September 2014

Photos from the first day of school! Here we are at Morse Hill getting to know each other and walking on high ropes. Check back at the end of the month for September news!

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May 2014

In May we spent a lot of time outside enjoying the weather. We also went to visit Wistariahurst, the home of the Skinner family who owned a silk mill. After raising our own silk moths, we learned about how people unwound the cocoons and then turned the thread into silk ties, dresses, and other kinds of clothing. We also learned about the unusual history of the house and about the Skinner family.

Everyone worked really hard leading up to the last academic day, trying to finish the goals we set for the year. After that we had a week of trips and fun.

During the last week of school we went to the Connecticut Science Center, where some of us got really involved in solving puzzles and brain teasers. We also went to the Green River for a picnic, where some people went swimming in the freezing water. We finished up our yearbooks and got ready for graduation. Alicia, Max, Sage, Sophie, and Tyler graduated this spring. We will miss them!

This is a photo of paper stars that some of us made to decorate the windows.

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April 2014

Here we are playing sardines in the woods after a science field trip. This month Orion also made some very big origami samurai hats!

Our silkworms started spinning cocoons. Each cocoon has between half a mile and one mile of silk thread in it! In about three weeks, the silk moths will come out and lay eggs. Silk moths are a good example of what can happen when humans breed animals selectively, in this case to produce the most silk, and how this is different from natural selection. Sil moths no longer exist in the wild. They are not a good color for camouflage and cannot fly. They could not survive without humans.

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March 2014

At the end of February we got silkworm eggs to hatch at school. This month they hatched into tiny caterpillars. Silkworms can only eat mulberry leaves, so we feed them "silkworm chow" made from mulberry leaves. They are growing fast. To learn more about insects, we visited Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, where we saw many butterflies, as well as other insects, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Here is a picture of Tyler holding a leaf insect and Lily holding a large cockroach.

This month we read the play, Antigone, a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. We also started the book Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, which is historical fiction about the Roman occupation of Britain. As part of our study of ancient civilizations, we have been talking about empires and the ways that civilizations conquer others.



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February 2014

In February (and also January) we had Fiber Arts once a week with Jennifer from Rag Hill Farm. We started by skirting the fleece of one of her sheep. Then we each took home some wool to wash. Next we did wet felting and then needle felting. On the right is a picture of Sophie's needle-felted penguins. We also learned to spin with a drop spindle. Some kids did a lot of finger knitting. Here is a picture of Katy's enormous ball of finger knitting. We also did arm knitting, and each person made one (or more!) scarf.

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January 2014

Pictures of snow at Four Winds!

This month we continued to learn about Ancient Civilizations. We read historical fiction set in prehistoric times--The Boy with the Bronze Axe, by Kathleen Fiddler, and Sun Horse, Moon Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff. We watched the video of Guns, Germs, and Steel, which focuses on the development of human civilization. Meanwhile we continued to develop our own civilizations as part of the civilization game, trying to figure out the best animals and crops to domesticate, whether there is metal ore in our area, and what kinds of technology our people could develop.

In Science this month we learned about Gregor Mendel's initial experiment with pea plants and replicated it using black and white pebbles and pulling them randomly out of a bowl, with black representing tall genes and white representing short genes. We learned about recessive genes and dominant genes.

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December 2013

These are photos of onion, potato, and a leaf taken with our microscope. We have been learing about Life Science all year and focused on cells in December. We also went on a science field trip to The Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College where we learned about evolution and saw their collection of fossils.

While we were at Amherst College we also visited the Mead Art Museum, where we saw ancient artifacts from Assyria and Rome.

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November 2013

In November we went on fun field trips to Historic Deerfield and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. In Historic Deerfield we learned about how to turn flax into string and then cloth. We also talked about colonial cooking while we were there.

Later that month we went to the Pequot Museum, where we got to look at all the different exhibits about early human tribes. Later on we got a tour of a working archaeological site and learned about some of the ancient artifacts people have found there.

We also did science experiments with plants, learning about the different parts of seeds and how plants make and store food. We went to the Chrysanthemum Show at Smith college and saw how people have bred these flowers to look many differnt ways. We voted on our favorite of the hybirds developed by students. Selective breeding, the way that humans breed plants (and animals) to have the traits they want is an important part of our study of ancient civilizations and the development of farming.

By Sage, 9th grade and Katy, 7th grade.

Click on the photos from the Pequot Museum to enlarge them.

October 2013

In October we continued doing science projects with plants. One of them was cloning plants. We started our with a full grown Coleus plant and chopped off the top and put them in a pot, leaving the roots in a different pot. Some of them worked really well, and the plant managed to duplicate itself, others didn't work quite as well, but overall it was a success and a fun experience.

We have also continued playing our civilization game. How the game works is that everyone gets a country and you have to make a civilization by the roll of the dice. We have to make a city, a culture, resources, and anything else needed to survive. It can be tricky, but it's super fun and a great ancient civilization simulator.

We also (as you can see in the pictures) went to Tregelly's Fiber Farm. They had a lot of amazing animals that we didn't expect to see, such as a camel and an emu. It was really cool to learn about all the different fibers and textures and uses for all the different animals.

By Sage, 9th grade and Katy, 7th grade.

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September 2013

In September we spent the first day of school at Morse Hill. We did smaller activities such as a low ropes course, a small zip line, and a jump rope challenge. Then we did the Sasquatch which is a giant swing that's really exciting. On the second day of school, we went canoing at Tully Lake. We got the chance to explore islands, to play games, and to get to know one another. It was a really fun first two days!

This month we started talking about ancient myths about the creation of the world and all who live there. We read some creation stories from around the world and also wrote our own. We have started reading The Magicians Nephew because it's kind of a creation story too. It's an example of one perspective that there may be other worlds out there other than our own, also that worlds can become bad and crippled.

This month we have started building our own ancient civilizations as hunter/gatherers. We've figured out what resources are in different areas of the world and how we can make our civilization thrive.

In science, we have been doing a lot involving seeds, such as germination and dissection. We have been discussing what makes a good lab report and writing our own (which we shall be doing throughout the year).

In art we have been doing things such as collages and cave painting on rocks with pigment that the early humans used.

Going with our theme of the developement of ancient human civilization and how early people lived, we went on a field trip into the woods and made our own spoons by burning wood with coals (See picture of Katy making her spoon). It was really fun!

By Sophia, 8th grade and Sage, 9th grade.

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May 2013

In May we went many places. Our first trip was to the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn more about the Connecticut River watershed. In the last week of school we set up a scale model of the solar system. Our sun was a big yellow balloon, which you can see in the first picture. It was 700 millimeters (about 28 inches) in diameter. Glued to the card in the picture is a tiny speck, 2 millimeters wide, which is Mercury. You can see how close Mercury would be to the sun at this scale. Sage is holding two of the bigger planets in the next picture. Neptune, the planet furthest from the sun, was about the size of a golf ball and over 2 kilometers from the sun.

Our biggest trip was to Plimouth Plantation. We have been looking forward to this trip all year, as we were studying the encounter between the Wampanoag People and the Pilgrims and later King Philip's War. When we got to Plymouth, we went first to the Wampanoag village, where Native People, most of them Wampanoag, showed us how their ancestors would have lived in the 17th Century. Then we visited colonial Plimouth, where we met Governor William Bradford, Miles Standish, and other members of the community from 1627. They are actors who speak with 17th Century accents. It sounds a little like Shakespeare. They have studied a lot about their characters, how they talked, and how they acted. We saw their houses and learned about how they lived.

