Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the Playful -- March 12 @ PPL


Book Launched with
a Live Bug Zoo!

Saturday, 3/12/11
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM (ongoing)
Live Bug Zoo at 1:30 PM
Portland Public Library
Rines Auditorium
5 Monument Square
Portland, Maine 04101
Info: Curious City, 207-420-1126
Maine children’s book author, Gail Donovan will release her new middle grade novel, What’s Bugging Bailey Blecker? on March 12th, 2011 with an event at the Portland Public Library.  The humorous novel features fifth-grader Bailey Blecker whose classroom has been attacked by an all too common problem–head lice.

The book will be launched with a family event featuring all sorts of bugs, but fortunately no lice.  Children ages 5-12 are welcome to experience the Live Bug Zoo with naturalist, Tony Sohn at 1:30 PM and enjoy bug games, giveaways, and goodies ongoing from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.  Books will be for sale and author Gail Donovan will be on hand to autograph them.

The Political : Charter Schools & Pell Grants

Ken Jones, an Ed. professor @ USM, has a strongly worded op-ed in the PPH regarding charter schools and why they are a bad idea in Maine.  Since my family chooses an independent school, I feel nervous about opposing charter schools, yet the argument he puts forward is compelling. I believe in the importance of a strong public school system, would like to see it better funded and would like to see the negative elements of NCLB rescinded, and am glad to still pay my share of taxes for our public school despite choosing FSP.  And still, I'm really grateful to have FSP to choose and I know that choice isn't available to everyone.  What do others think?

Maine Charter Schools is organizing FOR them the Maine Education Association AGAINST.
And, for those who saw RTN, one of the driving forces behind HS stress seemed to be the cost of college. It is concerning to me, then, that the proposed Federal Budget from the House reduces the maximum individual Pell Grants by 15% (and also cuts a further $56 billion from the program over 10 years, asking that individual grants be reduced while college costs continue to rise).  The proposed budget also makes deep cuts in Head Start and Title I programs -- read more at the NYT

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pizza & Planetary Protection

Maine Interfaith Power & Light is hosting a fundraiser @ Flatbread, 2/22  5pm onward.. raffle, local music & More

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vacation Fun at Pineland

Are you looking for some fun activities to do with your family this February Vacation?  Pineland Farms would love for you to come and spend the day with us!  Our sledding hill, skating pond and fire pits are open to the public and are always free!  Come spend the morning doing a family program, have lunch at The Market and Welcome Center and spend the afternoon skating and sledding.
Below is a list of the Family Programs running this vacation week.
*All of our programs meet at the Smokehouse on the Valley Farm (unless otherwise noted) and include a story, craft, outdoor activity and a 10% off coupon for The Market and Welcome Center.

Friday on the Farm:  Friday, February 18 from 10-11:30 a.m.
Come explore our farm, we will meet our animals, tour the barns, sit on tractors and have fun filled day farming! $5.00 pp

Snowshoe adventure:  Tuesday February 22nd 10-11:00 a.m.
Strap on your snow shoes or rent a pair of ours as we explore our snowshoe trails.  We will look for tracks, scat and animal signs, hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife. (Meet at the Outdoor Center) $5.00 pp

Snow Splash Book Bash:  Tuesday February 22nd 11 – 1:00 p.m.
Come meet the authors and illustrators of four new children’s books; Katie Clark, Robin Hansen, Karel Hayes, Jamie Hogan, Amy Huntington and Lynn Plourde, who will read their stories, sign books and teach fun crafts. Free (Meet at The Market and Welcome Center)

Sparks Ark: Wednesday February 23rd 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Come make some new wild friends with Sparks Ark wildlife rehabilitation center. We will talk about how to interact with our wild friends safely and get a chance to meet some wildlife up close. $5.00 pp

Butter Making: Wednesday February 23rd 1:30 – 3 p.m.
Come learn about the butter making process and the animals that give us the milk to make it. $5.00 pp

Feathered Friends: Thursday February 24th 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Let’s meet our Organic Golden Comet Chickens and learn how care for them and the products they give us. $5.00 pp

Friday Night Skating Party:  Friday February 25th
Come join our skating party complete with music and complimentary cookies and hot chocolate. Free (Meet at the skating pond)

I look forward to seeing you this fun filled vacation week! 

