On the pre-Christian Celtic calendar, October 31 was Samhain, pronounced Soo-when or Sow-when, and it marked the day when the world of the living and dead where at the closest. It is also the end of year, with November 1 as the start of the next year. This day is one of the most important Gaelic/Celtic/Pagan/Wiccan/Druidic holidays of the year! And please do not worry about the devil–he is not a part of Samhain. It is a day to remember those who have passed and to think of the future.
So, enjoy the day, dress up, have candy, party, and raise a toast and wish all a Happy New Year!
Learning begins with language, building words upon words. The more words children hear, the more they learn, and the better they do in school. All of this leads up to reading readiness. So, if I can give children hundreds and thousands of words in a variety of ways, they will have a head start.
How do I do this?
Letter writing When we have a guest visit the class, or we want to ask someone questions, we write a giant letter. In that way, I am helping children to visualize what is on their minds. But there’s more; children need to touch and feel to ‘cement’ an idea or a concept. I have them decorate and draw on the big letters. The words are reinforced and children feel as though they have written the words themselves. Often, they add their own writing. This week we wrote a letter to Her…
I was born loving movies, but seldom give proper credit to those magical rooms where movies blaze to life. So here are a few I have loved.
The Meralta Theater in Downey, California was where my addiction began. I saw Gone with the Wind there, and Tammy and the Bachelor and Old Yeller. It was a humble neighborhood bijou, but it introduced me to that magical device, the movie projector. Interestingly, it also introduced me to live music when, on a warm suburban night a handsome young black man sang three tunes, and then passed out copies of his single, “You Send Me.” The man, who almost single-handedly invented soul music, was Sam Cooke, and he remains one of my favorite singers of all time. Humble theater, grand memories.
The Paramount in Los Angeles, on the other hand, was a golden movie palace. We’d go there to see exclusive “roadshow”…
There’s nothing quite like being a child at school – in the dark – at night – with your family. This week children and families gathered at school for a pizza party outside on the playground. It was such fun to see parents getting to know each other and children playing together. After supper, the pumpkin carving began. We have stone planters along the pathway, a perfect spot for carving and transforming pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.
And then, it became dark. We lined up all the jack-o-lanterns, lit them with candles, and stepped back to admire the many different faces.
This is what I wrote to families later that night:
Tonight was special. There was a moment, as the sun was setting and jack-o-lantern carving was almost finished, that I looked around and saw parents smiling and laughing with other parents. Children were busy and happy with their families and friends. …
One of the most extraordinary writers I have had the pleasure of reading is Mark Helprin, author of many books, including A Soldier Of The Great War and The Pacific and Other Stories. He is a writer who is impossible to put into one box; his work goes in many different directions, but one characteristic is true of all of his pieces: his writing is beautiful and powerful.
I will offer a few quotations from his short story collection: The Pacific and Other Stories. One of the many themes of this collection is the idea of redemption in human behavior.
From “Il Colore Ritrovato”:
“As I passed over the waters and heard this song that she sang on a side street, it said to me that no matter where you lead or are led, no matter how the waves may break upon you, and what sins you may unknowingly commit, it is true that by the grace of God you can sometimes make amends.”
” ‘I can tolerate losing,’ he said, ‘if that’s the price I pay, if it’s what’s required, for honor.’
‘Honor,’ she repeated.
‘Honor. I often go into things–I almost always go into things–with no calculation but for honor, which I find far more attractive and alluring, and satisfying in every way, than winning. I find it deeply, incomparably satisfying.'”
” ‘That is the imperfection I have seen,’ he said, ‘and all I want from the world is some indication or sign that, forward in time, or where time does not exist, there is a justice and a beauty that will leap back to lift the ones I love from the kind of grave they were given.”
If you have never read this remarkable writer, then I recommend this book as a starting place into his work. It is, in my not so humble opinion, the best collection of short stories I have ever read.
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…