Day of Courage

Today our school celebrated the Day of Courage! This is a very special day in Waldorf education where the children recognize the traits of bravery and courage to face their difficulties in life, big or small. This is personified through the story of Michael and the dragon, who meets the challenge of slaying a dragon that is tormenting a town. We were very lucky to view second grade’s performance of the tale! Yesterday the class painted their own dragons that we will cut out and hang from our ceiling as a decoration.

Our class sung the song “Michaelmas Time” and did an excellent job! The music was a challenge that they certainly faced, as it was a very difficult tune. They also sang two songs with our music teacher, Mrs. Whitney. It was beautiful! Our class also was AWESOME at the assembly in terms of being quiet and respectful. They received several  compliments from staff members during and after the Day of Courage concluded. Each class was rewarded with some dragon bread baked by the Morning Glory Kindergarten class and apple cider. It was the perfect treat to start fall!

In math the class continues to practice their addition and subtraction skills and learn appropriate vocabulary that goes along with it. Today we discussed a different way to add with regrouping that allows the class to solve using mental math. Students add the numbers in the hundreds place, the tens and then the ones. It is a neat trick to double check your work.

Next week we will be reviewing multiplication and division facts and learning about factoring, prime and composite numbers!


*I am asking staff to send me pictures of the event so I can post them on the blog!

The identity property

In today’s Main Lesson after our fire drill practice, the class listened more to the tales of Addie and Minar. After Minar is hypnotized and falls into the swamp, Addie is attacked by a shadow monster who looks just like her. It is through their interaction that Addie retains her identity and understands that any number plus or minus zero is still that number, also known as the identity property. Now that Addie has learned a new spell she has the power of light and telekinesis!

We also began discussing the steps for regrouping, and will continue this week with subtracting across zeros. In Circle the class has been singing “Michaelmas Time” in preparation for the Day of Courage on Thursday. They have gotten very good at the song and we cannot wait to show it off to all the classes this week.

Building Up Out Math Vocabulary

To start our review of the four processes, the students have been studying math vocabulary to give language to the operations they use. This is tied into our story, as Addie and Minar have returned once again. Determined to save their friends Timeor and the Riddler, Addie must regain her powers of ice and fire. In order to do so, she and Minar travel through the misty mountains to the Dark Swamp to meet a witch who will give her three spells; Associative, Commutitive and Identity. On their travels Minar introduces his two new daggers, minuend and subtrahend, that help him subtract from monsters. These prove useless in a battle between the pair and the evil Goblins who are hiding in the mountains, but Addie is able to use the associative property to help Minar defeat them. Next week the class will continue to learn and identify math vocabulary when given problems, and will also continue practicing the four processes.

Math Review and Building community

image.jpegThis week marks the beginning of our math block. We are spending this week reviewing the 4 processes and important math terminology. This week is all about finding strengths and weaknesses in the class’ understanding of the processes and differentiating their work depending on what they need. Unlike in years past where we focused on a more dreamy quality of learning math through song and movement, this year it is important for the awakened child to practice in a rote and concrete way. Math drills and worksheets may at times be used, but only because it is so important for our older 4th graders to focus on practice and memorization in order to learn new, increasingly different skills.

Yesterday we had a community circle in order to reflect on how our class has changed over the years, and how our expectations should change to reflect this. The students did an amazing job coming up with classroom expectations to follow in order to learn and grow in a harmonious way. I am so proud of how thoughtful their answers were!


Wrapping Up Our Local Geography Block


This week we are finishing our local geography block, culminating with our field trip to the Steel Stacks this Friday. Yesterday we painted an image relating to Bethlehem and the Moravaians, and this morning we drew the state’s living insignias into our Main Lesson books. We also took an open book assessment in which the class could use the information in their books to help them answer questions about the block. They also had to write a short answer to the topic of “Why is Social Studies important?”.

