Made With Love

The Forest Aftercare Program at Waldorf School of Baltimore is always looking for ways to let our students know how much we care for them and their well-being. One way that we do this is to have our teachers prepare healthy homemade snacks. Our “Forest Program Cookbook” is ever-changing as we add new recipes and as old favorites are met with “Do you really expect me to eat this, AGAIN” stares.

Our incredible staff of teachers make pickles, carrot crackers, beet chips, no bake granola, popcorn and more. Throughout the year, we do our best to focus on seasonal ingredients. We always have allergen-free options available, and the entire team works very hard to be sure we are serving the safest, and tastiest snacks possible. They can be a tough crowd to please, but eating freshly prepared snacks makes our students happier and healthier, and keeps our program focused on what really matters.

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Working together…

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…doesn’t really feel like work!

After our school day ends, Waldorf students have the opportunity to spend their next 3 hours in the Forest Program. An concept that originated in Scandanavia, Forest Schools guide their pupils through positive interactions with nature year-round. Whether we’re building shelters, swinging on vines, learning to identify trees and bird calls, or just relaxing in the woods, our group is constantly developing the concepts of cooperation, teamwork, kindness, and self-care.

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Spending so much time throughout the year connecting with a natural space has a profound impact on a human being’s concept of time, of self, and of responsibility to a larger whole. These are not lessons that need to be introduced at the beginning of each day, their development happens naturally along with the growth and development of our special group of pre-K to 8th Grade Forest Program students.

If you are curious about Forest Schools, or our program specifically, please feel free to contact the Forest Program coordinator, Jason Reed, at jreed@twsb.org

Waldorf 5th Graders Go Native!

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Our fifth graders have been working all year on their final project for Nature Studies. They have adopted a small parcel of woods adjacent to the school and have spent months removing invasive plant species, combating erosion, and planning a spring planting. Last week, our students were finally ready to get the plants for their project.

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The 5th grade piled into the buses, and we were on our way to Herring Run Nursery in Baltimore. Herring Run specializes in native plants, species that have adapted to our specific area over a loooooooong time. This makes them more resilient, and better sources of food and habitat for local insects and animals.

We couldn’t have picked a better spot! The staff at Herring Run showed us examples of rain gardens, meadow gardens, and pollinator gardens. They talked to us about watersheds and microclimates, and most importantly, they helped us select the best plants for our project.

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Please check back often for updates, as the next few weeks will be a flurry of activity as we work to plant all of these amazing native plants.

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WSB Sustainability Club partners with MOM’s Market to reduce waste

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This week, our Middle School Sustainability Club at the Waldorf School of Baltimore took a quick trip over to Mom’s Organic Market. Our students brought 4 shopping carts FULL of “Terracycling”. Terracycle collects waste that can’t be recycled through normal means- candy bar wrappers, batteries, and more.

During our visit, students learned about other ways of reducing our waste, discussed ways of improving their collection program with MOM’s staff, and had time to share a picnic lunch.

We are so very thankful to Mom’s Organic Markets for their collaboration, and look forward to working together to create a more sustainable Baltimore!

A Very Busy Spring!

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Here we go! The weather is warming and Waldorf School of Baltimore is taking notice.

Classes are out tending their gardens, the chickens have started to lay A LOT more eggs, and we are spending even more time in the Forest.

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The 4th Grade just returned from their class camping trip in the Catoctin Mountains. They had a wonderful time hiking, learning about local wildlife and playing flashlight tag.

Closer to home, the Forest Program is busy cooking over campfires and soaking up the rays of the warm spring sunshine. Whether we’re exploring nature near or far, our students and teachers are certainly making the most of this spring! Check back soon, we’re sure to have many more adventures in store.

 

Let the Sunshine In!

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Spring has sprung! 
The Waldorf Forest Program is making the most of the warm weather and longer days.
To start out talking about shelter (our theme for spring) Miss Jung told a story about two fairies trying to find shelter in the woods around the school. The children right away started making plans how the fairies could be helped: collect sticks, leafs, and other things to make shelters and houses.
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here we are enjoying our snack in the forest.

Our older group of students is learning to start a cooking fire with flint
(no matches or lighters here!)
They reviewed the safety rules with their younger peers before we all sat down for s’mores and (not too) scary stories.
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After our Spring Break is over and we come back to school, we will be getting ready to celebrate Earth Day! Enjoy the outdoors

The Lessons We Learn

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There are so so many huge concepts that teachers and parents feel responsible for imparting to our young charges. It is a daunting task, introducing someone to the notions of empathy, collaboration, self-reliance, reflection and confidence, to be sure.

We would do well to remember that so many of those same lessons were imparted to us not through the wise words of a mentor, but through the silent (and likely VERY intentional) modeling of a teacher, a peer, or the greatest teacher of all, our Mother Nature.

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I overheard this interaction recently, while in the forest with our students and teachers:

Ms. Jung: Hi there, M, watcha doing? It looks like you are trying to uproot this poor little tree.

Student M: Pulling on dis twee

Ms. Jung: Aw, Poor tree. Let’s not pull it. It wants to grow leaves in the spring.

Student M: Why?

Ms. Jung: So it can give us shade, and it can feed the animals

Student M: Oh. Otay. De twee wants to gwow?

Ms. Jung: Yes. It does

Student M: Otay

Our teachers work very hard to facilitate safe, revelatory experiences for our students, and sometimes the smallest interactions can have profound impacts. Student’s time in the forest gives them examples of caring for others, working together, and following through on plans. When we are climbing tress, balancing on fallen logs, or swinging from vines, we’re developing upper body strength, balance, courage, building self-esteem, gross motor skills, and learning how to experience joy. 

 

If we can muster the courage to throw the door of the world open wide and to then step back in courage and make room for new experiences, our reward is getting to experience again, as if for the first time, a true and pure sensation of joy and freedom.