Urban Prairie Waldorf School
Ms. Cather's Class
Weekly Update - October 26, 2018

If your children have come home ready to make vacation plans, it may be because we are in a North American Geography block! I have hoped to cultivate in them a reverence for the incredible beauty and variation in our North American landscape. They have met this curriculum so far with curiosity and excitement.

Morning Lesson

This week, the 5th grade class explored more of North American Geography by learning about various other National Parks, such as Yellowstone and Olympic National Parks. They were fascinated to learn about geysers at Yellowstone such as Old Faithful, as well as the existence of a temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park, where epiphytes (ask them what it means!) like moss hang from tree limbs (Aaden was fond of saying “They’re just hanging out!”) and where lush ferns abound.

The class was then were divided into groups and assigned other National Parks to learn about and report on next week. The groups are as follows:

Gwendolyn, Reed, Samuel: Acadia NP

Lewis, Dahlia, Aaden, Joshua: Great Smoky Mountains NP

Ellis, Olivia, Dexter: Arches NP

Miles, Charlotte, Solwyn: Denali NP

They read and took notes about their parks this week, and next week will design a page for their Morning Lesson Books, as well as present information about their parks in the form of an advertisement.


Skills Classes

Math Skills

The children worked to identify factors of various numbers this week, and then to find the greatest common factor between two numbers. They worked in their math groups on various objectives, including factorization, multiplication speed sheets, and long division. They solved puzzles such as “What number is halfway between 13 and 16? 378 and 400?”

Language Arts Skills

This week the children did research into their National Parks for their projects. They read informational texts about their parks in small groups, reading to learn such details as where their park is located, important natural features, animals and plants that live there, and climate. They are eager to learn more! I will be bringing in some library books for their research next week, but please feel free to take your child to the library over the weekend or do some (supervised) internet research to learn more about their parks.

Botany Projects

This week we helped out in the permaculture garden in front of the school. We prepared the soil for planting of native perennials by removing a thin layer of sod from the soil. It was hard work, but the children pressed on and some even made a game of it! It was good to get outside and get our hands dirty.


The children painted a flower with roots, stem, leaves, and blossom today. They first mixed colors to create their own background to the painting, working in silence to “let the colors speak” to them, as a therapeutic and meditative experience. If you are interested in learning more about their painting, please come to Experience UP, where I’ll be leading a painting class! Parent sign-up for the event is here.



As your children may have mentioned, I was out last Friday at a training. From Thursday evening through Saturday, I attended the 2.5-day training “Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism” put on by the group Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism, or CROAR. It was impactful for me to take this step in educating myself about the power arrangements in institutions throughout this country that benefit some, while harming others. I hope to bring this awareness into my teaching. I’d be happy to talk more about this to anyone who is interested.


Upcoming Events


  • Halloween: Your 5th grader may dress up on Oct. 31 to celebrate Halloween at school. Our rule is that the costume relate in some way to the 5th grade or 4th grade curriculum. I have discussed this at length with the children, so your child should be able to tell you what options they have. Please email me if you have any questions or concerns.



Also, when considering costumes, please consider avoiding cultural appropriation. This video can be a resource for you to talk to your kids about appropriation in an age-appropriate way.



  • El Dia de los Muertos will be celebrated next week. Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about the day.


What is Dia de los Muertos?

El Dia de los Muertos is a special time celebrated in Mexico, the festival coincides with All Souls Day giving this time significance in many parts of the world. On this day loved ones who have passed away are invited to return for one night to be celebrated by their friends and family.


It is a joyful and reverent time to feel close to our departed loved ones and acknowledge the cycle of life and death we all exist in. This will be brought to your children in an age-appropriate way.


We will create an Ofrenda at school. Ofrenda means “offering” in Spanish, it is a place where we invite the spirits of the dead to join us with photos of them, beautiful decorations, and sweet smelling marigolds.


How should photos be sent?

Children may choose to bring in a photo of a loved one (no pets please) for the Ofrenda. Photos should be clearly labelled on the back so they can be returned after the festival. Photos may either be framed or in a format that can be put up on a cork board with push pins (essentially a photocopy).


When can we send photos to school?

Any day between Thursday 10/24 and Thursday 11/1.


How can parents and guardians participate?

There will be no assembly for this festival. If parents and guardians would like to experience the Ofrenda between 10/25 and 10/31 (please no visitors on 11/1) they may do so after drop-off, during lunch time (12:10 – 1:40 pm), or before pick-up. Parents and guardians are welcome to bring a photo. All visitors must sign in and out at the front desk and wear a visitor badge while in the building.

Contact Sophie Huckabay (sophie.huckabay@urbanprairie.org) if you have any questions.

  • Experience UP: Experience UP offers you the chance to be a student again for a day!  You can sign up here for a range of classes taught by subject and grades teachers. As I mentioned before, I will teach painting.