As with all the arts instruction that takes place at Circle of Seasons, handwork is fully integrated into the curriculum and is closely tied to everything the children are learning in the general education classroom and other specialist classes. Beginning in first grade, knitting reinforces the fine motor of crossing the midline. This developmental skill connects the right and left sides of the brain which informs overall coordination, writing, and reading. At the end of second grade and in third grade the children take up crochet, a craft that complements what they’re learning in math and reading. The children read and compose crochet patterns which is closely related to computer science coding and allows the third grader to explore their own designs and ideas.
Fiber Arts skills such as knitting, crocheting and sewing are critical to a child’s intellectual and emotional development. Fiber arts not only energizes children’s tactile senses but is also instrumental in intellectual development. Fiber arts classes provide unique opportunities for students to explore math, engineering, spatial and geometric skills.
1st Grade: Pinch and Pull Finger Knitting
Learning to knit with natural colors and community building
Introducing colors- Knitting rainbows
2nd Grade: Felt Embriodered Pencil Pouches
3rd Grade: Felt Embroidered Circle Mats
4th Grade: Felt Embroidered Sewing kits, small cross stitch
Japanese Shibori dyed folded handwork bag
Cross stitch scissors case
5th Grade: Natural dyeing and knitting work
Advanced knit work
Knitting in the round
The fine arts curriculum at Circle of Seasons is truly unique. Teachers in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade bring a variety of artistic mediums to the children as part of their academic learning in the classroom. Students engage in wet-on-wet watercolor painting, crayon drawing, colored pencil and pastel drawing, and clay and beeswax modeling. There is a focus upon the fine arts support of the whole child’s development, technique, and the academic thematic content of each grade level. Once students reach 5th through 8th grade, their exposure to fine arts further increases. Fine arts are still regularly integrated into academic lessons, but take place as a specialty class as well. Students are exposed to an even greater breadth of media, art history, techniques and studio habits. Fine arts skills focus upon pencil and charcoal drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. Studio habits and criticism are woven into the process providing the opportunity for reflection, interpretation, and analysis of artwork from various cultures. Students are often primed with an essential question focusing their creative intentions through which capacities for problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration are reinforced. Students complete their fine arts journey at Circle of Seasons with knowledge of art’s intrinsic role in human lives and a feeling for art as a tool for expression and social change.
Games and Movement
Games and Movement class at Circle of Seasons develops children’s ability to work and play with others while engaging in physical activities that build a lifelong joy for movement. The Games and Movement curriculum is designed to meet the developmental needs of children in Grades 1-5. 1st and 2nd graders engage in circle activities that call on their imagination as an impetus to move and incorporates developmental movement patterns. 3rd and 4th graders work with Circus Arts such as gymnastics, hula-hooping, jump-roping, and begin prerequisite skill practice that prepares them for later years’ learning about specific sports. In 5th grade, students work towards the end of year Pentathlon. The Pentathlon is the culmination of the fifth grade ancient culture studies. Students compete in running, long-jump, hand wrestling, javelin and discus throwing. Throughout the grades, students develop social and emotional skills such as being a team player and communication while playing cooperative games. In addition, Games and Movement class works to develop eye-hand-coordination, balance, rhythm, and agility.
The Physical Education curriculum at Circle of Seasons stems from the belief that Physical Education is more than just physical activity, it is teaching students Physical Literacy: the ability to move and interact with people and the world with competence and confidence. Physical Education classes are designed to support the physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development of students, while also fostering a joy for physical movement and a greater understanding for why it is an essential component of a well-balanced life. Students learn the benefits of physical activity, develop social skills, and establish purposeful physical pursuits as an integral part of their education and lifestyle.
Children in the garden experience deeply the human connection to the soil and the organisms that sustain life. Through practical gardening chores such as digging, sowing, composting, and harvesting, children at Circle of Season develop a personal connection to their environment and an understanding of the human effort required to work with nature. Work with real tools ensures that our students build lifelong capacities for working outside and cultivating outdoor spaces. Interaction with plants and animals builds reverence for the buzzing and scurrying forces of life on Earth. Campus stewardship opportunities, such as planting trees and pruning flowering plants, reinforce that humanity has a responsibility to care for the environments we use to sustain healthy ecosystems. Ultimately, gardening at Circle of Seasons prepares children with the skills and knowledge to work in unison with nature through their entire lives.
