One of Spring Garden’s most beautiful festivals is approaching: Advent. The Advent Spiral Garden is a reverent, candlelit ceremony which takes place during the school day. Students enter the darkened gym, where a spiral pathway of fresh pine boughs has been laid with a large, lit candle at its center.
Each student walks to the center of the spiral with an unlit candle, lights their candle, and places it somewhere along the spiral path as they wind their way back from the center. With each student, the light grows to illuminate the room, reminding us of the eternal light within us and within all mankind.
Parent volunteers sing meditative song, often referred to as angel voices, to help add reverence to the event. Adult volunteers are also needed to help lay the spiral, carve the apples used for candle holders, and retrieve students to participate in this beautiful, solemn event.
The Early Childhood classes — Miss Kathy, Miss Olga, and Miss Julie — will celebrate Martinmas with a lantern walk during the school day on Friday, November 8. The three classes will walk down to the creek together during their outdoor playtime, to sing songs and leave seeds and crumbs for the forest animals.
Martinmas celebrates the life of St. Martin and reminding us that we each have a light inside of us that we can share with the world. This is a simple celebration, intended to both observe the changing of the seasons and inspire generosity of spirit.
St. Martin was a soldier in Rome in the 4th century. Legend says that one wintry night, he met a poor beggar, half dressed and freezing. Martin removed the heavy cloak from his shoulders and, drawing his sword, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar. That night, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream, wrapped in the same piece of cloak Martin had given the beggar, and said, “Martin has covered me with this garment.” Martin became the patron saint of beggars, drunks, and outcasts, dedicating his life to helping others.
The Annual Spring Garden Halloween Festival will be held on Thursday, October 31st, from 6:30-8:30 pm at our school. The children love this magical night of the Pumpkin Walk. On this dark cool night, children walk slowly within a path of glowing student-carved pumpkins, visiting their own dressed up teacher and all the festive teachers who pass out treats. After they wind their way, with their families, through the path of decorated booths, children enjoy cider and a bonfire in the oval, weather permitting.
Many volunteers are needed to make this magical event a success. Please check the window in the Main Office for the sign-up sheet posted there.
Details about The Walk:
To keep foot traffic light, we recommend that students in Early Childhood through Grade 3 attend the Pumpkin Walk promptly at 6:30, with older grades to follow. After 7:15 p.m. the Pumpkin Walk will be closed, so please arrive by 7:00 p.m. Parents must walk through with their children.
Your Child’s Pumpkin:
Students in Grades 1-8 should bring a cleaned, gutted pumpkin to school on Monday, October 28. Pumpkins will be carved at school during the week. Early Childhood students should follow the guidelines for bringing pumpkins distributed by Early Childhood classroom teachers. Carved pumpkins will create the pumpkin walk around the outside of school.
- Please make sure your child’s name and class are written on the pumpkin in a visible location.
- Please be sure that the size of the pumpkin is easy for your child to carry.
- After the festival, please collect your child’s pumpkin from the path to take home.
Please remember our school spirit and dress code, and choose costumes accordingly. We request:
- No media or commercial characters
- No gruesome, extremely scary, violent, or gory costumes
Your Class Station:
Each class will create and support a Pumpkin Walk station. Early childhood classes together will provide one station, so in total there will be nine stations. Your Parent Council representative will initiate the planning process.
Parents from each class will:
- Design and decorate their station, using the costume policy described above. Please include some type of lantern in your design (no electricity will be available).
- Determine and provide 200 treasures or nut-free treats to distribute at each station.
- Class teachers will be distributing treats/treasures for each station.
- Clean up their station after walk or at end of festival.
Ensuring the success of this event requires whole community support. Please feel free to contact your Parent Council Representative with questions, concerns, or comments.
Spring Garden Waldorf Eighth graders are working with The University of Akron’s Service Learning Program to write a book for school children in Spain. The project is based on trying to connect globally with other Waldorf schools in Spanish speaking countries. Spanish teacher, Amy Fabre, contacted many Spanish speaking Waldorf schools and received a reply from a school in Spain.
Students, under the guidance of Ms. Fabre, are creating a cultural book, written in Spanish, including information about United States customs. The topics covered include school schedule and classes, food, celebrations and short biographies on each of the students in eighth grade.
The UofA students come once a week to weigh in on the topics and help edit what the younger students have written for the book.
Class Four reads their letter to Class Three as they pass over their Garden.
Each year, designing and planting a special garden (separate from the large garden in the east field) is part of the Grade 3 curriculum. Under the guidance of the class teacher and our gardening coordinator, Mr. Grimes, the garden is planted in the spring, and throughout the summer and early fall it is tended by students and parents working together.
When school resumes in the fall, the students who planted the garden — now in Grade 4 — continue to tend to this garden and harvest the crops they’ve grown. Then, with the help of parent volunteers, they transform their bounty into a delicious meal, which they serve to current Grade 3 students. This year’s menu included a butternut squash soup, a white bean soup with kale, tomatoes, and carrots, rolls made with locally sourced spelt flour, and local apple cider.
This lunch symbolizes the class “handing over the garden” to the current Grade 3, who will continue the cycle by planning and planting their own garden, using some seeds saved from the previous year’s harvest, when spring ripens the earth.
There is a new trend in the U.S., especially in Early Childhood, called nature-based education. Although Waldorf is not an exclusive nature-learning environment, nature-based curriculum is a concept with which Waldorf educators are very familiar. Whether it’s hours playing in the meadow, science hikes in early elementary or a robust gardening program, Waldorf schools understand the health and academic benefits of nature study.
Like Waldorf methods, nature-based education originated and has been used widely in countries like Scandinavia and Germany. It is simply a matter of science. There are proven health and cognitive benefits to being out in nature. Such as this University of Michigan study citing a boost in cognitive performance after a walk in nature (city walks don’t produce the same results.) Or this study from Sage college scientists highlighted here that shows “ingesting or breathing in a common soil bacterium found in nature reduces anxiety and improves learning.”
Add that to studies like this one, which find that children do better on tests if given time for regular outdoor recess, and one can start to piece together the importance of nature in curriculum. But the groundswell of evidence does not stop there. In fact, The Children and Nature Network, offer an over-50-page PDF at ChildrenandNature.org outlining studies that prove how combining education with nature improves everything from health and well being to creativity, problem solving and literacy skills.
In a recent Boston Globe interview, Antioch University professor and leading expert in nature-based education, David Sobel, discussed his current research study, aimed at “directly showing the academic outcomes of nature-based education.” He believes an outdoor-focused education helps students develop independence and confidence because the environments are not “adult regulated,” which he hopes to prove gives children an edge in developing self-regulation and collaboration with peers.
There is clearly something going right out in Kansas, where educators took a failing public elementary school and turned it into a charter school for agricultural education. According to American Profile, not only did that effort save the school, but its student’s test scores now rank in the top 5% of the state.
Here at Spring Garden, like at most Waldorf Schools across the U.S., we keep nature at the forefront of the curriculum. Our greenhouse and gardens thrive with student-grown plants and produce. Our Early Childhood children spend much of their day outdoors playing and exploring in rain, snow and shine. All students have three separate recess times, taken outdoors in all but the most inclement weather. And main lesson subjects, along with (most often) science and gym, are often combined with regular outdoor learning. Learn more about how we incorporate nature into our education every day by visiting us.