Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 37!

June 19, 2012

Last Day

As it turns out, we did not "finish" our Village at Marlborough School.  We did not have time for appraisals or the auction.  My hope is that by keeping this blog I can look back through to determine where we might accelerate things for next year.  Having said that, it is quite amazing what this group of homesteaders accomplished in just 29 hours.  Participants in our summer program have about 125 hours just for Village (this excludes time for swimming, eating and other play) and a consistent supply of adult help .  We did exceptionally well!

The first half of our class was spent taking our homes out of the woods, knocking down fences, and returning the forest to its pre-Village condition.  Some valuable lessons were learned about home construction at this time.   Many houses were full of mud, ants, spiders and/or mouse droppings.  Next year we will try harder to build safer homes for our peeps.

The second half of class was spent doing "pluses and wishes", a daily favorite from our summer program.

Pluses (things we really enjoyed this year):
  We liked...

  • lots of kids played this year!
  • more kids than last year
  • liked making second peeps
  • we all got along
  • great location
  • made wooden houses, not cardboard
  • not overly structured- organized chaos
  • good land
  • one or two big problems to bring the village together 
  • being with friends
  • designing houses and peeps
Wishes (things to keep in mind for next time):
  We wish...
  • there wasn't the big murder trial
  • nobody would go murder crazy
  • there was no framing
  • more people were more involved
  • we had more time
  • there was less bickering
  • there was more working and building- less time spent on meetings
  • Village was more than once a week
  • we got more land
  • there were better walkways on the acre
  • no more meetings!
  • animal transportation
Other comments:

"It seemed that many people just wanted to be divided and make war all year.  More than half of the town was armed like an angry mob."
"It would be fun to do a themed village next year"
"The clans put us way behind"
"We need more jobs next year"
"Town meetings are essential for towns"

I can hardly wait to see what we come up with next!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Week 36, Marlborough School

June 5, 2012

Crime and Punishment!

We reconvened the trial from a couple weeks ago between Disco Dave and a few others this morning.  R?'s legal council was absent so we went ahead without him.  The proceeding went as follows:

Bob and Fred request a judge and jury.  Seeing no volunteers, they move on as best they can without.

Fred:  Dan and Gabe destroyed Roarie's house, we have new evidence!  Roarie ripped off Disco Dave's head and should be fined.
Gabe:  I've been framed!
Dan:  I was at my house when it happened.
Roarie:  I did not touch Disco Dave's house!
Disco Dave:  I did not touch Roarie's boat!
Fred:  What should we do?
Chuck:  Fine them and send them to Federal prison
Disco Dave:  We have no prisons
Fred:  We could de-value their land when we do appraisals next week
Rolph:  Place a lien on their properties?
Gabe:  My value is already low!
Disco Dave:  As punishment we could soak their heads in the river
Fred:  That will give the peeps cancer and make their hair fall out
Disco Dave:  They will also be shunned
Fred:  Do you have anything to say in your defense?
Dan:  I was working on my property at the time in question
Fred:  Do you have proof?
Dan:  I was there
Bob:  How have you been framed?
Morton:  Let's just fine them and call it a day
Fred:  Raise your hand if you told Cameron anything about this.  (Cameron is a student not participating in Village)
Collectively:  Who's Cameron?
Fred:  Do we have any witnesses?
Chuck:  I saw those two (points at Dan and Gabe) walking back from the woods grinning.  And I saw Disco Dave.  I was walking over and I saw them walking with sticks, I did not look at Disco Dave's house.
Fred:  Dan and Gabe most likely destroyed the boat.
Morton:  Any other witnesses?
Fred:  Does anyone have handcuffs?
Disco Dave:  As punishment they should be locked in a room with my vicious Wumpass
Fred:  Raise your hand if you think Dan and Gabe are guilty  (some hands go up in the air, not all)
Bob:  Wait a second
Fred:  They shall be punished!  Now for Roarie ripping Disco Dave's head off.  They shall be punished!
Bob:  Throw peeps in the river for a minute and a half as punishment (directed at Dan and Gabe)
Chuck:  No, two minutes!
Fred:  They shall be condemned to the waters of the river.  Say "I" if you are in favor of the same punishment for Roarie.
Random yelling:  I think Roarie should be fined.  I think he should have his head soaked in the river for two minutes for attempted murder!
Dan:  It was murder!
Bob:  Hand over your peeps!

The formal trial ended here with the entire village all running into the woods to be first at the "river".  The TinyTownies lined up on either bank excitedly waiting for justice to be done.  Disco Dave set a timer on his watch and the peeps were submerged.  While this seems like it would be a terrible punishment, perhaps even torture, the peeps were really no worse for the wear just a bit wet!

Next week we shall do appraisals and begin clean up of the land.  A newspaper was published today, but due to technical difficulties it is unavailable!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 35 Marlborough School

May 29, 2012

Wrapping up

This morning we were joined by Nate Clark.  Again we wound up with a small group, only 17 homesteaders.  Again, everyone got right to work.  The goal today was to get everyone's land up to snuff (strings down, fences up, landscaping) and to get the houses out there, furnishings were also worked on.  There will be an open house at our school tomorrow night.  Homesteaders have been encouraged to bring their families out to the acre to show off their work.  This was the first week we have had in a long time where homesteaders were at a loss for things to do.  It means next week will be an excellent time for a meeting/trial and will possibly be our last week.

