Week of October 14, 2019

canoeing on Tully Lake
it's a huge slug eating a rotten tree
From the Director 
Spontaneous group play is still alive
Today, children's lives are pretty much structured throughout the day.  Reading, writing, art, math, etc......followed by after school activities, such as soccer, dance lessons, piano lessons, etc.  It's rare for children to have unstructured "down" time. When I was a kid, after school we disappeared into the neighborhood jungle with our friends until we were called home for dinner.  Adults had no idea what we were doing, and weren't interested.  We played by ourselves and regulated ourselves.  And gained confidence, self-reliance and social skills along the way.  But that was then, and now is different.

So I could write a book about the value of recess!  Unstructured outside time, with just enough adult eyes in the background.  It is fertile ground for creative group play, which is what happened last week, spontaneously on the edge of the woods. Many 3rd-4th graders (with a smattering of other classes) put together a shelter out of saplings, logs, and ingenuity.

They worked cooperatively and congenially, with no one in charge. One student made a suggestion, the others considered it, they made changes if necessary and got to work.  Children were schlepping wood, figuring out how to keep the structure upright and making daily changes, One student came to school with a plan carefully drawn out, with suggestions noted for future improvements.

The students came and found me and proudly showed me the exterior and interior, and let me know their future plans for the "cottage."  Their excitement was tangible.  Think about how much they learned from this experience!  As valuable as math and reading and other planned learning activities. 

Who knows what they will do next week?  I'll keep you posted.


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This week at the Village School 

Monday         NO SCHOOL Columbus Day
Tuesday         music
Wednesday   3rd-4th at Tully Lake  meet & pick up at lake  8:45-12:00
                       Last Roots & Sprouts this fall  Parent- Child Group   8:45-10:00  
Thursday        8:30 a.m. Kindergarten Reading Morning with parents
                        Preschool parents welcome.
Friday              2:15  K-6th hiking


Updates    see the monthly calendar for more

This Fall Reading Mornings for K-6th 
Kindergarten Reading Morning this Thursday Oct. 17 8:30 a.m.  Preschool parents welcome.               1st-2nd Reading Morning          Thursday Oct. 24 8:30 a.m.

Parent Conferences Oct. 30 & 31   Don't forget to send your conference choices in.

About the $aveSum program for K-6th graders
Through Athol Savings Bank, we are setting up a savings program for K-6th students on Fridays, starting Nov. 1st. Children can be tellers, get bank books, make deposits, and hopefully learn lifelong saving habits!  Sign up by the end of this week.  It's optional.

Roots & Sprouts, Parent-Child Group this Wednesday morning - last one this fall 
Parents and caretakers of children ages 0 to 4 are welcome to attend this weekly gathering from 8:45 to 10 a.m. in the preschool room.   See the flyer

Do you order on Amazon?  Use AmazonSmile to benefit the school.     Every time you order, Amazon donates to the school.  Use this link to make sure you are always ordering on AmazonSmile.  Its the same Amazon, no extra charge, all your settings stay the same. Click here to enroll, it takes 30 seconds.   Once you are set up, click here to put the button on your browser.  

Get the lowest electricity rates and the Village School benefits too!   With Autopilot
National Grid (or whoever you have) is still your company, but your new supplier changes to the one with the lowest rate, and can change monthly if needed, to keep your rate low.   Questions?  or ready to sign up?  Call Matt at 413 834 8677  Click here for the video and more info    Get great rates on phone, cable too.  Works well for businesses too.

September photos on the VS photo blog

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Preschool digging
pumpkin painting


With autumn is in the air, the preschool began practicing Lantern Walk songs with Isaac. The Lantern Walk is Friday, November 8th at 5:30 p.m. Parents join their children for songs and a story around a camp fire followed by a pot luck dinner and a family contra dance. We will begin making lanterns soon, and need to collect sixteen 2 liter bottles first. So please keep your eyes out for  2 liter bottles (sometimes we find them in the Hannaford recycling bin). Parents are invited to join their child in making their lantern the week of October 28 from 8:30-8:45 a.m.

Last Wednesday in science class Trina brought three pumpkins and the children helped to scoop out the seeds which we roasted for snack on Thursday. We went on a nature walk with Trina and noticed the changing leaves.  We found signs on the trail made by the 3rd- 4th grade last year explaining about princess pine, white pine trees, grandfather rocks and glacial rocks. These were illustrated and had informative text. We hope to find more of their signs on our next walk. Some children laid down on the forest floor with teachers, looked up at the sky and spotted a turkey vulture floating above.

On Thursday the children painted their own pumpkins. They will add other decorations to them. On Friday during open classroom, the preschool and kindergarten were treated to a cheese tasting. The class sampled three different cheeses made by Chase Hill Farms in Warwick and Leanne found out which of the cheeses were their favorites.

Parents are invited to the Kindergarten Reading Morning this Thursday 8:30 a.m.  Find out about the Village School Reading Program and how to best help your child at home, on the way to becoming a beginning reader.

This week our story is One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian. We will celebrate Hunter's birthday on Tuesday.
Kindergarten music class
busy bees in 'free' time       there is so much to do


We continue our theme of Plants this week with the book Corn by Gail Gibbons. We are learning about how corn is grown, the uses of corn, and the different types of corn including flint corn, sweet corn, dent corn, and popcorn. We are shucking and grinding corn that we will make into corn muffins, and enjoying a snack of popcorn.

We are writing ‘How to’ books. We began writing a whole class book ‘How to Grow a Seed’ and thought about and numbered the steps 1 to 5. Then children worked on their own books. Topics included How to… Cook eggs, Make a Fort, and Go fishing. In reading we’re continuing practicing strategies for reading with a partner including sharing ‘Wow!’ pages and rereading to learn more.

