grade school

May Day 2019

We really enjoy our school-wide festivals as an opportunity to gather together for seasonal fun. May Day is particularly beloved as a celebration of spring and the re-awakening of the natural world around us. It is particularly photogenic too, with flowers and brightly colored ribbons. Our school traditions include making flower crowns, a cake walk, bubbles, lemon peppermints (a peppermint “straw” inserted into a whole lemon), a community picnic and dancing around a maypole.

Madrona School Alphabet (L)

Next up in our alphabet-based exploration of what makes a Waldorf education unique...L for living education. We've explored this topic in other ways throughout this alphabet, but it bears repeating. Living education happens when you offer learning through experience and discovery, when you have a strong relationship between teachers and students, and when you offer a curriculum that engages all the senses.

As members of the Madrona School community we can all think of the glimpses we have of this education in action. There are the bean bag exercises that combine mental math with rhythm and song, taking practice to perfect. There are the demonstrations of middle school science -- making sound resonance visible with a Chladni plate demonstration or studying mechanics through building simple machines. There are the 1st graders in handwork class, knitting yes, but stopping often to count their rows and look up at the shared pattern posted at the head of the room, mentally calculating and then announcing how many "mountains" remain in their project. There is the sharing of applesauce, sauerkraut and beeswax candles from 3rd grade practical arts lessons, and the understanding of a life cycle as they prepare to plant grains in our new garden space for next year's 3rd grade to harvest and study. There is the focused silence of book work in the 4th grade after an energetic and physical game of energetic sentence diagramming in language arts. Countless examples abound...

In a 2014 interview, Christof Weichert said: [A dynamic lesson] is the essence of Waldorf education. Steiner said that we teach within an artistic process…the experience is that of expansion and contraction. It is shaped by very precise use of oral qualities, visual qualities and interactive qualities, and they have to be in balance. You should always have an eye for what refreshes the children and what tires them. If the children get tired, you change into another mood or another activity so you and the children are in kind of a flow….If you are engaged—and you’ll find that in the third chapter of The Study of Man—if you engage yourself in what you do, you stay alive. You stay fresh.

—adapted from our weekly email newsletter, May 20, 2014



Our Annual School-wide Open House

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The whole family is very welcome at our annual school-wide Open House, this Saturday, January 26th! Please come walk through the school, meet teachers, see current student work and hear about our early childhood program expansion and new outdoor kindergartens! We are so excited to share a glimpse of our school with you. You are welcome anytime between 10 am and 12 pm, although if you are particularly interested in early childhood, join Miss Mary at 10:45am in the green house classroom to hear more specifically about those changes…..And, plan a trip up to Lowery Farm to visit with Teachers Isaac and Jamie about our plans for that space — the farm is open between 10:30am and 12:30pm.

See you there!

Meanwhile, please enjoy these examples from previous years of the sorts of work you’ll be able to view:


A Note from Missi About Spiral of Light

Dear families and friends,

We are truly into the darkest days of winter with solstice just ten days away.  Amazingly, it will be lighter when we return from break in January than it is now!  While I find myself longing for the light to return, I am also grateful for the opportunities of reflection that this season offers.  

For me the season really kicks off with the Spiral of Light festival that we celebrated this past Sunday.  For those who haven't had the chance to come yet, imagine a room all in darkness.  In the center of a spiral of evergreen boughs laid on the floor, a candle is lit.  Solitary and dim, it barely begins to light the room.  Everyone sitting around the edges is swathed in darkness.  Our sweet-voiced teachers are singing an array of seasonal songs from both Christian and Jewish traditions: they sing in delicious harmonies in English, German, and French.  Through the singing, family after family walks the spiral to light a candle and set it down on golden paper stars sprinkled among the boughs.  Bit by bit the room becomes filled with a golden glow.  Suddenly, I realize that I can make out the faces of the people sitting across the room from me.  Friends old and new, grown-ups and children.  I am struck by the lovely metaphor that I have just witnessed, articulated in the words of one of the carols being sung: "Each little child shall shed her light, till all the world is warm and bright."

In this season of veritable darkness, I appreciate the unique light that each child and each parent shines into the world.  Thank you for sharing yourselves with this precious school community.

Reflectively yours,
Missi

— From our newsletter, December 11, 2018