Outdoor Ed: Portable Hand-Washing Station

The class: Outdoor Education. The challenge: to create an outdoor hand-washing station using everyday things you can find in your home.

In this video, our outdoor ed teacher Mr. Neale shows middle school students how he created a simple apparatus you can use to wash your hands when camping, on a kayaking trip, or at the beach.

Create a portable and water friendly wash station for field trips and camping trips.

Bucket or wash tub
16 oz plastic cup ( yogurt cup)
24 inches of string
12 inches of wire (coat hanger)
A nail or screw for making holes in cup
3 sticks 48 inches long or longer, broomstick size

The featured image at the top of this post shows the handmade station created by 6th Grade student Zoe at home! Nice work.

This Week: May Faire 2020

In the open space around our Lucas Valley campus, the hills are blooming with poppies and buttercups. In our school garden, spring flowers are emerging in brilliant colors. No wonder we choose to celebrate spring at the beginning of May each year!

For our May Faire 2020, we planned to welcome our beloved grandparents to campus to celebrate May Faire as our guests of honor, which would have made the day even more memorable.

While we can’t be together on campus, we can still celebrate spring (and honor our grandparents) as a community. Here’s our plan for May Faire 2020, and, as always, the more MWS families who get involved, the more beautiful it will be.

MWS families, please take this week to create something at home to celebrate spring: make paper flower garlands, use garden flowers to make a traditional May Faire flower crown, link together a daisy chain, or create a vase full of tissue-paper flowers. Make a collection of beeswax buttercups. Or you might collect wildflowers, scatter wildflower seeds outside, or find a flower in nature and draw it in detail. Use the items you have in your house! Love is the most important ingredient!

If you need some inspiration, we have many tips and tutorials for creating homemade flowers in the post It’s Spring! Flower Projects to Celebrate May Faire.

Spread Joy
Now that you’ve made something at home, let’s share our spring celebration with the people around us. Deliver a paper flower, a bunch of wildflowers, or a note of spring cheer to your neighbors. Or leave a beautiful gift on your mailbox for the mail carrier, at grocery stores, or for anyone else in your community.

Share It Here
Send a photo of your flower creation and your acts of kindness. We’ll create a beautiful collage of images and good cheer right here on Grandmother Oak.

… And we’ll use our images to create a small token to share with our beloved grandparents. Please send them to Julie at grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org. (If you’d like to dedicate your flower crown or creation to a grandparent, please let me know!)

Come Together
On Sunday morning, wear your flower crowns, bring your paper flower bouquet, or show up in any other flower trappings to celebrate the May Faire at the Community Coffee on Sunday. We’ll have a special lineup of music that day! Stay tuned for details.

It’s Spring! Flower Projects to Celebrate May Faire

UPDATED WITH MORE RESOURCES! Our annual May Faire is a celebration of spring and of community. While our campus is closed, we have a plan to celebrate the hope and beauty of springtime together, in addition to spreading that joy to our neighbors, friends, and grandparents, who were supposed to be the guests of honor at this year’s May Faire (stay tuned for more information on that!).

Flower Crowns
At school, every student and teacher (as well as many parents) create flower crowns from fresh flowers woven into a ring of braided raffia. If you have an abundant garden at home or a stash of silk flowers to use, making a crown is the traditional way to celebrate May Faire. Our colleagues at the Pasadena Waldorf School have some wonderful suggestions for creating May Faire baskets and flower crowns, as well as other May Faire beauty, at home. Here’s another video tutorial for making a fresh flower crown with floral wire or headband.

Missing the raffia or floral wire? Here is a lovely tutorial for creating a finger-knit crown with fresh flowers from Cedarwood Waldorf School. Or you could try this Celtic-knot headband made of an old T-shirt.

Missing the garden roses? Try one of the flower-making tutorials we’ve recommended below.

Folded Paper Flowers & Recycled Paper Flowers
Tiny hands could help create these pretty accordion paper flowers, as well as the pastel-swirl coffee filter flowers from First Palette. Westside Waldorf School created this awesome video tutorial on creating a paper flower crown. If you have some more time on your hands, these recycled paper flowers from Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride look amazing when complete.

For more elaborate bouquets, Origami Guide has a step-by-step guide to creating paper lotus flowers. Choose a piece of paper that won’t rip easily, and don’t worry if your corners start looking worn as you fold and fold: the result is lovely when the flower is complete. This video shows you how to create surprisingly pretty paper flowers using Post-it notes.

