K-5th grade Farm to Classroom: During the month of December, we participated in two baking projects featuring local ingredients. The first project was making applesauce using an abundance of apples grown here on Orcas Island. Miss Mandy's mother was able to join us as a guest chef and teach us how to use an apple peeler safely. Every student was able to use the apple peeler, add their chopped apple to the new batch of applesauce, and enjoy a bowl of warm applesauce.
The following week, we made pumpkin bread using pumpkins from our school garden and the delicious batch of applesauce from the week prior. Each table contributed to the multiple steps in baking: measuring and mixing dry ingredients, measuring and mixing wet ingredients, combining the two until the desired consistency is reached, pouring the mixture into the baking dish and reading the clock identify when the bread will be pulled from the oven.
After returning to the classroom from winter break, we gathered in a circle to discuss and practice mindfulness and gratitude. We shared stories of gratitude and growth in the garden, made time to think about what makes us, a friend, or a family member most happy, and write on soothing stones our positive intentions. We began a rice water experiment, watched water vibrate in the singing bowl, and practiced diaphragmatic breathing while learning about the calming effects of lavender.
With the winter flu zipping around the island, we learned about good and bad germs and how our bodies respond to both. We talked about exercise, vitamin D, getting sunlight and time outdoors, drinking tea, getting more sleep, and washing your hands. To encourage the bad germs to stay away, we made an all natural hand sanitizer! We combined witch hazel, vinegar, aloe vera and essential oils to make a safe blend we could use throughout the school year. To gain a greater understanding of how certain plants and flowers are transformed into essential oils, we watched a quick video on the distillation process.
Our last class of the month was focused on nourishing your skin during the winter months. So, we we got to make lip balm! We used Calendula oil, from our garden flowers, and a blend of beeswax and essential oils for a soothing remedy. Our Island friends Eliza and Chris Morris of Island Thyme Botanical Bodycare graciously donated 200 lip balm tubes for this fun project! After learning about the healing properties of Calendula, melting down the ingredients, and pouring the balm into the tubes, we each made a custom label for our creation.
6-8th Grade Exploratory: After having the opportunity to shear sheep, card the wool, and spin the wool, our next step in the process was to knit, weave, and felt. Under the guidance of Jennifer Pietch and Amy Lum, we were able to try all three crafts before selecting our favorite. Some of us used colorful felt to create felt balls with abstract designs. Others stuck with a solid color of yarn and began to knit a small headband. Some of us were more advanced knitters taking the time to teach others the craft, while managing to combine multiple colors of yarn into various knitting patterns. The group of weavers moved their threads of yarn quickly yet thoughtfully through their mini loom creating mesmerizing patterns.
During the final class of the month, we covered dyeing natural fibers. With an array of colors to choose from, we each grabbed a bundle of white yarn, soaked it in warm water, and added it to a vinegar color-bath solution. Alongside our individual batches, we attempted a "group-dye" using a handful of colors and a crock-pot to see the results. While allowing the fibers to absorb the dye, we learned about taming and measuring yarn with an umbrella swift and skein windler.
A group of us spent the class crafting wool felt balls. These creations can be used as a natural dryer ball to decrease the drying time of your laundry. They also soften your clothes and increase fluffiness without the harsh chemicals of commercial fabric softeners. They can be made into pumpkins as demonstrated by this young man! The final product will look like the image on the far right. After layering felt into the pattern of your liking, wrap it in a nylon sock, toss it into your washer machine, and viola!