Our puppetry program is a pioneering program among Waldorf schools. In the kindergarten, puppet performances are brought that are based on the fairy tales and simple repetitive stories. In the grades, one through eight, the puppet projects are presented in block periods wherein each grade develops a different style of puppet. Each student handcrafts their own puppet and leams how to gesture and enliven it. The class then stages a puppet performance, drawn from the stories of each grade’s curriculum. Elements of color, music, and lighting are woven into the performances, as well as complementary aspects of the history of puppetry to the upper grades.
Ideally, Waldorf schools include two modern foreign languages from different language groups in the curriculum such as Spanish and German or French. Our program presently includes Spanish. Beginning in the lower grades, the children experience the foreign culture through songs, verses, stories and games. Gradually the written language and its grammar are introduced, culminating in reading, writing and conversation in the middle school years.
Singing is a part of every school day. Starting with simple melodies in the early grades, the children progress to learning rounds and songs with two or more parts. The main lesson teacher leads this daily activity and also introduces the children to the pentatonic flute beginning in the first grade. Music notation is brought in the middle grades. And beginning in the fifth grade students are taught to play the violin and sing in the Choir through 8th grade.
Through the generosity of a community member, we were given a grant to build a school garden. It sits off to the side of our first and second grade yard and is seen from Rawhide Road. It is cared for by our gardener and our students. It’s bounty is shared in our early childhood classes for soup making. Kindergartners will often spend time in the garden exploring. All of the grades work in the garden at least once a week. Weeding, creating beds, planting seeds and taking care of the worms, compost and bees are all chores done by our students. Every other Wednesday afternoon, the 6th graders help sell the produce they harvested.
The class teacher gives regular instruction in drawing and water-color painting through the grades. In the early grades painting is non-representative; children are immersed in the experience of the different colors and learn the quality of each. Beginning in fourth grade, painting lessons are often related to the subject being taught in the main lesson. Clay modeling, veil painting, drawing with charcoal and pastels and other art forms may also play a part of art lessons through the upper grades.
Form drawing is taught in grades one through five as part of the main lesson or in a period of its own. Forms of various kinds are drawn, beginning with straight and curved lines in first grade. This is the foundation for the child learning to print and write. By third grade the forms become quite complicated and help to develop the child’s spatial orientation and sense of balance and proportion. In fifth grade, with this experience behind them, the children practice free hand geometry.
Eurythmy is a form of movement developed by Rudolf Steiner. It has become a well known dance form, on a par with ballet, on the stages of Europe. Ideally, children would have eurythmy once or twice a week from first grade on. Our school has eurythmy for the fall block of 12 weeks.
Speech eurythmy makes visible the formative gestures of vowel and consonant sounds; tone eurythmy makes visible the elements of music – for example, pitch, interval, major and minor. Eurythmic gestures and movements allow children to develop balance, spatial coordination, fluidity and grace. In the later grades, it gives them a way to understand the formative powers at work in language and music and to express in archetypal gestures a wide range of feelings.
Each class learns handwork from the first grade through 8th grade in order to strengthen the child’s will and develop fine motor skills and the related brain functions which are the foundation for thinking. Handwork skills taught through the grades include: knitting, purling, crocheting, spinning and simple weaving, cross-stitch, four needle knitting, doll making, hand sewing and machine sewing.
Beginning in the 5th grade, classes begin working with wood as a practical art. They create an egg from a block on wood. Woodworking is continued through 8th grade and their final project is a beautiful hand carved bowl.