Our Kindergarten and outdoor Parent & Child Group children enjoy a cheerful cluster of sunflowers towering over their outdoor space, casting interesting shadows and dropping their precious seeds.
Those on their way to our indoor Parent & Child Group may notice the bright glow of more sunflowers as they pass the nature table in our lobby.
The theme continues to include our School children. Each child was handed the gift of a sunflower from teacher Nicola to welcome them to their new term at Beechtree Steiner Initiative. What a lovely way to hold on to the last sunshine of the year as we prepare to welcome in the Autumn.
In this first week, our School children have worked together to create some classroom rules based on what they have experienced as they have played and worked in the classroom, on walks, during games and at lunchtime.
Each child was given the opportunity to suggest a rule and the other children listened whilst they talked and then everybody agreed upon the rules and signed their names.
How to be a happy class
1. Be fair and kind and look out for other people
3. Take turns
5. No snatching – use your words, not your hands or feet
6. Listen to each other
7. Kind hands, feet and mouth
8. Ask before you leave the classroom
9. Look after our world
10. Find a way to be sorry
We hope you enjoy what our blended Class One and Two came up with as their own version of our behaviour policy.
“Being different is good, but being together with other different people is beautiful and precious and the only way to peace and happiness.“
At the beginning of this week the children and staff took great joy in exploring our outdoor space, completely transformed by a layer of snow. They discovered new physical boundaries as ice made climbing and running different, they made impressions in the snow and sang songs about the season.
Despite our all-weather approach to learning through play, the safety of our staff, the children and their parents and carers comes first so rather than encourage driving in dangerous conditions we closed the school for a snow day on Thursday and Friday.
Teacher Ziggy was delighted to announce the news, Steiner style in the form of song. We hope you enjoy it!
Written by Beechtree Steiner Kindergarten teacher, Ziggy Jones.
Friday in Kindergarten comes in many guises; “Pizza Day”, “Walk Day” or “Bud Day” being a few well loved names in use. Our weekly trip to the local park has been established since before I began teaching 5 years ago, instigated by former Beechtree teacher Leah Findlay who was inspired by a visit to an outdoor kindergarten led by Helle Heckmann in Nokken , Denmark, and our very own Cath Thurlow who introduced the outdoor Parent and Child group sessions.
For several years the walk served as little more than an after lunch stroll until the wheel turned full circle and Helle Heckmann visited us while touring the country. She was very complimentary about the work we were doing, but insisted that children today were not walking enough generally. We agreed an undertaking to make the walk more central to our Fridays, and with the extension of kindergarten hours in 2016 my dream of reaching the Hollies, a very special part of Meanwood park, became reality.
By setting off after Tidy Away time at around 11am we could negotiate the few roadside parts of the walk safely before enjoying Ring Time in the park itself, often watched by squirrels, birds and the odd jogger.
One of the other beauties of Meanwood park is the myriad paths to take and yet still reach your destination, which we did while telling story after story (“Tell one about a princess!”; “Tell the one about the mole!”) and working up a hunger.
Once in the Hollies there is one spot which demands to be picnicked on: the little clearing just next to the Whale (of “The Whale In The Woods” fame) which serenely keeps guard over the little brook by it’s side. So it was with delight that at our opening ceremony we received a print from that very book by author and kindergarten parent Julian Oxley.
With all the excitement and pride in all that had been achieved in finally establishing a Steiner school here in Leeds, as well as moving the thriving and growing kindergarten, it was lovely to take a moment or two to look back and remember
Books by Julian Oxley
– The Whale in the Woods
– The Wooden Dragon
Written by Beechtree Steiner’s Class One teacher, Anthea Stock.
With the help of fairy tales such as The Three Sons of Fortune, The Bremen Town Musicians and The Six Swans, class 1 discovered the magical world of numbers which they recorded with Roman Numerals.
They discovered that we have four limbs, five fingers, seven days of the week and colours in the rainbow and seven windows in our heads allowing us to explore the outside world and allow that world to enter us.