Bittersweet as we transition from away from this Village and begin full steam ahead on our summer program!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 34 Marlborough School


May 22, 2012

I should begin by saying that it is NOT raining!!!!  It would seem that this has been the only real obstacle since moving our program outside.  Such is not the case.  When I arrived this morning to unpack everything I noticed a major discrepancy:  All of the houses we had left in the pavilion were missing!  Obviously this would be a huge problem.  It is very late in the game to have kids start from scratch on their homes.  With a bit of investigating and chaos, it was determined that a family had a party at the pavilion over the weekend (it is owned by the town, not the school).  They moved all of the houses to a locked garage to protect them and forgot to put them back.  In the nick of time the houses we located and replaced!  Phew!!  Crisis averted!

This is the day that was designated as the cut off for the Tinytownies to get their act together and save their town from the "Great Flood".  We began with proclamations and big ideas.  The homesteaders were instructed to first fulfill the terms for their deeds, then to work on houses.  The seventh graders and a couple sixth graders agreed to various forms of responsibility and we set to work.  A large group of boys hightailed it into the woods to check on their properties.  I followed this group.  When I caught up to them Disco Dave's homesteader was distraught, something had happened to his house and his peep was missing.  Another homesteader was also distraught, his house boat had been badly damaged and he found Disco Dave in the muck near his boat.  He held Disco Dave over his head and proclaimed that if his homesteader did not come to claim Disco Dave, that he would behead Disco Dave.  And that is exactly what happened.  The two homesteaders were furious with each other.  Accusations were flying!  They did not seem interested in help... only retaliation.  With a bit of redirection the homesteaders called upon their elected officials to sort out their troubles.

This really needed structure so we turned it into a meeting.

Disco Dave, "R? is framing me for destroying his boat.  He beheaded me and destroyed the top floor of my house!"

Fred, "We need laws against vandalism and murder."  In the meantime the trading post was being robbed.  "And theft."

R?, "I beheaded Disco Dave" -said with a smile

Chuck, "We should have a law that you get put in the river for three days as punishment."

Fred, "Vandalizers should get the same destruction done back to them."

R?, "I didn't touch his house!"

Disco Dave, "R? destroyed my house, beheaded my peep, and accused me of destroying his boat!"

R?, "I have witnesses that I did not touch his house!"

Disco Dave calls  Gabe to stand ("up!")

Gabe, "Me and Dan saw R? with a metal tube destroy his own boat.  R? ripped off one end of the tube and stabbed it into his boat..."

Fred, "Fine R?"

Morton and Bob, "He's bankrupt!"

Gabe, "Can I continue?  He took the pipe and stabbed it through the top floor of Disco Dave's house and took Disco Dave.  The he saw me and Dan and ran."

R?, "I call a witness to the stand."

Chuck, "I saw those two (points to Gabe and Dan) with sticks on my land destroying the boat."

Bob, "Did the pipe have a bent end?  The pipe is mine."

Fred gives a character witness for Disco Dave..."he would never do that, I have known him since first grade..."

Jon (R?'s legal counsel), "I was told I could speak.  We plead innocent until proven guilty!"

R?, "Is that a good thing?"

Mean while, a toad is being trapped inside of an empty yogurt cup, the possibility of taping it in is being discussed.  "I'm calling PETA!  Animal cruelty!", Disco Dave.

The house, the boat, and the pipe are brought in as evidence.

Carmen, "Has anyone noticed that it has been thundering and lightening?  Maybe the bad weather was a factor in destroying the boat and the house?"

Chuck, "This (points to boat) has damage marks!  Where are the nails (points to the house)?  Where are the nails in that house?"

Disco Dave, " I used wood glue and it is water proof."

Rolph, "Are you sure?"

Fred (reads the bottle of glue), "It says water clean up, it doesn't say anything about being water proof.  The bottom of the house of secure.  We should address thieving, it is happening right in front of us right now!"

Law ideas were being thrown around to address the multitude of problems.  Nothing was decided upon.  The thief wound up giving back what he stole from the trading post.  The bell rang and it was time to run back into the school.

This was by far the BEST class we have had this year.  The kids began to acknowledge their personal investment in the community as well as their responsibility to the community.  We did not create any laws or inflict any consequences... but the group did work together to try to solve these very large problems.

When packing everything up I found the toad, and freed it!

Bob's home with fence

Pablo's home with archway

A nice fence!

Tucked into the hillside

On the bank of the river

A sturdy bridge

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 33...?

May 15, 2012


At 5 o'clock this morning I awoke to the sound of rain POURING down.  I thought, "Oh no, not again!"  Every week for the last several it has been raining for Village.  Miraculously the rain stopped at about 7:30 this morning (just as I arrived to set up for Village)!  We had a very small group today, only thirteen homesteaders. Apparently we have forever lost our newspaper editor to the town of Drama Club, like so many before him.  It is a shame and he will be missed... I guess we need to figure out a way for our community to be more attractive than theirs.  This does leave a job opening which was advertised for today.  So far I have no takers, there is much too much other work needing to be done right now.

With our nice small group we got right to work.  A number of homesteaders headed straight for the woods to place houses on land, clean up properties, take down perimeter strings, finish/fix fences, and build bridges!  The rest of the group stayed at the pavilion to make furniture and assemble houses.  One peep even got a stylish new raincoat, made from the fabulous vinyl material donated by the NHDI crowd.  As I was the only "adult" at Village today I assigned supervisory roles to two of the seventh graders who have shown good leadership qualities as well as a fair amount of kindness and respect to their fellow homesteaders.  This worked very well. It allowed me to work between the two groups and gave the homesteaders more freedom of movement.  I don't know if something like this could continue to work with our normally large group, we shall see.

I mentioned bridge building.  The universe continues to smile on Rolph's plan to flood the town.  It is nearly flooded already with out a dam being built.  Streams have turned into brooks that we can no longer jump over. We were able to rework and reconfigure two town bridges today, complete with a culvert.  This was enormously successful and we now have safe, dry access to all of the land.