Instrumental Music ~ Beginner Strings
In 4th grade, students explore another branch of music education by choosing a string instrument to study. The choices are violin, viola, or cello. Learning a string instrument at COS is a joyful experience built upon the students’ rich musical knowledge gained in the lower grades. The strings program is designed to foster enthusiasm and success for every student. Teaching the whole child is the foundation of our strings program just as it is in the entirety of the school. Focus, perseverance, problem solving, and interpersonal skills are honed as we conquer each new piece. Learning an instrument provides a unique setting in which to promote the giving of one’s self and to promote a healthy school community. Kind Heart, Beautiful Music.
Instrumental Music Grades 5 - 8
In Waldorf education, the assumption is that all children have the ability to be musical, and at COS we strive to develop the talent that already lives in each student. The purpose of instrumental music lessons and ensembles is not to create professional musicians, but to develop the whole child through the study of music.
Many studies show a correlation between musical training and academic success, in both children and adults. According to a 2018 study by Emily Germesa, “children who study music have shown increased development in the auditory pathway after only two years. The development could accelerate language and reading development.” But in addition to the many neurological and emotional benefits of studying music (which is different from passively listening to music), it is an opportunity to expand interactions with peers. Musical study improves patience, builds confidence, increases discipline and time management skills, improves verbal memory and spatial reasoning, and increases creativity. And the better students become on their instruments, the more fun it is to play! At Circle of Seasons, students have the gift of learning to play instruments, perform throughout the school year, read music, listen to and discuss quality music, attend concerts and rehearsals of world-class performers, and even write music. In 5th grade, students all play a string instrument (violin, viola, cello, or upright bass). In grades 6-8, students may choose to continue into the Middle School Orchestra, where they continue with more in-depth and diverse repertoire, and learn more about the science and acoustics of their instruments, and music theory. Students in grades 5-8 also have the opportunity to join the chamber ensemble, by audition, which plays more advanced repertoire and more frequently throughout the year.
In woodworking inner effort is put to the test as arms are strengthened and hands become skilled. Students develop creativity, three dimensional thinking, and patience in transforming simple pieces of locally sourced wood into something useful, beautiful and long-lasting. Circle of Seasons woodworking program teaches the value and pleasure of bodily labor and stewardship for the natural world.
Woodworking classes begin in fifth grade. The fifth grader is at a point of balance in their physical and emotional development. The projects explored in fifth grade encourage students to experiment with this balance by completing spinning tops. Other projects make use of local branch wood to carve coat hook or small owls.
As students learn safety practices of the woodworking studio they are able to use more challenging tools. In sixth grade students are introduced to gouges and other edge carving tools to shape a piece of dried cherry into a serving spoon. The spoon, familiar yet complex in its form challenges students to gouge with accuracy and confidence. Sixth graders are justifiably proud of the work that they do and leave with something that is both pleasing and practical.
In seventh grade students shift to woodworking that necessitates measuring and constructing, while still offering creative expression. Students learn to safely use saws and planes with varying uses to complete a wooden box with a sliding lid. Attention to detail is developed by creating four identical pieces for the sides and a lid that fits small enough to slide, but not tool small that it will fall out.
By eight grade students have built a solid foundation of the tools of the woodworking studio. As a culminating project students make use of nearly all the tools they have learned over the previous three years in crafting a canoe paddle from one solid piece of wood. In this process, much wood must be removed and students deepen both their physical strength and mental perseverance to bring the paddle to its finished state. At the completion of the paddle students put their handiwork to the test and spend an afternoon at the lake honoring the beauty of their handiwork.
At Circle of Seasons, we strive to meet students at their developmental stage, thus each grade’s world language instruction is tailored specifically to their needs. In the lower grades, instruction is almost entirely oral. Students are hearing the language in poetry and song while using their bodies to express meaning through actions. Children are absorbing the rhythm and beauty of the language and gaining confidence in the new sound system, imitating and reproducing it.
From fourth grade on, students will enter a new phase of instruction. Gradually they begin to record and read the language and observe and inquire about patterns in the structure of the language. The world language content will remain geared to the interests and needs of the individual students and classes. Authentic materials from the target cultures will expose students to epic poetry, geography, legends, songs, and dances. In later grades, they will delve into geography and history as well. By seventh and eighth grade the language curriculum aims to be rich and deep. Reading comprehension and fluidity of oral work will become the focus; students will be able to create their own stories and will have achieved strong basic interpersonal communication skills.
Like individuals learning their first language, every student will progress through the stages of language acquisition at their own rates. Communication and comprehensibility of a message, rather than the accuracy of the message, will remain the target. After a sequence of several years of study, as students gain increased confidence and proficiency, they will naturally begin to refine and regulate their accuracy. Examination and instruction in grammar and function will be encouraged and supported in the classroom as each student progresses in his/her proficiency.