2nd Grade Haikus

This week, 2nd Graders demonstrated their creativity, as well as their understanding of parts of the English language, by composing and illustrating haiku poems that describe the world around them. Below, our 2nd Grade teacher Ms. Martin shares her lesson, as well as some samples of student work.

Dear second grade children,

In these past few weeks, you have learned about naming words (nouns), doing words (verbs) and describing words (adjectives) and have seen how they work together to make a sentence. Now, in writing a haiku, you are using these parts of a sentence , and also your senses! What do you see, taste, feel, hear? Remember, a haiku is a short poem that captures a moment in time. It is a small window into a moment or an experience. We have heard many stories of saints and sages in these past few weeks!

Do you think Francis of Assisi observed nature? Remember how he communicated with the birds and the wolf of Gubbio? Odelia did not have her eyesight from the time she was born until she was a young woman, and yet she knew of the ways of nature. She felt the wind on her cheeks and could feel the flowers growing in a way most of us are not familiar with. Do you remember that Kee-ten (the Native American author, Mourning Dove) had to learn as a child to listen to the river, the wind and all of nature which was trying to speak to her?

When we sit still to listen and see the tiny creatures of the earth, or the twinkling stars on an early morning, or the intricate, colorful wings of a butterfly, we too are listening to nature! What is it trying to teach us? What moment in time would you like to share?

In order to write your haiku you must:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Sit, listen, observe
  3. What would you like to share? Count the syllables. A haiku is 3 lines, with the first and last line being 5 syllables and the middle line being 7 syllables.
  4. Write your haiku!

Here is the haiku I wrote, inspired by the fawns I saw in front of our
classroom.

Two fawns in tall grass.
Spotted, brown and white they lay,
Curious and calm

The most famous haiku poem of the most famous haiku poet in Japan.
古池や 蛙飛び込む 水の音
The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.

The syllables are different in Japan than they are in English!

Thank you, children, for doing your best work in writing your Haikus. I look forward to seeing what you have created.

Warmly,
Mrs. Martin

Celebrating Pianist Carolyn Binford

Anyone who has the good fortune of meeting Carolyn Binford knows she is a ray of sunshine: kind, patient, always impeccably dressed, and a beautiful musician who has brought her craft to our choir and eurythmy programs. During her 20 years at Marin Waldorf School, Carolyn has accompanied countless eurythmy classes, provided music at hundreds of class plays and special events, become a reliable member of our faculty salad squad, and helped middle school students perfect their piano playing as an after-school piano teacher.

This year, Ms. Binford is retiring from MWS and we can already feel her absence!

“Her good will and receptivity has made that the intimate work between me as the Eurythmy teacher and her as the musician rich and filled with light for the students. It’s not easy for a pianist to play pieces over and over so the students can practice and learn their parts. Mrs Binford has given her whole heart ever and again selflessly and joyously for the Eurythmy program to grow. I am deeply thankful for her as a colleague and as a friend. May the wind be always at you back, Ms Binford!”

Juan Carlos Lancelloti, Eurythmy Teacher

We asked Ms. Binford to share a little bit about her 20 years at Marin Waldorf School. Read on to hear how she became our school’s pianist, what she knew about eurythmy before she took the job, and what she’ll miss most about MWS.

Tell us a bit about your history at our school. How long have you been at Marin Waldorf School as a pianist and parent?
My daughter Catherine joined the MWS Hollyhocks when she was 6 years old. She is 27 now!  My son Ben (24 years old) joined the Hollyhocks the following year. Catherine moved into the First Grade class with teacher Frances Santaguida. During Catherine’s First Grade year, a pianist was needed to fill in for the Winter Assembly because of a conflict their current pianist had. At the end of that school year of 2000, our Eurythmy teacher, Barbara Newman, asked if I would like the position of Piano Accompanist. I said “Yes!” with trepidation because I was terrible at sight-reading music. I spent most of that summer practicing all of her Eurythmy pieces so that I could “get them down.” Needless to say, my sight reading has improved over these last twenty years with experience and a few tricks learned along the way! Pablo Rodriguez joined the faculty as Choir Director that same year.

