Upper Grades: September 9 - 13

We wrapped up our physics block with the study of magnetism. The students showed a great deal of enthusiasm for this entire block and particularly this week. Physics has been so much fun for students and teacher alike! We are all a little sad that the block is over. I suggest adding a strong horseshoe magnet, various metal objects, and a jar of iron filings to their gift wish lists! I'm so proud of how much growth the class made with lab reporting during these past weeks. These skills will continue to be honed throughout their school years, and they've made a nice shift into scientific observation, thinking, and writing.

This week will be a mini-math block. Our math review over the first few weeks revealed some areas in need of refresh, so we will be spending some time getting back up to speed on fractions and decimals and introduce concepts related to probability and statistics. We'll also spend more time this week on grammar concepts, and we'll have book discussions and activities for the books we've been reading outside of class. We will also be picking up our Latin studies in anticipation of starting our Ancient Rome block after Fall Break.

Upper Grades: September 3 - 6

Last week was the third week of our Physics block. We continued using our main lesson time for immersion in hands-on experiments and demonstrations for our study of thermodynamics. The students were able to experience warmth and cold through a variety of media and conditions. We gained an understanding of how heat travels and experimented with various mechanisms for generating heat. Molten metal was a favorite demonstration this week. In the upcoming week, we will begin our exploration of magnetism and electricity. The students will continue to refine their lab reporting skills with write-ups of our class activities.

The class did a great job with their hosting and performance at the first First Friday Assembly. We will continue to work on ukulele and poetry.


We will be starting a new novel this week. While the books we are reading for our social justice studies are targeted to middle school students, they are also interesting to adult readers if any parents would like to read along with us. I am working to line up speakers to visit our class that have lived the experiences of our book topics. I'm trying to finalize a visit from one of the "lost boys" of Sudan. If you have contacts that would be willing to visit our class to discuss social justice issues, please contact me.

Upper Grades: August 26 - 30

Last week was the second week of our Physics block. In the first week we studied acoustics, and this past week we moved into the study of optics exploring light and the nature and properties of color. We spent most of our main lesson time immersed in lab demonstrations and activities to give the students hands-on experiences and observations to help them derive the related laws of physics themselves. This phenomenological approach to science in Waldorf schools brings sensory experiences to the students to help them form empirical knowledge of the sciences. You can read more about this approach here: https://www.waldorflibrary.org/articles/597-what-is-phenomenology The students are writing lab reports for their main lesson books and their understanding of the lab write-up process has blossomed from week one to week two of our block. This week also recalled some of the geometry skills from last year. In the upcoming week, we will explore thermodynamics and continue to strengthen our lab report skills.

Some of our other endeavors include our ongoing ukulele instruction, poetry memory work, grammar, and art. We will also continue to learn about global social issues and marginalized groups through the books we're reading for class.

Upper Grades: August 19 - 23

We started our Physics block last week with the study of Acoustics where we conducted many experiments that allowed the students to derive conclusions about the nature of sound, pitch, volume, how sound is propagated, and the contribution of the larynx and human voice to punctuate the week. The class read The Lions of Little Rock to support our look into the power of the human voice and to further our social justice studies. This week we will explore light and color.

On Friday, we said goodbye and celebrated our classmate Ellie with s'mores and a candle ceremony. We wish her well on her new adventures at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School and hope she'll be back to visit soon.

Upper Grades: August 12 - 16

The Upper Grades class spent their first week in the classroom exercising and refining our mindset for the academic year. We refreshed our math skills by diving back into fractions and warmed up our pens with a short essay about our camping trip.

We explored several concepts to help strengthen our approach to the year by working through the first 50 pages of Big Life Journal. Big Life Journal aims to help children "develop a growth and resilient mindset so they can face life's challenges with confidence." We explored our current mindset around various aspects of life and learned about how we can train our brains through perseverance and determination. We will continue to work through additional exercises throughout the year. We supplemented our mindset work with the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. In this true story about the "lost boys" of Sudan, the students explored the concepts of overcoming adversity through determination.

We are taking advantage of our dwindling days with Ki Jas and having her lead our ukulele sessions each morning. The students have progressed rapidly and are enjoying revisiting some of the folk music we sang last year.

