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Classroom Updates

Acorn Nursery News from Ms. Jan:

As we move into the second semester of the school year I traditionally invite you, our parents, to spend some time in our classroom between now and the end of school.  Children in Waldorf Schools all over the world perform a play in the Grades each year as a culmination of a year's worth of bonding and working together to form what we call "one whole class."  Our class has come a long way since the beginning of the school year and although the children in Early Childhood do not perform in front of audiences, this is my way to let them show you all that they have learned and know how to do.  You are welcomed to visit for a few minutes in the morning, until snack time, stay the whole day or any amount of time that you would like.  Please let me know a day and details of how long/times if you would like to spend a day with us in the Nursery.  You might be surprised with all that your little one can do at school.

We came back from break to discover some vegetables growing in our garden, especially cauliflower!  This sparked and reminded me to want to make soup with the children.  When I was a little girl I always knew that soup was something that my mom made with all of the leftover vegetables, beans, pasta, etc. that was stored in the refrigerator.  Please look in your refrigerator and send us one vegetable (or a handful) or one portion of an item that we can use for our soup. 

Jasmine Kindergarten News from Ms. Diana:

Our first week back at school started with a celebration and James and his family brought to us the European tradition of celebrating the Three Kings Day with a Galette des Rois. For the special celebration, Ms Diana told the children the story of Robin Red Breast. The festival of Christmas has many legends attached to it and Christmas Robin is one of them. Popularly known as the red breast bird, this creature is considered of immense importance, especially, during Christmas. The story of this little bird has turned out to be so significant that it is now a story unknown to none. Christmas Robin is mainly popular among children as its story teaches children a lot about good deeds and the importance of selfless acts. Christmas is that time of the year where people put aside their egos and selfishness and try to help one another. Thus, the legend of Christmas Robin is one story that is apt for the Christmas season. Although there have been many versions to this cheerful little bird's legend, the most popular one is the one where robin helps Mother Mary.

Magnolia Kindergarten News from Ms. Heidi:

A new month brings a new story and a new circle. Winter is upon us, but how do you acknowledge and honor winter in subtropical Louisiana? What does winter look like for us? Well, this year I am inspired to work with the archetype of winter as well as our “real” winter experience of fickle temperatures, gray days, rain, and cold dampness like we experienced last week, as well as the brilliant sunshine and ever blooming plant life we see around us on a day like today. Our morning walks allow us to notice the subtle changes that come with our seasons. We notice when the lizards stop sunning themselves on the payment, when the citrus begins to turn colors, when the leaves and pine needles fall, and when the mud becomes more prevalent in our garden play space.

There is also a sense of melancholy in the still shortened days as we move away from the Winter Solstice. We may see ice or frost this month, and the children experience how  long it takes to warm  up our class rooms some days and whether we need to turn on the overhead lights as we play or work. Winter can be an introspective time here, and many of us may feel like hibernating and staying home until it gets warmer.

I’ve tried to create a picture of our New Orleans’ winter on our nature table in the playroom. A brown silk covers the table, and a vase of bare branches rises up like the bare trees we see around us. A small figure of Jack Frost is hiding in the branches, as if he is longing to find the perfect moment to jump down and surprise us with a light freeze. Mother Thaw is more central to the tableau; she is busy sweeping the ground free of leaves and preparing the earth to receive new seeds.

On the nature table by our front entrance, I have created a more archetypical tableau of winter, with Father Winter and some gnomes surveying the snowy landscape. Both pictures of winter will live in our work, our stories, and our play this month. Our Circle Adventure  will include rhymes about cold and snow, and will invite  us to cross an icy bridge and to “go sledding” in the hallway. For our story, I’ve chosen a traditional Alaskan tale about an old woman who rescues a polar bear cub and of the love and devotion that binds them, even when they become separated.

Grade 1 News from Ms. Contento:

We had an amazing week of learning in the first grade! My students welcomed Saskia to our class with open arms! It feels like she has been with us all year. I think she enjoys being with us as much as we love having her in our class. 

This week my students drew a beautiful Nightingale into their main lesson book and included the letter “N”. Students are also learning how to print the lowercase letters. Each day students practiced a few letters and added them to their main lesson books. They enjoyed the story “The Wood  Maiden.” Many students helped to retell this story in class. 

I will continue to tell fairy tales next week as we continue to practice writing the lowercase letters. As the students do this we are also reviewing the letter sounds. Students will write the word families into their main lesson books. I will use the vowel verses we have memorized during the main lesson to jump into word families. One way we work with word families is to have students generate words that rhyme, for example, words that rhyme with at, like cat, rat, sat. 

