The Rose Ceremony - a Waldorf School Tradition

The sun shines behind a row of seniors, sitting confidently on benches facing a semicircle of students and teachers with eager, expectant faces. 8th graders stand in the wings, some shift from foot to foot, others try to remain standing, straight and ready. 1st graders nuzzle or squirm on their parents’ laps. A vase of roses lies center stage before the seniors.

Every year we begin and end the year with the Rose Ceremony, an event that marks the transition from one stage of life to another. Foundational to Waldorf education is the understanding of human development and its phases. One principle of human development is the seven year phases of life: birth to 7, 7 to 14, 14, to 21. In the Rose Ceremony, we see each of these phases represented as the kindergartener enters 1st grade, the 8th grader enters high school, and the senior enters adulthood (though it should be noted that they’ve got 3 more years until age 21). Three ideals live within each seven year period: goodness, beauty, and truth.

From when a child is born, up through our early childhood program, the child is most nourished by a sense that the world is good. We cultivate this sense of goodness through the loving affection of the teachers, through stories, and through the very daily environment the children experience with their senses. The teacher carries on the parents’ loving gaze and the constant devotion to the child’s well being. Hugs each morning, snuggles on the rocking chair, a nice back rub when settling down for a nap all let the child know that they are loved and in a good, safe place.

Rudolf Steiner describes how during the first seven years the young child nearly “breathes in the whole character of the environment.” Largely unconsciously, the young child directly experiences the physical world and the moral quality behind it. During these years the child unconsciously seeks to develop their lower senses: touch, smell, balance, movement, and life. It is sufficient to say that the child has an innate drive to explore with these senses because they develop a foundational understanding of the world around them, and through that experience of the world, they experience themselves. When we create an environment with a natural diversity of sense experiences, then this innate drive is satisfied, and they experience the world as good. In this way, the kindergarten teacher is like the gardener.  The gardener creates an environment that encourages the plant to grow by providing the right soil, the right amount of water, and the right amount of sunlight. The seed was always seeking to grow, this is innate, and the gardener simply helps the plant fulfill its destiny.

When the child enters first grade, Steiner says, “The next seven years are spent not so much breathing in the environment, but listening to what it has to say.” In these years between first and eighth grade, the teacher is a mediator between the child and the world.  This is why storytelling is so important in our curriculum.  The spoken and written word help guide the students through an understanding of the world, and through the word, and through the teachers, the students develop a feeling that the world is beautiful. The world may not always be good, and this is something that the teacher helps reveal as well, but in the world beauty persists. The teacher’s relationship with the world helps the student develop a healthy relationship with the world. Without a relationship, the world is incoherent and causes anxiety. Through the teacher’s artistic teaching, the student sees that the world is ordered, is coherent, and that they belong.

Of course, the natural authority of the adult erodes with time in order to make room for the authority of the students themselves. High school is when the student can no longer experience truth through the teacher, but only through their own conscious thinking activity. The students must use their physical senses to observe without judgment and to think clearly about these experiences in order to develop concepts free from external influences. What the teacher does provide is an environment and a means for investigating the “riddles of the world,” as Steiner refers to them. The teacher helps “awaken within them an extraordinarily great interest in the world outside of themselves.” The student should have confidence that their teacher has access to the answer, but the teacher guides rather than imposes.

Through these three phases, we help cultivate in our students the ability to not only sense goodness, beauty, and truth, but also to be bearers of them out in the world. When they stand on the stage and receive their high school diploma they look out into the world with confidence and love.

Written by Education Director, Vernon Dewey

To learn more about the Rose Ceremony and how Waldorf education brings truth, beauty, and goodness into the classroom, you can listen to our podcast episode covering this topic here.

Miss Dawn's Cool Things To Do

With some extra time at home these days, we thought we would re-share “Miss Dawn’s Cool Things To Do” list to help inspire activities to keep your children exploring, creating, and having fun! From shadow puppet shows, to stone painting, to flipping a coin at each corner of your neighborhood walk to see where you end up- there are plenty of activities to keep the children engaged with healthy activity! These ideas can continue to be enjoyed all summer long!

