Third Grade Farm Trip

Contributor: Diana Carlson, Class Teacher of Grade 3 of 2015-16

I have just returned from spending a week with my third graders at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York.  We had a great time!  The students baked bread, made butter, and cooked supper for their classmates and teachers.  They planted seeds as the spring leaves popped around them in the April sunshine.  They woke in the chill dawn to feed and water the cows, chickens, pigs, and horses.  They also rode those horses, and cleaned those cows’ barn, and looked for eggs in the hen-house.  They skipped stones and waded in the river and ran and climbed trees, with old friends and new.  In the evenings they sang together, and practiced being quiet together so that everyone could settle down to sleep.Farm Trip 2016

Farm Trip 2016

The farm trip meets the developing nine-year old in many important ways.  For most of my students, this was their first extended time away from their family.  The nine-year old is developing an individual interior world; for the first time they realize that they can have thoughts and experiences that are theirs alone.  The experience of the farm trip, although shared with familiar classmates and teachers, is an individual, personal life experience outside of the family round.  Many of the students expressed surprise at how little they missed their families; they almost felt a little guilty at first, as if their self-sufficiency denied their affection for their families.  When the families arrived to pick up their dirty, happy children on Friday morning, the students were thrilled to reconnect and share their experiences with their parents and siblings.  They experienced that a separation is not a severing, and that they are able to have individual experiences and still remain connected, even over distance and time, to their loved ones.  This foundational experience gives the child the confidence to move out into the world in ever widening arcs as they mature.

We had the opportunity to share our farm experience with students from the Primrose Hill School in Reinbeck, New York.  The children enjoyed getting to know one another and see how another Waldorf third grade can be similar and yet different.  We knew many of the same songs and poems, we were following the same curriculum as outlined by Rudolf Steiner, we were the same ages.  And yet we had different class cultures, different personalities.  By the end of the week however, the farm teachers commented that the groups had integrated so harmoniously that they couldn’t tell which students were from Meadowbrook and which were from Primrose Hill.

The farm experience deeply connects the child to the third grade science and geography curriculum.  Now these students really “know” cows – their size, their smell, their slick noses and rough tongues, their beautiful eyes and placid natures.  To know a cow in this way is to have a deeper connection to all that comes from the cow – butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, leather, hamburgers.  The students also gain an understanding of the amount of work that creates their daily meals.  One student commented on how difficult it was to clean out the barn – how strenuous, how smelly, how relieved he was to never have to do that again.  And one of the farm teachers remarked, “Yes, and think – somebody has to do that every day or you would never be able to have ice cream!”  The realization that all we enjoy is derived from the work of others cultivates gratitude and a true understanding of the interconnectedness of our world.

Farm Trip 2016 IIThe experience of being at the farm planted seeds of understanding in the hearts and minds of my students.  I look forward to watching these seeds sprout and blossom in the years ahead.  I am grateful to Meadowbrook and to the parents of the third grade class for making this trip possible.

Meadowbrook May Faire!

mayfaire

Early one morning
Before the sun had risen,
I heard a bluebird
In the fields gaily sing.       
South winds are blowing,
Green grass is growing,
We have come to herald
the merry, merry Spring.

                 English Folk Song

We will be holding our annual May Faire celebration soon. The first day of spring occurs in March, but our calendar is often at odds with what we see out of our New England windows. May Faire, arriving midway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, comes at a time when we are firmly rooted in the season of spring.

Traditionally, May Faire heralds lengthening days, fertile soil, and the promise of abundance.  It also reminds us that we have persevered through the challenging, contemplative season of winter and moved into the exuberant spring.  This exuberance is reflected at the Faire with joyous and colorful May pole dancing, flower garlands, music, games, and food.
Why do Waldorf schools continue to celebrate these ancient festivals? Many foundational principles of the Waldorf philosophy can be found in these celebrations.
Often, these festivals have an aspect of story, song, (and snack!) and in this way mimic the Waldorf classroom rhythm. It is an opportunity to surround the children, and ourselves, with beauty, truth and goodness.  These festivals foster in all of us the qualities of wonder, reverence and gratitude.
Everyone in our community works together to make these celebrations happen: children, faculty, parents and friends. We hope that the children learn through our example how to work together to make something beautiful and meaningful. By marking the rhythm of the seasons and celebrating the natural world, it reminds us of our connection with the earth and each other, and places us in the history of humankind.
May Faire Community Gathering

Meadowbrook Summer Camp

Shaw Camp Photo

Meadowbrook Waldorf School is opening its doors wider and launching a summer camp!  Come experience the magic of summer at Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Our outdoor summer camp will be held for three weeks in July–the perfect time to be outside and exploring our forest and streams. Children ages 4-8 are welcome to attend this program designed to explore the natural world while having fun together. Hiking, baking, painting, singing, climbing–all the summer essentials!

