OG Newsletter

OG Newsletter (9)

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 21:39

Why all the unicycles?

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Antioch School legend has it that the late, great OG teacher Bill Mullins bought a couple of used unicycles one weekend, thinking that the OG children might take a liking to them. Now, decades later, the unicycle has become a symbol of the Antioch School and a challenge many children still enthusiastically take to. But, why? Contrary to rumors around town, unicycling is not an Antioch School graduation requirement. And none of the teachers are expert unicyclists who teach the children how to do it. 

The teachers give children the opportunity, the time, and the physical structure to learn, but no one can actually teach someone how to ride a unicycle -- one just has to get on and try it. Each rider has to find her balance, figure out the right speed, adjust after failed attempts and be encouraged by small gains. It takes time. No one is great at unicycling right off the bat. It is not something to be mastered after a day of practicing, or a week, or a month. There is always something new to try and more to learn. Even after years of unicycling, the children find new ways to challenge themselves by riding on different terrain or on higher unicycles; they ride on the balance beams or on ramps; they do jumps or learn to air mount. Children are natural learners who will return to tasks, even very challenging ones, over and over again. The opportunities are limitless. 

Learning to ride a unicycle is work that only the rider can do. It is challenging, satisfying, and fun. It is internally motivated. It is learning at its best and most natural. It is no wonder it has come to symbolize the Antioch School.  

Tuesday, 16 October 2018 21:00

The Case of the Krispie Caper

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    The Case of the Krispie Caper

     Items have been going missing from the lunchbox of an OG student. “It’s been happening for a while now,” said the child, needing to speak up to be heard over his rumbling belly. “It just took me awhile to figure it out, since I don’t usually know what’s exactly in my lunch until I open it up to eat it.” The child’s suspicion grew daily, though, in direct correlation to his nagging sweet tooth.      

     “It was the day that both the Rice Krispie Treat and the Ritz crackers went missing that really made him want to do something about it,” said his mother. But what to do? The child talked it over with his dad, thinking maybe his dad was simply leaving out his favorite treats. But, no, dad reluctantly admitted that he does not pack only healthy food for his son. I asked the child what he wanted to do and he decided that he should share his woes, rather than his snacks, with the other children. He made a plan to talk with the Younger Group and the Older Group children.  

     The child addressed the group, stating the facts: “Things have been going missing from my lunchbox. It has been going on for awhile now.”

     “What kinds of things?” asked a curious classmate.

     “Always the best things,” replied the hungry child. 

     “Because maybe if we know what’s missing, we might know who’s taking them. You know, if it’s something we know that person really likes,” said the young sleuth.

     “Is that what you want,” asked another child, “to know who’s taking things?”

     “No,” responded the child, “I want whoever is doing this to stop. I just want to eat my lunch. The lunch my dad packs me.”

     Remarkably, that was the whole talk. Short and sweet. The room was quiet for a moment as the children digested the information and the request.  

     We still don’t know who took the treats. But “who done it” isn’t what is important here. One child does not need to be called out and made to feel bad publicly so that another can have his just desserts. Almost two weeks have passed since this issue was brought to the group and nothing else has been taken. The child who brought the issue to the group said what was bothering him. The other children heard what he said, asked for clarification, and honored his request. That takes the cake!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 19:37

Older Group - Kindergarten Partners

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The children were excited to be paired up with Kindergarten partners last week. They enjoyed a special playtime and snack with partners on Thursday afternoon, sat with their partners during our All School Meeting on Friday, and read with partners in the Kindergarten room at the end of the day on Friday. This week they will swim with partners for the first time on Thursday!

Older Group-Kindergarten partnering is a long time tradition at the Antioch School. Many of the Older Group children have strong memories of the OG partners they had as Kindergarteners and are excited to now be on the other end, as the older child, of the partnership. Partnerships connect the two ends of our hallway together. The younger children have someone who knows-the-ropes, someone  big who can touch the bottom of the pool, a big friend who checks in with them and reads with them. But the benefits to the older child are just as substantial. Older Group children are developing the ability to view situations, events, and information from the perspective of others. Developmentally, Kindergarten children are still quite egocentric. And so, even in the most ordinary of interactions with partners, Older Group children are strengthening their use of perspective; they are becoming more empathetic communicators. Plus, it just feels good sometimes to be the big kid! This is a new hat for many children who do not have siblings, or who only have older siblings. But even children who are the oldest in a family grouping find being the older child in a partnership to be a different and unique experience.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

January Blog

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January is always such a good settling in time in the Older Group. The build up and excitement of the fall and winter holidays is behind us, the room feels cozy on chilly days, and it is much easier to stay focused on ideas and tasks.  


