Third Grade Farming Trip

Written by Class 4 Teacher, Melissa McIntyre

In third grade at Susquehanna Waldorf School we are fortunate to partner and participate in farming skills with local farms. The ability to get our hands, feet, faces, and whole bodies actively working with the earth beneath our feet, as a means of sustaining ourselves by cultivating our own food, is perhaps some of the most grounding work we can do as human beings. This is especially true for the third grader who is starting to discover their own independence and their own place in the world.

The developmental phase that third graders experience is called the "nine year change" and practical activities such as planting, harvesting, and animal care provide purposeful work that help the third grader feel part of the world around themAll of these lessons and activities lead to the culminating event of the year, the Third Grade Farm Trip.

The Third Grade Farm Trip is a rite of passage as the class goes away for several days to work on a farm. Third graders visited Pearlstone Center in Maryland for their 21-22 farm trip. For many students it is their first time away from home and the trip provides concrete experiences for them to test their "how to" knowledge and support their healthy, growing independence. Students made cords from Yukka plants, built their own shelters, spent time with animals, planted tomatoes and peppers, and enjoyed campfires. 

Special thanks to Heritage Creek Farm Camp and the Pearlstone Center for providing such wonderful education opportunities for our students!


A Glimpse into Stepping Stones in Springtime

 

Written by Stepping Stones teacher, Tabea Steinbesser-Fitz.

What better way to start each school day than being outside on our little playground behind the school, enjoying the warm sunshine, or even spring rain splashing in our faces? Our Stepping Stones children were very busy the last few weeks of school with planting our garden boxes with plants we can harvest in the fall when school resumes: ground cherries, kale, snack peppers, garlic, potatoes, lavender, parsley, and marigolds for the silk-dyeing of our "golden capes of courage" for Michaelmas. The children loved digging in the soil and finding earthworms and other critters, and of course, watering the plants (while often getting wet themselves!). We were overjoyed that many sunflower seeds which we had peeled from large wilted sunflower heads in the fall and sprinkled along our garden fence came up all over the yard. We fenced off an area for our "sunflower garden" to grow.

Our big round swing was the most beloved place to hang out, with lots of laughter, giggles and singing songs, while others preferred baking birthday cakes and serving "hot ice cream", climbing over the obstacle stump course, or engaging in hide and seek games. We did our water coloring outside and created beautiful covers for the Stepping Stones Recipe booklets which were our Mother's Day gifts (also freshly baked scones).

One day we noticed that a mommy and daddy bird had begun to build a nest in the hole of the school's brick wall using dried grasses and even pieces of yarn (only at a Waldorf School will birds find these useful treasures on the playground!). In the following weeks, we got to experience the nest building, the uncertainty of baby birds hatching, hearing the cheerful chirping sounds from the brick hole, and the busy parents flying in and out to get food. We got to witness the little birdies taking their first flights over our playground!

Inside the classroom, the children became experts over the course of the year in building large obstacle courses across the whole room as well as hide-outs created with play stands, sheets as roofs, stumps and chairs and doors, and sheepskins, silks, blankets, and pillows served as cozy beds. It was always busy in the play kitchen and our baby dolls, and even us teachers, were fed well. We stacked chairs lengthwise on the floor to build long trains and one of the stops was usually at Molly's Cafe. Our knitted barn animals and the big fuzzy momma cat were the most beloved toys in the classroom. They received so much love and care but also pulling and grabbing. When they got injured, the children wrapped them very carefully in silk and held them in their lap or hands until they got better again.

It can get bumpy during play sometimes. This is the age where everything speaks "mine!" to the 2 and 3 year olds. By the end of the year, the children developed a larger vocabulary, more patience, and some tools on how to use their words, and even began negotiating. These years are very important for developing first social and self-regulating skills.

The best part is that the children have all developed such love for each other and often made their first friendships in school. It is such a joy to see spontaneous big hugs from the children (that sometimes lead to tumbling over). When we teachers get those hugs and a whisper "I love you!", then I know that all of my efforts in helping the children grow into compassionate, understanding, and kind human beings are absolutely worth it.


