Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vacation Creations

Join us for another fabulous Vacation Creations morning!
Wednesday December 29 from 10 am to noon

A fun way to celebrate the December break!

We will have a good time with warming winter crafts - wool, felt, fleece, colorful embroidery, etc.
Bring home some furry friends, winter bouquets, and more!
We'll even decorate snowball cookies!

ages 6 and older
 $18 per person

 Kaleidoscope Arts and Crafts School
 790 Stevens Avenue, Portland

 email (or call 773-2255) to sign up or for more info!


 Carolyn and Phyllis

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Turn Calendars into Gift Bags

This holiday season can be so confusing for those of us caught between wanting to commit to sustainability and wanting to participate in some form of popular culture (aka presents under the tree). 

I'm not crafty enough for this, but I know most FSP families are :

Gift Bag Your Calendar -- directions for turning 2010 into wrapping paper :)

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood publishes a guide and links to some other resources for adding simplicity to the holidays.

And, if there is some truth to the NYT motherlode comments that it is really ok to give kids (and adults)  some whimsy and purchased pleasure in the holiday season, use the comments to share your best gift ideas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Race To No Where

We are hosting Race to No Where, in partnership with the Falmouth High School on January 25th -- there is a NYT article circulating about the film -- tickets will be onsale, online, soon -- in the meantime, mark your calendars for dinner @ Stonyfield Cafe (10% of the evening's profits will support FSP and the Parenting for Peace lecture series) and 7pm for the film.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creation Day

It was a day of creations for my daughters -- a field trip with Habitat for Humanity  (for the 1/2 and 3/4 classes) yielded great new thinking about insulation and house building, then a bridge construction project generated a conversation about partnership, collaboration, and bridge strength... (click here for a link to a news story about the houses)

The 5/6 has started an engineering unit - -check out Jamien's Blog on the topic -- and Grace is very enamored with Design Squad.

Yeah for building, collaborating, problem solving, and another great day at FSP!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Disadvantage of An Elite Education

I love the ideas that are shared in the Klingbrief -- a newsletter about education related materials and ideas that is sent once a month from the Klingenstein Center -- a branch of the Teacher's College of Columbia University that trains people to work as leaders of independent schools.  I especially appreciated that they -- members of an elite institution -- sent the link to this essay.  After watching The Social Network I definitely do not have Harvard aspirations for my daughters, but it is hard to know what to want for them... the chance for creativity, for connectedness, and for responsible civic participation seem like core values for me, and I hope they will become part of the college experience before too long.

Are We Doing What We Say We Do? : The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, by William Deresiewicz

Doing a double take at the title is just the beginning of asking yourself to think deeply and differently while reading this opinion piece by William Deresiewicz for The American Scholar, the magazine of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. The author takes up an argument that looks at both advantages and disadvantages of schooling in an elite environment. And he should know... his own Ivy League education is one of the many warrants he carefully delineates in defense of his hypothesis: that an elite education limits, narrows, deceives, and misguides those who are inside the gates at exclusive institutions. Examined in light of its impact on society, economics, humanistic understanding, inclusion, and thinking, the place of privilege comes up short for Deresiewicz. The article compels us to take a look at the student who is packing in AP courses, filling a resume, and becoming "the kid whom everyone wants at their college but no one wants in their classroom." The author asks if we are helping students ask the big questions and reach beyond analytic thinking skills to work hard at what they believe in and to love learning in its broadest and most humane definition.

Elizabeth Morley, Institute of Child Study, Toronto, Canada
The American Scholar, Summer 2008

There's No Business Like Show Business

Jenaya and Donna were so great in Annie Get Your Gun and the show was so fun - - a toe-tapping old fashioned musical, but also a great reminder that women have been tough since time immemorial! There are 2 shows left -- buy your tickets here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here We Come to The Garden Show


If the Garden Show spurred your environmental conscience, Kristine, from the Environmental Health Advocacy Center sent me this link to a wonderful blog post reminding us that parents are making consumer decisions everyday that prioritize environmental health.  The author argues that these parents can have great influence through their consumer decisions and political activism.
In the comments, Steve recommends adding a letter to the Million Letter March and 350.Org has launched a new project "350 Earth" to restimulate our joy, creativity and passion for the planet.

In Maine, many organizations are working to protect children and our plant from the most harmful chemicals -- perhaps they deserve our thanks and support this Holiday season.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

 The Women's Therapy Center is sponsoring the:


"We need your BIG IDEA in response to the following question:

What is one bold action that could make the world truly value
the diversity of women and girls’ bodies?"

I'd love to hear what our kids have as answers...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cultivating Gratitude in Teens

This is a sweet article by Christine Carter of the Greater Good Center on how to encourage gratitude in teens, at a time when being cynical, snarky and unappreciative of their families might be developmentally appropriate.  The comments are interesting too...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Webinar Opportunity - Packaging Girlhood

Sexualization and the Packaging of Girlhood
Friday, December 10th, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Open your eyes to the media images and messages that surround you and you’ll find that there’s no avoiding the sexualization and objectification of girls and women.  Young women in submissive and suggestive positions sell clothing; pop stars marketed to youth perform with stripper poles; even cartoon characters adopt flirtatious poses and attire.

The 2007 APA Taskforce on the Sexualization of Girls documented how the relentless barrage of sexualized media messages compromises girls' healthy social, emotional, and physical development.  Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., a Taskforce member and co-author of Packaging Girlhood, will explore the images that overwhelm girls each day and expose the stereotypes and limited choices present.  She will share strategies for educators, counselors, and parents to help girls navigate and resist these powerful and omnipresent messages.

CEUs will be available.  To register, go to

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


James has this, and other, videos on the Friends Web Site -- under "Video Gallery"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maine Enterprise School Blog

The name has changed a bit, from the Maine Farm School to the Maine Enterprise School, and they've formed a new partnership with LearningWorks... follow the interesting ideas and progress of this project at their blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thank You for Crafting

Thank you to the incredible organizers of this years' Hat Sale!   The craft making today was so fun and there are going to be great gifts for sale -- (wish I had pictures).

