Saturday, 1 December 2007
Farewell to Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness...the end of autumn was marked by an adieu to the nature table in class one. Take a picture of it, said Tracy, it'll be all gone on Monday when i change it to Winter. The nature table is an important part of the class as it is a manifestation of the all-important cycles and rhythms of the year which is so important for children as it grounds them, creating a safe and secure environment from which they are then able to explore the world. While the teacher creates the main nature table - and this always happens as a surprise - as if the table created itself by magic! - the children always take part in enhancing it. Bits of the forest on the school's grounds will find its way there - leaves, pinecones, bits of woods, even stone! - and the children will fashion objects which are part of the season's theme. Gnomes are a big feature of autumn!!!
And speaking of gnomes... the main lesson this week was numbers - as well as multiplication, addition, subtraction and division. Instead of having a few subjects a day, children learn by having one main lesson for a few weeks. Much of the work they do during this period then goes to emphasise the main lesson. This week it was maths with number bonds for 7, 8, 9, 10 and the functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. An important part of the Waldorf method is learning not only mentally, but with the body as well and the children played circle games to strengthen the concept of number bonds. Also through the week, Tracy had drawn the four gnomes on the board - Timmy Times, Soli Share, Paddy Plus and Gilby Giver - all whose names Oisin was able to tell me about - and they all took turns being these gnomes with raisin muffins.
The main lesson book where the children wrote down in beeswax block crayons the number bonds they learnt.
The cover of the main lesson book - and the candle decoration that Tracy has in the class as part of the season of lights...
Roman numerals were learnt since the Halloween break and the children's drawings of them are posted up on the walls around the class.
Knitting was also started, to help with their motor skills and mental dexterity. Tracy also had them cast on 20 stitches as part of their working up to the number 20. Many bunny holes and big trees were worked around through the week...
...also the children made crackers to sell at the Advent fair. But they did it with tissue paper and string. Tearing and tying are also critical in helping develop their motor skills - and hopefully the school will be a few bob better off as well as a result of their efforts!!!
Since kindergarten, the children have drawn on watercolour paper, which enables them to explore the way in which colours interact. In this one, they did a drawing and played a game where the golden globes were not allowed through the blue curtains...or they would turn green!!!
The classroom has almot no plastic in it and only natural colours. Tracy has also been emphatic in getting them to use their imagination, as no toys are allowed. Instead the bucket of sticks - leftovers from their Martinmas lantern making craft class - was turned into a game of pick up sticks, demonstrating that the best toys are the ones which we create ourselves!!!
Spirals were also a big theme this week, with the Advent Garden coming up. The school celebrates the year with a gradual build up to the main festivals - Christmas, in this case. They have already observed Michaelmas with a series of challenges, Halloween, and Martinmas with a lantern walk and a play - put on by Class 2 because they do the saints. The Advent garden which will be a candlelit spiral walk, will be the next staging post in the run up to Christmas. These once again ground the children in the year, their enviornment and thereby connect them to the community. It also gives them a richer and more layered understanding of the year's celebrations and festivals.
In addition to the very busy week they had, the great weather on Thursday was made the most of by a picnic in Ballymenoch Park at the bottom of the lane. Tree cutting was in progress and the boys brought hame several large branches to decorate the nature table with. Tracy said it looked like a moving forest as they made their way back up to the school.