Specialty Classes Offered at SunRidge School
Handwork includes knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch, hand
sewing, felting and machine sewing throughout grades 1-8. I strive to
provide an opportunity for the students to engage their will, awaken
feelings and develop thinking. Patience, perseverance, confidence and
self-esteem grow stronger when the children create beautiful and
practical things. I believe it is the process not the product that is most important. So much is experienced and learned in the creative
Examples include: recognizing mistakes and making appropriate
corrections, becoming a flexible thinker, and experiencing how to work
with others and specific materials. We use natural materials like wool, silk and cotton and make beautiful natural dyes. Our connection to multi-generations is evident when working together with our hands. Grandparents, parents and and friends will be inspired by students.
In the younger grades, children knit animals and toys from a single skein of wool (whole to part) and in the middle school students piece small parts together to create an animal or a piece of clothing (part to whole). Neurological research confirms that the brain is strengthened by the dexterity of the hands even before learning to read or write. After years of sewing by hand, in the middle school grades the sewing machine and its history is introduced. Charity projects are a big
part of my work. Sewing pajama pants and baby quilts are a couple of the endeavors we recently participated in.
The spirit of imagination weaves its way through the Games and Movement program as students are encouraged to be creative in approaching every challenge, riddle, and strategy presented. My guiding principles as teacher are the four agreements: mutual respect, attentive listening, right to participate, and appreciations. The students know my rules as “Play Safe+Play Fair+Play Hard=Have Fun.” Even though I’ve played hundreds of games, I am still a seeker; I commit to continue learning and introducing new games to our students. Responses to this run the spectrum from “You’re asking us to do what?!!” to “Hmmm…” to “I can’t wait!” Children find in themselves previously-undeveloped capacities which spring forth when challenged!
The SunRidge Movement program is offered to Classes 1-8 twice a week. Among the types of games played are cooperative teambuilding initiatives; problem-solving challenges; hand-eye coordination; and skill-based activities such as games involving dodging, tagging, running, skipping, throwing, aiming, balancing, and others. I’ve been successful in securing grants to procure class supplies, and constantly seek to expand the variety of materials and thus, experiences to be had.
The early years (Class 1-3) focus on gross motor development, string figures and circle games, among others. The middle years (4-5) encompass games with a few more rules, coupled movements (for example, dodging while throwing), and more advanced problem solving. Classes 6-8 see more advanced games, with complex rule systems; and the most advanced problem solving and teambuilding challenges my searching mind can conjure. In addition, Class 5 is invited every year to participate in an Olympic Pentathlon gathering that requires months of physical and mental preparation. Class 6 participates in the Mayacamas Medieval Tournament, another region-wide event where students run, aim, throw, jump and generally get muddy! Class 7 adventures in the ideas of survival, blindness, and pathfinding in the Explorers’ Challenge, and in Class 8, students participate in a track meet with other schools. These culminating movement events are long-standing traditions in Waldorf-inspired schools.
In addition to offering a Games and Movement program, SunRidge supports a healthy and growing athletic program. This year, many students from Classes 5-8 participated in coed volleyball, cross country, and/or basketball to great success.
I’m very proud of the Movement program, Athletic program, and the students who play hard, fair and safe!
~ Dale Thurber ("Mr. T")
Music is a large part of the SunRidge curriculum. Singing begins the very first day of kindergarten and may be heard often throughout the day. The pentatonic flute is introduced in first grade, C- flutes in second and third grades, and recorders are introduced in the the fourth grade.
While in fourth grade, the children have instrumental music lessons one period per week on the violin. During the first few lessons, students practice posture and technique while focusing on creating a beautiful tone. After a few weeks, they also begin reading music. Students in fifth grade continue with instrumental instruction on the violin, or may switch to the viola or cello. Our strings instructor, Mr. Volonts, works with each child to find his/her musical voice, improving their ability and technique along the way. It is important for every student to have their own instrument and lesson books so that they can be prepared. Your pledge supports these goals for every student.
In middle school, students are offered the opportunity to participate in the Middle School Orchestra, which meets twice a week. The Middle School Orchestra is for students committed to continuing instrumental instruction. Music is chosen to challenge and inspire while teaching them how to play together as an ensemble. It is a wonderful environment for music students to improve their skills as well as experience the three pillars of music: melody, rhythm, and harmony. Playing in the orchestra allows these young musicians to realize how their sound blends with others, creating a sonic tapestry that is balanced by the teamwork and diligence of the whole group.
The work of gardening strengthens children's life forces by engaging the activity of the heart, the muscles, the mind and the breath. Children love to eat. They love to dig in the soil. They carefully place the roots of the plants in the earth and collect the seeds each fall. It follows that the more we engage children with this practice, the more they have an opportunity to perceive the world of nature and their role in her care. Garden-based learning invites the children to slow down and immerse in the cycles and rhythms of the seasons. This fosters a relationship with the earth and empowers children to take care and responsibility. Engaging children's hands and bodies and each of their senses, the garden is a window to the natural world around us and within us. Gardening also engages children's hearts and minds as they fall in love with each wondrous strand of the living web. In the garden and in the earth lab (indoor classroom) the children are invited to notice and wonder, to ask questions, to investigate, to discover. With their hands in the earth, the children share in the meaningful work of caring for the earth and expressing gratitude to the earth for all of her abundant gifts of food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and beauty.
The focus of the 5th grade class is on developing a relationship with wood as a medium and how to use basic woodworking hand tools. The students will be making simple animal shaped toys that will allow themselves to explore their understanding of form and function while engaging their imaginations.
The 6th grade class will be developing their understanding of form and function as they build wooden kitchen utensils such as spoons, spatulas and forks. Students will begin to use more advanced hand tools as they learn how to design and shape 3D forms out of solid blocks of wood. The goal of this project is to deepen their relationships with wood as a medium and give students the skills to make objects that are practical, as well as, beautiful.
The 7th grade class will be further exploring the relationship of form, function and beauty as they carve bowls and plates out of solid blocks of wood. Using more advanced hand shaping techniques; students will continue to develop their ability to design and fabricate practical, as well as, sculptural objects out of wood.
The 8th grade class will be building 3 legged milking stools. This project will further develop their skills in designing and fabricating a functional object out of multiple pieces of wood using hand tools. Students will also be learning how to used simple lamination, joinery and shaping techniques to build a piece furniture that will be both practical and beautiful.
In the lower grades, Spanish is taught with no translations. We build the foundation of the language through nature, the seasons, stories, songs, poetry, acting, and movement. With lots of rhythmic repetition and images, the children begin to learn by heart in the same way they would learn their mother tongue.
As they get older, writing and reading in Spanish is introduced, and with it the children are guided to deduct the first grammar rules. While thinking about the Spanish language structure the students become more aware of their own language.
In the upper grades depending of past Spanish exposure, and proficiency levels, the students start to penetrate the conjugation of verbs in present tense and sometimes in past tense. They are expected to create their own compositions and projects both individually and within small groups. Daily scenes dialogues, food preparation, performing dances, presentations about their daily lives, study of biographies, and comparison of the two languages are constantly encouraged, while expanding their vocabulary, and the cultural aspects of Spain, and the Americas. Through the study of the geography, history , poetry, and meeting people with different accents and backgrounds we strive to create an atmosphere conducive to an objective view of the idiosyncrasy of Spanish speaking people and a reflection about their own.