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.
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 brook, near the elephant tree by the lake—a very special place indeed. While there, the children found their fishing rods (sticks), and with them many a salmon, trout, and tuna (leaves) were pulled out of that brook. I think we could have stayed there all morning with no complaints! After a good deal of fishing, we sat on a blanket nearby for our snack of sunflower seeds and hot cider. The feel of a warm cup of sweet smelling cider in their little hands on a chilly day is a lovely sensory experience for the children (and their teachers!). After a little more fishing, we packed up our things in the wagon and headed back to school for a rest and lunch.
In our early childhood program, the children play outdoors in all kinds of weather, experiencing all the elements Mother Nature has to offer. It is in this way that the youngest children learn about science and nature—with a full immersion and hands-on experience. They witness firsthand the changes in the earth, in the plant life, and in the air. We see the ground change from lush green in early September to a harder, browner earth, which then (hopefully) becomes covered with a good layer of crystal white snow. As the snow melts, we witness more changes, from slush to mud puddles to ice and then back to mud puddles again—sometimes all within the same week! And then, as the mud recedes and the earth regains its composure, we witness the new life that emerges in the spring—from out of the earth, from the branches of the trees, and from the new birds that sail along the fresh spring breezes above us and around us. What an amazing world we live in, and the children absorb it completely, with innate interest and joy. The genuine love and reverence for the earth that transpires because of these kinds of experiences are the very roots of the important learning that will take place as they grow older.
By Lindsay Miles
My Lady Spring is dressed in green she wears a primrose crown
The little baby buds and twigs are clinging to her gown
The sun shines when she laughs at all
But when she cries the rain drops fall
My Lady Spring, my Lady Spring, my Lady Spring is Here.
Spring is upon us with promises of sunshine, warmth, and new growth. Our days are filled with lots of good work and play. In the mornings, we have had ears of dried popcorn to work with, as groups of children have taken the corn off the husk and stored them in a jar until we can have a popcorn treat. There are apples and vegetables to chop, floors to mop, painting boards to clean, laundry to fold, and plants to water. Surrounding all this good indoor work, there are many different kinds of play happening. Several children have been making a skateboard ramp, complete with secret compartments, and they worked together to fix any problems that came up in their construction and any squabbles about whose turn it was. Another group of children gathered all the long silks, clips, and playstands and made the most vibrant house to live in. One morning, all the chairs were gathered from the table and placed on the rug, and they were quickly turned into a spaceship with foot rests and pedals. And to think that this was all in the first forty-five minutes of class! Our days are always so wonderfully full.
Our outside time is filled with lots of exploration and time in nature. Our nature walks to the meadow by the lake or to the water’s edge are allowing us time to walk as a group. Children are paired purposefully, either with teachers or friends, and there are places where we join hands and sing while we walk, places where the children are eager to share stories and laughter with their partners, and places where they are able to walk freely. The ground is changing once again and now there are sometimes puddles with thin layers of ice on them, lots of mud to squash in and, of course, traces of animals in prints, fur, and sounds now. The meadow, while the weather is still cool and the ticks are sleeping, allow for great races and rolling games to help with our extra spring energy. The lake lets us have fun tossing rocks and floating logs and sticks that become boats. We even had a bald eagle fly right over our heads!
Goblin Hill, another of our favorite spots, is allowing for great hill climbing, searching for bugs along the rotting tree stumps, and now water exploration as the water is thawed. One large group of children gathered at the water’s edge with long logs for fishing poles! Our rainy spring days bring all the children to gather at the running water that comes out in the woods, and they all work to continue making streams that lead into the deep, deep puddles, which are now small pools!
This is also a lesson in choices, as some of the children run and jump into the deep pools as soon as they get outside and then quickly realize that because the water is so deep it goes up and over their boots and then fills them with water!!
We have begun to rake out the Living Tepee, as we are seeing the beautiful bulbs begin to poke out of the earth even more. The earth is certainly ready for us to begin working in it and so we have begun cleaning out all of our garden beds and adding fresh earth
and compost. We started to replant our Green’s Garden and are eager to have fresh salads again with our lunch. As the weather warms we will add more seeds to grow more food for our class!