For the youngest children

  • Give your child a collection of interesting items on a tray for them to play “laboratory or apothecary”. These items can include funnels, bottles, corks, tubes, rubber bands, dropper bottles, tweezers, tongs, goggles, kitchen gloves, etc.
  • Set your child up at the kitchen sink with warm bubbly water and simple kitchen items such as funnels, a whisk, cups, small pitchers, a sieve, even marbles and sponges, etc. Most children will play at this for a long time!
  • Make aftercare nachos by heating ½ can refried beans, ¼ cup water, ½ lb shredded cheese (do not use preshredded cheese as it does not melt properly) and 1 cup 505 brand green chile sauce (salsa can be substituted) in a crockpot or a saucepan on the stove. Heat and stir until creamy. Serve with corn chips!
  • Make shadow puppets. Cut simple people and animals out of paper and tape them to sticks. Set up a flash light in a dark room and make a play with your shadow puppets.
  • Have your child collect 612 of their small items. Have them hide in their room while you hide the items. (remember where you hid them!) Give your child a flashlight, magnifying glass and/or a hat. They get to be the detective to find the items! Maybe even leave clues behind like a moved chair or a turned up corner of the rug!
  • Go for a walk and bring two bags. In each bag put identical leaves. Choose ones with different shapes and textures. After returning home your child can play a game where they choose a leaf from bag #1 and using only their hands they have to find the same leaf out of bag #2. No peeking!
  • Birds are making nests this time of year. Give them nesting material by brushing your cat or dog. Put the hair outside in the trees and then watch for the birds to come take it away!
  • Go for a walk together. Take a quarter and when you come to the end of a block or to an intersection flip the quarter. Heads you turn right and tails you turn left. Where will you end up?

For the oldest children

  • Build a house of cards. See how high you can build it before it falls down!
  • Make a puzzle. Take a magazine page and paste it evenly to a piece of thin cardboard such as a cereal box. Cut it into interesting and odd shapes. Give it to a sibling to solve or mail it to a friend!
  • Make a sugar scrub to soften hands and feet by mixing 1 cup granulated sugar with ½ cup melted coconut oil. Add 1215 drops of your favorite essential oil or 1 tsp vanilla extract for a scented version!
  • Make aftercare nachos by heating ½ can refried beans, ¼ cup water, ½ lb shredded cheese (do not use preshredded cheese as it does not melt properly) and 1 cup 505 brand green chile sauce (salsa can be substituted) in a crockpot or a saucepan on the stove. Heat and stir until creamy. Serve with corn chips!
  • Find stones about the size of your palm. Paint them with kind words and images. Leave them around your neighborhood for your neighbors to find!
  • Use sticks or Qtips and paint to make a “dot” painting. This can also be done with paper dots made from a paper punch and colored paper.
  • Take apart a paper bag and put it back together. Take apart an envelope, make a duplicate and put them both together. Move onto harder things to take apart and put back together such as a ball point pen, a picture frame or a broken lamp (with parent’s approval of course!)
  • Start a family history book. Include personal stories of all your relatives, pictures, favorite foods, places they’ve visited and lived, pets they’ve had, etc.
  • Make your own Mad Libs. Write a descriptive short story or interview and leave certain adjectives, adverbs, nouns, numbers, names and verbs out of the story with a place to write it in. Call a friend on the phone and do Mad Libs with them.
  • Make shadow puppets. Cut simple people and animals out of paper and tape them to sticks. Set up a flash light in a dark room and make a play with your shadow puppets.
  • With permission hide something that belongs to a sibling and give them a treasure map or set up a series of clues for them to solve to find their missing item.
  • Go for a walk and bring a bag to pick up trash during your walk.
  • Toothpick architecture. Use toothpicks and play dough or clay (to fasten the ends together) to build a house, a neighborhood, a city, a bridge, etc.
  • Use books or boxes on a table to set up a table hockey court. Leave a “goal” open at each end. Use a waded up piece of paper as the puck and your hands to hit the puck across the table into your opponent’s goal.
  • Use yarn to wind around table legs and door knobs. Fill a portion of the room with yarn pulled taut. Pretend you are a cat burglar and you have to get through the invisible security to the other side of the room. Climb under, over, around, but don’t touch the yarn or you’ll have to start over!
  • Make a house rule for the day.This is a fun family activity that can go all day or just for an hour. Make up rules such as: Always enter the kitchen hopping on one foot, Say the entire alphabet before sitting down, snap your fingers every time your name is said, count backwards from 10 each time you pass a mirror, run outside and then back in every time the phone rings. Make your own funny rules to follow!
  • Learn how to make pancakes! On Saturday make your parents breakfast in bed!
  • Birds are making nests this time of year. Give them nesting material by brushing your cat or dog. Put the hair outside in the trees and then watch for the birds to come take it away!
  • Fill a balloon with flour or sand or rice. Tie off the balloon and now you have your own squishy ball. Make an extra for your parents to play with when they are on their Zoom meetings!
  • Watch for Bee swarms, cocoons and owl pellets around. I have tiny Eastern Screech Owls living in the trees outside my house. I’ve been watching for owl pellets to dissect!
  • Buy or make postcards. Send jokes to your friends.
  • Record yourself reading stories. Send them off to younger cousins so they can hear you read to them. Better yet call them up on the phone and read to them live.
  • Wash your parents car with a bucket and a big sponge and a hose to rinse at the end!
  • Make a papermache globe with a balloon and paint the continents on it.
  • Get good at skipping rocks on the water.
  • Have a family talent show.
  • Whittle
  • Set up a domino track. See how complicated you can make it with different levels.
  • Make a maze.
  • Write and illustrate a comic strip.
  • Learn to make balloon animals.
  • Reproduce a work of art using only trashplastic bags, bottle caps, twist ties, plastic containers, etc.
  • Make a flip book.
  • Learn how to say hello in 10 different languages

