Special Subject Classes (1st - 8th Grade)
Starting in the grades, Special Subject classes become an integral part of our curriculum and will support any family's homeschool program. Students meet with the Special Subject teachers one or more times per week. These Special Subjects are World Languages, Handwork, and Music. Special Subjects such as Painting, Modeling/Sculpting, Woodworking, and Nature Immersion are led by the Class Teacher. Special Subject Classes work to create a balance between academic work that develops "thinking" and activities that introduce "feeling" and "willing." These Subject Classes will often work to align and enhance Main Lesson and Subject Topics.
Watercolor Painting, Beeswax Modeling, simple Handwork, Forest time, Music, Movement, and Introduction to World Language are incorporated into the Kindergarten Program and led by the Kindergarten teacher.
World language learning at Spring River promotes a love for other languages and develops students’ ability to communicate and become culturally sensitive to others. Lessons are built so that the head, heart, and hands are integrated and engaged through songs, poems, games, and art to enrich their personal development fully.
Total Physical Response (TPR) is an excellent tool for teaching basic Spanish vocabulary to beginning learners, and this method is employed by our World Languages teachers. “It’s a movement-based technique for teaching new vocabulary or phrases. In fact, the TPR process mimics the way infants learn their native language.” (Homeschool Spanish Academy)
Activities, songs, stories, and art projects employ visuals, gestures, body movement, modeling, and repetitive language to help students comprehend the Spanish vocabulary that is introduced to them.
Our Spanish curriculum aims to develop Spanish vocabulary and language structure at the same time as exposing diverse students to a variety of cultures and experiences worldwide. Grammar is taught in the context of oral communication. Spring River School fosters a multicultural experience for students in every grade by learning about Spanish-speaking countries, their traditions, and major celebrations. We believe strongly that providing a positive language experience fosters openness to the sounds, culture, history, and people.
Dia de los Muertos
Spanish lesson second grade
Guatemalan "Worry Doll"
Handwork and handcrafts are an important part of the twelve-year curriculum of a Rudolf Steiner school, and our handwork curriculum is inspired by this developmentally appropriate rhythm. Handwork activities act as a bridge between the child’s inner and outer worlds. Handwork helps children master fine motor skills, improves memory, and works both sides of the brain. Making things using natural materials gives the child awareness and appreciation for the natural world. By creating useful objects, such as a pair of socks or a potholder, the child also connects with how ordinary things are made, instilling a sense of respect for those things in our environment.
Handwork includes but is not limited to, knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, wet felting, needle felting, and papercrafts. Students are taught a progression of developmentally appropriate skills that support and inform what they are learning in different curriculum areas.
A sampling of the many benefits of handwork:
Increases fine motor skills
Aides brain development
Develops math skills
Teaches the process, importance, and joy of finishing a project
Strengthens hand/eye coordination
Grade Specific handwork for 1-8 should generally follow this pattern through the years:
First Grade: Introduction to Knitting
In Grade one knitting is introduced. First students create their own knitting needles by sanding and oiling wooden dowels with polymer clay endcaps. Then they learn to knit. The instruction promotes cross-body action. The teacher ensures the midline is crossed and that the proper handling of the knitting needles is taught.
Second Grade: Continue knitting and Beginning Crochet
Once more the students begin the year by making their own needles. Now they learn more complex stitches and learn more complex patterns such as casting on and off. This pattern asks students to count their stitches and helps them practice basic addition and subtraction. Crochet is introduced. Potholders or mats may be crocheted. A multicolored ball will be created and stuffed and can be used in movement activities. Hand sewing includes learning a running stitch or blanket stitch with a tapestry needle and thread. If there is time for an additional project hand sewing dolls or gnomes.
Third Grade: Nine-Year Change
The third-grade handwork should reflect the shelter building, farming, and clothing curriculum. Projects range from knitted scarves and hats to stitched bags and tunics. Candle making, weaving (loom or chipboard), and working with clay or beeswax may be part of the handwork class focusing on the practical purpose of this work. Cleaning wool fleece, spinning yarn, dying yarn and cloth, and weaving small projects.
Fourth Grade: Midline Work/a balance of form and freedom
The primary medium in this grade is cross stitch, which focuses on fine motor skills, working with a sharp needle, and learning a cross stitch technique that incorporates crossing the midline with each stitch. Students may make cross-stitched objects, replicating a mirror image that challenges them to simultaneously see the two sides of themselves. Friendship bracelets are popular. Beginning quilting, such as a quilted potholder or pillow cover, is also a good project. Yarn created in third grade may be used to weave projects with two colors.