For P.A.T. time today the students enjoyed playing math basketball. They had four teams and would select a player to come up and answer a multiplication problem. If they were successful they had the opportunity to shoot a basket (our version was a beanbag into a canvas basket tied to the wall!) for either one point or a longer three point shot. The kids loved it and it was a wonderful way for them to practice their times tables. Next week we will start our math block, in which we will be focusing on reviewing the four processes. It is very important that the students practice their times tables at home too, so please encourage your child to do so.

The Industrial Revolution and P.A.T.

This week the class is learning all about the Industrial Revolution in America. Yesterday we looked at a map of Lehigh County and observed how one of the county lines is actually made up of the railroad. We talked about how the railway would have affected commerce in the area and how important it would be for trade.

Today in our story about Todd, our main character was shown a new vision involving the birth of steam power and how harnessing that power changed the world. In the story Todd is stunned to discover the place he was transported to was Bethlehem during the Industrial Revolution, and is horrified at the pollution and dangerous working conditions that the people, including children had to endure. He vows to change the past, but is unaware of how doing so could impact the future.

We have something new and exciting in our classroom to share called Preferred Activity Time, or P.A.T., which comes from educational theorist Dr. Fred Jones. During the last 20 minutes of the day the class has preferred activity time in which we may complete art projects, enjoy extra recess, or play review games. If the class does an excellent job during transitions throughout the day, they can earn up to 10 extra minutes of P.A.T. time for the end of the day. They can also earn time to be placed into a P.A.T. bank, which will be saved for a special activity. We are currently saving up time for a pj and tea party before fall break, and already have 10 minutes put away! P.A.T. is an excellent educational tool because it is positive and keeps the students engaged during lessons and transitions. I am so impressed by how hard the class is working and how focused they are during their work!


The Road to Revolution

This week in Main Lesson we continued to look at the history of our area, as well as the path that led to the Revolutionary War. On Tuesday and Wednesday the class learned about the Moravians and their settlement of Bethlehem. We discussed the Moravian way of life, including separating people into like groups or “choirs”. We also talked about how the Moravian’s reliance on industry allowed them to create a very successful community. We will learn more about them during our field trip tomorrow.

Students took this information and with groups began creating their own colonies. Once their colonies starting earning “income” (paid in Cheerios and fruit snacks) the class was distraught to find they were being taxed by the King of England, among others! This began a lesson on taxation without representation that led into a story today about the Boston tea party. Next week we will continue learning the history of our area up through the Industrial Revolution, which will culminate in our trip to see the Steel Stacks!

The Lenape American Indians

For local geography the class has been studying the history of Lehigh county. On Wednesday we spent time writing about the Lenape people who originally lived in this area. We discussed how the men hunted and the women attended to the home. We also looked at a map and talked about how Columbus believed he had traveled to the Indies and the name “Indians” stuck, although that is not the term  that is used today.

Today we spent time completing a form drawing the turned into a compass rose. After labeling the directions on the compass, the class was asked to find the 90 degree angles hidden in the form. Tomorrow the class will continue to discuss William Penn and the impact he had on not only this area, but to the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Just a reminder to parents that all students must have rain gear at their cubbies, as we do go out in the rain. Today we had an indoor recess since almost half the class did not have rain gear!


Local Geography

This week in Main Lesson the students are learning about the history of Lehigh County. We discussed how several American Indian tribes lived in the area in the past, including the Lenape, who we will learn more about tomorrow.

The class heard about William Penn and the Quakers, and how his descendants tricked the Lenape out of land, including areas in the Lehigh Valley, during the Walking Purchase. We made a map of Lehigh county yesterday and pinpointed Allentown and Bethlehem, and today the class drew a map of Pennsylvania. They found Lehigh County on the map and could not believe how small it was compared to the rest of the state! This once again led into a discussion about natural and political boundaries on a map, which we will explore more tomorrow.

Yesterday the students met in their math workshop groups for the first time and were assigned differentiated work targeting their strengths and weaknesses. In small group we discussed what problems on the board were giving them trouble and worked on many examples together.

We also officially began reading workshop today now that all procedures have been covered. I am meeting one-on-one with students to assess their reading goals and needs. The class did a great job, and loved spreading out on their carpet squares!