In the Da Vinci Waldorf classroom: End of a great year!

8th grader Grace Bejnarowicz face painting at the May Faire

8th grader Grace Bejnarowicz face painting at the May Faire

Summer is drawing us outside into its splendor. The last weeks of school have been filled with many adventures and final curriculum blocks. The May Faire was a wonderful celebration of community life and the glory of color, song, and dance. The year culminated with a kindergarten ceremony sending our young ones out of the garden and over the rainbow bridge to first grade, and an 8th grade graduation celebrating the achievements of a Waldorf education. Next year the cycle will repeat, bringing new children on the journey of learning to love and know the world.

Early Childhood

Juni Ada play kitchen cropped

Doll play in the Sunflower Garden house.

“Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House”

The doll corner in a Waldorf classroom is a place of imaginative play and a place to imitate the care of home and hearth. As our teachers focus on daily work tasks, the children play (their work) nearby. Our babies in the doll corner have names. Like so many of our toys, they are ensouled with our care, respect and attention to their well-being. Children “play house” and in this process learn to get along in this world through problem solving and finding one’s place in the play. Like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” we often see the very big child, a middle-sized child, and a wee, little child, all playing together.

Kindergarten students practice for their puppet play with hand-sewn puppets.

Kindergarten students practice for their puppet play with hand-sewn puppets.

The culmination of kindergarten for our “Mighty Oaks” is to sew a puppet and together with the teacher create a puppet show. At a time when they are grade school ready and need to have tasks and work to do, this is a wonderful, focused project that fulfills the need. This handwork supports dexterity in their fine motor skills, allows for imaginative creativity in making the puppet and considering story ideas, and is work requiring attention for a longer period of time. These puppets are taken home and are forever a reminder of those wonder years in Da Vinci’s early childhood program.

1st Grade

A party for Handwork class knitted kittens.

A party for Handwork class knitted kittens.

The children presented Snow White and Rose Red for their class play. They then wrote out sections of the play and drew scenes in their lesson books. A review of the year’s stories and skills sent them on their way to summer.

The class play, Snow White and Rose Red.

The class play, Snow White and Rose Red.


Students took their last Friday walk in the woods as first graders.

Students took their last Friday walk in the woods as first graders.

2nd Grade

The year ended with the class play Saint Jerome and the Lion, a story of friendship, liberation, and unexpected endings.

A dress rehearsal scene from St. Jerome and the Lion.

A dress rehearsal scene from St. Jerome and the Lion.

Students also concluded a final math block: vertical math with all four processes using larger numbers with carrying and borrowing. The block ended with long division with simple remainders, presented both vertically and horizontally.

2nd grade St. Francis' birds

In a painting lesson, St. Francis’ birds perched on a limb bringing the story alive. In the story the saint walked through a meadow and heard birds singing, he noticed the gifts the Creator bestowed upon them. He spoke of these things to the birds who had gathered in number to listen and departed in jubilant song.

3rd and 4th Grade

 Visiting Dixon Mounds in central IL.

Visiting Dixon Mounds in central IL.

In April the class produced a double feature, Grammar’s  Garden and Thor and the Giants. The class’ final morning lesson block focused on language arts.  Students learned proper correspondence format, and reviewed parts of speech and verb tenses.  The class traveled to central Illinois to see Lincoln’s tomb and the Dixon Mounds museum.  To practice  their block skills and show appreciation, thank you letters were written to people whom they met while exploring the historical and unique sites of the area.

Third graders practice their violins.

Third graders pluck strings on  their violins.

At the end of every year, our third graders take a new journey playing the violin for the last 6-8 weeks of school. Since the first grade they have played the lyre (a plucked stringed instrument) which is a precursor to this violin block. It is so exciting to see the students’ faces when they see “the violins are here!” This is a very experiential, non-technical block of finding out more about stringed instruments before we get to our formal orchestra class in fourth grade.

 5th and 6th Grade

At the end of the year, this class was out of the classroom almost as much as in it. Fifth graders experienced competition and camaraderie at the Pentathlon. All students gave their best effort, and made their City States proud. Molly, Will, Matthew, Kaylin, and Genevieve enjoyed this Waldorf rite of passage.  Molly and Genevieve were graced with laurels of beauty for Wrestling and Running (Molly), and Javelin (Genevieve).

The pentathletes, judges, and teachers.

The pentathletes, judges, and teachers.

The class met up with other local Waldorf schools for an orienteering event at Waterfall Glen. We enjoyed a day of splendid weather, socializing, and exploration of this natural area.  Our last field trip related to the Geology Block was to FelPro Park in Cary. We spent the afternoon enjoying the weather, water features, and moments together with our friends who will be moving on to new adventures next year.  We will miss them and wish them success on their journeys.

A special movement class in fencing.

A special movement class in fencing.

