Archive for the ‘Whole Earth Homeschool’ Category

Fire TendingStaff training was great. As I write this, Wilderness Skills, is already in the woods on their first day. I’ll admit, I watch them go by and a wave of pride and happiness washes over me as they slowly disappear into the trees, with their packs donning handmade bow drills and laces of twirled Milkweed cordage. The land seems to breathe them in as invited company.ST on trail Our fearless leaders this Fall are ready. Most of them you may know, as they are already seasoned Great Hollow staff. This made for an incredibly rewarding and rich training, as everyone had plenty to share and many regulations had already been learned. 
Staff contemplationHere, we have (left to right) Greg, Broch, Ingmar and Joe, discussing various plants suitable for cordage, tinder, and the myriad uses for Artemisia Vulgaris; our locally abundant Mugwort. GRbee The bees hummed along. 
Ingmar harvest packWe toured the trails and blazed some new ones. Beaver bridgeWe stopped to learn about some of the important flora and fauna in the area, and how they affect their surroundings. Fearless leaders 1We practiced looking cool for the kids. Fearless leaders 2… and practiced looking closely; at mystery flowers, beautiful moths, and differentiated toxic plants versus safe plants. We planned games, brainstormed new projects, and taught each other skills.Sweet Everlasting

Staff Training fall 09 004


Staff Training fall 09 024

Here they are! Clockwise starting at left: Greg & Broch, (Skills, Pioneers & JNats) Ingmar (Micros), Jen & Patrick (Scouts), Joe (fort security and inoculations of philosophy and play), and Emily(Challenge and Micros).

Patrick is new to Great Hollow, but comes to us with a wealth of experience as an Eagle Scout, certified lifeguard, skilled archer backpacker, and teacher, all at the accomplished young age of 16. In addition, Patrick has also been homeschooled throughout his life. Welcome Patrick!

Dave managed to escape from the Camera but he is ready for, well, a lot of challenge!  And Joe will be filling in during absences since the Explorers is not running. Thank you Joe! You always fill the Meadows and Woods with joy.

Welcome to Autumn!


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Spring was remarkable. Busy, indeed, hence the lack of blog posts. But hey – that’s what can happen when you are busy outside!

We did manage to capture a few gems on camera, and so with fall soon to arrive, I will take advantage of this moment in August to reflect on the wonders had in Spring.

Our advanced Skills course sharpened thier aim with Archery, and I must say they got quite good! I am sorry to report I don’t have photos of that class (they are elusive!) but if any parents have good photos I will happily post them!

Pioneers Thursday May 7, 09 106

Above are the Pioneers, hamming it up in front of what is now a complete animal pen structure, (to accompany the log cabin) hand built from the ground up with Ash logs and a LOT of teamwork and elbow grease!

The swing of things

This group was so intensely proud of the work they accomplished as well as the new stories, games, and good times had by everyone.

Pioneers Thursday May 7, 09 087

And as you can see, sometimes a good time means mucking in the water hole as it is being dug.

Bird Olympics

The Jr. Naturalists sharpened many skills. Here you see them identifying birds in the woods. Many of them don’t even require a field guide any more; they know them by color, shape, size, flight habits or song.

Nest maybe yellow warbler


These young Naturalists also took the leap into gardening… creating a flourishing greenhouse, fertile compost, and doing the groundwork of transplanting all the seedlings into the garden beds when big enough. There may even be a good harvest to return to this fall….. if the animals didn’t get to it first!

Climber in the greenhouse

Ethan holding garter snake

The Explorers were a curious bunch! They touched and learned every creepy crawly they could; big, small, and even microscopic. We studied soil composition, hiked uncharted Great Hollow territory, identified minerals, created a natural sun dial, and learned about maps. The Explorers also logged the process of a decomposing deer carcass, which was a fascinating project which impressed upon us the art of questioning quite beautifully.

Explorers wk 6 Topo Map

Explorers wk 6 and Andy's 039

Grass project

GH week 5 spring 09 009

The Micro Scouts were delightful as always! Laughter, creativity, sharing, and curiosity drive these wonderful nature kids to discoveries that often surprise and teach the instructors.


