Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zion

The star of David. Another reference to our Grade Three year together when we learned about the Hebrew people trying to find a home.

This form was also one we learned to draw free-hand in Grade Five and then with compass in Grade Six.

and this square fits in with today's theme too:

Every year I brought a Menorah into the classroom to light the candles and to tell the story of the miracle of the oil. Hannukah would fall in and around the time of Advent so in December our classroom was full of candle light in the morning while we would sing our favourite Hannukah and Christmas songs.

It was such a magical time of year.

All that music.

All that light.

All that hope.

All that peace.

And miracles.

There is always room in our lives for miracles.

And so the A to Z(ed) challenge has come to an end. It has been wonderful, and healing, to recollect my eight years together with this class. It also reminded me of the years I had with my first class as many of the adventures were the same.

This quilt is so precious to me.

I am sure if you have been following this month you will understand why.

I have met some new bloggers on this challenge, so now my morning coffee and blog reading time is very full. I love that I have made new friends from far away in this blogosphere.

Thanks again to Wendy of the Rock for talking me into this. And for Edwina for making our threesome complete.

I couldn't have done it without you two.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for You (with Me)

This square is also known as 'The Hug'.

I wonder how many hugs I shared with those thirty-seven students over the years?


And I can not have a hug.

Without a you.

And a me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X

Don't those oars make a perfect X?

This was a square depicting our white-water rafting trip that was part of our Grade Seven camping trip. Every grade has a theme for their camping trips, and the Grade Seven theme is water.

This was an eXciting, eXhilerating, eXpedition. We did this trip the day after our hike up and down the Stawamus Chief, so I was eXtra stiff and sore.

It was an eXtraordinary day.

In every way.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for World

In Grade Four we studied local geography.
In Grade Five - North America (with major focus on Canada!)
In Grade Six - South America
In Grade Seven - Europe and Africa

and by Grade Eight World Geography. The way I presented it that year was through economics. We looked at all the goods we use and where in the world they all come from. Then each student did a project on a product they use and all the people involved in its production.

We had projects on nail polish, cashews, jelly beans, and hemp to name a few.

We put pins into the world map where all our food came from and where the clothes we were wearing originated.

It was very illuminating.

We learned we are world citizens even if we have never left our own neighbourhood.

We learned that by the time we had arrived at school there were many people we had to thank for the food, clothes, transportation and gadgets we had used before 8:20 in the morning.

Now, that is something to think about.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Volcano

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost.

And so began our Grade Six Geology block, learning the words of Robert Frost.

Students love to hear about volcanoes, and lava, and earthquakes, and the forming of mountains.

It just makes us feel so.....


It just makes us feel how powerful and huge nature is.

It makes us think, and ponder, and be in awe of it all.

And besides, how fun is it to learn how to spell and say Popocatepetl?

We learned a musical spoken word piece in Grade Eight called the Geographical Fugue.

One of our favourite lines was:

Popocatepetl is not in Canada, rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Underground

Ah, yes, caving in Grade Six.

We had learned all about the limestone cycle and about stalagmites and stalactites, so for our camping trip that year we had to experience it all first hand.

Cave exploration is not for the weak of heart, or weak of body. It is very strenuous, and some of the small crevices and rock ledges were, well, shall we say, a bit of a tight squeeze for this old girl.

However, I did it! and when I had hoisted myself up the last ledge of a waterfall we were climbing I heard my class singing a Gregorian chant in this gorgeous limestone cavern.

It was heaven, or at least what I imagine heaven to be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Teepee

Every Grade Three takes on a building project. We decided to build a teepee. We were donated the teepee, and the poles from a ranch in the interior.

I had an aboriginal elder come and teach us how to erect the teepee and to bless it. It was a magical day. We set it up in the Grade 2/3 playyard. It was glorious.

Then, later that year, we had our first sleepover together. Parents came and put tents on the school ground and eleven of the students slept in the teepee with me.

This is when they learned their beloved teacher snores.

The next morning we had a pancake breakfast and celebrated our first 'camping' trip.

T is also for the Tudor Rose.

Grade Seven history was so exciting. We learned about Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and Galileo. We also learned all about the life and times (and marriages) of Henry the VIII. Most of the students agreed it was their favourite history block.

Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived...

And, of course, that led us very neatly into the Reformation and the beginnings of the Anglican Church.

What some people will do to marry the next young thing, eh?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Stawamus Chief

The class and I hiked to the top of Stawamus Chief on our Grade Seven camping trip. It is 3km return with a 600 metre elevation change. They did it - up and down in about four hours.

I took seven.

I was sore for days.

But we did it. Every one of us.

Here is a picture proving I still had a sense of humour on the way down.

