It is no surprise that children love forts. Chances are high that everyone reading this can recall a childhood memory of building a fort. And with good reason – forts offer humans (especially small humans) a plethora of sensorial and imaginative splendor. They are special places where learning occurs on an intimate level that is often overlooked by school systems.
At the Waldorf School of Baltimore we encourage our students to build forts in the schoolyard. We did this by offering them elemental loose parts – sticks, stones, string, leaves, and straw – and the modest invitation to “build something.” From those humble parts and simple words a magnificent kingdom was born. This kingdom isn’t some childhood paradise – it is as complex as our adult world (if not more so). Dragons, Spies, and Knights are everywhere – and, yes, dubious Bankers exist too. Life in the kingdom gets confusing. At recess, a teacher’s primary role is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of the students; the secondary role is help them develop the mental tools needed to navigate the rich experiences they are crafting. Teachers are not there to solve their problems, they are there to help them learn how to solve their own problems.
At the Waldorf School of Baltimore we understand that learning does not only occur in the classroom, and recess is not simply “taking a break.” Recess is academic in its own right – it is a time of synthesis. Students are not only constructing forts; they are developing their social awareness and learning to manage the complexity of the world.
The special places impulse in a school setting invites children to relive the history of the species. They create primitive shelters, form tribes, battle over resources, learn to barter, create legal systems, invent currency, learn to monitor the own behavior, recognize the impact of the built environment on ecosystems. — Excerpt from the book Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators by David Sobel (Stenhouse Publishers 2008)
If you’re hungry to understand more about the academics behind the fort building impulse, Meet the World’s Leading Expert on Why Kids Build Forts, David Sobel (who also happens to be my graduate advisor at Antioch University New England).
And one last round of photographs from our 3rd grade’s week a Hawthorne Valley Farm. For more information about the trip be sure to check out Part I.
Have you seen the permaculture design map of the Waldorf School of Baltimore? Did you know that WSB is in the process of implementing many of the design components of this map? If you’re interested in really digging into permaculture, consider taking a 6 weekend course and become a certified permaculturist. This is the same course taken by Michel Anderson, WSB’s Ecoliteracy & Sustainability Coordinator. Click HERE for more info. Members of the Waldorf Community get $25 off by typing in the discount code, “Waldorf School of Baltimore,” at registration. Act fast! The first class is scheduled to start Saturday, Sept 20. Also be sure to visit and LIKE the facebook page, Permaculture Maryland. Enjoy the day!
Yesterday, our school transformed into a winter wonderland of extraordinary proportions. During recess, our students (and teachers) were able to explore the mesmerizing metamorphosis that occurred during the night before. Some students let melting icicles drip into their mouths from the ice-encased branches, while others slid across thousands of frozen blades of grass.
Please enjoy these photos taken during lunch recess on February 5th, 2014:
Hi there! October 16th was World Food Day and in acknowledgment our Student Council will be hosting a 15 day FOOD DRIVE from November 1-15. A collection box will be found in the front lobby. All non-perishable food is welcome, and below is a list of the most needed items (including non-food items). Last year we collected 190lbs of food for Maryland’s hungry. Let’s shoot for 300lbs this year and give our neighbors in need a Thanksgiving Feast!
Meat & Protein
- canned meat, ham and chicken
- peanut butter
- macaroni and cheese
- canned stews
- canned tuna, salmon and sardines
- nuts and seeds
- dried canned beans
Breads & Cereals
- breakfast cereal
- rice and rice cakes
Fruits & Vegetables
- canned fruits and juices
- canned vegetables
- canned soup
- sauces/salad dressing
- evaporated milk
- powdered milk
- infant formula
- puddings and custards
Thank you for your support!
Every year WSB’s 3rd grade class visits Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, NY, for 5 full days of work, play, and more work.
We got here yesterday (Monday 4/22) at around 4:30pm. We went on a farm tour, got ourselves oriented, and had a pleasant supper before Jessie Hughes sang us a few songs before going to bed. Today the work began and I went around and photographed some of the farm and duties which spanned from gardening and horseback riding, to bread & butter making. Below are a few photographs of the journey thus far. Enjoy…
These photos were taken on April 22nd & 23rd 2013.