Michaelmas Season in the Kindergarten & Grades at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Michaelmas Season in the Kindergarten

The threads of Michaelmas are woven in and out of our days in the kindergarten classes between mid-September and early October. Part of a Waldorf celebration is experiencing the process of preparation, which takes time to develop. All of the kindergarten children hear stories of people who dig deep within themselves for strength and courage to help others. As the children hear these stories they form images and feelings of courage and strength within themselves. They also have the experience of gathering onion skins and dried marigold tops to make a beautiful golden dye. This dye is used to create a special Michaelmas project that has its origins in our stories, symbolizing light to give strength and courage to do good deeds. These threads of courage, community and accomplishment can also be found in our circle time, in baking a harvest loaf, or dragon bread, modeling the golden beeswax into elements from the story, a picnic with friends, or sharing a puppet show with another class! This season is filled with activities that exercise the will, symbolizing inner strength that manifests itself in good deeds.

The experience of Michaelmas in Kindergarten is very rich. For those in the 5-day Kindergarten, Michaelmas is celebrated on the same day that the grades are celebrating. The 3-day Kindergarten class celebrates on a school day close to that time. Our celebrations are part of our school day.

We suggest that the K children not participate in the grades’ event for Michaelmas, since we have our own separate celebration that is appropriate for this age group. We recommend a restful afternoon for the Kindergarten children, allowing the images and feelings of our celebration to be kept alive in each child.

The grades’ celebration with the dragon chase and larger groups of children is something for your children to anticipate as they enter the grade school in the future. How wonderful it is for young children to experience an expanding world as they get older! This gradual movement into activities gives them time to be little, grow, anticipate, and then participate.
Facing the Dragon – Michaelmas in the Grades
Grades 1-8 Celebrate Michaelmas
Friday, September 27

Michaelmas is a symbolic, ancient tradition celebrated in autumn. As the days grow shorter and the sun wanes, human beings often feel called to sleepiness. The strength of our will seems sapped, and we feel pulled towards complacency. To conquer this lethargic “dragon,” we must look inward to find strength and an “inner light” to guide us through the darkness of winter. We cannot sleep like many of the plants underground or hibernate like some of the animals. We have work to do, we must awake!

WSA grades students will celebrate Michaelmas with a day of games, drumming, festive songs, and a visit from St. Michael and the dragon!

Parents are invited to join us for this celebration. (Look for the schedule next week!) As stated in the article above, we strongly suggest that parents with children of kindergarten age allow their child to enjoy their class celebrations and anticipate participating in the grades’ celebration with the older students when they are older children themselves.

Kindergarten at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

The learning before the learningLinden Tree Photography 2015-1-09 WSA_011

Reflections of the Waldorf Kindergarten

 With both of my children now in the grades at WSA, I often reflect on the kindergarten experience that both were so fortunate to receive.

In Waldorf kindergartens, there’s a conscious effort to preserve childhood for as long as possible, but preserving childhood doesn’t conflate with delayed learning. On the contrary, the Waldorf kindergartner experience reaches beyond the mainstream study of letters and numbers, and instead focuses on a far more fundamental and formative curriculum: the precursors of learning itself.

The children learn to be together, to work together. Setting the table, sweeping the floor, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, they’re developing cooperation, appreciation, and responsibility – the values necessary for the life each child is growing into.

Handwork projects require dexterity of hand, the learning of new skills, and – increasingly rare in our world of instant gratification – the notion of “one step at a time.” Allowing children to move through each step at their own pace culminates in an accomplishment that is entirely their own. Stories, songs and rhymes encourage an awakening of children’s senses and memory to come to life as well as an appreciation for learning that will continue to flourish.

Not too long ago I was satisfied with the notion that Waldorf kindergartens offered a haven to prolong childhood, encouraged children to live into their imaginations, and crafted the space and time for them to explore the world. I didn’t query much further.

In looking backLinden Tree Photography 2015-1-09 WSA_022, I clearly see a rich multi-layered curriculum, and am deeply respectful of the meaningful activities that happily engaged the children.  The foundational aspects of working together, completing a project, taking care of a shared space – along with language acquisition, number sense, and body geography – were always there at the heart of each rhythmic yet magical day.

Now that my children have transitioned to the grades, they’ve embarked on a more intellectual journey. I may pine for the smells wafting from the kindergarten on bread day. I might miss the beeswax bunnies they once molded with little fingers. But as I watch my children embrace their learning with eagerness and delight, I am filled with gratitude knowing that they were soundly prepared for this next stage of learning.

~Brooke Fraser

This article was written for the Waldorf School of Atlanta‘s 2015 Garden Breeze Special Edition.  For more information about our school, please visit www.waldorfatlanta.org.

Advent in a Kindergarten Classroom at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

advent 4 weeks

As we move into Advent time, the classroom is cleared of the abundance of autumn to create an open space for life and goodness to come. There is a vine wreath on the table in the classroom with four candles. One is for each Sunday before Christmas. The first week of Advent honors the earth – the mineral world. The second week, we behold the plant world. Greenery and flowers are added to the wreath and classroom. The third week, we honor the animal world. During this week there are often conversations about some of the dear animal pets that live with the children.

The fourth week of Advent, we light a candle for humanity. In this dark time of year, we as human beings must let our inner light shine out to others. This is the verse we say as we light the candles:

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones,

That live in the seashells, crystals, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of the plants,

That reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts;

The light of hope that we may see in the greatest and in the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind

The light of love, the light of thought, to know and understand.

~Rudolf Steiner

~Annamay Keeney

Kindergarten Teacher

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


Linden Tree Photography 2011 Advent Spiral 013

We are in the midst of the Holiday Season, with its joyful sharing, various festival celebrations of light, and special visits with treasured family and friends. It can also be a stressful time for families who are seeking to maintain a sense of regularity and familiar rhythms for their children, while also wanting to enjoy the change of pace that visiting with loved ones can bring.

Here are a few simple suggestions to add to or affirm your parenting wisdom at holiday time:

1. Just knowing and acknowledging that daily life may be different for a little while can be very helpful.

2. The most important rhythm, especially for our children under 7, would be the bedtime rhythm. While it may be later than usual, do include as much of the normal routines as possible; if traveling, do pack any familiar dolls/teddy bears, and books to support familiarity.

3. If your child still naps, do support a nap rhythm as much as possible.

4. While striving for regularity, do be flexible, and enjoy the change of pace that awaits you.

5. Notice, and attend to, stresses that may arise for yourself. Allow yourself a break, stepping outside, a ‘time out’ as needed. Just adding a few extra conscious breaths to your day can make all the difference.

6. Verbally preparing your child that things will be different can also go a long way in supporting their experience of the holiday season.

7. Do share, if possible, and if helpful, with family and friends, your routines that will support your child’s enjoyment of the holiday season. Including them in your plans of achieving a sense of regularity, may go a long way in friends and family supporting your efforts.

8. No matter how cold, do include outside time everyday or as much as possible, for you and your family; from walks in the neighborhood, to hikes in a favorite park, the invigorating cold winter air can renew everyone’s spirits; there is no wrong weather, only wrong clothing!

These are just a few ideas that can support a meaningful holiday season for all families.

~Sara Michelson,

Class Facilitator, Morning Garden Teacher

sleeping child at HF

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


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


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

3-Day Kindergarten visit to Farmer Mary’s Goat Farm

Nature Table: Ms. Luba’s kindergarten

Nature Table: Ms. Annie’s kindergarten

Nature Table: Ms. Smith’s kindergarten

Nature Table: Ms. Keeney’s kindergarten