Congratulations SWS Class of 2022!

Graduation from the Susquehanna Waldorf School is a momentous occasion. Our small class sizes mean that most of our graduating students have been learning and growing together since first grade. For the class of 2022, most have been together since pre-K.  They lamented this spring, “We’ve been at this school for our entire lives. How can we leave??”  

As the end of the school year approached, 8th graders went on their class trip to Florida and performed their last Waldorf school play. Both are significant parts of Waldorf education. The 8th grade class trip is a time to honor the years they’ve spent together and it marks their transition into high school. 8th graders snorkeled with manatees, kayaked, went fishing, learned about local wildlife, and even wrote an original song about manatees, which they performed at graduation! 

Waldorf students perform a class play each year, first through eighth grade, so by the time they reach the 8th grade they’ve been performing together for years. The class of 2022 channeled their vibrant energy into performing Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and what a performance it was! There were circus tricks, dancing, 3 characters in 1, laughter, and lots and lots of applause. 

The entire school gathered on the last day of school for an End of Year Ceremony. First graders performed a very special song for the 8th grade and presented their 8th grade buddies with a yellow rose. The 1st graders received a rose from an 8th grader welcoming them to SWS when they began their school year, and they were paired with an 8th grade buddy for the entire year. A very special bond develops between our 1st and 8th grade students and this year was no exception.

Faculty, Staff, parents, and loved ones gathered together on Sunday, June 8th to celebrate and honor the Class of 2022 at their graduation. It was a beautiful, sunny day at a picturesque location along the Susquehanna River. The graduation ceremony was a perfect representation of this incredibly gifted group of students. They serenaded the crowd with Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations, Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, and their original, The Manatee Song. They spoke thoughtful tributes to all who made their education journey so special. Mrs. Radanovic spoke of her admiration for the class, Ms. McGrew shared a rhyme about each student and Ms. Satterlee presented each student with heartfelt words and diplomas. The 7th grade orchestra played as the ceremony came to a close and we wished the 8th graders well. It was a creative, funny, and deeply touching ceremony. Thank you to all who made it so special, especially Ms. Satterlee, Mr. Cameron, and 8th grade class parents!

Congratulations Class of 2022 and blessings on your journeys ahead!


35th Anniversary Spotlight: Alum Parent Jon Darby

We are celebrating 35 years of Susquehanna Waldorf School this year! In honor of our 35th anniversary, we’re interviewing members of our community to share why they love SWS. Alum Parent, Jon Darby, sat down to talk with us about his time as a parent at SWS.

On Time at SWS…

So we have two children, Elliott and Abram, both of them have been at SWS in various capacities at different times. Abram graduated from 8th grade in 2019. He’s a junior in high school now. 

We were introduced to the school early on when we moved from Maryland back to Pennsylvania. We were looking for schooling options for our kids that weren’t the standard. We came to Susquehanna Waldorf and fell in love immediately. Our first encounter at SWS was parking in the parking lot, getting out of our cars, and literally hearing children singing coming out of the windows. It almost didn’t feel real. My school experience was very different from that. And I was like, “Wow, is this a real thing?” So that was really magical. We walked in here and between the imagery, the colors, the people, the singing, there was really no going back from there.

When our kids started here, my daughter was in kindergarten and my son joined Miss Jackie’s parent/child class. Because my wife was teaching, I was the one who took him to parent/child every week so I felt like I was getting an education in the process. I mean, I don’t think I was, I definitely was. It changed the kind of father I was and it changed my whole parenting style.

We stayed through early childhood and, largely because of finances, we decided to homeschool for a few years. Around the time my son was heading into 5th grade, he was missing that social side of school. He was at SWS in kindergarten and early childhood, so he had these friends he stayed in touch with. So he seamlessly floated back into 5th grade at SWS, already knowing half of the class that he was joining. It was almost like he had never left and it was really an amazing experience. So he was there 5th through 8th and graduated in 8th grade with Ms. McIntyre.