Ms. Westlund invited Coach Gandy from CrimsonBladesFencingAcademy to teach the 5-8th graders fencing. This sport provides physical and cognitive benefits, requiring strategy and physical skill to come together quickly moment by moment.  It has been described as a physical game of chess.

7th and 8th Grade

This class was very busy at the end of the year. They performed their play, an original musical adapted by the class and their teacher.  In handwork, they finished the pajamas they made on sewing machines with patterns they made as well.  To celebrate both of these accomplishments, they had a school sleepover/cast party.

7th and 8th grade students enjoyed a sleepover at school in their machine-sewn pajamas.

7th and 8th grade students enjoyed a sleepover at school in their machine-sewn pajamas.

The class wrapped up the year studying the Industrial Revolution and presenting the class play/musical The Creation in Seven Parts.  We  focused on some of the significant inventions and  improvements that were made in the 18th and 19th centuries. We also talked about the effects of the Industrial Revolution on people, society, and the environment. During the block we took a trip to Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills, IL. The students were able to view a collection of steam engines, a steam locomotive, a late 19th century carousel, and many different types of antique music machines.

Painting the kitchen.

Painting the kitchen.

On the week-long class trip to Virginia, the students worked at a thrift shop, painted a woman’s bedroom, kitchen, and front porch, and visited Natural Tunnel State Park.  This was a service trip, but at the park we saw what is believed to be the oldest log cabin in the area.  It was built in 1784 by the Carter family.  There is also a train line that runs through the mountains and tunnel transporting coal and other materials. We talked a lot about the coal mines and how miners worked under very difficult conditions.

Our 2014 graduates with their teacher.

Finally, we celebrated the graduation of our four eighth graders.  We will miss all of them, and wish them well in high school!   We finished the year off with our annual end-of-school picnic.  Happy summer, everyone!

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The Best School: a student’s perspective

Roman calendar close up

WBEZ radio in Chicago wondered what a “high quality education” means to students themselves. They asked asked students to:

Imagine the best school in the world. Describe what it would be like. How does that compare with the school you go to or went to?

Da Vinci Waldorf (formerly Water’s Edge Waldorf) alum Olivia Love-Hatlestad offered her perspective:

I attended a small private school for ten years, by the name of Water’s Edge Waldorf School. The classes were small, with the same teachers every year. We had a snack time and a lunch time, two recesses, Spanish, German, woodworking, painting, handwork, language arts, hands-on science and practical math. Every morning our teachers shook our hands and asked us how we were. They cared about us, and made the consistent effort to connect with and understand us. We not only learned the (what I now realize is invaluable) skill of engaging in conversation with an adult, but we developed deeply respectful relationships with our teachers. We were inspired to strive for excellence not by the pressure put on a grade, but by the desire to please these mentors to whom we looked up so earnestly. Every day as a child, I’d come home from school, and my father would ask me, “What did you learn today that you didn’t know this morning?” And every day, for ten years, I could tell him something different. I was as eager to relay the information as I was to learn it. I loved school. I loved learning.

7th 8th watch chemistry experiment

I didn’t realize how rare a quality that was until I went to high school and entered a world of total apathy. A world of standardized tests, worksheets, and a mass of people who literally couldn’t care less about any of it. A system of education making teachers obsolete by pushing independent projects, independent reading, and packets to be done (wait for it) independently. Ask any random public school student what they learned on an average day of school, and they will tell you: nothing. Nothing is being taught in public school. Facts are drilled, not taught, memorized, not learned. Posters on the walls of every classroom scream “BE YOURSELF,” “DIFFERENT IS GOOD,” and yet every student is force-fed the same material in the same dry, loveless way. Where in all these fill-in-the-blank worksheets and assigned textbook readings is there wiggle room for individuality? How can we be ourselves if we’re being drilled in droves to be basically indistinguishable? Millions of colorfully unique children should not be taught in an identical way, let alone expected to perform with equal aptitude. It would seem that the goal is no longer to build a brighter generation, but to breed instead a population of brainwashed, mindless yes-men.

In the best school in the world, creative opportunity is present in every class, so the students can take pride in their work and have the freedom to create something truly uniquely beautiful. There is hands-on study in things like science, as well as relevant, relatable science classes.

Sadie minerology 6th  2014

Math is taught not for blind memorization, but for actual comprehension, exercising critical thinking skills. There is outdoor time at least once a day, as well as an additional 30 minute break in the early morning, because not only is it scientifically proven to stimulate neurological function, it just makes good sense! Lectures are delivered with context, opportunity for questions, by a teacher who in turn asks the students about said topic, so as to ensure that they not only know, but understand and can discuss it. Teachers make an effort to connect with their students, so they can better understand their weaknesses/strengths.

ieva vuki hands

Educators are given the freedom to do just that, unencumbered by the ties of a government-set standard and curriculum. There is study of other cultures in multiple classes, drawing parallels between them. Religion is not pushed, but multiple religions are studied, so that students may better understand the world as a whole. There are a wide range of subjects, all required, so that each student can discover his/her passion, and pursue it. No one feels talentless or worthless, because differences are not only celebrated, they are nurtured.