In Steiner education, numbers are traditionally learned in a way that is meaningful to the children, such as:
1- The whole, the individual.
2- Duality of Sun and Moon, day and night, mother and father, two eyes, ears, hands, feet
3- The mother, father and child; the triangle
4- The square, four directions, elements, seasons,
5- The five pointed star, the human form, fingers of the hand.
6- The hexagon, beehive, snowflake
7- The rainbow, seven days of the week
We drew around ourselves and found that we made 5 pointed stars.
We marvelled at the hexagonal honeycomb made by the bee and the honey tasted all the sweeter for it. We clapped, stamped and jumped lots of numbers rhythmically and we managed to skip all the way up to 100.
With the help of our little gnome Burdock and his friends Celandine, Rosehip and Sam squirrel we had all sorts of counting adventures using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and we used shells and conkers to help us find the answers.
Nimble fingers and toes make for nimble minds so we practiced lots of finger rhymes and played a game called Storks where we picked up little marble fish with our toes and did lots of counting work with them. After a very fun packed exciting 4 weeks we are now ready to let numbers rest and go back to learning some more letters.
“Through our collective action we can light up the darkness in the world”
Tonight we celebrated Martinmas by holding our annual Lantern Walk at our former stomping grounds of Meanwood Park. The children all made lanterns with Autumn leaf designs, Class One creating beautiful leaf silhouettes and Kindergarten children using a leaf rubbing technique.
The way to the meeting point in the park was lit with little glass lanterns. Once the children had collected their lanterns, we began the walk through the woods.
As we walked, we sang:
“I go with my little lantern, my lantern is going with me,
In heaven the stars are shining, on earth shines my lantern with me,
My little light, it shines so bright, please help me to find my way in the night,
My little light, it shines so bright, please help me to find my way”
Then walked in reverent silence, enjoying the Autumn evening and watching the lantern lights dance through the trees.
After the walk, the children offered round some simple biscuits they had all made to share and enjoyed some hot fruit tea before we said our goodbyes.
Steiner festivals are a continuation of a tradition of communal celebration which people all over the world have engaged with throughout history; a chance to share genuine human experiences, such as hopes for a new year, joy at springtime or thanks for the life-giving power of the sun, for example.
One may use the analogy that if the year were a necklace then the festivals are like the jewels which adorn it; little highlights which have their own characteristic beauty which allow us to look forward to something and work towards it together.
One of the fundamental aspects of Steiner Waldorf education is that physical growth and development is the main focus for children under seven. Hence we allow them to learn “bodily” through play, imitation, movement games and undertaking craft and domestic activities. We consciously avoid awakening the intellect through factual or scientific explanations, but try to use stories and pictorial imagery which is more appropriate for the children at this stage. As such a festival can allow children to experience the community coming together to celebrate, acting socially, and often with reverence.
Written by Beechtree Steiner’s Class One teacher, Anthea Stock.
The time with the lovely class 1 children at Beechtree Steiner in Chapeltown is flying by. I can’t believe it is October already and that half term is nearly here. The classroom looks beautiful with lazured walls, a fantastic new blackboard and some traditional wooden desks and chairs; a perfect place for serious fun whilst learning.
Here are a few snapshots to share with you all.
In Waldorf education, the letters of the alphabet are presented in a lively pictorial way, which appeal to the child’s imagination. “D” is a magical door in a tree through which two children crawl to find an old lady called Dorothea who tells fairy stories to them. From these stories letters are discovered. “B” is a big bellied brown bear from Snow White and Rose Red. The children draw the letter in the air with their hands and on the floor with their feet; their whole being participates in the writing experience. Then the children make their own pictures of the images with wax blocks and then write the actual letter. As you can see in the picture, “ G” is a golden goose. We also modeled the very funny procession from the story out of Alkena beeswax.
At this time of the year we think about being brave and courageous so we have been reciting poems, singing songs about St Michael and knights and fighting dragons. The children made thin swords out of branches, a fiery red dragon out of leaves and baked delicious dragon shaped bread. It is very important to educate using hands as well as hearts and heads.
