Sixth Grade Roman History Studies

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Jan 23, 2018 Comments Off on Sixth Grade Roman History Studies

Our Sixth Graders have been studying the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Whereas our first thoughts about the Greeks—studied in Fifth Grade—often involve the imaginative stories of their gods, Roman history seems marked by an air of pragmatism and conquest of the physical world. The creations of the Sixth Grade convey this brilliantly. Their projects cover aqueducts, military battles and inventive weaponry, siege towers and distinctive architecture. In many ways, Sixth Graders have themselves attained an age and perspective where they, too, have a growing sense of their own capacity to engage with the world in a more pragmatic and action-oriented way.

Fifth Grade Doves in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Jan 15, 2018 Comments Off on Fifth Grade Doves in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In the words of Fifth Grade teacher, Beth Simpson: “Symbols of Peace: The dove and olive branch as symbols of peace find their origins in Ancient Greece. Their symbolism has continued throughout history, including representing the peace and liberty for all people that Martin Luther King, Jr. championed. A mural of M.L.K. Jr. (“Prince of Peace”) in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida, includes a dove holding an olive branch. The fifth grade commemorates the life, love and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. with these creations of the dove and olive branch.”

In addition, the fifth grade created doves in clay doves, some images of which are also below.

Happy New Year!

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Dec 31, 2017 Comments Off on Happy New Year!
“On New Year’s Eve it is always fitting to remember how past and future are linked together in life and in the existence of the world, in the whole life of the Cosmos of which man is a part—and in every fraction of that life with which our own individual existence is connected. Interwoven through all this are those things we were able to do and think during the past year, and what we are able to plan for the coming year.”

~ Rudolf Steiner, 31st December, 1919

What does the idea of the New Year mean to you? Is it a time for new beginnings, for resolutions about positive additions to your life—or about what to say goodbye to? Or is it just another day?

We can, in fact, reinvent ourselves in any moment, whether on New Year’s Day or, say, May 27th at 5:17 p.m. We are not bound by the magical constraints of a specific day and time. Our personal power lies in the present moment, in the now, and in moments of self-awareness we can rediscover ourselves and our potential for transformation.

All the same, in our busy lives it’s easy to forget that this potential lies ever-present within us. In all likelihood, 5:17 p.m. on May 27th will find us working, navigating traffic, listening to the news, reading a book, making dinner, or doing something else that we are called to do in the moment. We probably won’t be making resolutions.

But on New Year’s Day, as Steiner points out, we are invited to pause and reflect on who we are in the continuum of our individual lives, in our communities, in the world, and even—if we are so inclined—in the Grand Cosmic Scheme. More than this (as if that weren’t enough!) New Year’s invites us to ask what we want to become in the days ahead. How can we shape our lives and our world into something richer?

At the very least, then, we can use the occasion of the New Year to remind ourselves that wherever we are on the journey of life, there is always more to explore and discover within ourselves and out in the world. There is always more life to live. We need only become awake in the present moment to engage with it.

Welcome to the New Year, and thanks for being a part of the Bright Water Waldorf community.  May 2018 bring you joy and all the richness of life.





The Bright Water Alumni Panel, 2017

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Dec 03, 2017 Comments Off on The Bright Water Alumni Panel, 2017
BWWS Alumni Panel Recap

The Alumni Panel evening was a terrific success! Many, many thanks to all our participants: Skyler Burke, Owen Crandall, John Curry, Lyra D’Souza Jonah Hillman, Louise Greer, August Hartung, Jazmine Hope, Sophia Johnson, Alli Nelson, Audrey Shuman, Betsy Siegal, Lyra Steiner, Charlotte Thone, and Miranda Wu-Georges. Thank you, too, for facilitators and BWWS parents Sam Blackman and Joel DeJong.

In Sam’s words of gratitude to the panelists after the event: “The panel was a terrific representation of BWWS students at various points in their lives . . . Your answers were smart and funny and warm and honest, which didn’t surprise me at all. You demonstrated to me, and to the parents and students who were present, the depth and durability of the value instilled via a Waldorf education. You represent not just the hard work you’ve performed over the course of your education, but the work product of the school and the entire community here at BWWS. I left feeling proud and so very glad that my wife and I chose BWWS for our daughter, and confident that what I intuit and feel every day is in fact true: a BWWS education is very, very special.”