Wild Wumpus, created by Disco Dave.  This wild creature will be living in the downstairs of Disco Dave's house to protect from intruders.  It is a wild thing though, I hope it is safe to live with!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 32

May 8, 2012

Building, furniture making, land development, placing houses on land

Once again today, it is raining!  Not quite as bad a s last week, but I must admit we got wet!  Homesteaders are properly in the routine of having Village outside, everyone wore a jacket and a few kids brought umbrellas.

We were joined by Tim Bollinger I & II, they were a great help with home construction.  We had four more houses come together today and are ready to go out onto the land next week.  Some kids are busy furnishing their homes others have taken the opportunity (while waiting for a turn with the hammer) to take down their perimeter strings and do a bit of spring cleaning on their land.

The bridge to the far side of TinyTown has seen some improvements as well.  Things are really shaping up, it will be a shame if the TinyTownies don't get their deed fulfillments done in time and Rolph still winds up taking the town.  Next week is the end of the extension.

We have no newspapers to post as the newspaper editor has stopped showing up.  Perhaps next week I'll need to refill that position.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week 31, Marlborough School

May 1st, 2012

Building, placing houses on the land!

This was our first "normal" Village in a few weeks.  Last week was the last of our help from the Keene State students.  Owen Iselin came by this morning to lend a hand (or two or three!).  The first thing is that it is absolutely pouring outside.  The homesteaders asked if Rolph was making it rain to flood TinyTown quicker.  It certainly seems that way.

Having our class outside under the pavilion is a great motivator for the kids, they can see the end.  Several homesteaders braved the rain and placed their finished houses out on their land.  Owen led that expedition, so there is not much for me to report on except:  Homesteaders that went out with houses, came back without them; homesteaders that went out dry, came back sopping!  The rest of the group spent their 45 minutes taking turns with the hammers, working on painting houses, and making furniture.

The President declared that he should have a different title, Mayor, and should be surrounded by a city council.  The former Vice President did not object to this demotion (I'm not sure that the rest of Tinytown is aware that a change has occurred, but I did not hear any complaints).  The Mayor (who was waiting to have a turn with a hammer) spent the morning recruiting council members.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week 30, Marlborough School

April 24, 2012

Emergency meeting!

Over last week's vacation Vera wrote a letter to the peeps of TinyTown.  It was distributed among the residents with the hope that it might help them solve their eminent domain crisis.  The letter is as follows:

To the peeps (and homesteaders) of Tinytown                                                   April 17, 2012

     I am Vera, the old lady peep who visited you last week, the day Rolph said he was taking over the town by eminent domain.  I have visited quite a few peep villages in my life and my human is on the
board of directors of The Game of Village, Inc.   I am surprised and a little worried to notice how very separate and independent the peeps are in Tinytown.  Of course self reliance is good and important. Peeps need to work hard and take care of themselves.  What worries me is that your community is suddenly in a crisis and doesn't seem ready for it.
     The crisis is caused by bad leadership.  You all have trusted Rolph and now he has betrayed you!  He claims the whole town and plans to sell it at a big profit to himself.   This would make all the rest of you peeps homeless and maybe be the end of Village for the year.  I saw you asking yourselves “what can we do?”, and some of you had good suggestions that Tuesday April 10.  The peeps were not in agreement however, and didn't want to or weren't able to listen to each other or decide anything.   One thing I do know is that good group decisions can only come when everybody agrees (or almost everybody).   Plus, orderly meetings and patient listening are needed to get to agreement.

     Are all of you peeps going to let one peep steal everything from you because he is in a position of political power?   Can't you all agree that peeps, like “The People” of the United States of America,
may not be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”?  How about prohibiting the taking of private property for public use without just compensation”?  Those quotes are in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Can't you work together enough to stop Rolph, perhaps by calling on a higher authority for legal support?   You can talk to your teachers, your parents, me (Vera), even your own sense of justice (group conscience), and then take action.   What can you do?   First make sure there is written law, then arrest the criminal for breaking the law.   Try his case fairly and take back what is properly yours.   A trial would be one time to practice orderliness since a disorderly trial is a mistrial.  A trial, like any group meeting, works best if it is brief and decisive (you need an impartial judge or jury).  Expressing opinions and arguing with great passion can be productive, but a courtroom can’t have peeps getting out of control.  At least in that formal setting peeps must respect each other, their laws, and the need for order.   Otherwise they can lose everything. 

     There isn't much time left in the school year, and I don't know what goals Tinytown has.    I hope there will be some public event so us older peeps and some younger ones can visit and meet you all and get entertained.   How about a peep circus or something?   Call me if you want to  @  847-3227 and leave a message with your number.  I will call you back. 

                                                           Yours truly,


Needless to say, Rolph was very nervous about going to Village today.  Would he be arrested?  All of the homesteaders met outside under the pavilion.  An informal meeting was called to order, as there were no materials to use to continue working on houses.  It seemed the only thing left for the TinyTownies to do would be to find a solution for keeping their land.  "We should kill Rolph"  "We should send Rolph to outer space in one of those rockets"  "We should form a government and make some laws to protect us"