Draw Flowers
For younger children, this bubble-flower hydrangea project from A Piece of Rainbow would be fun and easy to replicate! Here’s a guide to drawing flowers from artist Kate Kyehyun Park at My Modern Met, as well as this step-by-step guide to drawing roses.

Use Wildflowers
Here is a video tutorial for creating a flower crown out of ubiquitous golden dandelion flowers.

You can also collect and dry wildflowers, or gather them for a May Faire basket.

Photo by 6th Grader Alina

What other creative ways can we celebrate the blossoming of spring? Please share your ideas for making flowers at home with us by emailing grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org.

Friday Cheer: A Waldorf Nook at Home

“We have been having a wonderful time at home discovering new ways of bonding as a family, and settling into a routine that honors everyone’s needs,” says preschool mom Elizabeth. “We have transformed a corner under the stairs into our Waldorf inspired area, which we call it “La casita de los chiquitines.”  Our children love spending time in their new space.”

Here’s a picture of the space before they transformed it into a children’s nook.

And here (drum roll please!) is the after …

When the children aren’t playing, “We have also been having fun cooking, singing, watching seeds grow, harvesting veggies and herbs from our small potted garden, watercoloring, making watercolor paints out of spices, and improvising puppet shows,” says Elizabeth!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing these amazing photos of your home!

Lord Geoffrey and the Power of Storytelling

This month, our 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade students are participating in an elective story time on Zoom with our lead aftercare instructor Mr. DeRienzo. Using his imagination and a natural flair for storytelling, Mr. DeRienzo has created a series of wonderful adventures for Philip and Suzette, two child thieves who in previous stories were adopted by King Navarre of Córdoba. In the story we’ve shared below, Philip and Suzette must overcome dragons and wizards to deliver a special wedding gift to the king’s cousin Lord Geoffrey.

This imaginative story was originally told to lower grades students, but it’s appropriate for younger (and older) children as well.

Lord Geoffrey, written and read by Mr. DeRienzo for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade

Listening to stories, fairy tales, legends, folk tales, and fables are an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum, throughout early childhood and the early grades, leading students in upper grades to their study of biographies, history, and culture. In the grades, academic subjects are often approached through stories, and students at Waldorf schools become keen and curious listeners.

Not surprisingly, many Waldorf teachers (like Mr. DeRienzo!) are skilled storytellers, holding their students’ attention rapt and teaching them to deeply comprehend a story or fable.

To read more about storytelling in Waldorf schools, our colleagues at the Eugene Waldorf School have a good description of the power of stories in our curriculum.

Article: “Opinion: This is not home schooling”

In a thought-provoking opinion piece from the Get Schooled Blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two University of Georgia professors, Stephanie Jones and Hilary Hughes, argue, “No one can (or should) expect the Covid-19 schooling happening at home to be anything close to usual, and perhaps this moment is providing all of us a chance to do something different: learn to be.”

Opinion: This is not home schooling, distance learning or online schooling.

By Hilary Hughes and Stephanie Jones for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Gov. Brian Kemp announced today that schools won’t re-open this year, marking a historic moment in time that none of us have experienced or imagined before, a time that will shape us all – and possibly education – moving forward. It’s a time to pause, take a collective breath, and learn to be in this new reality so our path forward is one that we can be proud of when we look back on it. 

What is happening is not home schooling. 

It is not distance learning. 

It is not online schooling.

There are philosophies and research guiding those ways of teaching and learning; theories and pedagogies that are enacted in intentional ways. So, we need to guard against using language that we already have about education.

What we are doing right now is something different. (Think “Hunger Games.” “Contagion.” “Grapes of Wrath.”) Schooling and its purposes can change in the blink of an eye when a society is in shock and crisis. 

So, let’s call this what it is: Covid-19 Schooling; or better yet, Teaching and Learning in Covid-19…”

Click here to read the rest of the article at the Get Schooled Blog from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Why Waldorf? Let Our Alumni Answer That Question

The capstone of our annual admissions Open House in January, the alumni panel is always a highlight of the day.

Listening to the experiences and reflections of a diverse group of graduates reminds us why Waldorf education is unique, and how it builds a foundation of creativity, independent thinking, and confidence that lasts a lifetime.

