Games

First grade games are presented by the main lesson teacher as part of the morning circle work as well as by world language teachers as a means of engaging the active will of the child in learning new vocabulary. Bean bags games, clapping games and rhythmical walking are typically utilized in extra main math classes as well as the initial circle time period.

Outdoor playtime provides the outbreath of free play. Children are given the appropriate setting and time to create active and imaginative scenarios that encourage the organic development of such abilities as problem-solving, compromise and collaboration. Between the large sandbox, tree house, swings, balance beams, stumps for leaping between, and wood for constructing there are ample opportunities for active movement. Jump-rope, tag games, building and winter sledding are all popular options for free-play in first grade.

Games in second grade continue to be presented by the main lesson teacher as part of the morning circle work, as well as by world language teachers as a means of engaging the active will of the child in learning new vocabulary. The second grade children continue to have plenty of time outdoors, with a balance of free, creative / imaginative play and class games to support the continued strengthening of the social dynamic of the class.

Third grade games continue to be presented by the main lesson teacher as an active part of the curriculum. With a double period of farming each week and two main lesson blocks focused on building, the third graders have increased opportunities for active participation, teamwork and collaboration. Group dances are often brought in relation to the stories of the Hebrew people

Games for grade four are based on the emerging individuality of the child. It is important that children learn how to accept both, winning and losing. Games are presented through pictures and rhymes to stimulate their imagination. It is important to choose games that help children build a new emotional structure that gives an outer expression to the changes they are experiencing.

Games for grade five focus on the dynamic between the group and the individual, the benefits of cooperation and social interaction. Most important for grade 5 is the training for the Greek Olympics held in the spring. It is important to choose games that help the child “strive to find the balance between their inner experience and what occurs in the world around them,” based on Games Children Play by Kim John Payne.

After the focus on “personal best” that is mainstay of the 5th grade Olympic preparations, the middle school students are encouraged to expand their striving for individual excellence to encompass a sense of team identity. It is hoped that the foundations of teamwork, camaraderie, and sportsmanship laid down in the early grades will allow for a healthy progression into mainstream sports without falling prey to the shadow-side of organized sports in our culture; cheating, showing off, violent conflicts and low self-esteem among the less naturally gifted.

Above all, the central goal for the students is to have fun with their classmates, while getting exercise. The middle school students also have an opportunity to learn circus arts.

Eurythmy

GRADE 1: Children in first-grade eurythmy, as in the main lesson curriculum, are introduced to the straight line, the curve, to vowels and consonants. Gestures and forms are practiced through imitation, almost as if in play and, in this way, the class learns basic group movement, such as circle forming. Simple dances that encourage waiting and partner work are woven in, giving a chance for restraint and levity. Considerable energy is spent successfully moving squares and triangles with transitional movement in small groups and establishing geometric integrity as a whole.

GRADE 2: Second grade jumps into pedagogical eurythmy forms, beginning with an exercise called “I and You” from Rudolf Steiner. Here the children are challenged to move between personal and social space exploring aspects of polarity and symmetry as in the main lesson through journeys to the land of Magic Mirror, where the children mirror forms and gestures through observation and partner work. The inner shift from the mirror to metamorphosis is apparent as second grade form drawing progress is marked in eurythmy through the careful introduction of The Curves of Cassini. The emphasis is on the children’s ability to flow easily from one kind of mood to the next, such as in stamping and skipping games and folk dances that encourage them to move throughout the group with different partners. Tone eurythmy begins with simple rhythmic stepping and attention to musical phrasing.

GRADE 3: In the third grade eurythmy curriculum, social harmony and an artistic sense are fostered through the use of group forms that are more extensive and complicated than in previous years, notably the five-pointed star. The teacher works to awaken an intelligence and independence of movement coupled with a solid orientation in space. Many concentration and stepping exercises are done to help harmonize the child within his/her constantly growing young body and with the space around him/her. Tone eurythmy explores the beauty of the C major scale in gesture and form. The gestures for the vowels are aroused in the consciousness of the child through repeated practice.

