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2/3rd Grade This group of students has been gently preparing for a much larger storytelling performance which we hope to present sometime in the spring. They will be putting on a production of Robin Hood based on the original Tales of Robin Hood and his merry men. We have been reading the stories in class and most recently the students have learned how Robin Hood came to meet Little John. In addition, we have also been using movement games and theatre games designed to help build skills and appreciation for ensemble work as well as encouraging the students to use their bodies and the space around them in new and creative ways.
4/5th Grade The 4/5th grade have really done a great job of taking a self-directed learning approach in preparation for their production of Alice in Wonderland. Inspired by a pop-up book which is an Abridged version of the classic story, the students have worked hard casting, directing, designing, and rehearsing to their own version of the story.
6/7th Grade The 6/7th grade has been rehearsing a play focusing on Eleanor of Aquitaine that they began working on during their studies of the late Middle Ages. In addition, they have been challenged to participate and more advanced improv based theatre games, designed to help the students engage understand and learn more about a character's feelings, the motives for their feelings and why they make the actions that they do. This will help build our acting skills so that we can properly tell the story of these great historical figures later in the spring
All classes have been learning about the family unit: maman, papa, frère, sœur, grand-maman, grand-papa, tante, oncle, cousin, and cousine. We have practiced counting, colors, animals, fruits, veggies, and also parts of our body too. (tête, les yeux, les oreilles etc). We also share many different French songs like Frère Jacque, sur le pont d’Avignon, pomme de reinette, les petites marionnettes, il y’avait des crocodiles, tête épaule genou et pied, and bonjour les amis. The week before Thanksgiving we learned ways to say thank you to each other and wish each other Happy Thanksgiving. Last week we’ve all been learning la chanson « vive le vent ! » a holiday winter classic that we hope to share at the Winter Assembly!
Grade 1 We have planted from seed organic carrots 🥕 and the students have been caring for the bed . We also planted hibiscus 🌺 and milkweed all around the garden thanks to Darcy Banks. They prepped and planted a strawberry patch . Last week we planted brocoli starts in a bed with the peas that we also had planted from seed. They’ve been watering, weeding, exploring and learning so much about all the plants, creatures and insects 🐜 🕷 🐞. Every garden class we have little sharing circles and sing nature songs . The kids have been enjoying digging and getting their hands in the earth, feeling the elements, eating little nibbles and giving thanks to our plants and food.
Grade 2/3 We have been caring for all the beds, watering and weeding, loving and connecting with all the plants. They planted a bed with 5 different varieties of tomatoes. We planted organic vegetable starts from Worden Farms, including: cabbage, kale, lettuce, kale, and eggplant. Thank you Miriam for bringing them! We’ve also planted and have been caring for salvia, stevia, zinnias, pentas, vincas, papaya trees, mint, cilantro, thyme, and parsley. Last week we planted the miracle tree in the playground and we also planted from seed Brussels sprouts and sunflowers. The kids have been exploring, watering, and learning how to care for the garden and plants. They also enjoy creating little creative spots and areas during our free play garden times also. We sing often, and share ideas and visions for our garden.
Grade 4/5 Last week we planted a pineapple and did garden sit spot meditation. We have planted marigolds, chard, kale, arugula, and passion fruit. The kids have helped with watering, weeding, and mulching, in the garden. They love exploring and connecting to the plants, noticing the changes each week. They have enjoyed eating some of our plants too, patiently waiting for the plants to grow; they observe nature and share the amazing discoveries and changes each week . They also did a research project on a chosen Florida mammal and each presented it to the class, now they are working on a chosen Florida Reptile .
The month of November just flew by and seamlessly we went from pumpkins and hobgoblins to sparking our inner lights. Joyfully and magically the children painted the paper for their own lanterns. The technique we use is "wet on wet painting" and traditional in Waldorf schools. Painting comes alive in the realm of the soul. Through color, our feelings find expression and order. Color is to our soul, with its inward and outward movement, as the breath is to our body. Color has been called the "breath of the living soul".
Every child loves color and becomes immersed in the feelings that a color calls forth within him. With the wet on wet technique we soak our painting paper prior to the activity for about 15 min. in water. Afterward we lay it on the painting board and take away some of the water with a sponge; this still leaves the paper fairly wet.