Friends will have a table at the MECA Holiday Sale this year -- wahooo!!!  As well as the Saturday open fair at school, so mark your calendars, make dates with friends for First Friday food and shopping, and check out the wonderful creations offered by FSP kids, parents and friends.

And, anyone wanting a picture book to capture the feel of the Hat Sale, check out Shall I Knit You A Hat by Kate Klise

Kohn's Huffington Post Blog

If you're curious to learn more about Alfie Kohn's ideas, without reading an entire library, check out his most recent -- and provocative -- commentary on Huffington Post's blog

He contends, midway through an essay entitled "How to Sell Conservatism" :

I think it can be argued that the dominant problem with parenting isn't permissiveness; it's a fear of permissiveness that leads us to be excessively controlling.


I know that now that "helicopter parenting" has become such a denigrated label, I often feel self-conscious about my participation in my children's lives - but isn't a bit of self-consciousness the root of reflexivity?  Who's to say how much or how little permissiveness is best; and yet, we do need cultural standards since in the end the trends of parenting and education effect us all. Is it all relational -- that we need to find our own way within our families?  How much are we influenced by our own childhoods? By other parents? By "experts"?  How will we discern what we wish for for "norms" while also participating in the production and reproduction of parenting with intention and with the limits we naturally bring.

Kohn makes a compelling case that the discourse of overparenting, overindulgence, and out of control permissiveness provides a rhetorical  gateway to highly controlling educational institutions (AKA testing).  What are the words to describe parenting that clear and confident without being controlling or controlled; what is the word to describe the education FSP tries to provide, where each child is held as good-enough already and also capable of achieving some core competencies and more?  As much as I appreciate the critical essay, I'd love to hear more about what we might ask for from our public schools and how we all might become more involved in meaningful and possible educational reform that is loving and fair and equitable and doesn't completely stress out the adults involved. I'd love to better understand how to change the discourse, rather than individual behaviors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quizlet for Spanish

The web site that Annie gave the 5th/6th is here

Multicultural Book Fair

A Multicultural Book Fair
For Families & Educators

Saturday, November 20th
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Ongoing
Breakwater School Gym
865 Brighton Ave., Portland
Free Admission
Purchases - Checks & Cash Only

BROWSE & SHOP CHILDREN’S BOOKS (K-12) depicting the cultures of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as Asian American, African American, Native American, Latino American, Muslim American, and immigration books.

MEET AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR Charlotte Agell, the creator of the chapter book, The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister.

EAT yummy Chinese dumplings.

EDUCATORS & LIBRARIANS offered 10% off.

SALES BENEFIT the Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine.

BOOKS HAND SELECTED by Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and provided by Borders.


Foursquare Tournament this Sunday

Sunday, November 14th, Breakwater School is hosting the Maine Youth Foursquare Tournament. Teams need to register in advance on the Breakwater website. The tournament is open to all players in grades 3 - 8. $10 registration fee includes a Jet Video ice cream and two Portland Pirates tickets. Wouldn't it be grand to have a Friends School team at the tournament?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Race to Nowhere?

The current debates about childhood and academic achievement often give me whiplash.  I believe that children should play, that we need a variety of experiences in our lives and that we should support a wide array of learning styles and gifts (multiple intelligences).  But, I also think it is pretty good to work hard at the hard math problem, to stick with a challenge, and feel some pride at the achievement of a job well done.  These are sensible values (I think) and not at odds with one another, except when all of it is expected at once or to be accomplished at a crazy pace. 

The film,  A Race to Nowhere, purports to document the effects of the stress kids feel at the heavy "achievement pressures" placed on them by schools and their families.

Merriconeag is hosting a screening on Dec 2nd (tickets $10.00) -- is anyone interested in going, or should we consider hosting our own post-holiday screening?

Friday, November 5, 2010

And yeah for innovative thinking

The 5/6 social studies curriculum is focusing on inventors and innovative thinkers.  Grace was pretty enthused about this web site, from the Smithsonian, that describes a lot of kitchen-science projects and potential inventions.  We're also looking forward to a family trip to the Boston Science Museum, particularly to learn about making roller coasters from k'nex  -- who thought up the idea of Roller Coasters anyway?  (and, in a political aside, this letter to the editor from Abigail Disney is provocative -- what is the role of public spending / the collective in supporting the innovative thinking of a few?)

Here's a list of web sites for kids from MIT - we haven't explored many of them.

Do you or your kids have any favorite web sites to explore inventors and innovative thinkers?

Bike Art and Puppet Theater - Yeah for First/Second Graders!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soar Elinor!

Here is a wonderful new picture book, by Tami Lewis Brown celebrating Elinor Smith who, in 1927, became the youngest American pilot. Read the Washington Post review here.

Habitat for Humanity

Katie's and Nicole's classes are engaged in an amazing year-long service learning project with Greater Portland's chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Today, the kids were invited to visit the ReStore. Among other things, they worked to make "money boxes" that will be placed in each classroom as a donation spot for spare change -- please consider emptying your pockets now and again -- and I was grateful and impressed with the Americorps volunteer who held nails for the children to hammer.

We were then invited to help celebrate the completion of a house in Portland and to welcome the family living in it with gifts and cards made by children at LearningWorks.  FSP children learned a little bit about the family's story -- what stuck the most with Kate is that they had donated 1,000 hours of labor in their home country, never imagining they might be needing housing one day themselves, and when they moved to Portland they came to Habitat for Humanity to volunteer, not in search of a home for their own family -- and sang "This Little Light of Mine,"  almost as a blessing on the kitchen, or perhaps just an offering of openness. 

