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Yesterday we celebrated Maine Day at my school. It was Maine’s 196th birthday. Instead of regular classes, the kids go to five different workshops throughout the day. Each kid has their own personal schedule for the day. There are over 30 workshops going on at once, each one is Maine themed. Kids can learn about tapping trees, making syrup, Maine farm animals (with real bunnies and chickens!), hiking, growing potatoes, making herbal lotions, weaving, bee hives, along with Maine trivia games and learning about Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Don Fendler.

My workshop was felted soap which was a tradition in Maine because the homemade soap of earlier days was not very comforting to the skin and covering soap in oily sheep wool soothed the skin and conserved the soap. I went to a great fiber store and bought brightly colored wool roving. Roving is the wool after its been carded and dyed but before it is spun into yarn.

Each child made their own to take home. They chose the colors and wrapped the wool around their bar of soap, then placed it all in a knee high stocking to keep the colors in place. Next, they dipped it alternately in hot water and then cold and rubbed the bar of soap for 15 minutes. The resulting bar of soap with shrunken wool protecting it was beautiful. 
What I noticed most about the project, though, was that the kids were deeply engaged in this work from head to hands. They were quietly chatting with each other. All five groups were respectful and excited about the learning. There wasn’t one behavior issue. This isn’t a coincidence, this is was true learning looks like.