The games reached new heights this spring … realizing so many complexities of role playing, advantages and handicaps, and predator/prey dynamics which not only kept everyone in good cardiovascular shape, but revealed the endless webs that nature weaves.

McKenzie with Jacob staff

The Wilderness Challenge crew did so many exciting things, both in the spring as well as this past summer. Everything from scaling the wall, making Jacob staffs, verbal mapping, built rafts, did lots of swimming, physical training, and team initiatives. These kids just continue to impress us all with their razor sharp minds and drive for success!

WC Raft project 2

Pioneers week 2 spring 09 021 The Scouts got their fill, too, of story time, fire skills, and of crafting a giant, beautiful burned bowl. They learned edible flowers, hiked high into the outcrops and were especially tolerant of the rain.

Sacred coal

And so… with lots learned and lots more to learn, we turn the wheel of the year and invite in the wonders and bounty of fall…. for all of our natural delight!

Owen's Web

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Planting the Seeds of Knowledge

Planting the Seeds of Knowledge

Here is a sneak peak at a wonderful homespun addition to our Friday learning bank. I’m calling it a learning bank instead of a curriculum as it feels more abundant and ready than ‘curriculum’. I always have my eyes peeled as I go along my daily tasks, mining for gems to add to our bank, and this one was a strike of gold.

Written and hand-illustrated by fellow home-schooling, homesteading mother, Kristine Brown (aka Tansy) these monthly morsels are chock-full of fun and wisdom. Replete with facts, lore, projects, puzzles, recipes, and seasonal relevance, she has created the perfect activity booklet for kids (and grown ups!) who love plants and herbal healing. Our Jr. Naturalists will be using portions as a seamless supplement to botany/herb class.

Herbal roots is available (a new one each month) through Tansy’s etsy shop, LunaFarm Creations, and she updates us regularly through hr wonderful homestead blog, Dancing in a field of Tansy. Her formal website is Luna Herb Co. Feel free to order one for yourself or give as a gift to a friend!

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(Click “Registration” in above navigation links to access the registration files, which also list costs)

feather-and-lichenAfter so much snow this year I think we are more ready than ever for Spring! Of course, we could get a noreaster at any moment now. 🙂 But none-the-less we are indeed gearing up for our Spring Homeschool semester. Wohoo! 

I wanted to announce to everyone the additions of TWO NEW PROGRAMS …. in response to our growing family needs and feedback. On Tuesday, we will be offering the EXPLORERS …. for ages 7-11. Folks who’s older children take the wilderness skills, you now have a option for your younger children as well.  Wednesday we will be offering PIONEERS 1 ….. for new or first year Pioneers. Many Pioneers have been here now for two or three years, and are ready to do new things and not repeat. It will give all of our Pioneers, both new and returning, a much richer curriculum. 

So…. our Spring will look like THIS:

(All days are from 9am – 3pm.)


Wilderness Skills ages 12-17. *FULL*

This spring will be concentrated on Bow and Arrow skills…. *please be sure your child has theirs in advance.* Plenty of camouflage attire is recommended!

Habitat Explorers ages 7-11. *In Need of MORE participants

Lots of exploring! Hiking, collecting, games, identification, tracking, animal stalking, and creative learning. A bit of everything. I’d like this group to evolve  into a “green” group, taking on subjects and projects pertaining to conservation and sustainability. 


Pioneers 1: CANCELED



Wilderness Challenge  *FULL*

Ages: 11-17
Emphasis: Physical challenges, survival skills and first aid, teamwork initiatives, navigation, wild food and water, tracking, shelters. Our most physically demanding program.
Scouts  *Still room
Ages: 7-9
Emphasis: Foundational nature skills, habitats, weather, storytelling, history,  plant and animal studies, eco-games, nature projects, positive social skills, and more
Pioneers 2   *FULL
Ages 9-12
Emphasis: Intermediate Nature skills and discovery; building projects, eco-games, teamwork, camouflage, tracking, awareness skills, fire building, traditions.
Micro-Scouts    *Still room
Ages 4-6
Emphasis: Observations, eco-games, nature art, collecting and sorting, examining and inquiry, hiking, weather, story, animals and plants, respect.
Jr. Naturalist    *FULL
Ages 7-14
Emphasis: Observational skills, botany and herbal medicine making, animal/nature symbiosis, eco-games, nature journals, tracking, birdwatching, conservation, and some primitive skills.