On our library list :

You and Me and Home Sweet Home by George Ella Lyon (author of the "Where I'm From poem I like so much) 

A Chair for My Mother - this is actually already a favorite, by Vera Williams 

A Castle on Viola Street by DyAnne DiSalvo

And, for grown-ups, this brand new book on the Wealth Gap, reviewed yesterday in the NYT

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November happenings

Nov 5th has some special First Friday events, including a Raising Readers party at the Children's Museum of Maine and, for adults, Portland Playback offers an opportunity to use improv to explore the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, at the First Parish Church in Portland at 7:30 ($5-10 donation).  

November 13 - Circus INcognitus - a performance for children at South Portland High School, 1 or 3pm
(and don't forget craft making for FSP Hat Sale!)

November 20th -- Many Voices Booksale & Stacked and Packed, Art for Families @ the PMA

What else is on your November family calendar?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wild & Scenic Film Festival this Saturday

Friends of Casco Bay's Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes back for the third year this coming Saturday at USM's Abromson Center. Doors open at 4:00, films begin at 5:00. They've got a great line-up, so check it out. Tickets available at the door or online through Brown Paper Tickets (you can access them through the film festival link above).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maine Voices for Palenstinian Rights

Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights presents: "MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE" and "SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN" at St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland
Monday, November 1st, 7:00 pm

Suggested donation: $10

All donations will benefit: Middle East Children’s Alliance’s MAIA (ARABIC FOR WATER) PROJECT, striving to provide clean, safe drinking water to the children of Gaza and MEDICAL AID FOR PALESTINIANS

MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE--Taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie--Edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner and SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN--By Caryl Churchill

Two plays to be followed by a discussion

For more information & reservations: 207-347-3075

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Happenings

Looking for something unusual to do this Halloween?  Check out the Shoestring Theaters parade, or check out this spooky offering from Portland Playback :

Thursday, October 28, and Saturday, October 30: Spirits Alive at Eastern Cemetery
This week we'll be bringing some very interesting--and very dead--Portlanders back to life on an evening tour of Eastern Cemetery on the East End of Portland.  Some of the characters include Portland's first bank robber, a bride lost in a shipwreck returning from fitting her wedding dress, and a man who's father was hung in the Salem witch trials (I'll be doing that one.)  their spirits are rumored to haunt Portland, so choose one of these nights to get up close and personal. 6:30-7:30 p.m., $10.

And, too late to be helpful, here's a good blog post (from SPARK)  about the "so sexy, so soon" halloween costumes being marketed to kids and teens...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scroll Down & Raising Healthy Sons and Daughters

Hey Blog-Friends -- Anna pointed out that my blogging can really come in fits & spurts and I might make 1 post invisible by writing another too quickly... if you are reading the blog, you can scroll down and you'll notice that there are blue breaks between days -- some days have a lot of posts, others not so much.  As always, we'd LOVE your comments, feedback, etc. etc.!

On Tuesday November 9th, Hardy Girls Healthy Women teams up with Boys to Men to offer Raising Healthy Sons and Daughters" --- the program is $15.00 pp and takes place at East Tower LRC (MMC, 22 Bramhall St, Portland) -- register at or call 1-866-609-5183

Monday, October 25, 2010

Around and Around and Around...

Quaker meeting was melancholy, for me, this morning.  I watched the sweet 3 year olds, so many with scrumptiously portruding bellies, snuggle up to Lea, and was shocked to recognize that my own sweet little one was across the circle, fully a much bigger kid with sharp elbows.  My first baby turns 11 on Wednesday.   Jonathan spoke to the importance of our rhythm - that the coming together is predicated on separating and resting, and around, and around.  And then James essentially sang to us - such a warm and nurturing experience - and we got to sing too -- about the aroundness of windmills and life.  I love Quaker meeting, and singing, and fall but sometimes I'm struck by the poignancy of time passing that can not be experienced in the same way by those 14 and under... I do wonder what they make of it.

I think James' rendition of this song (Windmills by Alan Bell)  is acutally much lovelier but I don't have him on youtube...

Voting Guide - Kids and Families

The New England Alliance for Children's Health (NEACH), an initiative of Community Catalyst, in partnership with the Maine Children's Alliance, just released the results of its regional candidate questionnaire on a variety of issues affecting New England's children and families, such as health care, education, and child care. NEACH asked that we forward the results to all of you.  To find out where the Maine candidates stand on issues affecting children and families, please view NEACH's online Voter's Guide at

The Voter's Guide provides biographies and contact information for gubernatorial and Congressional candidates in New England, as well as a tool that allows voters to directly contact campaigns with their opinions about candidates' positions.  In creating and distributing their questionnaire, NEACH partnered with organizations in each New England state.

Please forward this e-mail on to your colleagues, networks, and friends to educate them about where the region's candidates stand on a variety of important issues. Also, please note that NEACH and its partner organizations do not endorse any candidate for office; this voter's guide was created solely as an educational resource.

Thanks, Ana

Ana Hicks
Senior Policy Analyst
MaineEqual Justice Partners
126 Sewall St.
Augusta, ME 04330
(207) 626-7058 ext 210

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Portland Nordic meeting this Tuesday

The kick-off meeting for the Portland Nordic middle schools team will be this Tuesday, October 26 from 6:30 - 7:30 PM at the Lincoln Middle School Library on Stevens Avenue in Portland. Any FSP 6th - 8th grader may participate, regardless of hometown. Practices start after Thanksgiving break and are generally Mondays and Tuesdays after school, with meets on Thursdays. The season runs until February vacation (six weeks of competition) The fee of around $150 - 175 includes all equipment rental, meet fees, a race shirt (to be returned at the end of the season), and one of those way-cool hats. You do not need to purchase any special clothing or gear. Talk to Sinead or Cecilia about how much fun it is. For more info, contact Maya (

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fires in the Mind (and body)

I had another frustrating, rushing, cajoling and threatening (in the gentlest way, of course) attempt to get my kids out the door at 7:30 this morning.  It occurred to me that our action was sheer opposite of Wild Play and I wish for more clarity about how to balance "the things that must be done" with all these great value-driven ideas for freedom, play, joy and community responsibility in our lives. Gotta hope once they got to school, that second part kicked-in.

