Tag Archives: Outdoor Play

Celebrating Candlemas at Beechtree Steiner

Candlemas marks half-way between the shortest day and the Spring equinox. We have been in a period of hopeful waiting and the forces of nature begin to stir new growth all around us.

The children have noticed the bulb children poking their heads above ground on their walks to our local park. Light and warmth move more freely again and there’s hopefulness in the air.

Here’s how the three elements of our setting come together to celebrate Candlemas in age-appropriate ways.

In Parent & Child (from birth to age 3 years) we were greeted today by a beautiful new nature table featuring Spring elements. Our songs and stories today changed with the new season and for a Candlemas activity, little hands got to work warming and moulding sweet-smelling sheets of beeswax into candles to take home and light.

In Kindergarten (age 3 to 6 years) the children from both classes had a joint outdoor day where, after making chapattis on the fire for snack, we walked to the local park together and had our ring time around candles in jars (to protect them from Brother Wind!) and played a lovely game of Lady Spring. (Lady Spring wears a beautiful pink flower crown and chooses who will partner for dancing)

In the School (age 6 years+) the Class 1 and 2 children celebrated Candlemas by writing out the Candlemas verse and hand-dipping candles in layers of red and green that looked like beautiful spring bulbs. As the children are passionate about our planet, this was a lovely zero-waste activity – the wax was melted down from the leftovers of December’s Advent festival candles.

Teacher Nicola presented each child with an early daffodil, ready to bloom and an Imbolc candle she had made from very special wax which was leftover from candles lit by the peace flame a few years ago.

Our stories in Kindergarten and School have recently centred around the beautiful story The Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers which ties in so beautifully with Candlemas, where we set candles in the ground to warm the earth and help the bulb children come to the surface and bloom. The Kindergarten children planted their candles in the park today and the School children planted theirs in the class garden.

When the Kindergarten children returned at lunchtime, the School children joined them for a special feast in honour of St Brigid followed by a beautiful puppet show and some time to sing together.

The puppet show followed the theme of The Root Children using beautiful puppets made by Teacher Maisy.

Snowdrops in the Beechtree Garden

by Kindergarten teacher Maisy Carlucci

“Snowdrops Snowdrops, little drops of snow
What do we do when the cold winds blow?
We shake our little head and sing:
Ding a ling, ding a ling,
Here Comes Spring”

This time of year the nights are long and the days are cold but everywhere we look the children find little promises of spring: in the mornings that grow brighter, the robins that appear in the garden and the tiny snowdrops reaching up from the cold earth.

Next week, we will celebrate the end of the winter and the gentle coming of spring by creating candles from sheets of beeswax, symbolising the new light of spring, and planting the candles in the ground to wake the bulbs up.

As this is a good time to start preparing for the spring flowers, the daffodils and the bluebells, the children have been weeding the flowerbeds and tidying up the garden.

Having respect for allergies

Class 1/2 have been busy making posters collaboratively today after a class discussion about the importance of taking care of each other by understanding the allergies we have in our community and what we need to do.

The posters will be displayed in the building as a gentle reminder to all to check the ingredients for everything we bring into Beechtree as we have a child and a staff member who are both severely allergic to nuts.

You can learn more by reading our food and drink policy.

Laying the Foundations

It’s been just over two years since August 2017 when Beechtree took the big step of expanding to become an Independent School and this has been a time of laying the foundations to ensure that the school is as solid as possible. From our tiny beginnings as a parent and child group in a front room in Woodhouse and as a well established Early Years Setting our aim has always been to provide high-quality Steiner Education and an alternative method of teaching and learning for families in Leeds.

Becoming a school was the natural next stage of the journey albeit a daunting one especially as it was also accompanied by a move to new premises in Chapeltown,

As we grew, we kept much of what has always made us unique; the children at Beechtree are at the centre of all we do and they are surrounded by a community made up of staff, trustees and parents working together to make the setting robust. Staff use an in-depth curriculum rooted in child development that is also reflective of the needs of the specific children in the school and designed to cultivate motivated, responsible and competent young people with a life-long love of learning. Parents work hard to provide much-needed resources and funds to Beechtree and were instrumental in our move from packing to painting to bringing to life our outdoor space, and trustees provide the support and legal governance necessary. Staff have a genuine love of teaching and many have moved from mainstream settings, drawn to the child-centred education we offer, with a methodology backed up by current research and to the skilled and professional staff team we have.