This week we launch our first major main lesson block of the year with Physics and the study of sound.

Upper Grades: August 8-9

The Upper Grades class kicked off the school year with an overnight trip to Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area in North Georgia. The students had responsibility for setting up and breaking down their camp sites and cooking their own meals. We took a dip in a cold spring, did some bouldering in Rocktown, and had a guide lead us into Pettyjohn Cave. The trip provided opportunities for team-building and bonding and gave us a glimpse into some of the topics we'll study this year like geology and mineralogy, thermodynamics. This week we'll be back in the classroom continuing our theme of overcoming obstacles and developing a growth mindset.




Upper Grades: May 13 - 16

The Upper Grades class finished out the school year with their state reports. Each student received a wood carving of their state bird after presenting their state to the class. The birds are a woodworking project that they can work on over the summer with carving tools, knives, sanding, and paints to round them into closer approximations of their state bird. Here is an example of a goldfinch carving: https://thewoodenwagon.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/FOS16805-1.jpg 

This is a good gift set of beginner carving tools for students who enjoy woodworking:  https://smile.amazon.com/Flexcut-Beginner-All-Purpose-Included-KN600/dp/B005EG033Y . 

The students bound their master books on Thursday and enjoyed looking back on the work they accomplished throughout the year. Some missing master pages were found tucked away in the classroom after dismissal. Please reach out to Ki Molly to arrange getting the missing student work. Enjoy your summer break, and we look forward to more fun and learning adventures in the fall!   

Upper Grades: May 6 - 10

We completed our exploration of North American geography last week with a deeper look into the regions of the United States. Our emphasis over the past week was on hand drawn and colored maps to give students a personal and relational understanding of geography. Freehand map drawing not only helps a student understand spatial relationships, scale and nesting (cities within states within countries), but it also gives the student a sense of place knowledge to help them understand the features that have shaped the habitats and culture of an area. We also worked on written regional summaries that synthesized orally presented material into organized outlining and composition. In addition to our writing and drawing exercises, the students have learned regional folk songs, Native American legends and tall tales to provide a deeper sense of each geographic area. 

The students have been working on their state projects over the course of the block and will present their states to the class on Tuesday. We will finish out the school year in the upcoming week by completing master book pages, wrapping up our decimals work, and binding master books.  

Upper Grades: April 29 - May 1

The Upper Grades class continued our study of North American geography. We took a closer look at the southeast region digging into the landforms, flora, fauna, and natural resources that have been utilized through time by the early humans, Native Americans, and European settlers. We looked into some of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of coal mining and cotton production in the region as well as the innovation, invention, and shift from laboring by hand to machine. To go along with each region we study, we are adding regional folk songs and tall tales that complement these themes. Our southeast regional study was also our launching point for an ongoing look at the Underground Railroad with stories of heroism and resistance that will carry forth as we look at the other regions of the United States more in depth over the next two weeks. 

Upper Grades: April 22 - 26

Last week the Upper Grades students continued their study of North American geography. We looked across the United States and discussed major bodies of water, human migration, flora and fauna patterns and the wide range of climates and geographic regions across the country. 

Several of the Upper Grades students attended the Southeast Waldorf Pentathlon at Camp Twin Lakes last week. After weeks of preparation in each of the five pentathlon events, the students spent two days with a group of peers practicing and competing in each event. The students were evaluated on rhythm, beauty and form in each event as well as character and conduct throughout the 3 day event. Results are not measured on speed, distance, and athletic prowess but rather grace and behavior. Each student receives a medal and an assessment from their judge evaluating their performance in each area.

Upper Grades: April 15 - 19

Last week the Upper Grades class began their last block of the school year. Over the next few weeks, we will be studying North American geography expanding on the local geography block from earlier in the school year. We began the block by taking a look at the physical geography of the continent and will begin zooming in to look at the geographical regions of the United States with an overview of the landforms, biomes, and climate as well as the plant and animal life. We will also learn about human geography of each region and look into the first people and settlers and how they have utilized and modified the resources in each region.