This school is not a pipe dream. It is not some unachievable fantasy. It exists. School has become demonized as this thing we all hate and suffer through because we have to, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can save the world by putting a stop to the breeding of quietly dispassionate conformists, and allowing humanity to embrace its natural diversity. We can really educate, and raise people who care about what’s happening in the world, and why. If there is to be any real hope for humanity, schools must stop being so concerned with teaching “what,” and remember how to teach “why.”

alumni front of school michaelmas 2013

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Children and cell phones

o-KIDS-ON-CELL-PHONE-facebook smaller

Recently, a local paper, the Northwest Herald, published an article entitled “How young is too young to get a cellphone?” in which preschool and day care teachers touted the benefits of cell phones for children as young as 4 or 5. Da Vinci Waldorf School early childhood teacher, Donna Brooks, responded with the following letter to the editor:

The recent article on children and cellphones (What age is right?) was a poor example of journalism and read more an ad for cell phone companies. In trying to answer the question posed by the title, the author should have consulted with child development experts or the American Society of Pediatrics. These sources could have provided a research-based recommendation for parents. One of the mothers cited, in justifying her 4-year old’s use of a cell phone said, “It’s important for young children to experiment with all sorts of things.” Taking the “experimentation” analogy a bit further, we would not agree that it is important for them to “experiment” with drugs at a young age or driving the car. There is a developmental time and place for the use of technology.
As an educator for over twenty-six years and a Waldorf early childhood teacher, I stand firmly in the protection of the young child and the importance of the REAL world in nurturing capacities for healthy physical, emotional, and social development. We have just concluded “Screen-Free Week,” a national movement to encourage families to assess how much time is spent with a screen in one’s face being “entertained,” and the challenge to do without for one week. Every family should approach this issue with intention and a sense of what habits are being instilled in the young child. If a child is not old enough to play far from home without adult supervision, that child does not need a phone. A child should be old enough to self-monitor and have some capacity for “netiquette” before being given such a device. I encourage the Northwest Herald to take up this topic of electronic media with more courage and foresight next April, well in advance of Screen-Free Week in May 2015. A cell phone company marketing to the preschool child cares little about society and even less about the child.

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In the classroom 2-3-14

Early Childhood

ada balance beam croppedsophia k roller dolly



The circle time in early childhood is a winter movement adventure (see photos above) where we go on a journey “O’er mountain high and bridges low…ever onward we must go!” The children walk across a balance beam “bridge” over an icy river below. We move from fine motor activities to gross motor movement as we build capacities that will serve us as we journey onward in our learning. One fine motor activity that takes much warmth and will forces to accomplish is our Wednesday morning beeswax modeling (see photo to left). What golden treasures they create!

The Parent-Child class has been enjoying warm and nourishing soups during these cold days…highlights have been Persian lentil soup, Borscht, and Curried Cauliflower In the circle Jack Frost has been visiting, and the gnomes have been carefully watching for children’s footprints in the snow. Seasonal songs and games with our families are a lovely way to stay warm, interact lovingly with our children, and just have fun!


1st Grade

first grade snowglobes

Block: Math- number bonds for numbers 1-12,  2,3,5,& 10 times tables reinforced with rhythmic movement, and simple math problems using manipulatives.

Language Arts Skills:  3-4 letter word families.

Painting: Complementary colors exercises (see photo on right).coco painting

Practical Arts- Snow globes (see photo above).

Spanish: A new bingo-like number game with playing cards has kept us thrilled and engaged!

Handwork: Four new kittens have been “born.”  Continuing to practice knit stitch.

Music: Introduction to the pentatonic scale and our new pentatonic flutes. Discovering the beauty of 12 in the 12 tones.

Movement:  Cooperative games.

Extra Lesson: Spiral foot forms. Clay modeling. Finger strengthening with rods. Relays with partners- leap frog, wheelbarrow.


2nd Grade

Block: Mathematics: multiplication and division tables presented in the context of multi-cultural fables.

Language Arts Skills: Vowel sound work as it pertains to spelling. We are preparing to perform a play for the 7-8th grades: writing some of the dialog together, costuming and blocking. 

Math Skills: Review of the four processes using bigger numbers both horizontally and vertically. Review of place value.

Nature Fridays: Friday’s lessons are themed with nature. Stories, crafts and activities weave into our studies.

Spanish: Students are reciting large parts of Pollita Chiquita (Chicken Little).  They love it!

