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

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

“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.

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

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.

2nd Grade

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

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.

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

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. 

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Morgan Branson
Morgan Branson
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