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This IS Yo’ Mama’s Chili Cook-Off

Last year, Rose Rock hosted it’s first Chili Cook-off as a new annual fundraiser for the school.  An unusually warm and sunny day, the event was a welcome gathering to shake off the “winter blues”, kick back and chat with friends and enjoy a tasty bowl of homemade chili.

This year’s chili cook-off is being held on Saturday, February 25 from 5-7 pm at the school grounds, 1515 W. Main Street.  

Entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children.  Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be for sale. If you bring your own drink cup, one adult drink is on us!

Like last year, a panel of judges will be selecting winners in three categories.  A fourth winner will be selected as Kid’s Choice, and an overall “crowd favorite” will be selected by all adult attendees.  All winners will take home a prize!

The categories and their parameters are as follows:

  • Traditionally Tasty:  This is your classic chili flavor- meat, peppers, onions, garlic, and a blend of spices that includes chili powder.  Beans or no beans. An appetizing red-brownish color (no white in this category).  While not necessarily spicy, it must have a “bite” to it for the true chili flavor.
  • Spiciest: A traditional red or white chili with a solid kick! Judges will evaluate based on the marriage of heat and flavor, not just the amount of heat.
  • Unique:  This is where you can push the boundaries and get creative! Observe the general “traditionally tasty” guidelines but expand upon it with varieties of meat or no meat, the addition of different vegetables or fruits, and so forth. Examples would be a white chili or a chili verde.
  • Kid’s Choice: This will be judged by the children in attendance.  It can be any child-friendly variety of chili, but must contain chili powder.

If you would like to enter the contest, please arrive at 4:30 pm with your entry. Tables will be set with categories marked and power strips for plugging in crock-pots.  You are welcome to bring anything to “add to the experience” of your chili, such as one of last year’s favorites “Detroit-style”- Fritos on the bottom, cheese and onions on the top.  Entries will be numbered on site but names are an optional addition.  Judging will commence at 5:00 pm and the crowd will begin tasting at 5:15.  Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at 6:30 pm.

We hope to see you there!

A Year of Mastery and Confidence

Gus and Gretch sewing projects smallWe recently came across an article posted to the website of the Stanford Graduate School of Education about some recent studies that give significant weight to the argument for a delayed start for kindergarten.  It’s not a new revelation that kindergarten is the new first grade.  Some veteran teachers even venture to say it’s more like first grade and a half. The hefty academic, behavioral, and social expectations that are placed on these five-year-olds makes headlines for good reason.  Many teachers, researchers, and parents have reached the point of questioning whether these “standards” are truly preparing young children for a healthy academic career and whether these expectations are serving their development at all.

It is due time that more studies are being conducted to explore all of this and shine a light the fast-track life that is waiting for our children once they turn five.  Here, at Rose Rock School, we find that five- to six-year-old children often benefit greatly from a Kindergarten experience that protects their childlike impulses and nurtures their growing sense of self, rather than hurrying their cognitive development.  We can note a plethora of reasons why parents may consider waiting to expose their children to the rigorous academic standards and social expectations that schools reserved for First to Second graders in the not-so-distant past.

We have noticed that our five- to six-year-old students have the opportunity to experience a feeling of mastery before moving on to a new and more formal style of education, when they enter First Grade.  They are strong and confident from previous years of attending at Rose Rock, and they both consciously and unconsciously lead their younger peers by example. They help the younger children understand rules of conduct, both school rules (Once you set a toy down, someone else has the opportunity ask to play with it.) and life rules (Hurting a person’s feelings on purpose is harsh and unwelcome). They also possess and display masterful skills of daily life.  They show the younger children how to set the table, bring food from the kitchen, put on their shoes, watercolor without making a mess, resolve an argument, and listen to instructions.  The list can go on and on, and all of these skills that they demonstrate to younger children give them a sense of confidence and self possession that, from our perspective, is beyond value and outside standardized measurements.

Gretchen and JosiAs our oldest students leave Rose Rock, they will have a confidence in their abilities that will serve them strongly as they become some of the youngest and newest students entering First grade in a big, different school.  As adults, we are continually given opportunities to be the humble “apprentice” steeped in learning and the self-assured leader that shares knowledge and experience with others. Why not give our children this spectrum of learning to leading experience, as well?  At Rose Rock, we see little value in urging a child through a developmental threshold that they have yet to master, when damage to their inner security could be a possible cost.