UPDATE: We now have audio of the event! Click here to download.

Spotlight on Science in Waldorf Education

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Oct 23, 2017 Comments Off on Spotlight on Science in Waldorf Education

Science & Art

Walking down the halls of Bright Water or any other Waldorf school, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Waldorf pedagogy is more focused on art than anything else. But first impressions can be misleading…

Not only is a Waldorf education comprehensive and rigorous, modern research supports its emphasis on art as vital for a deeper appreciation and comprehension of science and math. Art does indeed infuse most aspects of the curriculum. But along with the sense of beauty it reflects and inspires for its own sake, art is also used as a medium to support learning.

As Grace Hwang Lynch writes in “The Importance of Art in Child Development,”

“Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievement. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.”

What is it about the arts that informs an individual’s acumen in mathematics and the sciences? Why should drawing, painting, reading literature or playing an instrument be helpful in fields that at first glance seem so separate? 

 An article in the Los Angeles Times offers several theories, which we can summarize as follows:

  • Scientists and artists are trained to pay attention “both to detail and to the broader context. Scientists, like artists, are people who notice things.”
  • The hand and the brain are connected in such a fashion that “the hand’s knowledge about the world . . . actually teaches the brain new tricks,” and “people who use their hands are privy to a way of knowing about the world inaccessible to those not schooled in manual arts.”
  • “Logic alone is sometimes inefficient to solve really complex problems.” What this means, in essence, is that there are other factors at work in the mind. The greatest scientists have always known this. Intuitive leaps, the ability to visualize problems or to “sleep on” complex issues and awaken to new connections that were not readily visible to the logical mind—these are vital elements in the discovery of new knowledge.

The arts, then, support and enhance scientific and mathematical thinking. They are, in fact, essential elements in an individual’s backpack for exploring and understanding the world.  

The Waldorf Approach to Science

Although Waldorf schools have been around since 1919, they have been operating with an intuitive understanding of the relationship between art and abstract thinking since their inception.

According to the Waldorf pedagogy, the individual goes through a series of developmental stages. Up to the age of around seven the child is like a sponge, absorbing experience subjectively. There is time later for abstract concepts after the critical foundation of observation and experience are laid. Science education in the early grades reflects this understanding. Experience and observation are the teachers here. The child is an explorer. Much time is spent outside. Discussions might focus on the visual and tactile qualities of certain types of rock or animal fur, for example, but abstractions are generally left out of the picture so that the child can simply be with their experiences and observations.

In third grade there is an emphasis on farming, which serves as a springboard for discussions about the seasons, weights and measures, seeds and growth, and so on. Learning is infused with practical experience; many classes go on their first farm visit during third grade.

In fourth grade, students continue their exploration of the natural world through a study of zoology. Among other work, students typically choose and study in depth an animal and its habitat. Their final projects in this area incorporate writing, painting, and models of their chosen animals, as well as presentations to their class.

Fifth grade turns to botany. Here again, artistic studies of plants by students inform more detailed understandings of the scientific names and component parts of plants, and of their relationship to their particular environments.

In the  sixth, seventh and eighth grades, physics, physiology, chemistry, minerology, meteorology, astronomy and more are introduced. In these later grades there is significant emphasis on precision, on measurement, and on more abstract and theoretical concepts. This approach continues to be refined as Waldorf students progress through high school, growing ever more disciplined and rigorous in their thinking and approach to science.

The Continuing Importance of Art

The arts continue to play a role throughout this process, for precisely the reasons discussed above. They play an integral role in deepening students’ relationship with and understanding of the world. In practice, for example, the visual arts, have the capacity to connect a child with the subject matter at hand more readily than simply looking at a picture in a textbook. Drawing and labeling the bones in a human skeleton engages the hand and the eye, as well as the mind and an individual’s unique sense of artistry. This makes absorption of knowledge a more holistic process—one that resonates within the individual for some time to come. Drawing a diagram of a lever, or the structure of a protein or a map of weather systems does the same thing.  

So the arts are never abandoned. They support the holistic development of an individual who is eminently capable of creative and critical thinking, and this is one of the primary goals of a Waldorf education.