Take care,
Paula Letiecq
Family Program Coordinator
110 Valley Farm Road
New Gloucester, Maine
207.926.3913 - office
207.650.3031 - cell

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vacation Reading List

As we head toward vacation week, don't forget that there's a Book Lists tab at the top of this blog! Feel free to add to them in the comments sections.

And another Race to Nowhere Showing

At Cumberland Congregational Church, March 1, 7pm 

Nordic Ski State Meet this Saturday

Looking for a great, outdoorsy way to start your vacation week? This Saturday, at Starks Hill in Fryeburg, is the middle school state meet for our nordic skiers. The first race, boys' skate, starts at 9:00, followed by the girls' skate start. There will be an optional fun race at lunchtime, followed by the boys' and girls' skate starts. Awards for the day and season will be presented at 2:30.

The day promises to be sunny and warm, just like last year. There's a very fun atmosphere at the state meet, so bring your noisemakers and good attitudes to cheer on Portland Nordic's skiers, who include Sinead, Violet, Tristram, and Cecilia.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Update on FSP Auction

The FSP auction planning committee met on Wednesday, February 9th. We had a small group in attendance and we made good progress on planning the 5th Annual Silent Auction Brunch. Jennifer Cummings (Board Member and co-chair of the auction committee) and I have been happy with the willingness of the FSP community to be involved with the planning and the number of individuals that plan to volunteer to "work" the event on Saturday, March 26th.
The most important activity to do at this time is the solicitation of donations. As a community, we still need to solicit about $40,000 of donations. This is necessary if we are going to reach our goal of $24,000 gross revenue. Please contribute items to the auction and help solicit additional items from friends, relatives and businesses. All donations need to be submitted by Friday, March 11th to provide the auction committee with enough time to organize the donations in advance of the event.
Please contact me if you have any questions about the FSP auction. My e-mail is My home phone is 865-1057.
Thank You & Best Regards,
David Roussel
Auction Committe Co-Chair
(Pre-school parent - Erica)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Read Alouds

Audra and I were talking about great read-aloud books and I offered to start a thread - use the comments to share your best recommendations for books to order from the library in time for Feb. break...

(Kate and I just started The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin and Craig and Grace are reading Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater.  I just finished Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and Craig last read a Tale of Two Cities of all things).

If your skin color were a food, what would it be?

 Today in the 1/2 we read Karen Katz's beautifully illustrated book The Color of Us, and Mem Fox's also gorgeous Whoever You Are.  The themes of the book are simple and straightforward, perfect for 6 and 7 year olds, but unfortunately my own thinking leans toward the abstract, the complicated, and the gray.  The Color of Us gives kids an opportunity to talk out loud about skin color and the differences among us that they notice. Every hue is described in the text as a wonderful food -- every color is appreciated by Katz. We used it to talk about how we're all different, but the truth was that there are also a lot of similarities among some of us so it felt slightly contrived and made me wish that I lived in a more integrated place.  Whoever You Are expands on the theme, noting with lovely pictures that the ways we are different -- our use of land, our clothes, our language -- are important to us, but also "our hearts are the same, our smiles are the same, our hurts are the same, our blood is the same...".    I believe that race is both real and not real, a figment but with deep historical and contemporary meaning -- what sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant call a "necessary fiction" --- I'm struggling with how to translate that into 6 year old speak.  Regardless, the kids are so enthusiastic and called my hands peachy and books are wonderful gateways to all kinds of thinking, conversation, and connection.  Their "homework" is to learn more about where their ancestors immigrated from and how their particular skin color may come from.

I may have posted this earlier, but there is an interesting looking exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science on Race - it comes out of the American Anthropological Association's online project Understanding Race which is definitely fascinating to explore. Maybe someone will put tickets in the auction, or organize a field trip...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Big Red Lollipop

Big Red LollipopOn Tuesday I had the chance to read  Big Red Lollipop in the 1/2 class.  - this book has 2 narrative levels plus scrumptious pictures.  One dimension of the story is about how we can swallow our desire for revenge (on a sibling, in this case) and be an ally to someone; the second level is about immigration and the experience of entering a new community with different norms, expectations, etc. than one's family of origin. 

