Commercial-Free Book Fairs

For the last few years in June, Cape Ann Waldorf School has put on a wonderful book fair. All recycled books, low prices and a great way to stock up on summer reading.  It’s one way to have a commercial-free book fair in your school.  If you like the idea and want to do your own (with new books or used), check out the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s guide on how to do it....

Another Moraine Farm Partner

Essex County Greenbelt — you may have seen their signs and been on their properties.  They are involved in protecting Moraine Farm from future development and they’ve made a wonderful little movie highlighting their history and their work. Essex County Greenbelt, “Home” Final Cut from Bait & Tackle on...

CAWS Class of 1996

This graduation speech for the Cape Ann Waldorf School Class of 1996 was recently uncovered (thank you Jenny Helmick!).  Written by one of the CAWS founders, Linda Finigan, its final paragraphs are especially poignant now that the future home she imagined for the school has finally been realized.  It’s a wonderful glimpse into the early years at our school — enjoy!...

Reading Is Elemental

Professor Helen Vendler, a distinguished scholar and leading American poetry critic, imagines what kind of early schooling would produce great readers.   Here’s what she says: In a utopian world, I would propose, for the ultimate maintenance of the humanities and all other higher learning, an elementary-school curriculum that would make every ordinary child a proficient reader by the end of the fourth grade—not to pass a test, but rather to ensure progressive expansion of awareness. Other than mathematics, the curriculum of my ideal elementary school would be wholly occupied, all day, every day, with “reading” in its very fullest sense. Let us imagine the day divided into short 20-minute “periods.” Here are 14 daily such periods of “reading,” each divisible into two 10-minute periods, or extended to a half-hour, as seems most practical to teachers in different grades. Many such periods can be spent outside, to break up the tedium of long sitting for young children. The pupils would: engage in choral singing of traditional melodic song (folk songs, country songs, rounds);  be read to from poems and stories beyond their own current ability to read;  mount short plays—learning roles, rehearsing, and eventually performing;  march or dance to counting rhymes, poems, or music, “reading” rhythms and sentences with their bodies;  read aloud, chorally, to the teacher;  read aloud singly to the teacher, and recite memorized poems either chorally or singly; notice, and describe aloud, the reproduced images of powerful works of art, with the accompanying story told by the teacher (Orpheus, the three kings at Bethlehem, etc.); read silently, and retell in their own words, for discussion, the...