Grade 2 News from Ms. Mullen:

We have spent the first week back studying r-controlled digraphs (ie: tr-, dr-, cr-) and different sounds that A can make depending on what letters it ends up next to. The children heard the Jataka story of Delightful the bull and the Cherokee story of the two wolves inside of us. Ask them to tell you about them! We also had a first draft of letters being sent to Kiran and handwriting practice. All in all we had a great first week back. The whole class had wonderful behavior and participation all week!

Grade 3/4 fro Ms. Brown:

This week we began our first fractions block.  This block is the first of a couple that will occur this year.  In the first block it is my aim to introduce fractions on a fundamental level so that each student will have a deep understanding of the concepts involved in and what they represent.  We began the week hearing about Susan Spicer and I brought in some of her company, Wild Flour Breads focaccia.  I halved the bread, and halved it again and again until we had 18 equal pieces, to eat.  The following day we walked the fraction from 1/18 to 1, we also split four local and large oranges from the farmers market into 6ths.  We then walked the fraction from 1/6 to 4.  So in doing this the students could see how a mixed number is achieved.  For instance, 1/6, 2/6, 3/6, 4/6, 5/6, 1, 1 1/6, 1 2/6, etc.  The next day we split Larabars and defined numerator, denominator, and mixed number.  We ended the week by making circle manipulatives for their main lesson books and extras for an envelope that will later be used to add, subtract, multiply, divide and find equivalent fractions.  The goal of the next couple of weeks is to not overload the students with math fraction rules, and instead through local chef bios and a bit of their recipes, learn how a whole is split into parts to create a fraction.  Of course we will do a little cooking, and incorporate measurement.

As a school we closed the week with a visit from Chief Gerald, a Mardi Gras Indian.  He brought in a couple of his suits and spoke to us about the culture and tradition surrounding masking and coming out each year with his tribe.  He also taught us a few of the call and response anthems and the student body had so many questions, and were very engaged when he opened it up to questions.

Grade 5 / 6 News from Ms. Nelson:

It was a crazy but productive week back as we got started on our class play and had an exciting visit from Big Chief Gerald, a Mardi Gras Indian of over forty years, who spoke about the culture and art associated with this amazing and unique aspect of the holiday season in our city.  Thanks to Miss Jill for making this experience possible!

MAIN LESSON: CLASS PLAY - The class is hard at work putting together our very ambitious production of The Ramayana.  It's a bit chaotic right now in the first week, but I have no doubt it will all come together over the next two.  I am proud of all the effort the students have already put into learning their lines, and helping behind the scenes.  There is a lot of positive energy surrounding this production!  At this point, we could use some help with the following:

1) Costume Help - We would love some grown-up help going through the costume boxes this week.  We could also use a little help with the construction of some pieces, such as the king's crown, mermaid tails, as well as Ravana's head(s) and arms.  Please let me know if you are available and willing to support us - it will go so much faster with extra (adult) hands.  Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

2) Costume Elements - We are looking for the following items:  Indian (or Indian-Inspired) clothing, a sheepskin, fur pieces, Indian printed cloths / tapestries.  We will be as careful as possible with anything you bring in.  Please label everything so we can ensure it gets back to you.

Grade 7 / 8 News from Mr. Pauzolis:

When the week began, I was stoked to see that our class came back from the holidays refreshed and ready to learn. This week, we dove headfirst into our Creative Writing block, and it is already proving to be an interesting challenge to the class. I love seeing such passion for storytelling as they explore their perspective on the world, and reading what they have written so far has been a real treat. We began by discussing some of the various elements of Creative Writing, and learning about the anatomy of story-building. We worked together as they created some really compelling and exciting opening sentences meant to entice their readers and get them hooked from the start, and we talked in depth about character development. We studied Freytag's Pyramid, which is a template that helps us understand and organize the numerous elements of a plot, and the children began actually composing two short stories. Together in class, we read 'Haunter of the Dark' by H.P. Lovecraft, and 'The Robber Bridegroom' by the Brothers Grimm, and marveled at the magnificent language and the way the authors craftily manipulated tension for their readers to keep them on the edge of their seats!

We ended our lovely week with a visit from Chief Gerald Paige, a Mardi Gras Indian, who shared his music and knowledge with the whole school. I hope that you've all had an amazing weekend break together, and I am looking forward to our week ahead!

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