Waldorf Language Arts Curriculum Builds Love of Reading and Writing

DWS third grader recently wrote his own story by hand during his free time. The Waldorf Language Arts curriculum cultivates a love of reading and a strong imagination through storytelling. Henry's favorite book is "The Hobbit" and he also enjoys illustrating his stories as well. Please enjoy his story, "The Mouse and the Apple Fairy." 

There was once an old mouse who lived in an old oak tree. Every year or so, he would take a stroll into the big wood. As he walked, he thought about where he should go. As he strolled thinking, he hummed a little tune:

"Oh fairy of the apple tree, Why don’t you come to me?"

"Fairy of the apple tree, I’d sure like to meet thee!"

Then, all of a sudden, he ran into a big tree! It was an apple tree! The mouse looked up at the giant apple tree and its ripe, ripe-looking apples. “Wow,” said the mouse. “If only I could eat that apple.”

“If you want that tender apple, you must do all I ask – and I ask you to do a tricky task!” said a voice.

  “Who’s there?” asked the mouse.

  “The fairy of the apple tree! Don’t you remember calling me?” said a little girl no bigger than the mouse.

  “If you’re a fairy,” said the mouse, “then I wish I had that apple.”

  “I cannot do what you ask until you finish my tricky task,” said the fairy.

  “What’s this task of yours?” asked the mouse.

 “Find a king dodo bird. When you do, get his herd.” The fairy disappeared.

  “Find a king dodo bird?” said the mouse. “How will I find a king dodo bird?” He walked on. He soon came to a valley and in that valley, he saw (not believing his eyes) a herd of dodo birds! In the middle of the flock stood the king dodo bird. “Holy hopper!” cried the mouse. “I can’t believe my luck!”

He hopped across the valley until he reached the crowd. He ran under the birds until he reached the heart of the flock. “King Dodo Bird,” squeaked the mouse. “I’m here to round up your herd!”

  “Vhat!?” cried the king dodo bird. “You daaarrre!?” screamed the king dodo bird. “SIEZE HIM!” cried the king. But the mouse was too fast and he ran out of the valley and into the woods.

  “Man,” said the mouse. “That was such a good, warm welcome!”

He turned back and went to the flock again, this time with a plan. He took a berry and stuck it to a leaf, stuck the berry to his back and ran to the group of dodo birds.

  “Ve showed that mouuuuse!” said the king. “He von’t come baaack forrrr a looong time.”

Then a leaf ran to the flock with a vine trailing behind it. “Vhat the –“ cried the king. The leaf ran around the birds’ legs. “Oh nooooo!” said the king. All around, birds were falling down. They were all rounded up.

  “The task is done. I can go to the apple fairy and get an apple!” The mouse dragged the long vine behind him. When he got to the tree, he called out, “Hey, apple fairy! I did your task!”

A girl came running. “How goody-good-good! You did my task and now I’ll give you what you ask.”

And so the fairy got her task done, the dodos got their freedom, and the mouse got his apple.


Posted on March 5, 2015 .

Shelter Gallery from our 3rd Grade Class

The 3rd grade social studies curriculum explores shelters from around the world. This block offers the unique opportunity for students to learn about the richness of different cultures and paints the pictures of people who live in different lands/types of homes. Please enjoy this spectacular gallery, from yurts and igloos to grass huts and houses on stilts. 

Posted on February 12, 2015 .

“Scarf Bombing” Initiative Planned for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2015

Inspired by local Detroit “scarf bomber”, Barbara Green, Detroit Waldorf School staff, parents, and children will be busy this holiday season knitting hats and scarfs for the needy. “Scarf bombing” is a national movement where people knit scarfs and place them locally in areas that have a high homeless population. Items typically are tied to public fences or statues and include a note stating, “If you are cold this winter, please take me.” Items will be collected on Friday, January 9th and placed around the city of Detroit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“Volunteering on MLK, Jr. Day is a tradition at Detroit Waldorf School,” states Julia Baryo, Handwork teacher for grades 1-8. “It is vital for our students to experience the importance of helping those in need.” The school invites Detroit community members to participate as well. Please deliver your hand-knit or crocheted scarfs to the school office by Friday, January 9th from 8am-4pm. For more information, please call 313-822-0300.

Posted on December 19, 2014 .

Children Need to Play

Waldorf Early Childhood Programs across the world allow ample time and space for joyful creative play and naturally building a child's imagination. Mary Milkovie, PreK Lead Teacher at Detroit Waldorf School for over 25 years, was recently published in the Grosse Pointe News on the importance of play in early childhood. 

Click on the picture below for the full story

Posted on December 11, 2014 .