While they are at school, I finally skimmed "Fires in the Mind" -- a somewhat research based book about how kids understand their own internal motivation and what we can extrapolate about how teens and adults move from finding an interest/passion, sticking with it, developing expertise.  There were many interesting bits although the 2nd half was written more for classroom teachers (I'm passing it on).

One finding that resonated with Sobel's lecture was the importance of an involved caring adult in nurturing the stick-with-it-ness and helping to give (or scaffold the giving of) quality, specific feedback that improved performance without overwhelming or discouraging the learner (perhaps my mistake this morning).  Kids reported learning a lot from watching a person they deemed an "expert" at the activity they were trying to master.

Another overlap with Sobel is the importance of joyful/playful/connected with other people exposure.  Kids reported starting things mainly because they were exposed to fun activities that provided ways to be with people they care about.  We open doors for our kids by sharing with them the activities we love, and that we think they might, by helping them connect with all kinds of people and possible mentors, and by staying playful ourselves.

The author and her colleagues propose a bunch of ideas for schools, ranging from engaging kids to design their own homework and reflect on their own learning style, to completely overhauling how we think about education.  They kindly provide a ton of resources on their web site, including some interesting conversation starters (under "practice project and pdfs from book) that I think could work well with younger children as well as their intended audience of high school students.

They also provide a blog edited with parents in mind and provide a lot of resources for teachers.

The research was funded by an organization called What Kids Can Do

An example:

Get the well formatted pdf here

It Starts with a Spark!
A discussion exercise for adults and youth
Write down something you enjoy doing and want to get better at:

What first got you interested in trying it? Check all the answers that apply, and add your own thoughts on what motivated you. Then share your thoughts with the group.

____ It looked like fun!
____ It seemed like something you could probably do ■ 
____It involved peers you wanted to be with ■ 
____Success didn’t all depend on you ■ 
____No one would be judging you, so the stakes were low
____Someone supported and encouraged you at the start
■ ____They broke it down into steps ■ ____They did it with you ■ ____They praised your small successes ■ ____They showed you how to do better

____The activity had an audience that mattered to you
■ ____At work or school ____Among friends or family ____In a public setting

You had a personal interest in getting good at it
■ ____To express yourself ____To grow into who you want to be ■ ____To feel the pleasure of mastering new challenges

Reprinted by permission from Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery, by Kathleen Cushman and the students of What Kids Can Do. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2008. For more information, go to

Meet Your Farmer Screening Oct 27

Maine Farmland Trust
invites you to be our guests at a pre-screening reception and viewing of
“Meet Your Farmer”

Wednesday, October 27 at One Longfellow Square
181 State Street, Portland

6:00 – 7:00 pre-screening reception
with local fare provided by Aurora Provisions
brief comments by Bill Bell, MFT President will be at 6:30

 Doors open at 7:00 and films will begin at 7:30 followed by Q & A
Bar will be open at 9 after the films

to reserve your complimentary tickets for the films and reception,
RSVP by Oct. 22 to Cate Cronin, MFT 542-2665

3 Cups of Tea in Maine

Greg Mortenson will be speaking at USM @ 7pm on Monday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


OK, so are you catching a bit of a personality thing here? Kim keeps you grounded with peace and reflection and meaningful activities. Anna words things beautifully. My thing is ACTION!! We balance each other pretty nicely, don't you think? So here are two reminders for you:

1. The Outing Club's Harvest Dinner is this Friday (tomorrow!). If you don't have tickets already, please contact Nicole as soon as possible. There may be a couple left, but you can't get them at the door.

2. Nordic Ski meeting for those in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades who want to compete with Portland Nordic is this coming Tuesday at Lincoln Middle School in Portland. FMI, see post below or ask me (Maya).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kim's Reflections on Wild Play

I learned a lot, yesterday, from David Sobel and the teachers and community educators who attended the afternoon workshop.  I'm still processing -- and processing the action postcards, which I'll report on in a couple of weeks.

Some highlights:

Knowledge without love will not stick. But if love comes first, knowledge is sure to follow.  -- John Burroughs

Sobel used this quote as the backbone of his workshop thesis -- too much information is packaged for kids but really is meant for adults (or isn't useful at all) and pushes kids toward either knowing facts in a totally disembodied way or towards being anxious and angry about environmental problems.  Instead of WALL-E we need more camping trips; before learning facts about the consequences of deforestation we need to build fairy houses in the forest. Sobel sited some research that found correlations between "Wild Play" in nature and environmental responsibility, but not between traditional environmental education and stewardship later than life.  He also argued that children's time spent on family activities such as hunting, foraging, camping, etc. were good predictors of adult environmentalism.

Sobel talked quite a bit about time in nature as balm for our spirit.  He cited research indicating less depression and less ADHD among children who get to spend time playing in nature.  He went so far as to say that access to green space is a human right (at least for kids) -- (I'd have loved to have heard him talk more about the environmental justice movement, but I guess that's for another day). He also provided a lot of examples about how "wild play" in the outdoors promotes risk management skills -- that as kids discover what rocks they can successfully climb, what tree branches are safe to swing on, what kinds of ice will hold us when we skate, they begin the lifelong process of learning to assess risk, assess potentials for joy, and weigh those risks and benefits. 

Sobel mentioned a wilderness rites of passage experience that his daughter did with Kroka Expeditions. There is a list of other organizations providing outdoor education specifically for girls here.   Information for boys here.  A google search of "wilderness rites of passage" yields a ton of hits -- interesting to think more about as an FSP community. 

What did you learn? What do you wonder about now? 

 Check out this fully nature based preschool -- the story is here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wild Play-a hit!

Hooray for everyone who attended the Parenting for Peace speaker event this evening. I was wowed when I arrived late and had a hard time finding a place to park. Every seat in Carter Hall was filled. And it was wonderful to see new faces in the audience.

