Waldorf School at Moraine Farm | Blog

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm: Farm and Garden Land Use Proposal

Written by Caroline Horner on behalf of the Science in Nature program

Introduction and overall goals:

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm is pleased to submit this land use proposal for Mimi Batchelder’s “Bean shed” walled garden. Our goal is to give students, faculty, and community members the space to participate in meaningful learning while exploring our relationship to nature in the active farm and garden environment that surrounds our school.  Healthy, hands-on outdoor experiences on this land would help us balance and fully integrate the curriculum from early childhood through grade eight.  These broad experiences and our ongoing observations would nurture an understanding and appreciation of the delicate and complex relationships of the natural world and the students’ roles within it.  The farm landscape provides a unique opportunity to participate in real work that brings a sense of responsibility and compassion to all involved.  Our deep and well-guided relationship to agriculture will allow us to become caring stewards of the campus environment and our planet.

planted garden 2

The ritual of farming provides a sense of security for all participants, as they will know what to expect in their day’s work.  Hope and gratitude in the seasonal rhythm of new spring life, summer abundance, the shedding of fall, and the peaceful stillness of winter allow for feelings of awe, reverence and surrender.  Mother Earth brings forth the cycles of life and death that allow us to experience loss, success and failure, and the subsequent feelings of patience and perseverance.  The sacred practice of tending to the Earth will have us tending to our lives with deeper understanding and trust.

compost spreading

We want memories to be made and the community to be fed with ideas, food, physical work, joy, wonder, and connections.  Practical lessons learned on the land prepare children for many diverse tasks in life and contribute to the development of a well-balanced individual through hands, heart and mind.  Being in the garden, or on the farm, allows children to feel grounded and needed, while validating their contribution to the greater good.  Our preparations and best practices allow children to cultivate their own education and feel the interconnectedness of all things, i.e., where food comes from and how to grow it.

The farm is part of our school name, a big reason why we moved here, and an essential theme in Waldorf education.  We believe our program will help protect the unique characteristics of this historic property for all to enjoy.  Our program will continue to celebrate the history of farming in New England, while inspiring a new generation of land stewards.

First Grade


For our students

We plan to start programming with the Early Childhood and lower grades, as a manageable beginning focus.  We envision a curriculum and set of activities that involves all of the older grades as we move forward.

Early Childhood classes and Grades 1-3 average 10-12 students.  The 3rd Grade would visit twice a week, and the rest of the classes may visit once a week or less.  Each visit would be less than an hour, although the 3rd grade may stay longer to accomplish larger tasks.  Some classes would overlap their visits, taking on different work appropriate for their age.  We will create a schedule of activity that allows for all classes to feel a deep sense of connection to the land and work, as well as allowing the peace and spaciousness of the property to be upheld.

The “Bean Shed” Walled Garden – A great place to start, this garden is starting to be revived, uncovered and loved.  Bringing it to life again with the students has been rewarding and exciting so far.  With three long garden beds, there is plenty of space for the younger children at school to share in the planting and chores together.  The 1st and 2nd grades spread biodynamic compost from the Mansur’s yard.  The 2nd and 3rd grades have planted pumpkins and sunflowers.  The Goldenstar program has planted zinnia seeds.  Other grades have helped in the weeding and will continue to help with planting more sunflowers and with watering.  Coleen Ryan has been working with classes over the past few weeks and will continue to fine tune a schedule of what can be done.

We have recently added a greenhouse to the school property and are excited for the classes to explore the many uses a tool like this can provide, i.e., a warm shelter in winter and inclement weather for the Kindergartens, a place to start seeds and grow plants for the 2nd and 3rd grades, as well as a place of observation and learning for all who enter the space.

Sample curriculum activities from other Waldorf schools (some things are beyond our scope for now, but we like to dream):

Early Childhood – Carrot digging, snacking, and seasonal walks.

Kindergartens – Seasonal observations, cider pressing, potato digging, pumpkin harvesting, seeding radishes and peas, snacking and walks.

Grade 1 – Class garden, corn husking, cider pressing, apple drying, snacking on spinach and greens, and planting peas.

Grade 2 – Planting seeds, weeding, sawing wood, harvesting beets, group work social skills, and a “Three Sisters” planting of corn, beans and squash.