Fortunately for Rolph he is likable!  Many homesteaders came to his defense when it was suggested he be killed or sent to the moon.  Disco Dave got up and gave a presentation about having a president... I think.  It was hard to tell what he was ranting about as he paced back and forth through the middle of the crowd.  Whatever it was, it seemed important!  Ultimately it was established that we should elect a president to make laws to protect the town.  Six peeps stood up to meet the challenge and gave campaign speeches.  Some of the speeches were pretty clean while others slung a LOT of mud!  The vote narrowed our options to Bob and Fred.  Bob took eleven votes and was declared the winner.  Fred, with three votes was declared vice president.  Fred then did a bit of talking about making laws, but failed to make any.  Rolph tried to keep them on track by asking what their solution was and what laws actually protect them.  One peep suggested that they pass a law to protect the wildlife of TinyTown and hence cannot be flooded.  This went no where.  The steady tangent revolved around a law that would make a federal takeover illegal without the signatures of the all of the residents of the town.  This is a good law... however, as Rolph reminded them, they have not fulfilled the terms of the contract signed in September to receive the deeds for their land.   The vice president then asked for an extension of three weeks to fulfill these conditions.  Rolph asked what was in it for him?  He was then promised quite a lot of manure.  This is when Rolph stopped paying attention to anything else.  Fortunately for the residents of TinyTown, Rolph is rather simple and has a major weakness!  The new law will become legal as soon as the TinyTownies receive the deeds to their land.  

It looks like we will have class next week.  We will continue outside building houses and improving land.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 29, Marlborough School


April 10, 2012

We were joined this morning by Michael Iselin and his peep Vera.  I was concerned after last week that these homesteaders really needed something BIG to happen to Tiny Town to bring them together and get them to actually make some decisions on their own.  I played with the idea of sending an oil pipeline through the town... but this idea was half baked and not really realistic.  After discussing the problem with others, Rolph decided to sell the town to a power company to make way for a new hydro-electric project (a dam!).  When homesteaders arrived this morning they had this on their tables:

One or two read it immediately and asked me what was going on.  Rolph answered that he had sold the town.  Many of the kids continued business as usual, so Rolph and Vera wandered around asking homesteaders if they had read the proclamation.  Some kids said they couldn't read it, it was written in a very tricky font.  Others formed small groups trying to read and understand its meaning together.  One homesteader began wandering around the room chanting about standing up against the project and coming together.  "Join PAST: peeps against seizing towns!"  Another homesteader kept yelling, "Emergency town meeting!!"  Rolph continued around asking, "Why bother to keep working on houses when there is no where to put them?" and saying, "Oh, I like that house it will be perfect for my hogs when I take your house to settle your debt with the Federal Bank."  Some homesteaders asked Rolph why he sold the town.  He let them know that he received 930meeps for it.  The homesteaders were incredulous.  "That's all you got!!"

 After a while the kids managed to get organized and held an emergency meeting regarding the proclamation and what to do about it.  The meeting was run by Hunter and moderated by Ostar.
"We should protest!"
"We should have a sit in!"
"We should build a rocket and send all of the peeps to space!"
"We should elect a president to fix this, vote for me!"
 "We should settle somewhere else."
"We should build in the trees."
"Maybe it's a code, what do all of the highlighted letters mean?"
"Everyone, bring me as many two liter bottles as you can and I will build a three or four stage rocket to send them to space!"
"But we won't be able to go with them!"
"Maybe we should get collateral loans?!"
 "Maybe we could pool our money and buy it back."

 Through the course of much speculation, some false, Rolph asked the kids if they had read the entire proclamation, specifically paragraph two.  The homesteaders read it together and realized that they have until May 1 to come up with a solution.  This helped to focus their conversation a bit, but not much.  Toward the end of our time the seventh graders began to get interested, even though they are pretty sure nothing is really going to happen.  It will be interesting to see what solutions they come up with.

The newspaper published a new edition today... the newspaper editor seems sadly uninformed about what is going on in town.  Perhaps he thinks that whatever he reports will become what is really happening?

Next week we have no school and hence no Village.  The following week we are making our transition to our outdoor classroom.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Week 28, Marlborough School

April 3, 2012

Town Meeting

I can't believe we are already at week 28!  Our days are numbered and we have SO much left to do, or not.  We had town meeting today to further discuss the senator idea of government.  We began with an announcement that the meeting was for peeps, not kids... please use your peep when speaking.  Our agenda consisted of senators and businesses/jobs.  It was suggested that peeps be limited to only speaking four times during the meeting to help things run more quickly.  This was seconded (in thirded and fourthed...)  "THERE ARE NO THIRDS!" shouts the moderator.  The measure fails.  The meeting is called to order at 8:24am.  Bob comes up and presents his ideas about senators:

                   - Oligarchy:
                                     3 peeps from any grade
                                     1 peep for each grade, representing 5 peeps each
                                     1 representative from each grade

Disco Dave has an idea, " I know this may sound crazy... Make everyone a senator, then there's higher things than senators, president- senate- reps... different levels of power."

Moved to vote

More discussion:
"Each grade can talk with the whole council, then the '3' will make the final decision."  "Hey, I have an idea, we could just have three grades separate as groups to make decisions, then send a rep."

"Which one would be like the senators from Star Wars?"
"We could just have no government"  "We cannot get rid of the FED"

We vote:

  1. separate grades to vote (1 rep /grade)
  2. 3 total people
  3. 1 peep representing five peeps
  4. 1 peep from each grade
  5. direct democracy
  6. leveled power with a president
  7. anarchy
  1. 2
  2. 0
  3. 2
  4. 2
  5. 2
  6. 5
  7. 4
"I move to reconsider"
"Some people voted three times"
"In history women were not allowed to vote, we could just do that"

Disco Dave gets up again to tell us more about his idea, "The President was a side track of leveled power, there would be President and then dot dot dot dot dot, and then peeps.  Leveled power is sort of like a pyramid."  He then draws a block pyramid on the board with the President at the top, followed by three senators, followed by five representatives, followed by everyone else.

"The FED would still be above the president"

"All in favor of redoing this entire vote?"  11 yays, 3 nays

Re vote results:
  1. 0
  2. 0
  3. 2
  4. 0
  5. 0
  6. 8
  7. 6
Leveled power wins- we now have a pyramid scheme government.

