Relaxation and Meditation in Kindergarten

Part of our daily routine in Kindergarten includes a relaxation and meditation time after recess.  We use this part of the day to settle our bodies and brains to prepare for afternoon learning.  Relaxation takes many forms.  Sometimes we lie on the floor and listen to meditation stories or listen to a guided practice of tightening and relaxing the muscles in our bodies.  Other times we sit and follow along with a meditation practice on Mind Yeti or with Moovlee, who is a mindful monkey.  We end each relaxation time with a wish or mantra for the afternoon.

After relaxation, students engage in mindful coloring.  This activity is done with relaxing instrumental music playing.  We work on coloring pictures with very small details.  Or we draw pictures in our Mindfulness Journals about the meditation story that was listened to in Relaxation.  

Some thoughts on this part of our day:  

“When I am laying down, it makes me feel calm.”

“I color slowly.  It helps me feel relaxed.”

“I like relaxation.  You can think about being calm.”

“I like meditation coloring because you can use whatever color you want.”

“I like meditation stories.  They sound pretty.”

“Listening to the meditation stories makes me calm.”

“When I’m doing meditation coloring, it makes me feel calm and it makes me feel like coloring neatly.”

“Listening to music at meditation is beautiful.”

FES Falcons Use Technology Tuesdays To Explore Geocaching With Mystery Caches

As part of Technology Tuesdays at Fletcher Mrs. Palermo’s 5th and 6th grade students have been learning all about geocaching.

Geocaching encourages kids to explore the outside world around them and also offers lessons on how maps work, geography, and estimation. Kids search for geocaches by using GPS receivers to located the assigned waypoints (latitude and longitude) This type of exploration prompts discussions on creating graphs, measuring distances, and other math concepts as well as the geographical lessons. After learning the basics of geocaching, the students then started to explore other aspects of the computational thinking skills needed for geocaching.

Most recently, the students took on the challenge of solving Geocaching Mystery Caches. With traditional caches, students use given coordinates to find caches. With Mystery caches, the students have to first solve problems to get the correct coordinates.

Thanks to a premium Geocacher team members, Jokeerus, who have designed Mystery Caches especially for children, our students had an opportunity to solve Mystery Caches. These geocachers have designed these too do their part to encourage the younger generation to enjoy geocaching. As a result, our students are able to solve problems to virtually find geocaches hidden in Utah.

The students used their skills to work hard at decoding and solving a variety of mystery caches. They solved a variety of codes using pig pen cyphers, tap code, and many others. After solving the puzzles, the students where then able to check with the geocache owners to gain a “find” for the geocaches.

The students did a great job and earned the reward for finding the caches.

If you are interested is solving these or other caches, check out these links to the Mystery Caches series hidden. It is a great experience, and we were appreciative of the work done by Team Jokeerus!

  1. Jigsaw -Kid Puzzle [#1]  GC96X5W
  2. Emoji Imagination Kid Puzzle GC96X6D
  3. Angelic Symbols -Kid Puzzle GC9746H
  4. Ka-Chow! Kid Puzzle GC97F05
  5. Animal Tracks -Kid Puzzle GC9745Y
  6. Coded Candy Kid Puzzle GC9746W
  7. Lego Lingo Kid Puzzle GC97T7G
  8. QR-dinates Kid Puzzle GC97W37
  9. Chocolate Pigpen -Kid Puzzle GC97VZF
  10. Tap Code -Kid Puzzle 
  11. Folding Fun Kid Puzzle GC981RE
  12. Incredible! -Kid Puzzle GC9839W

Angelique Fairbrother is the Digital Learning Coach at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @FWSUtech.

ABC’s of Fourth Grade

Ms. Godin’s fourth grade class has been busy learning about non-fiction writing using ABC Books. The class read many ABC books, learned about plagiarism and how to take notes, then, each student chose a topic they were either curious or passionate about. Subjects range from Famous African American Women to World Leaders.

Index cards were given to each student to collect information on their subject A-Z. On the back of each card was written the source. On the opposite side students collected information on their subject. After students were done gathering information they were given a rubric of how they would be scored. This rubric gives them precise information on what they need to include to get the grade they want. A checklist was also provided for students to make sure they have included everything.