We will be attending the Southeast Waldorf Pentathlon Tuesday-Thursday of this week. Nine schools from around the southeast will be participating at the event hosted by the Waldorf School of Atlanta at Camp Twin Lakes. The students have been working hard to prepare for each of the events: discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump, and relay race. We are excited for our first class from The Garden School to participate in this annual regional event that is a hallmark of Waldorf school fifth grade classes around the world. 

Upper Grades: April 8 - 12

Last week the upper grades and I told the story of the Quiche Maya people from the Yucatan peninsula to Guatemala. We used the Popal Vuh and created water color drawings mixed with charcoal pencils to help us remember different parts of their creation story. The translation we have in present day is broken into five parts. We told the story of part one to part four.

Upper Grades: March 25 - 29

The Upper Grades class thanks the local entrepreneurs who visited our class last week to share about their business successes and setbacks and help our students explore their own entrepreneurial potential. We heard from A Good Gut Feeling about the delicious and healthful foods they create, from Anvil 8 about designing board games that people want to play again and again, from Rocking Bed about building new systems of manufacture, and from Clover & Birch about making wooden toys! This week we're turning our attention to Ancient Mexico with a special block from Don Andres.

Upper Grades: March 18 - 22

Last week, the Upper Grades class attended Pentathlon practice with the fifth grade class at The Waldorf School of Atlanta. The movement teacher at WSA Mr. Moreno spent the morning working with our class on the motions and intentions for each event. He also gave them an overview of the agenda for the three day event and answered any questions we had about what to expect. Our students enjoyed interacting with the other fifth graders and excitement is building to attend the Pentathlon in April. We will be going back to WSA this Tuesday, 3/26 for more practice and again after we return from spring break. 

Upper Grades: March 11 - 15

The Upper Grades' journey through ancient Greece finally comes to an end this week. We're looking forward to visiting the Waldorf School of Atlanta on Tuesday for a joint pentathlon training session, and as the week ends we're working hard to finish up work on the Greek Mythology card game we'll be publishing -- look for copies at Springtide!

Upper Grades: Feb 25 - March 1

It's been an eventful week in the Upper Grades class! Ki Carol has transitioned to a new role, specializing in the language arts component of the curriculum. Main lessons for the remainder of the year will be taught by Ki Molly along with Don Andres, Ki Jas, and other guest teachers. The students will still get to have their special time with Ki Carol, and today was the first of her specialty language arts classes. 

Last week we joined the encamped Greek army for their ten-year siege of Troy in The Iliad, and this week we journey with Odysseus through the many adventures that will bring him safe home to Ithaca. In addition to the Trojan horse- inspired tree fort we started last week, the upper grades is working on some Greek pottery, Greek roots of English vocabulary, and the 5 Greek sports in which they will compete at next month's pentathlon. 

Upper Grades: Feb 11 - 15

The Upper Grades students worked hard on the class play in the two weeks prior to Winter Break. By week two, the students had immersed themselves into their characters and the story. The class worked together to lift each other up and enhance the production with many of their own ideas for their characters and the set. In Waldorf education, the class play serves multiple functions beyond being an additional branch of arts education. Pedagogical theater is a tool for developing individual capacities in students and also serves to strengthen the social dynamics of the class as a whole. Our end goal is not just an entertaining experience for the audience but also a vehicle for the students to stretch themselves and grow through the art in ways that may not come naturally. Our block and public performance of Gilgamesh exceeded my expectations, and it was a delight to behold the unique growth of each student in the class. This article expands on the function of pedagogical theater in the Waldorf schools: https://www.waldorfpublications.org/blogs/book-news/why-a-class-play-in-waldorf-schools

This week, the Upper Grades class is settling in to a study of Ancient Greece which will culminate in their participation in the Pentathlon along with students from other Waldorf schools in the southeast.

Upper Grades: Feb 4 - 8

The Upper Grades class spent last week outside enjoying the mild weather while working on the class play. Their play performance of "Gilgamesh" will be on Feb 14 at 6:30 pm in the church sanctuary.