I hope you enjoyed David Sobel's speech. That map of the decreasing space available to children was extremely powerful as was the video of preschool in the woods. He did a great job illustrating how developmental differences call for different kinds of play, problem solving, and risk taking in the natural world.

A huge thank you to the Parenting for Peace committee for all the work they did to prepare for David Sobel. We are all going to take a deep breath, process how things went, and then start planning for Alfie Kohn on May 3, 2011 at USM's Abromson Center.

Monday, October 18, 2010

David Sobel Tuesday Night

I know that it's tough. You leave work, you pick up your kiddo at FSP after-school care, you need to find something for everyone to eat and you look at the clock– 6:30pm. You had been planning to go to the Parenting for Peace event. You are interested in that place-based education stuff that Corie and Nicole talk about. You even told Kim you'd be there. But now there's dinner to make and you forgot to sign up for child care and who's going to miss you anyway?


Make a bunch of PBJ's, or grab a pizza from Ricetta's, get back in the car and come to Mackworth Island. Even though you forgot to sign up for childcare... we still have two trained adults that we're paying to watch your kiddos. The event is free. You will learn about great activities that you can use as you teach your kids about being a strong part of their communities and loving and taking care of the Earth. You will have a greater sense of ownership at FSP when you understand the philosophy of the teachers.

So where are you going to be at 7pm Tuesday night? Carter Hall! Thanks, I'll see you there. Anna

Living Downstream Film (After Sobel III)

The Girl Effect - The Girl Effect

This is a powerful video - content and as an interesting model for using video for social change... curious how it feels to others !
The Girl Effect - The Girl Effect

Out and Allied - Tonight!

Please join us tonight in Russell Hall, Gorham Campus for the first performance of the OUT & ALLIED PROJECT.

All shows: 7:30--come support youth writing during National Ally Week

Mon 10/18, USM Gorham, Russell Hall
Tues 10/19 UNE Biddeford, Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center
Wed 10/20, First Parish Church, Congress St. Portland

A huge cast, new writing, some favorites, and the most terrific evening of celebration about life, love, and acceptance. It's not enough to be aware--what can we all do to help our communities be safe & supportive for all our young people?

Add Verb is thrilled to have this production directed by Dr. Meghan Brodie and feature writing of UNE and USM share the stage with youth from other parts of the US and Canada.

Co-sponsored by Add Verb Productions, USM's Theatre Department and Cultural Affairs Committee, Campus Safety Project, Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, and Women & Gender Studies Program.

Come to USM, UNE or to down town Portland and enjoy the last performance prior to the publishing of the Out & Allied Anthology!

Suitable for middle school and up. Free, though always thankful for donations.

About the project:
What does it mean to be an ally in school? The Out & Allied Project is a dynamic program that centers around teen participants writing performance pieces including short plays, spoken word, and poetry that address issues of cultivating allies among queer and questioning youth. Final pieces receive a staged reading, and may be included in both future performances as well as an anthology of performance pieces on queer and allied issues.

Girl Scouts to help girls watch with saavy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And even more follow-up to David Sobel

Meet Your Farmer
Upcoming Film Screenings in Portland

A crowd of over 350 people delivered a standing ovation to filmmakers Jason Mann and Cecily Pingree, and to the farmer "movie stars," on the evening of the Meet Your Farmer Premier in Rockland. In the weeks after, Maine Farmland Trust received statewide requests to show these eight short documentaries of Maine farms in local theaters.

Meet Your Farmer
Friday, October 22nd
at 8pm
at Maine College of Art
Osher Hall 522 Congress Street

Wednesday, October 27th
at 7pm
One Longfellow Square

Friday, October 15, 2010

After David Sobel...

Longfellow Books : Wednesday, October 20th at 7 pm
author of HOW TO GROW A SCHOOL GARDEN: A Complete Guide for Parents & Teachers

In this groundbreaking resource, two school garden pioneers offer parents, teachers, and school administrators everything they need to know to build school gardens and to develop the programs that support them.

Today both schools and parents have a unique opportunity — and an increasing responsibility — to cultivate an awareness of our finite resources, to reinforce values of environmental stewardship, to help students understand concepts of nutrition and health, and to connect children to the natural world. What better way to do this than by engaging young people, their families, and teachers in the wondrous outdoor classroom that is their very own school garden?

"Finally, it's here: a practical, concise blueprint for funding, building, planting, and maintaining a school garden. Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Pringle are veterans of the outdoor classroom, and so they know best how to nurture a child's inner gardener. How to Grow a School Garden should be required reading for any teacher or parent who truly cares about raising a new generation of healthy eaters." 

--Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer
Reclaiming a piece of neglected play yard and transforming it into an ecologically rich school garden is among the most beneficial activities that parents, teachers and children can undertake together. This book provides all the tools that the school community needs to build a productive and engaging school garden that will continue to inspire and nurture students and families for years to come.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boston Book Festival on Saturday

blessing of a b-

After posting about parenting for dark times, I thought I should offer this 'on the other hand' from Wendy Mogel.  My bookclub read Blessing of a Skinned Knee and it was a great intro into the "free range parenting" world, but with a spiritual edge.  I'm looking forward to Blessing of a B-  (NYT review here) aimed at parents of teens, since parent-directed-parenting morphs into something slightly more chaotic and child-directed, I think, as kids become young adults themselves. 

Support FSP's Parenting for Peace Series- Tues October 19th

Hi -- Just a reminder about David Sobel's visit to Portland next Tuesday, as part of the Friends School of Portland's Parenting for Peace project.  If you haven't registered for the workshop and/or for childcare for the free public lecture, please try to do so by Friday so that we can have an accurate head count for supper!

Also, here are a few links that might be of interest for teachers or parents: 

Eco-Reading :  An Annotated Bibliography of books about the environment for children and teens

Promise of Place :  a Center for Place-Based Learning and a resource with many links (under curriculum & planning

Center for EcoLiteracy -- an umbrella organization working on providing resources for schools

A few lists of Maine books for children :   from MaineReads, from Read/React/Reviewbook awards for Maine children's book authors, and Curious City (a blog with all kinds of info about special events that include children's lit). 

