Honey Bee: Makes you wish you were a child again

{ Thank you Ms. Beth & Ms. Erica }

A Sunny Autumn Day in the Honey Bee Kindergarten:

Our fall circle is big and requires much movement. So much so that there are many giggly “Phew’s” as we close our circle with a restful quiet song. With a tap on their sweet wee heads they departed from the circle, donned their aprons, and seated themselves silently at the tables for painting. When everyone was present, the chairs were scooted away as our painting song began, and there they stood…twinkling eyes and ready hands for our painting adventure. All was quiet save for the soft humming as they worked, and then very slowly, one at a time, little hands were raised. Their paintings glowed with crimson sunsets, rosy apples, pink blossoms and berries, a daddy…and their faces glowed with huge, beaming smiles! They put their painting boards away, pushed in their chairs, and went right to the circle and began to fold and sort the laundry.

Some of our oldest friends divvied out tasks (sorting napkins by color, washing day rags, small towels, big towels…) and they proceeded without any words needed from their teachers. A few friends joined Ms. Erica in cleaning up from painting and washed the paint jars. The remainder finished the laundry, put it away, and slowly woke up the toys in our classroom. As a handful of friends took turns helping Ms. Beth with the ironing, houses went up, a puzzle came out, a castle was built, babies were born, and the table was set for snack. One friend asked for a rag to wash some toys, imaginations were alive and everyone was happy and engaged, and the “hummm” was beautiful. When the “little dusty gnome” came to tell us it was time to tidy up our home, houses and castles came down, babies were tucked in bed, and the puzzle went away (after every single friend had seen it).


A peek into the hive!

As each friend finished their work, they made their way one by one to the circle for our song before snack. Another tap on their wee heads sent them to wash their hands and find their seat at the table for snack. The candles were lit, the blessing was said, and the rice disappeared! As they were dismissed from the table, they each scraped and washed their dishes, set out their lunches, put on their outdoor clothes and shoes, then waited on a toadstool to go outside.

The children were so excited to be visited by Father Sun, that they didn’t even wait for all of the big kids to clear the play yard! They basked in the sun, climbed trees, played in a MOST amazing sand fort, tended to the snail habitat (the children love their snails! One was even smuggled in to story in a sock today), and ran, ran and ran. And galloped. When it was time, everybody was quiet and ready to come in for story.

The candle was lit, the story told, and they all rested quietly, spread out like rays of the sunshine as they listened to the quiet bells. All was so very quiet (a couple had even dozed off). Then they were gently roused and they carefully folded their resting mats, neatly placing them on Grandmother’s rocking chair, washed their hands, and went to the tables for lunch. Again a blessing was said, lunches devoured, and a goodbye song was sung! Then they all packed up, and went to take on the rest of their day!

Now close your eyes and picture their sweet silly faces and bright smiles. Hear their little conversations, their giggles, “I love you’s,” and even tiny disagreements that fill our space with life. And feel their little hands entwining their fingers in yours, their sweet kisses and hugs, and catch you off-guard tickles! What a blessing to share these most precious moments with your children each day. There aren’t words to describe the depths to which they fill our hearts. A blessing, truly, and so much more. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

1st and 2nd Grades: Poetry of Numbers

Thanks to Mr. Kris for providing the opportunity and Ms. Erica for putting this together we now have an idea of what this class is up to.

Mr. Kris’s 1st and 2nd grade class has been busy working! The first grade has been learning about letters, specifically the form and sound of the letters. The second grade has been writing poetry, which they have been speaking together for the class. They have also been filling their books with their beautiful writing. The writing of familiar verses and songs paves the way for reading abilities to organically emerge. The students have made great accomplishments in their writing abilities, as their stamina and concentration has grown immensely.

The students also had great fun on their last trip to the farm, and continued their look at the forms of the letters coming from the natural world by finding things at the farm with certain letters. The children showed their creativity and humor stringing their words together in fun ways.  They also planted a tulip garden for the spring and help the rest of the school sow a field of oats.

Class Drawing

Chalkboard Drawing for Class Story by Mr. Kris

 The children have been learning German over a four week block. It is so good for children to be exposed to many languages and the children are very fortunate to have a parent from class who can give this gift to them.