GRADE 4: In fourth grade, the child is now confident in spatial orientation regarding left and right so it is incumbent on the eurythmist to challenge this knowledge to avoid superficial reasoning. With this in mind, the class begins line activities, crossing within lines and facing different directions while maintaining the same footprint. As in the main lesson, where the class teacher begins to introduce fractions, in eurythmy the students work with becoming the notes in 4/4 time dividing equally between eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, full notes and so on. In forms such as Wir Suchen Uns (We seek one another) a pedagogical form for speed-in-change, four children begin on a square making swift movements from one form to the next, including diagonals and partial ways. In tone eurythmy, tone gestures are brought onto simple forms.

GRADE 5: In fifth grade, simple challenges such as learning to stamp and clap the rhythm of the upper and lower voices (simultaneously) of piano music help to internalize rhythmic operations that are paramount to maximize the harmonization of the child before the influx of the creative and destructive energy of adolescence. Linguistically, as speakers of the English language, the introduction of basic meter such as anapest, dactylus and amphibrachus is vital. In the main lesson, the children are immersed throughout the year in the study of the ancient cultures. The eurythmist attempts to tap into this tapestry of human experience with as great an authenticity as possible. Students are also called on to begin observing the world with a keener eye in preparation for formal education in the sciences. Eurythmy reinforces the need for clarity of gesture and form and the use of copper rods for simple exercises further promotes rigorous and precise activity.

GRADE 6: The sixth grade has one eurythmy lesson per week in the community room accompanied by piano. One could argue that sixth grade marks the summit of childhood intelligence and the base camp for the ascent into adulthood. The child is extremely capable and wants to be challenged. Eurythmy is blessed to have many difficult and beautiful geometric forms especially for the purpose of refinement and flexibility of thinking at this age. As the individual becomes adroit in his or her thinking, the children as a group begin to question their interpersonal dynamics and moving together, as always, becomes a lesson in democracy. In yearlong practice, extensive use of counter-rhythm in rod and concentration exercises encourage the children to strengthen and flex the soul. All this early adolescent transformation leaves the sixth grader needing humor to lessen the stress of change. Here again, eurythmy utilizes the simple truths of movement such as rhythm, concentration, skipping and rod exercises to enliven the students and to help them collectively shake off the day.

GRADE 7: The soul landscape deepens in adolescence and the Waldorf curriculum makes a tremendous shift to meet this aspect of the developing child. In eurythmy, this calls for the greater polarity of artistic material and the exploration of gestures that communicate such moods of soul as joy, megalomania, and grief. Within the realm of polarity, music lends powerful contrasts of major and minor harmonic shifts. These are taught through conscious gestures for major and minor and in the selection of music for general class exercises throughout the year. The study of language continues, focusing on the strengthening study of rhyme. The seventh grader needs space for greater individuation while still connecting with his/ her peers. With this in mind, opportunities for small and large group work intersperse the lessons. The need for humor remains paramount.

GRADE 8: The eighth-grade student becomes particularly conscious of rivalry and difference and the anxiety and excitement of change before moving later in the year into the realm of collective and joyful reminiscing. While the skills and emotional fuel are there for deeper artistic work, it is important for the first half of the year to focus on group geometric forms as a vital vehicle for collective movement. But the use of negative space or unfilled positions to garner greater independence from the students is new to this activity. As the year progresses, the listening space of the class is hopefully rekindled and the study of the intervals, supported by the work of the sculpture teacher and biology teacher through the observation of the skeleton, provides a precious opportunity for the eurythmist. Ironically, the Apollonian principle of form is more natural at this age and the structure of the grammar of the language is embraced and studied as a chorographical principle.

World Dances

Mountain Laurel Waldorf School engages the Vanaver Caravan to bring their immersive and inclusive arts-education program to our students. Livia Vanaver and her team bring the joys of dance and movement, not just through simply teaching the steps of a dance, but also taching the stories behind the dances – creating a deep understanding and lasting connection to history, folklore, social movements and cultural traditions. As a former Waldorf parent herself, Livia will cooperate with the class teacher to tailor her program according to the curriculum the students are learning in a certain grade.