Then the children receive their brush in a silent manner from the "painting fairy" and without a previous call to order on the part of the grown-ups, which results in a consciousness of the activity, and without a presentation to the children or the introduction of a theme, the children dip their brush in the color and its flowing trace is followed along the paper. When the whole paper is painted and the colors glow and shine through the watery element, there enters into the child a moment of greatest satisfaction.
After the paintings dried, we then transformed the dark blue paper into our lanterns. We cut and folded and the children glued kite paper on the cut-out stars and moon. They were so excited to have a little light of their own to take home. On our lantern-walk one could hear some children singing our practiced " Lantern song" during circle- time in school.
May all your inner lights glow - for yourself and the whole world...always!!
With much love, Ms. Birte, Ms. Shivani, and Ms. Kalin
Many exciting things have been happening in the 1st grade this month. We had one week of main lesson form drawing and the children always find it engaging to see what forms they will be drawing and what they can make out of the form. We draw the form on one side of the page and then turn over the page to draw the form again, this time creating a picture out of the form. This helps with the children's creativity and spacial abilities. It takes a lot of concentration and focus to be able to draw the forms with accuracy. Our next main lesson block was Language Arts. We have continued with the letters, M, N, P, Q, and R, which include the following stories: "The Princess On the Glass Mountain for M, "The Nail" for N, "The Enchanted Pig" for P, "The Magic Locket" for Q, and "Rumplestiltskin" for R. The children listen to the story and then answer questions about what has happened and what they think may happen in the stories. They enjoy this very much, as well as picking out the words that begin with the letter that we are learning from the story. Writing the words that begin with the letter we are learning on the board is a fun way of learning the words since they refer back to the story they just heard. Asking questions of the children keeps their attention and helps them to increase their problem solving abilities.
In painting, we have started to use aquamarine along with lemon yellow and golden yellow. The children have also explored adding aquamarine to lemon yellow and golden yellow alone. They discovered that where they meet the color green appears and the greens are different. For the lantern walk, we painted using golden yellow, lemon yellow and vermilion to create our lanterns.
For story/ drawing time we have finished Johnny Chuck and have moved on to Bobby Raccoon. Bobby has had so many adventures in this book that the children always want to know what is going to happen next. His tree is cut down and he breaks his leg. The farmer's son helps him and Bobby is soon out in the forest again causing mischief. Thank you Breaker for letting us borrow your book to read!
November was another busy time for birthdays, as we celebrated Isla's and Breaker's. It was very nice to have the parents come in with pictures of the the children when they were young and talk about who their children are to the class. What a wonderful way to learn about your friends and of course there is a snack that everyone shared at the end after singing happy birthday.
We were lucky enough to have Ms Stephanie and Mr Garrett come to enrich our class. Ms Stephanie came to continue the cooking classes and made corn bread and a succotash with the children that they just ate right up with their lunches! The children learned that the succotash was a common food that was eaten by the Native Americans. Mr Garrett came and brought his Djembe drums for the children to experience. They played freeze dance and each child was able to play the drums. He did different rhythms and asked the children to repeat them. They talked about where the drums came from and the children had a wonderful time. Thank you so much to you both for your time and care!
The children have also started flute. We began with a lovely story about a shy Native American boy who makes a flute so that he can talk to the girl he is interested in. He would blow into the flute and he would play music to her. the children have started to learn how to blow into the flute and are now learning how to hold the flute and cover the holes. The fingers are the birds and the holes in the flute are the nests. The children know to make sure that their birds are securely in the nests before they try to play. They also learned how to clean their flutes with the stick and rag. Handwork is going well and the children have finished making their knitting needles. They polished them with beeswax and then wiped them with a rag to make them smooth. We started to learn to cast on and will practice this a few times more. The children also have Spanish, French, Meditation and Gardening. Thank you to Ms. Carmen, Ms Jessica and Ms. Natalie for their enriching classes.
Forest Friday this month was at Crowley Nature Preserve, Phillippi Creek and Emerson preserve for dip netting. At Crowley the children did the zip line, leaf rubbings and hiked around the preserve observing and exploring nature. An air of reverence and care for nature is encouraged at all of our Forest Fridays. At Phillippi Creek the children love to go to Bone Island and dig up any fossils that they can find. Some will make stick houses for the fairies and we always love to draw in our Science journals to document what we see.
It was a full month and we look forward to next months activities.
