“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” ~ Alfred Mercier
One of our favorite aspects of the Waldorf preschool teaching approach is introducing a topic by means of a story. It is such a great way to spark a child’s interest and to invoke their imagination from the very start. It creates a perfect foundation for further study of the subject. This is something we try to use as much as possible in all our curriculums, whether we are learning about birds, wolves, or alphabet letters.
And so today I wanted to share with you how this approach is implemented by our wonderful teacher Adriana Carlson in her letter lessons – that are very loved by all the children at the school.
For some time, I wanted to share with you about our beautiful Waldorf watercolor classes led by our Wednesday instructor Milana. This technique is called wet-on-wet watercolor. It is beautiful and simple, and even the youngest children of preschool age can create incredible artwork and learn about colors in the process.
In a classic Waldorf approach the art class is introduced with a sweet story about the brush that goes on to play with his friends Yellow, Blue and Red. Through this little story chidden learn how to correctly use a brush and to wash the brush between different colors. Each child also gets to name their brush. You can hear the introduction story for the children in the video at the end of this post.
Roughhousing. I am probably not alone among mothers who internally cringe from the idea of the excited active play young boys love so much, also known as roughhousing. As a mother of boys myself, I have my fair share of getting kicked, stomped and elbowed just about everywhere by a pair of two excited little boys jumping on top of me usually while I’m still waking up in the morning.
But at the same time, I remember just how much I loved roughhousing with my own dad as a child. My brother and I jumping like wild monkeys all over him for hours was one of my favorite pastimes, second only to playing dolls with my mom.
“Play — especially active physical play, like roughhousing — makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” ~ Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD and Lawrence J. Cohen
And when it comes to working with the children at our school, we can see over and over again that for the majority of them, especially young boys, it is the most beloved way to play and interact with each other. It is true that sometimes one of the wrestling participants might get pinned to the ground too tightly, or stop enjoying it while others are still carried away piling up on top of each other. But at the same time, as we see how much they enjoy it and how they bond over these kinds of games we do our best to accommodate such interactions, making them safe by directing kids to play away from sharp objects, use the large floor mat when possible, and inconspicuously watching them while ready to intercede if they get a bit carried away.
“Programs that get children outdoors, moving, playing and connecting with nature—and with each other—offer invaluable foundational skills.” – Pediatric Occupational Therapist Angela Hanscom
A few days ago while I was adding a post to our Instagram feed with some of the latest photos, an ad from REI popped up titled “Are Forest Preschools The Way Of The Future?” I clicked on the ad and was delighted to discover a whole series of blog posts on REI’s blog making a case for forest schools, also known as outdoor preschools or nature kindergartens.
“Art is a place for children to learn to trust their ideas, themselves, and to explore what is possible. ~ Maryann F. Kohl
Welcome to the second blog post about our bird-focused curriculum from January. In this post I want to share with you all the beautiful artistic projects the children created during this period while learning about birds.
When creating our curriculums we try to plan the arts and crafts projects to parallel the current learning theme, as it helps children to connect deeper with the subject we are learning about, practice through art their new knowledge and make it their own.
Learning about nature and developing closer connection with it is one of our fundamental goals as a forest school or nature kindergarten. So we dedicated the month of January to learning about birds and it was such a hit with the children so I wanted to share with you what we did in this past month.
It was a slow-paced and fun learning block stretched over the entire month of January to give the children plenty of time to connect with it, absorb the new knowledge and enjoy all the activities we had prepared as a part of it. To keep learning fun and engaging without taking away much time from children’s free and active play we always try find ways to carry out our lessons and activities both indoors and outdoors. The learning blocks are brief (5-10 minutes at the most) and occur few times throughout the day, incorporating either a story, a game, or arts and crafts project.
As we ended up covering a lot of ground, I thought it would be best to separate this topic into 3 separate posts. Here is part 1.
As children at our school come from families celebrating different winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year) we wanted to make sure our forest school’s celebration was inclusive for all. And so we chose to celebrate Winter Solstice as nature’s milestone where we reach the shortest day and longest night. The day that truly marks the beginning of winter.
All of our school festivals always include some beautiful seasonal crafts, family games and a short movie at the end. But we wanted our Winter Solstice celebration to be the most special, full of winter magic and beauty. And so we brought Grandpa Frost into our celebration — the magical character who creates the winter itself and also brings gifts to children 🙂 . Scroll down and enjoy our photo gallery from this memorable day. We are very grateful to our wonderful Tuesday and Thursday teacher and a talented photographer Adrianna Carlson for capturing all these beautiful moments from our celebration of winter and childhood.
At the end of every summer I always feel sad and it is hard for me to let go of the warm sunny days. But as the cold winter days roll in, I am reminded of how much I always loved winter growing up. The large snowflakes slowly falling from the sky always seemed mesmerizing and calming. Rolling in the snow, watching our dog running through it, sledding — I loved it all! And then there were those extra special moments of coming into a warm home after hours of outdoor play in the sparkly cold, the home with a smell of savory soup or a pie.
And winter holidays felt like utter magic of course! My family’s friends had a cabin in the mountains where all of us spent many winter holidays. And I remember as a small child walking to our friends mountain cabin through snowy mountains, feeling tired and cold. It was already getting dark. And then coming out into a clearing where the cabins were and seeing gleaming lanterns set all around in the snow. I still can see the magical beauty of it all if I close my eyes!
So as the winter holidays are just around the corner we wanted to make sure we made this time extra special for all the children attending our forest school.
Our wolf study was done with children ages 3-9 years old and turned out to be a great success. We noticed that through the time we spent on the subject using play, crafts, stories and live interactions with these amazing animals, the children have picked up a great deal of knowledge. And their perception of the wolf has formed based on actual understanding of this animal and its characteristics, rather than ages-old biased folklore, movies and general misconceptions of the ‘big bad wolf’.
We are very proud of the results accomplished, and are planning to return to the wolf study again later in Spring, around the time when pups are born in the wild.