As students create their ABC Books using the app, Book Creator, they look to their notes and checklists to make sure have included everything on their slides. Pictured here are a couple of students’ books in progress.

When they are finished each student will present his/her book to the class.


Aimee Toth is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Fletcher’s Music Program: Beat Boxing, Boomwhacker and more!

This year at Fletcher school, our new music teacher Katelynn Maher has been building relationships with students while getting to know them. 

Grades 5-6 exploring a beat boxing program called Incredibox

We have had a wonderful time in music this year playing music and singing together. Grades 5 and 6 just finished creating “suspenseful music” projects in a program called Garage Band. Students in grades 3 and 4 have been working on music literacy skills including rhythmic reading as well as learning notes of the staff. Grades K-2 have been working on music literacy skills including steady beat, rhythm, movement, and improvisation. Movement and learning games are so important in our music classroom. Students of all grades have very much enjoyed singing and playing instruments in the classroom. We are currently working hard to prepare for our virtual winter concert that will be sent out in December!

4th grade body percussion and boomwhacker playing

3rd grade playing a game to learn notes on a staff

2nd grade playing a piece to prepare for winter performance

1st grade learning a song on boomwhackers for winter performance

Kindergarten with scarf movement to music

Our goal moving forward this year in music is to continue to build music literacy skills at each grade level, and continue to build a community of music lovers who can express themselves in groups as well as individuals.

Aimee Toth is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

First Graders Lead the Charge on Recycling at Fletcher Elementary

The Fletcher Elementary learning community values environmental stewardship.  This month Mrs. Hurt’s first graders have been learning about recycling practices. 

Mrs Hurt read students a wide variety of books about recycling.

Students explored reading Ready to Recycle  together as a class as well as to themselves, and then they got to add color to the book.  The next day the class read a second book, about the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and began sharing ideas for how they can REDUCE (ie. use snack/lunch containers we can rinse and use again, rather than plastic bags) and things they can REUSE  (ie. use clean paper lunch bags to make puppets, use empty jars to hold our pencils). Students were very excited to share their learning and ideas with the other classes. They feel empowered that they will be “teachers” during our school-wide meeting. First grade learning has included: a review of the reasons WHY we recycle (caring for the environment, landfills are getting full, etc), a review of WHAT we can recycle (we have modeled this since the first day of school and practiced sorting items that CAN and CANNOT be recycled), a review of HOW we can properly recycle (noticing any food in a container and rinsing it out first, looking at the list of items and guidelines from the NWSWD (NorthWest Solid Waste District) on classrooms flyers (which we plan to make for every classroom).In addition to this, every day students are applying what they learned as they recycle everything from their plastic lunch containers to scraps of construction paper.  More importantly, they know WHY they are recycling and are ready to teach others about the importance of recycling for the planet.

Aimee Toth is currently the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

We appreciate our school nurses every day

National School Nurse Appreciation Day happens every May. While we fully intend to recognize our nurses for their work eight months from now, today we want to take some time to show our appreciation for our school nurses for their invaluable contributions to our school, particularly as we have returned to school 18 months into a pandemic.

School nurses work with our students every day to meet their health and safety needs, but over the last year and a half, they have taken on a multitude of additional tasks to keep our school and community safe and informed. 

When a school is notified of a positive COVID case in our school, the nurses jump into action and begin contact tracing. They work with the administrators and classroom teachers to determine possible close contacts who might be subject to quarantine. The nurses connect with the Department of Health to review the information and make the final determination regarding who will need to quarantine. Once that list has been established, the nurses work with the administrators to phone every family who will be impacted to explain the situation and answer any questions. This information doesn’t always come to us during the regular school day. Our nurses have been involved with contact tracing on Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday mornings. They have established an organized system to make sure that everyone who needs information gets it in a timely manner, no matter when we learn it. The process is stressful for all, but our nurses model calmness and attention to detail throughout.

In order to monitor COVID in schools, the Agency of Education and the Department of Health have made Surveillance Testing available for schools. We did it last year for staff, but this year students are also eligible for testing. To get people ready for the nasal swab, our nurses have to provide information about sign up (for the first round this year, we are only testing adults), organize the test kits, and facilitate the testing on the actual day. The testing happens during the day, so our nurses will be working with students as usual and taking on the testing protocol. Once again, all done without missing a beat!

