Friday, June 16, 2017

Fairies Unit Study .... Making Baby Animal Nests

Fairies take great care of the animals so we decided to pitch in!


A local shelter is always looking for nest for rescued animals and we took up the loom to make some.

The girls had never used a knitting loom before so it took a little determination to get past the frustration of the yarn falling off or getting stuck but they quickly got the hang of it and created some sweet nests for some little nature babies.

Fairies Unit Study ... Creating a Fairy Trail

Over the course of the month we worked on a project ... creating a trail.


We had to come up with the designs and plans for 3 fairy structures, create a list of materials we needed, and build our structures.  And we could only use natural materials and glue.



It was great to watch the kids research different fairy items and use them as inspiration for their own projects.  And it was really exciting to watch them think through the creation of the pieces and tackle all of the challenges that come with bringing a design into reality.  They learned how to come up with creative alternate solutions and they learned when it was time to take a break and come back to something.


The completed projects were adorable and are currently installed on the Old Oak Trail in Lenape Woods in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  We hope that hikers will enjoy stumbling upon the little gems and that perhaps others will add their own little natural fairy creations!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fairies Unit Study ... Fractured Fairy Tale

Over the course of the month, the girls each wrote a fractured fairy tale.  A fractured fairy tale is what happens when you take a fairytale and change it to be written from another character's point of view.   For instance, did you ever think how the witch felt having two bratty kids nibbling on her newly decorated gingerbread house? You can also change up the setting or the time or anything else you might like. 

We first walked through my favorite fractured fairytale, "Wicked" to see what types of things you might change and then set off to write our own.

I was so delighted with the creativity of both stories and with the amount of effort that went into revising and editing.  (How far we have come this year!)  The stories are both exceptional and well worth the read!  Please enjoy "Jack and the Baked Beanstalk" and "Rapunzel"


JACK AND THE BAKED BEANSTALK
Image result for william morris letternce upon a time, there was a poor young man named Jack. He  broke into a giant’s house, and took some of his gold coins, a hen, and a harp. The giant was mean, so he DID deserve that.
Well, that’s what Jack says. But let’s hear the giant’s side of the story...
Image result for william morris letter  woke up one day, craving a buttery, crunchy, english muffin. I called for my wife, but she wasn’t at home. (Home was a giant castle in Beanstalklandia for us.) Then, I heard rustling from the door. Someone was breaking in! I quickly hid under the lampshade, knowing that I could not fight this person. I had no weapons, but this person must have tons of artillery. It must be a big giant killer! I’M GONNA DIE!

Image result for william morris letterell, it turns out this person was a small human named Jack, who was not armed or vicious, but he was a thief. Clearly I was not the only one who wanted an english muffin! Jack had taken one! I decided, if he wanted an english muffin, and so did I, we should have breakfast together! I yelled “Fi Fy Foe Fum, can I have an english muffin!” In the blink of an eye, Jack was gone. Thank God, I thought. But that’s when I realized Jack had stolen every coin I had!

Image result for william morris letterhe next day, I went to see a lawyer  to sue Jack. I mean, he stolen all my money! But Jack had gotten to the lawyer first, claiming I had said “Fi Fy Foe Fum, I smell the blood of an englishman!”. WHAT! THAT DOESN'T  EVEN SOUND THE SAME! I was sued for “attempting murder”. And Jack has my money. Yeah sure. I totally attempted murder. I DID NOT TRY TO KILL ANYONE! I just wanted an english muffin!


Image result for william morris lettereanwhile, Jack had gotten back into my house! Now he took my pet, Susan! She lays golden colored eggs of no real value. They aren’t even made of gold! And my wife still wasn’t back yet! Wow, life was really great! Now I’m not only broke, but lonely! But then I got a phone call. Maybe it was my wife! No, it was the police, saying that my wife was killed by a man named Jack. I hated that boy! He would pay for this!