Another trip that some of us had been eagerly waiting for was the waterfall. It was 90 degrees on the last day of school, and we went swimming.

We had only one graduate this year. We will miss Teagan in 2013-2014!

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April 2013

In April we learned about river systems and watersheds. Here we are pouring water on a model of a watershed to see how rivers flow into the ocean. We found the edges of the watershed and looked at what would happen if polution entered the water in different places. Later we flooded the model so much that the mountains turned into islands and drew several different maps of the model, labeling archipelagos, isthmuses, and other important features. We have been visitng the Connecticut River all year and sampling the water. We will learn more about the Connecticut River watershed next month when we visit the Great Falls Discovery Center.

Also this month we looked at historical markers in our area that are related to the 17th Century, since that is what we have been studying this year. Since King Philip's War happened right in our area, there are many. We tried to find out the real story behind the markers and talked about whether the text on the marker matched what we thought was true. We also researched who had put up the markers and tried to guess what their motivation might have been. Here we are visiting a historical marker about Eunice Williams. Later in the day we found her gravestone in historic Deerfield.

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March 2013

In March, we have been doing a lot of really cool projects having to do with radiation, heating, and color. We did a project where we determined whether color makes a difference in heat absorbing via radiation, and if so, which colors absorb more. Our conclusion was that silver heated the least, because the rays reflected off it. Then white, because black attracts heat and white is the opposite of black, then turquoise, with black attracting the most heat. Another project we did was on how friction applys heat as well as rays. We also did another project on convestion currents (we did our first one in October), which is what the pinwheel picture is from. We did projects on surface tension as well. After all these projects we finished Science Projects About Temperature and Heat, the science book we've been using this year, and are going to move on to talking about watersheds.

This month we finished the book The Game of Silence, sequel to another book we read The Birchbark House. It was a great book about the Ojibwe tribe and their struggles with the chimookomanag (white people) pushing them into Bwanaag (the Dakota and Lakota people) land. We're now reading The Winter People, a book about the Abaneki tribe and what happends after their village gets burned.

Also, here's a picture of Sophia's art :)

By Sage, 8th grade and Sophia, 7th grade.

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February 2013

In February, we took a field trip to the Pequot Museum. While we were there we learnd about the agriculture, housing, the war, and the overall lifestyle of the Pequot nation. Visiting the Pequot Museum prepared us for the Mayflower chapter we were about to read, which talked a lot about the Pequot war.

Also this month we did some really fun activities during science. We did an experiment on thermal conductivity (see picture to the right). We also had two races, the heat conduction race, and the ice cube race. In the heat conduction race, we took steel, copper, and aluminum wires and tested which conducts heat fastest. The copper ended up being the best conductor of heat, with steel in second, and aluminum in third. In the ice cube race, four teams did everything they could to insulate their jars so that their ice cube wouldn't melt. Everyone's times were between 6 hours, 5 minutes and 7 hours, except for the two of us, ours lasted over 7 hours, 30 minutes.

We continued our river project, and also spent a lot of time playing on the river. We fell in quite a lot, but again we're fine.
A lot of things happened this month, and we had a lot of fun :)

By Sage, 8th grade and Sophia, 7th grade.

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January 2013

In January it snowed! Snow snow and more snow! We got a gigantic snow mound and it was awesome! We made stairs that led to a slide that we would take the sled and go down. We also made a cave (which is much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside) and made 'mount slushmore' with less famous presidents like James Buchanan.

We also continued our river temperature project for science. The air temperature changed a lot while the water stayed pretty consistent. By the river we played on the ice and fell in a couple of times (Just a couple), but we're fine. It was fun :) We also studied vaporizing water, melting snow/ice, and calories. (It takes 1,620 calories vaporize 3 grams of water, in case you're curious!)

This month we finally finished the book The Birchbark House, which we've been reading since mid-November. It's such a good book! It's all about the Ojibwa people and their culture, also how they do and don't change their ways when the chimookomanag (the Ojibwa word for the French) settle close to their land. Next we'll be reading The Game Of Silence, the sequel of The Birchbark House.

By Sage, 8th grade and CeCe, 6th grade.

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December 2012

In December we went to the Bear's Den and Sachem's Head. It was so much fun! When we first got there we decided to climb some huge rocks that we saw, and it was fun. We even found this little fort in the rocks.

After that we walked up to Sachem's Head, and the view was so beautiful! We all loved it!

After that we went back down and went to the cave, the Bear's Den. It was really dark and really cool to be in. We all really enjoyed that day.

By Sage, 8th grade.

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November 2012

In November, we had our open house and it was fun! Our next one will be on January 23, so mark your calenders! Also this month, we have been doing experiments with temperature such as temperature change, effects of temperature on volume of air, and temperature effects on liquid volume. Temperature effects on liquid volume was super cool. We put warm water in one bowl and cold in another. Then we filled a flask with colored water, stuck tubes in corks, and stuck the corks in flasks to make thermometers. Then we put the flasks in the bowls. When we put the flasks in the bowl with cold water. The water in our "thermometers" slowly went down a little bit but not much happened. When we put it from the cold bowl to the warm bowl, the temperature shot up! It went super fast and our thermometers overflowed. We came to the conclusion that it went so much faster than the cold water because it was in shock. Instead of going from room temperature like the cold water did, it went from cold to hot, and that's why it went extreamly fast.

By Sage, grade 8.

Also, here is a picture from pajama day.

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October 2012

In October, we finished up studying Columbus, and we're now studying the pilgrims and reading The Mayflower. Also, we took the temperature of the Connecticut River and the air for 2 weeks and graphed it. We take it once at 9:30 and once at 2:30. We will do it again in January then again in May. We are all having fun making a Rube Goldberg machine that we will display at the open house on November 13 (Be sure to come!) In science we did a project on the rock cycle and made our own rocks out of crayons! We also compared temperatures of different objects and different water temperatures. We have all been obsessed with four square this bi-weekly and painted a four square court (to championship regulations) on our basketball court, it works really well and we love using it!

In other news, we have been hanging out with the kids from
S-H-I-N-E Middle Grades Collaborative. One day they came here and played games outside with us. The next week we all went to Old Deerfield for a field trip.

These are pictures of temperature taking and us playing tag in the rain on the way to take it.

By Sage, grade 8.

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September 2012

In September on our first day of school, we went to Morse Hill. In the morning, we did smaller challlenges and in the afternoon we did the Sasquatch. The Sasquatch goes up 65 feet in the air. It was awesome! On our second day we hiked Mt. Sugarloaf. We played games up there. After we hiked back to the parking lot, we went swimming at the Montague Conservation Land. It was cool. The next week we did experiments with ooze, which was really fun. The week after that we went down to the Connecticut River and did expirements with the water. We did turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. A couple of days we went to Barton Cove for lunch. We have been doing history about Christopher Columbus. He was a bad guy.

