Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallows Eve

Happy Halloween!

Jose, Ellie, Judah, Stuart, and Abba pose in their Halloween costumes on the porch.

Isaac, Justin, Abba, and Ellie pjck up the parachute while Ripley crouches underneath.

Abba, EliJah, Ellie, Diego, Isaac, Seth, Justin, William, and Ripley play with the parachute.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boys and Girls' Baseball Bat Park

The weather in Houston has been beautiful lately. On Wednesday we made our first trip to the park nearest to us (now nicknamed "Boys and Girls' Baseball Bat Park" by some) in a few months. It is only a 20 minute walk, 10 if you have no need to dawdle and explore every interesting distraction, but with high humidity and heat it can be pretty intolerable. Now I fully expect we will make more frequent trips for swinging, tag, and soccer.

It is amazing how much the energy and mood of the kids has changed since they have started playing outside more! There seems to be less bickering and a much greater sense of community. The kids will often play games outdoors that require cooperation, concentration, and greater verbal and non-verbal communication. They also have a far greater outlet for physical energy and sheer volume, especially when we go to a larger space than our yard.

Expect more photos from our trips to the Renaissance Festival and Arboretum when they are uploaded soon!

William emerging from a successful trip down the slide.

Evan pausing as she pushes Judah around in the stroller. Now that we have a stroller to play with many of the kids were very excited to push Judah around.

William, EliJah, Diego, Justin, Ripley, and Evan working hard to get Seth and Troy fully buried.

Justin's head was all that was left.

Sean readying his X for a game of Tic Tac Toe.

Diego joyfully swinging.

Troy giving a smile while Justin, Ripley, and EliJah continue playing in the background.

For more pictures please follow this link.

- Ellie, Staff Member

Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning Beyond the Walls

In our vision statement we say, "We want to participate in the world at large as well as be accessible to it." Part of this sentiment is the idea that learning does not just happen within the walls of this building, or only in the hours we are open. While we believe strongly that the school is a wonderful place for kids to be, we feel just as strongly that it is not enough. Children have to be given the opportunity to explore the world, not be separated from it. Learning and living are one. Schools tend to toss around terms such as "life-long learners" while they maintain that learning can only happen at school. Thus we see millions of people who graduate every year believing that they have finished learning.

In fact, one of the founders of our school, who worked briefly as a substitute in public schools, shared a story about how he was reading a book while eating lunch at work one day. A teacher approached him and asked if he was in school. When he said no, she then asked him why he would be reading. This was the same person that was supposed to be "cultivating" that life-long love of learning in her students!

At The Real School, we do not work to "cultivate" or "develop" a life-long love of learning. We believe that all people are born naturally curious and have an innate desire to learn. If we do not interfere or destroy this characteristic, there is no reason it would expire at adulthood.

We are trying our best to go with the kids outside of the building as much as possible. Whether simply walking to the store or park, or organizing a field trip that requires driving, we hope they all have the opportunity to be a part of life.

Most recently we took a field trip to the Houston Heritage Society on Wednesday, where the kids very dutifully dealt with being followed around by docents who seemed slightly uncomfortable with children being around. We got to visit a house built in 1821 (which for Houston is as old as it gets) and the kids were able to tighten the ropes on a bed, pretend to churn butter, and touch lots of other artifacts. I think most of all we realized how much we appreciate air-conditioning! The trip led us to decide we are going to try our hand at making corn husk dolls and soap later on at the school. We then walked across the street to the city's first park, Sam Houston Park, and had lots of fun "fishing" with sticks in the pond, climbing, and spotting ducks and turtles. I of course, as always on field trips, forgot to bring the camera, so there are no pictures.

In previous meetings the kids have been discussing getting a class pet, so in the past couple of weeks we have taken a few spontaneous trips to pet stores to check out our possibilities, ask questions about care, note costs, and of course, pet the animals.

Next week we are all looking forward to going to the Renaissance Festival! I will make sure to bring the camera and take a lot of pictures this time.

- Ellie, Staff Member

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cooler Weather

One of the things Houston is probably best known for is its humidity and heat. There are few respites from the oppressive weather, and our idea of winter would probably be recognizable to most Northerners as autumn. So yesterday afternoon, when the sky started to darken and a rare wind blew the leaves outside our windows, the kids immediately bolted outside. The first cool weather of the season! It was a really joyful afternoon with the kids playing tag, swinging, and climbing in the tree. When the rain began to fall the kids were unfazed, and when it turned into a downpour the drama of "survival" took centerstage.

Evan, Isaac, Abba, Ripley, and Troy playing in the front yard.

Seth, Troy, Abba, Evan, and Ripley pose together on the porch steps.

- Ellie, Staff Member

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Stories and Shelters

This morning Evan and Sean told each other "bedtime" stories, ranging from Star Wars narratives to classic “Once upon a time...”s. I joined in and made up a story about how Princess Evan outsmarted an ogre to save her friend Prince Sean. I had to reassure them that this was not a story where the princess and prince got married before they let me continue. We set up a game to reenact the story, using mats as a bridge between their two castles, when Evan stopped midstep and gave me a plaintive look.
"This bridge is too easy to get across!"
I was pretty amazed because these kids are all very creative and do not normally have any issues getting involved in a game. I asked if she could imagine it was hard to get across.
"Ohhh," she sighed as a smile spread across her face. But the smile quickly turned to fear as she toppled off the mat and yelped, "Oh no, the wind is blowing too strong!"

Today several of the kids spent a large part of the day building a shelter and collecting provisions for their survival. They even cut sections of bamboo to make cups for water (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture) and used sharpies and fabric scraps to make flags. Here are a few photos from the adventure.

Troy sawing off banana leaves for the shelter.

Ripley uses a stick to try to open an orange.

The kids collected unripened fruit for provisions.

Justin hangs his flags from the tree.

Corbin made this Dragon Yard flag.

The finished shelter.

For more pictures please follow this link.

- Ellie, Staff Member