A Ringa Singa Thank You!

If you walk by Rose Rock School in the mid-morning, you might hear one of the teachers singing softly:

I’ll give you my hand

Please give yours to me

Ringa ringa ringa

Singa singa singa

The verse, though simple, serves the purpose of bringing the children together.

When the children hear these familiar notes ringing out across the schoolyard, they immediately come to the center and take up their friends hands joyfully, for they know it is Circle Time (a short interlude with gesture, games, dance and song). Or, during the busy lunch hour, we sing the verse before blessing.

Though its ostensible purpose is to call children into a group, the verse has taken on deeper meaning as the school grows.  In addition to calling the children together, the verse also serves as a signal that something great is about to happen.  Something bigger and more meaningful than our individual selves.  With bated breath, they give their hands, and wait with ready smiles.  What follows is a soul soothing acknowledgement of each other, and the good in humanity.

This past Saturday, families of past Rose Rock students, extended families of current students, families of incoming students and friends all gathered to celebrate the community that is the Rose Rock School.

As with many of our school festivals and events, the Ringa Singa Ball was, indeed, something great.  And for that, we would like to extend our whole-hearted thanks to all of you for the success of this night.

 

To those who put on their chef’s hats to provide us with a tasty picnic-style feast…

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To those who kicked up their heals to dance….

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To those who took the chance at a raffle prize, or shimmied and shook during the stuffed-full cake walk turned Cake Dance….

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To those who weren’t there in person but generously donated to support us on this lovely night-  WE GIVE OUR THANKS!

 

A Garden of Perseverance

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Digging is a consistently favored activity by all the children.

Avid gardeners will have extensive plans under way for their gardens. Seeds will have been purchased, some even planted indoors. The ground is being cultivated, and perhaps new systems for rodent management are being put in place. A lot of work and thought has already gone into what will likely become a very lush and productive garden.

There is a whole other batch of gardeners out there, though. They may have less experience, less knowledge or simply less time. They maybe first-timers, nervous about the whole process. They maybe working families with a lot on their plates already that still hold the desire to plant something small in their back yards. The Rose Rock School is a lot like that last one, lately.

Gardens can certainly feel daunting, and they can certainly become overwhelming. But they don’t have to hold any of these qualities. After two years- and several seasons- of trying to start something new here at the White House, we could toss out the shovel and say, “Bah! Maybe later.” We could purchase fresh produce from a local farmer at the market and call it a good try on the garden. And that would be a fine choice.

But we will persist on our gardening dreams because we deeply understand the impact this experience will have on the children we care for here. There is so much to offer in the relationship they have to the food we (will) grow and the process of growing it.

As one of the LifeWays Principles explains: In infancy and early childhood, daily life experience is the “curriculum.” That means that anything that would be going on at home- from cooking to cleaning, playing and resting- goes on here at school because that is how children learn best, and build a strong foundation for life.

As we have encountered two failed attempts on a garden at the White House, all due to various reasons, we have

A solid garden attempt in the second year brought us through tilling and building boxes.

A solid garden attempt in the second year brought us through tilling and building boxes.

been modeling to the children here the qualities of perseverance and hope. Those qualities take a person a long way in life.

They have acquired experience in practical life skills such as planning, building, digging turf and soil, tending compost, and weeding. They have gained knowledge about active gardening at the (former) Purple House where we had a thriving garden for several years.

They have learned to collaborate with each other on extensive projects, gaining interpersonal skills such as working together towards a common goal and compromising.

The act of growing and harvesting our own food has demonstrated the deep connection and dependence we have on nature. Reverence for the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms has been cultivated. The seeds of appreciation for what good food does for our bodies have been planted and tended. All of this builds a healthy sense of life and self.

And so this year, we embark upon our third gardening attempt at the White House .  Some friends helped build three fresh boxes for us this past autumn, and we have seeds saved from the last couple years, so we’ll have a good start.  And we’re starting simple- just a few different plants now and adding as the seasons change.  This way, we won’t feel overwhelmed and we’ll really be able to put a (small) harvest on the table this year.