By Cece 6th grade, and Sage 8th grade

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May 2012

In May we went to NYC for a field trip. We rented a van for the trip and Steve drove us to New Haven where we took the train into Grand Central. After that we got on the subway and rode down to Battery Park where we played in the fountain, ate our lunches, and got on a ferry that went to Liberty Island, where we walked around the statue and took some pictures (see yearbook cover). Then we got on a ferry to Ellis Island. I think that Ellis Island may have been the best part of the trip because it was neat to see the building very much like you would have one hundred years ago. After that we went back to Grand Central and ate dinner underground in Grand Central. Then we departed on the train back toward Massachusetts.

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by Max, grade 6

April 2012

In April we moved forward from learning about the 1940s to learning about the 1950s, especially the Civil Rights Movement. We watched parts of "Eyes on the Prize," read Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges, and wrote reports about people who played important roles in desegregating schools and businesses in the United States during the 1950s. Several kids picked students from the Little Rock Nine as subjects for their reports.

We have been doing theater games with the students from the Chicken Coop school since the beginning of the school year. In April we began rehearsing a play that grew out of skits that each school practiced and performed. Several kids contributed to writing the script, and everyone worked hard learning lines and designing the set for the performance in May.

March 2012

In March we continued learning about the Bill of Rights and also the 1940s. We read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry,, which is set in Europe during World War II. We also talked more about what life was like in the United States during that time, and each student did research about the Japanese internment camps, followed by a presentation.

The weather was unseasonably warm, so we spent lots of time outside, walking to the park and collecting clay at the Saw Mill River. On Thursday afternoons, we met the students of the Chicken Coop School at a park halfway between our schools to play outdoor games.

Here are Max and Novy in a tree. Click on the image to enlarge it.

February 2012

Here are some February photos. We had enough snow for a snowman and lots of mud, too!

Today was a good one at my school because my whole school was going to a drumming class for a field trip. My drumming teacher taught my schoolmates how to drum a little. It was fun. So, my friends' names are Will, Mada, Teagan, Max, Livy, my sister, and Heron. After we drummed a little, we went downstairs and had a snack. Also, we laughed, giggled, and talked. Soon we had to leave and go back to our school. We got picked up and went home. But I never forgot that day. By the way, my drumming teacher's name is Ms. Matlock.



By Novelyn, grade 5

Here is a picture from drumming class. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

January Open House

Here is a photo of Novelyn getting ready for the January open house. We combined our knowledge of electrical circuits with our study of the Bill of Rights. If you match the amendment correctly with its content, the light bulb turns on. We also displayed several claymation movies on the computer and other artwork on the walls.

Please come to our next open house on April 5th at 6:00!

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January 2012

In January we had a visitor named Raymond Elliott. Mr. Elliott was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father was a Buffalo Soldier, which was a World War I 92nd and 93rd all-black infantry. Mr. Elliott came and told his his story about how he didn't feel welcome in Cambridge, attending an all white school, and he didn't feel welcome to the black society, being from an the north in an all-whte town. The whites didn't accept him. Nor did the blacks.

Mr. Elliott also told us about how he fought in World War II and almost became a Tuskegee Airman. His friend to this day is Charles Cross, one of the Tuskegee Airmen. Mr. Elliott also told us how he met Malcolm X and stood up and went against what he said in his own speech because it was racist. Malcolm X replied to him and had him kicked out. Mr. Elliott went through, and has seen, a lot of things.

My name is William, and this is my report on Mr. Elliott.

This is William Elliott, Raymond Elliott's father in his uniform, and a picture of Mr. Elliott's visit to Four Winds. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

December 2011

In December we began talking about the United States Constitution and its ammendments. Once we had an idea of how our government is structured, we began looking at a famous Supreme Court case from the period we are studying. In 1919 the Supreme Court heard the case of Schenk v. United States and decided that the first ammendment does not protect a citizen's right to cry "fire" in a crowded theater, in other words, to cause panic.

We will continue to talk about the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court throughout our study of the 20th Century, but first we turned our attention to events during the 1930s. We talked about some of the causes of the Great Depression and watched a video with images from that time as well as interviews with people who remember the Great Depression. This month we also began reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, which takes place during the 1930s.

Here is a picture of some of us playing cards during break time.

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November 2011

In November we finished our study of 1912 Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Lawrence is on the Merrimack River, not far from Lowell, which we visited last month. This winter will be the hundredth anniversary of the strike in Lawrence. We read Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Patterson, a novel that takes place during the strike. In the beginning of the month everyone presented a report about a real person who was important during the strike.

Next we moved on to reports about people who were famous during the 1920s. Some were musicians or poets from the Harlem Renaissance or important scientists of the period. We learned about movie stars from the first days of talking films. We heard a report about Henry Ford, and the changes in factories, and one about Al Capone, and Prohibition.

October 2011

In October we visited Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell Massachusetts. We have been learning about immigration and the industrial revolution as part of our year-long study of 20th Century America. This trip fit in perfectly. We had a chance to walk around Lowell to see how this city was planned around the canals which brought water power to the mills. Each mill building had a canal running to it, just as we have electrical wires running to our buildings today. These canals turned turbines, and that motion brought power to the looms by a series of belts.

Here are Will and Livy sitting by a loom at the museum in the Boote Cotton Mill. The weaving room had many looms, each attached by a leather belt to a wheel near the ceiling. There were several looms running when we visited, and the noise was astonishing. It was too loud to carry on a conversation. When all the looms were running it must have been hard to bear! After visiting the weaving room, and the other exhibits about the factory, we saw an immigration exhibit and a boarding house where workers once lived.

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September 2011

In September we all made a cool art project where you take a picture and cut it into little squares. Then you number them, and everybody gets a number. Then you color it, paint it, or use colored pencils. We did a mill building. It was really fun making it. And now we just started on the statue of liberty. I can't wait to finish it.

We also started an immigration role-playing game. The game was taken in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. In the game we are trying to keep our family alive. But we still have to pay our bills like every other person like today, like, paying rent, paying for food and other expenses. It's a really cool game.

By Mada, grade 7

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May 2011

In May we finished up our dying and spinning, reports on ancient civilizations, and other academic projects. Everyone met their goals for the month and the year, and we celebrated with lots of ice cream and time outside.

At the end of the month, we had a week of field trips and swimming. We went to Old Sturbridge Village, where we saw lots of fiber animals-- sheep! Also we saw the water-powered carding mill, which did a job that we have been doing by hand at school. We went underneath the building to see the giant gears that transferred energy from a turbine in the water to the machines upstairs. The other water-powered mills were interesting to see, as well. We visited the print shop and many other demonstations, too.

We went swimming twice. The water was pretty cold, but we all got in at least part way, since it was hot outside. Here is a photo of us at the waterfall, as well, where we did not swim but got pretty wet.

We also took a trip to the Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont where we saw some amazing leaf-cutter ants and also tried out many science displays. Here is Madeline playing with the fog machine.

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April 2011

In April our silkworms spun silk to make cocoons. We watched them choose the right place to spin. It takes three days for the caterpillars to spin, so we were able to watch the process. We carefully labeled each cocoon, so we would know who was inside, and then waited 21 days for the moths to come out. Here is a photo of "Queen Boudicca" emerging from her cocoon. Click on the photo to see the cocoons. Below is a pictire of "Cornelia," sitting on Mada's finger. Our moths were extremely cute, and several of them succeeded in laying fertile eggs (which are now in the refrigerator).