Grade 3 – Harvesting onions, potatoes, popcorn and field corn, winter squash and pumpkins, planting a cover crop, shelling beans, birdhouse building, planting corn, onions, winter squash and pumpkins, and grains.

Grade 4 – Pruning and mulching ornamental plantings and grain harvest.

Grade 5 – Broom making and sketching plants for Botany study.

Grade 6 – Corn harvest, tool identification and maintenance, tending class garden, caning raspberries, seed planting, and potting.

Grade 7 – Potato sorting, seed saving, and building toolboxes for carpentry project.

Grade 8 – Harvesting, nutrition study, basket weaving with natural materials gathered on site, and experiments with different growing methods.

For the land

To the extent possible, we intend to use biodynamic principles, which use natural forces to promote the health and fertility of the land.  Michael and Mary Mansur are creating a plan for a field compost pile as well as some pollinator plants for the garden.  Michael has collected goat manure, and along with kindergarten compost and biodynamic preps he will create a layered pile just outside the walls of the garden.  Mary and Jocelyn Schaeffer will be starting seeds in the greenhouse and weeding a section of the garden to prep it for planting for the bees, which occupy a hive on the grounds of TTOR Moraine Farm.

For families and the wider community

The walled garden will provide a rich venue for educational and recreational offerings for our families and the wider community.  Use of the garden will allow us to enhance and expand our community offerings, with a focus on farming, gardening, and people’s relationship to the land. For families, we envision seasonal festivals as well as educational activities (e.g., supporting our native pollinators, gardening with children, biodynamic agriculture, history of Moraine Farm, etc.).

Oversight and risk management:

With the help of an active parent volunteer committee, and the guidance of a faculty/staff member, we will ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the plot, as well as the safety of community members who use it during school hours and events.  We will work closely with the school facilities manager about any needs that may arise.

Introducing New Faculty Members for the 2016-2017 School Year

It is with great pleasure to introduce four new faculty members who will be joining our community very soon.  We are excited and fortunate to have these new teachers bringing their own unique skills and experiences to the school.

Cristan VineisCristan Vineis has joined as the lead Kindergarten Teacher. Cristan brings many years of experience, coming from the Waldorf School of Cape Cod where she has worked since 2011. She held several roles in the early childhood programs. Most recently, Cristan was the Assistant Kindergarten Teacher and Lead Siesta Teacher at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and earned her Anthroposophy and Waldorf Early Childhood Education training through the Alkion Teacher Training. Cristan has also worked as a doula.



Branigan_ReedBranigan Reed is the rising First Grade Teacher.  Branigan comes to us via the Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Somerville, MA. She earned her Masters degree from Antioch University as well as a Bachelors degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Branigan’s attributes her theatre background to the creative approach she brings to her work.


MarlenyMarleny Alfaro joins the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm faculty as a Spanish Teacher. She is a native of Cuba. Marleny has many years of teaching experience. At the Suncoast Waldorf School in Florida she taught Spanish and served as a Class Teacher. She also taught at the Taos Waldorf School. Most recently, Marleny and her family have been living in California where she worked at a Buddhist Retreat center.





Kevin Doering will be joining our faculty as the rising fifth grade teacher. He comes to us from Vermont where he has spent the last six years teaching grades five through eight. Most recently, he taught at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School where he took over the seventh grade class. Kevin earned his Vermont teacher license in 2009, a certification for middle school and elementary science, from the Upper Valley Educator’s Institute in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He also studied Earth and Atmospheric Sciences while earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Rutgers University. Kevin also has an interest in weather and writes a weekly column on the subject called “Weatherwise” for The Herald of Randolph, VT.

6th and 7th Grade Goes to The Big Apple

There is nothing more satisfying than to see up close and understand and appreciate what you are seeing and experiencing. This month, the sixth and seventh grade class did just that. They went to New York City for a three-day trip and visited places that featured topics of the lessons they learned throughout the year. Their recent studies in astronomy, mineralogy, and human physiology, gave them a genuine interest as they visited The Cloisters (part of the MET), Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty, Natural History Museum and these exhibits: 

Adult Handwork: Indigo Workshop

This past Saturday, June 4, Waldorf School at Moraine Farm hosted a workshop focused on natural dyeing. We used Indigo dye and Shibori folding and binding techniques that resulted in unique and beautiful designs. Luckily it was a mild morning which allowed us to be outside where we could get dirty, drip on the ground and enjoy the messy process.