Handwork: We have begun to knit a gnome in garter and stockinette stitch.

Music: We are gaining fortitude in our flute playing and composing a song about the cold winter!

Movement: Cooperative games.

Extra Lesson: Partnered rod tossing. Pushing and pulling with resistance for balance development and upper body strengthening.

3rd and 4th Grade

3rd 4th grade 2013 smaller

3rd and 4th Grade

Block: Math- Introduction to Fractions.  We began by dividing objects into parts and making fractions (and eating them also!), then finding equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting simple fractions, and finally discovering the relationships between  improper fractions and mixed numbers.  Later in the block, students will learn to use the greatest common factors and least common multiples to aid in solving fraction equations.  

Visual Arts: Painting-Finding form through the interaction of the colors. It is often a surprise to see what emerges!

Crafts:  paper weaving. 

Movement Arts: During morning circle we are walking the balance beam keeping a bean bag on our head and reciting, using copper rods independently and in partnership with skill, and practicing bean bag tossing and passing.

 Math Skills: Increasing speed and accuracy of basic facts.

Spanish: We’re taking a peek into Norse Myths…en espanol!

Handwork: Introduction to cross stitch, practicing mirrored image designs for their pencil case. 

Music: We continue striving to play our C- flutes with good tone. We have been working with call and response singing and activity songs.

4th Grade Orchestra: We are working to read music from a staff now and identify those tones on our instruments. Watch (and listen) for longer pieces of music coming soon!

Movement: Cooperative team games.


5th & 6th Grade

Molly B

Block: Ancient Rome.

Math Skills: Reviewing measurement. Grade 5 students are learning to check math by casting out 9′s. All are learning Roman Numerals.

Language Arts Skills: In reading, to tie in with our block, we are reading Detectives in Togas. This has some lovely activities to help us with vocabulary, grammar, and literary analysis.  


7th & 8th Grade

7-8th orchestra 2014

Block:  Physics- exploration of aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, and electricity. The picture below is of a demonstration that visually showed the students how water supports objects and how the weight of the object is affected.

Math Skills: Group 1- Pre-algebra practice continues, as well as work with ratios and proportions. Group 2- Pre-Algebra, using algebra to solve word problems. Group 3- Algebra.

Language Arts Skills: Verbs and their uses, including: tenses, intransitive and transitive verbs, helping and linking verbs.

Visual Arts Working with pastels, interpreting the first part of our morning verse in pictures. And exploration of three-dimensional shapes (polyhedrons) and their nets.Looks good to me

Spanish:  The novel, Los Pirates del Caribe, has kept us entertained and engaged.  

Handwork: We are hard at work with humming machines and three of us have finished our pajama pants!

Music: Understanding the circle of 5ths (how the different keys relate to each other) as well as sight reading in choral parts.

Movement: Wrestling forms and indoor games.

Orchestra: Learning new key signatures with more difficult fingering (see photo, above).


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In the Classroom 12-6-13

Dec. 6, 2013

We welcome you here to take a glimpse into the school day and
the curriculum, and we wish you a wonderful holiday season.
- The DVWS Faculty

Early Childhood

EC seeds the prairie 2013

Apple Blossom students seed the prairie.

As the natural world has transitioned into a winter mood, so
has our seasonal nature table. The root children are tucked in
sleeping in Mother Earth’s winter home down below whilst
Mary has begun her star journey above. We dutifully and
reverently help move her along from star to star on her Advent
journey while we sing in circle time of the blessings and
treasures this time of year provides.
Miss Ieva’s class spread seeds in the prairie (see photo). Oh how
the children loved to watch the wind take the feathery wings!


1st Grade

First grade learns X and Y.

First grade learns X and Y.

Math Skills: Number bonds, counting forwards and backwards
to 100 and continuing practice with all four operations.

Painting: Color studies of complementary colors and the color wheel.

Practical Arts:  We made birdseed pine cones  to hang on the tree outside our classroom window.

Spanish: Students have delighted in hearing  ”The Gingerbread MaN” in Spanish. They’ve quickly learned the famous words of that quick little fellow in Spanish! Like the fox, we will enjoy delicious gingerbread men at the end of this month.

Handwork: Knitting a square.

Music: Introduction to the lyre.

First grade beanbag exercises.

First grade beanbag exercises.

Movement: Farm listening game-animals in the barn.

Extra Lesson: Picking up, counting and sorting marbles using toes. String
games. Spiral forms with feet.


2nd Grade

Balance exercise in   1st and 2nd grade movement class.

Balance exercise in
1st and 2nd grade movement class.

Block: Language Arts, Continued consonant and vowel blends. Introduction of digraphs and sentence composition.

Math Skills: Increasing speed and complexity with vertical addition and subtraction problems.