We have begun training in the Ancient Greece pentathlon events in preparation for the Southeast Waldorf Schools Pentathlon in late April. You can read more about the significance of the pentathlon in Waldorf schools in this article from The Waldorf School of Atlanta:  https://waldorfschoolatlanta.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/2015-pentathlon-at-the-waldorf-school-of-atlanta/

Field Trip Reminder: The Upper Grades students will be attending a performance of "Freedom Train" at the Fox Theater on Feb 12 at 10:30am. We will be leaving at 8:50, so please arrive on time. We should be back by school dismissal at 12:30. If your student will be staying for play practice, please let Ki Molly know by Tuesday morning. 

Upper Grades: January 28 - Feb 1

Greetings, parents of Upper Grades students! 

We will be doing a lot of gardening this week, so please bring in some sturdy work gloves for the week!

I can't wait until the All-School Parent Meeting tomorrow night. It'll be my first time being at such a comprehensive meeting of The Garden School Community. Each teacher will give a brief presentation about what is unique about each childhood age/stage of development, and how the Waldorf curriculum is designed to support and enhance these unique qualities, and blow like a gentle breeze through the window of opportunity that opens in each child -- the right place at the right time! It's from 7-9. Last week I said there will be no child care, but it turns out there is some entertainment for the kids!

We just finished the Geometry Block, and I hope your children enjoyed it as much as I did.

This week, Ki Molly is with the children in the morning during main lesson time, and the focus is on practicing for the play.  Math and language arts will be woven through the day as always. 

I will close for now, but in case you need them, here is a repeat of last week's announcements from Ki Molly.

Field Trip - The Upper Grades students will be attending a performance of "Freedom Train" at the Fox Theater on Feb 12 at 10:30am to go along with our Underground Railroad studies later in the semester. "Freedom Train tells the thrilling story of Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her people, in a fascinating series of highly theatrical scenes that use dance, dialogue and music of the period:" https://classicproductions.org/freedom-train/ . Please let us know if your student will not be able to attend, so we can adjust our ticket count accordingly. If you are interested in attending as a chaperone, please contact Ki Molly: molly@thegardenmarietta.org  

Class Play - The Upper Grades class play performance of "Gilgamesh" will be on Feb 14 at 6:30 pm in the church sanctuary. All students should now have their lines memorized. Starting Feb 4, our main lesson block will be focused on our performance. Due to the tight timeline for our performance, Ki Molly will be hosting an optional play practice after early release for parent teacher conferences on 2/12 and 2/14. Students that wish to stay for play rehearsal will not be charged for After Care on those dates.

Warmest regards,

Ki Carol

Upper Grades: Jan 22 - 25

Greetings, parents of our Upper Grades students! 

I’d like to remind you of the All-School Parent Meeting on Tuesday, February 5 at 7:00 pm. It’s an adult-only event. (There will not be child care.) We’ll be hearing about how things are shaping up for next year, among other things. We really look forward to seeing you! We ask that each family be represented. 

The media policy is so important. Each familiy’s good faith efforts (and it does take effort, believe me, I know) will be felt in subtle and not-so-subtle ways for years to come.

Here is a movement I invite you to look into. Parents are taking a pledge all over the country/world to “Wait until Eighth” before giving a child a smartphone. https://www.waituntil8th.org. It helps parents support each other in keeping their hands on the steering wheel of media use. 

Here are a couple of announcements from Ki Molly:

Field Trip - The Upper Grades students will be attending a performance of "Freedom Train" at the Fox Theater on Feb 12 at 10:30am to go along with our Underground Railroad studies later in the semester. "Freedom Train tells the thrilling story of Harriet Tubman, the Moses of her people, in a fascinating series of highly theatrical scenes that use dance, dialogue and music of the period:" https://classicproductions.org/freedom-train/ . Please let us know if your student will not be able to attend, so we can adjust our ticket count accordingly. If you are interested in attending as a chaperone, please contact Ki Molly: molly@thegardenmarietta.org  

Class Play - The Upper Grades class play performance of "Gilgamesh" will be on Feb 14 at 6:30 pm in the church sanctuary. All students should now have their lines memorized. Starting Feb 4, our main lesson block will be focused on our performance. Due to the tight timeline for our performance, Ki Molly will be hosting an optional play practice after early release for parent teacher conferences on 2/12 and 2/14. Students that wish to stay for play rehearsal will not be charged for After Care on those dates.