By Maggie Smith
Whereas throughout the fall, the first grade was introduced to each capital letter and numbers one through twelve—a cursory handshake and exchange of names—this winter and spring we have been spending our time getting better acquainted with them! It has been very exciting to begin putting the letters together to form full words and sentences and see all the different sounds they can make when combined. We have also been engaged in a thorough exploration of the four mathematical processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and have been amazed to see the ways they relate to each other. Isn’t it a relief to have multiplication to condense those long addition sentences—when 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 becomes 3 x 4? The first graders are excited to continue studying these things over the rest of the year, as well as discovering lower case letters and building their knowledge of the times tables.
In addition to the academic side of things, we received our pentatonic flutes in January, and are making great strides in learning how to play these musical instruments, one note at a time. We spend our days well engaged in rhythmic movement and speech work, in order to build more control of our bodies and voices, for ourselves as well as while we are in a group setting. Seven months into the school year, we have really settled into what it means to be a class of grade school students, eager each day to begin the learning process anew.
By Ana Reiselman
Spring is a very busy time for the second grade! On Monday, March 28, we began rehearsing in earnest for our truly epic play. The script I am writing is based on the Native American tale Jumping Mouse. It is a story that chronicles the adventures of a very special mouse who undergoes a surprising and transcendent transformation. This was the second story I told the students when we began our year together back in September, and the bravery and generosity of Jumping Mouse has continued to inspire and inform our actions on a day-to-day basis.
Waldorf students learn their plays in a truly remarkable way: they memorize the ENTIRE play. The second grade has memorized about three good-sized pages of dialogue so far, and by the time we perform this spring, every child will know every line of the play. Engaging in dramatic material in such a manner is a true gift, as each student has the opportunity to live in each role and experience the story from every point of view (including the all-knowing narrator)! Since each child knows each part, we have great fun shifting around the roles everyone plays from day to day, once the lines are relatively solid. Four or five days before the actual performances, I ask the students to tell me which two or three parts they would like to play. This helps inform me of where each student’s interest and comfort level is. Students often gravitate towards the parts that suit them and/or help them grow as human beings and performers. Ultimately, the teacher decides the casting, as we can see the whole picture of how they work as a class, but it is a rare occurrence that a child is not suited to or pleased with the part s/he plays. My particular class has been clearly gifted in the dramatic arts since the beginning, and the students truly shine in their speech work. They take great joy in articulation, memorization, and especially interpretation! They have a natural penchant for dynamics, and take direction astonishingly well. The art of acting develops clear speech, improved reading and spelling, careful listening, and spatial orientation. Beyond this, putting on a show brings the class together as a whole, solidifies the students’ social bonds, and creates a sense of community among all the children in the class.
There is a point in every production when the children become tired of the play. They already know the story and are ready for something new, or they just can’t get the blocking right and their teacher makes them do it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again! Pushing through the tedium that is often the middle of the rehearsal process strengthens the students’ will. In retrospect, they come to realize that the flush of excitement and success they experienced in the actual performances would not have been possible without the hard, but rewarding, work of focused repetition.
By Anita Warren
The class curriculum continues to center around the theme of “living on the Earth.” In our Old Testament stories, Moses has handed his leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, and they are entering the land of Canaan, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The students are learning about how to cook (soup for the after-school faculty meetings on Thursdays); what the seven grains are and how they are used in our modern culture; handwork skills in the fiber arts class; discussing the farmer’s year; and preparing for their week-long trip to a small farm in western New Hampshire.
This trip is a highlight of the year. They will have the experience of being away from their home for five days, participating in various farm experiences, such as milking a cow and caring for chickens, as well as hiking and building shelters. They will stay in a comfortable well-used lodge, and be able to participate in activities to prepare the food and a place to eat. After dinner, there will be fun evening activities, such as singing and playing games.
The class, along with their sixth grade buddies, went to Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary to observe the maple sugar process. They learned about how to identify a sugar maple from other trees and how the maple syrup is made, and they were able to feed birds out of their hands afterwards. It was a fun and very informative experience.
We have also been taking advantage of our wonderful campus. We take weekly walks to observe how the various plants and natural phenomena change through the seasons. The children love to find new things and bring these to each other’s attention: a hawk overhead, skunk cabbage getting bigger weekly, ice in the woods becoming thin and easily breakable, crunchy snow after a freeze and thaw, tracks and bits of animal fur left from perhaps a coyote kill, an eagle flying in the distance. On a recent walk with Coleen Ryan, they were able to experience five minutes of silent observation, and most did not want the time to end. There are so many things to see and experience! All of these experiences lay the groundwork for science class in the later grades: human and animal in fourth grade; botany in fifth grade; and physics, human physiology, and chemistry in the middle grades. We are so lucky to have the Moraine Farm campus available to us.