Once the moths had finished with them, we boiled the empty cocoons to de-gum them. Then we dyed the silk and spun it into yarn. We were amazed by how much yarn we were able to make!

On the right is a picture of us completing a model of "Mellar," the monster who lives in the cellar.

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March 2011

In March we continued with our fiber arts, making many beautiful things with wool. We also continued watching our own little fiber animals-- the silkworms-- at school. By the end of March many of them had names. You can tell the difference between them by their coloring and markings. They grew from something you needed a magnifying glass to find into caterpillars as long as our fingers. Here is a picture of "The Prince" next to a quarter. We have researched the silkworm's anatomy and other questions that we have wondered about while observing them. We have also learned about their habits, from watching them every day. We look forward to seeing them become moths and to using the silk fiber with wool to spin yarn.

We will not have enough silk to make much. Though the thread from one cocoon can be as much as a mile long, it takes 1000 cocoons to make one silk shirt. We have 35 caterpillars.

To learn more about moths (and butterflies) we visited Magic Wings butterfly conservatory. We were surrounded by butterflies, as well as unusual birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and some butterflies even landed on us. On the right are photos of the conservatory.

We also made a trip to Wistariahurst Museum, the home of William Skinner, a prominent silk manufacturer in Holyoke. There we learned more about the silk-making process and its history while also learning about the history of silk-making in Western Massachusetts. The house itself was fascinating to see, with amazing parquet floors, marble fireplaces, a driveway paved with dinosaur tracks, and much more. As we toured the Skinner home, our guide told us the story of the family, their unusual house, and their silk mills which dyed and wove raw silk from Japan. The Skinners were not successful in raising silkworms in this country.

At the end of March we still had snow. The big pile had gotten smaller, but Ayana was still sledding on it!

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February 2011

In February we spent one afternoon each week doing fiber arts with Jennifer Kapitulik from Rag Hill Farm. In the pictures we are selecting our favorite colors from dyed wool and picking the wool to get it ready for felting and spinning. After picking the wool, we did wet felting and needle felting to create ornaments and felt animals. We also spun our wool into yarn using drop-spindles and then used the yarn to weave bags on small looms. We had so much fun with fiber arts that we worked on our projects every day, even when Jennifer was not with us.

We have been working with fiber plants since the fall, and visited a fiber farm in December. Jennifer taught us more about the plants and animals that people use for their fiber. One animal that people have used for hundreds of years is the silk moth. We began raising 35 silkworms at school. When they have made cocoons and hatched from them, we will combine the silk fiber with the wool we are using for spinning.

We still have a lot of snow on the ground! Here are some photos of the snow, which almost reaches the railing, and of us "dogsledding" with a human dog.

Even though it looks like winter outside, the trees all have buds on them. We trekked through deep snow to collect twigs from different kinds of trees and brought them back to school for a closer look. We noticed the ways that the twigs branched, the scales on the buds, and the leaf scars and tried to identify the trees. We will keep watching the buds as they open!

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January 2011

We missed a lot of school in January with four snow days. When we could get to school we talked more about the evolution of farming. When people settle in one place and become farmers, they have to figure out how to feed themselves-- even in winter. How do you do this in Massachusetts? These days we get a lot of food from California and other far-off places. People have not always done that, however. People in the northeast used to have to store their food, and some still do! This month we visited the root cellar at Brookfield Farm. This root cellar is big enough to feed 700 families through the winter with potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, cabbages, and other locally-grown vegetables.

If you don't want to eat potatoes all winter, there are also locally-grown greens available in Massachusetts. We visited Coyote Hill Farm's passive-solar hothouse, where the farmers grow spinach and salad greens all winter and have tomato plants just starting. Barrels of water absorb the sunlight all day and release heat at night to keep the plants from getting too cold.

The plow left us with some pretty big piles of snow. These pitures are from the field behind the school. Click on the photos to see how big the piles really are!

December 2010

We have been collecting fiber plants and twisting the fiber into cordage. In December we went to Tregelly's fiber farm to learn how people use fiber from animals. We saw camels, yaks, yaks crossed with cows, llamas, alpacas, even a mule, and, of course, goats and sheep. Jody at Tregelly's told us about the ways that people use the fiber from these animals and some of the history of their domestication.

Back at school we have been learning about the domestication of animals and how ancient people went from being hunter-gatherers, or foragers, to being farmers. Domesticated animals changed human communities, allowing them to settle permanently in one place and to specialize more.

Camel Photo by Sam, grade 8

November 2010

In November we continued to learn about hunter-gatherers. We foraged for food ourselves, finding native edible plants and, also, invasive edibles.

This month we went to the Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College. We have been learning to identify plants-- an important skill for hunter-gatherers. At the Chrysanthemum Show we saw many of these members of the Aster family and observed ways that people are able to change plants through selective breeding. As ancient people transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to farmers, they learned to breed plants and animals for certain traits. Smith students are doing it today with chrysanthemems. We voted on our favorite new hybrids created by Smith students. We could not leave without touring the rest of the greenhouse, as well.

Here is a photo of Madeline in Northampton, taken after a community service project at the Literacy Project's Northampton site. All three photos are Sam's (grade 8). You can click the photos to enlarge them.

October 2010

In October we continued to learn about the ways people lived during the Stone Age. We spent one afternoon with Frank Grindrod of Earthwork Programs, making wooden spoons. First we cut the wood to size and shaped it with knives. Then we put coal in the place where we wanted the bowl of the spoon to be and blew on it to help the wood burn. Frank also showed us other examples of Stone Age tools and the materials that people would use to make them.

Before humans became farmers they had to hunt and forage for plant foods. We gathered some wild foods this month, especially cranberries, which are a food native to Massachusetts. We also gathered some milkweed for its fiber.

This month we finished reading The Boy With the Bronze Axe, a book about a Stone Age village. We also looked at pictures of ancient cave paintings. Then we collected rocks and painted on them with ochre paints made form iron oxide. We tried to create animals in the style of the ancient paintings.

Stone Age people would have to be very good at identifying plants in order to know which ones were edible or useful. We have been learning to identify plants, too, and also looking at plant and animal cells under our microscopes. This month we also looked at protozoa-- amoebae, paramecia, and euglenae-- under the microscope. These are single-celled organisms that are neither plants nor animals. Euglena is green and able to photosynthesize like a plant, but it also moves around.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

September 2010

This month we went to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum to learn about how people lived during the Stone Age. During the trip we learned a lot about stone tools. For instance, we saw a short movie about how to make them. After that we went through a life-sized model of a Native American village before and after the colonists came.

Here are some photos of other things we did this month-- canoeing at Tully Lake, drawing and painting by the river, art projects at Barton Cove, inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, plant cells through a microscope (Sam discovered she could take pictures of them!), and enjoying the sunny September weather.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

By Max, grade 5

Summer 2010

We spent many hours writing stories and poems during the Summer Writing Workshops. You can get a lot done when you spend more than an hour each day writing! We also had fun listening to each other's work and giving each other ideas. We had many beautiful hot days this summer and did a lot of swimming in the afternoons. We swam at the Green River, last year's favorite spot, and then, later in the summer, moved to the Deerfield River, where these pictures were taken. We had other afternoon adventures in between, including daring shoe rescues, a visit to the "Creepy Tunnel," and a pajama party. As always, we thought up new ideas for our stories while having fun outside.