If you want to read the full story of this trip you can....mountains and molehills.

The Sun, with loving light
makes bright for me each day

These lines were the beginning of the verse we started with every day from grades one to four.

From grades five to eight we started this way:

I look into the world
In which the sun in shining

So the sun featured prominently in our years together.

Illuminating all we did.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Recorder

This square is so perfect.

I started them in grade one on a recorder that only had one hole which meant the recorder only played two notes. There were three versions of that recorder so in all we had six notes we could play. I could conduct them to play when I pointed at them and you would be surprised with how many songs you can play with only six notes.

We progressed to a pentatonic recorder and finally by grade three to a diatonic recorder.

In grade six we all learned the alto recorder.

In grade seven and eight we had all four recorders available to us - soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

We played renaissance music in four parts.

This class was so keen on recorder that at recess time, when left on their own, I would come back into the classroom and they would be standing around a student's desk playing four part songs together on their recorders.

One student started to bring in music from other places - christmas carols for one, and they would sight read their way through it.

This is one of my fondest memories of these fourteen year olds. They were cool. They could be tough. They were definitely teenagers and uber fashion conscious.

But, what did they like to do in their free time in the classroom when they could be gossiping, or playing cards?

They played early music in four parts on their recorders.

What's not to love?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quilters

So there are all their names. Thirteen of them. In cursive no less! And not only that but around the outside of the quilt they stitched the name of every student who had ever been in the class through our years together. That is another twenty-four. It was a very special addition.

Here it is in all its glory. They made me promise to sleep under it and not just hang it on a wall.

I do.

Every single night.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Prince

The class always loved to hear stories about me. If they thought I was going to tell them a story from my childhood (or just from the day before) they would shush each other and pay rapt attention.

So it was inevitable that one day they would learn their teacher has a thing for Prince, or as this square depicts, the artist formally known as Prince.

In Grade Eight Prince was in town. I went alone and had front row seats! It was an amazing evening. This square is a reminder that even at 56 I wasn't too old to dance the night away in front of one of my idols.

P is also for Pi.

Grade Eight math is not for the weak of heart what with Pythagoras's theorem, square root algorithms, and learning how to calculate the area of a circle.

This square reminds me of all our math lessons, starting in grade one when we look at the quality of numbers before venturing into the four processes.

It is interesting and a bit serendipitous that as I come to this square on the quilt I have just finished knitting a pi shawl. A shawl where the stitches are calculated using pi.

So, of course, I need to include that picture here too!

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Owl hat

I think this hat made its first appearance in grade four. It belonged to one of the girls who had joined the class in grade one.

That hat came on every field trip, every camping trip, right through grade eight.

Usually she was wearing it, but often other students would be seen in it.

It became our mascot.

I am so glad they thought to include it on this quilt.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for No-Like

Here I am, half way through the A to Z(ed) blogging challenge. My theme is the quilt that my class of eight years made for me when they graduated to attend high school. Each square was made by a student, or their mother, or both!

Ok, I have a pet peeve.

It makes me just this side of crazy when people interject the word 'like' constantly throughout their speech.

So in Grade Four I made up the sign you see depicted in this square.

I also made up individual ones for each student's desk which could be attached by a magnet.

If they used 'like' too often I would put the sign on their desk to remind them.

It was silly, and fun, and every student in the school knew that my classroom was a like-free zone.

N is also for Noah's Ark.

This was our grade three play.

On the night of the performance for the parents the student playing the elephant was too sick to come to school.

I stepped in to play the elephant.

Her line was something to do with elephants never forgetting.

Guess who forget the line?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Music

Every day started with music as I would play a song on the recorder to signal the class to come to order when the bell had rung to signal the beginning of our day together.

Every day we sang seasonal songs, or songs related to the subject I was teaching.

I taught them to sing in unison, in canon, in rounds, in two, three and four part harmony.

I taught them rhythm and we performed our maori stick games on the big stage in front of a large audience when we were in Grade Two. It was a show stopper.

Music was a large part of every day.

Music was and is a large part of my life.

I love this square because it reminds me of each day I spent with this wonderful class.

At the grade eight graduation they sang for me. It was the song Memories from Cats.

Yes, there were tears.

I was so proud of them that day, and so honoured to have been their teacher for those years.

I met four of them in the hallway a few days ago.

They with their shining eyes, warm hugs and huge smiles.

We are all going to a fundraiser together on Friday night.

And yes, there will be music.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Laurel Wreath

Ah...the laurel wreath.

A reminder of our Grade Five year together where Greece and the ancient Greek civilization is the main theme of the year.

In May we gathered together on the island with five other Waldorf Schools to hold our Olympics.

The students participated in the original five events of the first Olympics in 776BC.