Best wishes, Ms. Laura
The second graders are currently completing a short form drawing block. Form drawing helps to build hand-eye coordination, establishing special concepts and the techniques necessary to replicate the drawings presented. This exercise is also helpful for pre-reading confidence. Each form we drew was a line from a short story. Hence, the children discover that pictures can tell a story and that they can “read” it.
Once a boy had a dream ...
He walked and walked. Finally he came to the sandy dunes A storm swept through the desert and the winds moved the dunes. He left the desert and began to climb the mighty mountains. The trees were straight as arrows pointing to the sky. Puffy clouds floated overhead.
Great birds soared on the wind. Fiddlehead ferns grew in the valley. He saw an Indian village. He came to a lake and the waves were washing the shore.
A silver fish jumped out of the water and not his arms. The boy woke up in his own bed.
The third grade has been working on recognizing the fundementals of multiplication and the various means of achieving the same result. For example, the students are learning how to turn the multiplication of two numbers (ex. 6 x 3) into varients of simple addition (such as 6 + 6 + 6 or 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3) and identifying which of the patterns is easiest and most efficient. The students have enjoyed creating their own multiplication problems (within set parameters), solving the problems, and correcting each other's work. They have also practiced the craft through games such as Scrabble where they spell out words, multiply any Double or Triple Letter/Word Scores, and tally their overall scores. The third graders have also been very successful at reading paragraphs and using context clues to discover the meanings of words, and finding the main idea of paragraphs and stories. ~Mr Geoff
In November we turned our attention to the vast subject of North American Geography. In line with our exploration last year of Florida through its biohistory, we begin by looking at regions of the continent on which we live in terms of ecoregions, or large geographic areas that share similar climate, soils, and plant and animal communities. From here we jump into exploring indigenous peoples, hearing the biographies and stories of individuals who exemplify qualities of each region, as well as exploring poetry, tall tales, and songs. Drawing maps and illustrations of landscapes and notable events will fill the pages of our main lesson books alongside compositions about each region.
We began with the North Atlantic Coast where Puritans landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. From their town-meeting democratic government to interactions with the landscape, students explored the inventions and innovation that New England is known for, beginning with shipbuilding and farming to the textile industry to high technology. A short visit to the history of New York City showed us the development from the busiest port in the world to the center of finance. Venturing further inland, we literally tasted some of the gems of the Northeast Woodlands, as maple trees offered us several delicious treats and apple cider afforded us a taste of the Northeast fall.
A figure who has a daily impact on all our lives was a man named Deganawida, or the Peacemaker, who united the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Tribes. Students fully immersed themselves into the timeless journey of helping people decide to release habits of violence and embrace peace. We culminated our time with the Peacemaker just as he did with the five Haudenosaunee Tribes that went from enemies to great allies: the burying of our weapons. Students wrote down on paper weapons (actions or behaviors) that have been observed in our school and class, including things like judging, not asking for consent to use others’ possessions, and gossiping among others. These “weapons” were buried under our own Tree of Peace. During this ceremony, students were taught the three principles of the Great Law of Peace: Good Message (using our words in support of ourselves and others), Power of Unity (decision-making practices and the strength that arises in unity), and Purity of Mind and Body. The Haudenosaunee believe that peace is a state of mind in which our hearts, minds, and bodies are in unity. The Peacemaker taught that each individual has a base spiritual power, called Orenda, that is strengthened and grows the more we purify our minds and hearts. Students agreed to honor these principles and help each other grow their individual power, which in turn benefits the community. There are many more teachings we can share about the Great Law of Peace, but for now will conclude by mentioning that the writers of the Constitution of the United States were highly influenced by the constitution of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
A final ray of our study of North American Geography in the last weeks has been the reading of The Sign of the Beaver as a means of learning more about earlier times in Maine. Participating in literature circle meetings has given students opportunity to deepen their reading and thinking skills of comprehension, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, application, as well as writing summaries, making predictions, and having discussions in which children are invited to comment and build on each others’ ideas. We are currently following the Erie Canal and journeying into the Great Lakes region through the stories of Johnny Appleseed and others.
In Woodworking, our cajons are nearly complete! Our music class is currently engaged in various stages of learning six songs. We will now have opportunity to add the focus of percussion and opening our inner ears to and entering the flow of music that is beyond intellectual understanding. Our times singing and playing together have given each of us greater rhythm and steadiness in our days, as well as lifted our minds and hearts towards greater joy. It is great fun to create with these fine musicians.