May 2010

In early May we discovered that it was "Emu Week"-- a holiday in our small town of Gill. So we decorated the school with pictures of emus and visited the emu farm, which happens to be next door to the school. We learned a lot about these birds, which are more closely related to dinosaurs than most, and learned about a local farm, which raises the birds for meat and emu oil. Two students went home and asked their parents to let them raise emus, but, sadly, neither met with a positive response.

This month we also finished our geology timeline, which tracked Gill from its location under the sea in the southern hemisphere 545 million years ago to its current location at 42.6 degrees north of the equator. In May we made some more trips to see nearby rock formations which provide clues to the history of our area.

In the last week of school we had a picnic at the Montague Conservation Land, where some of us covered ourselves in clay, while others just explored, swam, and went off the rope swing.

The following day we went on a hike at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, where we climbed the observation tower in the pictures. It turned out to be 101 degrees that day, so after our hike we went swimming in the Mill River in Northampton and tried out the rope swing there.

Click on the photos to enlarge them!

April 2010

We began the month by celebrating Hans Christian Andersen's birthday-- April 2nd. Preston brought in Danish butter cookies, and we took turns reading Andersen's stories aloud.

This month we also spent a lot of time on our Solar System model. We have been studying Earth Science all year. In April we built a scale model of the solar system where one millimeter is equal to 1,000 kilometers. That means that the earth is the size of a marble, and the sun's diameter is more than a meter.

At the end of the month we set up our model along the bike path in Turners Falls. You started across the street from Unity Park. The sun and the four inner planets were right there.

Neptune (the real one) is about 4,500,000,000 km from the sun. Since each millimeter in our model was 1,000 kilometers, we had to put Neptune 4.5 kilometers from the sun-- near the old railroad bridge that crosses the Connecticut River. Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus were in between. It was a long walk from the sun to Neptune-- more than two miles!

Click on the images to enlarge them.

March 2010

In March, after doing a science lab about Archimedes Principle, we built boats from modeling clay and took them to a river in Montague to see if they would float. At first they all sank, but by the end we had them all floating. Some even survived the rapids! It was a hot day, and we all enjoyed getting our feet wet.

February 2010

At the beginning of the month we saw an art exhibit at UMass called "Swallowed." The artist, Maggie Nowinski, collected between 10,000 and 12,000 water bottles from trash cans or from the ground and strung them together, as you can see in the pictures to the right. There were also videos, other installations, photographs, and information about how many bottles of water people throw away each day.

This month we finished reading Mayflower and also read The Game of Silence, which was the sequel to the a book we read in the fall called The Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich. Next month we will begin writing reports about important people from 17th Century Massachusetts, both Wompanoags and European Colonists.

January 2010

In January we visited the Flynt Center at Historic Deerfield. We saw colonial clothing and textiles and learned where different fibers come from. We also saw a furniture exhibit where we learned about wood-working and about different kinds of wood. Our favorite part of the trip, though, was the attic at the Flynt Center. Claire, our guide, let us wander around and look at all the objects that are not currently on display in the museum. Then she answered our questions about the pieces that interested us and also showed us some objects from the 17th Century, since we are studying Massachusetts during that time period.

We wanted to participate in the Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. We were not in school on the day of the holiday, so we spent our trip day at the The Literacy Project's Amherst site helping them clean the building.

Since the weather hasn't been great for going outside, we have played a lot of chess during break and lunch time.

December 2009

We had only 3 weeks of school in December and stayed pretty close to school. We worked on map-making as part of our Earth Science curriculum. Each of us made a map of Barton Cove, which is right near us on the Connecticut River. First we went to high places and tried to draw the coastline as accurately as possible. We have been looking at old maps from the time when people had neither airplanes nor satellites. Trying to draw the shape of Barton Cove helped us understand how hard the job was for early map-makers and explorers.

We also spent out art classes working on maps. We made ornate compass roses and painted our maps. Some of us added sea monsters and ships to make them look like old maps.

During the holiday break Four Winds had its 10th Anniversary Party. Students from every graduating class were present, along with many of their family members. We ate cake with the Four Winds logo after a beautiful dinner at the PVMA building in Old Deerfield, which was where Four Winds School got its start. Come back soon to see photos of the event!

November 2009

In November the days were suddenly very short. To lift our spirits we visited the Mum Show at Smith College. We read poems about chrysanthemums while looking at many varieties, large and small, all in full bloom. Each of us also cast a vote for our favorite among the new hybrids created by Smith students. Afterward we took the time to tour the rest of the conservatory-- the jungle, the desert, the fern room, the fragrant plant room, the carnivorous plants, orchids, and more!

Two weeks later, we took a trip to Ed Branson's glass-blowing studio. Click here to see the amazing things he makes with glass. We got to watch Ed make a plate and cup. While we were learning about the art of working with glass, Ed talked to us about the history and science of glass-making, as well. After our tour most of us took a turn blowing glass. To the right is a picture of Max making a hollow glass ball. Walker also helped stretch a glob of molten glass into a string as long as the room.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

October 2009

An all-day trip. It was a daunting, yet exciting prospect for the Four Windsers. A two-hour drive each way. Eleven boys, girls, teachers, and a chauffeur all cramped into three cars. Well it wasn't much of a cramp but it was tight. We were going to the Mashantucket Pequot museum to study about the Pequots, a Native American tribe in the Connecticut area near the Long Island Sound.

When we arrived at the museum, we parked and went to the visitors' entrance and put our lunch boxes in a bin. Then we met our tour guide, a cordial fellow named Art. He took us to a classroom where he talked to us about the fort near the museum and gave us papers to map out where artifacts had been uncovered such as iron pots and lead shots. Then we looked at the site of the archeological dig where they had been found.

Then we went in and had lunch. After lunch we went to the gift shop to look at the items there. Some of the kids wanted to go to a tower that had a scenic view of Foxwoods, but they were unable to get into the tower. After that we went on a tour and saw a movie about how the English massacred to Pequots in the mid 17th century.

Then it was time for us to go home. We got into the cars and started the long ride back to Northampton Bowl for the Northampton students and to Gill for the others. It was very interesting and we all had a lot of fun.

By Walker, grade 7

Our next big trip was to Plimouth Plantation, where we visited a restoration of a Native Village, a restoration of the village of the English Colonists, and the Mayflower II, an exact copy of the original Mayflower. On the right are photos from this trip. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

September 2009

The weather was amazing at Tully Lake on the first day of school. A beautiful blue sky lit the day, and the air was fresh and cool. There were ten of us. Two of the canoes had three people in them, and the other two canoes had two. We paddled out to the main part of the lake and landed on an island about 500 feet long, that we designated as our home base. There were many rocks and there was sand. We found ripe blueberries and huckleberries on the island.

After that we were allowed to take separate canoes out to explore. After that we all had lunch on the home base and moved the base to another island, which was also sandy. The island was only half the size. Then after lunch, students took their canoes out, and the exploring began again. Then it was finally time for us to go back to the school. As we paddled out of the lake, we were caught in a massive gale, and it took a lot of skill for the four canoes to get out of the main body of the lake and to the shore. The only canoe that had a lot of trouble was the canoe that Max, Isaac, and I were in. The rest of the class had similar trouble but had made it. We all had a lot of fun.