By Sabrina Babcock
The fourth grade has completed a four-week human being and animal block. As part of their animal project, along with researching, writing about, and making a diorama of their animal in its natural habitat, each child wrote a song, poem, or story about his/her animal. Below are a few of the fourth grade animal writings.
The Funky Chunky Monkey Rap
The monkey is funky and he’s also kind of chunky,
And he likes to munchy on the roots that are crunchy.
And he also eats leaves as he’s swinging through the trees,
And he doesn’t like bees or those pests called fleas.
He likes to swing around and is rarely on the ground,
And he also likes to bound but he has never seen a hound.
There are monkey types but they never smoke pipes,
And they always eat the fruit when it’s ripes
Even though it’s really “ripens”
I have taken poetic license.
Helen was a very smart peachick. She lived in a forest with her mother and her five brothers and sisters. One day, Helen was exploring right outside the forest about one mile away from her mother, when she saw a strange creature coming towards her. She had seen creatures like this one many a time. Suddenly it picked Helen up and put her in a cage! Helen was scared. She was frantic and didn’t know what to do. She heard a rumbling sound as she was put into something. This rumbling something started to move. After about ten minutes, Helen grew calmer as she felt her eyelids slowly shutting as she drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
When Helen woke up, she found herself in a cage about the size of a normal fireplace. Just then, she realized that she was starving. She immediately looked around the cage and spotted a green bowl filled with cut-up strawberries, wheat and flower buds. She went running towards it. Helen ate and ate and ate until the bowl was empty. She then decided to focus on where she was, and how to get out. First, she wanted to know where she was. She looked around, and then she saw many of those weird creatures, and many more animals in different size cages. Now, we would call that a zoo, but Helen didn’t know that. Next, Helen wanted to know how to get out. So, she asked the peacock in the cage next to her. That peacock said there was no way out, but Helen didn’t give up. Helen asked the animals around her until an old raccoon said that he could get ahold of the keys and give them to her. She could then unlock her cage and she would have to unlock his cage too. So the raccoon started climbing up the side of his cage to the hook that the keys were hanging on.
That night, the raccoon threw the keys to Helen and she managed to unlock her cage. Then she went and unlocked the raccoon’s cage. The raccoon thanked her, and told her the directions to the nearest exit. Helen followed the directions and came to the exit. Although Helen was worried that she might never find her family, she was glad to be out of the zoo. Helen walked for about a day, and just when she thought all hope was lost, she happened to look up and see her family not far away. Helen ran as fast as her little legs could carry her, for she had missed her family. Now she was joyfully reunited with them.
Sidekick the Chicken
One day, Sidekick the chicken was walking around the backyard when all of a sudden, she heard a hawk. So Sidekick did the one thing she was good at, squawking really loudly. Then all of her chicken friends, Ku KU, Tallulah and Brave heard her and gathered together. They nervously ran from tree to tree trying to find a place to hide. The hawk was swooping down to the yard. The chickens were running as fast as they could towards the summer coop. The coop was locked shut. The chickens started to panic.
Tallulah, who was the leader of the flock, was trying to think of a plan to escape the hawk. Ku Ku thought it was a good idea to run into the bushes. They all took turns while Sidekick kept watch. First Brave went, and then the hawk saw Brave and started to chase her. The hawk was two feet away from Brave when Brave leapt into the bushes. The hawk flew back in to the sky. Ku Ku was the next one to go. She ran as fast as she could toward the bushes. The hawk saw her too and started flying as fast as he could towards Ku Ku and when he got close; the hawk grabbed Ku Ku and started to fly away. Ku Ku started to peck at the hawk’s head. In pain, the hawk released Ku Ku and she started running to the bushes and arrived there safely. Then Sidekick had an idea. She thought that if they all ran together, they would look like a big animal. So, they ran together.
Sidekick was right. They made it to the bushes safely. They soon realized that they were not safe in the bushes so they stuck with Sidekick and made it to the winter coop. Then they could finally enjoy their food. The chickens learned to always look out for hawks.
The whale dives deep, her calf close behind.
Soon she shoots back up to get a breath.
