wildlife Foundation videos to learn more about their animals. After gathering info, the group moved on to Legos. They built their animal, created a habitat and chose a realistic task for their Lego animal. The challenges chosen included grasshoppers eating toxic plants and snow leopards leading their babies into the den. The project culminated with programming of the Lego animal to carry out their task as well as a poster representing their research. The Robotics Journey culminated with a community event showcasing student work.

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Goats, Bikes, and Peace


Our week began with Farmer for an Hour and an opportunity to milk the goats! After milking the goats, students participated in the daily morning “walk” of herding the goats out of their pen, across the road and up to their grazing pasture. Farmer for an Hour was completed by having a tasting of goat cheese on crackers for snack, yum! Choice time also saw a student talent show with dancing, a magic act and gymnastics. Our pump track offering was attended by all students, most of whom had never been to a pump track before and we were inspired by their bravery and positive attitudes. Journey continued deeper into Robotics as students constructed, wrote, planned and executed their ideas. We welcomed Mikaela for a Music offering and students now have the opportunity to decide whether or not they wish to commit to music lessons or group music play with Mikaela. Our week ended, as it usually does in the fall, with a hike, this time to Georgiana Falls. Parent chaperone, Brent, talked to the students about what it was like to hike the Appalachian Trail and demonstrated making tea for everyone by using the very same cook stove he used on his own AT thru-hike. Back at school, students created their own peace signs and participated in group activities as a way of celebrating International Peace Day.

Flowers, Mountains, and Robots!

What a week we have had at Woodland! School is in full swing as we began our Journey of Discovery with Lego WeDo 2.0 robotics. Ahead of creating code for their Lego robot, younger students spent time learning the basics of block coding through 'non-tech' games and activities. The students alternated experiencing the roles of programmer and computer. When they were let loose on the Legos and challenged with creating their robot, their teamwork skills shined. Squeals of delight could be heard throughout the school as they watched their robots follow the code they had written. The olders dove into the project based on a past First Lego League challenge about animals. Each student has chosen an animal to research and create from Legos. Next week, they will move on to exploration of robotics and motorize their Lego creations. Stay tuned!

Offerings this week included Flower Art with Mikaela as students harvested flowers and created artwork out of the petals, leaves, stems and buds. Slime was made using school glue, baking soda and saline solution as students thought about how those 3 ingredients can form together to make a new, sometimes sticky, sometimes slimy substance. Renee took us on a farm tour and showed us around the greenhouses, fields and barns. Last Friday afternoon during our Community Meeting, we spent time reflecting on our Full Value Contract and appreciating our peers in a 'How do We Fill Each Other's Bucket' activity. This week concluded with a splendid September day and a hike up Bald Mountain where we had lunch before circling around to Artists Bluff and back to school.