"RECONSIDER!"  only 4 are for another re vote.

Disco Dave tries to present again.  Morton moves, "Cut out the representative level, we don't have enough people for that."  This passes 12 to 5.

Disco Dave, "No we aren't, this was my idea..."

"Do you have to be of a specific financial standing to run?"
"You just need enough money for a campaign- or pass out 'Vote for me' papers- because I did in fact invent this..."

This is when the bell rang.  In an exit poll, half of the kids want to continue this next week, while the other half want to get back to building.  During the meeting one peep suggested that not everyone should have to participate in the meeting.  Rolph informed them that this is why we are bothering to have this discussion: to figure out who will be making decisions for our community.  The peeps of Tiny Town do not know how lucky they are that Rolph is such a simpleton, it sure would be nice if he got it together and forced some very undesirable federal laws and taxes on this town.  Something to brainstorm for next week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Week 27, Marlborough School

March 27, 2012

Building, peep intros

We began this morning with two peep introductions.  Our helpers from Keene State introduced Carly and Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is a 45 year old, retired firefighter.  He is a sports fan, a poet, the owner of two dogs and an avid bowler.  Carly is a 15 year old ballerina, she loves music and hanging out with friends.  Both of these new peeps are homeless, Disco Dave offered accommodations for them in his storage unit.  Sarah and Erin (our Keene State helpers) asked the class if they noticed anything different about their peeps (the new peeps were left in the oven too long and have a charred appearance as a result).  Up to this point it had seemed that the kids were not fully engaged, during the introductions most of the questions were asked by Rolph.  When asked about the differences of the new peeps nearly every hand shot up.  "The new peeps are black."  Sarah and Erin then asked the kids how they thought this might effect their community (pros and cons).  "They will bring variety to Village."  "I think they survived the Great Peep Massacre (referring to their burnt appearance)."  "We won't be just a bunch of white people."  "More like a regular environment with diversity."  "We could have a civil war."  "We could have slaves."  This last one drew many a gasp from the class, it was presented as a con and I think the student realized the weight of what he said about 1 second after he said it.  "Chuck would give you free rent if you were his slaves."  It kind of seems like Chuck might be racist.

This was an interesting conversation to have in Village because the peeps as well as the homesteaders were answering the questions.  This is one of the great, and most valuable lessons in Village: your peep can make big mistakes or controversial statements and as a result the homesteader can learn from those actions based on peer reaction and not be condemned by peers for exploring a controversial thought or action in the first place.  The beauty of role play!

Many houses are really coming together, some even have carpeting now.  We tried another way of building this morning:  Instead of nailing a house together, we used wood glue with spots of hot glue as clamps.  It seems like it worked and it was a LOT easier than nailing.  We shall see next week if the wood glue created strong enough bonds to keep the walls together.

This weeks newspaper:

Last weeks newspaper:

Lumber (donated by Whitney Bros and Carlisle Wide plank flooring) waiting to be drawn on

Cardboard models

Lumber cut, some painted ready to be turned into homes for peeps!

Some houses coming together!

I think we need at least one more week inside.  The weather has turned frightfully cold again and frankly I don't want to be out in it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week 26- Marlborough School

March 20, 2012

More Building!!

As always this group never ceases to amaze me.  Today I decided to try something different, I tried not speaking at the beginning of class.  I turns out that I am becoming unnecessary in Tiny Town.  The class got right to task this morning.  There were a few homesteaders who gathered their things and sat quietly awaiting announcements and instructions so I told them they could go ahead and get started.  Otherwise things went progressed without a hitch.

We continue to understand the importance of the cardboard models and right angles as we move on to actual house building.  I think there will be a lot of peeps who are not well protected from the elements when we move outside.  This, however, is yet another learning opportunity.  If these kids participate in another Village, they might take a little bit more time and consideration designing their houses.

Another Tiny Times was published today, I forgot to bring a copy home... so nothing for the blog until next week.  The paper included a coupon for the trading post.  I overheard the newspaper editor and the trading post manager hashing out the details of the discount.  The trading post manager did not want to run a coupon because he felt that the trading post was already losing money by having such low prices.  In the end they worked it out.  If you spend 10 meeps at the trading post you get 1 meep off.

Regardless of the weather, I am planning to bring the class outside the week after next.  We have several houses that are completed and ready to be put on the land.  It will be interesting to see if everybody remembers which land was whose and to see how our fences fared over the winter.  Additionally, it is simply too loud to continue with the hammering indoors.  Best case scenario we only have ten weeks left for Village, probably more like eight.  Now is the time to decide if we will be able to have a mini fair.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week 25, Marlborough School

March 13, 2012

Building, lumber orders, newspapers

This week again was similar to the past several.  Hammers were banging and the class was a hive of activity.  We were joined this morning by my husband, Tim.  He worked with a group of homesteaders to accurately draw out their lumber orders.  More and more houses are coming together with "actual" right angles!

The editor of the Tiny Times has finished his house, so we should be seeing more and fuller newspapers in the coming weeks.  Volume 2 was published today:

It is a great edition and really captures what is happening in Tiny Town right now.

Our Marlborough town meeting is tonight, a group of homesteaders plans to attend the meeting.  My hope is that this will be an experience for them to draw from for our future Tiny Town meetings.  While there doesn't need to be a "right" way of conducting town meeting, there is something to be said for not reinventing the wheel.  I think several things will happen.  Homesteaders will see the respect that a moderator commands, and how that comes about.  Homesteaders might be so bored by actual town meeting that they will have no trouble with Tiny Town meeting.  Homesteaders will observe that a few individuals tend to ask all of the questions and complain an awful lot.  They will also see that real town meeting is mostly about taxes and not so much about policy, what they do with this information I have no idea.