Swimming through the water she begins to spin.
Her streamlined shape speeds through the water.
Her calf learns quickly and soon follows
The mother slows to a stop and comes up for another breath.
Leaping out of the water, she comes down with a splash.
The Lost Panda
Once upon a time, there was a mother Giant Panda and a two year old Giant Panda. They were taking a walk through the mountains. They walked for a long time and then stopped to eat some bamboo. The two year old Giant Panda saw some bamboo that looked better than the other bamboo, so he went over and ate it.
The two year old panda did not remember which way he came from. He grew very scared. Meanwhile, the mother panda was done eating and she did not see him. She was very worried. They both went down trails and they kept going on different trails away from each other. They were separated and lost. The two year old did not know where his mother was and the mother did not know where her two year old was. The two year old was not big yet, and he was all by himself. He did need food. Sometimes he had some tough times like when he almost ran into a lion. After a year of doing things for himself, he became stronger and turned three years old.
One time the three year old Panda went up to a high mountain and thought he saw bamboo that looked familiar. So he went over to it and it was the bamboo he had seen before he got lost! He knew exactly where he was. He went over to the bamboo and remembered where his and his mother’s den was! He went over to it and saw that his mother was not there.
Well, his mother was looking for him and she was lost. Then the mother thought she saw something familiar so she headed towards it. Then she remembered where she was. So the first thing she did was go right to the den. On her way she saw her son up in a high tree sitting there waiting for her. They saw each other and they started playing together and rolling around in happiness. They were back together!
By Brian Macdonald
A lot has gone on in the fifth grade since my last report. We have had the following areas of study: Ancient Indian mythology and history; introduction to decimals; North American geography with individual state reports; continued work with decimals; and an introduction to geometry that included area and perimeter, ancient Persian and Egyptian mythology, and history. We were recently involved in putting on our play, The Return of Odysseus, which was performed March 30 and 31. Earlier in our first block, we read The Odyssey, which set the stage for our play.
After our play block, we will pick up our study of Ancient Greece through history and the various cultures of the city states. This work will culminate in early May with our participation in the Olympic events of the long run, dash, wrestling, long jump, javelin, and discus throwing at the Lexington Waldorf School. Up to five or six other Waldorf schools come for this celebration and competition. It will be a festive and memorable day indeed!
We will end our year of studies with the second botany block, where we will examine, draw, and observe the higher flowering plants.
After we bind our fifth grade lesson books, we plan on taking a few days off together at Camp Glenbrook to celebrate our year’s work and growth.
Many skills and capabilities continued to grow and develop during our year of study and work. Some of them include: playing tenor and alto recorders to accompany our soprano playing; written and verbal reports with individual research; reading for information; note taking; organizing our homework; listening actively; singing in parts; yearlong training for an event; and carving wood. These are only a quick listing of the many things the fifth grade has learned and accomplished.
By Vanya Yoors
The sixth grade is completing their physics block. The main topics are acoustics, optics, and thermodynamics. Students are presented with demonstrations of various phenomenon in the areas that we study. These are specifically chosen to elucidate simple scientific concepts. Students observe the demonstration and then share their observations. They are extremely eager to share what they have seen, heard, felt, and perceived. Through this activity, their experiences and sense perceptions are sharpened and acknowledged as the basis for further study. The specific procedures, as well as materials used, are described. Many questions arise as students start to ask, WHY? On the day following a demonstration, the students attempt to understand some basic concepts implicit in previous demonstrations. Many times, they already have heard a certain abstract concept which seems not to have anything to do with them. One of these concepts is that there is a speed of sound and that sound travels. It is a completely different and exciting experience for the students to see a demonstration and then derive a concept.
For example, I stood on top of a wood chip pile at the far end of our lower parking area, close to the dumpster. The sixth grade students ran to the intersection of the Main Carriage Road and our South Carriage Road. I clapped two blocks of wood together, making a loud bang. The students listened and watched. Then they came running back towards me crying out things like: “The blocks hit each other and I only heard the sound a bit later!” The following day we arrived at the concept, and then discussed other experiences to which students could apply this concept. Lightning!
By Rebecca Rugo
The seventh grade’s recent block in physics included mechanics, and we investigated some of the six simple machines (the lever, ramp, screw, pulley, wedge, and wheel and axle) that have been used since ancient times to make work easier. In Waldorf science classes, students have opportunities to experience phenomena, reflect on their experiences, and come to conceptual understanding as a final step. Below are two samples of student writing from different points in this process.