Thanks for sharing this as broadly as possible!   Kim 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Armageddon Mama

I adore BrainChild Magazine -- a perfect new baby present if you ever need a novel gift idea -- but this article just completely spoke to me / kept me up at night.  Part review of McKibbon's new book Eaarth, part testimony to the complexity of parenting through the ages, and part meditation on 21st Century skills, it would be a great discussion piece... now all we need is a regular soiree!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Middle Schoolers: Time for Portland Nordic!

The kick-off meeting for the Portland Nordic middle schools team will be Tuesday, October 26 from 6:30 - 7:30 PM at the Lincoln Middle School Library on Stevens Avenue in Portland. Any FSP 6th - 8th grader may participate, regardless of hometown. Practices start after Thanksgiving break and are generally Mondays and Tuesdays after school, with meets on Thursdays. The season runs until February vacation (six weeks of competition) The fee of around $150 - 175 includes all equipment rental, meet fees, a race shirt (to be returned at the end of the season), and one of those way-cool hats. You do not need to purchase any special clothing or gear. Talk to Sinead or Cecilia about how much fun it is. For more info, contact Maya (

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where to get new book ideas

We've posted a ton of links over the past years... here's my attempt to pull some of them into 1 post -- I'lll add it to the "oft-linked posts" page above.

Amelia Bloomer Project --  Feminist Literature for Birth to Grade 8

American Indians in Children's Literature - a critical resource and blog

Books to help children talk about homelessness-- could be esp interesting for the 1/2/3/4 work with habitat for Humanity

Born to Read -- Book lists from the Maine Humanities Foundation, with monthly themes as well as longer "peaceable stories" and "Many Voices" lists

Chinaberry - a catalog of well chosen children's books, often with a spiritual tilt.

Cooperative Children's Book Center -- thematic book lists and weekly reviews of new books

Cornerstones of Science - Book recommendations  for children, teens and adults on science related topics

Curious City - Kirsten Cappy's blog with many references to Maine Children's Books and book events

CYBILS -- Award lists from children's book bloggers

Good Books - Links to Various book awards for Maine Authors

Jane Adams Peace Society Children's Book Awards -- books that explore peacemaking

Learning to Give - a site with books and lesson plans for instilling philanthropic values in children
Add your ideas on the comments and I'll incorporate them in!

Lee and Low - a publisher of multicultural children's books

Raising Readers -- tips and lists of Maine children's book authors as well as lists for special topics, including dealing with grief, separation and loss, and nutrition.

Quaker Books for children -- a store front and guide to books that introduce Quaker principles to children

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prevention, Action, Change

Violence Prevention & Self Defense for Parents
Sunday Oct. 24th 2 to 5pm
@ Full Circle Synergy – 500 Forest Ave. Portland
Sliding Fee: $25 to $45/person

·        Raise your awareness and gain verbal and physical protection skills
·        Learn about risks to children and how to talk about them with your child
·        Gain safety tips and resources for your family

Presented by: Prevention. Action. Change
For more information & to register visit or call (207) 232-0484.

Self Defense for Mothers and Daughters
Sunday 11/14
1:00-5:00 PM
Pond Cove Elementary School, Cape Elizabeth

Cost $58

Participants will gain verbal and physical skills that will help them improve relationships and learn to assess, reduce, and address potential risks. This class is both serious and fun. Through activities, games, and drills, mothers and daughters will explore issues, share safety tips, and become stronger and more confident in their abilities to address a range of situations at school, home, the work place, in social settings,and out and about.

Sponsored by: Cape Elizabeth Community Education
To register online visit

Island Time & Service Opportunity - From RIPPLEEFFECT

Cow Island Clean-up October 16 & 23, 2010

October 5, 2010

Dear Friends,

 Join us in one of the last days on Cow island!  It's time for our end-of-season clean-up of the island on October 16 & 23, 2010. We need volunteers to help us plant trees, put away the summer equipment, tidy up the trails and gardens, and prepare for the changing seasons.

To participate, take the 10:00am Casco Bay Ferries to Diamond Cove and meet our staff to be transported out to Cow Island by Rippleffect boats.  There will be multiple opportunities to return after lunch with the latest return ferry at 4:15pm from Diamond Cove.  Bring a lunch, beverages and snacks will be provided.

If you are able to join us please call the office  at 207-791-7870 or email us at to sign-up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Smart but Scattered...

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Reminder about the After School program on Monday’s during the month of November.
“Work & Life Explorations” – for kids in grades 5-8.
Two Questions for you:  (1)  Are your kid(s) likely to participate in this program?  I need an estimate of how many kids will do it.  (2) Are you willing to give a presentation?
Background:  The academic and extra-curricular choices that kids make during teenage years will have an impact on their future careers. Unfortunately, kids often have only a vague idea about work qualifications and activities that working adults do during the day.  This after-school program is for the middle-school kids (5th-8th grade), and we will have a select group of parents come to school to talk about (1) our work dreams and desires when we were kids, (2) how this influenced our high school and college choices, and (3) our first jobs and/or their current work. We may have field-trips to visit various places of work or have a slide show with images about our backgrounds and our current work.  Ideas include architecture, medical professions, entrepreneurship, research scientist, artist, etc. 
Do you have a job/profession that might be interesting to showcase?  If we don’t have a full schedule with exciting demos from you, my presentation would be a 10-15 minute talk with powerpoint photos of the various interesting places I’ve worked and some of the souvenirs that I brought home.

The program meshes nicely with the ancestry discussion in the 7/8 class – what did our ancestors do for work, and how did their family circumstances influence what job choices they had as adults?

Possible speakers as of right now:
            Michael Eng – medical community
            Jill Eng – arts community (dance, acting, theater)
            Brian Farm – biologist / field researcher
            Eric Howard – meeting organizer / facilitator

If the group goes off island, we may also need volunteer drivers for the days when the group goes off-island. 