OK that’s the nutshell! Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Click on the registration link up top for the documents.

Be well – Ananda

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ARE YOU, or some one you know…..

~Passionate about Nature? 

~Concerned about caretaking our Earth?

~Great with kids?

~High energy, creative, motivated to make a difference?

~Knowledgeable about Nature and/or primitive skills and excited to provoke other’s curiosities?

~Passionate about education reform, or alternative education?

Looking for a place to integrate and apply your gifts? Come to Great Hollow!


Whole Earth Homeschool is hiring! Come and be a part of a unique and vibrant community of families and educators committed to Nature and to experiential learning. We offer nearly 900 acres of breathtaking land to learn from… replete with rivers, forest, field, bogs mountains, trails, abundant wildlife and rich biodiversity. 

Our team of staff members provide training, curriculum and leadership support, and supplemental development resources to help feed your passion and further your personal growth.

Harvest an incredible experience of reciprocity, challenge and endless fun.

Contact me (Ananda, coordinator) or print out an application and send it in. (please note that the forward does not address the Homeschool program, but rather the regular GH staff – the below forms are what we need.

The schedules are on the calendar linked above if you need dates. 

In Green ~ Ananda


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native-harvests-with-barrie-1-0071 Ahhh yes. In between snowfalls and cancelled programs, we have the Gem of January. Our Thursday brought in the brave nature souls for Barrie’s Native Harvests. It felt so good to get out of the house to learn with the kids, but somehow still allow the real rhythm of winter to reign. We trekked out into the white yard, and followed some of the littlest tracks…..

native-harvests-with-barrie-1-0031We followed these around the yard, into the stone wall, and back out again, only to fint much bigger tracks. Which led up to the apple tree. Once we were at the apple tree, Barrie talked all about how much the apple tree provides, even in the winter. All the terminal buds were eaten off by deer, and little holes at the base provided warmth and more nutrition for little critters. 

The green-blue scaly stuff along the trunk was an interesting discussion on lichens, as Barrie explained to us how they form and what important roles they play in both the history of plant evolution as well as our present day habitat. Fascinating.



We had the chance to explore some of the winter weeds with their intricate seed patterns. This bean-like plant is actually a milkweed – Dogbane specifically. It has the signature fluff inside the pods, and the stalk makes an exceptionally tough fiber for cordage. This exploration also led us along  more tracks; coyote and bobcat, with some variations on paw size leaving us to wonder if there were a couple of generations.

Inside we created our own journals and taped in our plant specimens with some written details. They all came out so unique and beautiful! And to top it all off, we made delicious snow cream. Yum!

See you tomorrow!


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dad-and-sage-making-arrowsHappy New Year Everyone! I hope you all have had a joyful holiday season and are rested up for another adventurous time with us at Great Hollow. As you can see, the vibe seems to travel with us no matter where we are; the flint knapping class has inspired some off season arrow making and memorable Father-Son time.

The snow has been beautiful and promises some clear tracking  days ahead if you are signed up for the Saturday club with Ethan and Nick. Justin and Whendi are gearing up for a multi-faceted creative endeavor with those of you who will be coming to our full semester of StoryLand (I can’t WAIT for this class!). In addition, we are blessed to have an exceptional, seasoned herbalist/author/artist/ethnobotanist with us each week – Barrie Kavasch, who once apon a time taught with our founder Eva Rupert. 

Looking ahead, now is the time for planting the seeds of our future at Whole Earth Homeschool. Do you have ideas? Do you know people who would make awesome instructors? Do you have a vision of Great Hollow that you want to see flourish? Well don’t stay quiet…. it is YOU my dear Homeschool families, that propel us to keep going and growing – so write those ideas down and send them on over to me. Planning ahead is going to be key this year. 

Thanks for coming together and making the Fall of 2008 our most abundant yet. 

See you soon!


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