Plus, we’ll be giving ourselves something to look forward to next year as we build it up slowly.  Maybe we’ll fit into that “avid gardeners” category… someday.

Chilly Winds, Warm and Happy Children

About 9:30 each morning, the noise level goes up a notch or two at Rose Rock School. It means everyone is transitioning from morning snack to their next big stretch of play time. Anticipation and excitement are bubbling under the surface as the children await the glorious freedom of…. the play yard. Yes, even in chilly winds and cold temperatures, the children are outside.

Lucas Morgan CarBut why take the children outdoors, when we could stay warm and cozy in the school? Why bother with the bundling and clothing changes? Well, because they need it! Being outdoors gives them a release from structure and the space to move freely- running, jumping, swinging, digging, rolling down hills- all essential to healthy physical development. It also cultivates a connection with the natural rhythms of the seasons and gives them an authentic sensory experience of the world.

In order to give them this time in the cold, we must prepare them with lots of warmth. We start our morning with plenty of warm greetings, hugs and a moment to put on slippers. At snack time, their bowls are filled with hot porridge, egg muffins just out of the oven or homemade bread and fruit. Then, beeswax salve is rubbed onto their cheeks to protect their sweet faces from the wind. And most of all, we layer up their clothes!

Dr. Susan R. Johnson* explains the importance of warmth:

“Warmth is probably one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Not only the warmth of our love but also keeping their physical body warm. Children are developing their bodies especially during the first 7 years of their lives. An infant and a young child will always feel warm unless they are on the verge of hypothermia because they have an accelerated metabolic rate. If we don’t provide them with the layers of cotton, silk, and wool to insulate their bodies, then they must use some of their potential “growth” energy to heat their bodies.

This same energy would be better utilized in further developing their brain, heart, liver, lungs etc. In addition, being cold decreases immunity. We are all more susceptible to the germs and viruses that are always around us when we are wet and cold. When our body has to expend extra energy to keep warm then less energy is available to “fight” off infections.”

How do we know if the children are warm enough? beaGenerally we follow a rule of two layers on top and bottom (before coats or jackets) when it’s 60 or below. Otherwise we follow this advice from Dr. Mary Kelly Sutton**:

The fingers and toes should be as warm as the warmest part of the body. If they are not, the child is dealing with cold stress, and you can help him/her a great deal by changing the clothing so that fingers and toes become as warm as they should be. Shunting blood away from the extremities is a survival mechanism in the body. It protects the vital organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys).

We continue to nurture them after we come in for lunch as well, using the same practices- nourishing food and drink, cozy clothes, a sweet home-like space, and togetherness. It warms us all against the chilly winds of winter in Oklahoma.

*The Importance of Warmth, an article by Dr. Susan R. Johnson can be found at her website, YouandYourChildsHealth.org.
**Warmth, Strength, and Freedom, a blog article by Dr. Mary Kelly Sutton was featured on The Parenting Passageway in 2009.

Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer

“Martin looked up and saw a small light hovering in the air before him. He got to his feet, picked up his staff, and followed it. The light lit the ground before him, and even though he did not know where he was, he knew the light was leading him truly and that he would never stumble.”

Saint Martin’s Light, A Festival of Stones by Reg Down

Rose Rock families and friends will be gathering this Saturday to celebrate Martinmas.  This festival is named for Saint Martin from France.  Saint Martin was said to be a kind and humble fellow, known for helping people in need.  The legend of St.Martin tells of a great moment in Martin’s life when, as he served in the Roman army, he came upon a cold, half-clothed beggar lying outside the walls of Amiens. On an impulse, Martin pulled out his sword and used it to cut his own thick cloak in half, covering the beggar man with one half.

Commonly, people light lanterns in his remembrance, symbolizing how he brought warmth and light to those previously in darkness.  It seems sensible that we remember St.Martin this time of year, as the dark is becoming more prevalent day by day. The small light that we kindled at Michealmas grows ever brighter as we move into this season of gathering and giving.
Rose Rock School grew from an impulse much like Martin’s.  Out of a strong impulse to shine a joyful light for young children, one family began Rose Rock in the Purple House eight years ago.  This joyful light has been nourished and protected through the fellowship, hard work, love and devotion of countless families to now proudly stand as a burgeoning beacon in the community of Norman.