Connection between Education and ending Poverty

LearningWorks is extremely proud to be hosting our second Community Conversations, focused on the role of education in ending generational poverty. Please join us on Monday, October 25 for a panel discussion with three distinguished education experts: Maine Commissioner of Education Angela Faherty, University of Maine System Chancellor Richard Pattenaude, and Glenn Cummings, former Speaker of the Maine House and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration.

To register, email or call 775-0105 x122. For more information, click here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Smart but Scattered workshop

Bethany reminded me of an exciting workshop coming up soon on executive dysfunction at school and at home. It's called Smart but Scattered. Sound like someone you know? You should definitely check it out. It's all about the organizational piece that keeps many bright kids from settling in to school routines and getting things done. You can expect a lot of good ideas to take home and share with teachers and caregivers. Don't be put off by the listed price. There is a special parent rate of $100 (and it includes lunch at the Harraseeket Inn!). Bethany sent this along with a lovely graphic, but as usual, I can't get it to behave when it uploads.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Education Reform

Wednesday, October 13th, at 7:30 pm
in the Muskie Archives
the Harward Center for Community Partnerships,
in cooperation with the Bates Department of Education, 
will sponsor a panel entitled,
 “Wrestling with School Reform in Maine:
National Strategies, Local Realities.”

The panel will involve presentations and an open discussion with people who will offer different perspectives on educational reform in our community, in Maine and beyond. Panelists will include: Glenn Cummings, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education; Norm Fruchter, Senior Policy Analyst, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University; Leon Levesque, Superintendent of the Lewiston Public School System; and Joan Macri, Associate Director of LearningWorks at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

No reservation is required, but seating is limited

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soccer - October 5th - Come Cheer!

The Friends School soccer team will play their first soccer game Tuesday,
October 5th with the Breakwater School. We will host the Breakwater kids
for two games on the same afternoon. The K-2 game will begin at
3:35pm(exact time will depend on Breakwaters arrival) and last 20 minutes.
Grades 3-8 will begin their game around 4pm and play two 20 minute halves.

Movie night - where are the girl characters?

From the Geena Davis Institute:
 Female characters remain a rare element in family films

A look at popular family-focused films, such as "Finding Nemo" and "Toy Story," reveals that while animals and talking toys are plentiful when it comes to characters, strong female roles are not as prevalent. A recent study from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California revealed just 29.2% of characters were female in a review of 122 family films. The study was commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which collects data on women in film. Studies have found that when it comes to family films, 17% of animators are female, 17% of movie narrators are female, and women account for 17% of people in crowd scenes, says Geena Davis. Newsweek (9/22)

Monday, October 4, 2010

May There Always Be Sunshine

Anna led a beautiful rendition of "May There Always Be Sunshine" after Quaker meeting today, with signs and in Russian.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Scholars or Makers?

Here's a thought-provoking article called School for Hackers from The Atlantic that explores both alternatives and supplements to modern education.

Most schools offer a variety of afterschool recreational activities, as well as scattered experiential activities within the school day, and yet they remain activities rather than a thoughtful and accepted method of coming to the learning itself. The 'makers' in our lives still find themselves searching elsewhere for hands-on learning as they experience 'lagging executive skills' in their schoolwork. Are their organizational and sequencing skills deficits actually a problem if we allow these non-linear thinkers to apply them in a different scenario? Are the results invalid if kids arrive at them differently? Or is it just because circuitous learning makes the students difficult to track through standardized testing? There is no doubt that most of us consider seemingly indirect paths to learning to be inefficient; certainly they take more patience to monitor. But what are the efficient people missing along the way?

Are there ways to put more emphasis on multisensory, project-based, extended learning experiences for kids who operate that way, without having it be 'shop' or 'voc ed' or some other low-expectations track? Does learning differently necessarily mean learning less?

Please, please weigh in on this! These are the kinds of issues that keep me awake at night.

Book Talk Tuesdays & A Peaks Island Book Event!

On Tuesday, October 5th at lunch time I (Anna) will be hosting the first in a series of weekly "Book Talk Tuesdays" in my classroom for students in grades 5-8. The sessions will be informal. My thought is that folks can bring the books they are reading and give the group a quick review. If others in the group have had experience with the book, they are welcome to chime in as well. I'm hoping this will provide students with a place to chat about books they love and hate, get new book suggestions, and find out about book events and books that are just being published.

Speaking of book events...

The new poetry book NEST, NOOK, & CRANNY for children and adults illustrated by Peaks Island artist, Jamie Hogan will be celebrated with a series of nature walks on Peaks Island on Saturday October 16th from 10:00 AM ­ 3:00 PM.

The walks, led by the Peaks Island Land Preserve, will feature poems from the book dotted throughout the woods and along the shoreline. The walks will step off from the Gem Gallery at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM.

Illustrator Jamie Hogan will be signing books at the Gem where the original illustrations from the book will be on exhibit and prints will be for sale. A portion of sales will benefit the Peaks Island Land Preserve.


Saturday, October 16th, 2010

10:00 AM ­ 3:00 PM

(Nature Walks at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM)

Gem Gallery

62 Island Ave, Peaks Island, ME

(2 minute walk from the Ferry Terminal)

Info: Curious City, 207-699-2755

All Ages

Steingraber's back in Maine

If you missed her last spring, she'll be speaking at Bates next week!

 Sandra Steingraber, author of "Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks At Cancer And The Environment" and "Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey To Motherhood" will visit campus on Monday, October 4 to deliver this year's Otis Lecture.

The lecture will be held in the Olin Concert Hall at 7:30 pm.  It is free but a ticket is required and can be reserved by calling 207-786-6135 or via email:

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands/Maine Forest Service Fall Foliage Hikes
The beauty of Maine's fall foliage will be highlighted in the next few weeks with seven fall foliage events--including six hikes and a river paddle--presented by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Maine Forest Service.