Describe your typical week.
In a typical week, I have 15 classes to play for, 14 Eurythmy classes and 1 Choir class. And no, I had never seen a Eurythmy class before I began accompanying the classes that fall!

In addition to the classes, I play for assemblies, class plays and musicals, the faculty Shepherd’s Play (I may know the lines by heart) and May Faire dance rehearsals. A typical day involves arriving early to receive lesson plans from the Eurythmy teacher and play through some of the pieces to help with choreography.

How many Eurythmy teachers have you worked with during your time at MWS?
Through the years, I have had the pleasure of playing for 5 Eurythmy teachers. I have learned to love the collaboration between my music and movement. Through the wooden flooring in the Eurythmy Room, you can not only hear the stepping, skipping, and stomping but you can also feel the vibration. Students can fly by as if they are playing along with me. It is a partnership and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed! Every class, every group of students is unique even after 20 years!

Every class, every group of students is unique even after 20 years!

What will you miss most?
One of the highlights for me has been the musical collaborations with many of the class plays. Rehearsals were during main lessons over several weeks. Being part of these class performances was the icing on the cake! 

Where are you off to now?
Within this new chapter of my life, I’m looking forward to working on more of the classical piano repertoire and continuing to teach piano lessons in the After School Music Program. Beyond that, I’m not exactly sure what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to it!

I will miss being a part of the inside of the Waldorf classroom on a daily basis, hearing beautiful poetry, songs, being part of the choir, watching the students grow, change and meet new challenges. I feel blessed to have been a part of this school in this capacity for so long! 

With love, 
Carolyn Binford

Third Grade Shelter Project

The 3rd Grade shelter project is a highlight of the year, a venue for cultural studies, creativity, and building for our students. Below, please enjoy the wonderful description of this year’s project by third grade teachers Ms. David and Ms. Stroud, along with colorful pictures of student work.

The shelter project is such a big part of the third grade curriculum and this year we took on the challenge of building each of our shelters at home whilst we all have had to ‘shelter in place’ — it certainly gave a new depth of meaning to our shelter projects!

Once the children had each decided on the shelter they wanted to make, the challenge was to find materials from around the home to build their model: Gautham used clay from his garden to build his cob hut; Colin chose to make his igloo out of sugar cubes; Bianca collected sticks in the woods by her house to make her log cabin; Noah found fennel sticks to make his tree house; Adam used a dish towel for his tipi cover and Roen used mud from his yard to make his mud hut.

The students not only created their own shelters but also the people and animals that lived in them, and the landscape around them;  Alona lives in Leah’s Clay House, she sleeps in a hammock that she wove from soft grasses;  Kiian’s Mongolian Yurt is in a desert which is cold by night and hot by day; Adrian’s pueblo has a large fire place inside the red walls; Oliver’s Swiss stone cottage is under the Matterhorn mountain; Alexandra’s Thai Water House is on stilts; Sofia’s grandparents home was on a Colombian coffee plantation; Leo’s Tabernacle has a lapis lazuli heart stone hidden inside and Dario’s barracks was to house soldiers, like his Grandfather.

The children had to think about life inside their shelter — what would the people living their wear, what would they eat and drink, how would they get all their food and clothing and necessities to keep warm and dry?  Sara’s imaginary ‘Hutacie’ had animal skins for warmth, Jude had two pigs and a chicken to help feed the peasant farmers that lived in his Chinese shelter; Angelo had cooking and sleeping inside his tipi which was situated near a lake for water; and Lucas’s shepherd had sheep for wool, meat and milk.

I am so proud of all the work that went into these shelters and so grateful for the patience and support of all the third grade parents!

We would usually have an event to display all this fantastic work and the children would all be there to answer questions.  We hope you will tour the gallery of photos and please do ask us any questions you have!!

