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Classroom Updates

Updated: Dec 15, 2018

Acorn Nursery News from Ms. Jan:

We are currently working on a Christmas craft that is something that we will GIVE and not get this holiday season.  Children get and have so many things these days (even more than when my children were small) and it's very important to me to teach them how to give and share all that they have with others.  After all, don't you feel better giving, than getting, at Christmas?  I want the children to learn the special pleasure in giving.  So I'm going to insist, and hope that you follow through, that the children give what we are currently making, to you, their loving parents who love them so much and do so much for them.  I can't wait to see how excited they will be to give a gift to you.  (And I want you to insist that it's YOURS!).

Jasmine Kindergarten News from Ms. Diana:

We had just finished another week filled with events and celebrations: St. Nicholas's Day and the Festival of Light. Thank you for  your help and support in creating such events! It was wonderful to see most children on Friday nigh and my Early Childhood colleagues and I were delighted to be able to create an event for all families.  Our little lanterns and our songs have filled the night with magic. What a rich experience for all of us!

Why Celebrate Festivals as a Family? Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf Education) never talked about festivals associated with a school! That often surprises people because it’s such a big part of so many Waldorf schools these days. He did talk a lot about celebrating festivals in communities in his lectures to general audiences. Just not in his education lectures. Steiner said about festivals that “the cycle of the year is a mighty breathing of the earth in relation to the cosmos.”

Festivals create a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. And they mark the rhythms of the year. Think of festivals as a way to deepen our connection to the rhythms of the year, in particular the four seasons. As a way to celebrate seasonal changes. Festival celebrations also strengthen bonds among people. They bring us closer together. So, you might think of your family as the community! You might also find that festival celebrations are a great way to gather with family and friends. 

Magnolia Kindergarten News from Ms. Heidi:

It was truly a perfect Festival of Light, with yummy food, songs of strength and hope, and our beautiful families. It was magical to look back at the line of moving lanterns as we walked around the park. What a beautiful picture to take into our hearts as we continue to move towards the darkest day of the year. Thank you for your love and participation. That’s what community is all about, and I am so very grateful to be in this one with you!

Tomorrow brings us to the Second week of Advent, in which we honor the plant kingdom. Please join us if you are able for our lighting of two candles on the Advent Wreath. Children and adults are welcome to bring a bit of plant life to decorate our wreath and our nature table. The decorations from last week’s honoring of the mineral kingdom will be available to take home, although we always welcome any gifts of rocks, shells and stones for our play.  Here is the verse for the second week:

The second light of Advent is the light of plants,

Plants that reach up to the sky and in the breezes dance.

Grade 1 News from Ms. Contento:

Last week during our math main lesson block my students were introduced to the number line. This is a tool that will help them with adding and subtracting. They will also use this when we are identifying the odd and even numbers. This week students are learning how to write addition and subtraction problems into their main lesson books. Students are learning how to identify all of the different number combinations that add up to a specific number. (1+9=10, 2+8=10, 3+7=10, 4+6=10, 5+5=10, and 0+10=10)

During circle, we are continuing to recite a poem that helps them identify long and short vowel sounds. Students are also continuing to skip counting the 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. Many are to the point that they want to show me their ability to say their skip counting individually. Tomorrow we are going to start the 3’s during circle. We are also reciting a poem to identify their right and left. 

Grade 2 News from Ms. Mullen:

In main lesson, we are continuing to study heroines and heroes. We finished up our discussions of Saint Francis and discussed a Native American two-spirit named We'Wha. We are learning about the digraphs -sh, -ch, and -th as well as learning how to pronounce words with a silent e and how they change short vowel sounds into long vowels. We built new words by adding -e onto consonant vowel consonant words and then split words into groups with long and short sounds. In extra main, children were given time to write a note to Santa about anything they wanted. They did all of the spelling without assistance and then I helped them make changes to the words so that they were spelled "the adult way." They were so brave to attempt so much writing on their own and their letters were lovely. 

Today we had our Hanukkah celebration where we learned about lighting the Menorah from a parent. The children sang in front of the whole school and many played instruments as well! They were very brave. At free time, the classroom was given a few dreidels to play with, which was loads of fun. 

We have also been lighting our advent wreath, using the following verse in the morning:

Lighting the Candles

The first light of advent, it is the light of stones.  Stones that live in seashells, crystals, and in bones.