Why Waldorf?

Initially, it was really the heavy emphasis that we saw being placed on music, art, and nature. And the natural rhythms and really focusing on the way children actually develop. I found out that Waldorf was looking at how brain development happens in children. How children will naturally start to read at ages 5-9 and that’s normal. Whereas in a public school, if your child isn’t reading really well by 1st grade, then they’re sectioned off into the slow kid track. It’s not honoring the children. 

Seeing that Waldorf was really putting the emphasis on the natural rhythms of the child, the natural rhythms of the year seasonally, the heavy concentration on nature, there’s art everywhere, obviously, getting out of the car and hearing music, it really felt like a much more holistic system than my personal schooling experience in the public school system.

I saw Waldorf as a structure designed to reconnect, and build relationships with the seasons and the land. It’s the complete antithesis and antidote to what the dominant culture is offering. 

Experience as a Parent at SWS

Miss Jackie was our parent/child teacher and one of my main first introductions to Waldorf. She totally changed the way I parent. I was pretty young. I had good intentions but had never really spent time with small children. So, like everybody, I was modeling and mimicking my own childhood and how I was parented, and despite having wonderful parents, it was very discipline based and that was all I knew. That’s what I was expecting I’d do as a parent and so I was able to see this completely different paradigm in Miss Jackie’s classroom. It’s hard for me to really put it into words, but we were honoring the child but also redirecting the child. Like, when a child is doing something they shouldn’t be doing, rather than yelling “No, don’t do that,” it’s, "Let’s redirect you over here." The more I began to understand how their little brains work, it made so much more sense.

Not only were the children there but the parents were there and I got to speak to other parents and talk about challenges and what’s working. And it was me, the dad in the room, with 5 other moms and that was a cool dynamic. I was in charge of removing spiders from the room if they showed up. I got to see the emphasis on the handwork and the story time and how the children really reacted to these simple stories with little puppets. It really was an enchanting and magical way to see a child progress.

The one thing that has always struck me. It struck me when my children were young with Miss Linda. It equally struck me with Ms. McIntyre when we went to the parent/teacher conferences, is to have a teacher talk about your child (I get choked up just talking about it) talk about your child and who they are and have it be so accurate. “How does this woman know my child as well as I do?” It was always really stunning to me. Her ability to read the children and understand who they are and what they need and to really see them. Trying to meet them where they were and push them further. For me, that’s been, more than anything else, that’s the thing that’s always hit me the hardest that I can’t talk about without getting choked up. That kind of connection to your children, and I don’t know if that’d be possible without the teacher following them through the schooling years, but at the same time Abram came back in 5th grade and within that same year she was so in tune with our child and it was really amazing. 

I remember when we met with Miss Linda and Abram was in her class for the first time and, I don’t remember exactly how she worded it but, she said she was first and foremost an advocate for our child. And she said it in a way that was almost like, let’s talk but just be clear, I’m not here for you. He comes first. And I’m going to hold that ahead of what you want. That was really amazing too. To really feel that. 

Impacts of Waldorf Education on Children

With Abram, I feel like he came out of Waldorf as a super confident kid and really knowing who he is. Like I’ve never been worried about him with peer pressure and getting into stuff with kids he shouldn’t be because he came out of Waldorf with such a strong sense of self that’s not really shiftable for him, at least not from a peer group. He’s super smart and super deep thinking and I really feel like that has a lot to do with the way that Waldorf educates kids.

It’s funny because he kind of grumbles about Waldorf a bit. “I didn’t get this or that” and I hear other teenagers feel the same way but I also feel like he knows better than that. I feel like he would absolutely not be who he is if he went through the public school system. He has a strong sense of the world and he cares about stuff. He’s a super smart kid and has done extremely well at Lancaster Mennonite. 

