Urban Prairie Waldorf School
Miss Vander Meulen's Class
Weekly Update - April 26, 2015

Upcoming Events:

Grandparent’s Day

We are looking forward to Grandparents and Special Friends Day on Friday, May 1st, 12pm-3:15. Our schedule for the afternoon includes a joint lunch with students, a brief assembly, and activities in the classroom.

Please encourage our guests to RSVP here before April 24th.

In the week prior to the event, we will send an e-mail reminder with the itinerary, directions, and parking information.
Questions? Contact Peggy Lofgren

2nd Grade Play

Wednesday, May 6th – 5:30pm

2nd Grade Field Trip

Monday, May 11th- Wednesday, May 13th

Email Leigh Podlesny with your child’s food intolerances and/or dietary restrictions. Meals will be lovingly prepared for your child by the chaperones.  To cover the cost of meals, Leigh is collecting $30.00 for each person attending. Please reference previous email for packing list.

Third Grade Curriculum: Meeting the 9 Year Old

On Thursday as the children helped spread mulch at Arrigo park, I watched them dig, rake, and carry wheel barrows. With smiles on their faces, they worked really hard. It is rewarding to be in service and to be part of something important. Children are the happiest when their hands are engaged in meaningful work. Lately, as I listen to NPR or read the Sunday newspaper, I often hear/see the term project based learning described as a new teaching method to reach children. I hope to see this trend continue into mainstream education. Waldorf schools have been practicing it for almost 100 years. It is especially evident in the third grade curriculum. Our 2nd graders are really looking forward to the projects in third grade. I am constantly answering the question: When do we get to do that?

Practical Arts in 3rd grade include:
  • farming/gardening
  • shelter building
  • fiber work: cleaning, carding, dyeing, drop spindle
  • cooking & baking
  • weaving
The academics provide the framework in which these projects are structured and brought to the children. They will learn about volume and weight and apply it to baking; are introduced to expository writing and then explain/describe farming. Explore the history of keeping time while they build a sundial.

Why Farming and Shelter Building?

Experiences such as farming (growing, tending, nourishing) and house building (constructing, putting together, protecting) offer the children examples of nourishing and protecting themselves. They show the child how we as humans can provide—for our body, our feelings, and our thinking— a form through which we assert our will and self sufficiency. They need this practical application of self reliance, for the change of consciousness separates them from the world they have previously known. This practical work gives them the tools to find their way in the world. It empowers them.
After “crossing the rubicon”, children can feel alien and alone. They may exhibit withdrawal or emotional outbursts. Its a time for questioning what is real. They experience tension, as they long to return to the garden but yet desire to walk the path of adulthood. As parents and teachers, it is important that we neither coddle the children nor abandon them to figure things out on their own. Instead, we must give them guidance and structure as we demonstrate how to individually walk the path they are intended to. To give guidance is to teach them the “how to’s” of life; to provide them an experience that imparts purpose and meaning.

Why Hebrew Stories?

It is important to note that the Hebrew stories provide the children with an outer experience of what they are feeling internally. These stories as with the fairy tales, saints, and fables are told with reverence. They are not, however, represented as fact or as religious doctrine.
The Hebrew stories represent the archetypes of human experience that as a result to a shift in consciousness are revealed to the nine year old. Archetypes are experiences and processes that all human beings recognize and hold in common: birth, growth, death, love, loss, revenge, struggle, duality, transformation and so on. As adults, we forget what it was like to be unaware of struggle; to live in the bliss of ignorance. This type of unconsciousness in early childhood is what shapes the dream like  quality one witnesses in young children.
The children gradually become aware of these archetypes. Some faster than others. However, the nine year change marks the final step out of paradise and into the harsh desert. This inward shift of consciousness is what awakens them to the root of struggle. The story of Adam and Eve, the tower of babel, and the Hebrew people wandering through the desert all speak to the third grader. After eating the fruit and acquiring knowledge, Adam and Eve experience the realities of their existence and struggle with shame, hunger, and cold.

Gardening at the Convent Next Door

We are lucky to have a small garden adjacent to the school that the children will tend. In the next month, the torch will be ceremoniously passed from Mr. Riendeau’s class to us. Sabrina, Django’s mom, has kindly offered to help with the gardening. We are currently in the planning phase. It is my hope that every children will have an opportunity to work in the garden during the summer.

Study Group

During the summer, I plan to read Peter Selg’s “I am Different from You”. It is a short book with only three chapters. As we get closer to summer break, I will send out a schedule for the book study. In addition to this book, some of you maybe interested in reading Little Girls can be Mean. It discusses ways to address the social issues that arise between young girls.