Library Lady's Corner
Why is May Day Celebrated in Waldorf Schools? April 30 2021
Why is May Day Celebrated in Waldorf Schools?
Tra La, it’s May, the lusty month of May
That cheery month when everyone goes blissfully astray.
It’s time to do a shocking thing or two.
Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks,
Everyone makes divine mistakes! The lusty month of May.
~ Queen Gwenevere sings in Camelot
May Day is a Northern Hemisphere festival (and is also called International Workers’ Day) and is celebrated in many Waldorf schools. It is an ancient tradition of celebrating the arrival of summer. Known as Beltane in Celtic lands, and celebrated by the Romans recognizing the goddess Flora, May Day is a popular tradition. The May Pole Dance is a joyful experience, and often the center of the May Day celebration. The May Pole often bears garlands and symbolizes the tree of life and growth of spring vegetation. This festival is celebrated as an entire school community. In most Waldorf schools, children from each grade take turns doing a May Pole dance. The patterns get more complicated as the children mature. Whole classes of children prepare “May Baskets,” hand-woven baskets of new spring flowers that are then hung on the fence posts or door handles or front steps of neighbors or loved ones to wish them a happy spring.
The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs from The Daily Gazette
Throughout history cultures have employed rituals that reflect the patterns of nature and mark transitions for individuals or groups. All around the world in Waldorf schools the daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms infuse the life of the school. The purpose of each school´s festival life is to bring the community together and enrich the soul of each individual. Some festivals are small events — the teacher and their class. Others are for the entire school, while others include the school’s greater community and neighbors.
By celebrating the passage of the seasons through art, music and story, we strengthen our connection to the rhythms of nature. Waldorf education was born in Western Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and therefore Waldorf schools typically follow the traditional festivals of Western, Christian culture. Recognizing that not all families share this background, Waldorf schools throughout the world strive to honor the diversity of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds of the families within each community.
Wherever you are, whatever your climate, in salute to the steady and fragile rhythms of our mother, Earth, we wish you a happy, festive, ribbon-festooned, lively, raucous May Day! And a fertile new year of the Earth!!
1900-1910 Children's group maypole dancing
The soon to be reprinted "The Sun With Loving Light" has lovely songs and poems about spring and the darling book "The Dandelion's Cousin" is likely to spark a lively interest in the spring landscape! Happy May Day!
Book Review: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes March 02 2021Burnout is a global phenomenon, particularly during this pandemic. There are reports of illnesses related to burnout from almost every country around the world. During this time of fear about illness and death, and lock-down that curtails events that give our hearts contact with others — celebrations, artistic opportunities, and chances to rejoice — burnout becomes a particularly timely issue to discuss.
Waldorf Grade 7 Book Recommendations February 25 2021Seventh graders are in the throes of the mighty force of puberty and the birth of the last of the “finer bodies” that some would call the “aura” of the human being. No births are quiet and the chatter in a classroom is the sound that begins in sixth grade and lasts through eighth and signals the arrival of a new birth, new capacities, and new challenges. The growth at this time in a young human being rivals the growth of a newborn and will not be repeated for the rest of life.
Waldorf Grade 6 Book Recommendations February 19 2021In sixth grade, the 11/12 year-old is usually beginning to experience the onset of puberty. Growth happens at an increasingly rapid rate and the child often goes through a time of alarm, not recognizing who he or she is anymore. Just as a single example, somewhere during the time of puberty a girl’s larynx grows to three times its original size and a boy’s, seven times its original size. This growth rate will never be repeated in the life span of human development.
Now available - A Call to Teach February 14 2021
Among the few books available that address the vocational call to be a teacher, up rises A Call to Teach, like a friendly morning sun. Torin Finser’s book celebrates the power of the vocation of teaching. High time!
In the midst of the digital debacle in education caused by the pandemic of 2020, Finser’s timely book reminds us all of the importance teachers hold in the minds and hearts of the young. Films have been made around the transformations that become possible for a youngster from the dedicated heart of a teacher — and also about the damage that can be done by a teacher who deviates from the priceless calling to follow his or her own dislikes against a particular child. The power of the teacher is clear.
Candlemas and Groundhog Day February 02 2021Today is one of those cross-quarter days. Some celebrate it as Ground hog day or the day when our hope of an end to winter might be divined by a groundhog. “Punxsutawney Phil,” from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has been the official weather groundhog, marking this day since 1887. 2016 marks his 130th year of predicting, with 100% accuracy, whether or not winter will be done in six weeks or will continue beyond that six weeks.
Book Review: Xavier Sings Stories of His Alphabet Friends January 12 2021
Technology has opened vistas galore on the science of brain development. One remarkable discovery for Waldorf teachers and parents is how potent music is in developing memory. All of us are much more likely to remember something if we learn it in song.
This isn't surprising in one significant way: music often makes us feel, sometimes very deeply. It cultivates a mood, and we are more likely to recall the mood than the content. If something is very funny or very sad or very moving or very shocking, we are much more likely to remember than if there is no mood at all. Once the mood is evoked, the content then follows.
Waldorf Grade 5 Book Recommendations December 15 2020The fifth-grade child is reaching the height of childhood. Capacities have solidified and consolidation runs through the whole fifth grade year. The child begins to realize what he or she knows and can do. Rudolf Steiner said that fifth grade is a year of balance. Though this is true, it can be misleading. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the fifth-grade year is without any problems. This balance is most clearly true for the physical maturing of the child, as a child. For the first time the breath and heartbeat reach adult proportions. Each breath is now accompanied by four heartbeats.