A huge THANK YOU to Carlisle Wide Plank Floors for a large donation of wood to build our homes!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 24- Marlborough School

March 6, 2012


Have I ever mentioned that we are incredibly busy?  This morning's class was visited by Jesslyn, who played Village with us last year at Marlborough School and over the summer in Nelson.  It was great to have some extra help on hand, because we were SO busy!  The very exciting news from this morning is that the first house seems to have been completed!  Okay, mostly completed.  A peep would not be comfortable living there yet as there is no furniture... but the walls are up, the ceiling is on, it looks like it is going to make a very nice home for one lucky peep.  The other good news is that this home belongs to the editor of the newspaper, hopefully now that his house is finished we'll start seeing more news published.

The rest of the class continued working on the steps necessary to complete a house.  Most homesteaders are at the point of drawing out their lumber orders on the wood.  So many, in fact, that we ran out of wood this morning!  This lack of wood provided some homesteaders with an opportunity to do something different.  One homesteader who is apparently bankrupt (from purchasing everyone else's cardboard models and taping them all together) had some time to work out his finances and to think about how he can solve his current plight.  I don't think he came up with a solution that he was willing to do, however, his situation is dawning on him.  This has the potential to go two ways as I see it.  1:  Possibly some impressive changes in this homesteader's sense of community.  In his time of need will he look for/find a job?  Will he talk about his financial woes with his fellow homesteaders?  Will he ask them for help?  2:  He shuts down and refuses to participate.  I am hoping for number 1!

Another homesteader began brainstorming what this idea of having senators will mean  in our community and how it might be applied.  He was so enthusiastic about his plan that at the end of class when I asked him to put his paper away, he asked me if he could bring it home because he wanted to work on his ideas some more.

We spent a bit of time learning about the importance of right angles in home construction.  We also learned a few tricks to make sure the walls and roofs we are drawing out are accurate (a wall that is eight feet high at one end of the room shouldn't be nine and a half at the other end).

Our trading post manager imported a house he built at a previous village.  He had other homesteaders appraise it's value to determine his tariff. "I don't want to do it myself because it would be a conflict of interest."  Once again fairness it very important in Village.

Things are really coming together!

Next week we will do more of the same.  Tim and I have a TON of lumber orders to cut out between now and then.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Week 23, Marlborough School

February 28th, 2012

Town Meeting!

Where shall I begin?  Once again I never cease to be amazed by this group of kids!  Their capacity for civics is phenomenal.  I have been meaning to have town meeting for many weeks, today I bit the bullet and did it, with out any warning to the homesteaders that it would be coming.  We began class by establishing an agenda.  This was quick.  Three items were up for discussion:  Meeting penalties, form of government, and jobs (creating a business).  The first 15 to 20 minutes of class were spent on penalties.  Ideas for behavior and discipline were offered:

  • time out chair
  • three strikes with fines, then go in the hall
  • drown peep in the river
  • burn offending peep
The three strikes won with 12 votes.

  • 1st strike- warning
  • 2nd strike- fine of an undetermined amount (homesteaders decided that this should be left to the moderator's discretion based on the severity of the offense [whisper, talking, interrupting])
  • 3rd strike- homesteader is removed to the hallway, fined (an undetermined amount), and exiled from the next meeting.

Government was up next.  Ideas were offered:

  • not a free state- direct democracy
  • wait until peeps are settled in town to choose government
  • rule with tyranny- force, not choice; no vote; inconsistent government; taxes; anyone could take over; homesteaders might quit
  • senate with impeachment (like star wars)
  • democracy with a few leaders, oligarchy, board of selectmen
  • monarchy
 Much discussion ensued.  Homesteaders agreed that last year, when we had a board of selectpeeps, it was unfair because only sixth graders were voted as selectpeeps.  It was suggested that we have one peep from each grade and that the grades would vote separately.  One student was very concerned about a vote, suggesting that it wouldn't be fair because if you are unpopular ("...as I am"), you will not be elected.  "How about we draw from a hat?  That would be more fair."  The homesteaders seem to be on the same page that an election should not be a popularity contest, the best peeps for the job should be elected.

When called to a vote, a senate government won with nine votes.  I am not really sure what this means.  There was a bit of talk about Star Wars... so I guess "like that"?  Tyranny and monarchy each received zero votes.

At this point the meeting began to deteriorate.... it was moved to end the meeting.  This motion failed.  Disciplinary actions were taken (by the moderator) against a handful of disruptive homesteaders.  We began the discussion about jobs.  "We need more!"  "How are we supposed to make money?"  One homesteaders suggested that you could be an architect or a builder, since some homesteaders are daunted by these tasks.  Another suggested that we should have a police force.  Another suggested that we have a jail.  Rolph interrupted to remind everyone that Tiny Town does not have laws to enforce.  "Well, we'll hire police and build a jail and then we'll make laws!"  We got a bit off topic.  "We should have fines and loss of trading post privileges, not a jail."  It was moved to end the meeting again... once again the motion failed.  One homesteader reached the third strike threshold.  He then went beyond so we revisited this topic.  What happens after three strikes?  "A really BIG (though still undetermined) fine!"

Around this time the bell rang.

The greatest lesson I think that can be taken from today is the homesteaders need for respect.  The first item they came up with for the agenda was to have consequences for poor behavior during town meeting.  It is a high priority to these kids that they have a voice.  Today's meeting was entirely homesteader driven.  Rolph only spoke up twice, once about the lack of laws and once when a homesteaders began to rant and rave about select peeps and how they are not elected and they would change all of the time.  I merely revealed what a select board actually is.  To which the homesteader replied, "Oh, that's how it works around here.?", as though it is very different where he is from (this makes me smile!).  These kids did a fabulous job.