When we return from vacation, the children are enthusiastic about choosing parts for our spring musical, highlighting their parts, and beginning our read-throughs. This year, choosing parts was a very smooth process. After reading the book, The Phantom Tollbooth, most of the children really knew who they wanted to be, so casting went quite smoothly. Now that the OG has chosen their parts, it is time to bring the thirds in for a read-through so they can figure out which parts they would like to have. Fortunately, there are a lot of juicy roles in the play because there is quite a large group of 3rd grade children joining us for the production.


We have begun working on geometry in math. There is quite a bit of overlap in what we are doing; the younger children are finding the perimeter and area of squares, rectangles, and triangles, while the older children are additionally identifying and measuring angles, naming triangles by sides and angles, and computing the measurements of triangles using 2 given angles. We will soon be moving on to working with circumference and area of circles. 


There is nothing like settling in to some good literature during the winter months. We have started some reading/discussion groups so the children can enjoy sharing what they are reading with each other. In addition to their group reading, they have books they are reading independently. I read aloud to the class almost every day. The most recent book they have requested is The Transall Saga, by Gary Paulson. They are entranced.


The class is reading about and reporting on the presidents for social studies. At this point, we are selecting the first 15 presidents to research. Already there have been some great questions about such topics as what the Whig Party might be.


While we started working on cursive writing earlier in the year, it is finally coming together for the children who are new to cursive.  I love the way their artistic sense kicks in with cursive; the children want their cursive to look nice and take pride in how their writing looks. This year, I have had quite a few graduates thank me for teaching them cursive. It is great when they can see the value of their time spent learning it.


Dennis has been working with us on some really fun new pieces to perform for the Spring Concert coming up in March. Everyone is pumped!


Friday, 09 October 2015 00:00

October 9, 2015

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We have had another eventful week, performing with Jonathan Crocker in his Meet the Wyld Man show on Wednesday. We had to re-make some of our instruments because over the past week, our refrigerator malfunctioned. Sadly, some of our veggie instruments did not survive so we had to remake them. Fortunately, we had the foresight to take measurements of the depth of the holes on our instruments so it didn't take as long to create new ones. The performance was fun, and we had a great time, although it was really hot and sunny for the afternoon performance, leaving us wishing that we had also had the foresight to bring hats and water bottles.

In music, we have begun preparing for our holiday concert that we will have before winter break. It is always refreshing to finish one set of music and begin on fresh new material. The beginning band and orchestra is sounding really great for this early in their learning, and the intermediate/advanced band and orchestra had been making great strides in their musicality. This should be a wonderful concert!

The OG has begun their first research reports. Our general theme for this year is American history, so our first research will be about famous Americans. We found biographies at the library, at home, and in the OG classroom. The children are taking short note as they go, so they can find the information they need when they begin their rough drafts. A couple of children have already completed their reading and notes, and have begun their rough drafts. I am looking forward to having all of the rough drafts completed by the end of next week, and some ideas generated about what kind of related project or projects the children would like to do.

Spelling is well underway. Some children are working on spelling rules and learning new spelling words, others are combining spelling with vocabulary development. Each Monday, the children write their spelling list to take home to study, so spelling lists should be arriving at home on Monday afternoons. Each day, the children have spelling practice to work on on their own, or in small study groups while I am teaching math to other groups.

We have been so fortunate that Amy K. can come in on Fridays to have writers' workshops with the children. She is so wonderful with the children and always has interesting and stimulating approaches to writing to share with them. We will miss meeting with Amy for the next 2 Fridays, since there will be no school on Oct. 9 or Oct. 23.

We have been studying many different math concepts, depending on the groups or individuals. Some children have been reviewing addition and subtraction with regrouping and learning beginning multiplication and division facts. Some are working on long division. Others are working on prime factorization, exponents, and square roots, as well as beginning algebra skills. 

As you can see, the various skills we work on are at different levels depending on what skills and concepts individual children are ready to learn. Multiple age groups are wonderful because the younger children get to look ahead to what they will be learning as they progress through the Older Group, by watching and listening as I work with the different groups. The older children can see where they began in the OG, review, and help the younger children out if they get 'stuck'. Sometimes, though, it can be a bit challenging for the younger children who have gone from being the oldest in the YG to the youngest in the OG. When they look ahead to what the older children are working on, it looks really hard. They forgot what it was like to be at the beginning of the YG looking at what the older YG children are working on. Reassurance that they will be able to do the more advanced work once they have mastered the necessary building blocks is something many of the younger children need both at school and at home. 