5th Grade Pentathlon

Every year, the 5th grade class studies Greek civilization, learning about the government, history, mythology and culture. As a culmination of their studies, each spring the students participate in a Pentathlon, which is an athletic event based on the ancient Greek games. As with all aspects of our Waldorf curriculum, the event is designed to relate directly to the students’ learning and development, bringing relevancy and enthusiasm for their studies. Grouped into four City States- Sparta, Athens, Corinth, and Thebes- the students compete in five events including long run, long jump, discus, sprint, and javelin. In preparation for the festivities, the students also write odes to their favorite Greek goddess or god and recite their compositions to those gathered as part of the opening ceremonies. The ritual opening, with the lighting of the torch and the offering of poems, very much sets a beautiful tone for the day. While the children put forth their best efforts in achieving results in speed and distance, more important is their display of grace, beauty, and form. In years past, our school has gathered with other neighboring Waldorf schools for this highly anticipated event. Although this year may have looked a bit different with a pentathlon only with our school, it was still very much a day full of fun, community, nobility, grace, and honor.

We look forward to being the new Colorado host in the future for many pentathlons to come!

The Denver Waldorf School Happenings - February 2021

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The Denver Waldorf School is a k-12 independent school in Denver, Colorado

New Family Orientation

If you missed our New Family Orientation at the beginning of the year, the recorded session below includes a brief presentation to help you navigate as new member of our community. Welcome!

New Family Orientation on January 12, 2021

With Admissions Manager Brooke Camfield, Main Office Manager & Parent Council Co-Chair Carrie Tentori, Health & Safety Manager Christa Gustafson, Enrichment Director Dawn Archer, and School Director Kelly Church.

Enrollment & In-Person Tours

We are currently enrolling preschool through high school students and offering in-person tours. Connect with Admissions Manager Brooke Camfield to learn more.

The Denver Waldorf School Happenings- January 2021

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The Denver Waldorf School is a k-12 independent school in Denver, Colorado

First Grade Readiness and Assessments

If you missed our live Q&A on first grade readiness and assessments, please watch the recording below. Led by faculty members Nancy Blanning and Jessie Cartwright, this presentation gives prospective families a feel for what lies at the heart of Waldorf education.

First Grade Q&A on January 20, 2021

First grade is a child’s introduction to the collective being of a class. We nurture a deep reverence for the earth, compassion for classmates, and a healthy respect for every living thing. From knitting to numbers, fairy tales to falling leaves, we help first graders discover the wonders of our world and understand the rhythm of life. This year is the beginning of a multi-year relationship with their teacher.

Enrollment & In-Person Tours

The Denver Waldorf School is a Denver-based independent school that is currently enrolling preschool through high school students. Schedule an in-person to learn more on our curriculum, admissions process, financial aid, and more.

A Peek at our 2020 Journey Together

As we reflect on the year almost behind us, we sit in gratitude for our community. Through it all, you have shown your continued commitment, resilience, and light for our days ahead together. Thank you for journeying with us.

Here is a peek at our days together through the 2020 year, with accompaniment by our 2019/2020 high school choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Holiday Coloring Pages

The special bond that exists between our first and eighth grade buddies is such a treasured one. Even in this year of distancing, they are finding creative ways to show their care for one another! As part of a collaborative gift to the first graders, our eighth graders assembled small gift bags together for the first graders including crafted ornaments, pinecone bird feeders, window stars, and outlined drawings to make a coloring book.

With more time at home this holiday season, our eighth graders have generously shared their original coloring book for all of our little creative spirits in the community to enjoy! You can download their holiday coloring pages here.