Thank you, from all the third grade students, Ms Stroud and Ms David

A Knight’s Challenge

The interdisciplinary and experiential nature of Waldorf education encourages students to explore topics with their hands, with their hearts, through art, and through doing. A few days ago, we highlighted the way our gardening teacher, Ms. Betsyann, tied the 7th Grade curriculum to work in the garden with a video about spirals in the natural world.

In the video (left), our woodwork teacher, Mr. Neale, helped bring the 6th Grade study of the Middle Ages to life by providing students with materials and instructions for creating and painting their own knight’s shield.

The project dovetailed with 6th Grade Ms. Terziev’s “Knight’s Challenge,” in which she asked 6th Graders to complete a series of tasks to become like modern-day knights.

Here are pictures of some of the 6th Graders’ fine work on display!

Click here to see other pictures from 6th Grade main lesson books during the Middle Ages block.

The Vortex: A 7th Grade Lesson (Video)

Throughout the grades, the Waldorf curriculum is interdisciplinary and experiential, helping students make connections between different subject matter and to understand their place in the natural world. This week, our gardening teacher, Ms. Betsyann, shared this example of how two subjects can be beautifully integrated in the 7th Grade curriculum.

Ms. Betsyann explains:

Kristine Deason asked for a small contribution about the marvels of the world of nature as they relate to the Fibonacci sequence or golden spiral. The common vortexes that we see in nature are tornadoes, dust devils, rivers, eddies, tidal action, hurricanes, and leaf swirls. In this video I chose to concentrate on the vortex created in a Biodynamic stir.

May Flowers: MWS Celebrates May Faire

Last Friday, we would have gathered to celebrate our traditional May Faire in the shade of Grandmother Oak. It’s a favorite event, one we all look forward to, and since we couldn’t be together, we asked our families to celebrate the spring at home and to share their pictures of their May Faire celebrations with us.

The beauty, kindness, and creativity of our community is always astounding! Thank you to everyone who shared their celebrations with us.

Flower crowns are a tradition at our May Faire, and many children made their own with garden flowers, paper, or felt, while others gather wildflowers or roses.

Some of our sweet families dropped off spring baskets for their neighbors.

Others made maypoles for dancing or for their toy gnomes, including a very inventive maypole made from an outdoor umbrella!

Others gathered wildflowers on their hikes or gifted garden flowers to their neighbors.

Did you celebrate the May Faire at home? Let’s keep our celebration growing! Please share your pictures with us.

Camp Kindness

Created by our social ethics teacher Ms. Baxt, Camp Kindness was offered as a weeklong elective course for students and their families, preschool through 8th grade. The week was comprised of pro-social activities to build family and community connections, with the goal of contributing towards the health of others while actively living our values with our children. Says Ms. Baxt, “Kindness is contagious too.”

Each day of the week was dedicated to essential workers in different sectors: health care, sanitation, postal and delivery services, child care, and food supply chain. Check out Ms. Baxt’s recommendations for spreading kindness to food chain workers.

Tuesday: In honor of food chain workers

Remember that we can help share the good will by doing our mediation for these important workers.  Take a deep breath and focus your family’s thoughts on the workers,  “May these very essential workers be safe.  May they be healthy.  May they be happy.  May they, and their families, be at ease.”

Options (do one, or do them all)
1) Call your local lower cost grocery store to find out how you can donate some healthy snacks and send some notes of appreciation to their employee break room.
2) Sign-up to deliver or donate food for those in need.  Or scroll down for volunteer opportunities in food and in senior support.
3) Deliver notes to your neighbors’ mailboxes asking if they know somebody who needs help with groceries, errands, or meal delivery.  Don’t forget to include your contact info. Remember that research shows transmission does not occur through food — just use safe delivery practices.
4) Invite a “guest” for a meal.  Do you know somebody who might be lonely at home?  Invite them to join your family for a virtual family meal.  Think of some questions you could ask them to learn more about their lives.  This is a good spot to find great questions.

Here are some photos of Camp Kindness in action.

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.

Materials
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.

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.