Twisted Strands™: What Do YOU Know About Iceland?

We were stunned to see a Twisted Strands™ envelope in the mail from ICELAND earlier this week. I had been in contact with a teacher, Hronn Godjonsdottir, who was interested in participating in our project, but honestly, I had forgotten they were going to mail one. It was so very exciting to see!
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A package from ICELAND!

A package from ICELAND!

Now, like my students, I’m not very well versed in Iceland’s geography or traditions (though I’m planning a trip to the capital Reykjavik in 2015), so I got to learn quite a bit right alongside them. Together, we are on this Twisted Strands™

adventure and it’s bringing us to some fabulous places.

Inside the envelope (which was rather heavy) was a letter with lots of information about their country and school, a calendar (more about this later) and a ribbon!

Wonderful Twisted Strands contribution from Leikskolinn Hladhamrar in Mosfellsbae, Iceland.

Wonderful Twisted Strands contribution from Leikskolinn Hladhamrar in Mosfellsbae, Iceland

Hronn and students were kind enough to tell us all about Iceland. In their letter, they told us about an active volcana called Baroarbunga, which is located in central Iceland. The children told us that it was dangerous to go near the volcano and that they’ve seen it on TV. We used the internet to look at more information on Baroarbunga. Our children have never known anyone that lived near a real, active volcano. They expressed concern and hoped that the children at the Kindergarten would be safe and not get hurt.

We also learned that from around the middle of September to about the middle of April, the Northern Lights are easily seen from Iceland. Our children thought the picture of The Northern Lights looked like fireworks, similar to what we have here in America to celebrate our Independence Day. We looked at videos on the internet of The Northern Lights and they were very pretty. The children erupted into giggles while trying to pronounce Aurora Borealis.

As mentioned previously, there was a calendar included with the letter. It was called “The Icelandic Yuletide Calendar: Recounting the Adventures of the 13 Yuletide Lads”. None of us had ever heard of the 13 Yuletide Lads.

A very special gift from Iceland.

A very special gift from Iceland.

“In a cave high up in the blue mountains, a place fit only for ogres and trolls, Mother Gryla stirred the brew, throwing sheep dung into the fire, Father Leppaluoi sat on his bed, which he never left, unless he had to. From a dark corner there came a rumbling, loud yawning, quarreling and kicking about. After their long sleep, limbs stiff and shaky, their heads unclear, the Lads were awakening. With the approach of yet another Yuletide they were getting on their feet again. The Lads grew merrier by the hour, and the Yuletide Cat came slinking in, sensing something tastier in the offing than the mice of past months. The Lads wolfed down Gryla’s brew and prepared for their annual journey. The Yuletide Lads meant mischief, and each day another one made his way down from the mountains. Under cover of darkness they approached the homesteads, the hissing Yuletide Cat close upon their heels. At the farms, from then on, things began to disappear. Deplorable, really, the way these Lads behaved.”

In the earlier centuries, the number of Yuletide Lads varied from one part of Iceland to another. The number 13 is first seen in ballad about the giantess Gryla in the eighteenth century, the names of the Lads first appear in the “Icelandic Folk Tales” compiled by Jon Arnason in 1862. The Lads come down from their mountain dwelling, one each day. The first to arrive is Sheep-Cot Clod. He appears on the 12th of December and leaves on Christmas Day. The last one, Candle Beggar, arrives on Christmas Eve and goes back to the mountains on the 6th of January, the 13th day of Christmas.

The children at Salt Meadow Academy are very excited to read about the 13 Yuletide Lads starting on December 12. We have hung the calendar on our bulletin board for the children and families to see when they visit our classroom.

The ribbon included in the envelope was blue, red and white, which are the colors of the Icelandic flag. We hung the beautiful ribbon from the branches and even wrapped part of it around the trunk.

The Icelandic ribbon hangs on the left side of the branches. You can see the blue, white and red stripes.

The Icelandic ribbon hangs on the left side of the branches. You can see the blue, white and red stripes.

We marked the location on the map which we thought was closest to Mosfellsbaer, Iceland.

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Thank you very much for your contribution to the Twisted Strands™ Project. Watch your mail! We have written a letter to your children and have also included a Certificate of Participation!

To have your school, program or family participate in the Twisted Strands Project, please mail your contribution to:
Twisted Strands™

Salt Meadow Academy
15 Bluff Avenue
Clinton, CT 06413 USA

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Twisted Strands™: Bribie Island Kindy & The World’s Smallest Kite

It’s been awhile since we posted about a Twisted Strands™ contribution because it’s been a little while since we’ve received any. Our students still check the mail box every single day in hopes that more letters and strings arrive for their project. Many days, I can see their disappointment when nothing arrives, but their joy is contagious when there is a special envelope in the mail.

The children were very excited to see an envelope from Bribie Island, Australia in the mail on Monday! Bribie Island Community Kindergarten and their teacher Miss Narelle has been in contact via email with us for about a month now. We have exchanged emails with her class as virtual pen pals. Their class is 9,675 miles away from us but email has made communication very easy.

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A special package from new connections in Australia!

Inside the envelope was a lovely letter, a beautiful bunch of ribbons and a special surprise, “The World’s Smallest Kite”!

Bribie Island Community Kindergarten's Twisted Strands contribution!

Bribie Island Community Kindergarten’s Twisted Strands contribution!

On many of the ribbons, which were Christmas themed, the children and teachers wrote messages and questions to the children at Salt Meadow Academy. They asked about snow and told us about their weather. They told us they had chickens as pets (which our students thought was fantastic!!).

Christmas ribbons from Bribie Island Community Kindergarten.

Christmas ribbons from Bribie Island Community Kindergarten.

Christmas ribbons from Bribie Island Community Kindergarten

Christmas ribbons from Bribie Island Community Kindergarten

The letter from the class said “P.S. We have included a small gift ‘something to provoke investigation and of course fun.’ We have never seen a kite so small. Our children were all chattering at once. Will it fly? How was it made? Can we fly it right now? Is it really the “World’s Smallest Kite”? Your provocation worked and we are now investigating kite construction and if we can get this kite to fly. The weather hasn’t been the greatest here in Connecticut so we haven’t been able to try it out yet.

Christmas ribbons from the children and teachers at Bribie Island Community Kindergarten in Bribie Island, Australia.

Christmas ribbons from the children and teachers at Bribie Island Community Kindergarten in Bribie Island, Australia.

After hanging the bouquet of ribbons from the tree, we placed a pin (our 2nd in Australia!) on where we thought Bribie Island was. The map on the internet showed them just north of Brisbane near Moreton Bay.

The white pin marks Bribie Island, Australia.

The white pin marks Bribie Island, Australia.

We have written you a letter to answer some of your questions and we have also included a Certificate of Participation! As a special surprise, one of our students painted a butterfly and flowers for your school because one of your students (Shae-Lee) asked if we had any butterflies in Connecticut. We do!!

Painting a butterfly and flowers for new friends in Australia.

Painting a butterfly and flowers for new friends in Australia.

Thank you for your participation in Twisted Strands™ and helping us demonstrate that “We are all connected.” We hope to continue our communication throughout the year. Since a new class of children will start at Bribie Island Kindy in the coming weeks (our summer in CT is opposite their summer) we will be learning about new children.

To have your school, program or family participate in Salt Meadow Academy’s Twisted Strands™ Project, please mail your contribution to:
Twisted Strands™ Project
Salt Meadow Academy
15 Bluff Avenue
Clinton, CT 06413 USA