I have the parent conference schedule posted on the OG door, and have attached a copy of the schedule to this newsletter.

We have a field trip to the Dayton Philharmonic Young People's Concert on Wednesday, Oct. 28. We will need to leave school at 8:30 sharp, so children and chaperones should arrive at school but 8:40. We will return before lunch. We do need chaperones, so please let me know if you will be able to help with the driving and how many children can be safely buckled into your car.  

The children would like to plan a trip to Peifer Orchards, which I will gladly plan if we have enough drivers to get there. 

Our first November field trip will be to The Learning Tree Farm for hands-on history. OG parent, Meredith Florkey, will be our teacher and guide for our American history experience. Both the YG and OG will be attending. I am really excited about this trip! Please let me know if you will be available to help with driving and chaperoning on Monday, November 9. This will be an all-day 9-3 adventure. 

Our Enchanted Forest will be held on October 30 ~ in the Enchanted Forest. We will post the time closer to the date of the performance.


Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

October 5, 2015

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My goodness, we have been busy! Much of last week was spent preparing for our Grandfriends' Day concert. We had a lot to practice, between our band instruments, marimba, piano, shakers, ukuleles, mountain dulcimers, and mandolins. All that in addition to singing. I think we were all a bit anxious because Dennis wasn't going to be able to conduct us for the actual concert, but with the help of Darla on here stand-up bass, and Sally conducting, the Grandfriends' Day concert went off beautifully. In fact, the entire day of celebrating our Grandfriends was quite delightful. The OG and YG started the event off with a concert, followed by the YG Readers' Theater. After that, Changling performed some great hand clapping, foot stomping, happy making fiddle and guitar music, to a lovely audience of Grandfriends and children. Once the entertainment was done, we had crafts in each classroom for Grandfriends and children to make, or they could read, play outside together, or just visit over snacks. I must say, these weren't your average snacks. Parents had made some elegant baked goods, savory snack trays with cheeses and fruits, and tea served with elegant tea pots. This was a really fun afternoon, worth all of the time, planning, and preparations. Then, on Sunday, we had our annual Anything On Wheels scholarship fundraiser. This is always a fun, social event, with children, parents, and grads participating in a ride along the bike path. I was surprised at how many of the YG children made it all the way to Xenia this time. That is quite a ride! This week is very busy as well. On Tuesday morning we have band and orchestra, then in the afternoon, we will have a little dress rehearsal for our carrotnet and broccophone concert for the Meet the Wyld Man show. It will be good to get a sense of where we need to be in the amphitheater. and how it feels and sounds to play our instruments there. Wednesday is our picture day, so children should come dressed for school photos. In addition, we will be performing in the Meet the Wyld Man show at the amphitheater at 12:30. We would like to have everyone wear his/her Antioch School T-shirt. We have a few extra for children who don't have one yet. Jonathan has invited any parents who would like to attend the matinee performance to attend for free. If you can make the 12:30 matinee, go to the Will Call Booth and let them know you are an Antioch School parent. If you plan to attend the evening performance, you will need to pay the entrance fee. Please let me know if your child will not be able to perform at 7:00 on Wednesday evening. Since each instrument plays only one note, we need to know which notes we will need to fill in for if your child can't be there in order to play our pieces. For the evening performance tickets are $16.50 and $9.50. 5 and under free. Thursday we will have band and orchestra in the morning, and gym and swim in the afternoon. Parent Conferences are coming up. I will be holding OG conferences in the late afternoon on Tuesday, October 13 and 20, and all day on Friday, October 23. I will post the times here and have a sign-up sheet on the OG door. I'd love to have the opportunity to talk to you! Love, Chris
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:00

Planning Our Week

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We had a delightful nature hike yesterday. The weather was cool and perfect for a long walk, so we headed across the creek toward the Yellow Spring. Along the way, we found jewel weed, which is in perfect seed popping season. It's hard to go past jewel weed without making the seeds explode. One of our great discoveries at the Yellow Spring was a very large crayfish. It had been living in the iron dense water long enough that it was more of a ruddy red than the normal grayish color of crayfish. Several children wanted to pick it up, but thought better of it when it reared up and waved its large pincers around. 

In band and orchestra, we have been working on a song to perform at Grandfriends' Day. We are not only working on it with our band and orchestra instruments, we are also playing percussion, ukulele, piano, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer for part of the piece. The rhythm is a bit tricky, but we are getting it! As we think ahead to our concert, we realize that there is not a whole lot of time to master the instrumental parts in so short a time, so the class would like to have our Thursday lesson with Dennis to iron out difficult parts, then after that bring our band/orchestra instruments in every day for extra practice time. 

