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BMS Blog

Week 1: Forest Favorite

(The Littles & Middles Groups, ages 3-9, are FULL! Email to get on the waiting list.)

A classic camper favorite, Forest Forts Camp is back again to start your summer off right!

Forest Forts led by Jenni Heartway with Winter Hart & Tammie Sarver - June 19 through 23

Join us for a week of fun and fort building in the great outdoors! Campers will explore the woods around our beautiful campus while exercising their building and cooperative play skills. We will incorporate primitive skills, games, music, water play and art into each of our days, and each group, Littles, Middles, and Elders, will engage in activities designed for their interests and abilities. Dress for adventure because we plan on being outdoors rain or shine! (Ages 3 to 12)

Blue Mountain School Summer Camps are $155 per week for the first child in a family and $140 for each additional child in a family. To register, email us or drop by the office during school hours (Monday-Thursday 9:00 to 4:00).

If you've never been to Fort Camp before, check out the video below to see campers in action!

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What Happens at BMS Camp?

It was just like camp should be.... fun, laid back, great activities with a friendly and spirited staff. All with a little bit of education snuck in. - Camp Parent

No matter the theme, all our camps have a similar rhythm to the day. As campers arrive, they put their belongings in their cubbies and check in with their group: Littles (ages 3 to 5), Middles (ages 5 to 10), and Elders (ages 10-12). A few independent activities like coloring or puzzles are available as friends arrive, and then it's time for our morning circle. Circle time is a great opportunity for friends new and old to learn more about each other through games and songs and also gives teachers an opportunity to share what campers will be up to that day.

After circle, it's time to get busy! Whether together or in groups, campers will spend the majority of the morning working on the main projects of the day. Each group will enjoy special activities geared to their interests and skills in addition to working with other groups on main projects.

Everyone takes a break for a mid-morning snack, then it's back to projects until lunch time. After recess, the water starts to flow, and The World’s Largest Slip ‘n’ Slide is ready for action! For friends who aren't as adventurous, there are sprinklers and a wading pool, too.

The afternoon generally winds down with calmer activities such as crafts or continuing projects begun earlier in the day, and the Littles have rest time.

Each day wraps up with a closing circle, where students have a chance to share what they've done and to talk about their plans for the next day. And at the end of each camp, family and friends are invited to join campers for a special activity or presentation.

BMS Camps are for kids 3 to 12 and run Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. All campers should come dressed for adventure and need to bring snack, lunch, and a water bottle. We also suggest you bring a swimsuit and towel for water play as well as sunscreen and bug repellent if you wish to use them.

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BMS Early Childhood Testimonial

Written by the grandparent of a BMS Early Childhood student in May 2016. (In the 2016-17 school year, Ms. Stefi was joined by co-teacher Tammie Sarver.)

As the school year draws to a close, I wish to thank you and Ms. Stefi Schafer for the wonderful introduction to school given to my grandson. "No child left inside" and the outdoor sign, "...free range children," combined with the biggest playground I have ever seen, perfectly describe this school's understanding and respect for the way children learn. This exceptional school and faculty provide a rich and complete learning environment for the children and families served.

Ms. Stefi's classroom is packed with enticing learning opportunities, a variety of experiences, and touches of Reggio Emilia. She is full of enthusiasm and is positive and respectful in her approach to children. Whenever we speak to our grandson on the phone, we always ask what he did at school that day. He can always recount some exciting adventure and ends with, "I love my school!"  He has grown in all areas of development and found joy at Blue Mountain School this year.

For 17 years I was an Early Childhood Education instructor and supervised a laboratory nursery school and internship program. During this time, I had the opportunity to visit and observe a variety of public and private programs. I couldn't have chosen a more perfect school for my own precious grandchild. Many thanks to all who made his first year such a positive experience.

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Why Do We Like Spooky Things?

Written by BMS Early Learning Teacher, Jenni Heartway.

Ghosts, bats, zombies, vampires…  Our classroom began buzzing with the talk of spooky things once the weather turned cool. 