The reason that we went to the Hancock Shaker Village on the second day of school, was that this year at Four Winds, we are going to study the history of Massachusetts. The shakers were a people who outlawed marriage. The shakers are kind of like the pilgrims. They were trying to practice their religion without ridicule from their neighbors.

At the visitors' center we saw a short video about the Shakers. The video told us the history of the village and what we could get at the gift shop at the museum. Hee Hee Hee. The Shakers had some innovative architecture such as a circular barn, buildings like a meeting hall, and a blacksmith. After we saw the video, we went to all of the buildings; the Blacksmiths, the Barn, and the Living Quarters. Shaker architecture is basically similar to early American in the 18th-19th centuries. The shaker village has been abandoned for about fifty years, and the re-enactors in the buildings were making stuff and answering our questions. We all had a lot of fun and we got along great.

Here are some pictures of the first academic weeks-- landscape drawing by the Connecticut River and our visit to the Ashfield Stone Quarry, including the enormous saw they use to cut stone.

By Walker, grade 7

Summer 2009

This summer there were nine students in the writing program plus Eloise and Brian, who wrote, too. We spent our mornings writing together and then sharing our stoies or poems. Listening was as much fun as writing, as others developed their stories each day. There were stories inspired by our daily swimming and visits to the covered bridge, stories about Rob the Hobo, as well as some of the other characters we know and love from the regular school year, and lots of new ideas, too, including lego people coming to life, mysteries and adventures, and a couple stories set in Cape Cod. Several of us wrote otter poems after seeing a family of otters at the river one afternoon.

We spent our afternoons outside. Some did more writing outside, and many of us got ideas for stories from our afternoon adventures. We enjoyed the waterfall and the rope at the covered bridge, and most of us swam every day-- except for one when there was a thunderstorm! If it rained without thunder, this enthusiastic group went out anyway. On the right is a picture of Sam and Jasmine swimming in the rain.

We added one more shoe to the collection of lost shoes from Four Winds, and nearly lost another, which Jasmine caught in a daring rescue. We also started a few new traditions and created stories and characters that will hopefully continue to develop in months to come.

Click on the photos to enlarge them. You can see the bridge in some of them.

May 2009

May was the final month of school. We finished up all of our academic work on May 22, and spent the last week of school going on field trips. We went canoeing at Tully Lake, like last year. It was so much fun, and this time it didn't rain! Some people explored the many islands, others went swimming, and some people started a canoeing taxi service.

After the successful time at Tully Lake, we went to Mass MOCA. The exhibits there were extraordinary; at least that was my opinion. Several exhibits included Dante's Hell, Room of Colors, and You Art What You Eat. At around lunchtime, we got Herrell's ice cream. On the way back from Mass Moca, we played Brain Quest, and Ghost, a spelling game.

Then, the next day, everyone helped clean the room for Graduation. We finished up the Text Book on the Twentieth Century, and the 2008/2009 Yearbook. Everyone also wrote a response to The Gospel According To Larry, a book we read. The Response Question was to choose a serious issue to write about, if you had the whole world's attention. Both the Textbook and the Sermons were on display at graduation.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

By Lia, grade eight

April 2009

In April we had several different people come visit the school. One of them was a woman vietnam veteran named Cherie. She talked about her experience in Vietnam, and how it affected her even after she returned. We also had Joe Parzych, a local author, come and visit us. He talked about his childhood and growing up during the great depression. We read his book several months ago, so everyone had many questions.

We also went and saw the play "Anne Frank" at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls.

Last, we went to a waste water treatment plant for science class. The manager of the plant, explained to everyone how the sewage and sludge traveled through the plant. In April, we also made cabbage tea during science class, dipped paper in the cabbage tea, applied either an acid or a base, and observed what color the paper was. The cabbage tea smelled awful, but the experiment was very interesting. The acid made the paper turn pink, and the bases made the paper turn green.

We did another experiment dipping litmus paper in different acids and bases and seeing what color the litmus paper became. Red indicated an acid, blue indicated a base.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

By Lia, grade eight

March 2009

We spent this cold gray month reading and writing poems about spring and touring greenhouses. We visited the Smith College greenhouse first, and then made a trip to Coyote Hill Farm. Farmer Ervin Meluleni showed us his passive solar hothouse, where we soaked up the sun, admired all the green, and picked arugula to bring home. Click on the second picture to see the black barrels of water which store heat and keep the greenhouse warm at night, allowing him to grow lettuce, spinach, salad greens, and arugula through the winter. Ervin told us that the on the coldest night of winter, the hothouse was 27 degrees!

Raymond Elliott came to the school and spoke to us about his experience as a soldier in an all-black regiment stationed in the Pacific during World War II and, also, what it was like returning home after the war. We had read and talked about World War II as part of our year-long study of the United States in the 20th Century. Next month, though we have moved on to the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, we will see a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls.

We also did some fun sceince experiments this month. We oxidized metal, measured the percentage of oxygen in the air, separated the hydrogen and oxygen in water, and added electrlytes to water so that it would conduct electricity and light a lightbulb. Here are some photos of our most exciting experiment-- electrolysis of water-- with our oxidized electrode (nail), and scientists Jasmine, Max, and Lia observing the experiment.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

February 2009

This month we went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. We saw all of the Saturday Evening Posts covers that he did, went on a scavenger hunt for four of his paintings, and found three paintings that we liked. We had a great time, and it was nice to get out.

This month we started art with a new art teacher, and we are using compasses with which we are making flowers. We have to wish, though, that the flowers that we are drawing were blooming outside! If we can't find flowers outside, though, we will look inside, for example, the Smith College green houses. We went to the bulb show, and when we walked in the door we were greeted with the most beautiful smell, the smell of spring! The flowers were vibrant, and the air was warm! I would highly recommend to anyone that is reading this that has not gone to Smith's bulb show GO NOW! It is wonderful! Don't forget to visit the rest of the greenhouse while you're there. Romping through the the rainforest is quite enjoyable on a coldish winterish day. That field trip was great, even the ride back was great! We saw a dead coyote! The Northampton carpool had told us about it during writing class one day. It was just past the weigh station on I-91. We could not help but to think about Mary Oliver's poem " I found a dead Fox".

If you see the same roadkill as us, you will agree that it is the most beautiful roadkill.

By Olivia grade eight

January 2009

In January we built telegraphs in science class. We have one going into the bathroom, another into the hall, and another leading into the back room. It took several science classes, a lot of hammering, several unsuccessful attempts regarding broken wire, but it was all worth it. Now we can use morse code to communicate with each other.

Also, this month we started playing a game based on Nazi Germany. In the game, everyone plays the part as a Jew in Nazi Germany. Together, we must figure what to do. Most people have escaped Germany using tactics such as stowing away on ships, bribing border guards, or sneaking away on mail planes. While playing the game, we have to keep a journal or write a story from the point of view or about our character. To read one of our stories click here. Right now, in the game it is 1940.

During January we also went to the Brick House to watch the historical inauguration on a big screen.