The other thing that I think is amazing watching him with his peers is that he’s still connected with all the kids he graduated with from SWS. They all just planned a trip to Philly. They all took the train down and spent the day in Philadelphia. I hardly know anyone I went to high school with. I never made friend connections like that. To see him keeping in touch with those people, how he considers them family, that speaks volumes to me about how the classes are organized and run. I think having the teacher hold the children in reverence, treating each one like an individual, and essentially modeling that behavior, helps them do that for each other. There is no pecking order that gets handed down from above that can happen in other situations. 

I have no doubt he’ll come around in his early 20s and be like "Wow, Waldorf made me who I am and it was amazing." 

What Makes SWS Special?

First and foremost, the actual human beings that are there doing the work. So many people that we hold in such high regard we know through this school. Not only our friend circles but the teachers, Ms McIntyre, Miss Jackie, Miss Linda, the staff. So many people we’ve encountered and have been along on this journey with us are amazing people. So it’s an amazing community. Probably secondly, is the proximity to the Susquehanna River. Having the kids be able to walk down to the river and really get to know the river. That river to me is super important. Having that as a backdrop to the school is a pretty powerful source of energy and inspiration and love.


May Day + 35th Anniversary Celebrations!

We had an eventful and joyous day on Friday, May 6th as we celebrated our annual May Day festival and our 35th anniversary! We hoped for a bright and sunny day for our students to dance around the Maypole and for our whole community to come together to celebrate. Mother Nature had other plans, though. It may have been raining outside but our gymnasium was filled with wonder and delight. 

Honoring the rhythms and cycles of nature are a core part of Waldorf education. May Day, which lands about halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, is a festival our students look forward to all year. They spend weeks learning their May Day songs and dances with our Music and Chorus teacher, Nina Radanovic. Kindergarteners begin the day by delivering small bouquets of fresh flowers to our school neighbors. Parents arrive in the morning to decorate the school and bring flowers to the classes. The students spend the morning creating their May Crowns which they proudly wear all day.  

The student procession begins with the 8th grade students walking to collect the first graders, then second graders, and so on. The student procession enters the gym, where their families and loved ones are waiting, and the festivities begin! This year, our 6th graders opened the festival with the North Skeleton Sword Dance and 8th graders followed with the Upton-upon-Severn stick dance as 7th graders played music, led by Orchestra teacher, Michael Cameron.

The Maypole songs and dances followed! Our grades students each collected a ribbon as they danced and sang around the Maypole. There was delight, beauty, and laughter in the air. After the completion of each dance, 8th graders joyfully passed out clementines to the students who performed. One could hear the "oohs and ahs" as the Maypole dancers created patterns with the Maypole ribbons. Parents and other community members even joined in at the end!

May Day came to an end and the 35th anniversary festivities began! We were so thrilled to come together as a community to celebrate 35 years of Susquehanna Waldorf School. SWS's first teacher, Miss Linda, joined us to talk about the early days of SWS and what she finds so special about our school by the river. We had SWS trivia (congratulations to Magistra Sweeney, Tseng Lao Shi, and Ms Tucker for their perfect score!), a cake walk, an alum vs students tug of war (students won!), and more. It was so good to socialize and share food and games together! We are so blessed to have such a caring and vibrant community.


Middle School Mandarin Lessons with Tseng Lao Shi

Written by Mandarin Teacher, Hui-Ling Singer. 

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, here are some of the highlights that were captured during Mandarin classes in the Middle school in the month of May.

Miss Katie, one of our Buttercup kindergarten class assistants, came to 6th grade Mandarin class recently as my special guest to share with the children her experience of teaching English in China and Taiwan. She told the children how important it is to learn a foreign language at a very young age and how much fun it was for her to teach English while traveling around Taiwan.

She brought a lot of fun memories from Taiwan to share with the children including a very creative scrapbook and a Taiwan travel guidebook. Listening to her talk about Taiwan brought back a lot of fun memories for me as well. I’m so glad to know that she likes Taiwan so much and would like to go back someday.