Javelin, Discus, Long Jump, Sprint and Greek Wrestling.

We slept in city states with other students from other schools and learned we were not the only waldorf students in the world.

It was cold and rainy, but we shone in our events and in our comaraderie.

We all deserved a laurel wreath that year.

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Kitchen

So many memories tied up in that pot of soup because it reminds me of the school kitchen where:

In grade three we made enough bread for the whole school to enjoy at our Thanksgiving lunch.

In grade five we did all the dishes for the aforementioned lunch. That was A LOT of dishes.

In grade eight we made the soup - enough for 200 guests. Chopping and stirring and laughing.

In grade eight we also made enough saffron buns for the whole school to enjoy at the Santa Lucia festival.

So many memories tied up in that kitchen, in that soup pot.

Is it any wonder I looked so happy.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Justice

Every year, when I taught at our school, the Grade One to Four classes present a play about Saint Michael and the Dragon. It is performed close to the day of Michaelmas at the end of September.

The grade ones played the gnomes who forged the swords and shields.

"We will work
With our will
With our strength
With our skill"

The grade two were the stars that gave their metals to the gnomes.

"Stars stars come to us"

Grade three were the dragon.

Always comical and the school awaited its arrival with great anticipation and joy.

Grade four were the villagers being tormented by the dragon and one grade four student was asked to play Saint Michael who led the villagers into battle, not to slay, but to tame the dragon.

"but one thing I ask
put this dragon to a task"

It is a powerful story.

We all have dragons that must be tamed.

We can't do it alone.

Saint Michael can help us do the right thing.

Saint Michael's sword.

A good representation of justice, I think.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Incarnation

There we are on the rainbow bridge having a conversation about who we will be in each other's incarnated life.

Waldorf Education begins with the premise that we are all incarnated spirit. It believes in the destiny of everyone, a destiny that we have chosen before we entered this particular life.

The parents we chose. The physical body we chose. The time and place we chose.

Those students chose to be in my class.

I chose to be their teacher, for eight, or four or two years.

It was a good choice.

I am glad we had that chat on the rainbow bridge.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Head, Heart and Hands

Head, Heart and Hands.

This is a phrase you often hear to describe Waldorf Education. An education that strives to educate the whole child, not just the intellect.

We want them to think, to be, to do. To grow into free thinking individuals.

As I meet up with these students over the years I can see they are doing just that.

They make me proud.

Every one of them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gnome

Gnomes are a big part of the curriculum in the early grades. At the Christmas Faire there is the Gnome Village where children can walk through a wonderland where scenes of gnomes doing gnomey things are depicted.

In Grade One we heard stories about the gnomes that would feed the seeds and roots under the ground during winter so they could sprout during spring. In Grade One we were the gnomes that forged the metals to give to the villagers to help fight the dragon in the Michelmas play.

What would a Waldorf school be without gnomes and all the other rooty elemental beings?

The gnomes are representative of all the magical things in the world that we cannot see, but know they are there.

G is for the Grey Gentlemen

In Grade Six our class play was Momo and the Grey Gentlemen. It is a wonderful story written by Michael Ende (ala the Neverending Story). It is a play about time. How we think of it. How we use it. How we make it. How we lose it.


I wish I could get some of it back with this amazing class.

If you want to know more about my theme for this April A to Z(ed) blogging challenge click here

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for First Day and Fables

The very first lesson in Grade One in a Waldorf School is about Straight and Curved. We talk about the world around them and how it is made up of straight and curved lines. That's it. Straight and Curved.

And then the first drawing they make in their first Grade One main lesson book is depicted on this quilted square. The boy who made this square was the one who showed us, on that first day, how to walk a straight line and a curved line. He remembered.

F is for Fables

In Grade Two the theme is Animal and Saints. They learn many of Aesop's fables. That year I wrote them all a verse on their birthday inspired by a fable. This was the verse I wrote for my birthday:

A fox spied some grapes
hanging tempting, too high.
He could not reach them
Despite try after try.
They are probably sour grapes,
I bet.
For any fool can despise
What he can not get.

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Exodus

In Grade Three the theme of the year revolves around old testament stories. This is because developmentally the nine-year old child, for the first time, feels like they are homeless. For many nine-year olds it is the first time they experience death - of a grandparent, or perhaps a beloved pet. For many nine-year olds this is when they ascertain that they must be adopted because they don't feel like they fit in with their family.

So we tell them stories of a people without a home. A people wandering. A people lost.

We also give them practical skills - gardening, building shelters, spinning, weaving, knitting, cooking.

Yes, we tell them, you are alone and wandering but we are going to give you practical skills.