8th Grade Class Builds Low-Voltage Battery at Pewabic

In addition to creating a water filtration system, the 8th grade students also created clay vessels, which served as different cells to create a circuit for a low-voltage battery.  The 8th grade will continue to work with Pewabic in the winter and spring learning the chemistry of color and glaze development and the history of Raku and Pit firing.

Posted on November 17, 2014 .

Alumni Spotlight: Gabe Angelini-Knoll

Gabe Angelini-Knoll graduated from Detroit Waldorf in 2003 moving on to high school at University of Detroit Jesuit. In 2007, he "headed west " to Kalamazoo College to pursue his undergraduate studies in Psychology and Mathematics, co-lead his school's chapter of Amnesty International and studied abroad in Ecuador. For the past three and a half years he has been studying Mathematics at Wayne State University. Completing his Master's degree after two years he is now almost halfway through his Phd program in Algebraic Topology. An international academic, he recently spoke at a workshop in Mexico on the paper "Nilpotence and stable homotopy theory II" written by Mike Hopkins and Jeffrey Smith.

Posted on November 4, 2014 .

Co-Founder Amelia Wilhelm, Age 91, to Lead Students in Walk-A-Thon on Friday, October 17th

91-year-old Amelia Wilhelm of Bloomfield Hills is preparing to walk with Detroit Waldorf School students during the school’s annual Walk-A-Thon on Belle Isle on October 17th to demonstrate her support for the school.  Detroit Waldorf School is the independent school in Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood that she and her husband, Rudolf, founded 48 years ago. Her commitment to walk is a testament to her lifelong dedication to the school that she was instrumental in shaping. She is an inspiration to the students and a beloved matriarch of the school community, serving on the board of trustees from the school’s beginning to the present day. The school asks for tax-deductible donations toward Amelia Wilhelm's Walk-A-Thon goal.

This annual event raises money in support of the school’s mission to make a Waldorf education accessible to Metro Detroit families.  Secure online donations may be made at http://www.detroitwaldorf.dojiggy.com/friends.

Founded in 1966, the Detroit Waldorf School is part of the international Waldorf School movement, which comprises over 1,000 schools in more than 60 countries. The Waldorf education model integrates comprehensive, age-appropriate academics with rich artistic experiences and practical work designed to challenge the mind and fire the imagination. DWS is housed in a stately historic structure built in 1913. Situated on four acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, the school provides a warm and inviting environment that nurtures growth, learning, and creativity by focusing on each student’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development. DWS offers enrollment in pre-K through eighth grade. Its interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizes analytical, creative, and critical thinking, and cultivates children’s inherent curiosity and love of learning. The Detroit Waldorf School is located at 2555 Burns St., Detroit, MI 48214, just three miles east of downtown Detroit. For more information, call 313-822-0300 or visit www.detroitwaldorf.org.

Posted on October 16, 2014 .

Science in the 2nd Grade

On Wednesday, we went on a nature walk.  The children are very observant, and were eager to collect different types of acorns.  Some discovered two wasps on the sidewalk and a spider on the underside of a fence.  We stopped to watch a bumblebee on some goldenrod.  Afterwards, a few of the children described how they'd seen the bumblebee's tongue and pollen on its legs.  This careful observation is the essence of Waldorf's approach to science in the early grades, and is something that we will practice through the years. The children will find these observation skills useful in middle school when we begin to have physics and chemistry blocks.

~Diane Reed, 2nd Grade Teacher

Posted on October 7, 2014 .

Environmental Science Project at Pewabic Pottery

Last Friday, our 8th grade students constructed a water filtration system out of terracotta clay at Pewabic Pottery. Each strand of clay was hand-rolled by students, sprinkled with sawdust and molded into what looked like an upside down coil pot. The class learned that the sawdust would burn during the 1,700 degree firing process, creating pathways for the water to filter through. It takes 6 hours for the water to pass through and the mineral composition of the clay filters water far better than the average Britta and lasts up to 5 years! The water filtration container was built collectively by our students and can fit on a standard 5-gallon bucket. During their visit, students contemplated the chemistry behind what they were building, the community aspects of the project and the impact access to clean water has in third world nations and the global community. 

Posted on October 1, 2014 .

What is Michaelmas and why do Waldorf Schools Celebrate it?

September 29, midway between the northern hemisphere's summer and winter solstices, the ancient festival of Michaelmas is celebrated.  As summer's warmth fades, and the cool crispness of autumn falls upon us, mother nature's fruits and vegetables ripen for harvesting. Her gifts help sustain us through the dark cold days of winter and remind us to summon our own gifts and inner strength to help balance our internal light with the darkness of the season.   

Stories of good versus evil or light versus dark are often told to illuminate the balance of light and dark that we all must strive towards mastering.  One favorite Michaelmas story is that of St. George taming the dragon with the sword of justice and courage given to him by the Archangel St. Michael. 