Next week: back to building!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Week 22, Marlborough School

February 14, 2012

lumber orders, banking, cardboard models, house painting

  Today Village looked much like the past several weeks.  The main difference I have noticed is that as a group, we have finally established ourselves.  I think I wrote last week about loosing some students to Drama club; this was unfortunate but I seem to be seeing the same faces every week now and it is nice that we have settled into our group.  I began the morning moving all of our materials from the supply closet and on down the hall into the art room.  My own children have been great helpers with this, they come to school early with me and hold doors open, unload the lumber orders from the car, wash the art tables, and move all of materials.  

  All of the homesteaders were very busy today making BIG progress.  These kids are really getting it.  I didn't feel pulled in twenty directions (this is a big deal).  Three issues arose today: 1. Peeps are overdrawing their accounts.  2. Peeps are counterfeiting checks. 3. Is it a conflict of interest for the trading post manager to assess his own tariffs?  FINALLY!  Problems!  I think we might just be ready to work on our community!

  We have next week off from school, so no Village.  I think it really must be time for town meeting.  I do declare, it will happen on February 28th!

note to self: remember to bring in hammers!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Week 21

February 7, 2012

lumber orders, cardboard models, house painting!

Things are progressing nicely in Village.  At this point the majority of homesteaders have drawn out their house pieces on wood.  Three students painted their house pieces today.  There is still a group of five or six that tends to be behind, although they are making progress.  We have lost several homesteaders to drama club.  I will have a firm number next week and will be able to weed out some of the extra materials.  As homesteaders achieve their goals they have time to think about the bigger picture and where they might fit in the community.  One homesteader today said that he doesn't want to paint his house or spend much money on it because he is planning on building a Colosseum.  This announcement led me to ask a few questions about the building's use.  He does intend for this to be open to the public.... and so our first public works project is born!  Said homesteader is now working on a proposal to have the Colosseum publicly funded.

The plan for next week will be very similar to the plans of the last several.  Some homesteaders are ready to actually assemble their homes.  I will need to remember to bring in some hammers next week.  The next step after building will be furnishings.  My plan is still to move outside as soon as possible.  As the homesteaders are moving along at such a varied pace it would be beneficial to be outdoors because we could have one group of students working on their land and another group working on their houses.

We are finally coming to the point of needing a town meeting and having the focus to get it done.   I am really hoping it will happen prior to February vacation.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week 20!

January 31st, 2012

Lumber orders, reorganizing the bank and trading post

How is it possible for this program to feel more fulfilling every week?  Today was AMAZING!  The homesteaders are really stepping up to the plate regarding ownership.  By ownership I am referring to behavior as well as privilege.  While we are now using the art room for our space we are not allowed to leave any traces that we have been there (for now).  I explained this at the beginning of class and the homesteaders were perfect!  I am so proud of their behavior.  The amount of shanannagans is greatly reduced from where we were in September.  Two boys were rough housing today and I said, "Let's not act like we're in first grade."  To which they replied, "We are in first grade!"  I let them know that first graders are not actually allowed to participate in Village at Marlborough School, and that they would need to leave.  Those boys were perfectly on task for the rest of the hour.  It seems like a very small victory when I bother to write about it, but it is huge because this is evidence that these kids really value what they are participating in.  We didn't get to this point last year, trouble makers felt no investment or ownership in the program.

In other amazing news... We now have two marvelous young women from the Keene State program signed on to help us every week!  Two more adults in the room definitely make a difference.  I gave them a very brief intro to Village before the class began and showed them how to check lumber orders.  This immensely freed up my brain to help homesteaders with other tasks.  Next week they will try to be there a little earlier so I can give them materials for peeps.

More good news!  The blurb that was sent out in the school newsletter requesting materials for Village was responded to!  We have a received a donation including fabric, beads, flooring, tiles and probably a bit more!  Also, a parent from a lower grade approached me this morning asking about the program and how she could contribute.  The community is beginning to recognize us!

We reorganized the trading post a bit today with the hope of streamlining the lumber order process.  I haven't had the opportunity to meet with the manager uninterrupted until now.  He is working to find another employee so that he will have time to work on his own things without disrupting business.   A bit of revamp also happened to the bank.  I met with the banker, she conducted interviews and hired a replacement for her former assistant (banking is much harder than some applicants realize).  We then discussed the next step for the bank: transferring funds from one account to another to reflect checks that are being written.  This is going to be a lot of work, but I know she can handle it!

We did not bother talking about a meeting today.  The homesteaders are so focused on house building they have little attention for anything else.  Next week I plan to continue doing exactly what we are doing now.  I have a large stack of lumber orders to cut.  Homesteaders will begin painting their houses next week!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Week 19, Marlborough School

January 24, 2012

Moving Day!  Lumber orders, bank accounts, cardboard models.....

First our BIG news:  The Game of Village at Marlborough School has relocated to the art room!  This is almost completely exciting news, except that no one told the art teacher.  If she gets over the shock of it, this will be an almost perfect place to do our house building.  My goal is to be out of her classroom as soon as the weather is on our side (with jackets), I'm hoping for April.  This reflects on my biggest frustration.  I see Village as a tremendous opportunity for both students and educators at the school.  It seems that the staff are not real keen on the program.  None of the teachers have said anything to me about what we are doing and how they might be a part of it, we have been playing for 19 weeks!  It seems like a no brain-er that a math teacher might take interest in our lumber orders, this morning several homesteaders said to me, "This is just like what we just did in math class."  A social studies teacher might take interest in our town meetings as we debate what type of government will work best for our village.  These are two of the most obvious and simple connections between what these homesteaders are learning in their classes and how they are applying it in Village.  I think I need to put a staff meeting on my agenda and be a bit more pro active in getting more of the school on board with Village.