May all enjoy the beautiful month of December and the rebirth of the sun!
Endlessly energetic and enthusiastic, our 6/7th graders continued their adventures in areas both the familiar and novel this month.
Algebra resumed unassumingly. After being reintroduced to the equation last month, they were exasperated that this seemingly ominous subject was not quite what they had been intimidated by! Rather, algebra was simply bring into consciousness what they have been doing all along. We have added division to our previous exploration of addition, subtraction, and multiplication, and still, there have been no tears. There is some frustration with the realization that fractions never actually go away, however, as they consistently utilize them in order to balance their equations. They continue to practice simple to more complex problems with multiple operations as the process begins to flow through them with more ease.
Creative writing was introduced in the form of writing exercises, conscious word choice activities and poetry. Our goal for this block was much deeper than just producing more precise, eager writers. For a student of this age, adolescent or nearly adolescent, there is a rich yet chaotic emotional life that can now be transformed into feelings, (which can be more manageable) that when communicated can evoke the same feeling in others upon reading. In this way they can find balance, along with perspective in their relationship with the world around them.
Through various writing exercises we teased out certain rules that yielded writing that was more interesting to read by creating a picture in the mind of the reader. At this age, beginning to become more word-conscious is a an attainable goal. For example, when given a very vague sentence, could they make it more descriptive by choosing different words? Beginning with, “The animal went over there.”, what could they transform it into, without necessarily adding more “descriptive” words, but by replacing their nouns and verbs with more specific vocabulary to describe what is happening. So this began simply, “The cat sauntered off of the couch.” or “The horse cantered out to the ring.” Interest piqued, they practiced this with many vague sentences and were delighted with the variety of interpretations they collectively dreamed up.
We created lists of specific nouns from more generic ones, a very satisfying activity at this age! For example, for a word such as tool, how many more specific nouns can you think of (everything from rake to stethoscope!). They considered qualities of objects, for example, what are the qualities of a fruit that can make it more specific, one could name the fruit, then perhaps the variety, how it prepared, etc.
We also focused on finding a broad range of synonyms for our word choice - for example, replacing go or walk with countless other words that explain the subject moved from one place to another: stomped, staggered, jumped, limped, etc. Then we came up with sentences using some of the words from our extensive list, with the caveat that they had to be logical. For example, if one chose to use the word limped, it would need to make sense. What are we implying when we choose this word? We could pair something like a toddler trekking, but in one sentence that would likely not make sense and would require an entire backstory. Instead, we are attempting to make comprehensive sentences that can stand on their own.
We experimented with eschewing the formulaic sentences that begin with the/a/an/it is/there are, etc, and instead look for an alternative sentence structure to awaken our consciousness to each particular sentence we write, because we really need to think about it when we can’t fall back on habits! Providing them with “the sentences”, they were asked to rewrite them using an alternative structure. Grumbling, they wrote hesitantly, frustrated by the learning edge that had been presented by their teacher. (See what I did there?) ;)
We also touched on different word types in “Show not Tell" writing exercises. "Show not Tell" is the old adage telling writers to make us see what is going on. If you ask a student of this age to write about basically anything, most will use very generic words such as cool, nice, and fun. Thus, asking a student to define these words in terms of what they look like leaves them a bit befuddled. As a writer of course these terms are entirely too subjective, and they recognized this, however, they needed some practice to overcome this tendency! Loving all things food related, we began there. Rather than saying, “The pizza was good’, we thought of many different ways to describe the various elements of pizza - the crust, the cheese, the smell, etc. Then there were tasked to describe pizza in detail, but without using the word pizza. The result was something like this (by a sixth grader): “Hungrily, I bit into the gooey, stretchy cheese, then the spicy tomato sauce, and finally the chewy dough underneath. Powder dusted my fingers as I inhaled the steam pouring off of the top, filling my nostrils with the scent of basil.”
In addition to writing exercises, creative writing also includes a study of moods of the soul - wish, wonder, and surprise, in order to address the rich emotional life that is budding in our adolescent students. We don’t explain this to the students, but by using these moods as unspoken themes, the students explore various types of writing and poetry that inspire a whole mysterious landscape to come into view.