One of the simple machines we learned about in this block was the ramp. We went outside and tried lifting a heavy piece of wood up a hill, first by stepping straight up on a rock and then by walking up a slanted board. Some people felt the second way was easier, but others thought stepping directly up on the rock was easier because the board was wobbly. Next we tried climbing up a ladder with a backpack full of rocks, once with the ladder at a slant, and once with it straight against the wall. This time, everyone agreed that when the ladder was slanted, it was easier to carry the rocks up.
The lever is a useful and common simple machine. It is used often in households, worksites, and in our own bodies. For a first-class lever to work, it must have a weight on one end, the force you are using to move the weight on the other end, and a fulcrum (pivot) in the center to allow one side to go up and the other side to go down. The fulcrum can be moved toward the force end to allow the weight to move much farther, but it will become harder to move. The fulcrum can also be put closer to the weight which makes the force it takes to move the weight significantly less, but the weight will travel the least.
By Connie MacLeod
Eighth grade has brought the readiness for the responsibility of a large, long-term, independent project: the popular eighth grade project. Students thought about their projects over the summer and began the school year writing their proposals. Once the middle school faculty reviewed and accepted the students’ proposals, they began work to meet their goals. Some students took part in scheduled classes, and others met privately with mentors. All of the eighth graders committed to a great deal of independent work. Parents support the work with encouragement, transportation, and monetary expenditures.
I meet with the students periodically, increasing in frequency as individuals need, and as the presentation date approaches. The eighth graders are keeping a journal of their work and progress. Most are nearing the completion of their projects, and just working on final touches, designing the tri-folds to display their processes, and planning their presentations.
They are very excited and looking forward to the evening presentation of their projects, on April 28. We hope to see you all there!
By Heather Collis Puro
The class has begun to work with the sewing machine, our final journey together in handwork class. We started with the history of the machine, contrasting the interesting and dramatic lives of Isaac Singer and Elias Howe, and learned how machine technology changed over time to develop into the modern machine that we use today. Classwork included drawing the machine and labeling its parts, a written test on the history and mechanics of the sewing machine, as well as creating samples of seams, hems, and different stitching techniques.
For a first project, the class sewed geometric-pieced napkins in order to gain ability with precision in measuring, seaming, and cutting. Each student completed four double-sided napkins by seaming three different fabrics together for the top. Our second project, a pocket tissue holder, used a simple paper pattern to prepare for working with the commercial shirt pattern.
This winter, the class has been preparing for their next project: a collared shirt with buttons. Working from their measurements, students calculated the amount of fabric needed to complete the project. On their fabric shopping trip, students chose fabric, thread, and buttons for their shirts. Much care and focus is needed to precisely iron, prepare, and cut out the fabric for this advanced sewing project.
Over the winter, the seventh grade has continued to bring their animals into form. Each class, the class reviews and previews each step of the project, and expectations are laid out for student work. Working with deadlines and goals in this way has allowed the class to exercise their time management skills and develop independence around completing their work. Problem-solving is also a major part of this project, as the animals move from idea into form. A certain logic exists in craft materials—a wrong thought will immediately appear in the work. Many students have complained at some point during this process that their animal will not turn out right. However, the interest they have in completing this advanced hand-sewn animal has helped each one gather his/her own will to move through this frustration. Garnering the effort to take the project all the way through to completion is a lesson in itself. Awakening the intellect by doing provides balance. And, over time, the clear reflection that develops in the head can direct the efforts of the body. This balance is the basis of sound judgement, a living thinking that enables each child to freely take up his/her place in the world.
The twelve year old is ready for a different experience and making a three-dimensional doll to his/her specifications is a welcome challenge. Right away, students’ feelings are engaged when they start to design their individual doll. As each student works with precision to measure and create the doll pattern, sew the doll together, and problem solve along the way, it is this initial excitement about expressing his/her own ideas that carries the student through finishing this complex, year-long project. Over the course of the year, the sixth grader makes huge strides in his/her ability to demonstrate self-direction in his/her work. This new expectation is a welcome change for some students, and yet others will work the entire year to master taking up their own project work without reminders from their teacher. During our classes in January, the class completed a paper star lantern. Using a pentagon created by the students using a compass, we traced, folded, and glued pieces of paper together to create a dodecahedron—the shape Plato described as representing the universe.
