Hearing and Telling Myths

Watakame, the first being of the Huichol creation myth. From Jose Matiella's Takutzi Nakawe. During both weeks, we listened to the myths of many cultures that we visited during our time. We heard the Haudenausonee creation story, in which our world is created on the back of a turtle, and the Egyptian tale of Horus … Continue reading Hearing and Telling Myths

Finger knitting

Consistently, kindness and generosity are two of the many positive traits we see in our students at Spark.  Each day we witness so many moments of helping, sharing and exchanging of wisdom and skill.  The children initiated their own finger knitting circle, where the children with more experience patiently guided the others through the process … Continue reading Finger knitting

Enso and Zen Buddhism Beliefs

Paintings of Enso Zen Buddhist symbols.

After examining the influence of Shinto beliefs on Japanese art and tradition, we looked closely at Zen Buddhist beliefs and Zen influenced practices such as the tea ceremony, meditation in zen gardens, ikebana flower arrangement, calligraphy and wabi sabi-- appreciating the beauty of imperfection.  We practiced looking for wabi sabi beauty around us, pointing out parts of trees, … Continue reading Enso and Zen Buddhism Beliefs

Plant Identification

In just a few days, some of us had grown confident in identifying certain plants and their benefits.  On our walks, we found plenty of jewelweed, burdock, plantain, dandelion, beechnut, paper mulberry, basswood/linden, wood sorrel, mugwort, lady’s thumb, violets, goldenrod, blackberry and more! We also learned to recognize some poisonous plants such as poison ivy, … Continue reading Plant Identification

Shinto beliefs, traditions and Torii gates

We travelled to Japan, where we encountered the rich traditions and beliefs of the Shinto religion.  We learned about Shinto’s deep reverence for nature, and the belief in benevolent kami spirits which are venerated throughout Japan with shrines and yorishiro (objects used to invite benevolent kami spirits into a space). We examined some rituals that … Continue reading Shinto beliefs, traditions and Torii gates

“Bur’s Eye” Game

We found unexpected delight in our park’s many Burdock plants.  Burdock burs stuck sweetly to our fingers and clothing, and we realized that they are also great for sticking together to create larger bur clumps!  We invented a fun target practice game called “Burs-Eye”, where we tossed our sticky burs to catch onto our natural … Continue reading “Bur’s Eye” Game

The Scribes of Egypt and the Book of the Dead

We learned about ancient Egyptian scribes, their tools, and their important role in documenting what we now know of ancient Egypt.  After investigating the step-by-step process by which the papyrus plant becomes usable as a writing surface, we used actual papyrus to practice composing our own sentences using Egyptian hieroglyphs.  In addition, we learned about … Continue reading The Scribes of Egypt and the Book of the Dead

Haudenosaunee Pottery

We learned about the Haudenosaunee, a federation of five Indigenous tribes (the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora people) in what is now Upstate and Western New York. They are often known by the French appellation ‘Iroquois’. We learned about the concepts of autonyms and exonyms, which are names that people give to themselves … Continue reading Haudenosaunee Pottery

Creating natural inks and watercolor paints

A girl working with natural inks.

Using mortars and pestles, we ground up rocks, lapis lazuli gemstones, shell, charcoal and other hard natural elements to create natural inks and watercolour paints. We used palette knives to mix these ground up pigments with a natural binder used during Renaissance times-- made from egg whites, honey, gum arabic, and clove oil. After we … Continue reading Creating natural inks and watercolor paints