Spanish: (2nd through 8th grades) We will spend the month learning about the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas, a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for room at an inn. All children will have a part in making and eating delicious tamales, a tradition of this holiday.

Handwork: Finishing knitting and purling a rainbow ball.

Music: Revisiting the lyre and making our own songs on the flute. Preparation for Santa Lucia festival.

Movement: Farm animal listening game.

Extra Lesson: Spirals using feet. Finger tip clay modeling.


3rd and 4th Grade

Block: Norse Mythology. Creation of the Nine  and stories of the gods.

Math Skills: Increasing speed and accuracy of  facts.

Language Arts Skills: Parts of speech, punctuation. Rehearsal of lines for pageant-finding our performance speaking voices.

Arts: Color study painting (see photo) and modeling.

3rd-4th Watercolor painting.

3rd-4th Watercolor painting.

Spanish: Las Posadas. (see description above)

Handwork: Crocheting and knitting individualized projects.

Music: More and more sounds in the major mode. Preparing for
Solfege (Do, Re, Mi). Preparation for the Christmas pageant.

Movement: Blob tag- a group tag game.

Extra Lesson: Developing finger strength and dexterity.  exercises to increase flexible thinking. Secondary color painting exercise- what colors are hidden in orange?


5th & 6th Grade

Block: Astronomy-calendar and stars. Prior to this block the class performed
A Wrinkle in Time, a play they wrote after being captivated by the novel.

A Wrinkle in Time.

A Wrinkle in Time.


Math Skills: Business math.

Language Arts Skills: Adjectives.

Spanish: Las Posadas. (see description above)

Music: Singing in parts. Recorder playing.

Orchestra: Exploring the sounds of Christmas through improvisation.

Handwork: 5th-Knitting the cuff of the sock. 6th-Embroidering handwork bags.

Movement: Soccer.


7th & 8th Grade

Block: The American and French Revolutions. There will be an exploration of how these wars put forward new ideals and how these ideals influenced modern history.

Math Skills: Group 1- Pre-algebra, writing and solving more complex equations. Group 2- Pre-Algebra, using algebra to solve word
problems. Group 3- Algebra, fundamental operations, applying the four processes to monomials and polynomials.

Language Arts Skills: Recognizing compound subjects and verbs.

Arts: Continued carving of linoleum blocks (see photo)

Linoleum block print 7th-8th grade.

Linoleum block print 7th-8th grade.

Spanish: Las Posadas. (see description above)

Handwork: Learning about pattern shaping. Making pajama pants (see photo) in machine sewing which connects with their studies of the Industrial Revolution.

7th-8th grade pajama pants.

7th-8th grade pajama pants.

Music: Circle of 5th Study through sound as compares to organic geometrical design. Preparation for the Christmas pageant.

Movement: Soccer.

Orchestra: Improvisation, and enjoying the sounds of Christmas.


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In The Classroom 11-13-13

Dear Parents,

This time of year brings an opportunity for deepening in learning. Routine and rhythm have been established in the classrooms creating a calm and order that can allow class work to flourish.  A new level of interest is active both in students and teachers.

We can see this in the activity of small hands that are ready to knit, and in the maturing minds that are enthralled in science experiments.

Take a few minutes to see what learning  can be- alive, imaginative, rigorous and lasting.

~ DVWS Faculty

Ms. Dudeck chemistry

7th & 8th Grade

Block: Chemistry- metabolism demonstration of sugars, bases, acids and enzymes. These reactions are happening all around us and in us. Students are able to observe these events firsthand in a microcosmic experiment.

Spanish: Conversation games have kept us laughing and learning about irregular verbs and adjectives.

Handwork: Machine sewing. Beginning to sew pants.

Music:  Music theory in the circle of 5ths, and understanding different scales.

Movement: Capture the Flag.

5th/6th Graders help 1st grade knit.
5th/6th Graders help 1st grade knit.

5th & 6th Grade

Block: Drama- play practice of A Wrinkle in Time. Come see the production on Nov. 20th at Matthews Middle School.

Math Skills: Metric conversion and graphing. Students classified all of their Halloween candy by type and are graphing the results. Reese’s  came out on top at 132.

Spanish: Conversation games have kept us laughing and learning about irregular verbs and adjectives.

Movement: Baton relay race.

Extra Lesson: Obstacle courses requiring teamwork, math frisbee, balance beam beanbag toss, and form drawing.

Language Arts Skills: Grammar- adjectives of quantity and quality.

Handwork: 5th Grade- casting on and knitting in a rib pattern for socks. 6th Grade- embroidery cloth for handwork bags.

Music: Music reading for recorder -quite different from string instruments. Singing parts.

Movement: Baton relay race.


3rd and 4th Grade

Block: Human and Animal. Discovering how humans are similar and different from animals, beginning with the study of the cuttlefish and field mice.