The class is in the midst of knitting socks with naturally dyed wool yarn. Working with a familiar skill in a new way is a great challenge. In addition to knitting in the round, the students are working with written directions for the first time. They have also been working with measurement, color, and design. Handwork homework has been assigned to keep students on track with the project, and allow for more breathing out time during class. Working on multiple needles and completing decreases uses mathematical progressions, and with each round students can observe a numerical pattern develop. Simple geometry is also found in a sock, as we need to create curves in our knitting in order to have the sock properly fit around the foot.
The class is just taking up the cross stitch. The students are excited because they have complete artistic freedom and can choose any of the various hues and values of the color wheel. Cross stitch reinforces the fourth grade math curriculum of fractions, working with both the whole and the parts, and of tearing down and building up. The class has learned a new handwork verse to keep them on track as they master this new stitch: “Bottom left, top right—pull snug, not tight. Top left, bottom right—cross stitch, good night!”
We have continued to pick and card wool, and the class has recently learned to hand spin. We use poems, songs, and stories to learn more about the different fibers and how they are used by human beings for clothing. The fiber arts time gives the students opportunities to work together in a real “breathing out” way. Some students have finished up crocheting hats, and many students were able to complete a hand puppet. We have recently returned to knitting, and the children have a choice of making a horse or a doll. The class has matured greatly since first learning to knit in first grade. Following step-by-step instructions is a challenge for the third grader, and we are working orally and visually to help the students along.
We have finished up our knitted gnomes and our gnome party on March 4 was a highlight for the children after months of work! The class has eagerly moved on to crocheting. Crocheting contrasts knitting in that it uses a single hook and is much freer in its format. In order to be successful in crocheting, the students must observe more and make adjustments in their work in order to have it turn out right. The shift to a different type of skill while still using the continuous thread is appropriate for the second grader.
As we enter the last part of the year, all of the students have learned how to roll a ball of yarn, cast on, and knit. We have also been working on changing colors in our projects. Counting stitches and rows supports simple math work. Our first project, a knitted square, was transformed into a butterfly. The entire class is finishing rainbow colored knitted cases for their flutes, and some students have made a similar second project, a knitted ball. The repetition of knitting and the rhythm of class is very supportive for focus and working hard. The class has also been working with string games and clapping games as a warm up for knitting. This group is very dedicated to handwork, and they are very lucky to have a seasoned handwork teacher, Mrs. Freysinger, and an experienced knitter and spinner Ms. Smith, who also work with them on their knitting outside of handwork class!
By Kati Manning
German instruction in the eighth grade has continued to promote four basic areas of foreign language development: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. The students engaged in grammar drill, vocabulary development, and conversational German. Grammar lessons focused on verb conjugation in the present, imperative, perfect, and future tense. The use of the nominative, accusative, and dative cases was reviewed and practiced. The use of modal and prefix verbs, sentence structure, articles, and pronouns was expanded.
The eighth graders studied eighteenth-century social order in Germany as a basis for understanding Goethe’s literary commentary in “der Edelknabe und die Mullerin.” They finished reading the final chapters of “Emil und die Detektive,” and completed weekly written comprehension questions to demonstrate mastery and understanding of this text.
German instruction in the seventh grade has continued to promote four basic areas in foreign language development: speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. The students engaged in lively grammar drill, vocabulary development, and conversational German. Grammar lessons focused on verb conjugation in the present tense, parts of speech, sentence structure, articles, and pronouns. Regular weekly homework assignments and written projects enabled the students to demonstrate independent mastery of their German knowledge.
Occasional classroom games and folk songs formed a welcome contrast to the academic focus of the class.
The students learned to recite the famous ballad of “die Lorelei” and completed written and illustrated project pertaining to this German folk legend. The seventh grade has finished listening and reading the final chapters of the story “Emil und die Detektive.” Weekly written comprehension questions enabled the students to demonstrate and measure independent mastery of this text.
German instruction in the sixth grade continued to address four basic areas of language development: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. The students engaged in grammar drill, vocabulary development, and conversation. They gained solid mastery of verb conjugation in the present tense, parts of speech, pronouns, and articles. Knowledge of vocabulary was increased through lively classroom games, stories, songs, and verses.