The second light of advent, is the light of plants.  Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of advent, it is the light of beasts.  This light of hope that we may see in greatest and in least.

The fourth light of advent, it is the light of man.  The light of hope, the light of love, to give and understand.

Grade 3 / 4 News from Ms. Brown:

The 3rd and 4th grade class was very busy last week, and it seems the hustle and bustle will continue this coming week.  Along with our work in Main Lesson and Subject classes, the students started the week off by participating in a Winter Solstice Spiral.  Each student was very deliberate with their steps and placement of their shell as they entered and exited the labyrinth like shape.  Before entering the Spiral, the lower grades gathered together to listen to a story told by Ms. Contento, about the evergreen trees and why they don't lose their leaves during the winter.  

We also chose names for the students' Secret Snowflake, (our winter holiday gift exchange) and I'm sure you have been hearing about this at home, as it is extremely important in the classroom and to the students.  There was a tremendous amount of discussion centered around the parameters of the exchange, and wondering when another gift would be found.  Honestly, I would be so surprised if it remained a secret until the 21st, for all of the discussion surrounding the exchange has lead to some students finding out who their Secret Snowflake is.  I do believe the students are finding it so challenging to not tell anyone who they have picked, especially after bringing in something handmade and watching the classes excitement behind the craftsmanship, the restraint needed to watch and not react is a very good lesson in humility.

We began lighting our advent wreath each morning and honoring the natural world and its gifts.  I have also included below, the song that we sing as we light each candle.

The week ended with a visit from St. Nicholas and each student received a small sack filled with stones, an orange, a small piece of chocolate, and a golden walnut.  There was also a long letter written in rhyme that mentioned each student and remarked on their special talents and attributes, as well as an area that needs some attention, improvement, or growth.  The Season has begun!

Tomorrow, on the last day of Hanukkah, we will have a Celebration, and the 3rd and 4th grade will sing, "Ocho Candelas" a Hanukkah song sung in Spanish, that they learned and have been practicing with Ms. Maria.  The sung is a celebration of the Menurah and the lighting of the eight candles.  A couple of the students even made up a very catchy beat and have incorporated it into their presentation.

Grade 5 / 6 News from Ms. Nelson:

POETRY WRITING - This week we concluded our work with emotions and the senses by having students take notes of three images for each sense and then write a poem about an emotion of their choice using the notes and the format I had established in our work with happiness and sadness.  I then introduced meter in poetry, with examples from the basic four patterns: iambic, trochaic, dactylic, and anapestic.  Some students are still a little confused about what makes a syllable stressed or unstressed, but I could see more and more were catching on as the week progressed.  In the later part of the week, I introduced the limerick, which includes both a clear meter pattern as well as a rhyming pattern in its five lines.  The students each wrote their own limerick, attempting to conform to these patterns in their writing.  In addition to the writing we were doing in class, the students were presented with new poems every day that we analyzed both in terms of content and structure.  This week, we particularly explored "Democracy" by Langston Hughes, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "i thank You God" by e e cummings, and "Do Not Go Gently into That Goodnight" by Dylan Thomas.  Friday was a particularly exciting day, as St. Nicholas left personal messages and small gifts for each child.  Later, we had a visit from Matt Laney, a children's fantasy novel writer.  He was so tremendously impressed by the students' behavior as well as their wonderful questions that he wants to come back and visit us again next year!

Grade 7 / 8 News from Mr. Pauzolis:

This week we have focused almost exclusively on practicing for our play! The children have learned many of their lines and the final draft of the play is available and attached below. It seems that many of the students left school on Friday afternoon without taking the final pages of the play, which will now be waiting for them on Monday. Just in case, however, the full script can be found at the end of this email.

In addition to our play, this past week we celebrated our Festival of Lights with some Christmas activities. A beautiful Solstice spiral was laid upon the floor of our Sun Room for the children to enjoy and walk, made of fragrant leftover greenery from our Winter Faire. This was also the week that Saint Nicholas visited our school, sneakily knocking on doors and leaving behind a basket with something for every student- this year, a small piece of chocolate, a golden walnut and a few glass beads, as well as his observation of what each child has excelled in and what he would like to see them work on. We also put up a beautiful Christmas tree for our room, which the children decorated all by themselves (see a photo below!). Spirits were high and festive this week, children made everything fun and enjoyable and the room looks much more beautiful now.

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