Events will be led by both a BPL park manager/ranger and a MFS district forester. This year's series of hikes will range from easy to moderate difficulty. New this year is the inclusion of hikes at two public reserve land units, which should give participants an experience of these multi-use, wilderness areas managed by BPL.

The paddle will take place at the BPL's newest park, the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, north of the Lewiston-Auburn area and is sponsored by the Androscoggin Land Trust.

Hikers should wear sturdy, appropriate footwear, with enclosed toes, and comfortable clothing, preferably worn in layers. Paddlers will need to bring their own boats, life vests, and gear. Participants should bring cameras, binoculars, snacks and water. The BPL and MFS especially thank Poland Spring for donating bottled water for this program.

The events will take place:
10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 2, Mt. Blue State Park, Weld;
10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Sebago Lake State Park, Casco;
10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Bald Mountain Public Reserve Land, Franklin County;
10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Freeport;
10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, Turner;
10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 9, Shackford Head State Park, Eastport;
1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10, Camden Hills State Park, Camden.
For more specific information about the hikes/paddle, including difficulty and meeting places, go to:  Or call, Melissa Macaluso, BPL, at (207) 287-4960.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Classrooms with a Conscience

Would anyone be interested in attending this?

Classrooms with a Conscience

A day-long ethics conference for public and independent school teachers of high school and middle school students

In our classrooms, can we raise issues of identity, morality and cultural diversity?  Can we ask students: “Who am I?”  Who are you?”  “Who are we?”  Can we teach students first, and subjects second — emphasizing both morality and achievement?

After keynote address by Author James Carroll, ten exciting seminars propose many ways to teach ethics in the classroom.

Find out more: conference schedule and seminar leaders
Thursday October 7, 2010
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts
Co-sponsored by Milton Academy and Facing History and Ourselves

Open to teachers of all subjects, administrators, coaches, professional staff, parents and community leaders. Lunch will be provided. PDP’s are available.

Educator rate: $75 (teachers, administrators, staff)
Group rate: $65 each (3 or more)
Community rate: $100 (parents, community leaders)

Pre-register by September 27 at
Keynote Address
“Conscience, Classroom, Class, and Contempt”
Keynote speaker James Carroll is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, columnist for The Boston Globe, regular contributor to The Daily Beast.  James Carroll’s American Requiem won the National Book Award. His landmark book on Christian anti-Semitism, Constantine's Sword, is among his several national bestsellers and was adapted for a feature length documentary. His newest work Jerusalem, Jerusalem: The Ancient City that Ignited Our Modern World is due to be released in March 2011. Issues of prejudice and discrimination, as well as those of nuclear threat,  disarmament, and peacemaking have coursed through Mr. Carroll’s life’s work. He has been a fellow at both the Kennedy School and the Divinity School at Harvard University, and is now distinguished scholar in residence at Suffolk University.

Fwd: TEDx in Maine


Click on image for details and to attend

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Internet Safety

Common Sense Media, the folks who do the down and dirty movie reviews for Netflix, have a series of articles on teaching your children internet safety. The latest is an article on whether you need web-tracking software. An interesting series of comments follows, debating whether using this software is justified or just plain spying. Where do you stand on this? Would it be good to have a guest in to speak frankly on internet safety for one of the Body/Mind/Spirit classes? Leave your comment below to weigh in! It's always interesting to know how others handle parenting as their kids become teens.

Instrumental music classes

Any student in grades 4 - 8 may take instrumental music classes at FSP, and more than 50% of eligible students have already signed up! Beginner Strings and Beginner Band happen during 2nd recess on Mondays, while Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble (for those with a year or more experience on their band or string instrument) are during 2nd recess on Fridays. There is no cost to parents for the instruction. However, parents are responsible for renting or buying an appropriate instrument and a book or two. FMI contact Christina ( Classes started this week, but she's still taking students.

More for the 5/6 Social Studies Project

I'm not usually a big reader of historical fiction, but my bookclub chose The Physik Book of Deliverance Dame (about Salem and witches and mothers and daughters) and it was perfect for me, as the prelude to the 5/6 social studies project.  I find questions about memory, about storytelling, and about the historical canon fascinating.  I think Grace does too, but of course her sense of "history" is just emerging, which is fascinating in and of itself.

November 27th has been deemed the National Day of Listening by StoryCorp and NPR - an opportunity to record some of the unique stories that emerge from the 5/6 social studies project... and if all this piques curiosity enough, PBS has an interesting site about American Families including an online family tree that allows relatives to all contribute to a shared site. 

I just read a review of Patricia Reilly Giff's new book The Storyteller, and immediately interlibrary loaned it for Grace.  It seems right up the ally of the 5/6 social studies project and I know she has enjoyed other books by Giff.  Here is a review from the 4th Musketeer blog (which has other reviews of historical literature for kids, as well), and from RandomHouse's web page: 

View the Teachers Guide!
Buy this book online.

Juvenile Fiction - Social Situations - Friendship Wendy Lamb Books | Hardcover | September 2010 | $ 15.99 | 978-0-375-83888-0 (0-375-83888-0)
About the Book

A story of the American Revolution from two-time Newbery Honor–winning author Patricia Reilly Giff.

While staying with her aunt, Elizabeth finds something remarkable: a drawing. It hangs on the wall, a portrait of her ancestor, Eliza, known as Zee. She looks like Elizabeth.
The girls’ lives intertwine as Elizabeth’s present-day story alternates with Zee’s, which takes place during the American Revolution. Zee is dreamy, and hopeful for the future—until the Revolution tears apart her family and her community in upstate New York. Left on her own, she struggles to survive and to follow her father and brother into battle.

Zee’s story has been waiting to be rediscovered by the right person. As Elizabeth learns about Zee, and walks where Zee once walked and battles raged, the past becomes as vivid and real as the present.

In this beautifully crafted, affecting novel from beloved author Patricia Reilly Giff, the lives of two girls reflect one another as each finds her own inner strengths. 

What books get you thinking about the connection between family and history?