A celebration of strength and courage, of facing dragons both internal and external, Michaelmas is a great time to ponder our own inner dragons and to cultivate the courage and strength necessary for self development.  

Posted on September 25, 2014 .

8th Grade Presentations

On Thursday, June 5th, our 8th graders presented projects that they have been working on all year with an outside mentor. We are so proud of our student's passion, diligence, and courage. Areas of study included: architecture, fashion design, dog training, model car building, computer building, mural painting, writing short stories, fire throwing, jewelry making, metal sculpting, photography, irish fiddle and book binding.

Congratulations Class of 2014!


Posted on June 11, 2014 .

Announcing Dr. Linda Williams as our new 1st grade teacher!

The Detroit Waldorf School is pleased to announce Linda Williams as the teacher for next year’s first grade.

Dr. Williams is a long-time member of the Detroit Waldorf family.  She served as a Class Teacher for grades one to five from 1987-1992, spent a year opening DWS’ 3-year-old Kindergarten and then taught grades one to three at the Urban Waldorf School in Milwaukee.  Upon her return to Detroit, she became the Elementary Program Director of the Waldorf Institute of Southeastern Michigan.  She remained in this role while also serving as a Class Teacher for grades two through eight.

After graduating her last class from DWS in 2006, Dr. Williams became a professor of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in elementary literacy and urban education.  At EMU, Dr. Williams is part of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition that helps community partners and schools enact place-based, environmental curriculum.  She also has served as an Honors College Fellow and has assisted the Upward Bound program.

During this time, Dr. Williams also served as a teacher mentor and teacher evaluator for several Waldorf schools.  She helped to develop curriculum for a public Waldorf initiative and she worked with several Waldorf schools on issues of diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Williams received her doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching, and Educational Policy, with a cognate in Literacy from Michigan State University.  Her M.A. was earned in Waldorf Education from Mercy College, and her B.A. was received from Justin Morrill College at Michigan State University.

Dr. Williams decided that she really missed teaching children, and is very grateful for this opportunity to serve as a Class Teacher again. 

Posted on June 5, 2014 .

Example of Waldorf's Approach to Science in 2nd Grade

Today, we talked about what sap is. The children used their innate curiosity and observational skills to discover for themselves a truly scientific understanding. Without reading in a book or asking a human expert, they came to the conclusion that sap is water and sugar, that it runs up the tree from the roots and out to the branches on warm days, carrying needed energy for the formation of buds and leaves. They concluded that sap would "boil down" into syrup when the water boiled away and the sugars were left behind, and that the syrup turns brown because the sugar is cooking. Wow! Let me break down for you how that conversation went because it's such a fabulous example of phenomenological science in the second grade.

It was Felix who said that water came from a well, Gabriel who added that the well water was running underground. Then Henry reckoned that the tree was somehow drinking underground water through its roots. Beatrix said that the tree may be pulling the water upwards like our blood comes up from our feet toward the heart, then Rolan added that leaves are wet inside when you rip them, so he knew that the water was going out the branches to the leaves. Johnathan mentioned that in the fall, the sap must be draining back down toward the roots or drying up -- that the tree stops drinking, so the leaves dry up and fall off. India had noticed that the sap was clear like water, but tasted a little sweet -- that it must have sugar in it. Ari added that sugar makes him go, "Oh, yeah!" and that he gets hyper when he has it, and Cass further defined this quality as energy. David and Elof compared what the tree was doing to the tree feeding itself a good meal to give it energy to do its work. Nathaniel said that when you boil water, it steams up and evaporates, but that sugar does not, so if you boiled sap, it would leave the sugar behind. Anisa said that when sugar cooks, it makes caramel and turns from white or clear to brown. And in one conversation, we went from "What's that stuff we see dripping?" to a clear and concise understanding of the maple-syrup-making process!

This kind of investigation dovetails nicely with our language arts work. We have been exploring stories with interesting content, asking questions, and using clues in the passage to answer them. On a smaller (more foundational) scale, we are exploring new words by "sounding out," which uses the same problem-solving skills.

Written by Kate Sandler, 2nd grade class teacher, Detroit Waldorf School

Posted on May 13, 2014 .

What do parents have to say about Detroit Waldorf School?

Every child should have the opportunity to attend the Detroit Waldorf School and every parent should have the opportunity to learn from the superb faculty and staff at this fine institution. It is, hands down, the best environment to nurture a child and prepare them for a happy, healthy and productive life. My daughter attended a Waldorf pre-school program and then all eight grades at DWS. She learned to work well with others while being encouraged to develop her own unique talents and gifts. Today she is a thriving adult and we both credit her success in life to the foundation she received at the Detroit Waldorf School.

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Posted on May 1, 2014 .