Image result for william morris letterll while I was mourning my wife, Jack came into my house, and stolen the one joy I had left in life. My golden harp, which played music so sweet and melodic, it always puts me to sleep. Now I have nothing left to live for. I climbed down the beanstalk and then Ja…


Image result for william morris lettereary me. It looks like Mr. Giant has been killed. Hwas funeral date will be August 25, 1598. Come join me if you will! What? You’re upset? Well, he’s dead. Stuff happens. What can I say!


Image result for william morris epilouge. So Jack finds out that he was immortal and keeps all the giant’s stuff. And he grows a ponytail. So in summary, he lives happily ever after.
 RAPUNZEL
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far from here there lived a little girl named Rapunzel. You all know her story, but it’s time you hear mine. I am the witch who “stole” Rapunzel.

It starts on a summer day, before the story you know began. I was out in the garden practicing my magic, with my sisters Elora and Luna.
“Do the one with the leaves again!” cheered Luna, who was two years younger than me. She also possessed magic but was not that experienced yet, so she was often enchanted by the things Elora and I could do.
“Only,” I said, smiling mischievously. “If you make Elora a flower crown to go with the rest of her jewelry.”
Luna smiled and began using her magic to weave a flower crown for her. Elora, who was two years older than me, groaned and flopped back onto the grass. She was decked out with all sorts of flower jewelry and every time she moved flower petals would float around her.  
I closed my eyes and concentrated on bringing my magic out, a task that would no longer be needed when I became more advanced. The problem is I was bad at it. I snapped open my eyes and sighed. Focus Serafina, I thought. You do this all the time. It should be easy. When I closed my eyes again I felt the tingle. I opened my eyes and blew, causing the leaves to blow off the nearest tree. I guided them to above our heads and arranged them into a replica of the three of us. I concentrated as hard as I could to get them to stay, but my focus slipped and they came crashing to the ground. Luna clapped. And at that very moment I heard the bell ring. They were here.
Luna screamed and leapt towards me in a panic. Being only nine, I had no idea what to do. Elora jumped to her feet and ran towards the house. She only paused once to turn around and scream:
“Run!” She turned back around and continued on her way. I stood up and sprinted towards the house with Luna clinging to my wrist.
Suddenly, the house burst into flames. We all stopped wondering what to do.
“Girls!” a voice came from inside. Mother. “Run, run and never turn back!”
We had no idea that those were the last words she would ever say. So, we turned and ran towards the forest. Our entire life had changed.
---                    ---                    ---
It had been ten years since the witch hunter attack. We had come back to our house to find it charred and burnt to the ground and mother dead at the front door. Over time we rebuilt our home and restored it to it’s former glory once again. I sat in front of the fireplace while Luna braided my hair. Elora stood, stirring the cauldron which held some herbs to ward off witch hunters.
“Sera, do you really think the witch hunters will come back?” Luna said, breaking the silence. I bit my lip and thought.
“Well, Luna, I don’t know. I really don’t know.” I said truthfully. Luna tensed for a second before tying a silver ribbon around my hair. We didn’t often speak about the witch hunters, but we all knew it was often on our minds.
“Luna, we have made so many protection potions and cast so many protection spells, but there is always a chance.” Elora said scooping the contents of the cauldron into a small glass bottle. “We can’t protect ourselves this way forever. Someday we will have to find another way.”
Luna and I glanced at each other. What was Elora hinting at?

