Simplicity & Sweetness Abound at The Cottage School’s Halloween Parade and Harvest Festival

 At the end of every October, The Cottage School hosts its annual Halloween Parade and Harvest Festival for the school children and their families. All ages participate, including our littlest ones who attend our Mommy and Me program. Children are encouraged to wear noncommercial costumes—some of which are found in the school’s handmade “Theatrical Costume Collection” from the children’s annual school plays.

During the Halloween Parade, children walk a path with their teachers through the school yard and into the decorated playground. The children visit “stations,” where they say a nursery rhyme or sing a song and receive a healthy treat, such as an apple or bread. Each harvest station is directed by a parent dressed in costume:

  • The Farmer distributes organic apples from her harvest
  • The Miller shows the children how to mill corn into cornmeal
  • The Baker distributes corn bread
  • The Candlestick Maker hands out natural beeswax candles, which are handmade by the children at school the previous week 
  • The Wizard performs magic tricks and gives each child homemade playdough

After the children visit each station, family members gather with their children and the teachers to enjoy some apple cider. 

Nursery Rhymes Recited and Songs Sung at the Harvest Festival

The Farmer
Ten little apples, up in a tree
five for you and five for me.
Let’s shake that apple tree just so
and all the apples fall below.

The Miller
Blow, wind, blow!
And go, mill go!
That the miller can grind his corn
That the baker may take it,
And into bread make it,
And bring us a loaf in the morn,
And bring us a loaf in the morn.

The Baker
Pat-a cake, Pat-a-cake,
Baker’s man,
Bake me a cake, 
As fast as you can.
Pat it and prick it,
And mark it with B,
Put it in the oven,
For baby and me.

The Candlestick Maker
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick,
Jack jump over the candlestick.

The Wizard
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.


 

The Cottage School is a multicultural learning community that values and fosters the children’s spirit of discovery to sustain their innate abilities and passion for learning. We create a non-competitive environment where creativity and the joy for learning are nurtured. To learn more about The Cottage School visit us at thecottageschool.net.

The Cottage School 2017 Folk Dancing Performance

This week,  we hosted our 13th annual Folk Dancing Performance.   Our long-standing folk dancing program positively influences student development and the desire to learn, and nurture their love for the school and sense of community. Students dance weekly, building stamina and learning new dances as the year progresses. Every April, the students in our Young Kindergarten and Elementary Programs are ready to perform for thirty minutes non-stop; parents and grand-parents join to dance afterwards. The performance makes them feel capable, confident, accomplished and most importantly, very happy. This is an experience that they will always remember.

We believe that physical arts are an essential aspect of education for the development of the whole child and for a healthy society. By incorporating folk dances in our programs, the students not only exercise, improve rhythm, coordination and balance, but they are also learning about traditional music and dances from around the world.

This year, students in our Young K, Kindergarten and Elementary Programs performed the following International Folk Dances.

  • Kadril – Russia
  • Deer – France
  • Camels – Israel
  • 7 Jumps – United States of America
  • Hey Yanana – North American Indians
  • Horses – Russia
  • Koryak – North Russia
  • Bamboo – International

They danced the following with parents and grandparents:

  • Irish Jig Medley
  • Nafarroa – Spain/Basque
  • Sri ram Jai ram – India

You can watch the performance below.

Weaving at The Cottage School 

Weaving at The Cottage School in Gladstone, New Jersey

One of our unique teaching tools here at The Cottage School is our weaving looms. 

About fifteen years ago, at the early stage of the school, Laura, the founder of The Cottage School’s, brother Jose was visiting from Oklahoma, and made our very first Cottage School Start Looms. Even though Jose is not a carpenter (he is actually a scientist), he was able to assemble them in a short period of time with a staple gun and big nails to hold the yarn. Laura says, “If Jose made them, anyone can make them!” 

The art of weaving is not only rewarding to the soul, but it is also educational. As early as the New Stone Age, people have been weaving fibers from the flax plant to make clothing. Weaving at The Cottage School starts as early as four years old. We offer these young students the opportunity to weave and only expect them to do “their best” (as with any other activity we do at the school).Neurological research shows that mobility and dexterity in the fine motor muscles, especially in the hand, stimulates cellular development in the brain, and so strengthens thinking.

Though there are looms that are sold commercially, they don’t usually hold the warp as well, making the activity a little bit frustrating for young children. (Warp is the yarn wound onto the loom in preparation for weaving.)  The big nails on The Cottage School Start Looms, allow the activity to be less frustrating by holding the warp very well.

If you have the time and some simple materials, (Some wood, big nails, and a staple gun), building your child a loom instead of buying it can be fun, diminishes consumerism and helps children understand that things can be made. 

We make weaving even simpler for beginners by letting the children use their fingers! Holding the Weft (yarn or fabric strips) with their fingers, they move it over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

The simpler the setup the more involvement children will experience and the more rewarding the activity will be!

Once the students have used these Cottage School Start Looms for one or two years, they move to a regular lap loom and later on to a vertical loom. 

Weaving builds self-esteem and brings joy to children and adults alike. 

DIY Cottage School Start Loom  (pictured on right)

Weaving at The Cottage School

Materials

Directions To build the Loom

  • Cut dowel into 2 pieces measuring 11 inches and 2 pieces measuring 8 inches
  • Create a rectangle frame with cut pieces and attach with wood glue
  • reenforce with a staple gun, two staples in each corner
  • evenly space 7 nails on either of the short sides and hammer into place

Preparing the Loom

  • Using your warp yarn, start by creating a slip knot looping it over an end nail
  • weave the string back and forth zigzagging from side to side
  • tie off the string at the last screw

  • Your child can now begin using their fingers to weave colored yarn or fabric strips over and under each warp thread in one row and then under and over those threads in the next row. For beating the weft into place, beginners use their fingers instead of a comb.

Enjoy!

To learn more visit www.thecottageschools.net

Photography is this post by Anne Katherine Photography

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School

Weaving at The Cottage School

The Cottage School Playdough Recipe

Small Hands Play with Playdough at The Cottage School in Gladstone New Jersey

At The Cottage School, we make our own playdough every week. Children of all ages love to play with it!

Not only is playdough calming, but it gives our students an opportunity for an open ended activity where they can create what they wish.

Playdough gives tactile pleasure and sensory integration: children can touch it, see it, smell it and even taste it sometimes! At The Cottage School, we believe the more senses children can use and the more involved they get in the activity, the greater the learning experience is. Children need to use all senses and need opportunities to create, playdough brings a perfect combination!

Here is a tried and true simple recipe that we’ve been using for years…

Small Hands Play with Playdough at The Cottage School in Gladstone New Jersey

You’ll need:
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 cup of water
1 cup maizena (cornstarch)
food coloring (optional)

Directions 
Mix the flour, salt and maizena in a large mixing bowl
Add oil and food coloring to the water then into the dry ingredients
Mix continuously adding the liquid
Knead some and let your child do the rest!

*If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right (not too sticky and not too dry). You can keep it in the refrigerator for a week; add a little more flour each time you take it out to use.

*For a wonderful natural dye, try boiling beets and using the leftover water in this recipe.

To learn more about The Cottage School visit  www.thecottageschools.net .