Handwork at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

As human beings, we use our hands regularly in our daily lives. At Waldorf, the Handwork curriculum is broad and includes skills such as knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, felting, paper crafts, pattern design, and machine sewing.

Many of the benefits of the Handwork program are obvious: hand-eye coordination; basic math skills such as counting, the four math processes, and basic geometry; the ability to understand and follow a process from concept to completion; and the ability to focus on a project for an extended period of time.

There are also more subtle rewards that complement these obvious benefits. Students must prepare and care for materials. Many of the created items have a practical use – a case for a flute, a needle book, a pair of socks. Design and color choice allow for individual creative expression. One of the most far-reaching benefits of Handwork class is the social aspect. While there are times when quiet is needed, such as when you are learning a new stitch, most of the time the atmosphere in the classroom is social and conversational, not unlike a quilting bee. Students learn to speak politely to one another. Throughout the process, respect is fostered.

At the Waldorf School of Atlanta all first graders learn how to knit. This basic skill uses both right and left hands, and brings a steady, calming rhythm to the younger child. Crocheting, which emphasizes the right or left hand, almost always follows in the second or third grade. Cross-stitch is paramount to fourth grade as the children begin crossing over from childhood to adolescence. In fifth grade, knitting in the round, used to make hats, mittens, and socks, is a three dimensional, mathematical activity leading up to critical thinking in the middle school. Long-term hand-sewing projects involving concepts, patterns, and mathematical computations are usually found in sixth or seventh grade. The eighth grade Handwork curriculum often involves machine sewing, which perfectly integrates the student’s study of American History and the Industrial Revolution.

We hope you enjoy the Handwork series on our blog:

Grade 1 handwork

Grade 2 handwork

Grade 3 handwork

Grade 4 handwork

Grade 5 handwork

Grade 6 handwork

Grade 7 handwork

Grade 8 handwork

Our Handwork Teacher is Lisa Roggow.

lroggow photo

 

 

 

Spanish Language program at the Waldorf School of Atlanta – Grade 6

The Spanish Language program at the Waldorf School of Atlanta is led by Catalina De Luna Garza.  A review of the Language Program can be found on our website and specific insights into teaching each grade are found in these letters to the parents.

sra de luna headshot

Dear Sixth Grade Parents,

The sixth grade is a transitional year as it marks the threshold to puberty. As the faculty of thinking awakens, the learning of languages undergoes a considerable change.  The students are growing in self-awareness and the oral presentation of the teacher stops being as accessible to the children as it had been in earlier years. The student’s rising intellectual capacities need to awaken to the conceptual structures of the language. To accommodate this remarkable change we will have three lessons a week instead of two.

In sixth grade the students formulate, memorize and write down fairly complex grammar rules. They have received a three ring binder for Spanish homework assignments, grammar exercises, vocabulary, and regular practice sheets. Students are expected to take their binder home and have daily reviews of the material covered at school (10 minutes would be sufficient) to keep the language learning ongoing. The students will continue to work on a book, which will reflect artistically all of the material being learned including cultural notes, poetry and grammar.

So far (in the first six weeks of school) we have covered personal description (adjectives – gender, number), dialogues, introducing yourself, present tense for regular verbs and irregular to be and to have.

South America with its rich historical and mythological personalities becomes the main theme throughout the year. The history, geography, and customs of these countries become the vehicle for increasing vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. This year I have the honor to have been invited to teach about South America during main lessons.  I am looking forward to it!

Last but not least, sixth graders are expected to complete regular weekly homework assignments and prepare for quizzes and vocabulary tests. If homework is not done on the due date, students will be sent to Study Hall to complete it. The homework schedule is organized in a way that it does not overlap with assignments from other lessons.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Spanish lessons, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or make an appointment for the upcoming conferences.