By Lia, grade eight

December 2008

In December we had Christmas break, a couple snow days, and a party. Also this month everyone was assigned to read "Jep's Place" a book by a local author named Joseph Parzych. He wrote about his childhood growing up in Gill in The Great Depression. In the book group we also read "The Mysterious Benedict Society," by Trenton Lee Stewart. Our new art teacher, Jesse started out teaching.

This month we started writing a textbook on the 20th Century. Every bi-weekly or so we will each write about a new decade, so in the end we will have twelve different chapters about each decade.

Here are some pictures of us having some fun in the snow.

By Lia, grade eight

November 2008

In November we had an open house. This time everyone had to present a science project, as well as a writing piece. Most of the science projects had something to do with magnetism and/or electricity.

This month Lindsey, one of our art teachers, finished teaching. For our last art class we painted the buildings we were working on. She was really fun, and also a great artist!

As our main trip this month we went to the Center For New Americans in Greenfield, where we listened to new immigrants talk about their experiences in a new country [America]. Most of the people there were from Moldova and Puerto Rico.

After that we had thanksgiving break. When we came back we started on The Stock Market Game. Basically, what you do is buy pretend stocks (like "Amalgamated Widgets) and see how much they rise and fall.

By Lia grade eight

October 2008

During the month of October we started out by picking cranberries at a cranberry bog. We got a large supply of cranberries, and some people even made pastries with them. They were quite delicious.

We also did a lot of science. Every Friday we write in our lab notebooks. We are learning how to write a lab report with several different sections, such as Table of Contents, Motivation, Plan: Materials and Methods, Observations, Conclusion, and Questions. We have been experimenting with magnets and electricity.

Our one big trip this month was going to the Lowell Mills, where we had a very informative tour. We also went on a trolley around the city of Lowell. We also went on the canal in a boat where we almost got eaten by "canaligators!"

By Lia and Olivia, grade eight

September 2008

We started school off with a trip to Morse Hill where we did a combination of fun things like building rafts, going canoeing, and using the high-ropes course. After that, we took a great trip to Shelburne farms, in Shelburne VT where the famous Vanderbilts had lived during the summer. Their summer house was a really big mansion right off Lake Champlain. There was also an absolutely enormous breeding barn where the Vanderbilts bred horses. Most of the pictures on the right are at the mansion, including the group photo under the tree.

Around the same time, we also started our bi-weeklies. This year we are studying twentieth century America. Joining us this year were three art teachers, two of which we haven't had yet. So far, our art teacher, Lindsey, has been great! We have done many cool things, such as painting, using paper-mache, and pasting together collages. Over the course of the rest of the year we will have two more art teachers.

We also went to Old Deerfield Village where we saw Civil War items, old photos and pianos.

Most recently we went to Bradley Airport to see three old World War Two planes. We even were allowed to go on them!

This bi-weekly we are reading a book called "A time of Angels" By Karen Hesse, and it's really good. Soon we will start up the book group agiain, and we will read many other books.

By Lia, grade eight

Summer 2008

Every morning at the Four Winds Writing Program, we write for half an hour, sometimes even more depending on what the group wants. Usually, there are at least two people on the computer at a time. After this we read aloud what we have written and comment on what we noticed, what we liked, and any questions we have on the writing. At around this time, the building gets unbearably hot and stuffy, so we all go out swimming. Through the course of the camp, we have gone to Fiske Pond, The Conservation Land, and Sunburn Beach. On some occasions, we all bring our notebooks along and write some more there. Once every week all the "camp members" type up, edit, and print out a piece they have written. To sample some of the writing, click here.
Well, I better get back to my writing!

By Lia, grade 8

Now that Lia has covered the morning, I will tell you about the afternoon. Once we have written and read, we all have a break. Normally this break consists of eating an early lunch and playing "Apples to apples jr.," "Wise and Otherwise" or some other board game that happens to be lying around! Then after we have eaten our lunch and played to our minds' content, we have a couple choices. On a sunny day -which has been all of the days until today- we go swimming. We have been to several places all of which have been incredibly fun. We first went to the waterfall. Now I am not allowed to tell anyone the location of this spot. It is our secret. If you want to know you'll have to come next year!! The next place we went was the "conversation land" AKA the conservation land (we renamed it). Then we went to Fiske Pond. The experience we had there... Well, let's just say we won't be going back there any time soon. We found a leech 6 to 7 inches long. EEEEEW! Then we found our favorite place, Sunburn Beach. It is up in Shelburne Falls. It is gorgeous and had the least bugs so far. Also, there is a rock great for jumping off. As you can see in the pictures, we all took a turn.

By Thea grade 8

Commencement 2008

Commencement was on Friday, May 30. Parents and friends spoke about our 5 graduates-- Craig, Will, David, Aaron, and Jeff. Steve and Eloise also spoke briefly about each student when presenting the book awards. The students and teachers at Four Winds School decided to give this year's James A. Kazokas Award to Juanita Nelson, in praise and recognition of her willingness to live her life is so conscious and thoughtful a manner that she serves the causes of justice and peace in each daily decision, and in gratitude for being one of the people whose "...hard work, imagination, and commonsense have resulted in an idea that emphatically and sensibly addresses an immediate problem in our society." We visited Juanita last fall in her home, where she taught us about farming and food preservation, which we were studying at the time, and also told us a little about the reasons she has chosen to live simply, without electricity and running water, and growing most of her own food.

Click on the graduation photo to enlarge it.



May 2008

May was the last month of school, so we spent a lot of time out of doors and having fun. After we finished the last of our academic work at the end of the month, we decided to go canoeing at Tully lake. When we got our canoes, lifejackets, and paddles, we headed right for the water. All around the lake there were a bunch of small islands. Soon, everyone had "claimed" an island for their own. Some people were even trying to conquer other people's islands. On the way back to the shore, we were caught in a thunderstorm, and buckets of rain. We were soaked by the end of the trip.

After our very fun day canoeing, we took a trip to Mystic seaport in Connecticut. My favorite ship was the Charles W. Morgan ship, which is the ship in the pictures on the right. At the seaport we looked at the ships, went to the blacksmiths, and visited some of the other exhibits that were there. All in all, the seaport was also a really fun trip.

We also worked on yearbooks. Everyone put together two pages, and had a picture on one of them. Everyone in the school will get a copy of the yearbook on the last day.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

By Lia, Grade 7



April 2008

This month was our third open house which was a big success. Everybody in the class wrote two pieces, one which was a free-writing piece, and the other which was a report or story about your Civilization. For more information about the Civilization Game, scroll down to February. Some people wrote stories about their civilization, others wrote myths, and some wrote informative essays on what they had developed. All of them were very different, and each person had a different style. If you want to read some of the stories, click here

In April we also went to Look Park so we could get a sense on how far the Romans had to travel. With their full suits of armor and other equipment, they walked three miles per hour. We decided to see if we could also sustain that pace. Turns out, we were not able to, and we weren't even carrying anything!

In April we also took a trip to Poet's Seat with was fun. The pictures on the right are of our trip to Poet's Seat and some of the projects people did for the open house.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

By Lia, Grade 7



March 2008

This month we went to a stone cutter. During that event we started making a bench for the bakery. The bench was in the form of a loaf of bread. During that class we also learned what tools stone cutters use. Do not forget the finished pieces we were shown. In the end the loaf of bread will either be a bench at a bakery or else it will be on display at Tim DeChristopher's show. The activity was really fun for everybody, and many people enjoyed it.