Looking for a last-minute teacher gift? You can't go wrong with these titles!
Waldorf Grade 4 Book Recommendations December 01 2020Youngsters in grade four are now ten years old and have past the nine-year-old shift in consciousness but are still smoothing this out in their understanding of the world. Their new independence means a bit of separation from parents and teachers and some cantankerousness as this adjustment settles. The curriculum brings...
Buy Nothing Day 2020 November 27 2020
Buy Nothing Friday is here! At last. Thanksgiving is past, and there's a wide-open day to DO things together. Ignore (the mighty, noisy hype of) Black Friday and come along with us for Buy Nothing Friday #7. The Library Lady has made many ideas ready for you to open and begin with family, friends, and your good ideas to enhance the ones she has prepared for us all! Sing and celebrate while you make nice things and forget about the world of commerce for just one day! Heads, hands, and hearts, make Buy Nothing Friday the best day of the year!
Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for trying hard to do things a little differently, a little more quietly, with a lot of heart and goodwill!
The Day After Thanksgiving November 22 2020It’s early yet but we are gearing up for “Buy Nothing Friday” here at Waldorf Publications. Come along with us to turn “Black Friday” into “Light and Laughter Friday” with hearts and hands working on great crafting ideas together. You don’t need to buy anything on the Friday after Thanksgiving; instead, stay at home (we are all getting pretty good at that by now!!) and gather the family and friends in your home for a day of make-believe and making things. Turn off your phones and computers and stimulate those magnificent brains with hand activities extraordinaire!
Waldorf Grade 3 Book Recommendations November 19 2020At age nine, children go through an important shift in their consciousness. It’s the time when they discover that the Tooth Fairy is their parents, there is no Santa Claus, and parents and teachers are flawed.
Now available - Tapestry of a Waldorf Education November 14 2020Tapestry of a Waldorf Curriculum provides a fresh look at the curriculum in Waldorf schools. It is, of course, an endlessly flexible curriculum, and so these guidelines are offered in full recognition that creative teachers are free––indeed strongly encouraged––to adapt the Waldorf school paradigm to meet the needs of any given class or group of children.
Waldorf Grade 2 Book Recommendations November 02 2020Following Waldorf Grade 1 recommendations, here comes Waldorf Grade 2! Remember that books for general self-development and foundational work for teaching were offered in a previous writing. Also note that there are too many books in all these lists to presume that anyone should read them all, but knowing what books are available can help in deciding about the one or two or three books (or more!) that might prove useful as a guide both for teachers and students.
Waldorf Grade 1 Book Recommendations October 19 2020Books for general self-development and foundational work for teaching were offered in a previous writing. Now we will offer grade by grade book recommendations. There are too many books in all these lists, remember, to think that we are advising that anyone read them all.
We have an unusual request... October 14 2020
2020 is a very strange year! We are filled with admiration at the flexibility, courage, and determination with which you, our Waldorf families and school communities are accomplishing things for our youngsters! We are inspired by the cheerfulness and energy with which all our friends and community are coping with the time warps, the infection worries, the perception bending, and election frenzy. We have never felt closer to our whole community than we have over these last few weeks and months. Thank you!
Book Review - Tatatuck’s Journey to Crystal Mountain October 07 2020Finding a story that has authentic imagination is a true delight and this story of a small gnome hero has just that! Tatatuck is an ordinary root pulling gnome who wishes to become a crystal mining gnome. He is small and so his dream seems highly unlikely to be fulfilled. One day he is asked if he feels brave enough to travel over the seven mountains to Crystal Mountain to bring back an important jewel for the gnomes.
Betty Staley acknowledged for her fine book, "Tending the Spark" October 01 2020The Northern California Publishers and Authors have awarded Tending the Spark, Lighting the Future for Middle School Students by Betty Staley a well-deserved Gold Award for General Non-Fiction. This wonder of a book gives deep insight from Betty’s decades of teaching experience, lending...
Michaelmas in Waldorf Schools September 29 2020Every now and then after the school year gets underway and the Michaelmas buzz begins in the classrooms, I hear a Waldorf parent or two whisper "what is Michaelmas?" It's a question I hear frequently and one that I love to answer!
Books to Help You Navigate the New Waters of Education: September 2020 and Beyond! Teacher? Parent? Both! August 13 2020
If you are taking up the task of teaching in the fall — new to the task or experienced, here are some books for strengthening the more ephemeral “muscles” that help make teaching clearer and more productive. You may know already that it is the intangibles that are the magic of successful teaching. In Waldorf Education, this includes meditative practices and concentration on child observation.
Here are some book suggestions for teachers and parents-becoming-teachers, to help understand how the process works in Waldorf Education.
Book Review: Immersion Learning - A Travelogue July 31 2020by Franz Lutters in conjunction with Leiden University, the Netherlands
What is this unusual practice in Waldorf schools around the world, that has teachers, day after day, two hours each day, week after week for, sometimes, four weeks teaching the same subject?! It is called “block teaching,” with a single subject the consistent focus for three, four, and sometimes up to six weeks, depending on the teacher and the goals for the class.
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