Later that day I was circling the house behind Elora. Every three paces I would take a pinch of salt from the the pouch around my waist and threw it in front of me. 1, 2, 3, sprinkle. 1, 2, 3, sprinkle. I reached the last spot, sprinkled the salt, and jumped out of the way. The circle around our house lit up a warm golden color, burning the ground for a second, and then returned to normal. Luna passed us our cloaks and our baskets and we left for the market.
On the way, I could have sworn we were being followed. I quickly glanced behind me and saw a man in a cloak walking at the same pace.
Move faster.” I whispered to my sisters. We did. I glanced behind again and the man had also picked up his pace. I also noticed he was wearing a witch hunters cloak. I gave my sisters the signal and we ran like our lives depended on it (which they did). I grabbed Luna and pulled her in an alleyway, turning us invisible. I expected him to follow us, but instead he followed Elora.
We never saw Elora again, but she occasionally sent us money and a note that said she loved us and missed us, but that this was for the better. I honestly disagreed but Elora was always right. So I became both Luna’s sister and her mother. And I tried to take care of her up until her very last breath.
“Sera, I’m going to be all right, right?” She whispered one night as I sat beside her. She had gotten horribly sick from one of the witch hunters “repellant” potions. There was no way she was going to survive.
“Of course, Luna. You’ll be fine.” I forced a smile. I didn’t want to worry her. “Now get some rest.”
Luna nodded and fell asleep smiling. She never woke up.
---                    ---                    ---
“Get out of my garden” I said. It had been over a year since Luna had died. My witch hunter neighbor was standing across from me holding a fistful of my rapunzel plant. The rapunzel had healing properties and I did not need him figuring out what I was.
“My daughter is sick,” he pleaded. “I need these to help heal her.” My eyes narrowed and I bit my lip.
“Fine, take them. But you owe me.” I said turning to go back to my hut. He ran back to his own home, unaware of the mistake he made.
A few weeks later I found my garden on fire.
I woke up to the smell of smoke. I ran to the window to see flame creeping towards the house. I screamed, running to my room. I grabbed the bag from under my bed and the drawing of me, Elora, and Luna. I shoved the drawing in my pocket. I ran to the kitchen knocking potions off shelves until I found a few bottles of Fire Resistance. I dumped one over my head, and ran out the back door. I stopped and gasped. There was a little blonde haired girl sitting in my garden, crying. I ran over to her, dumped the potion on her, and picked her up. My feet carried us towards the forest as fast as they could. Until I tripped over a large stone. My ankle throbbed with pain, and when I tried to stand on it I came crashing down again. So, I pulled the little girl closer to me and dragged us into the bushes.
“Are you okay?” I asked as soon as everything quieted down. She nodded.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I don’t remember anything.” She admitted sadly. “Except this” The little girl placed her hands on my ankle. Suddenly, a chill went through my ankle and it felt better. The little girl yawned, and then passed out. I stood. When I did, my ankle no longer hurt. This girl was a healer.  Then everything clicked. SHe was my neighbors daughter.
When my neighbor had given the child the rapunzel, she had taken on it’s healing powers. Being that her parents were witch hunters, they didn’t want a child who possessed the same powers. So they attempted to kill her and me at the same time by burning my garden and house and placing the girl in the midst of the chaos.
We were no longer safe here. But I knew a place where we would be safe. I picked up the girl and carried her deeper into the forest.
We were almost there when the girl came to.
“Mother?” she whispered. I started to shake my head but then thought otherwise. I was this girl's mother now. I shushed her.
“We’re almost safe. Go back to sleep.” I told her. ANd then I saw it in the distance. A tower so well hidden no one would ever find it.
---                    ---                    ---
“Rapunzel!” I called up from the base of the tower. I had decided to name the little girl after the plant that had given her the powers she possessed.
“Coming mother!” She called down to me. I smiled even though Rapunzel was not my daughter, we still loved each other like family.
She came to the window and threw her hair out the window. It was so long it reached the base of the tower. After our ladder broke we began using her hair for entering and exiting the tower. I made a loop out of the bottom of her hair and stepped in. She pulled me up as quickly as possible and helped me once I reached the window.
“Welcome home Mother!” she said smiling. A pie sat on the table with a little note.
“Is this for me?” I asked.
“Of course.” She replied. “For after dinner.”
“Now about dinner,” I said putting my basket in the table. “Do you want lamb and broccoli stew, or lamb and chestnut stew.”
Her eyes lit up at the mention of chestnuts.
“Chestnuts! Really!” She ran over and hugged me.”Thank you mother!”
---                    ---                    ---
“This pie is wonderful.” I told Rapunzel as we ate it in front of the fire. “So, how was your day?”
“Same as always,” she sighed. The poor girl didn’t have much to do locked up in this tower. I felt bad but I didn’t want to risk her life. “I did some gardening, I baked this pie. Oh!”
Rapunzel sprang up from where she was sitting and climbed up to the fireplace.