Arts: Form drawing.

Language Arts: Writing paragraphs, introducing “describing words,” and reading “tall tales” such as Ol’ Paul about Paul Bunyan.

Math Skills: Problem solving using story problems and skill review.

Movement: Builders and Bulldozers relay.

Music:  Songs about trades. Finding and playing songs on the flute that are familiar to our singing voices.

Handwork: Finishing crocheted flute cases.

Spanish:  The children have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting some Bible stories they heard last year…this time in Spanish!  Even the tiniest details aren’t lost on these kids.


2nd Grade

Block: Math-place value. Learning to stretch numbers.  Stories from Number Town continue unfold as two wanderers leave Number Town and encounter an Indian woman who trades in beads. She keeps track of her beads by grouping them in sacks by tens, hundreds, thousands and so on.  To keep track of how many sacks she had to trade, she wore a necklace of colored beads- orange for a thousand, red for hundreds and so on. Students are given necklaces each day to practice place value and number stretching skills.

Spanish: The children delighted in reenacting the story of Stone Soup by making a pot of their own- and eating it. Delicioso!

Handwork: Knitting and purling a rainbow ball.

Music: Flute practice. We wrote our first song about autumn.

Movement: What time is it Mr. Wolf?- a game of anticipation.

Extra Lesson: Painting exercises to develop use of outer and inner space.


1st Grade

1st grade learning their flutes.

1st graders learning their flutes.


Block: Form Drawing. Students develop essential visual-spatial and motor skills.

Math Skills: Using the four processes.

Spanish: Spanish Animal Bingo has been officially declared “the best game ever.”

Handwork: Our first knitting day. The fifth and sixth graders, now confident in knitting, visited the class to lend a hand.

Music: Listening skills, tone identification, songs with fine and gross motor movements.

Movement: What time is it Mr. Wolf?- a game of anticipation.

Extra Lesson: Developing  awareness of the six directions, and hand and finger strengthening. Body geography.

1st grade nature walk.

1st grade nature walk.

Early Childhood

Kindergartners finger knitting.

Kindergartners finger knitting.

The kindergarten classes take weekly hikes to a natural, wooded area to play, explore, build, and do simple woodworking projects. The one-mile round trip allows for many opportunities to run, roll, jump, zig-zag, and hike on non-landscaped, sometimes unpredictable, natural terrain. This is wonderful for balance and responsive movement! We return with hardy appetites for hot  soup and oatmeal.

EC weekly nature hike.

EC weekly nature hike.

Parent-Child classes meet each week to share circle time with autumn rhymes and finger games, a hearty snack and parenting experiences. Parents in the class are reading The Incarnating Child, discussing children’s drawings, and learning how to crochet.

Hot soup and bread for snack in the parent child class.

Hot soup and bread for snack in the parent child class.





Posted in 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Early Childhood, In The Classroom, In The Classroom, Outdoor play, School News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8th Grade Vision Quest 2013


Da Vinci 8th graders set off on their vision quest.

DVWS 8th graders set off on their vision quest.

In some Native American cultures, a rite-of-passage event, called a Vision Quest, was used for an adolescent to seek purpose and meaning in his life. An individual was sent out alone, in nature, with only the bare essentials to survive. His time was spent in prayer and meditation, reflecting on his life and the changes he was about to face as an adult in the community. This significantly spiritual event would guide the individual to his purpose and a new sense of self. This new self, an individual with deeper insight and understanding, was then faced with the task of bringing his new knowledge back into the world, for the benefit of the community.

Carrying water several miles to camp.

Carrying water several miles to camp.

Our eighth grade students spent the weekend of November 1-3 backpacking and camping in Wisconsin’s North Kettle Moraine State Forest as part of our second “Vision Quest” experience at Da Vinci Waldorf School. Movement education teacher, Sarah Westlund, along with parent and outdoor educator, Dave Brooks, chaperoned this trip for our eldest students. On the second night of the trip, after hiking approximately six miles while carrying their personal camping gear and food on their backs, the students built their own camps (separate from everyone else and under the stars). The vision quest provides 8th graders an opportunity, via an outdoor adventure experience, to develop and discover personal skills and inner strength to overcome adversity.

The students constructed their own shelters.

The students constructed their own shelters.

The Vision Quest is intentionally held in Wisconsin in early November to provide students with a challenging setting and season in which to test themselves physically and emotionally. Under the guidance of skilled leaders, the students gather firewood, carry water to camp, and learn outdoor skills. Most importantly, the students learn that they are indeed stronger and more capable than they think. By pushing them just outside their comfort zones, they gain new insights and confidence in their ability to get through difficult situations.

Many bridges to cross to adulthood.

Many bridges to cross toward adulthood.

At Da Vinci Waldorf School, we believe this to be an essential and valuable experience that will serve these young adults as they step into adulthood.