Miss Katie is going to Washington State to attend a Waldorf teacher training program and eventually would like to become a certified Waldorf teacher. I told her that maybe after she finishes her Waldorf teacher training and receives her teaching certificate, she can go back to Taiwan and teach in one of the Waldorf schools there. I know that her gifts and talents will be well received in Taiwan. Many joyful blessings to her future endeavors!

Chinese names have meanings. I’m often asked by my students, “Tseng Lao Shi, what’s my Chinese name?” I always answer, “I don’t know.” They then look at me and say, “Really, you don’t know?” And of course, I would answer “Really, I don’t know.” The reason that I don’t know is because I am hesitant to only use the pronunciations of their English names and match them with the Chinese characters that sound just like their English names. By doing so, there is no meaning at all. My intention is to give them real Chinese names when they are in 8th grade. Their Chinese names will then reflect their personality and strength.

Chinese first names usually consist of two Chinese characters. In Chinese culture, sisters will often share the first character, and the same goes with brothers. Most of our 8th graders have been together for many years, so they are just like siblings. The first character these four sisters share is 怡Yi meaning happy. Here are their names in Chinese with the pronunciation next to each character and followed by the English meaning in the parenthesis from left to right in the above photo: 怡Yi (happy) 柔Rou (soft, gentle), 怡Yi (happy) 敏Min (quick, nimble), 怡Yi (happy) 靜Jing (still, quiet), 怡Yi (happy) 雅Ya (elegant, refined). 8th grade had the opportunity recently to learn how to write their Chinese names in Chinese calligraphy using the traditional Chinese paint bushes.

7th grade loves Chinese dumplings. They had the opportunity to make more in class a week or so ago. I don’t remember my mom following any particular recipes for making dumplings, so I usually just try to remember what they tasted like and experiment along the way. Fortunately, there is more than one Asian market in Lancaster for me to go and get some of the ingredients we needed. I have to say these dumplings turned out quite delicious.


SWS Races Against Racism

Susquehanna Waldorf School joined together and raced against racism this year. Our middle school students gathered every Monday and Wednesday after school to participate in our spring running club to prepare for the annual Lancaster YWCA 5k race. Coaches McIntyre, Sweeney, and Satterlee led the students in running games, breathing exercises, and training for long runs. We're grateful to be just a stone's throw away from the trail that runs alongside the Susquehanna River!

The SWS running club has participated in the Race Against Racism for over a decade but, for the first time ever, we invited our whole community to join. We also were a sponsor of the event this year! The Race Against Racism is not just another 5k. It's an opportunity for community members to come together to stand against racism and support an organization committed to eliminating racism and empowering women. Jasmyne King, the director of Lancaster YWCA's Center for Racial and Gender Equity, visited SWS to share more about the race and the important work the Lancaster YWCA is doing in our community.

SWS students, faculty, staff, and families gathered together on a beautiful Saturday morning to prepare for the race. It was the first race for some of our students and there was nervous excitement in the air. We stretched together, we laughed, and we pumped each other up as the race approached. Some of us ran the whole race (including two middle school boys who did it in under 24 minutes!). Some of us walked. Some of us did a bit of both. Some of us cheered on from the finish line. We enjoyed live music along the way and the feeling of connection that arises when communities come together for a good cause. We all had so much fun and were thrilled when it was announced that we were the largest school group to participate in the Race Against Racism this year! Congratulations to all who participated. To learn more about the important work the Lancaster YWCA is doing, visit their website https://ywcalancaster.org/.


Nikki Hill

35th Anniversary Spotlight: Alum + Teacher Nikisha "Nikki" Hill

Nikki HillWe are celebrating 35 years of Susquehanna Waldorf School this year! In honor of our 35th anniversary, we’re interviewing members of our community to share why they love SWS. Alum and Kindergarten teacher, Nikisha "Nikki" Hill, sat down to talk with us about her time at SWS. 

