Category Archives: The School

In The Garden, Again!

Today the children, Rebecca and I returned to the garden playground! Last autumn, after the Harvest Festival, the children and their parents came to school for a Saturday picnic, to “put the garden to bed”. We raked out the leaves, took the scarecrow apart, and spread her straw into the beds for winter mulch, pulled out the old stalks, and laid everything to rest for the winter. Through the very long and cold winter, from time to time, a child would ask, “but when do we get to go back to the garden?” Today was the day, and everyone was thrilled! The five year olds were discussing the exact place they had left off playing their “garden games” and the little ones were trying to remember which path we take to get to the garden.

Our garden is a little bright spot in the deep Virginia woods. It is laid out in the curve of our stream, and we must walk across a small footbridge to get there. The children love to play “in the garden” because this includes splashing in the shallow water of the stream, looking for salamanders, water skaters, cray fish and all their relations. As well as the endless back and forth across the little bridge, to play on the swing set, in the sandbox , under the scented branches of the butterfly bush, nibbling herbs and flowers as they go.

It is such a gift to teach these young souls, here in the generous arms of Nature. The children develop intimate relations with the insect and animal world, from the army of worms they unearth (and re-earth!) to the song of the wood-thrush they hear and the footprints of the raccoon in the mud beside the creek.

The native people pray by intoning “All My Relations.” And the children talk of the great family of Nature: our best friends the Rain Fairies, their mother The Great Mother Rain Cloud, Brother Wind, Father Sun. These children have the foundation laid for a life lived experiencing humanity as part of a great seamless Whole. This is preparation for the only future we can sustain. This is our one hope, and they bring their up- springing joy to it!

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is always loved by the children, but especially so this year.  I have been telling the children “table stories”, stories they ask for while we are all at the big snack table.  A few days before Valentine’s Day, I told them the story of making heart-shaped waffles for my boys, now grown men, on Saturday mornings.  I showed them the heart shaped waffle iron, and they of course responded, “And will you make them for us?”  Up until the wee hours the night before, making mountains of waffles, I was was tired but happy on Valentine’s morning.  The children arrived, and with their parents help, they delivered the lovely hand-made Valentines to their friends’ bright bags.  The great excitement was eating the heart shaped waffles with fresh strawberry syrup!

The table story I told the children today is this:  Each Valentine’s Day, I wait eagerly for my gift from Mother Earth.  Usually, within a day or two, I hear the first call of the mourning dove, who returns to my woods from her long migration.  Today we will listen carefully, as we play in the woods.

Rose Garden “Day of Service”

In the spirit of change that is sweeping the nation and our globe, and looking toward a brighter future, The Rose Garden children joined neighbors helping neighbors all across the country, in a day of service.  But what exactly can three, four and five year olds do to be helpful?  And how can this tie into our normal school life?  Each day every child participates in house keeping, each with a particular chore.  They cheerfully wash tables and chairs, wash cups and spoons, and sweep the floor.

Nearby The Rose Garden, in the heart of our tiny town is the Batesville Store.  The store is Batesville’s “front porch” where locals go for coffee, conversation and good food.  Many of the children and parents go to the store on their way home from school.  The Post Office is next door.   This seemed like the perfect place for our day of service.

We packed sponges, brooms, mops, wisk brooms and dustpans, along with crayons and paper.  Away we went bright and early in the morning.  At the store, the children were confident, engaged, industrious, and told people who came through the door “We are helping out our neighbors!”  With great cheer, they sponged the many tables and chairs, dusted and swept the floors, emptied dustpans, and enchanted all.  At the Post Office, the Postmistress was thrilled, telling the children she was so busy with the mail she never had time to clean.

When everything was sparkling clean, we sat down and colored bright pictures which we made into a book for Cid and Liza, the store owners.  The children were hungry, now, and happy to have our snack of bread and honey butter at the big shiny tables in the store.

It was a day of work and fun.  The lesson that helping friends and neighbors is its own reward was sweet and tangible!

Robin’s First Christmas – Stories For The Early Winter


As you remember, once, a very long time ago, an old man and a young woman took a long icy winter’s journey.  Because there was no room at the inn, they slept at night in a humble stable, with the animals’ sweet breath warming them, and golden hay for a bed.  A baby was born to them that night.  Although the old man made a small fire to warm the baby, still, the infant was cold.  At the baby’s cry, the old man put on his cloak.  He went out into the snowy night to gather more wood, that the fire might burn warmer, to comfort the baby’s tears.

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The Fig Tree – Stories For The Early Winter


Once upon a time, there was a little fig tree. She grew happily on a hill, close beside a stable. She loved her hillside, and all the busy goings-on at the stable close by. In the spring, she watched as the shepherd maiden brought the new lambs and their mothers out into the green meadow, to eat the soft spring grasses. In summertime, she saw the shepherd maiden bring the flock up higher on the hill, to catch the cool breezes. At autumn’s harvest, she breathed the fragrant perfume of fresh-mown hay, as bales were stacked into the stable for the coming cold. In winter, she thrilled to the silent snow, shimmering under the light of the moon.

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The First Winter Rose – Stories For The Early Winter

Once upon a time, in the deep cold of winter, an old man and a young woman began a long journey.  They packed their few belongings onto the back of a little gray donkey, and so they went along, up one hill and down the other.  As they traveled, the winter wind began to blow.  The young woman pulled her cloak more closely around her shoulders.  She shivered. The day wore on and her footsteps became slow.  Finally, as they stopped to rest, the old man said to her, “here, my dear, let me carry our bags, so the donkey can carry you.”  Wearily, she climbed onto the donkey’s back.

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Welcome friends! – A Story

Welcome friends! This is the perfect time of year to begin a new journey together. Perhaps springtime seems more likely, with its riot of color and soft winds. But let me tell you a story. (And may our time together be filled with stories. Our joined stories help us not only know who we are, but also help us create who we will become)

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Create Heaven on Earth for Your Family !

Let Sharifa Oppenheimer help you create Heaven on Earth for your family!

create  Heaven on Earth for your family!

create Heaven on Earth for your family!

Join her in a variety of ways.

–The Book: Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children

–The School: The Rose Garden, a play oriented outdoorsy early childhood program

–Summer Fun: The Rose Garden Summer Camp, a child’s slow meander through summer
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The School

Thank you for your interest in The Rose Garden. You will find here, at the Rose Garden, an environment filled with the wonders of nature. Your child will spend days playing at the foot of ancient pines, surrounded by birdsong, and the melody of the small stream. After the midday meal, in the warmth of sunlight filtering through the forest umbrella, your child will dabble beside the brook. Or swing, or dig and make sand-pies, or build fairy huts in the garden-play-yard. The richly varied natural terrain, as well as the natural play equipment, offers endless opportunity for physical development, allowing your child to live deeply into the body, happy “inside their skin”. read more »