Participants ranged from current and alumni parents, to colleagues from the Seacoast Waldorf School in Eliot, Maine as well as creative people visiting the school for the first time. IMG_20160604_114516713

Proceeds from this well attended workshop have allowed the school’s handwork program to purchase a stitching machine. This will enable us to increase our skills and abilities in sewing leather and thicker materials. Which will be especially helpful with the handmade shoes and sandals that our handwork teacher, Heather Collis Puro, has been working on with the middle school students and adult handwork classes.


We look forward to offering more hands on, creative and fun classes soon. Be sure to keep an eye on the school’s calendar and announcements for workshops in the future!


By Coleen Ryan

Our Teachers Dive Deep into Our Math Curriculum

A Summary of Math-Based Professional Development This Year

By Dianne McGaunn, Math Teacher and Math MentorBeauty of mathematics

We possess mathematical truths through the fact that we ourselves behave mathematically in the world. We walk, we stand, and so forth; we describe certain lines on the earth. Through this will relationship to the external world we actually receive the inner perception of mathematics. – Rudolf Steiner

This year, teachers have dedicated several pedagogical meetings to exploring our math curriculum more deeply. Some of our time has been working with Rudolf Steiner’s indications (see above) and their applications to our math teaching. As a result of our work together, we are developing a clearer understanding of the richness and power of our math curriculum and we can better communicate this to our community and beyond.

In our math discussions in the fall and early spring, it became clear that mathematical thinking in Waldorf education is cultivated from the earliest stages and through many different experiences. In the early childhood programs, opportunities to experience the world and its mathematical truths in an age-appropriate way abound. For example, if four students want to use the swings but there are not enough swings for all of the students to use at once, a teacher might ask: how many students will need to wait if there are four students but two swings? In addition, balancing on objects and experiencing the physics of the world through running, jumping, balancing and playing are all mathematical experiences that are integral to the youngest students’ day. In the grades, we experience math in our classroom work, including measurement, movement and balance activities, and other outdoor activities. The students’ math learning is further enhanced through music, an artistic expression of math; eurhythmy, in which students can experience math through beautiful movement; handwork, in which students create attractive and useful objects that incorporate mathematical concepts, precise work, and objective experiences; and German and Spanish classes, in which students reinforce important math vocabulary. In other words, math is an essential part of every Waldorf student’s life; students receive their math education through many different modalities, thereby building a strong mathematical foundation for advanced learning and thinking.

During our professional day on March 8, we discussed topics such as the importance of physical movement in math learning, issues surrounding math anxiety, and how to support different math learners. First, we brainstormed all of the ways that movement is used in a Waldorf curriculum to support all learning, and math in particular. From eurythmy to handwork, main lesson movement work and gym, outside play and exploration, it is clear that our curriculum considers healthy movement and sense experiences as paramount to strong math learning.

Next, we explored the general topic of math anxiety. As many of us know, negative feelings associated with math can have lifelong, deleterious effects on learning and how we feel about ourselves. (Although math anxiety is not very common with our unique, multi-sensory and multi-faceted math education, it does exist for some students.) We discussed the value in learning from mistakes and the importance of a positive mindset for embracing struggle and hard work in math (based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford University).  We reflected on how important it is to allow time and space for deep mathematical thinking that might not be speedy or completely correct, but has immense value in the learning process. In addition, we emphasized the importance of art and beauty in mathematics education, and the social impact of how math is learned in the classroom. These topics led to a discussion on how to best support different math learning styles and needs in the classroom. We plan to take this up in more depth in the future, as it is critical to supporting all students.

Finally, we shared some of our best practices in math lessons, which was an excellent opportunity to learn from and with each other. Some teachers discussed how to modify lessons for different kinds of math learners; others gave sample lessons on math topics such as teaching proportions, how to find the algebraic equation for the total number of degrees in any polygon, inspiring ways to teach place value and carrying, and tricks for mathematics calculations.

In summary, this year we have generated enthusiasm and a renewed appreciation for our math curriculum and we have begun to better articulate the gifts of a Waldorf math education. Along the way, we have identified some areas for renewal in our math education and have reiterated our commitment to continually grow as math teachers and to meet the changing needs of students while keeping true to the foundations of Waldorf education. We look forward to next year as an opportunity to deepen this work and to further strengthen our outstanding math curriculum.

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm

701 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Find us on Facebook

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.