The conversation went in a bunch of directions.  We tried to guess where the characters might have moved from -- one student suggested Africa which led to an excellent conversation about continents, countries and how we might learn about someone's heritage (get to know them).  The author was born in Pakistan but she does not specifically name the families ethnicity in the book.  (One of the discussion questions recommended in the teacher's guide is "how do you know the family is from Pakistan -- it reflects my cultural ignorance that I can't fully answer that question - names, clothes, etc. are clues).  That said, I think the book does a lovely job being about sisterhood-everywhere and about a particular experience of being new to North America (the author is Canadian) or at least feeling different than the norm - could be a good prompt for talking about generation gaps in general.   The mother wears a Shalwar Kameez that caught some kids attention -worth talking more about. 

The book also prompted interest in how birthdays are celebrated around the world.   I haven't vetted these web sites, but here are a few that purport to share ideas about how birthday traditions have come to be :  / an interactive children's museum exhibit about birthdays.  I also ordered the book Birthdays Around the World from the library for them.

Finally, kids reflected on and some shared times that they stuck their neck out for a friend or sibling, even if it wasn't easy or in their immediate interest.  I love how honest and caring 6, 7, 8 year olds are.  We've all had our greedy moments, all had our generous ones.  As a sister myself, and the mother of sisters, I hope to nurture the possibilities for forgiveness, redemption, and alliance between my girls that is reflected in the text.

Big Red Lollipop recently won the Charlotte Zolotow award for picture books -- there is now a copy in the 1/2 but it might be worth a spot in home libraries as well!

Love Rally & Organic Food

This afternoon there is a public hearing in South Portland, 3 - 6, on LD1, the Governor's 63-point proposal for scaling back environmental regulation in Maine. 

Another hearing has been set for Monday, and since it is Valentine's day and all, some political mamas (and others) are sponsoring a LOVE RALLY.   What do you love about Maine?  What do your kids love? Make LOVE NOTES for the Governor or your representative... more info from MOFGA:

"Love ME" Rally At The State House! Please come to a rally in Augusta on Valentine's Day to oppose Governor LePage's anti-environment agenda. LePage has released a set of proposed regulatory roll-backs (LD 1) that would eliminate or dramatically weaken a broad range of laws meant to protect the Maine environment and the health of Maine people. The Legislature's new Regulatory Fairness and Reform Committee will hold a final public hearing on LePage's LD 1 Concept Draft on Monday, February 14th, beginning at 9:00 a.m., in Room 208 of the Cross State Office Building next to the Capitol in Augusta. Please join MOFGA and dozens of other environmental and public health organizations as we tell the Committee that Maine's economy can only be as healthy as its environment and its people. See Phase I of Governor LePage's Regulatory Reform Proposal.
And, in other disheartening news, Whole Foods and Stonyfield (and others) have apparently decided to stop fighting Monstano... another good reason to support our CSAs, I guess.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creative Auction Idea spot

Use the comments to come up with great suggestions for auction items!

When:  Saturday, March 26, 2010 ~ 10:00am - 2:00pm

Where: Baxter School gymnasium (same location as last year)

Details: Once again, this event will be free-of charge, with free childcare and entertainment


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Let it Snow!

This Thursday's nordic ski race will be at Twin Brook Recreation Area, on Tuttle Road in Cumberland. It's only ten minutes from school. The races will be skate-style, which makes things fast and exciting, and the fresh snow will make them work for it. Boys start first this week, with waves starting every 30 seconds beginning at 3:30. The girls start soon after the last boys. The fastest skiers will take about twelve minutes to finish.

Bring the kids and come cheer for Tristram, Sinéad, Violet, and Cecilia as they put forth their best effort for Portland Nordic. It would be especially interesting to see some fifth graders out in the crowd - they can join the team next year.

Another Race to Nowhere Showing

See it in style @ the Frontier in Brunswick

FILM | Race To Nowhere
 The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture

Mon Feb 7 | 5pm 7pm | $8
Tues Feb 8 | 5pm 7pm | $8
Weds Feb 9 | 5pm 7pm | $8

Presented by Frontier and Chewonki Foundation
Featuring the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren't developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what's best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Race to Nowhere is a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.

In a grassroots sensation already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community screenings during a six month campaign to screen the film nationwide. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change.