A Musical Visit

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.



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Penelope the Sheep

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.

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What is Education For?

An interesting article asking, “What is education for?” It’s from a lecture to future Waldorf high school teachers and poses some interesting questions. Enjoy!

Education in the Presence of the Unknown from “In Context”, Fall 2012
by Craig Holdredge

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

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Debut of the Bread Oven


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.

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Natural Dye Workshop

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.

The finished silks.

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Prescription for Play

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.


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Creativity on the Decline in American Schoolchildren

Waldorf Education encourages the type of critical thinking too-often being neglected  in other schools today.  This article tells how education – and creative thinking – have changed in the last few decades.  

From the author: “Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today. In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world. But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes.”


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Why Does Arts Integration Work?

Arts integration has been shown in brain-based research to improve comprehension and  long-term retention; something Waldorf students and alums can attest to! – Kelly Hiselman

A Research-Based Approach to Arts Integration

At Bates Middle School in Annapolis, Maryland, arts integration has helped raise student achievement. Job-embedded professional development, differentiated arts instruction, and critical-thinking skills integrated into the curricula have been key to their success.


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Scientific Inquiry Among the Preschool Set


When engaged in what looks like child’s play, preschoolers are actually behaving like scientists, according to a new report in the journal Science: forming hypotheses, running experiments, calculating probabilities and deciphering causal relationships about the world.


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The Class of 2012

The Eighth Grade and their class teacher, Sabrina Babcock, at their June 8 graduation ceremony at the First Parish Church in Beverly.

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