Every winter, the middle school students choose a six-week elective, offered Friday afternoons. This year, six brave souls (who don’t mind the cold) are learning to bake in the school’s new wood fired oven. Here’s a little bit of what we’ve done during the first three sessions — Kristen Fehlhaber
Week one: we baked pitas, but had a hard time getting the oven hot enough. Our dry-stacked bricks, combined with a beehive shape, left too many gaps in the walls. But the pitas all got eaten — no one seemed to mind.
Week two: we took the oven apart, down to its hearth, and rebuilt it, all in 90 minutes. What a great bunch of hard workers! We also baked some rolls (in a conventional oven), with some stenciling on top.
Week three: time to test the newly designed oven. After it was cleared of snow, it sent off a lot of steam. Then we baked two kinds of naan — snowshoe naan with sesame seeds and Uighur naan with scallion, cumin and caraway seeds. It held its heat nicely and we are looking forward to three more weeks of this baking elective.
These alumni recently spoke at CAWS about their experiences here. Recognize anyone? Your gift to the Annual Fund will help CAWS to be there for the next generation of students!
Thanks to donors like you, Cape Ann Waldorf School met the $10,000 challenge grant!
Thanks to the generosity of the CAWS community, we met the goal of our December challenge grant. CAWS will now receive an additional $10,000 for the 2012-13 annual fund. In fact, over 81% of community families made a gift or pledge to the annual fund by Dec. 31, 2012 — exceeding our goal of 75% participation!
We are thrilled and deeply appreciate that so many of you demonstrated your support during what we recognize is a busy and often financially challenging time of year. It is wonderful to see our community working together to keep our school strong.
If you haven’t done so yeat and would still like to make a donation to the 2012-13 Annual Fund, please visit this page. Congratulations and thank you to all of the CAWS community.
The seventh grade recently finished a history block on the Renaissance – a period brimming with excellent possibilities for learning through biographies. Our block began with the life story of Joan of Arc. The seventh graders marveled at Joan’s bravery in choosing death over imprisonment. Learning about the lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael was fascinating for students and teacher alike. From Leonardo’s flying machine sketches and dissections, to Michelangelo’s habit of not wearing socks for long periods of time, the artist’s quirks and timeless masterpieces captured our imaginations.
One assignment asked each student to copy a great master painting of their choice. They quickly realized how challenging it was to draw the figures (and in two cases, horses), as well as match the values and hues. We were able to apply our math study of ratios to scale the paintings down to the size of our paper while keeping the same proportions. One of the most memorable experiences of the block was a drawing activity intended to simulate what it might have felt like for Michelangelo to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For about 30 minutes, students drew a map of Italy on the underside of their desks! (photo below). Credit for this fun idea goes out to Mr. Masi, former intern in grade one.
At the end of the block, students shared which of the triad of great artists was their favorite. The top two were Michelangelo and Raphael – the former for his incredible willpower, and the latter for his gifts of being well-loved, and able to produce an abundance of beautiful paintings. Other figures we studied were Filippo Brunelleschi, Martin Luther, Johannes Gutenberg, Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth. For seventh graders – a time when the students’ identities are emerging – the theme of strong individuals was potent medicine.
Students modeled their own feet in clay
Our next challenge will be to take on Shakespeare! Keep an eye out for the seventh grade play in March!
Holiday fairs are often held in communities between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Chanuka. I recently worked at the fair sponsored by the Cape Ann Waldorf School. What a treat to buy items made of wood, beeswax, and other natural materials along with books and hand-made dolls. I am especially intrigued with the small wood animals from Germany—a veritable Noah’s ark.
As people entered the school, they were greeted with a string quartet of 8th graders playing in the front hall. When I visited the room where children were making hand-dipped candles, we were entertained by a trio of 3 violinists from the middle grades. A group of parents and faculty periodically came through the halls singing madrigals—a lovely festive day.
If you readers live anywhere near a Waldorf/Steiner school, check their website calendar for their fair. You’re in for a treat. Here are some of the photos from the Cape Ann fair.
The Enchanted Caravan store at the fair
This constructed treehouse can be played from all sides.
Swingset and seesaw for small dolls
Advent calendars and winter scenes for sale
Magical castle scenery, knights, and animals made in Germany
Playing the medieval gemshorn for CAWS’ third – seventh grades.
