Subject Classes & Other Unique Elements
Subject classes, class plays, and off-campus experiences are an integral part of a child’s experience from Kindergarten through the grades.
Performances and presentations are important components of a Waldorf education. This includes class plays. Beginning in Grade One, students perform a play or other performance piece each year, selected by their teacher for its relevance to that year's curriculum and the developmental stage of the children. For a class of students to prepare a performance piece (with the learning of lines, blocking, choreography, lighting, props, costumery, etc.), a tremendous amount of collaboration is required. Students support each other in every way, knowing that each person's role is vital for success. The class play also offers opportunity for tremendous individual growth - development of self-confidence, strengthening of memory, skills in articulation and public speaking, the 'trying on' of a new persona, awareness of the others in the production - these are just a few of the ways in which our students develop personally through the class play experience.
Farming & Nature Exploration
Children in the lower grades venture out into our beautiful gardens year-round. Whether growing vegetables or exploring the natural world, these experiences fuel the students’ sense of curiosity, fulfill their desire for inquiry, and help cultivate a greater connection to the natural world. Students are given opportunities to explore topics related to natural history, agriculture, and physical science. Emphasizing skills of observation and experiential learning, farming and nature exploration classes enable students to investigate their individual relationship, as well as unique role, within the natural world.
Class field trips are a vital and enriching aspect of our curriculum. Throughout the grades, the students are exposed to various forms of off-campus education in order to enliven their learning and social development.
Field trips begin in Kindergarten with Hike Days, providing opportunities for the children to move and explore the natural world. Adventures continue in grades 1-8, selected and planned by the class teacher and designed to enrich students’ understanding and appreciation of some aspect of that grade's curriculum. Examples may include a visit to a farm in 3rd grade, the local recycling plant in 4th grade, an overnight geologic adventure to Lassen Park in 6th grade, an artist’s studio in 7th grade, or a Shakespearean play performance in 8th grade. While certain field trips are often associated with a particular grade, the selection and timing of field trips is at each class teacher’s discretion.
The 8th Grade Trip is a tradition in Waldorf schools around the world, including here at Stone Bridge. See the link below for additional details about this important, culminating adventure for our soon-to-graduate students:
Beginning in Kindergarten, students enter into the world of fiber arts. Our very youngest students experience finger-knitting, sewing, felting and more under the guidance of the kindergarten teachers. Starting in Grade One, our Handwork teacher works with students weekly, teaching them to knit, crochet, embroider, sew (hand and machine), and engage in other fiber arts skills.
These handwork arts bring perfect balance to our modern lives. They offer a tangible way for students to tap into their creativity, creating items of use, as well as beauty. As children learn these skills, they develop the intellectual and emotional capacity to problem-solve and think logically. Not only are fine motor skills developed, but self-regulation, patience, and focus contribute to a student’s self-esteem and sense of having accomplished something meaningful with one’s own hands.
Beginning in Grade Six, students receive math instruction from a dedicated middle school math teacher. As is done in the lower grades, the curriculum is delivered not only through direct instruction, but through projects, games, puzzles, and real-life scenarios that enable students to appreciate the myriad of ways in which numbers and mathematics weave through our daily lives.
Under the direction of the SBS Movement teacher, students in grades 5-8 train for and participate in annual intermural event (‘Games’) with other Waldorf schools, acquiring skills such as javelin and discus throwing, archery, Greek wrestling, running, orienteering, and canoeing. Beyond the physical skills learned for these Games, students are introduced to the philosophies of cultures out of which some of these traditions emerged. Through reflective conversation and movement, students are also challenged to look within themselves to develop awareness of self and others in preparation for the Games events.
Singing and music lessons foster group cohesion and teamwork, as well as personal self-confidence and skills of concentration and memory. Students begin their music education with singing in Kindergarten. Daily singing continues through all the grades as the students learn rounds, multi-part harmonies, and are introduced to music from different cultures and regions around the world. Class teachers bring song to their students as part of their daily rhythm, and also through other events such as class plays and festivals. A dedicated Choir teacher offers additional instruction to Grades 1-5 during which students not only learn choral pieces, but how to read musical notation.
As part of the music instruction, students also learn to play the pentatonic flute in Grade One, then move onto the recorder (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) in later grades. This enables our older students to experience ensemble playing and master increasingly complex pieces. Students perform for each other and the parent community during assemblies and seasonal concerts.
Physical Activity & Games
Movement activities, circle-time activities, folk dance, sports, games, and other forms of creative physical activity are infused into the everyday curriculum. To the extent possible, classrooms and play yard space are organized to maximize the children’s opportunities for movement and physical expression. Recognizing that physical fitness and health enhance students’ overall well-being and learning receptivity, each child is encouraged to rise to their individual physical potential. While many of these activities are integrated into a day’s lessons, scheduled Games classes are also taught in the lower grades by the class teacher and/or dedicated Games teacher.
Students in grades 5-8 enter into the realm of the woodshop. There students acquire skills as they use hand tools to create unique items, become familiar with the workings of a woodshop, and appreciate the individual quality of the source wood that each project begins with. Focusing on increasingly complex projects over the four years, whether a sweet wooden mouse or a sturdy three-legged stool, students’ will forces are called upon to begin and reach completion with their endeavors. Each project requires a unique awareness of form and function, beauty and balance. Over the years working in the woodshop, students are provided with the opportunity to develop the qualities of tenacity, patience, coordination, self-control, physical strength, and the commitment to persevere and take action in the world.
The students' understanding that human culture has many facets is one of the goals of the world language program. Not only is it important to learn a second language in a modern world, there are many additional benefits to be derived from this element of the curriculum. These include enhancement of brain development, flexibility in thinking, development of perspective, connection to others, and opportunities for personal and cultural experience. Throughout the grades, the World Language program builds on the previous years’ learning and expands to include reading, writing, grammar, and basic conversation. Artistic activity, music, games, and drama create lively and engaging lessons. Spanish is taught to all students in kindergarten and grades 1-8.