February 2018

Cooperative Games

Read below for a few updates from our Cooperative Games teacher, Mr. Wiles.

December 2017

Greetings City Garden Families!  I hope that everyone is excited for the Holiday Season, which is always a special time for our beautiful children and becomes even more meaningful to us adults as we age and experience further soul growth.  

Cooperative Games class has been such a blessing in so many ways at City Garden.  Playing games for their own sake and for enjoyment is much more fulfilling than playing competitive games that require a winner.  The children truly enjoy the opportunity to exercise their bodies and minds after lunchtime in this capacity and I am honored to be able to guide them through the curriculum as we familiarize ourselves with one another.

The goals of this class are to develop spatial orientation, awareness of our body geography, and equitable play while allowing the children time to process what transpires at the end. These objectives are met through varying left-right, above-below and forward-backward exercises; chanting rhythms or singing songs while skipping rope; circle or line games with an end goal to achieve and a debriefing conversation.  First and second graders are introduced to more basic exercises and games as they are still coordinating their eyes, limbs and sense of balance in addition to processing rules and outcomes.  I might ask them to mirror my movements in rhythm and we will repeat these steps several times as I observe their progress without correcting mistakes.  Third, fourth and fifth graders delve into more challenging movements and games that require greater attention to detail and deeper thinking upon strategy and emotions.  And believe me, emotions can run high during cooperative games!  We conclude games with a light discussion of what worked or didn’t work and how this affects our feelings.  On Wednesdays, first through fifth grades combine for exercises and games appropriate for all ages, often utilizing the school’s beautiful parachute!  It is such a joy to see their interactions in this culmination of the week’s progress.                    

All grades have memorized our opening verse and now enjoy varying the tempo and volume.  After a quick warm up activity to gather our attention, we are ready to begin games. These games generally consist of a vivid opening story that lays the groundwork for rules, rhythm, and piques their interest.  I’ve found that the children are often as interested in these stories as the games themselves and it certainly increases their attentiveness and desire to participate more fully.  Games that we have been enjoying in particular are:

Sharks & Octopuses – One person is the shark. The other children start at the opposite side of the play area as fishes.  When the shark gives the command ‘Come little fishes swim in my ocean’, the fishes try to reach the other side without getting touched by the shark.  If they are touched by the shark, the fishes sit cross-legged where they were caught, and become octopuses.  From a seated position, an octopus can try to touch the fishes that are swimming past every time the shark gives the command.  The fishes who are touched by an octopus also turn into octopuses.  The shark tries to turn all the fishes into octopuses.      

Crows & Cranes – Class is divided into two tribes and given names that begin with the same letter: e.g. Crows and Cranes.  Each tribe has its own territory at each end of the play area.  A drummer beats the drum and the first sounds of the names, (e.g. ‘Crrrr…’) is called out.  The tribes advance towards one another with the rhythm of the drum beat until the drummer calls out the full name of a tribe, e.g. ‘Cranes!’.  The Crows quickly turn round and run back to their territory trying to avoid being caught by the pursuing Cranes.  The captives are led back and ordained as members of the victorious tribe.  The process is repeated until all of one tribe has been caught.  

Wind, Moon, & Rainbows – One child is the north wind, one child is the moon, another the morning star.  The other children are shining rainbows who are scattered across the universe.  (The rainbows make an arc with their bodies on all fours.)  The north wind frees them by crawling through their arc.  With the help of the morning star, the moon finds each rainbow and touches it gently; then the rainbow sits down.  When all the rainbows are seated, the moon catches the north wind.                               

I am unable to express with words how blessed I feel to learn from the amazing teachers and students of City Garden.  I think we can all agree how special it is for our beloveds to be able to experience the fullness of childhood in this most nurturing environment.  Oceans of gratitude to you, City Garden parents, for your ardent interest in our children’s futures!      

February 2018

Hello City Garden families!  Cooperative Games class has been moving and shaking as we have gotten in a good groove together.  I’m impressed how the children have continued to improve with their body orientation and awareness, especially their ability to take on challenging movements that are new to them.  We are trying out a few new opening verses to keep things fresh and interesting, and everyone has adapted well as I expected they would.  We really enjoy the ‘Flee Fly’ verse; many of you may be familiar with, using a hand/thigh clapping rhythm to lyrics with increasing speed.  It imparts some fun word play that the children are naturally drawn to.  I have also introduced some new warm-up exercises such as leg crossovers, heel kicks, lunges, power skips and high knees.  They initially got a hearty chuckle out of watching me demonstrate these exercises, but then quickly realized the difficulty of moving all our limbs in such a coordinated fashion.  They still laugh hysterically when I do high knees with them!  As I mentioned, they have really begun to improve their ability to discern left from right and upper from lower in these movements and it’s great to see their confidence in these abilities bolstered as a result.  

Games have begun to take on more meaning and merriment now that everyone is more familiar with guidelines and expectations, and our closing discussions continue to give us greater insight and help us learn from our missteps.  An exciting new parachute game, Hair Dryer, is providing lots of laughs as it’s a real hair-raising experience!  I am so proud of your children for their continued progress and overwhelmingly positive participation in this class.  Please let me know if any of you would like to discuss games in further detail, come observe, or better yet, take part in a day of games with us.  The more the merrier in Games Class!  We’re looking forward to warmer days when we can take our adventures outside for more fresh air and larger boundaries!    

 

Heroes and Saints in 1st and 2nd grade

Part of a curriculum inspired by Waldorf education for second grade includes stories of saints and heroes from around the world. We tell these stories because they speak directly to a second grader, who is experiencing new intellectual development. Although they may have new faculties of thinking that they did not have in first grade, their minds are still far from mature. You’ll hear second graders have strong opinions such as “I hate that” or “I love this” and the following day, these same antipathies and sympathies have switched! While in first grade they wanted with all their being to please their teacher and be good students, now they begin to experiment with behavior that is naughty. However they still desire to be good. Just like their strong opinions, their behavior can change daily! And so we bring them stories that mirror their development. Fables so they can identify with the animals’ naughty behavior, and saint or hero stories so they can identify with people who have done good in the world.

This past week, our first and second grade class began a Language Arts block on Heroes and Saints from around the world. This week we heard the stories of Hiawatha, St. Werburga and the Geese, and Saint Odelia. We used these stories to draw pictures and write summarizing sentences together and also to begin lessons in grammar. I introduced naming and doing words (nouns and verbs) by looking at the sentences we had written together and picking out these kinds of words. Then we spent some time reviewing all the stories we’d heard, especially all of the kind, generous, and brave actions our saints and heroes have shown us, and we spent some time listing all of the good things we do. We will continue this next week, looking at all of the good things we do at school, at home, and around town.

Above is a chalkboard drawing the children saw all week.

We spent some time in beeswax this week, molding Hiawatha’s canoe while we listened to his story. Canoes will come home this week.

We also spent some time using our benches as balancing beams. We learned how to support each other as our friends walked along them too.

At the end of the week we painted St. Odelia, who had been cured of blindness, and in turn showed her father how he had been blind to his own faults.

 

Enjoy and see you Monday!