On her Early Years at SWS…

I started at SWS before pre-k because my older brother went here and my mom was an assistant to Miss Linda. So she always brought me along. I was exposed to the school from a young age and started pre-k with Miss Linda and was here through 5th grade. The school felt like an entire family. There were at least 5 or 6 families that had children in my class who had siblings in my brother’s class. So when we had birthday parties I would see everyone. Our classes were always together even though we were two years apart. 

It was such a tight-knit school. The people I met in Kindergarten are still my best friends. It’s so wild to think that’s how long we’ve known each other and it all started in this building. The community here is so strong.

Favorite Memories…

We had so much fun at the events and festivals. I remember when the gym had a hundred gingerbread houses the parents made and a bag of candy for all the students to have. As a kid I looked at that and thought, “Yes! Bags of candy!” but someone created that. It’s incredible to think about how much the parent body did to make festivals happen. 

The Winter Faire was pretty big. It was such a big deal. The pocket lady and all of these fun things. I’d get so giddy as a kid about it. May Faire was a big one too. I glorified that day as a kid. It was so magical and fun. Making wreaths and having flowers everywhere. I remember that my desk was full of flowers and I picked whatever I could to put in my crown. “I got a rose! I got a tulip!” It was so magical to build this special crown that I got to wear all day. 

I think, too, of the relationship I have with Waldorf education. I went to public school for my middle school years and I was really excited for a bigger, more diverse setting but I was disappointed and surprised by some of the things I ran into. I remember going to my art class and they were putting stickers on a stock card. The teacher told us to make a scene with the stickers and I was like, “What? This is art class?” Students weren’t able to sing in harmony together and I was like, “we did that in Kindergarten!” There is a depth and quality in Waldorf education. It was interesting to compare Waldorf education to public school in my young brain. 

How her View of Waldorf and SWS has Changed Since Becoming a Teacher…

I’m just blown away by the commitment here. The academic rigor and intentions of why we do things are amazing but it’s the extras, the small little details, the intentions of putting feeling and love into all that we do that makes me think, “Oh my goodness, that is so big and so magical.” That takes time. It blows my mind to think of all the things that were catered to me as a child and recognizing that, as an adult, those things were given to me by adults. All that love, care, and little extra moments were given to me. That’s what inspires me as a teacher. To know those tiny gestures make all the difference. The reverence that goes into what we do here is so incredible.  

I think it’s beautiful that I’m still in touch with my kindergarten teacher, that my brother is still in touch with his kindergarten teacher. It’s amazing to think, “oh my goodness, they have seen us evolve, and change, and grow.” I think it’s rare in the world we live in now. There’s not a lot of time to foster those relationships or the reverence of noticing, or finding the simple but we do it here. 

Skills Learned From Waldorf education…

I think about why Waldorf education speaks to me and a lot of it is the life skills I was taught. It wasn’t a question of “did I just do it to get it done?” but rather “did I understand it? Did I question it? Did I put love and my effort into something? Did I do it well?” That starts in Kindergarten. How we feel, how we sing. Are we using our beautiful voices? Are we noticing the tiny snowdrops coming up? All of the tiny gestures are life lessons. It’s not just to learn about plants or to sing at a certain octave level. It’s this life skill that carries us through what is purposeful and what is meaningful to us for the rest of our lives. That’s the awe I have in Waldorf education that I’ve now recognized as an adult was given to me as a child. It’s the simple things that carry us. 

It’s funny because if you were to talk to my teenage self, there is no way I would be back here in Waldorf education. “I will never wear wool socks, I will never wear linen. I won’t do it. You can’t make me. I won’t knit socks, I just won’t do it.” It’s funny how things come full circle. As I’ve matured, I’ve realized the deeper purposeful and meaningful life skills I was exposed to at such a young age that I just took for granted as a kid. 

