A visit from landscape designer and social justice ambassador Julie Siegel capped off this week of measurement. She came and shared how the indigenous Maya people of Guatemala measure things in their lives. Handwoven bags (held by two students), compost, food, and water are the most important measurements for this people. Most of those measurements, we discovered, are taken by eye, and are estimated from trial and error and experience, rather than using instruments or tools.
Students in this block of measurement have been busy inside and outside: body parts, desks, classroom objects, and our playground have all been food for thought. This week, second and third graders each made their own spring scales and have had fun exploring and weighing objects that are very heavy, very light, and everything in between. We have also been conducting phenomenological experiments! That means observing a particular process and noting the outcome without judgement. When the experiment is complete and all observations have been made, conclusions are drawn and discussed. This is quite different from a typical science lesson. Instead of telling the children beforehand what outcome they can expect and should record, students are encouraged to use all their powers of observation to see what happens in a particular process. It is an exciting and engaging way to study the world around us, and one that develops free thinking.
The Second and Third graders closed their play block last week with two performances of their shadow puppet play, Gilly of the Goatskin and the Unique Tale.
What a whirlwind! From the early moments of learning all of the lines, to drawing, cutting out, and assembling the puppets, to finally staging the play—complete with lovely songs—the children worked diligently, enthusiastically, and with hearts full. They created something very special for our school and family community. Beyond the intense planning and efforts of readying a play, both teacher and students have much to gain from the experience—an immense sense of accomplishment, pride, and confidence as we see the fruits of our labor bring smiles, laughter, and a few tears of appreciation from our audiences.
With very special thanks to Chet Celenza for the use of his lovely play.
Second and third grades have almost finished their handsome horses and nimble gnomes! They are justifiably proud of their fine work.
Did you know there are hidden gifts to be found within the children’s experience with handwork in Waldorf schools? Current research shows a connection between fine motor skills and brain development. Knitting and crocheting involve using both sides of the brain. Eye tracking and numeracy are exercised. Eye tracking directly develops and strengthens a child’s reading skills. Number skills are essential to all types of handwork and regularly reinforce math within a practical context. Children find a self reliance through handwork as well as creative and, artistic, and expressive opportunities. There is much more to handwork than meets the eye!
Second and Third Grade are studying calendar and time in this block. Through the Native American stories of the cycle of the year and its related moons, students are hearing the oral traditions of the indigenous people of North America, all the while experiencing geography and climate. Our hero, the humble turtle, first carried the burden of the creation of the world on his back. He was rewarded with next carrying the cycle of the year, or moons, in the beautiful pattern of his shell. We have painted, modeled, and drawn these rich stories while better acquainting ourselves with the cycles of the calendar year.
On Wednesday our students celebrated Santa Lucia!
Ms. Westlund’s students brought joy to every classroom in the form of songs and yummy sweet buns to celebrate the day.
Second and Third Grades wrapped up their first Arithmetic block with regrouping in subtraction. All their previous practice with place value came in handy as the miller tries to keep his storehouse of grain in order. When he doesn’t have enough in one room, he must “Go next door and borrow some more.” Then he can solve the problem of selling his grain to hungry customers! The miller in these drawing is a little puppet the students made!
Second and Third Grades began work on their circular weaving projects this week. This craft is a true head, heart, and hands endeavor. Students must plan ahead for working with different colors; they must feel the harmony between each section of weaving to know what will be pleasing to the eye; and they must have nimble fingers and a strong will to see it through to the over-under-over-under end!
The weavings by students have slowly begun to look more and more like a spider’s intricate web–just like the one we’re reading about in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.
Second and Third Grade students sing the “Body Scale” with music teacher Elizabeth English. Each of the seven tones in the pentatonic scale corresponds to a place on, just above, or just below, the body. Mrs. English sings and demonstrates a particular pattern which the children are then challenged to repeat. They take great joy in the game, and are so proud when they correctly repeat the sequence!
The Second and Third grade wrapped up their study of shelters by building a sukkah for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Built of straw and tree branches, and lovingly decorated with flowers and found natural objects, the sukkah is a reminder of the wandering life early Jews had to endure as they fled their Egyptian captors. It is also a time to honor the bounty of the harvest and give thanks and gratitude for all of God’s gifts. The children took great joy in the building and decorating. When it was finished, we all squeezed inside for a delicious treat of challah bread and honey, traditional Sukkot foods for the first days of the holiday. Many thanks to the Fasman family for sharing the bread and honey with our class.
Second and Third Grades studied Genesis and the stories of creation through painting and writing.
Then they explored many of the colors in creation, while wondering…”what did the first dwelling in creation look like?”
And finally—the riddle solved! The first house, or dwelling, was the human body!
On Friday, September 8th, the students and teachers of Da Vinci’s grade school enjoyed Beach and Nature Exploration Day! They ventured to Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park in Zion for a day filled with exploration and fun.
We are extremely grateful for the transportation by bus, which was made possible by a $1,000 biodiversity grant received from Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Independence Tube Corporation, the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, the D. F. and M. T. Grohne Family Foundation and the Illinois Conservation Foundation.
Students took time to explore the local terrain and learn about the land and wildlife of northern Illinois. They enjoyed a hike through forests and along the beach, observing their surroundings as they went. There was a scavenger hunt and a group lunch. The very cool weather prevented the planned swimming treat, but students were able to wade and splash in the water and had a great time in the natural surroundings.
Many thanks to our teachers for enabling such a special outing for our students, and thanks to Mrs. Kristine Fiskum for the excellent snapshots of the day!
Second and Third Grade are excited about their weekly work of studying Gardening and Science….or is it Science and Gardening? Either way, it’s hands-on fun both in and out of the classroom.
In the Classroom
Follow each class through the school year. Visit often to enjoy photos and information about curriculum, field trips, exciting happenings, special moments, celebrations and more.