Finally, our nurses are collecting vaccination attestation information from our students in grades 7-12. This information will help to streamline the contact tracing process and will eventually be used to determine our masking criteria as the year progresses. It’s another task that our upper school nurses have taken on with a smile.

As we start the year, it is important to take a minute to thank our FWSU nurses-Courtney at Fletcher, Amy and Michelle at BFA, and Terry and Melissa at GEMS- for the vital work they do every day. This year, their work has taken on new dimensions that require our acknowledgement and appreciation every day from now until their official day in May!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

John Tague is currently the Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jtague252

All the Places to Love at Fletcher Elementary

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan

For the 2021-2022 school year Fletcher Elementary has welcomed several new teachers.  What you may not realize is our student enrollment which was 93 at the beginning of last school year is up to 116!  This is great news for a small Vermont school! We are so excited to introduce  new friends to all the places to love in Fletcher!  

As a new principal to the school I wanted to first get to know students better.  To accomplish this I decided to visit classrooms and share one of my favorite books, All the Places to Love.  This book talks about the special places a boy’s family shares with him around their farm and village. After reading this story, I couldn’t wait to hear from your children what their favorite places are here in Fletcher that “makes all the difference in the world” to them.  Here are just a few of the places that are loved that they wanted to share with others.  

In my backyard there is a cliff where you can watch the prettiest sunsets.
-Kale
I like swimming in Metcalf Pond because it is cool. 
-William
In my quiet spot I can climb trees.
-Claire
My special spot is at Nonna and Papa’s woods.  I like it because the sunset is beautiful.
-Harper
Behind my grandma’s house is peaceful and we build fairy houses.
-Summer
My favorite place to go is in my backyard because it is peaceful and I can hear the birds chirp.
-Mariah
My sugarhouse is special to me because whenever we make maple syrup I get to taste test it in these little tiny plastic cups.
-Fiona

Fletcher Elementary is a great learning community to join and our students are looking forward to sharing their favorite things about Fletcher with new teachers, students, and even the new principal!

Aimee Toth is currently the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a new contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

The FWSU Story: Fletcher School Creates Week-Long Send-Off for Graduates

Fletcher Elementary School sixth graders pose for a group picture earlier in the school year. Back row, left to right, are Collin Wolfe, Jayden Pratt, Cody Gelineau, and Justus Cota. Front row, left to right, are Maggie Short, Eli Tinker, Jude Buskey and Sabrina Nadeau. Photo Courtesy of Finest Image Photography

Fletcher Elementary School graduated eight sixth grade students on June 12, but not before a week-long celebration of the group’s accomplishments. With current health guidelines prohibiting large in-person gatherings like graduation, students, families and staff took to the internet with one celebration of the graduating class each day during the week. 

On Monday, the school published individual profiles of each student, one about every hour. Students were asked a series of questions that included talking about their biggest accomplishment, the type of job they see themselves having in the coming years, what they are most proud of, and what advice they would give incoming sixth graders. The profiles were published to a variety of internet locations, including the school’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Fletcherelementaryvt/.

The graduates’ families joined in the fun on Tuesday by contributing photographs of their students from birth to present. The photographs were compiled into a visual and musical tribute by sixth grade classroom teacher Lorrene Palermo. The video may be viewed here:

Staff members at the school remembered students on Wednesday with a video tribute filled with stories and fond memories, while Thursday’s celebration came in the form of a special song penned especially for Fletcher Graduates by Vermont artist and Pacific Records recording artist Chad Hollister, who incorporated students’ names and attributes provided by the school into a custom song that he then performed live-to-video and was released on the internet. View the song here: 

Friday’s limited in-person presentation of diplomas included an individual processional for each graduate through town and included two cars from the Franklin County Sheriff’s office, a firetruck from Cambridge Fire Department, and one of the school’s busses. Staff members lined the front of the building and cheered students on as they arrived. Each graduate received their diploma and a box of personalized graduation cookies that included a diploma, 2020 number cookies and their name.