This afternoon we did a 'check-in' to see what skills each individual would like to learn this school year. We came up with a great list of potential things to learn. Included in the list: cooking (and baking), foreign language (mentioned ~ French, German, Japanese), stained glass, paper making, creative writing, Manga art, pottery, origami, sewing, knitting, crochet, and computer programing. If you are skilled in any of these areas and would like to share your skill and knowledge with some of the OG children, please let me know and we can try to coordinate schedules. We always love learning from many different people and sharing skills.

We have jumped right in with the cooking request. This Friday, we will make an Older Group lunch together. The decision this time was between a sushi bar and a taco bar. The sushi bar got a few more votes, so we will make sushi this Friday and tacos the next time we cook an OG lunch. We will not include raw fish in the sushi bar choices for safety sake. Children may being their lunches to school on Friday if they like, but do not have to as we will be making our community lunch of sushi, rice, and tea. 

We spent some time this morning tuning and measuring our carrot instruments. We needed depth measurements in case we need to rebuild our carrot instruments before our performance on October 7. We are invited to perform at Meet The Wyld Man at 12:30 on Wednesday, October 7. Children who have permission, may also participate in the evening show at 7:00 pm the same day.

Coming up this week is our first gym and swim session. Children need to bring their swim gear, plus designated gym shoes and comfortable clothes for playing in. The gym shoes do not need to be expensive or even new. They just need to have soles that are free from dirt, so the shoes we wear over to the gym are not suitable for playing in the gym. The OG children team up with the kindergarten children to be their swim partners. Children with swim partners stay in the pool an extra half an hour to swim with the kindergarten children, while the children who do not have swim partners return to Brian at the school to prepare a snack. There are quite a few things to remember this Thursday: instruments, music, gym gear, and swim gear. 

What an enjoyable week is in store for us!





Sunday, 13 September 2015 00:00

Great Start!

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00

In the Older Group

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As we looked at the calendar at the beginning of the week, we noticed a couple of fun days to observe. Tuesday was National Teddy Bear Day, and Friday, National Chocolate Milkshake Day. Who knew? We decided that both would be fun to celebrate in the OG. On Tuesday, most children brought in their teddy bears and other favorite soft friends, making it a very cozy kind of day. It was so comfy that several children have now requested Teddy Tuesdays. We’ll see what develops from here.
After lunch on Tuesday, we watched the Unicycle Skill Levels video. We invited children from the YG to join us, and many did. I love to show the video at the beginning of the school year because children can see some of the amazing things that can be done on unicycles. After watching the video, many of the children went out to  either learn how to ride or to try new skills.

Ibi decided to try “walking the wheel.” This is accomplished by walking your feet along the wheel instead of using the pedals to move the unicycle. It is not easy to keep your balance doing this, or to keep moving in a steady forward (or in a more advanced wheel walking backward) direction. Persistence pays off! In a relatively short time, he was able to wheel walk almost to the post. I don’t think it will be long before he is able to wheel walk around the cycle circle.

Once again, we are enjoying music with Dennis Farmer on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Some of the new musicians had gotten their instruments this week and were able to meet with Dennis to begin making music on their instruments. We now have a new clarinet, a cello, a violin, a xylophone, bells, a French horn, a trombone, and trumpet added to the group. We are really rounding out our band/orchestra very nicely.

Of course, we do have time each day for academic learning. One of Bill’s math groups is working on percentages and another is strengthening their memorizing multiplication facts. I am teaching geometry with both my groups and Bill’s. Children have been calculating, identifying and naming angles and triangles, and using protractors to both measure and draw angles.
For language arts, we have been working on spelling, writing in cursive, journaling, creative writing, and writing nature observations on our nature hikes.

We are continuing our study of where different countries are located in Africa and a brief overview of the history of each. Soon children will select an African country to learn more about and share the information with the rest of the class. This will allow us to go deeper into the cultural  history, nature, art, etc. of these diverse countries. We will also be cooking some African cuisine. Is anyone going to Jungle Jim’s? I may have a short shopping list for you.  I am quite certain we can find recipes with available ingredients though.

I’m looking forward to our visit from the Dayton Philharmonic next week, as well as our geology trip to Ohio Caverns and Cedar Bog. Sally, Jennifer, Teri, Cindy, and I will be driving.

Quick Contact

If you have questions, would like more information about the Antioch School, please use the form below or call  9 3 7 . 7 6 7 . 7 6 4 2.   Our address is 1160 Corry Street, P.O.Box 242, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387.