Written from the point of view of Kindergarten parent and Trustee Lianne Marie.
I am parent to a four year old boy who has attended Beechtree Steiner’s Outdoor
Parent & Child from the age of eighteen months and Snowdrops Kindergarten from
the age of three years. He has very severe dermal allergies and goes into
anaphylaxis when exposed to non-natural cleaning products, meaning that he could
not attend mainstream education or enter childcare anywhere except for a very
strictly controlled and safe environment. Discovering Beechtree Steiner has been so
important to our family. The love and support that we have experienced from the
other parents and the incredibly dedicated teaching staff have meant so much to us.
Beechtree Steiner is such a special place and we are very proud to be part of such a
warm, loving and inclusive community.
The first experience of the Beechtree Steiner community that my husband and I had
was stumbling across a sea of brightly coloured picnic blankets in Meanwood Park.
There were families of every conceivable ethnicity all talking and sharing food whilst
their gloriously muddy children played together. It was a beautiful sight to behold and
we could tell that there was something really significant about this group of people.
Our son got to playing with a little girl and a week later we found ourselves sat with
her parents under the shade of a giant Beech tree eating campfire flatbread made by
the children. Fast forward two years of attending Parent and Child group every week
and our children are now enrolled together in Kindergarten and we and our
wonderful friends are discussing what we are going to do now that our building is
due to be demolished and we have to try to recreate the same Beechtree magic in a
We all come together with ideas and spend the year raising funds by having coffee
mornings, nearly new sales, fayres, pay as you feel haircuts, a duck race, raffles,
applying to local businesses for funding and by completing Total Warrior; an obstacle
course race over a 12k track comprising of 100 tonnes of mud and thirty obstacles.
I’m quite sure that every parent is alike in being willing to do anything for their
children’s well-being, but this is a community of people willing to literally jump over
fire for them!
As the term ends, my husband leads the “dismantling team” who are responsible for
packing up the old premises in Headingley and moving it to the new location in
Chapeltown whilst I busy myself with the working group responsible for creating our
We have teams of parents responsible for prepping and painting the walls, teams of
parents responsible for sourcing new furniture, floor coverings and materials to
create the outdoor space and teams of skilled people to create new internal walls,
hang doors, do plumbing, electrics and build kitchens.
It is an absolutely mammoth task but it is encouraging to see everybody come
together to make it work – the people who are there on the ground painting or
building stud walls have incredible support from other parents who offer them
childcare or drop off supplies or fill the boot of their car with rubbish for the tip. Every
contribution, whether encouraging words on our Facebook group as the progress
pictures come in or somebody dropping off a pint of milk and a tin of home-made
biscuits for the tired and hungry workers is so appreciated. A person there at the
right time to just sweep and mop the floor makes just as much difference as
somebody who has been trained to lazure the walls in beautiful swirls of pale pink.
There is no better way to get to know a group of people than when you are building
something together. Skilled tradespeople rub up against enthusiastic helpers who
are eager to learn and organised people direct the right person to complete a
suitable task for their skills or find resources to solve problems. We all chat about our
children, sing along to eclectic playlists and make sure that we are all drinking
enough water and going home at some point to sleep and eat and see our families.
In the weeks before term starts, the staff return from their Summer break to unpack
the classrooms and figure out where the new and old furniture needs to go and the
reality of everything we have achieved together in such a short space of time is very
humbling. Seeing familiar things like the art supplies, natural wooden toys and
outdoor clothes all ready for the children to discover provokes a surprisingly
emotional response. As the lights are softened to a pink glow, fabrics are fireproofed
and safeguarding procedures are put in place, we head for the rapidly evolving
outdoor space to fill planters with topsoil and compost, plant bulbs and herbs and lay
bark chipping paths and fill the sand pit.
There’s an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, it is certainly also true that
it takes a whole community to build a Steiner school.