At this age the task of the teacher is to find an appropriate balance of the growing desire for knowledge of the world and self of the students with the preservation of a lingering inner light of the child that once was. It is of course very healthy for some of that inner gleam to slip away, but we want to conserve a small portion of this inner sanctum for the tending of the soul and strength of character throughout their entire lives. Thus our careful preservation must have the intention of fostering growth and metamorphosis of that essence, which is what we strive for in this block.
We convey the mood through various pieces and activities, without explicitly stating it. For example, the mood of wish is not simply about asking the children to write about what they wish for, but also give them a sense through poetry of what it feels like to wish, to pine, to long for. We felt that it comes from within, and goes out toward the world. It could come in the form of a earnest prayer, even, or can be so self-serving that they lead to greed. We talked about wishing for others and wishing for the world. In some of our work, we utilized the subjunctive tense., ie “If I had…” We also looked at it in an entirely different way in our poetry, for example, wishes in the sense of longing.
For example, the poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats (1900) We spoke of longing, and what it feels like to daydream like this. This poem is one long wish, without once saying that he wished! Then the students created their own poems in this same style of Yeats, connecting them to what lives in their deep heart's core. Then even further, are our wishes our destiny here on earth? For example, the poem by Goethe, (1810):
“Our wishes foretell the capacities within us; They are harbingers of what we shall be able to accomplish. What we can do and want to do is projected in our imagination, quite outside ourselves, and into the future. We are attracted to what is already ours in secret. Thus passionate anticipation transforms what is already possible into dreamed for reality.”
Now we are looking at wishes in a different way, perhaps as messengers of our destiny, as at this age they are just beginning to get an inkling of their path on earth, and are capable of real premonitions of what is to come.
Next we explored wonder. Surely, from early childhood on, we strive to foster the sense of wonder of the world. Now, in adolescence we consciously examine these emotions, and transform them into feelings, and it is as if we are looking at it for the first time, because WE have changed. We found that by being open to the world, and taking the time to observe, we could still feel real wonder, as we had so easily in childhood, but it takes practice. Before any discussion they began by choosing an object from nature, not knowing what they would be doing with it. Then they began a written description of this object, without using its name. They of course needed to really look at the bumps of the pine cone, or feel the points of the crystal to really get a sense of putting into words what there sensory impression really are, when one can’t fall back on simply naming it. Finding wonder in the most simple objects fosters deep cognition and curiosity, that will be apt to continue throughout one’s life. Even if one is out of practice, this can be rekindled, by being mindful of the miracles occurring around us in everyday life as adults. We looked at various poems, sayings and proverbs along this vein which fostered deep thoughtfulness, in all areas, beyond nature observations, including scientific study, mathematics, and human relationships. Every day I shared a different one, and it could be a simple statement that invites thought.
For example: Q: How are you supposed to treat others? A: There are no others.
The last theme was surprise. They experienced a few surprises that they described and even created one all on their own for their teacher the following week! We spoke of the universal delight of surprise, intrigue ,and mystery. A sneaky twist, a suspenseful tale, all were written enthusiastically. We found surprise to come from the world to a person, which was very different from our first theme of wishes, or a yearning of fulfillment from within, this was a superimposed stream from the world to its recipient, and in a way, lifts us out of ourselves, if only for a moment. In pleasant surprises, even adults rekindle their relationship with their inner light of childhood as well, as they enchant in the astonishment of their subject. Thus, we successfully fulfilled our wish of preservation and metamorphosis of that spark of wonder in our final theme.
In addition to our expansive writing study, the students returned to Prospect Riding Center, continuing their conscious education and reverence for horse care and riding. They refreshed the basics of horse communication, taking cues from the horses, as well as how to be a strong leader for this prey animal, that needs to feel secure. In addition they complete all aspects of horse care, from brushing and grooming to cleaning the stables.
They created geometric lanterns for our lantern walk, beginning with a pentagon constructed inside the five fold division of a circle, revealing a surprise star pattern once assembled. As part of their commitment to service, the class completed a mud kitchen area for our early childhood students. They also helped create the floral garland for a local Diwali festival. They displayed great interest and dedication to both projects.
As we celebrated another birthday we baked and learned the chemistry of the perfect muffin, as chemical reactions is one of our main themes of the year; we also observed what nutrients are present and absent, as related to our study of digestion and nutrient absorption in our Human Physiology block, which we began in the last week of the month, and will be included in our next update in its entirety.
Until then, may you slow down and revel in our shorter days as we await the return of the sun.
With Gratitude, Ms Erin