The community at Beechtree has sustained us all as we have tirelessly laid the foundations for the future, working with Ofsted to ensure we have everything needed in place, making sure that our curriculum is reflective of and right for the children at Beechtree, and that we have enough of the recourses needed and our latest Ofsted Inspection that took place in November 2019 in which we achieved a Good judgement across the board is a testament to the solidity that we now have in place and a tribute to the school we have established. We are clear that we couldn’t have achieved this without everyone in our community working together and we are grateful for all the support and trust we have received from our parents and trustees, for the hard work of the staff team and for the children who teach us so much every day and who arrive at school ” with happy and beaming faces ” (Ofsted report November 2019)

by Cath Thurlow, General Manager, Beechtree Steiner Initiative

The power of chalk board drawings in the Waldorf Steiner classroom

If you were to walk into any of the 1,200+ Steiner classrooms around the world, your eyes will likely be drawn first to a beautiful chalkboard drawing.

These wonderful, whimsical images are created by the class teacher to illustrate the main lesson each day. They might take the form of a letter or number worked into a fable or fairytale design or they might represent a festival that we are preparing for.



In the early years, we introduce a subject that we wish the children to learn in the same way people have learned throughout human history.
First, we tell a story, then we create an image of it and then we write it and read it. Writing may start bodily with tracing the letters in the air, walking them on the ground and then writing them on the page.
We revisit the subject over the coming weeks until the message is gradually learned through the children’s heads, hearts and hands in a way that appeals to their imaginations.



The aesthetic of the Steiner environment is to inspire creativity and instil reverence in the children. Their play materials in Kindergarten are natural, hand-made, beautiful and tactile. Our classrooms are warm, nurturing and aid concentration by not being over-stimulating.

We hope you enjoy this small selection of chalkboard images. Can you spot the shapes of the letters or numbers in the pictures?





Diwali celebrations at Beechtree

Today our two Kindergarten classes came together to learn about Diwali, the festival of lights – an ancient Hindu festival which we celebrate every Autumn.

For Kindergarten children (aged 3-6) understanding an abstract concept such as Diwali is possible when we make it more tangible for them, and so we introduce elements which the children can see, hear, touch and taste as part of our learning.

Teacher Ziggy told the children the story of Sita and Rama, a Princess and Prince who are banished from their home in India, and Sita kidnapped by the King of the Demons. Sita then dropped a trail of jewels behind her and so the children are given beautiful bindis to wear which helps to illustrate the story. Over time all the animals in the world work together to build a bridge to rescue them and then Sita and Rama begin their journey home. It is traditional for people to light candles in the window of their houses to light their way and so the Kindergarten children made clay pots to hold tealights.

We were welcomed by our neighbours the Sikh Temple to visit and have a snack of jelappia. The children wore head coverings and watched the preparations for the festival with interest. We especially liked the decorations – strings of lights against the Autumn trees look pretty as the evenings draw in.

The Kindergarten children made chapatis to have with their lunch of dhal and rice. They were joined for this meal by the Class One and Two children and afterwards we painted mehndi, which is applied to bring good luck, health and prosperity. The little hands showed great patience whilst their henna dried. It was lovely to celebrate Diwali as a school community.

The festival of Diwali spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Class One and Two have been working with these themes both consciously and unconsciously over the last few weeks as we strive to conquer fears, be brave and embrace learning with our heads, hearts and hands.

Our usual Wednesday walk was to Laurel Park today where we created the image of a diva lamp with Autumn leaves. We looked at the beautiful colours which nature gives at this time of year and used them to reflect the earthy tones of the diva lamp and the fiery flame.

We had a tour around the outside of the Temple, looking at the colours, patterns and shapes we could see. We then created rangoli patterns inspired by what we had seen on the pavement using chalks.

Like the Kindergarten children, the School children made clay lamps, decorated with tiny beads and fashioned a wick from wool, which would traditionally sit in oil.

We wish a happy festival of light to you and yours and look forward to our next community event, the Lantern Walk. Here’s a memory of our walk from two years ago.

Here be dragons

By Class 1 and 2 teacher Nicola

Michaelmas is a festival of inner strength. A time to conquer anxiety and fear. It’s apt that it’s the first festival in the Steiner school year!

In the legend, the archangel Michael offers four gifts – strength, courage, the will to do good deeds and love.

In Class 1 and 2 we celebrated by working together to create a conker dragon and making dragon bread.