*Artwork by current and former BWWS students.

Further Reading

Cole, K. C. (1998, August 13). Why the Arts Are Important to Science – latimes. Retrieved from

Lynch, G. H. (2012, May 16). The Importance of Art in Child Development . Music & Arts . Education | PBS Parents. Retrieved from

Mitchell, David. The Wonders of Waldorf Chemistry. AWSNA:Fair Oaks, CA. 2001.

Bright Water Alumni Panel

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Oct 16, 2017 Comments Off on Bright Water Alumni Panel

Where do our students go after graduation from eighth grade? Are they ready for the new challenges—academic and otherwise—that come their way? What effect has their Waldorf experience had on their lives?

These are the kinds of questions many parents start wondering about long before that joyful (and bittersweet) graduation day arrives. For many years now, BWWS has convened an annual Alumni Panel where we invite former students back to share their experiences in high school and beyond. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, November 29, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

The panel will be composed of both recent and older graduates of BWWS, all of whom will share their experiences in local public and private high schools, and beyond. This year’s panel is still being composed, but in the past we’ve had students from Franklin, Roosevelt, Garfield, Lakeside, Holy Names Academy, Seattle Waldorf High School, the University of Washington and other area schools.

The event is open to families wherever their student happens to be on his or her journey through Bright Water—even if they’ve just started Kindergarten! This is an opportunity to learn more about the impact of Waldorf education on students’ lives once they depart our school for new adventures. So whether you’re well on your way or just beginning to explore your opportunities as students and parents, this special evening offers insight into the potential challenges and rewards awaiting BWWS’ future graduating classes.

Come with questions!

Sugar Plum Faire – Vendors Needed!

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: Community Spotlights, Extracurriculars, Festivals & Celebrations, News, Outreach, School Culture- Oct 13, 2017 Comments Off on Sugar Plum Faire – Vendors Needed!

Sugar Plum Faire is just around the corner!

On Saturday, December 9th from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Bright Water Waldorf School will be hosting our annual winter event. In addition to all of the great crafts, activities and delicious chili and sweets, we’ll have vendors peddling their wares: books, handmade dolls, clothing and everything in between! If you or someone you know is interested in selling at Sugar Plum Faire, please fill out and submit a completed vendor application by November 15th.

And of course, Sugar Plum Faire is a celebration replete with food and fun, and we now have all of the grades-specific activity sheets available online (except Grade One) so parents can get started with planning and sign up! Grade One will have a new activity this year and we are just putting the finishing touches on what that will look like. Stay tuned . . . The forms are available here, along with more details about the faire.


Third Grade Trip to Sunfield Farm

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: Early Grades, News- Oct 13, 2017 Comments Off on Third Grade Trip to Sunfield Farm

The Third Grade trip to Sunfield Farm in Padlock, Washington, took place earlier this month. This was just in time for harvesting potatoes and wheat, and winnowing and grinding grain. Students also encountered—and milked—goats, which inspired some of the writing and illustrations below.

Sunfied is a Rudolf Steiner-inspired farm using biodynamic farming techniques and serving the local community. It also has a Waldorf school and offers community-education programs. Sunfield has hosted Bright Water students for many years now, helping bring home a sense of the rhythm of the seasons—particularly during the Fall harvest time. To learn more about Sunfied, click here.

Emerging Future interview with Michael Preston, former BWWS teacher

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Sep 16, 2017 Comments Off on Emerging Future interview with Michael Preston, former BWWS teacher

Michael Preston small imageAs part of his Emerging Future podcast, BWWS parent Joel William DeJong has conducted a fascinating interview with former Bright Water teacher Michael Preston. In a wide-ranging discussion covering personal stories, philosophy and more, Michael offers insights into Steiner, Waldorf education and much more that will be of interest to many BWWS parents and others. Many thanks to Joel and Michael for sharing their wisdom and humor. You can check out the interview here.  


All School Work Party!

Posted by: Chris Nelson   -   Posted in: News- Aug 09, 2017 Comments Off on All School Work Party!

Join us on Saturday, August 26, from 8 AM to 12 PM to help us get the school ready for the new school year. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, faculty and staff and share in the glorious weather that has graced Seattle this summer. We look forward to seeing you!