Looking forward to a great year,

Catalina De Luna, Spanish Teacher at WSA

sra de luna drawing on chalkboard sra de luna grade 6 chalkboard drawing

Handwork at the Waldorf School of Atlanta – Grade 6

The Handwork Curriculum at the Waldorf School of Atlanta is led by Lisa Roggow.    Her loving care of the children is evident in these letters to parents of each grade.  

 grade 6 interlaced embrodery

Dear Grade Six Parents:

I am writing to share some information about this year’s sixth grade handwork curriculum.

My goal for this year is to infuse the children with knowledge of fine needle work, which requires a completely different skill set than the work done in other grades and challenges the children to hone their fine motor skills very precisely.  In review: fourth grade’s cross stitch provided them with the opportunity to sew rhythmically, cross the midline repeatedly, learn pattern recognition and introduce a small needle.  Now, two years later, they are flying without the net as there are no well -placed holes showing them exactly where to put the next stitch.  They must observe their work carefully, estimate where the stitch should go, and follow that inner directive and sightline.

Towards that end, we will begin the year with needle books.  This practice piece is made from plant dyed felt, which is a forgiving fabric and allows us to learn how to begin, master the stitch, end the thread and hide ends.  The felt can handle many “missteps” and lends itself well to a smooth and even appearance.  Most of the work on the needle book will be done in backstitch, which produces a continuous line of straight stitches.  Backstitch is also the primary stitch used in their major project for the year.

That project is a herd of bison.   This is a project Carol and I have specially created for your children.

We will be working closely with each child to assist in drawing a bison picture, from which we will draft individual patterns. We will carefully preserve the childlike nature of the drawings so that the finished projects will reflect the person who made it.  After drafting the patterns we will transfer them to fabric and begin sewing.  This will prove to be a tricky bit of work, because it involves adding a seam allowance to the drawing and visualizing how the pieces should come together to make a three dimensional object.  The focus on realism and accurate measurement supports the work Mr. Smith will be presenting in geometric drawing.

As with last year’s sock project, bison will take up the remainder of the year.  Hopefully the children will enjoy watching their drawings come to life.  As we go, we will learn more about the animal. Each child will be responsible for a brief oral presentation (2 minutes) on some aspect of the bison.  The children will receive handwork grades this year.  The grade is based on the effort they exhibit, participation, including assisting in preparation and group clean up, and participation in the report project.

Please email me  if you have any questions about our handwork curriculum for this year.

Thank you,
Lisa Roggow, Handwork Teacher

Grade 6 sewn lion

Lion created in Grade 6

AUTUMN MIDDLE SCHOOL MAIN LESSONS at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Adolescence is an expansive age. Throughout the autumn middle school students have been asked to extend themselves both in the variety and the depth of their studies. The approach of the holiday break is a time for culminating all the efforts made over the previous months, and the main lessons reflect that.

drawing in ml book

The sixth grade, for example, has just finished a writing block with a special focus on dialogue and style. One way of developing your own style is by experiencing someone else’s. Each student set the stage for a scene, drawn from history or other familiar subjects. The composition was then collected and typed up without naming the author. This was passed on to a second student who developed the rising tension. Following that, it was passed on to a third student, who wrote the climax. To supplement the element of dialogue, students worked daily on a recitation of Mark Antony’s oration at Caesar’s funeral, drawn from Shakespeare. At this time, the sixth grade has taken up the subject of Astronomy. Having focused earlier on the earth forces of Geology, they now turn their attention to the cold, clear constellations of autumn’s night sky.

The seventh grade students are also occupied with earth study, developing group reports for European Geography. The subjects are wide-ranging for each report, including biographies, current events, and artistic renderings of both physical and cultural geography. The block will close with a European “feast,” featuring food samples from many regions. In art, the students have explored perspective drawing, painting, and pastels over the autumn, and will now move into the careful copying of Renaissance portraits.