Fletcher sixth grade graduate Cody Gelineau holds a box of personalized cookies he received with his diploma lst week. Photo: Chris Dodge

This year’s Fletcher Elementary Graduates include, Jude Buskey, Justus Cota, Cody Gelineau, Sabrina Nadeau, Jayden Pratt, Maggie Short, Eli Tinker and Colin Wolfe.

Jude Buskey with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Justus Cota with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Cody Gelineau with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Sabrina Nadeau with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Jayden Pratt with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Maggie Short with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Eli Tinker with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker
Colin Wolfe with sixth grade teacher Lorrene Palermo and Principal Chris Dodge. Photo: Sarah Tucker

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

Last Day of School!

On this last day of school for 2019-20, we would like to extend a huge thank you to all of YOU; the families, students, staff, teachers, para educators, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians, administrators, board members and the FWSU community at large. We have conquered the unimaginable together and proven to ourselves just how much we are capable of. We are so proud of every one of you. And we will return next year stronger and ready to face the challenges ahead!

Update on Food Delivery
As the school year ends, we have learned that we will be able to continue providing food to children aged 18 and under at least until June 30. Please contact your Principal for more information. For BFA families, if you are interested in picking up food starting June 11, please complete this form: Food Needs June 11-30

Have a great summer, everybody! Congratulations to the Class of 2020!!

The FWSU Story: Fletcher School Champions Creatively Alive Children

There is beauty all around us, but never more dynamic than when the aesthetic beauty of a child’s artwork meets the heartfelt beauty of wanting to make the world a better place. This collision of tangible art and a more abstract desire to make a positive contribution to the earth and its inhabitants is the backbone of Fletcher Elementary’s grant-funded work, “making the world a better place, one piece of art at a time.”

Earlier this school year, Fletcher Elementary received $1000 in Crayola art supplies and $2500 in cash to support the art program through Crayola’s partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Championing Creatively Alive Children grant.

Fletcher teachers and children were thrilled to see the Crayola art supplies arrive. Many of us watched the truck be unloaded and the stacks of boxes piled high in our school office. If you looked up the words “motivation” and “inspiration” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of that exact moment at our school. Smiles, giggles, excitement and gratitude abound. The children couldn’t wait to get started and the new art supplies provided both historical favorites and experiences with a variety of new media.

Guided by Art Teacher M.C. Baker and School Counselor Lisa Coale, the students’ first theme focused on kindness. “Be Caring” is a schoolwide expectation in Fletcher, and what better way to show caring than to be thankful. Since this project took place around the Thanksgiving holiday, students and staff expressing gratitude seemed a logical springboard for our artwork. Our students created “kindness rocks,” palm stones that portrayed stunningly vibrant designs that represented the aesthetic beauty of incredible art. After wrapping the stones in tissue paper and designing individual gift boxes, our entire school gathered for a kindness rock exchange. Students gave their palm stones to each other, and at the same time shared why they are thankful. This was truly a celebration of kindness, gratitude and amazing art that was possible only with the support of this grant. Gatherings such as this are the backbone of community-building in our school, but never with such flair as when we added the creativity of artwork, in which our children took great pride and a sense of accomplishment.

In subsequent weeks, students shifted their focus to noticing beauty in the natural world and capturing its essence through art. Since curricular integration, particularly literacy, is a goal in our school, our Art Teacher, M.C. Baker worked with classroom teachers to create books with each classroom. Classes worked with themes that corresponded with our Four Winds Nature Program, a hands-on science initiative that immerses children in the wonder of the natural world. Classes explored themes such as color in nature, animals, sound, community togetherness, Vermont and space. Students created artwork and associated writing that have been professionally reproduced in full color to create books that children and families will cherish, and which help children be more mindful and purposeful about seeking out and appreciating the beauty of our world. Teachers appreciated the strong connection between art and literacy. Knowing that not all students learn the same way, and there are multiple pathways to understanding and demonstrating competence, this work has solidified creative efforts as a means of teaching virtually any student any subject and letting them show their understanding.

Supporting students in showing and demonstrating kindness, as well as finding and appreciating beauty in the natural world, was our goal. And we made it! Through amazing conversation, art and collaboration, our students are both better artists and people, as are the adults. Thanks to Crayola and the NAESP for your support of our school and children. No doubt we will all reap the benefits. The children really are our future. The future of art. The future of kindness. And the future of beauty.

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon