News from the classrooms…

Pussywillow Pre-Kindergarten, Mrs. VanDommelen

Sleep, thou little willow tree,

Through the winter weather

With the bluebell and the rose,

With the birch and heather.

Wait until the sun is bright,

And the rowan blossoms white.

Sleep, thou little willow tree,

Through the winter weather.

During this warm snap, I find myself worrying about the pussywillows that begin to pop out when our lovely sun sends its warm message to the sap – usually in February. Pre-mature “popping” makes me fear that the buds might freeze when the cold returns. And return, it will, I’m afraid, with a vengeance!

It’s true that Mother Earth has a way of nurturing her little ones – after all, Alaska has a plethora of willows, weird warm snaps and all, but we humans are called on to be a little more conscious about how we parent our own “buds”.

In the Pussywillow Pre-K, the youngest Waldorf children are protected in all ways. Their senses are protected from modern images, language or experiences that can create stress or anxiety in young children. Wholesome snacks are served that nurture growing bodies, and opportunities for little bodies to move, indoors and out, are provided. Our toys are made of natural materials that inspire imaginative play. The rhythm of the day provides a feeling of security in which every child is free to blossom at will.

Mostly, the children are surrounded by warmth – love from their teacher, love from each other, love from the world. Then, just as the pussywillows that live to create pollen for the bees and the promise of spring leaves, so too will these dear three-year-olds be able to weather the unusual climate of their world and thrive.

With warmth and love,

Miss Diane

Sunflower Kindergarten, Mrs. Barnes and Mr. Craig

Out of a snow cloud, cold and gray,
Something dropped on St. Valentine’s Day,
Whirling and twirling and soft and light,
Like wee little letters all dainty and white,
And I guess the sky children were sending down,
This Valentine straight to the children in town.

It is lovely to have the sun peeking in on our morning circles and to enjoy some unexpected warm weather and the challenges of staying on our feet in a slippery play yard. We have been making beautiful heart sun-catchers for our windows and gearing up for our Annual Valentine Tea Feb 12th 10-Noon. Thank you to all the parents who take up the task of making the event so special~

Miss Susan

Starflower Kindergarten, Ms.Driscall and Mr. Dolphin

Love is in the air!
If you happen to walk past the Starflower Kindergarten in the mornings you will hear little voices singing about the birdie’s wedding day (Valentine’s day) which is quickly approaching.
Starflower is getting ready for the 3rd annual Valentine’s Tea for Grandparents and special friends.  We have hung up our paper hearts and began making our Valentine’s “pockets” to hold all the lovelies that will be passed out on this festive day.
It will be a wonderful surprise to all parents when they, too, receive a little something from their favorite Valentine.
See you for Tea and brunch on February 12th at 10am!
Love and abundant hugs from Ms. Driscall and Mr. Dolphin

First Grade, Mr. Jensen

We are wrapping up our second math block and have been discovering all the processes, working on our multiples, and solving all sorts of number problems. In short, I have been asking a lot from the students. They have been asking a lot of themselves, too. One day, when presented with a math problem, one student tapped his head and said, “Come on brain….THINK!” It’s good to see the students pushing themselves.
Mr. Jensen

Second & Third Grade, Mrs. Mallory

In January, our new 2/3 class teacher Mrs. Mallory joined our class. In early February, our class concludes our introduction to time & linear measurement, and will begin a block on shelters in the history of mankind, both local and worldwide. We began the year with stories about a little known Alaskan Saint, Father Herman,  from Spruce Island on Kodiak. Stories of the Old Testament as literature now fill our morning lessons.

We have begun reading self selected, “good fit”  books regularly, and writing our own thoughts about the books we select in response log journals. Though encouraged to invent spelling and get down thoughts quickly, we are beginning to compile spelling dictionaries and are now expected to spell an increasing number of words correctly. We will soon begin our writing workshop. The introduction to self-reflection in their response log journals prepares  children to begin pre-writing, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing (i.e. presenting and display) their thoughts and feelings, on paper.

In math this year we are completing a series of regular mathematics pages as a way to solidify our retention of math facts and multiplication tables. Familiar now with both calendars and clocks, the class’s attention is now directed to our daily and weekly schedule, including how time is used.

After February we say goodbye to our pentatonic flutes and greet our next instrument, the diatonic  recorder.

For the weeks in January and February we have been fortunate to have double movement periods for cross country skiing and ice skating at nearby Russian Jack and Cheney Lake Parks, although the weather has not always cooperated.

Fourth Grade, Mrs. Smith 

In Fourth Grade the beautiful world of ONE falls into pieces in our Fraction Block. The fourth graders are discovering that there exists a new world of numbers in between any two whole numbers. We have been baking and cutting and eating our fractional parts with delight.  The students are gaining an understanding of what a fraction is.  We work from the whole to the parts and back to the whole.  We are cutting and drawing equivalents, reducing and expanding fractions, computing fractions, finding the greatest common factor and the least common multiple.  As we discover the fun of fraction work, we are building a foundation for studying fractions in the future years to come.

Fifth & Sixth Grade, Ms. Kendy

Ms.Kendy and the 5th and 6th grade have had a semester filled with excitement and commotion! This has ranged from enthusiasm for our February 11th play preparation, to having the majestic opportunity of viewing the stars from the biggest telescope in the state as a field trip. The ancient Greek Myths have seamlessly been present in our observation of the night sky with constellation stories informing our Astronomy block and our upcoming Greek Play: The Wedding of Peleus & Thetis. We can also attest to a very clean and mindful classroom and etiquette for thankfully contained circumstances! Yay to no sharing hats!

Seventh Grade, Ms. Beikircher Seventh grade is  lost . . . in a good book that is! We are knee deep in our Literature and Grammar Block. Syntaxes, Suffixes, Spelling Rules, Synonyms, and of course excellent writing is all we care about at the moment (well, that and sledding). Our middle school students (5th, 6th, and 7th grade) also enjoy movement periods together, as well as our daily Middle School Choir every morning. If you walk past the great hall around 8:45 AM and press your ear against the double doors, you’ll hear our students work diligently on a small repertoire of songs.

Russian, Ms. Svetlana Burton 

Russian classes have been busy learning new things and reviewing old ones since we returned to school in January. Younger grades learned some new verses about winter and winter activities. We are practicing the alphabet and making simple short words using syllables. All of the students have been playing a circle counting game. We have read some tales about a magic flower (Tsvetik-semitsvetik), a traditional Russian tea pot (samovar), some tales about animals as well as Russian fairytales (Princess- that- never- smiled, Tsarevna Lyagushka). Students enjoy illustrating all the tales in their books. Upper grades were also introduced to the conjugation of  verbs while describing their language skills (reading, writing, speaking and understanding). They also learned about one very famous Russian poet Sergey Esenin.  Students have practiced reading, writing and dialogues.

Mary Schallert, Orchestra and Strings

Orchestra News

One of the pieces students are currently working on is a piece from Robert Tornfelt, a local composer entitled “Crested Hens”.  This is proving to be very difficult for our orchestra,   but I think they are up to the challenge.   We also have a nice abridged version of Pacabel’s Canon, which is more manageable.   Last fall we worked on timing and reading and most of our pieces were marcato and staccato pieces in 4/4 time.   These two new pieces give us beautiful  tone and intonation practice.  Remember:  Practice is Homework!   Some of the students tell me they have too much to do to practice.   Parents please help your child figure out a way to incorporate practice into your daily routine.   Start small, 10-15 minutes if they are currently not practicing at all.  4-5 times a week, let the student decide which days they need off from practice.     If they are having difficulty understanding the music, find someone from the 7th grade class to mentor them if private lessons are not possible.

 

Strings   News

Strings class continues to work mostly on the techniques of playing, but  my plan is to bring in more pieces that will teach them how to read music and prepare them for the orchestral experience.   Strings class students are currently working on  “Allegro” by Robert Tornfelt, a local composer.  Please remember, Practice is homework,  incorporate practice into your daily routine, start with small increments of time and work up to more time as needed.      Start small, 10-15 minutes if they are currently not practicing at all.  4-5 times a week, let the student decide which days they need off from practice.     If they are having difficulty understanding the music, find someone from the 7th grade class to mentor them if private lessons are not possible.

I know this is working very well for some of the students that are being helped by  our wonderful grade 7 musicians.

 

Thank you for letting me teach your children.

Sincerely, Mary Schallert

 
Leigh Patton, Handwork and Woodwork

 

Handwork:
We are full of creative goodness here and so blessed to have this community of children.
1st- They are trucking along knitting away….huge anticipation for what the knitting will turn into! Their eagerness for handwork really stands out- love it!
2/3- Our scarfs have formed into neck warmers, as we will be transitioning into crocheting soon. Their individuality really shines through their work; the same concept but all so beautifully different.
4th- Embroidered bags are amazing. The creativity of this class is inspiring.  We will be moving on to cross stitch by end of this next month.
5/6- These guys have been working in the round, making fingerless gloves. We will begin needle felting shortly. This class brings a huge smile to my face. At the end of each class they thank me as Professor Patton and bow–too funny.
7th- they are working on a simple sewing project. The front cover however is an embroidered portrait of themselves in their preferred environment. It is interesting to see the variations of choice and also how they perceive themselves. I always look forward to seeing them and listening to the interesting conversations they bring to class.
Woodworking-
5/6th- they have finished their beautiful spoons and forks for the most part. We just started a new project with birch limbs. We will be making kuksa cups. Please look these up- they are beautiful!
7th- they are continuing on their bowls. However, around the holiday the wonderful Mr.Wood helped this class make gorgeous picture frames. They loved it! I think they also loved it because they got to use the woodburner.
Aftercare:
This is such a rewarding part of the day. We have so many bright fun faces these days in aftercare. We have so much fun! We have lots of crafts…we have been painting a guitar, having knitting circles, and playing lots of games. We make home made ice cream in a ball outside on Wednesdays now too. (They get about three bites.) We also have been making fantastic things for our school store, especially for Valentine’s Day. Go check it out!
Ms Leigh Patton