Fifth Grade: The Year of Socks!
Making socks in fifth grade helps students learn purling, following a written pattern, and working on four or five needles in the round. Students will learn knitting abbreviations, terms, and complex patterns, such as picking up stitches, shaping, and creating curves. The first project may be a gnome. Then on to the socks. Students will create handwork books where they will copy their patterns for gnomes and socks. Extra time may be needed, and handwork may need to be worked on at home or extended time in school. Fifth graders may begin with hand carving and polishing a wooden bowl or spoon if time allows.
Sixth Grade: Hand Sewing & 3D
The sixth grader is moving into a more complex world with geometry and mathematics and expanding reasoning and logical thinking abilities. They are also entering adolescence, and the act of creating a human form – a doll – and then its clothing gives them a place to explore this inner and outer newness and discovery while also learning valuable handwork skills. The handwork teacher may choose to make a 3D animal that serves the same purpose instead. Students envision, create the pattern, and sew a #3D animal.
Seventh Grade: Wet Felting and 3D sculpting in wool
In seventh grade, students experience the ancient art of felting. They will explore this textile through history. It is hard work to be a seventh grader, as the child is growing fast and confronted with many changes. Felting meets these students where they are and assists this transition as they use the process of observation and evaluation, moving their pieces from fluffy to firm.
8th Grade: The Industrial Revolution
In 8th grade, students study Modern History, including the Industrial Revolution. After years of hand sewing, they are ready to appreciate the sewing machine. They begin learning to use the sewing machine, following patterns, measuring for fit, and constructing garments. They may create costumes for class plays or other productions. The focus is on making beautiful and useful items utilizing all they have learned - crochet, woodworking, sewing, knitting, and more - to make something gifted to the community.
Woodworking requires a dedication to observing the results of your efforts. Using this basic principle, the woodworking class builds physical and mental strength through overcoming challenges with design, effort, and persistence.
At Spring River, woodworking begins in 7th grade and proper tool care is the first lesson. Students will learn how to safely and confidently use most hand tools to include gouges and chisels, planes and hand drills, and small saws. Confidence in these tools gives each student a foundation for all future work with their hands.
Through woodworking class, we teach our students pleasure in bodily labor, and respect for it, habits of independence, order, accuracy, attention and industry, an increase of physical strength, development of the power of observation in the eye, execution in the hand, and an appreciation for beauty.
Music is an important element of the Spring River curriculum and is brought forth in various ways from early childhood through high school. Music activities act as a bridge between the child’s inner and outer worlds. Just as the main lesson curriculum follows the specific stages of child development, so also does the music curriculum. The music curriculum engages the activities of thinking, feeling, and willingness in each student, often referred to as “head, heart, and hands.” These experiences help cultivate the forces the student needs to meet the world with confidence and excitement.
At Spring River, Kindergarten and Class Teachers sing with their students daily. First and second-grade class teachers will also include teaching the penny whistle, which will prepare the students for the more formalized classes that will begin with a music teacher in third grade. Lessons in each grade build on the prior years, so students will find their experiences deepening with each year.
Grades 1 & 2
Musical growth comes through experiences in listening, singing, playing, moving, creating, reading, and performing music. Spring River’s music class for 1st and 2nd graders will introduce music to the young child, building upon the foundation of early childhood and the main lesson to instill a love, joy, and reverence for the art of music.
In first and second-grade classes, our music teachers will introduce the penny whistle, and all the children will learn to play simple melodies together by the end of their second-grade year. This instrumental work is brought through stories and pictures rather than through theory and conscious techniques. Musical concepts will be introduced through movement, games, rhythm, and singing.
The Class Teacher will introduce singing games and experiences of the elements of music; recognizing light and dark, high and low, fast and slow, soft and loud. The school music teacher will also drop into the classrooms to introduce other instruments (played by the teacher.)
The below curriculum guide will outline the formalized music class curriculum.
We introduce formal music lessons in third grade as the students go through the “nine-year change” and feel more fully awake and present in their bodies, eventually leaving the magic of early childhood behind.
The Music teacher tailors the lessons for each grade to correspond with the Main Lesson work, such as complementing the 4th-grade main lesson block with time signatures or learning medieval music to add to the 6th-grade presentation on people from the Middle Ages.