MORE DETAILS
Children will arrive each morning greeted by teachers in our wooded play yard to settle in for the day.  Hiking, cooking, playing, crafting, singing, and joy will fill the morning, working up an appetite for a healthy snack. Children will play with others their own age in thoughtful, creative ways. Lunch and rest will transition everyone into the afternoon hours. Staying cool with continuing creative endeavors will fill the afternoon and the end of the day will sneak up on the children.
Every day will consist of the same rhythm of events, with each event offering new fun. The week’s activities will reflect one of three themes: Magic of the Woods, Fairy Tales and Naturally Building-Homes of all kinds.
This summer camp is for CHILDREN AGES 4-8 and runs FROM JULY 11 – JULY 29 with one week sessions.  CAMP HOURS are 9am to 3pm, Monday-Friday.  Snack will be provided twice per day, while parents will pack a healthy lunch.

Pricing Information:  The cost of summer camp is $225 per week, per child.  Checks can be made payable to Meadowbrook Waldorf School.  All payments are nonrefundable.

REGISTRATION

Click Here for Registration Forms

Registration Deadline:  Forms and payment must be received by June 1, 2016.

To register for summer camp:
Email completed forms to camp@meadowbrookschool.com and submit payment by mail to:  Meadowbrook Waldorf School, 300 Kingstown Road, West Kingston, RI 02892

Or drop completed forms and payment to the Meadowbrook Waldorf School front desk.

QUESTIONS:  Email Jocelyn at camp@meadowbrookschool.com

We welcome Jocelyn Auld back to Meadowbrook Waldorf School as our Summer Camp Director. Jocelyn holds a BS in Elementary Education & Fine Arts from the University of Rhode Island, and has worked in Early Childhood and with Grades children.  She feels a deep connection to the educational practices of Waldorf Education and has worked in summer camps every summer since she was a teen. From counselor to director, Jocelyn has tried it all and loves each new adventure!

Advent Spiral – A Community Gathering

What is Advent? What is an Advent Spiral?

advent_spiral_mws

We have just entered into the season of Advent.  Traditionally celebrated the four Sundays before the winter solstice, it marks a time of introspection as we all await the return of the sun and lengthening days.  This seasonal remembrance of light takes place in many cultures across the globe.  At our Waldorf school, we mark this season with weekly Advent spiral walks.

Our local community is invited to participate in this weekly moment of reflection. Please park in the visitor lot and follow the candle-lit path into the forest where you can walk the Advent spiral and place your offering along the path. You may bring something from home or pick a natural trinket from the start of the path to add to the spiral. In this way our community comes together co-creating the garden spiral.

Examples of items are:
The first light of Advent honors the mineral world.  Small shells, gems or rocks are appropriate for this week.

The second light of Advent honors the plant world. Acorns, pine cones, a dried flower or holly sprig would be wonderful additions to the path this week.

The third light of Advent honors the animal world. Perhaps you might add a small feather you have found or a piece of beeswax in the shape of a favorite animal this week.

The fourth light of Advent honors the light of man. During this final week we are in the darkest days of our year and we bring the light within ourselves to the spiral. You are invited to carry a candle through the spiral and then leave your candle along the path. In this way, we are leaving our light to illuminate the path for all of us. Candles are provided at the start of the path on this evening.

advent_spiral_dusk_mwsAfter walking the path, families often take a short time to sit together quietly. Participating in our Advent spiral is a lovely way to model a quiet reverence of nature to our little ones. Often the youngest of our visitors take many turns walking the spiral, first holding a parent’s hand and then becoming brave enough to test their independence and walk the path alone.

By marking our seasonal journey out of darkness with the quiet contemplation of Advent, we make space in this hectic time of celebration and busyness to remember our connection to the earth and each other.

Advent Spiral Dates for 2015

The local community is invited to join us in this small act of contemplation that we hold each Sunday of Advent from 4-5 pm.

November 29th (Minerals)
December 6th (Plants)
December 13th (Animals)
December 20th   (Humans)

Advent Spiral Verse

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones that sparkle through seashells, crystals and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of the plants that reach to the sun and in the breeze dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts that swim, crawl or fly, be they great, be they least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of man, in love and in thought, to give and understand.