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In the Classroom 11-1-2013


Dear Parents,

If you were to look through the window of your child’s classroom, you would see students learning many subjects in a variety of ways. We’re inviting you to share in the experience through the photographs and words below.

Together the teachers and students are breaking new ground, making connections and discovering the wonder of our world. Thank you for your support of this effort!

From the DVWS Faculty

7th & 8th Grade

Block: Organic Chemistry. The “Carbon Snake”  (or in this case “swan”) where students watched with interest and delight  as sugars reacted with acid.

carbon snake organic chemistry


7th 8th watch chemistry experiment







Math Skills: Group 1-Pre-algebra, solving for X with fractions and decimals. Group 2- Percentages. Group 3-Algebra-, substitution in a formula.

Language Arts Skills: Spelling and increasing vocabulary – a favorite word this week was “epitaph.” Presentation of book reports.
Spanish: Dia de los Muertos Celebration.  Central and South American geography reports.

Handwork: Trip to the fabric store to select and measure fabric for machine sewing projects.

Music: Lantern Walk/Martinmas songs, choral music reading and recorder ensemble in parts.

Orchestra: Syncopated rhythm and “Spook House” improv.

5th & 6th Grade

Block: Astronomy- observations of sunrise and sunset.  Seasonal results of sun’s position.

Math Skills: Metric conversion and graphing time and events.

Language Arts Skills: play practice- A Wrinkle in Time.

Spanish: Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead celebration.  Number review.

Music: Lantern Walk/Martinmas songs. Recorder parts.
5th 6th play practice
Handwork: 5th-  knitted “swatch gnomes.”/ 6th- transferal of design to cloth handwork bag.

Extra Lesson: Counting Star exercise. Students discovered the challenge of dividing a large circle evenly on the chalkboard without any tools.

3rd and 4th Grade

Block:  Math-weight measurement. Students found balance on scales with common items.
3rd 4th scale
Math Skills:  Number arrays. Continuous review of times tables.

Language Arts Skills:  Presentation of book reports.

Arts:  Painting a scene from David and Goliath.

Spanish:  Seasons and months of the year, and celebration of Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead.

Handwork:  Continuation of crocheted flute cases. Exploring colors.

Music:  Martinmas songs. Steps toward round singing.
happy Liam

2nd Grade

Block:  Math-place value using manipulatives, number charts, story and mental math.

Math Skills:  Addition and subtraction of larger numbers.  Number families- 7 and 2 live in the Nine House with 6 and 3 and many other friends.

Language Arts:  The “oo” sound. Boo! Who knew Sue?
2nd grade circle

Spanish:  Fruits and vegetables.  Dia de los Muertos.

Handwork:  Continuation of knitted lions and mice.

Music:  Singing Martinmas songs and flute playing.

Extra Lesson:  Body geography and laterality- Can you stand on one foot and rub your tummy and pat your head?

1st Grade

Block:  Qualities of Numbers : Introduction to the four processes. Will Peter Plus add anything to your pocket?

Math Skills:  The many ways to think about a number: 12 is 6 and 6, but also 5 and 7. Encouraging flexible thinking and problem solving.

Watercolor Painting:  Working with pigment washes in varied intensities.

Spanish: Dia de los Muertos and body parts vocabulary.

Handwork: Learning how to cast on stitches. Getting ready for our first knitting day.

Music: Learning soft breath for excellent flute playing skills!

Extra Lesson: Body geography awareness with counting- 7 windows in my head!

Early Childhood
Rowan fall

Children hammered holes in cans for Martinmas lanterns. This kind of activity builds fine and gross motor skills, integrates the sensory system, and strengthens the will system.

trinity big stick
In early childhood, the children are “bathed” in rich language throughout our morning.  In one of the kindergarten rooms, the story “Rumplestiltskin” was recently told:

“Whirr, whirr, whirr, three times round.
Whirr, whirr, whirr, three times round.
Straw into gold the bobbin be found.
And so it went on until the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reels were full of gold.
By daybreak the King was already there, and when he saw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became only more greedy….”


Stories, songs and rhymes rich in vocabulary enter the child’s imagination and auditory memory. Later these experiences are resourced for writing and reading… and so much more.



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In The Classroom 10-28-13

knitted lions

Dear Parents,

Below is a peek into last week’s  goings-on in the school. There are so many things to say, but here are just a few to share. It is a joy to greet and teach your children each day!

From the DVWS Faculty

1st Grade

Block: Qualities of Number. Students are discovering the truth of numbers in nature- the rose and the apple are 5, the honeycomb is 6 and the clover is 3- or 4 if you are lucky!

Math Skills: Reinforcement of number sense through body geography and movement- step counting and jumping rhythms.

