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.