Inside and Outside Our Classrooms

A Curriculum Update Twice a year our teachers share a brief summary of what’s been happening inside their classrooms. As you read through these curriculum updates, you can sense how a Waldorf education actively engages the body, mind, and will, allowing the students to grow and unfold their inner capabilities. Nursery By Caroline Mercier We are now in the thick of our rain and mud season.  However, the children come well prepared, covered from head to toe in their waterproof gear. There are puddles to splash in; mud-cakes, muffins, and stews to make; holes to be dug; hills to climb; horses to care for; wagons to pull; and buckets of water and mud to be carted here, there, and everywhere! This week, we left buckets and wheelbarrows under the dripping roof to catch the rain drops in the morning, and it is was such fun to come back after lunch to see how full they got. Every morning, we share a sunflower seed and apple snack at our picnic table, and every day the chickadees gather up above, waiting for us to finish. When we are done and sometimes before we are done, these sweet little birds come and pick up the seeds that have dropped, while we quietly watch. But one day, something very special happened… After many patient days of trying, one little bird was brave enough to eat out of our hands. What a joyful surprise that was. Our nature walks are getting longer as the children grow and their stamina increases. One of our latest walks took us through the “magic forest” to the babbling...

An Example of How Handwork Supports Math Learning in Waldorf Schools

By Heather Collis-Puro, Handwork Teacher At Waldorf School at Moraine Farm, beautiful geometric drawings are often what come to mind when we think about math in sixth grade.   Many of us have purchased the notecards that Mr. Yoors’ (sixth grade) class sold at the Holiday Fair last year.  I have a hard time using them!  Working with accuracy and patience to create these incredible forms is just developing in the 12-year-old, and understanding symmetry gives a basis for grasping further mathematical concepts like algebraic equations that are taught later in middle school.  In handwork, the students work with symmetry and geometry starting with knitting in first grade, creating simple animals from knitted squares and rectangles.  In sixth grade the students make dolls, using the mathematical concepts of the Golden Ratio in order to create a symmetrical pattern for the body of the doll.  Creating a doll by hand takes accuracy and skill, and the students spend the year honing their ability to be precise.  Often the students will take a break from regular project work to take up some other craft around a holiday or vacation, and this year, the sixth graders created these star lanterns at the new year. These lanterns are made in the form of a dodecahedron. The dodecahedron form is one of five platonic solids, each solid assigned by Plato to represent the one of elements and the universe.  Plato’s theory was a bit premature, only a first step to understanding the chaotic world of earth, air, fire and water.   Although we are not learning about these shapes in order to further our understanding about science,...

Huffington Post Story on Waldorf Education

A great piece on one family’s journey to Waldorf education.  Originally published here. Knitting Is More Important Than Homework By MARA MENACHEM Two years ago on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Business section, an article ran entitled, “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” about the Waldorf School in Silicon Valley. I had already made the decision to enter my oldest son in a Waldorf school before the article came out, but I pathetically admit that this piece in the New York Times validated my intuition regarding a Waldorf education. Years ago when I was looking at preschools, I checked out a Waldorf School. At the time, despite my hippie pre-disposition, the environment seemed too “out there.” However, I trusted my intuition enough to send my kids to another somewhat alternative, small, liberal pre-school focusing on socialization, not academics. The kids were happy, as were we. My kids were little Huck Finns and I was comfortable as their pied piper as they explored their world, not competed in it. But when it came time for elementary school, going “alternative” seemed a little too “alternative.” Traditional private school didn’t do it for me as a kid. I went to private school and felt stifled. I wanted something different for my kids. In my mind, I saw my kids being raised with limitless imagination and access to never-ending creativity, even after pre-school. My perspective always seemed to be different from the majority. My intellectual buddies (although many sans kids) served as the great validators of my gut feelings regarding how I handled certain situations. Over time, I...

Handwork Year-In-Review

Here are some of the finished products from the school’s handwork program during the 2012-13 school year.  Thank you Mrs. Collis Puro and Mrs. Freysinger for helping the children to make such beautiful objects with their own...

Proud Craftsmen

Back in January, the 7th and 8th grades took a field trip to Jo Ann’s Fabric and picked out material for their next project. Now it is May and look what the material has turned into! Kevin and Aidan agree that the collars were the hardest part (“lots of steps”), the buttons were the easiest, and the sewing machine’s buttonhole attachment was fun to use (“it practically did it itself”). It’s wonderful seeing adolescent boys proud of something they’ve made with their own hands.  And it’s another example of why Middle School at Cape Ann Waldorf School is a great place to...

Penelope the Sheep

On an unusually warm December day, the Cape Ann Waldorf School third grade went outside to work on Penelope’s fleece.  Penelope is an English Leicester sheep from Cranberry Moon Farm whose fleece, over the course of the year, the class will turn into yarn for a project. Here’s Penelope, before she was shorn: This is part of a weekly fabric arts block taught the handwork teacher.  At Waldorf schools, children learn to knit, sew, crochet, and more, beginning in first grade and continuing up through high school.  More than just learning skills, they gain a sense of what it takes to make everyday items that we take for granted (knitting hats in second grade, socks in fifth).  They also get to experience the satisfaction of finishing a project that may last weeks or months. Below are photos of washing, rinsing, and setting the wool out to...