Language Arts Skills: Developing and continuing phonetic awareness. The students are collecting items and sorting them by beginning sound and letter.

Spanish: Hansel and Gretel story, and numbers from 1-20.

Movement:  Seasonal cooperative games.

Handwork: Learning how to cast on stitches.

Music: Learning soft breath for excellent flute playing skills!

Extra Lesson: Left to right tracking. Awareness of feet and hands.

baking letters

Other Highlights:

The class  baked bread in the shapes of letters, and continued its weekly contemplative nature walk.


2nd grade math board

2nd Grade

Block: Math: Addition and subtraction in the vertical. Number bonds. Introduction of larger numbers, all in the context of Native American and saint stories and legends.

Math Skills: Repetition of math facts up to 12. Review and continuation of place value.

Language Arts Skills: Consonant blends and vowel usage and exceptions.

Spanish: Stone Soup, numbers 1-100, and preparation for Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead.

Movement:  Seasonal cooperative games.

Handwork: Finishing knitted lions.

Music: Singing in “call and response” style; pentatonic flute playing.

Extra Lesson: Bilateral integration through movement. Point and Periphery painting exercise.

3rd and 4th Grade

Block: Math: Review of long division and measurement.

3_4 counting coins

Math Skills: Assembling and using scales- finding balance. Times tables reinforcement. Ongoing visual and mental math- thinking on your feet in time and visualizing an equation.

Language Arts Skills: Reading for content and comprehension. Preparing a first book report.

3rd grade girls crochet

Spanish: Joseph and His Brothers, fall season, Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead.

Movement: Introduction of skill-based and boundary games.

Handwork: Starting to crochet a flute case. (see photo)

Music: Singing in quodlibet (Latin for “as it pleases”) in preparation for singing in rounds, and playing diatonic “c” flute.

Astronomy blackboard

5th and 6th Grade

Block: Astronomy. Movement of the Sun. Students observe where the sun rises and sets each day.

Math Skills: Metric Measurement.

Language Arts Skills: Spelling review. Noun and adjective classification.

5_6 extra lesson star

Spanish: The Adventurers! Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead.

Movement:  5th – pentathlon introduction and endurance training.
5th and 6th – endurance training through mile-long runs, and kickball.

    5th- knitting swatches before beginning to knit socks.     6th- hand sewing and embroidering handwork bag.

Music: Singing in parts; recorder playing in parts.

Orchestra: Working with rhythm and more difficult time signatures.

Extra Lesson: Upper and lower body movement differentiation. Spatial planning through form drawing.

Day of Dead drawing

7th and 8th Grade

Math Skills: Group 1-Pre-algebra introduction.  Group 2- Algebra 1

Block: Organic Chemistry. Experimenting in the kitchen with sugars, starches and proteins.

Spanish: South American culture and geography, and Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead.

Movement:   Building endurance running a mile; archery.

Handwork: Machine sewing and pattern planning.

Music: Choral music reading and recorder ensemble in parts.

Orchestra: Syncopated rhythm and sight reading.

fall nature table

Early Childhood

Exploring fall’s beauty in nature
on hikes and in play.

Making lanterns for Martinmas.

Autumn songs and rhymes.

Posted in 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, early childhood, Early Childhood, In The Classroom, In The Classroom, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Take a Class Trip?


The 5th/6th Grade class at Da Vinci Waldorf School just returned from its class trip to Starved Rock State Park.  The class trip in the Waldorf school has several purposes.  First, it is an opportunity for the students to understand themselves in an environment that is not their home and where they are allowed to make choices for themselves in a safe environment.  This step towards independence is extremely important in the development of the human being.

climbing rocks and trees compressed web The trip serves the additional purpose of letting the students explore the world around them in ways that relate the curriculum.  Our trip to Starved Rock State Park allowed the students to see the geology, zoology, botany and geography of just one region of our home state.

big rocks compressed web

We also learned quite a bit of history on our stop at the visitor center of the park itself, the Locks and Dam, which is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Illinois-Michigan Canal system.  From Native Americans who first inhabited this land, to French explorers of the 1600′s, and civilian workers of the mid 1900′s, we learned of the many people who explored, developed and shaped the land we call Illinois. Local Geography and Zoology are part of the Fourth Grade Curriculum; North American Geography and Botany are part of the Fifth Grade Curriculum; and Geology and Astronomy are part of the Sixth Grade Curriculum.  These subjects are introduced in the grades mentioned, and carried forth throughout the child’s education.  Aside from a lot of hiking, we looked at the wild life around us throughout the parks we visited, including the geometry in nature.  We are fortunate, being a private school, that we have the freedom to bring the curriculum in this very experiential way, with class trips scheduled each year and lasting between three and ten days.   Class trips are also a lot of fun!

Grade 5-6 starved rock treehuggers 2013 compressed web



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