I studied special education in college and just felt like there has to be more, there has to be more than just this very standard, very superficial do’s and don'ts of education. There was no questioning, there was no deeper understanding of why those are the things and why we do those things, or any of the whys. So I had all of these questions which then led me back to Waldorf education, curative education and social therapy. I felt like those questions were being answered in a broader lens. I learned to go deep into the individual and the diagnostic while also asking why and expanding on that. I think Waldorf education, just if I look at what I’m doing in Kindergarten, is allowing the child to have an imagination. Later in life that child learns to ask why. That’s something that’s incredible. If we allow our children to play with the impossible and the imagination, that gives so much more opportunity later in life to go deeper. 

What Makes Susquehanna Waldorf School Special?

SWS is a small school with a huge heart. We’re a little school in the middle of a valley, hidden by the river, but it’s a powerful place. When you walk in, it’s alive and there is so much warmth here. It’s blossoming, it’s growing and pulsing with people who genuinely care. They care about everything. It’s not, “did you learn this today?” checkmark, it’s “who are you and how do I get to meet you as a person? How do I get to support you as a person?” That goes for colleagues, for students, for families. It’s just incredible how much care and love is dedicated in and out of this school. It’s tangible. You walk into this school and it feels different. It might be a diamond in the rough, it might be small but it’s so full. 


Spring Adventures & Learning with Class 4/5

Written by Class 4/5 teacher, Brooke Corridoni.

To enrich the curriculum many things happen outside of the classroom. Class 4/5 has taken full advantage of the beautiful spring weather by going into the field for botany and animal studies. Our class went on a botany bike ride to explore Marietta's amazing bike trail while looking out for the signs of spring. We noticed many plants in bloom while riding our bikes and stopped to journal some of these finds. We also saw the wildlife waking up all around us. The Northwest River Trail is an amazing perk of the location of our wonderful school.

Our fourth grade class is in our block of Human Being and Animal Studies. For this deep exploration of different species we took a class trip to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA where we went on a guided tour through the grounds. We learned so much about wolves and the stories of each wolf that calls this sanctuary home. The students were in awe as, not long into our experience, all the wolves started howling in unison all around us. It was such a magical experience walking so close to these creatures. 

On Earth day the whole school was lucky to have Raven Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center come and give a presentation. Class 4 had reached out to the organization to further enrich our animal studies block and the wonderful idea to bring it to the whole school for Earth day was offered and sponsored by a sixth grade parent who volunteers at the center. Tracie, the founder of Raven Ridge, brought many animals to the school to show to the students, those included two Box turtles, Black Rat snake, skunk, Opossum, Red-tailed Hawk, and the Black vulture. She told us so much about each animal and their individual stories on why they now live at the center.

We are also growing Oyster Mushrooms in the classroom! We will cook them up and add them to a pizza very soon!


Times Tables with Class 2

Written by class 2 teacher, Mandela Davis.

Here at Susquehanna Waldorf School, and many Waldorf schools around the world, we believe that learning should be fun, creative, and inspiring. Second grade is a very exciting year when it comes to math. In the fall, students review what they learned in first grade and build from there. Second grade students dive deeper into learning all about multiplication and learning the times tables.


The times tables are taught through songs, movement, and imagery. One unique way of teaching this is through the magical times table circle. The teacher draws a circle on the chalkboard, writes the number 0 on the top of the circle and 5 at the bottom, and the fills in the numbers 1 through 9 in a clockwise direction. The teacher then starts at 0 and connects a line to numbers 2, 4, 6, 8 and then back to 0 to represent the number 10. Children and teacher look at the shape of a house in the circle, which emerges from the two times tables. Not only are the children seeing the pattern of numbers, they are also seeing the shape this particular times table creates. The teacher goes through each times table number doing this.

 

After teaching the students the magical times table circles, the children made their own wooden times table circles this spring. Each student got a round piece of wood, sand paper, 10 nails, hammer and a variety of colors of string that represented different times tables. The children worked on this project in math skill lessons in the month of April. Each child then got to take them home. My hope is that through song, stories, and the magical times table circle project, students will find a deeper meaning and understanding of multiplication. A deeper understanding and love that will carry them on to the older grades and higher math levels.