In September we welcomed first graders with the Rose Ceremony. They were sent off with a story of strength and adventure to begin their grade school journey.
The community gathered to ring in the season of Michaelmas and embrace the courage needed to bring down our dragons. Students took donated food items on foot to the local food pantry each Monday of September in the spirit of service.
Soon snow and frost will cover the ground and we will be drawn inward, seeking the light and warmth of brotherhood, the solemnity and clarity of thought, and the joy in celebrating and putting to use the fruits of the year.
Our youngest students settled into the rhythm of their classes: baking bread on Thursday, going for a hike on Monday or Tuesday, greeting each day with a verse, circle time, play, etc. These routines establish a foundation for children to explore the world and engage in play.
“The Three R’s” in a Waldorf early childhood program are rhythm, repetition and reverence. We spend the first months of school firmly establishing what our rhythm and routine will be…when and how we paint, hike, bake, etc. Rhythm is what transforms chaos and disruption into harmony, creating sanctuary. Rhythm is not mindless routine, but a mindful awakening to the blessings we find in our daily acts. When children are guided through the circle of the day, we help them know they are supported by the divine.
During the first quarter of the school year, the first grade was introduced to many new experiences. Many consonants have been learned in form and sound though the power of imagery and story. Numbers have been introduced through the wholeness of one which will then form the basis of understanding all numbers. Fairy tales full of animals, humankind, and the natural world guide the students into an understanding of the world. In the visual arts, the mood of color in combinations has been explored through watercolor painting. Lesson books are filled with illustrations of stories and letter and number lessons.
Handwork has introduced knitting to eager hands. Step by step stitches have jumped on needles and are working their way into row upon row which will form the traditional first grade project.
Place value was the focus of the last block during Morning Lesson. This math block builds on prior skills in the four processes. Students also have been immersed in fables; exploring them through the arts and language. These stories are essential in meeting the growing curiosity and moral development of children. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, encouraged teachers to make with the class books with moving parts to illustrate stories which allows the movement to be experienced by the students.
In skills lessons, word family spelling, reading, handwriting, and math facts are practiced regularly.
Colorful paintings, form drawings, and crafts fill the classroom. Daily coordinated movement activities and singing support multi-disciplinary approaches to learning and strengthen children’s ability to think on their feet and sustain attention.
The class has been working on a language arts block, and led the school in the celebration of St. Lucia Day.
Third and Fourth Grade
This class delved deeply into a measurement block. Students could be found measuring most everything in and around the school- from the height of teachers to the distance to the Wauconda library! Along the way they have advanced their penmanship by practicing cursive.
Grammar and usage were the focus of the next block. Students are becoming familiar with more complex sentence structure through the telling and writing of mythical stories. In Extra Lesson class more complex form drawing has given students opportunities to improve fluid pursuit, visual planning, motor coordination, and memory.
Through farming stories and games with a harvest theme, Spanish lessons focused on vocabulary and verb tense usage. Next, a native story of the intricate designs and patterns in weaving brought students in touch with the geography and culture of Spanish-speaking people. This class, along with the entire school community, celebrated Dia de Los Muertos, and then learned and reinvented the story of Las Posadas and La Noche Buena.
A taste of honey from the school hives was part of the farm and garden program lesson. Students learned how bees collect nectar, convert it internally into honey, and store it in the hive cells. Enough honey is left in the hive to feed the bees over the winter.
Fifth and Sixth Grade
Botany studies began the year, introducing students to the life cycle of plants and to the study of lower plants (fungi, moss, and ferns). Students observed plant life firsthand on their trips to the Botanic Gardens and Volo Bog. The class trip to Blue Springs Cavern and Marengo Caves in Indiana provided character building activities including zip line rides over a lake, and the exploration of natural caves.
The class next focused on North American geography with an emphasis on the geographical formation of continents, original inhabitants, and early explorers. In language arts skills lessons, 6th grade is building vocabulary using Greek and Latin roots, and 5th grade is focusing on thematic vocabulary lists. The class is working on a block on Ancient Civilization.
Expanded to all grades this year and a larger plot of land, the Farm and Garden program gave students direct experience of harvest and preparation of the soil for winter. They also put muscle into converting a chicken roosting house to accommodate up to fifteen hens.
Seventh and Eighth Grade
The year began with an exploration of Geometry in Nature. Soon after they went around the world to study the ancient history of the Orient.
Students then experimented with and observed a variety of combustion and crystallization processes which laid a foundation for their later study of physiology.
The class studied The Renaissance, then entered the Age of Discovery by way of the Conquistadors and the spice trade. Skills lessons in language arts are focused on punctuation vocabulary development through Greek and Latin roots, suffixes, and prefixes.
Stay tuned for where the next semester takes our students!