Over the last few weeks we have had a special visitor who shared a form of movement art called Eurythmy. First and second grade, along with the rest of the school, enjoyed their Eurythmy sessions and the Eurythmy performance assembly was a big success. “Thank you” to Swallowtail’s parent association for bringing this to the school!

The class will be focusing their next block on the qualitative aspects of the numbers.  It is very important that children gain a feeling for the numbers before they work with them in the typical quantitative sense.  Just as in the case of the letters, the children need to form an inner connection with the numbers, so they can connect them to themselves and not just to an abstract form.  There are stories that will be told to embody the numbers in a human way.

For example, “I am one, but I have two hands to do work in the world.  A mother, father and child make three, and four are the winds that blow to me.  I have five fingers on each hand and like to eat honey from the six-sided comb.”  By introducing the numbers in this way, the children create living pictures.  Next, the children will look to roman numerals as a bridge between the qualities and the quantities of numbers.  Roman numerals are great for this as they can see their shapes in their hands.  From the roman numerals, the class will move forward in time to the Arabic numerals and practice writing these forms.

As the numbers are being introduced to the first grade, the second grade will focus on number patterns. This will keep a qualitative sense to it as well and will help to pave the way for learning the times tables.  The children will begin to look at patterns in different pictorial ways as well as using their bodies and writing numbers too.  Students will soon be able to count by twos, threes, fours, fives and probably tens as well. Then they will look at how these interrelate as they draw them in different ways and look at the various shapes that the numbers are prone to make, which furthers the children’s sense of the qualities.

Lantern Walk

“There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.”  Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism (563-483 B.C.)

Martinmas Lantern Walk

The Martinmas Lantern Walk is a traditional Waldorf festival celebrated by Waldorf schools. This celebration demonstrates the kindling and protecting of our own flame – our inner light. This light was sparked within each of us during our Michaelmas Celebration as we reached deep within to find our courage. It has grown now into a glowing light of love and faith. This is the same light that Martin showed by sharing his cloak with the poor beggar.

With our lanterns, we protect our flame as we walk together, singing with family and friends. As the light of summer grows dim and the warmth of the sun fades during these autumn and winter months, we must strive to protect our own inner light so that it may grow.Let us keep our light shining bright for all to see and let us nurture the light in others.

You may listen to the songs and read the lyrics here:

Song one: Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer

Song two: I Walk With My Little Lantern


Glimmer Lantern Glimmer

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer
Little stars a-shimmer
Over meadow, moor and dale
Flitter, flutter, elfin veil
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik
Roo-coo, roo-coo.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer
Little stars a-shimmer
Over rock and stock and stone
Wander, tripping little gnome.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik
Roo-coo, roo-coo


I Walk With my Little Lantern

I walk with my little lantern
My lantern, myself and I
Above, the stars are shining
Down here we’re stars to the sky

The new moon shines, the cat meows
Ay, ay, ay! La boom-a-la, boom-a-la bay!
Ay, ay, ay! La boom-a-la, boom-a-la bay!

{ material provided by: Ms. Erica }



Image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/waldorfmama

3rd and 4th Grades: What are they up to

Thanks to Mr. Justin for providing the opportunity and Ms. Erica for putting this together we have a snapshot of what this class is up to.

In keeping with Swallowtail’s experiential approach to education and commitment to real-world application, Mr. Justin’s third and fourth grade class has created a map of our school’s neighborhood as a finale to their block study on local geography. The children have embraced this project with much enthusiasm!

The class has already been on two hikes this year! Their first hike of the year, to the Coast, resulted in a deeper awareness of each student’s determination and strength. Their most recent hike was a journey to the Columbia River Gorge, along the beautiful Wakheena Falls Trail.  This most recent journey was met with even more confidence and excitement! Great fun was had by all!

The Hillsboro School District has agreed to provide bus transportation one Thursday each month form the main campus to the farm campus. This will be the first bus ride for many of the Swallowtail students.

The children’s work at the farm will be to sow a cover crop of oats with Ms. Ingrid’s class. They will also plant garlic in their winter garden, and stay warm around the fire and in the yurt.

The Third and fourth grade class is also beginning their first Math Block of the year, with much excitement from the children! Mr. Justin is helping his students look at numbers in new and interesting ways. In fact, the children are learning that very large numbers can hold small secrets within them! Be sure to ask one of these brilliant students to explain the mystery of secret numbers to you!

3rd and 4th Grade