Enough ranting!  Homesteaders are becoming more and more independent.  Some of the group that has chosen to goof off are beginning to see that they are being left behind.  This is excellent as it means they are making great strides to get caught up!  Mr. Kokx is ever  more helpful, I value his presence in the class tremendously.  Today I had a moment to show him what the lumber orders are about, now we can both help the kids get this vital and difficult step done.  I have my first completed lumber order, ready to cut!

We are still lacking when it comes to community.  I think the week after next will be a good time for our next town meeting.  We'll talk about it next week and put together an agenda.  Also, I'll invite the social studies teachers to join (and possibly contribute to) our meeting.

To class next week I need to bring:  the cut lumber order, more wood, paint, paint brushes, something to cover the tables with, calculators

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week 18, Marlborough School

January 17, 2012

banking, lumber orders, cardboard models

One hour a week is not really enough!  I brought a few pieces of wood today for homesteaders to begin drawing out their lumber orders.  We did not actually do this though.  As we were in the process I realized that #1: All lumber orders should be checked for accuracy (both in parts and math)  #2: Homesteaders should have their check books prior to drawing on wood, the lumber order needs to be submitted to the trading post with payment before wood is received  #3: trading post employees need to be trained to check lumber orders for accuracy.  Other material I brought to class today: more blank lumber orders, wood glue, simple squares, tiny hinges, yogurt cups, jar and bottle lids, corks, plastic from salad boxes.  Next week we will be moving the class downstairs to the art room.  We will stay there until our houses are out on the land (hopefully in April).

The homesteaders are so interested in house building that no items were suggested for town meeting.  I guess this means it is not time for one yet.

I noticed as I got the class room ready this morning that many students are being a bit lazy with their cardboard models, I found two models that appeared complete and showed these to everyone.  This seemed to put the wind in their sails and many homesteaders were very productive today with very accurate models coming right along.  I think that those who are behind (because of goofing off or lack of focus) will catch themselves up as they see the real progress made by others.  The tricky part of having so many new homesteaders in this class is that many really don't understand why the steps are so important.  This is not a lesson you can tell them, they have to learn it for themselves.  Homesteaders who are not new to the game are progressing amazingly!

The bank is taking real shape, at least one homesteader got their checks today.  So as not to overwhelm the banker, I am having homesteaders who have completed their lumber orders go to the bank as their next step. At the moment this seems to be a good plan.

We already have run out of cereal boxes, I asked homesteaders to bring more from home for next week.

Our first newspaper!

the Peeps of Tiny Town

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week 17, Marlborough School

January 10, 2012

Designing houses, cardboard models, lumber orders, first newspaper, the bank is in motion

We are really accomplishing things!  With another SRO class today the kids got right to work.  Mr.Kokx was able to join us today and his help is invaluable.  I set him to work with one of the students who has missed a couple of classes.  I assigned some guidelines to the newspaper editors and bankers and then set to work on lumber orders with a few kids.  The students in this class that also did summer camp and Village at school last year are able to do lumber orders totally independently.  I haven't checked their work yet, but I doubt I will find any errors when the time comes.  I have two students who are fully ready to move onto drawing out their house pieces on wood.  We will begin that next week. Whitney Bros, a local furniture and toy manufacturer, has generously agreed to donate wood for this project.  I plan to pick up the first load at the end of this week.

Our trading post manager went ahead and brought in a large bag of items from home that he thought we ought to have available for sale.  These kids are incredibly resourceful!

Our first newspaper was published today, I forgot to bring one with me when I left.  I will post it next week.

I brought lumber orders and blank checks to class.  These are somewhat tedious to remake for every Village, so I am posting them here for later use.

Blank checks:

Lumber order:

As it is primary day here in New Hampshire, I saw the town moderator this morning.  I invited him to come to our next town meeting to moderate.  In the letter I am sending home with the kids (for the parents) I need to encourage them to bring their kids to the upcoming town meetings.  Witnessing the structure of a real meeting  I think would help a lot of these kids really understand the purpose of having meeting as well as what appropriate behavior can look like.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week 16, Marlborough School

January 3, 2012

Designing houses, cardboard models, job interviews

We had a very full class today, 24 kids!  The agenda was to continue where we left things before vacation.  I brought Tim to school with me today, to guarantee adult help.  I brought in two peep houses, some old house plans, a stack of empty folders and a LOT of empty cereal boxes (every box that my household and my mother's have gone through since August).  When the class came in I asked them to label their folders and told them (obviously) to keep all of their paperwork in their folders from now on.  I gave brief instructions and let the class continue independently.

I finished up the job interviews, there are quite a few highly qualified peeps in Tiny Town.  I am not sure quite how to divvy up the work.  I think I will just have applicants for the same position switch off every other week, that way all students have ample time for house building and plenty of opportunity for professional development.

Several students are well underway or finished with their cardboard house models.  Next week we will begin working on lumber orders.... I have a feeling that many houses will be redesigned at that time.  We have some rather large houses in town.  Seeing this, I made an announcement to the class that their loan money would be 600meeps and that the price of lumber can be expected to be around 15 to 19 cents per square mini foot.  Some students calculated rough estimates of their building costs, the walls for one house were over 800meeps!

Storage is beginning to become an issue in the room where we are working.  As are the number of desks, we were missing three students this morning and every desk was occupied.  I need to have a conversation with Reuben about this soon.  I also need to find another volunteer for next week as Tim will not be available.