So this square - the parting of the Red Sea. The story of running, and being chased, and being saved by the hand of something bigger than us. Something invisible and yet tangible.

It is the story of faith.

And hope.

It is the story of being lost and then found.

Grade Three was such a remarkable year in our journey together.

A journey often guided by an invisible hand.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Journey Through Wellness - Life is a Puzzle

Originally posted on Journey Towards Wellness.

Life is like that puzzle.
It is full of delights, surprises, struggles, disjointed parts, empty gaps, lost pieces and things that don’t belong. Sometimes our lives fall apart and need to be reconstructed. Sometimes our lives become mixed up with the lives of others, and we can’t be sure where our life ends and their life begins. Sometimes we may mistakenly think we need things that are part of someone else’s life when we really don’t. We try to fill in the gaps of our lives or make connections. Sometimes we can put our lives together ourselves and other times we need help. Sometimes we try the wrong thing, and, more often than we want, we have to go back and start again. Living takes lots of perseverance and patience. When we get tired or discouraged, that is when we most need God incarnate in our loved ones. My life was like that puzzle. I couldn’t find a church and wondered if I was supposed to be a minister. My dreams and hopes were gone and my life was broken apart into pieces. I wasn’t sure how to put it together or if I’d be able to do it. Fortunately, I had friends and family who stood by me.

View Original post here

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Dipper

I taught them astronomy in Grade Six.

I love sleeping under the stars.

Now I can.

Every night.

Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Campfire

The campfire in Grade Four where we learned to make bannock and listened to native stories about Bigfoot.

The campfires at Horne Lake in Grade Six where we sang songs, told jokes, made popcorn, ate s'mores, and played guitar.

The campfire at Alice Lake where we shared our hopes and fears. Where we yelled to the dark sky "We're not sinking!" and we went to bed knowing each other and ourselves a little better

The campfire at Educo Education Centre where we challenged each other to a game where we had to come up with as many songs (and sing them) containing certain key words. We laughed so hard sometimes we couldn't breathe. Then we would catch our breath and laugh some more.

The campfire I set outside the Grade Seven Classroom to teach them about the chemical composition of fire and after we let the fire burn out we drew its footprint.

So many campfires I shared with this class. Sitting in the darkness with the light reflecting on all our faces. The stars overhead. Secure in the knowledge that together we were warm and happy, and if we drifted away into the night we would be colder and lonelier.

There is something primal about starting and stoking a fire. About flaming marshmallows. About sparks shooting towards the heavens.

Such a simple activity that brings us together with warmth and laughter and music.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Botany

One of the main lessons taught in Waldorf schools in Grade Five is Botany. We start the block looking at mushrooms, and since our school is in a rainy valley mushroom hunting is extremely satisfying. The children loved drawing them and setting them on white paper to see the spore patterns.

Mushrooms are often thought of as the baby of the plant world because when you see a fairy ring of mushrooms it is because under the ground there is a whole network of connection linking the mushrooms that we see standing on their own above ground.

It is miraculous how after a rain the forest blooms and comes alive with new mushroom life.

Mushroom hunting was always a joy with my own children and one I was glad to share with my boisterous class of Grade Five students.

B is also for the Bighouse.

In Grade Four we spent the night in a First Nations Bighouse. We all received our Squamish name, learned to cook by putting hot rocks into large bentwood boxes filled with vegetables and rice, wove cedar bark and wool, gathered herbs and berries to make tea, heard the coyotes call us from across the river and listened to stories around the Bighouse fire while we learned to cook (and eat) bannock. We were gifted this beautiful wooden salmon and painted it on return to the classroom. This salmon followed us through the years, and now it is in the high school classroom watching over them as they continue there education without me.

I am glad this square was included.

I hope one day they return to the river where we learned so much.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Advent Apple

And so it begins. Throughout April I will be posting from A to Z(ed) about the squares in the quilt my grade eight students made for me as they graduated from my class in June 2012.

At my school we have a tradition of celebrating the beginning of Advent by having the children walk a spiral of evergreens holding a red apple with a small white candle embedded in it.

They walk the spiral with their unlit candle and in the centre of the spiral is a candle flame from which they can light their little candle and then place it somewhere on the spiral as they leave.

It is a symbolic walk in the middle of winter when it is dark and dreary outside and we have to hold the light in our hearts until spring returns.

The journey starts in complete darkness except for that one centre candle, but by the end the room is lit with the glow of many little candles nestled into apples along the spiral path.

From preschool through grade three each child walks this on their own. In the older grades the school comes together each Monday of Advent and a child is chosen to walk the spiral on behalf of her or his class.

So many advent memories of my own children and then of the children I taught. So many shining candles reminding me that even in the darkest of winter there is always light.

Always hope.