Eighth graders have finished their main lesson on the Civil War. As with the previous grade, they too developed group reports that included biographies of both an African-American and a spy, along with battlefield maps. Their current study is Solid Geometry, taught by Academe’s Sharon Annan. This subject combines the spatial thinking of geometric drawing with the linear thinking of algebra, and is something of a culmination of many years of Waldorf math. Additional subjects in math have included a study of the binary system, which is the language of computers, and an algebraic expression of the Pythagorean Theorem.

platonic solids

The students’ autumn efforts have yielded a bountiful harvest! This harvest, of course will become the seeds of future growth, and we look forward to what will unfold next.

~Jim McClurkin

6th Grade Teacher

jim mcclurkin

This article was originally printed in the December 2010 edition of the Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.  

Thoughts for Summer from the Waldorf School of Atlanta

butterfly painting

Kindergarten:

As the school year ends the children are delighted with their new freedom. Life is filled with the warm sun shining down on us all. It is as if a burden of dark and cold has been lifted. It is time to be out, to shed clothes and shoes…to really feel the earth and grass on bare feet and connect with the light of the sun and stars. It is summer. Children have all the time in the world!

We parents are delighted when our children are happy and resilient. Children are more patient, tolerant, flexible, and happy when their life flows rhythmically. Rhythm isn’t a schedule. Schedules are goal oriented. Rhythm is life oriented. It is ebb and flow, again and again and again… with little variations on the way.

Follow this recipe to create your summer rhythm: repeating days, weeks, and traditions to make the summer season full, rich, and memorable. Even those of us who work can create days and weeks that have that summer feel.

*Take a few activities you love and that make it feel like summer such as:

Rolling in the grass, riding bikes, jump rope, swinging…

Swimming, grilling, working in the garden, blowing bubbles…

Walking to the park/lake/pool/creek, natural places to wade/play/build a dam

Concert in the park, camping in the back yard, hiking, making/eating popsicles…

Camping trip, hiking, visiting Grandma and Grandpa for a week, some summer camp days

 

Decide if these are daily, weekly, or seasonal activities…

*Add in daily/weekly activities such as chores that need to be done, grocery shopping, laundry, food prep, cleaning house, … Your children are such capable human beings. It is healthy for them to participate in the life of the family. It can even be a disservice to a child to always have things done for them.

* Downtime to do nothing! …Find beautiful stones and four-leaf clovers, Give your children time to breathe (and yourself too)! Give them the gift of time to get “bored”. It is actually healthy for your child to not know what to do. It takes an inner strength of will to pull one’s self out of that seemingly empty place. What a gift when the creative juices start flowing! How empowering!

*Combine and Alternate

Inside time/ outside time

Loud times /quiet times

Silly times/focused times = breathing in and out…breathing is healthy!

Regular meal times!

Sleep time: Kinder children still need to get those same 10-12 hours sleep each night and a nap/quiet time in the afternoon. Even on vacations children (young and old) need rhythm and sleep… and the adults too!

So, give your children time to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin, see the dust sparkle in the sunlight, smell new mown grass, hear the insects hum as they work…and breathe your days in and out… enjoy your summertime.

 

~Annamay Keeney

Kindergarten Teacher

bicycle

Grades 1-5:

As the summer months approach, the long days of summer seem like a dream come true. But after the first few weeks, many families struggle to find rewarding things to do with their children.  Of course there are wide range of camps available both at WSA and throughout the community but what else is there to do? Here are some fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to keep busy.

1. Become an investigative reporter – with a camera, students can take pictures of the world around them and make up stories to go with their pictures.

2. Gather up old greeting cards and create puzzles or collages.

3. Have your child make an obstacle course in the backyard and have the family take turns going through it. Who can complete the course in the fastest time?

4. Make a terrarium.

5. Find a place to volunteer with your child.

6. Invent board games

7. Explore making paper airplanes.

8. Create a sculpture with recyclable materials

9. Stargazing & story telling

10. Skip stones at the river

11. See a Shakespeare Play

12. Learn how to paddle a canoe

13. Hang and monitor a bird feeder

14. Celebrate a summer holiday (even if you make up your own)

15. Make Homemade Ice Cream!

Grades 6-8:

1. Encourage children to take on responsibility in areas of interest to them. (Volunteer at a veterinarian’s office, senior center or theatre.)