In preparation for our gathering, the children are creating these lanterns to guide them on our lantern walk.

First, we watercolor painted some 12×18″ paper.  Once dry, we cut a circle out of the center and cut a 2″ piece off the bottom.  Then we marked a horizontal line 2 1/2″ from the bottom and made several vertical cuts up to that line.  We ironed autumn leaves between waxed paper and glued it on the circle window.

lantern in progress

Next, we stapled our large paper in a cylinder form and folded the bottom flaps to glue in place for the bottom.  We added aluminum foil to the inside of the bottom to prepare it for a candle.  Next, we twizzled or fingerknit a yarn handle and stapled it into place. Our lanterns were complete with a wavy line cut from our 2″ strip and glued onto the top.  They glow beautifully at night!

Lantern 1

 

Here are lanterns we have made in the past two years, as well.

Mason jar lanterns, made by decoupaging tissue paper onto mason jars with Mod Podge. Last year we created these and used a layer of glitter glue on top to seal them with a bit of glimmer, and used sparkly gift wrapping wire to create our handles.

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Two years ago we watercolor painted a large sheet of paper and folded them into these beautiful lanterns. A step-by-step tutorial can be found here at Cypress Space.

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We will also be gathering for circle towards the beginning of our festival.  If you would like to learn some of the verses and songs for this, you may visit a back post with it here.

Warm Martinmas wishes to you!

Taming the Dragons at Michaelmas

As we look forward to The Great All Hallow’s Eve Rose Rocktoberfest, here’s a last peak back at our Michaelmas festival from this year.

Making dragon bread…
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Joining together in circle…

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And our lighthearted Michaelmas play…

Outside our window, the wind does blow.

It blows through the trees as Michael rides along with his sword.

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Below he spies a dragon fierce,

With fiery eyes and fangs that can pierce,

He flies on down…

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Michael lifts his sword up on high,

He looks bravely into the dragon’s eyes.

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Laying the sword upon his head,

Michael could have slayed the dragon,

but, he tamed him instead!

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A Kindergarten Opening

***Update: Our opening has been filled. Thank you to all who recommended Rose Rock School to their friends!***

Here’s your chance, Norman! Rose Rock is saying good-bye to one of our dear children as her family embarks on a trip to Germany, and so we have an opening in the Gnomes class for a kindergartner between ages 3 1/2 and 6 years.

And for a taste of what we have to offer, here is a glimpse of our recent days:

We have been welcomed by autumn’s cool mornings as we began kindergarten craft and eating morning snack indoors within the last two weeks. Mama Shanah and Mama Acacia’s kindergartners have formed play dough, drawn with beeswax crayons, listened and participated in a watercolor story and just today made wool felted dragon eggs in light of our coming Michaelmas festival.

The winds are blowing about the playground and bringing  changes to the trees, flowers and animals around the yard in which the children have been delighted during our 1 1/2 hour long outdoor playtime and late summer circle. They have been climbing trees and then piling rocks and logs in attempt to climb bigger trees. They have been digging in the sandboxes and digging in the dirt… well, everywhere. They have been chasing friends, pulling wagons, tying ropes, throwing balls and collecting nature items. All of it good-for-you hard play and thoroughly tiring.

Hard play makes for large appetites, especially for tasty dishes made by Mama Alicia like our Autumn Shepherd’s Pie Hash from today’s menu. We tell stories throughout the day at Rose Rock, but our formal story time has been welcomed back whole-heartedly by the children as we begin with annual favorites such as To Walpe and Snowflake and the Dragon.   At nap time, there have been rooms full of sleepy children relaxing onto their mats with hair brushing, gentle massages and Mama Abbie reading a story and singing lullabies.

Our late summer days wouldn’t be complete without one more chance to snack and play outside after nap time. The children continue play from earlier or invent new games with a few siblings that join us after their time in elementary school. At the end of each day, there is much to share and chat about as we greet eager moms and dads ready to reunite with their joyful children.

We welcome you to begin the application process by emailing Shanah Ahmadi at roserockschool@gmail.com.  You may find tuition information here and learn more about our kindergarten curriculum here.  You can see our spring menu here, which will be shifting into our full autumn menu in the next couple weeks.