It also inspired an engaging project in our student-led, emergent curriculum classroom. After we added a few strands of battery powered lights to our building area, the students were very excited to build Haunted Houses and learn more about the building process. We read books, looked at blueprints, took a trip to the library, and created models to further their understanding of the topic. The grand finale for our study was to create a Haunted House for the other students. 

There are a few reasons why some children (and some adults) like spooky things. For some, it is way to engage with things that are exciting without any real danger. It’s fun to pretend and can be enjoyable if you are in a safe environment. When the scary situation is over, people are often left with a feeling of confidence. If it is a shared experience, we connect with those who share it because of the dopamine and oxytocin released. 

Not all children or adults like spooky things, though. With young children, they are often unsure if the situation is real or make believe. Often a negative experience with something scary will form an unpleasant memory that last for a long time. 

Frequently, you will see children play scary games or act out spooky scenarios. For example, it was interesting to listen to the conversations our students had while working on our Haunted House project.  Many knew that the spooky creatures we acted out in our haunted house were not real, but some still had questions. There are stories passed along from cousins or overheard on the playground.  Zombies are some of those creatures they’re not sure about. They talked about what zombies actually do and how they need to alter their movements to really look like a zombie lurching across the classroom. They did the same scenario over and over again, to get it “just right”. 

This repetitive play, and acting out scary things, serves an important function. Replaying the scary event is a way to neutralize the scary things, and make them less scary. As adults, we can become habituated to scary things. We understand what will happen when the creepy music begins to play, and we start to steel our nerves. Children (being young) haven’t had as many experiences with spooky things, so they will often create the repetition themselves. 

There are many great resources out there if you are looking for a “just right” spooky movie or book for your child.  Common Sense Media offers review, alternate suggestions and age ranges for a wide variety of media. 

 

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A Zen Garden for Children - Guest Post

Written by former BMS teacher, Miranda Altice. Originally published on Miranda's blog at The Indigo Teacher.

Zen gardens are amazing. I have witnessed profound concentration and focus from my students of all ages and energy types when used in the peace area of my classrooms. I have one in my home, I have gifted them to close friends with children, and I have never gone without when setting up classrooms for myself or other educators.

 

The word zen actually means meditation. Despite it being categorized in the west as new age, it’s not. In fact, the concept of zen gardens is over a thousand years old and originates in Japan.

Typically, a zen garden (sometimes called a Japanese rock garden) features an enclosed area of sand or fine gravel, large or small rocks to place throughout, and a rake. There may also be other pieces of nature such as moss or trees, sometimes even a creek.

(Photo credit: t3hWIT via Foter.com / CC BY-NC)

The sand or gravel is used to represent the ocean, and the rocks and other natural objects are used to create scenes of sea islands. The rake is used to create beautiful, rhythmic waves or ripples in the metaphoric water, while also giving oneself a profound sense of peace and meditation throughout the process of raking – even if just for awhile. I don’t know about you, but I honestly feel a sense of calm just observing these works of art.

(Photo credit: timtak via Foter.com / CC BY-NC)

I LOVE bringing this concept of active zen to children, especially because the tabletop version is so attractive yet simple…

Children of all ages are oftentimes immediately drawn to this small zen garden even without my having to introduce it. Of course, the lesson must come first. Observation of how to use it and of the respect that it deserves must be viewed by the child before he or she can have their first go. I also like using the zen garden as part of a cultural lesson on Asia and specific countries such as China and Japan.

One of my favorite tabletop zen gardens is from Montessori Services (also known as For Small Hands). The wooden sand tray is a great size for any shelf or table, and it comes with fine white sand, two types of bamboo rakes, small stones, and a neat little booklet of zen meditations. This is the direct link: Japanese Sand Garden.

To see my step-by-step lesson for this project, visit me on my website!

Thank you, Miranda! Check out The Indigo Teacher for more great how-to ideas, book reviews, and other goodies, or visit her on Facebook!

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