Here is the unabridged video of our 2020 alumni panel.

Are you an MWS alumni? We’d love to hear from you! Please email grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org and let us know how you are.

Middle Ages Main Lesson Books (… and What Is a Main Lesson?)

Yesterday, we shared a beautiful lesson on the Middle Ages created for our distance learning program from 6th Grade teacher Ms. Terziev. Part of the learning process throughout the Waldorf curriculum is the creation of a main lesson book: with the teacher’s guidance, students create their own illustrations and summaries of the material presented in class.

The creation of a main lesson book is one of the ways Waldorf teachers incorporate art, creativity, and meaning into every lesson, while also encouraging recollection and a personal connection to the material. In a Waldorf school, children don’t reference textbooks to remember their lessons, but their own handmade work.

Below, some images from this year’s 6th Grade main lesson books during their Middle Ages block.

If you’d like to learn more about main lessons, Summerfield Waldorf School in Santa Rosa, California, offers a primer on main lessons, main lesson books, and how they support learning and retention. Click here to read “Where Are the Textbooks? The Use of Main Lesson Books in Waldorf Education” from Summerfield Waldorf School.

Illuminating Main Lesson Books

In a recent distance-learning lesson created by our 6th Grade teacher Ms. Terziev, students received a step-by-step guide to creating a medieval-style title page (see above) for their main lesson books.

If we’d been a classroom setting rather than at home, Ms. Terziev would have presented the material during the morning main lesson, which starts every morning at a Waldorf school, and lasts about two hours. Main lesson subjects are taught in blocks of two to four weeks, enabling the students to focus intensively on one subject at a time — in this case, the 6th Grade is studying the Middle Ages.

Below, read Ms. Terziev’s lesson and see how she walked students through the creation of a beautiful title page in medieval style.

Good morning, Dear Sixth Grade! Happy Friday.  Here is the plan for today: 

1. Go outside and sketch your plant from a different place than you have previously. Be sure to note the time of day when you are sketching. Pay attention to what is going on around your plant. Are there insects, birds, other creatures? What is the soil like where your plant grows? Show the soil in your sketch. Show a little bit of what surrounds your plant. 

2. Get your colored pencils, ruler, graphite pencil and Page 1 ready at your workstation. 

3. While you are listening to the voice recording, complete the title page (see examples). 

4. Put the Code of Chivalry onto page Page 11. Format it like the one in cursive. Make a border of your choice and make the title in uncial font. I have added the words typed up in case you can’t read the cursive one very well. 

5. Journal entry: Which of your immediate family members (the people you live with) has the best manners? Describe. 

Step 1

● Make three, 1 inch channels for the words

● To the left of the three channels, make a box that is 3 inches on each side

Step 2

● Start adding designs to the “M”

● Make the letters double-thick

Step 3

Color in the letters

Step 4

I used all large pencils: red, light and dark green, blue, purple, yellow and metallic gold.

Shade the background with light blue. You can smoosh if you want.

The Final Page

At Home Practice for Perfect Harmony

How can a choir or music group practice together while sheltering at home? Our grades music teacher, Ms. Mallard, used her talent and ingenuity to create these wonderful videos demonstrating a four-part harmony on flute and with voice for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, who would usually be practicing their parts together as a part of the spring music curriculum.

“I figured out how to use this app Acapella … I have often wished I could sing more than one vocal part at a time, and now I (virtually) can!” says Ms. Mallard. “I plan to use this app more throughout the spring as a way for the students to continue with their ability to sing and play with multiple parts, and to have an experience of singing in rounds.”

Ms. Mallard explains, “The ‘Siyahamba’ recorder video for 6th grade was posted in the Google Classroom as well as a video where I walk through each of the parts individually. The students also have a copy of the sheet music. We had begun working on this song for recorders in music class and were just starting to broaden into using multiple recorders and parts.”

Listen to Ms. Mallard play all four parts in the video below.

For the 4th and 5th grade, Ms. Mallard recorded the four-part harmony for the song “Bring Me A Little Water Sylvie.”

“They already know this song and the body percussion pattern, so now they can practice singing with all the harmony parts in there,” says Ms. Mallard. I have not yet made individual tracks, as I wanted them first to sing what they could remember and what was already in their bodies. The assignment was also to teach the body rhythm and singing melody to someone in their household.”