Grassroots: Day 4

My morning started out with several girls from Grassroots hanging out together on the porch. They decided to eat their dessert for breakfast. And they were quite proud of “saving some for later” on their faces.

This is what happens when pudding is eaten without spoons.

I had told all the children yesterday in an announcement at Powwow that I would be asking each of them for an interview. I started out right away with these girls, asking them the questions I had written down:

– What is your name and age?

– How long have you been at Grassroots?

– Have you been to any other schools?

– Would you rather be at Grassroots or a different school?

– What do you want to be when you get older, or what career would you like?

Then I used my video camera to record their responses to these questions:

– What is your favorite thing about Grassroots, or what do you like about going to school here?

– Is there anything you would change about Grassroots if you could? Do you have a least favorite thing about Grassroots?

It took quite a long time to interview twenty students! Some of the youngest weren’t interested in being interviewed, and a few students weren’t at school today. The average attendance is about twenty-three on any given day this semester, I believe. I won’t be posting any of the interview videos here. The reason I wanted to video tape them is so that later I could write down verbatim the responses I received, rather than taking up the children’s time as I tried to accurately write down their answers in their own words. The post of the children’s responses will come when I get back to my hometown and have more time to transcribe the videos! Check back soon for that : )

The chosen activity of the morning for most students was playing in the sandbox. A few students hung out around the swing-set or on the computers, but most of them worked together to create an elaborate canal system, medieval castle, and village. They kept trying to keep the rivers filled with water from the outside spigot but the sand soaked it up fairly quickly; the young ones tirelessly ran back and forth with buckets to keep the canals supplied.

There is a garden, “poor villager” huts, and a sheep pen here.

This is the main castle with its lake and the king’s boat.

One of the six year old boys found a tiny shell that he gave to me as a gift. So sweet!

Around eleven o’clock, teacher Luis announced a cooking class. A handful of students were interested, so they gathered on the porch. Luis spoke about the history and geography of the ingredients and the dishes they would be making: brown rice with vegetables, and fruit salad. The children did much of the preparing, washing, cutting, measuring, stirring, and cooking themselves, under Luis’s directions. He lit the open flame camp stove to cook the rice outside. Only the older students were allowed to use the stove and knives. It was a long, detailed process, but everyone was eager to eat the food when it was done!

Beginning the cooking class.

Stirring the rice. I didn’t get any pictures of it being eaten because it was so good that everyone devoured it right away!

Here’s the fruit salad. It was quite tasty.

I spent more time wandering around, just observing the students. A group of boys have been on a Mario spree this week in the computer room. Several of them know how to create levels through the online game they play, so they enjoy playing them and challenging each others’ scores.

Even those who are too young to create Mario levels still enjoy watching the older boys.

Four year old Jasper and I looked at a book of scary stories in the library (his idea, not mine). We made up our own stories by looking at the frightening pictures. He has a great imagination!

Jasper voted this picture of a witch as the scariest.

A few older girls and some young boys did math with Kerrie for a while. One of the twelve year old girls was working on double-digit multiplication. I asked her if she’d ever done that before. “No,” she said cheerfully, “never two large numbers multiplied together. But I wanted to do it, so it’s pretty easy to understand.”

Ten year old Blake is famous at Grassroots for telling great stories that she makes up. I asked if she’d like to put one on a video, and she excitedly agreed. She even gave permission for me to share it, so here it is!

Several students spent time making birthday cards for everyone to sign. One of the students, Sam, turned twelve today, and the entire school was celebrating! Some students brought small presents or gag gifts for him. We all sung happy birthday twice, once when we had cupcakes, and one more time before clean-up (Sam didn’t have to help clean-up today).

The children really enjoyed making surprises for Sam.

The children really enjoyed making surprises for Sam.

He and his mom made cupcakes to bring to school as a birthday treat!

I read sections of two books during some down time during the early afternoon as I ate lunch. I’ll be posting a list of books that I checked out while I was here sometime soon! I didn’t have a chance to finish any of them, but I hope to find the titles in our local library back home.

One girl spent a long time drawing variations of a cartoon fox, She used different colors for each picture. Eventually she stapled the pages together into a book of foxes. She taught herself how to draw by looking at pictures and books.

She used pencil and crayons.

The “Hard Bite Cafe” had another rehearsal for their Halloween play. This time, the students acted out their parts for the first time. A few of them read off the scripts, but some actors couldn’t read quickly or well yet, so Kerrie, who was directing and choreographing as she went along, had them echo her saying their lines. It worked surprisingly well. Two six year olds who were not in the play watched the entire rehearsal. They laughed uproariously at the goofy puns such as “boo-berry pie” and “spook-tacular party”.

Kerrie directing a scene between the ghost family and the human family. The human mother has fainted from fright.

Practicing the ever-important bow at the end.

Everyone felt lazy this afternoon. The sandbox was constantly occupied, but many kids lolled around the building and porch. I brought my guitar to the school upon request and played for them. Teachers and students liked it.

Clean-up today took a bit longer due to the general dragging of feet. All the children were eager to go home and rest. But everyone diligently accomplished their chores before heading out.

I finally got a picture of a bell-ringer! She said running hurt her bare feet on the rocks, so she walked and I had time to grab my camera.

Two students finishing their chore: cleaning the art room. Partners for clean-up usually have several years age difference, which benefits helping each other out.

One thing that I really love about Grassroots is the abundance of beauty and art everywhere. I already posted pictures of the guitars and drums hanging from the walls. I also saw a keyboard, a xylophone, an accordion, a project area, the art room, and tons of art supplies easily accessible to the students. It’s so important for these things to be available for children to create. Just as important is the need for things to be beautiful around children, so that they can grow to love color, art, symmetry, and creation. As a final word for today, here are some of the artworks around Grassroots.

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One Response to Grassroots: Day 4

  1. Pingback: Freedom in Education: Final Thoughts on the Grassroots Free-School | lifeistheteacher

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