Musician David Coffin came to CAWS recently to present “Music from the King’s Court: Exploring the Early Winds.” He was quite pleased when he asked who played the recorder and every student raised his/her hand. CAWS students play various recorders in grades 1-8, adding a stringed intrument (violin, viola, or cello) in 3rd grade. To hear the instruments he played, please visit his very cool web site here.
David Coffin playing an organ pipe to a rapt audience.
On an unusually warm December day, the Cape Ann Waldorf School third grade went outside to work on Penelope’s fleece. Penelope is an English Leicester sheep from Cranberry Moon Farm whose fleece, over the course of the year, the class will turn into yarn for a project.
Here’s Penelope, before she was shorn:
This is part of a weekly fabric arts block taught the handwork teacher. At Waldorf schools, children learn to knit, sew, crochet, and more, beginning in first grade and continuing up through high school. More than just learning skills, they gain a sense of what it takes to make everyday items that we take for granted (knitting hats in second grade, socks in fifth). They also get to experience the satisfaction of finishing a project that may last weeks or months.
The fifth grade shows off the socks they knitted.
Below are photos of washing, rinsing, and setting the wool out to dry.
Most parents are deeply concerned about the education of their children. They want their children to become capable individuals who live satisfied lives and who are productive in their chosen professions. They feel that school education should facilitate this development: it should give students the knowledge and skills to master life and to find and thrive in a good job.
Nevertheless, parental thinking about “what is education for?” tends to shrink toward the short term. Are you preparing my teenager for college? This direction of thought often manifests itself when the students are in 7th or 8th grades and leads the parents to wonder whether they should send their students to a different high school, which they sometimes do.
In such a frame of mind, thinking about education becomes narrow. Each stage of the educational process becomes the preparation for the next: kindergarten prepares for elementary school, which prepares for middle school, which prepares for high school, which prepares for college, which prepares for a profession. When curricula are developed out of this perspective, the tendency is to bring what is perceived as needed at a later stage into an earlier one. A public school teacher in the U.S. may now receive training to teach her students how to use PowerPoint in the 2nd grade! Why? Well, they will need to do their middle school reports using PowerPoint so they need to be prepared. And why should they do PowerPoint in middle school? They need it for high school…more
If you had your parent conference on Tuesday, November 20, you might have been lucky enough to see the debut firing of the new CAWS bread oven. Peter Rudd (facilities manager) and Kristen Fehlhaber (business manager) built this dry stack brick oven. The plan is to use it over the winter and build the school a more permanent, clay oven in the spring.
After getting the oven to 500+ degrees, we reheated a pizza — it took about 2 minutes for the cheese to bubble.
Next up were pita breads — they puffed up nicely and were devoured by young and old alike.
Finally, as the oven cooled, we made a batch of cornbread; 1st grade assistant, Daniel Masi, stopped by to have some.
We hope to have some bread baking classes in the future and would welcome help when the permanent oven is built. If you’d like to be involved with the wood-fired oven at CAWS, please contact Peter or Kristen.
Our fabulous handwork teacher, Heather Collis Puro, led a fascinating workshop on natural dyes on a recent Saturday morning. Lindsay Miles, one of our equally fabulous kindergarten teachers and also a very experienced dyer, co-led the workshop. About 20 people from the community attended.
Heather started by describing various materials that make up natural dyes. Here, she’s holding a jar of cochineal (bugs!), famous for the crimson-colored dye they make.
Heather and Lindsay straining the sandalwood dye.
The dye pots
Stirring the osage orange (left), black walnut (center), and cochineal (right).
Stirring the alkanet (left) and sandalwood (right).
Lindsay and Heather holding the various shades of yellow that have been made recently at school. The silk capes are made every fall for the kindergartners.
A detail of the yarns and silks that Lindsay Miles has dyed. Aren’t they beautiful?
Pulling the yarn from the cochineal pot.
Amazing that these little critters produces such a beautiful color.
A great little film on the importance of free play in children’s lives.
Dr. Ken Ginsburg, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, and Dr. Marilyn Benoit, Chief Clinical Officer at Devereux Behavioral Health and former president of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, address critical issues facing children and families today — rising levels of stress and anxiety, obesity-related health problems, dramatically reduced time for free play and play outdoors, hectic and overscheduled family life — and offer solutions to addressing these problems.