In a snap, the season of holidays popped up in late fall. At this time of festivities and visitors, we in the BWS library chose to focus our gratitude for the nature outside our windows and the people who lived on the school grounds long before we arrived. Appreciation!
Who Lives in Oxon Run?
The youngest among us can be researchers. Kindergartners are studying all 5 senses. Along with 1st and 2nd grades, they were encouraged to use their ears and eyes just like birds do to know exactly where they are and where they are going. We introduced many types of birds through our nonfiction collection. Some they could read and some they could learn from the captioned pictures. Stories about owls and cardinals held a special fascination.
After sharing a photo of a deer that I saw just 20 yards from the school building, the scholars had many questions about how that deer or squirrel or sparrow could live there all year. Curiosity about who lives with us in the woods prompted more interest in care for their environment. Each little book strengthened their connection to nature. We connected that to our Harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving. Native Americans used animals in their folklore and religion stories to explain how the world began and how certain animals had spiritual powers. The scholars particularly liked the story of the boy who turns himself into a Raven who then steals the sun to bring light to the world.
After hearing and reading many Native American tales, Third Graders decorated our forest wall with detailed birds giving Tweets of Gratitude for nature, including appreciation for the chicken who gave us great fried chicken.
Who Lived near Oxon Run Long Ago?
The Upper Primary grades were challenged to imagine living in the woods outside our windows. Then we introduced the history of the indigenous people of North America who lived on this continent for more than 20,000 years. In the Library, we spent the month of November studying all we could about the lifestyles and legends of various tribal nations.
Then we zeroed in on the Powhatan natives along the Potomac and the Nacotchtank who had their main village where the Anacostia River meets the Potomac. Our scholars discovered that Oxon Run was a major hunting ground-right outside our windows. Our
nonfiction collection provided the history and folklore tales. A highlight was learning about how every part of the deer was used. The skin and sinew wrapped around a log created a drum. A Cherokee folktale described the origin of day and night, the stars and the sun. We followed up with books on the Solar System
During the election season, the 5th grade learned how women fought for the right to vote by looking at the Suffrage Movement. They also got the real story of how Thanksgiving became a holiday and exactly what happened on that first Thanksgiving from the book The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower. We ended the month by reading a speech by Chief Seattle imploring Congress to care for Mother Earth, especially the Northwestern land he was giving over to the Federal Government.
A Time for Visitors and Celebrations
Our BWS Library continues to be the hub of the school, whether we are lifting the spirit of the community, blending the ages for a good story or welcoming one of the very best children’s book authors in the country.
Bishop Marianne consecrated a new handmade alter for BWS. A carved statue representing the world being held up reflects the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. We sang and raised up this addition to the Worship space in the center of the building. Illustrated books with Spirituals filled the display space.
December opened with a bang: As Mr. Molina was reading from Crossover, the author Kwame Alexander jumped out of the conference room to surprise the 3-5 grades. He read verse, prose and played games with an adoring audience. Pure Joy!
Kings Community time now includes Book Buddies-a time when older boys read stories to their younger BWS brothers. We’re happy to see the Library books finding cozy corner all over the Campus.
Christmas themes filled the month. First we compared and contrasted various renditions of The Gingerbread Man. Although the refrain of Run, Run As fast as You Can… remained constant, the settings ranged from New York City to the Wild West to a Fire Station. This challenge helped all ages concentrate on the fine details of the story.
We did the same with Santa stories. Finally, we got to the Real Christmas Story and examined many different ways of showing the Holy Land and the people in it. Sometimes it looked like Jesus was born in England! And our scholars noticed. In the end, they learned to look for the Star.
During these months, we realized our bounty. Book donations keep coming. We have a special Wish List on Amazon: BWSLibraryWishList@Amazon.com.
The Nature around us gives us hope. And the scholars at BWS keep us all young and curious. We feel so blessed.