We have also been practising several verses and our brave Class 1/2s acted out a scene from a Michaelmas play. Our favourite verse “Brave and true, I will be, Each kind word sets me free, Each good deed makes me strong, I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong” echoed out around the hall as the children recited it with tremendous vigour to the watching Bud children and Kindergarten teacher Ziggy,

Wow, we were proud of them. Goosebumps!

Would you like to find out more about the other festivals we celebrate?

Advent at Beechtree

Our children are helping to move Mary and Joseph around the spiral of advent on their long journey to Bethlehem.

As we wait for the return of the light at Christmas in these short and dark days we make sure we have moments of quiet reflection at Beechtree.

Snowdrops teacher Nicola Milton

Not all classrooms have four walls

As the sun sets on another beautiful day at Beechtree, we are very grateful to our parent community for their hard work transforming our outdoor space.

The outdoor area at Beechtree is used by both our Kindergarten classes and our outdoor Parent & Child groups. On any given day the children are outside, climbing, building their own play equipment from logs and tyres, helping tend to the garden through the changing seasons or playing in the sandpit or mud kitchen. The worlds they create during outdoor play are a joy to behold.

When we moved from the wild woodland of Moor Road, we were sad to say goodbye to all that greenery and to the climbing trees. After a year of getting to know and love our new premises, however, Kindergarten parent Charlie had some great ideas for how to evolve the space to add some much -needed verticals!

Over the last half term (plus many additional weekends and evenings!) he and his team of parent volunteers worked tirelessly to transform the mud shelter into a two-story play space. Raising the roof was an interesting challenge – thankfully our parents are two-time Total Warriors and quite capable of holding it up!



With our beautiful new sign, it’s really starting to take shape. We are so grateful to our parents and especially Charlie for sharing his vision and time with us. Our parent community is so dedicated and we’re very proud of them. Beechtree is a success because teachers, trustees and parents work together in order to make the setting run smoothly with the children at the centre. We believe in our ethos of children learning by imitation so it is important that they see the parents and staff contributing equally to the running of their school. With such a fantastic example set to them, it’s no wonder we are blessed with such wonderful children!

You can visit our new premises at our upcoming Winter Fayre on 1st December. Staff will be reading stories, helping children craft gnome gardens, there will be a festive photobooth, craft stalls, an amazing raffle with prizes from local businesses and wholesome vegan and vegetarian food made by our parents.

Chutney

National apple day for Class 1 & 2

In order to celebrate National Apple Day class 1/2 went to the Yorkshire Show Ground at Harrogate for a school trip.
We were shown the orchard and discovered that all apple trees do not look the same. Some like to stand up tall and straight, like the Fillingham, the seed of which was originally planted by a butcher in Hull and others like to spread their branches wide, like the Yorkshire Beauty.
One tree’s branches were laden with red fruit and hung down like a weeping willow tree. This was called New Bess Pool. The guide was full of very interesting facts and the children listened to him intently. They were amazed to learn that apples from a tree called Hunt House were originally grown in Whitby and Captain Cook took them on his voyages as they contained more vitamin C than oranges and helped reduce the risk of scurvy for the sailors. The apples on the Sharkton Pippin looked lumpy and gnarly because a beetle chews on its skin. The children were glad we didn’t taste that one.

We did, however, taste Acklam Russet, which had brown skin like a potato and was very sweet. Dog’s snout tasted delicious and we were not sure if it looked more like a lemon shape or a dog’s nose. Arthur Barnes appealed to those who preferred a sharp flavour but the star of the show was a bright red apple called Red Devil. Our least favourite was the Rubinola which was light yellow in colour and had a vague honey flavour. There was also a Japanese variety in the mix called Mutsu.

Before we moved on to make some juice the guide cut an apple in two and we could see the 5 pointed star shining out. Amazing how that fit in with our number work at school. It was just as if it had been planned!

5pointedstar

The children enjoyed crushing the apples and turning the apple press. Most of us agreed that the apple juice tasted delicious, although it looked like tea. We then cored a cooking apple and filled it with oats, butter, sugar, cinnamon and raisins and brought it home to cook and enjoy later.

Thank you to parents Kylie and Kana for their help. It was a pleasure taking such well behaved, polite children on this trip. Their enthusiasm and ability to observe details was a joy to see and we had such wonderful feedback from the venue about how engaged and enthusiastic the Beechtree children in particular were.