2. Physically challenge your children with activities like Outward Bound, hiking, white water rafting, rock climbing, water skiing or horseback riding.

3. Take them on an adventure with a purpose, i.e., not just a hike, but a hike to find the perfect camp site; not just a bike ride, but a bike ride to a lake for a swim.

4. Give them a job that will teach them to master a new skill (knot tying, bike repair, planning, shopping and preparing for a weekly dinner, building a camp fire, laying a stone path, tending a garden). Practical work will help them feel more competent.

5. Build a fort, shelter or tree house with your child.

6. Visit or volunteer on a farm (interactions with large animals help children learn how to adapt to another being’s needs).

7. Allow time for boredom. Let your child arrive at their own ideas for an activity, using imagination and initiative.

Often children have issues with focus and persistence in the face of obstacles. Encourage your child with activities such as these to help build their will, patience, motor skills, and sense of discipline.

 

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of the Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.

bench and flower pot

Woodworking at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

 woodworking

From an early age children begin to express their will by exploring the use of their hands. It is with their hands that they begin to develop other faculties. Accomplishment and joy are the rewards achieved through the wisdom of each activity.

“To do, to be active, is Man’s noblest calling.”

Woodworking begins in the fifth grade. In this grade students experience the full process of woodworking, within which the children review botany, especially the various types of wood, and learn the use of hand tools and woodworking techniques. While working with wood, children’s senses are awakened, hands begin to strengthen, hand-eye coordination improves, and with repetition, their ability to sustain focus slowly increases. Patience and attention to detail emerge.

In the sixth grade, students learn to accurately use both ruler and compass to refine their measuring skills. They are expected to create projects using the sense of touch, an approach that allows them to express their feeling through manual arts. Students shape and form the object with the help of simple hand tools. Through hand-eye coordination in fabricating the object, the students develop the strength of hand and stamina of will necessary for personal growth. During the sixth grade year, students are also introduced to the history of woodworking. They are each assigned a research report and an oral class presentation on an aspect of this topic.

The grade seven woodworking curriculum and projects emerge from the students’ study of the ages of discovery and exploration. This year, there is an increased emphasis on the importance of rules and regulations, developing clearer communication skills, and becoming more independent and willing to explore new boundaries. Adolescent students are in search of clarity and truth, and they now meet the world around them by asking: “Why?” They desire and benefit from both mental and physical challenges. The projects this year focused on developing the students’ will forces, critical thinking, patience, team building and performance, and personal management of time.

In the eighth grade, students are able to experience the culmination of all their previously acquired woodworking knowledge and skills. They have become more acutely aware of the physical world around them and how they, as physical bodies, move within that world. In response to this maturation, the eighth grade project is selected both to challenge and expand the skills that the students have developed over their four years of woodworking. The project is layered with detailed processes and problem solving and requires each student’s consistent focus, keen accuracy, creativity, and most of all, patience. The eighth grade class is currently working with inlay patterns made from thin veneer. Some students are making journals covered with thin plywood and leather, others are building boxes with a plywood lid. In both projects the plywood holds the inlay design. The rich fiber and color of the veneer come to life as the student sands and buffs the surface with beeswax. These items will be available for your viewing in the woodwork
room on Grandparent’s Day.

~Francisco Moreno
Woodwork Teacher

wood bowl

This article was originally printed in the April 2013 Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.

Visit us online at www.waldorfatlanta.org

 

Grade 6 in Atlanta Parent Magazine

This month’s edition of Atlanta Parent Magazine includes a story about a recent project from WSA’s 6th grade class. “No one can make math fun quite like sixth-grade teacher Laura Keys,” the article begins. Ms. Keys was interviewed about her class’s work with business math, in which the students created business plans and products to raise money for their future eighth-grade field trip. You can view the magazine online here. For more on our sixth grade curriculum, click here.

Grade Six


Grade Six chalkboard