In March we also read a chapter from a book called "Sarum,"by Edward Rutherfield. This 90 page chapter was about the war between the Romans and the Celts, and the advantages both sides had. We learned after reading the chapter that the Romans had many more advantages then the Celts.

In March everybody wrote and typed up an autobiography. Some of them were long, and others short. In art we had drawn self-portraits, so the two topics were similar. At Graduation all the self-portraits will be on display.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

By Danny, Grade 6 and Lia, Grade 7

February 2008

In February we have been concentrating on The Civilization game which is a game that is played with dice. In the beginning you are given a place in the world here you try and develop a civilization. Through the course of the game, you roll dice for domesticating animals, increasing your population, exploring the area around you, and other such things so your civilization can be developed. You can even trade goods with other people in the class!

The two books we read in the month of February were "Snow In August" and "Number The Stars." Snow in August was about a boy who befriended a rabbi during World War Two. Number The Stars was also about World War Two, but the difference was that "Number The Stars" took place in Denmark, while "Snow In August" took place in Brooklyn.

In February we took a field trip to Amherst college Art Museum where we saw an Assyrian wall because we were studying the Fertile Crescent.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

By Lia, Grade 7

January 2008

Writing has been a major focus of January. Every morning we have a writing class. Usually, we start the class with a poem by a well known author (Emily Dickinson, David Wagoner, Naomi Shihab Nye etc.) and then the whole class writes for ten minutes. After ten minutes, we share what we have written with the rest of the class. Sometimes kids will work on on-going stories while others will write short poems.

This month we read "Pirates!" by Celia Rees. We have a book group where we read different books every two weeks or so. Both kids and teachers choose which books to read, and the result of this is that the book list is over eight books long!

During January, we also took a trip to a root cellar at Brookfield farm so the class could have an idea on how the Neolithic people could have stored things.

We also started taking pottery classes with Janice. We've made trays, coil pots, pinch pots, and other such clay objects. It is a four-week class, and at the end all our pottery will be fired.

A major event in January was our second open house of the year. Each kid did a project, typed up something they had written, and chose a piece of artwork to put up on the wall. Some kids projects included, model airplanes, horse skeletons, and a group of kids even made their own clothes!


Click on the images to enlarge them.

By Lia, Grade 7, Pictures by Thea, Grade 7

December 2007

This month we went to Winterberry Farm. We have been learning about how the first hunter-gatherers learned to farm and domesticate animals. At Winterberry farm the director, Jill, showed us some things that she uses on her farm that prehistoric humans could have also used. She uses sheep wool, along with angora rabbit. In the pictures you will see she is pulling clumps of fur off of a rabbit named "Nosie" and spinning it. It does not hurt him; she was being very gentle, so he did not feel it. She also showed us how to spin flax that she grew and how to weave on a loom.

Along with showing us what fabric prehistoric humans could have used, for fun she showed us how her dog, "Brock," worked as a sheep-herding dog. We asked some questions such as, "Why do they have marks on the bottoms?" The answer was that "They are breeding markings to know which ones are supposed to be pregnant." Altogether it was a very fun trip, and it was nice to see all the animals.

We have been working with Jill since the begining of this month. It started as washing wool and learning which type of wool was from which sheep, how it looked, and if it was easier or harder to spin. After that Jill came in and taught us all how to spin the washed wool, first with a hook and then with a drop spindle. The last week was weaving with the yarn we spun.

Click on the images of us at Winterberry Farm to enlarge them. On the right is Brock, the herding dog.

By Jasmine, Grade 7

November 2007

The month of November was packed with totally amazing trips and activities. The first one that comes to mind was our printmaking class. Around the beginning of the month we started to take classes in printmaking at Cynthia Fulton's house, Cynthia has been teaching us the art of making prints in all ways imaginable. So far we have done block printing, monotypes, and many more.

The next thing that comes to mind in the month of November is going to Juanita Nelson's house. She has a completely self-sufficient life style. She lives up in Deerfield and grows her own food, and provides her own energy!

There are so many more trips and cool things we have done, but the two that were most exciting were learning about the wool of sheep and also being able to spin and wash some gorgeous wool from Jill Horton-Lyons' sheep at her very own farm in Leverett. In 3 weeks we will get to go and visit her sheep, but until then we get to work with her and learn about the sheep and their wool.

The last thing we have done in November is going to a cheese and goat farm in Colrain. We visited with the 50-odd goats, learned about cheese making, and got to eat the most delicious cheese from the goats. It was all in all an excellent experience. The goats were cute and sweet; the owner's dogs were adorable and very loving. Our tour guide and owner of the farm, Carolyn Hillman, gave the best tour ever, and I will definately be back to visit if I can!

By Thea, Grade 7

October 2007

The month of October was a very fun month. We went on a lot of fun field trips and did quite a few fun activities.

The open house was in October. The plan was for the open house to have a Neolithic meal, so the day before the open house we all went to pick cranberries at a cranberry bog in the area. The cranberries were good, but only if they were dosed in sugar!

The open house was really fun. Lots of people brought Neolithic food, so we were able to get a sense of what a Neolithic meal would be like. Everyone had a project to present, and they were all laid out on the tables on display.

We also went canoeing at Barton Cove, and I think that was enjoyable for everyone. We were all taught by students of GCC. They taught us three paddling techniques and how to control a canoe. After that we were allowed to canoe around Barton Cove. Click on the pictures of us canoeing to enlarge them.

by Lia, grade 7

September 2007

This month to begin the year we took a rather exciting field trip to Morse Hill, a fabulous ropes course. I wonder how many calories we burnt on that trip? So after the "fall off go back" thingie we went on the HUGE swing. The swing itself went 40 feet high! We learned about how to function in a group with proper respect.

Tregellys Fiber Farm in Hawley, MA was another field trip destination. At the farm we were barked at by a couple of dogs (okay, okay more like seven). There were dogs that protected the livestock. They were big white dogs, one of their names was Daisy. They had all types of dogs little ones, big ones, white ones, tan ones.

This year we are looking at human civilization. We went to gather food in Turners Falls. We found Chicken of the woods (a type of fungi) some of us were brave enough to try it. Once you have tasted Chicken of the woods you can see how it got its name.
Not to sound like a cooking website, but I thought it would be fun to post a recipe for Chicken of the woods.

1) Chicken of the woods*
2) 4 cloves of Garlic
3) 2 TBS. Olive Oil
4) Slice the tender part of the mushroom into thin strips. Saute with Garlic for 5-10 minutes.Cover and turn heat to low.Cook for 30 minutes more, adding small amounts of water if mushrooms look dry.

* Chicken of the woods cannot be bought in stores, if you want some you have to find it yourself. Find a reliable book or a website so you can find out what Chicken of the woods looks like.

Some pictures of us at Morse Hill are on the right. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Written by Olivia, grade 7

May 2007

This month we made lightbulbs with filaments, nitrogen, and an upside-down flask. We finished up academic work and prepared projects to display at the May open-house. Olivia dissected several squids. We went on field trips to a saw mill, Old Sturbridge Village, and The New England Wildflower Society's Garden in the Woods. We spent our last day of school at the waterfall. Some pictures of us at the waterfall are on the right. Click on the images to enlarge them.