September 2019 Class Updates

Jennifer Stewart | Brevard, NC

Many of the early days in the Owl and Otter classes are about getting those school routines down pat. Consistent repetition of routine has allowed the classes to have their first full morning work periods, staying busy all the way up to 11:00 on some days! Grace and courtesy is the ever-present thread throughout the primary classes, as the students are reminded to ensure that all actions (and words) are coming from a place of kindness. Holding doors, waiting in line, and simply talking with one another are all “spaces” in which that grace and courtesy can be used. The Owls are often found with a pair of binoculars, scoping out birds on the porch and completing some nature-inspired art on the easel. The Otters and Owls have begun their study of Africa, even using mud to create their own bogolanfini clothing, an important cultural tradition belonging to several regions of Mali. The Otters have practiced carrying baskets on their heads.

The Acorns have spent many of their first days exploring the environment of the classroom, and managing the joyous challenge of making space for one another. It’s a process that takes a while, but as the students remember to be mindful about their bodies and the bodies around them, a community of awareness begins to take shape. The Acorns have been enthusiastic about their math works, especially around “Bird’s Eye View,” the “Bank Game,” and the “Stamp Game”. Reading groups are in full swing, and in conjunction with their spelling workbooks, many of the younger Acorns are finding success, with one student even remarking that “Reading can be easy!” The tools for peaceful conflict resolution (i.e. peace talks) in the Acorn Community were shared and will be practiced through and through.

The Monarchs students completed research on the birds and migrating Monarch butterflies prior to their camping trip to the Big Bald Banding station. They were able to help with research in the catch and release birding nets, and they were able to see a Saw Whet Owl. There is excitement in the classroom as the Monarch class’ own Monarch caterpillars are beginning to form chrysalises, which truly delights the students. As a large part of the Buffalo Cove experience is holding mindfulness in the wild, the Monarchs continue their weekly practice of “morning watch,” where they can practice the skills of silent meditation (and occasionally get to encounter wildlife). Finally, the class has begun to explore the magic behind the formation of the universe and the magic right under our feet as they discuss the layers of the Earth. 

The Coyotes began their school year with a successful sojourn into the woods, tackling some jagged terrain along the Foothills and Palmetto Trails. Though often sore and occasionally homesick, the Coyotes remained tough and kept their “PMAs” (positive mental attitudes), making this a great bonding experience – – one Coyote even referred to the new group as their family. Back in the classroom, students have completed their wild edible researches (which are available to view outside of the Coyote classroom), and have begun their work on the Science of Motion, where they are discussing speed, velocity, and acceleration. Soon, the Coyotes will begin some hands-on experiments using motion detectors (provided by the NC Science House) to graph distance and velocity over time, and to lay the foundation for their future study of Newton’s Laws of Physics. In these busy weeks, the Coyotes are reading their first novels, holding student-led literature circles, discussing Brexit and the absurdity of not using the metric system, and are learning to utilize their planners to practice prioritizing work and managing long-term expectations.