In 3rd through 8th grade, the students learn recorder, bucket drumming, and violin instruments, with varied difficulty based on age and abilities. These music lessons are incorporated into performances at various school events, such as the Michaelmas pageant or Martinmas Lantern Walk. All students are encouraged to participate in Ms. Linda’s annual “Fiddle Fest,” held each February in our community. Parents will be given more information concerning discounts for this exciting event.
Movement is a wonderful way to build class cohesion and study the balance and meter of music through physicality. Skills honed through Eurythmy Exercises are creative thinking, collaborative problem solving, intentional movement, joy and sense of freedom in movement, confidence in balance, and focused attention.
The recorder is introduced in third grade as a simple, inexpensive, and easy instrument for young learners. The practice of learning the recorder strengthens and develops the students breathing and rhythmic elements, practicing focus and listening, and the experience of creating music for others to hear. As students continue through the grades, their technique and musicality will increase and they will be encouraged to perform outside of their classroom.
Drumming lessons are introduced that teach beat, pulse, and tempo and introduce music notations. Students who learned bucket drumming in previous years will enjoy repetition and increased skills. Drumming is an ancient practice that communities have used for thousands of years as a creative outlet, social activity, and healing modality. Recent research has shown that drumming has myriad mental and physical health benefits and can help: Boost the immune system, Reduce stress and anxiety, Release negative feelings, blockages, and emotional trauma, and ease chronic pain.
Our students will be introduced to the Violin in 3rd grade and continue to play throughout their middle school years. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to lease violins free of charge through the Mary Evelyn L’Engle Orchestra Fund. Miss Linda will send out information early in the year. Families will be asked to sign a lease agreement and pay a small refundable deposit for their child’s instrument.
Along with participation in Fiddle Fest and class presentations, Ms. Linda may organize groups to play in ensembles in the community, at a nursing home, or other special events outside of the school. These performances give the students the experience of sharing their creative endeavors in service to others.
In our early years classrooms, song is used as a way of gathering the students to circle. In our formalized singing classes, the teacher will lead the students on a deeper quest to develop melody, harmony, connection and rhythm within themselves and within a group.
Every day is Forest Day at Spring River, with daily hikes and walks through the hammock, forest, wetlands, and beaches. This place-based learning has a focus on experiential learning that will help build students' reverence for the natural world and create future stewards of the earth.
Grades 1-5 Nature Immersion
Our weekly Nature Immersion class models our one-day Forest School enrichment experience as part of the weekly school curriculum with age-appropriate lengthy hikes in all weather at least once per week.
During this class, exploration of the natural world around us will be the basis for our curriculum. The students will learn through direct discovery in firsthand experiences that engage the five senses. Observing, collecting, and categorizing natural objects, and other hands-on activities will help acquaint students with the natural world in general – and with our local landscapes in particular. We will study Physical Geography such as weather and seasons, plant and animal identification, eco-studies, trail reading and etiquette, and navigation.
Grades 6-8 Themed Nature Quest
Our class will dive deeply into the medieval world through primitive pursuits: tool crafting, shelter building, making fire, and wildcrafting while also exploring the notions of chivalry: justice, courage, generosity, integrity, honor, and hope. We will end the year with a knighting ceremony (for those who have completed the challenge) and a day of medieval games.
Painting, Modeling, and Sculpting are utilized in many creative ways to support the academic learning, and to balance the "thinking" of academics with the feeling and willing.
The unique and important nature of painting is significant for the stages of childhood development in a Waldorf-inspired Curriculum. In Grades 1 - 3, we use watercolor painting as a means to introduce to the children the qualities of color. We begin with an experience of each primary color: red, blue and yellow.
After an introduction the colors then begin to relate to one another. By Grade Three simple figures and forms out of the main lesson work are incorporated into painting. While the children learn about how people build their homes in harmony with their environment, their painting and drawing will incorporate these themes. During the study of animals in Grade Four, the teacher finds an excellent opportunity to begin mixing the browns, tans, and grays of the natural world.
Watercolor painting continues through to our middle school years, as the students learn new techniques which include painting on stretched dry paper and using thin veils to build up color and form in a composition.
Throughout the grade school years, our students will be working with modeling and sculpting forms. In the early grades, colored beeswax is molded into the many characters of fairy tales and fables to align with the stories and main lesson subjects. In the later grades, clay is introduced and used to model houses, animals, plant forms, platonic solids, and free form sculptures.