In science we investigated seeds. We began the lesson with children planting pots of rye which we’ll watch grow in the classroom. We then studied and collected seeds from sliced apples, peppers, and a pumpkin, and stuck some of each on card for making a seed book. We finished the class reading Acorn Magic by Maggie Stern.

Thursday is our Reading Morning when parents are invited to learn more about our reading program and learn practical ways to support your children at home this year. We start promptly at 8:30 a.m.

In phonics we are looking at the letter sounds r, f, and n and beginning to sound out words made with letter sounds we know.

In math last week we completed work on counting books with pages numbered one to twelve. Children illustrated and named groups of objects for each page. This week we’re using the counting jar and playing Build It.  On Friday afternoon we hope for good weather again for our all-school hike.
1st-2nd canoeing on Tully Lake
learning how to use microscopes - we see some cool bugs

1st-2nd Grade 

We had a fantastic day at Tully Lake last week. The weather held and we enjoyed the beautiful fall colors and even spotted a bald eagle. On Thursday the children journaled about their favorite parts of the day which included playing on the island, paddling with parents and seeing the eagle.

Last week in science was microscope day. We discussed how microscopes can make small things look big in order to see details. We practiced focusing the scopes. We looked at and drew observations of three different objects; a piece of sponge, a square of newspaper, and a sprouting bean. This week we will return to My Tree to observe fall changes and make a leaf collection.

Second graders are working with a variety of math concepts, including coin equivalencies, and counting items to determine if there is enough for the class, which practices comparison and subtraction.  Students collected data for pocket day with their families after a surprise class count caught a few students without pockets to count. Students took their addition cards home to practice facts for homework. This week students will make subtraction fact cards.

In theme last week we used the overhead projector to look at several maps of Massachusetts. One was a map with all the towns in the state. We located Royalston and then found all of the towns we live in. Using the compass, we figured out what direction everyone travels in on their drive to school. We discovered that we come from 11 different towns, traveling from the west, south and east.

Spelling words are coming home today. Please help your child practice saying and spelling their words through the week.
3rd-4th front view of two room shelter built in the woods
view from the back- we designed it together and built it

3rd-4th Grade

Last week, the class invested themselves in fort building during recess.  They collaborated and build an amazing two-room fort complete with a fireplace and mudroom.  They were so excited about their fort that we took some time to share favorite parts of the fort (One student said, “It feels like home”).  We also took a little time for them to plan for what else they’d to do to the fort.  They also began building another fort on Thursday.  It’s rewarding to see them come together as a class and work together to achieve a common goal.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth the visit.

Third graders shifted from multiplication to division this week, continuing to use array games to practice "missing factor" by using the total number of squares on the back. We link division problems with the ideas of "number of groups" and "number in each group". Students should be learning automaticity with multiplication facts, and the facts with 1, 2, 5, and 10 were quizzed this week. See if your child can answer random questions based on these numbers! 

Fourth graders are thinking about the relationship between multiplication and division.  We’ll work on division strategies this week.  They are also playing the game Small Array/Big Array, which helps them see smaller multiplication facts within larger facts.  For example, 12x12= (10x12) + (2x12).  They should practice their seven facts this week.
In theme, we’ll finish reading the myths about the twelve Olympian gods.  The children will finish up their trading cards about the Olympian gods.  We began creating chariots last week.  This week, we’ll add some details to them.

Wednesday is our Tully Lake canoe trip.  It could be a chilly start so children should dress in layers.  Rain gear and gloves are a good idea so that the children stay dry and their hands are warm when paddling.  Children should bring a water bottle and a snack.  Drop-off is at 8:45 and pick-up is at 12:00 at Tully Lake campground.

5th-6th recording observations at Harvard Forest
identifying leaves and making a leaf book

5th-6th Grade

The 6th grade math group is nearing the end of a long unit on factors and multiples.  Last week the children worked together to solve a complex problem that required them to pull together several different pieces of knowledge about factors, and the solution depended on knowing that square numbers have an odd number of factors.

This was followed by a conversation about odd and even numbers, and the children discussed whether zero is odd or even.  This led to a number of interesting observations - on display in the classroom - including one from Velouria, who said ‘It could be either; because it’s between two odd numbers it would have to be even, but it can’t be divided by two, so it must be odd.’  The idea was to think, rather than focus on finding the ‘right’ answer.

Fifth-graders have been reviewing the order of operations, but not yet using the famous ‘PEMDAS’ mnemonic, since the group has yet to work on exponents this year.  The group has also been dividing three-digit numbers by two-digit divisors, and practicing writing down all the

In the past week, the children have been finding all sorts of subjects for their poetry, and the pace of writing has accelerated.  One student, having said he was bored, then wrote an excellent poem about his boredom in that moment, and why he didn’t like writing poetry.  He thereby proved how good at it he is, and prompted us to read the poem Bored by Margaret Atwood.  This week we will finish the poetry unit, and the children will choose some of their own poems to share with the rest of the class.  Everyone will end up with a bound booklet of their own poems, and all the poems we have read aloud as a class, from Shakespeare to Mary Oliver, via Pablo Neruda and Billy Collins.
a fun tug of war, referee ready
at the Porcupine Rocks on the hike
on our way back
The Village School is an independent school serving children in preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-6, in north central Massachusetts, offering a unique curriculum based on challenging hands-on academics, direct contact with the natural world, and kindness.  For more information, or to set up a visit,
call our Director, Rise Richardson at 978 249 3505
or email her at
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