“Rapunzel what are you doing up there?” I asked. She didn’t answer. Instead, she pulled down an old painting we had up there to reveal a new painting on the wall. It was a picture of the two of us running off into the distance, the tower far behind.
“Oh, Rapunzel, it’s beautiful!” I said as she climbed down. She sat back down and lowered her head.
“I just wish it could come true.” She whispered. All of a sudden I felt guilty for keeping her locked up in this tower.
“I do too flower.” I said brushing her long hair out of her face. “Maybe one day it will. But for now it’s too dangerous.” Rapunzel stood up and headed for the spiral staircase around the edge of the tower.
“Goodnight mother.” She said climbing the stairs. “I love you.”
“I love you too Rapunzel.” I responded, blowing her a kiss. I got up and closed the shutters to the tower window, blew out the fire, and went upstairs myself.
---                    ---                    ---
Rapunzel started acting weird after that. The next few weeks she had a dreamy look in her eyes and she barely spoke to me. I asked her many times what was going on, but she never answered. Clearly I was going to have to figure this out on my own.
So one day after I left the tower I decided I needed to know. I left as usual, but instead of heading into town as usual I headed over to a tree. When I reached it I placed my hand on the trunk and a hole opened up. I stepped inside and into a bucket. I began pulling on a rope and the bucket went down underground.
By the time I reached the top of the tower I could hear voices. There was someone else here. I pulled myself out of the trapdoor and hid behind a chair. I peeked out and saw Rapunzel standing at the window talking to someone. I looked closer and saw it was a man. A very familiar man. I gasped. The prince, I thought. She’s talking to the price, who is also a witch hunter. She was putting both our lives in danger. I waited quietly for the prince to leave. Once he did I turned the chair around. Rapunzel still had  her back to me.
“Hello, Rapunzel.” I said. She whirled around in shock.
“M-mother.” She said, her eyes wide.
“Do you know who that was?” I asked her.
“The prince.” She said lowering her gaze. “He’s a wonderful person though mother. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Rapunzel, he is a witch hunter!” I said raising my voice.
“Mother, he’s a wonderful person. He offered to take me to his castle.” She said.
“Do you even hear yourself?” I screamed. “If he finds out what you can do-”
“Mother, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me!” She screamed.
“Oh really? ARe you so sure?” I yelled.
“Why are you doing this to me? You are ruining my life!” She screamed tears in her eyes.
“I’m just trying to protect you!” I yelled at her. “If your parents tried to hurt you, he will too.” I gasped.
“My...parents?” She said narrowing her eyes and stepping closer. “What do you mean, my parents?”
“Rapunzel, I-”
“My parents?” She said raising her voice again. “So you aren’t really my mother.? Who are you, you-you cruel, lying, witch!”
“Rapunzel please!” I begged.
“No.” She said. “Tell me the truth.”
“Fine!” I yelled. “Your parents were witch hunters! They tried to kill you! I-I saved your life!”
“Liar!” She screamed. “My parents loved me!”
I took the dagger out of my boot and started to walk towards her.
“Don’t make me do this Rapunzel.” I said, tears in my eyes.
“What are you doing, Mother?” She said backing up against a wall. “Or should I even call you that?”
“I didn’t want to do this.” I said, and in one swift motion I cut her hair down to her shoulders. She screamed.
“I’m sorry.” I said. “I will join you soon.” And with that shackles appeared around her wrists and I lowered her down the trapdoor I had entered through earlier. One I had closed it, I sat down and cried. I took the picture of my sisters and I out of my pocket. I felt the shame rise in me. I was ruining this girl's life by protecting her. But this was what had to be done. I calmed myself down and climbed down the ladder to join Rapunzel. Once I reached the bottom, I unshackled Rapunzel.
“Why did you do this to me.” She whispered, the tears flowing freely now.
“To protect you.” I said.
We sat down there for a while until I heard someone call Rapunzel’s name. The prince.
“I’ll deal with him.” I said, climbing back up the ladder.
“Mother, no!” She screamed after me, but I had to ignore her.
When I reached the top I took what I had cut from Rapunzel’s hair and threw it out the window. Once I felt weight on it, I pulled it back until the prince came through the window. And with that, I made the room so dark it was impossible to see. I stood across the trapdoor from the prince.
“I’m over here!” I said, altering my voice to sound like Rapunzel’s. I heard his footsteps coming closer, and then I heard him scream as he fell. I felt terrible, but it would keep Rapunzel and I safe. I lightened the room and went upstairs to wind the key to the trapdoor. Once I came down I saw Rapunzel standing there waiting for me.
“In case you want to know I healed him.” She said. “We’re leaving as soon as I’m done with you.” I backed up against the window.
“Rapunzel please. We can figure something out.” I said.
“You tried to kill him!” She yelled.
“I tried to protect you!” I screamed.
“Liar!” She yelled. I stumbled back falling out the window. I used my magic to slow my fall and I landed safely out the window. That’s when I saw someone in a cloak approach me. She pulled back her hood and I gasped.
“Elora.” I managed to whisper. She nodded. I crumpled to the ground half conscious and sobbing. She picked me up and we headed off to some safe place.
I never saw Rapunzel again, but I hoped with all my heart that she was safe.









Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fairies Unit Study ... Online Course on Midsummer

We took our first try at an online course this week.  The course from Outschool on Midsummer Religion, Folklore and Traditions fit perfectly with what we are learning about!


The girls loved it!  They found the whole online classroom to be a really cool idea and were totally engaged with the content.  They took a lot of notes, told me a few things I didn't know and are preparing for next week's class.  A great addition to our 
curriculum!


Fairies Unit Study ... Terrariums

If I were a fairy, I might like to live in a terrarium.  Moist and mossy and cozy.  So we learned how they work and how to build them and have been taking a peek at them every day to observe what is happening.


To make a terrarium, you need a fairly large jar or glass container with a lid.  You put in a layer of large rocks at the bottom and then cover with charcoal.  Then add some soil on top.  Put in your plants (succulents or ferns) and then add some moss and rocks and maybe a little fairy.  Give it a spritz of water and close it up.


The terrarium will recycle the water to keep the plants hydrated.  And we learned that while plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen during the day, they reverse at night so they will always be able to breath.  And as for food?  as plant material breaks down there will be plenty of nutrients!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fairies Unit Study ... Creating Fairy Hoax Photos

After reading about the Cottingley fairy photos, we decided to try to create our own convincing fairy hoax photos!  Love the creativity they employed to try different techniques to try to make them look real.

One created a newspaper article describing her find and the other a hilarious letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sharing her pictures.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Art ... Photo Series

The girls took their cameras to the beach and each took a series of photos of the same object.  Then added an appropriate quote.


Fairies Unit Study ... The Cottingley Fairies

Back in the early 1900's two young girls produced photos they had taken of themselves with fairies.  The photos ended up being published and hotly debated for decades.  We took the opportunity to read an article about the event and discuss our opinions on the authenticity of the photos and reasons the people were and are so interested debating potential hoaxes.


Image result for cottingley fairies


Friday, June 2, 2017

Fairies Unit Study ... Folding an Origami Flower

I think it is important to learn how to follow instructions and how to deal with the frustrations that might come along with tricky and unfamiliar ones.  And what better way to practice those skills of following directions, determination and patience?  Origami!




I gave the girls instructions for an origami flower and asked them to fold one.  Not surprisingly, they could not make it work!  But I was pleases to see they each tried a number of times and then folded a faux-origami flower with a smile!  And well, it sort of resembles the one in the instructions!


Fairies Unit Study ... Advertisement

Today we sold to fairies.  Everyone had to pick an everyday item and persuade a fairy to buy it.  



We talked about why you would want to persuade someone and ways you could go about doing it.  Then the girls had to think up reasons why a fairy would want to by their item and then try to persuade them of that opinion.  Loved the creativity!