The sixth grade has learned to recite Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s famous ballad “der Zauberlehrling,” although the primary story content has been “die Nibelungensage.” The dramatic, epic, and action-packed content of both of these literary selections have been embraced with great enthusiasm and delight by the sixth graders. They have enjoyed discussing, summarizing, and illustrating these legendary stories.
Recently the students have begun receiving regular weekly homework assignments. This has enabled them to independently practice mastery of grammar and vocabulary lessons.
The fifth grade has learned a great deal about grammar. They have learned to conjugate verbs in the present tense as well as use the imperative for giving directions, requests and commands. Recently the fifth graders completed their block on Peter and Nerina. The students enthusiastically listened to stories of Peter’s friendship with Nerina, a new girl in the neighborhood. Peter and Nerina support each other as they face their dreaded fifth grade teacher Herr Wurm. The students learned the vocabulary of the classroom and practiced the imperative ordering each other around in playful classroom games.
The fourth grade completed their most recent block about Peter. This year “Peter,” a fourth grader, bravely befriended and liberated an illegally imprisoned jaguar from an underground tunnel that lead from Peter’s basement to his neighbor’s basement. The fourth graders delighted in hearing about Peter’s adventures and run ins with his evil neighbor Frau Rattenschwanz. They memorized, wrote, and read detailed vocabulary pertaining to Peter’s and Frau Rattenschwanz’s house and garden.
The third grade has delighted in learning riddles in German. They recently completed their favorite block on “Peter and his newly found friend Matthias.” Each child is able to describe the rooms in Peter’s house and the best places to hide in Peter’s garden. This year the students also were introduced to Peter’s new neighbor Frau Rattenschwanz and her somewhat creepy house and garden.
The second graders can now speak about the date, weather, and seasons in German. These days the children are enjoying playing a game in which one child describes an animal with several simple sentences in German and the other children have to guess which animal it is.
The first grade has been learning all about spring “Fruhling.” The children sing, speak, and reenact the mysterious and magical transformations that occur in nature at this time of year. So “Winter Ade!” and “Guten Tag Fruhling!”
By Mari Yamaguchi
If you follow in the footsteps of the students engaging in moving in eurythmy, you will be following many different shapes and forms, many of which are geometric. Here are some examples. See if you can sense how the forms accompany the development of the growing human being.
In first grade what you most often find is the circle. What was once a circle-like cluster at the beginning of the year, with the children following the teacher from one activity to the next, now is the first graders standing much more aware that they are standing along a circle that they have created, and they can let it expand and contract, move along it forward, backward, and sideways. Learning to move in circle is to learn together to be, to experience, and to create.
In the second grade, the students move freely and confidently out of the circle in spontaneous waves here and there, following one after another in a joyfully vigorous skipping. The only thing that can stop them from this activity is their overflowing lively energy that inevitably manifests into laughter making it hard to form back into the circle! This actually provides them further opportunities to strengthen their ability to come back to togetherness.
Third graders are diligently practicing the sequence of forms that start as one big oval, which changes into a peanut-shell-like form, and then becomes a figure eight. Soon they will discover what comes after that. From creating a single form together, they then will participate together in dividing the whole form in two separate circles. In support of the nine-year change, the third grade students start practicing moving the forms in which they are being separated from others.
Fourth graders take this further and start their practice with each one standing at the center of the four directions of North, South, East, and West. They take steps in one direction into the space and come back to their center points. Then they move the next direction and come back to the center point again, etc. With the four directions, they make a cross-like form in space. With such an exercise, the students practice and strengthen the dawn of their awareness of themselves as separate selves placed in space.
From the fifth grade, the students’ learning with the forms that they move through becomes more conscious. Fifth grade is a pivotal time in how the work with the geometry starts to be brought to them. The students learn to move the five-pointed star in space as an objective geometric form, but the way they are introduced to it is that the geometry is not separate from them. The students enter into the work with the five-pointed star experiencing its likeliness in their own human form with the five points of the feet, the hands, and the head.
In the middle school grades, the objectivity in the geometry becomes a more and more powerful element to engage the students’ awakening into new capacities of thinking and observation through moving forms in eurythmy. I would like to introduce this to you a little more in depth sometime in the future. In the meantime, I have forms for the third through eighth grades drawn on the black boards in the eurythmy room. Please feel free to stop by and see examples of the work in which the students are engaging.