Looking forward to the Grades!
Come learn more about the next eight years of your child’s education at this special event, where we’ll discuss:
- Learning through imagination, curiosity and action in the Grades at Berkshire Waldorf School.
- Becoming a class community starting in First Grade.
- Helping your child transition from Kindergarten to Grades School.
Your participation at this in-person event includes visit to classes in progress and a saved seat at the BWS Thanksgiving Assembly (11am-12pm), for an inspiring survey of what Grades 1-8 have been learning during Fall term.
We look forward to celebrating this special moment with you!
“This Ramadan story was written by a parent in my class, Saadia Shaza. We collaborated and turned it into a puppet play that we performed for the kindergartens. I hope you enjoy this sweet and educational story about Ramadan.”
– Christianna Riley, Pumpkin Patch Teacher & Pedagogical Lead
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Halima, who lived with her family near the
edge of the forest. She was excited, since she knew that soon it would be the ninth month
of the lunar calendar, and Ramadan would begin.
On the night near the new moon, Halima went outside with her family to see if the
time had come. She wanted so much to see the sliver of moon that would begin this special
After dinner, as the sun set, she and her family went outside to see if they could catch a
glimpse of the crescent. Halima went into the dark night with her family. They carried
lanterns to light their path. They walked and walked until they got to a field. They brought
a blanket to spread out, and Halima’s Mama brought a thermos with warm tea to sip as
they waited and watched.
Halima realized she had forgotten her binoculars. She ran home to get her binoculars, and on the way back, in the dark night, Halima took a wrong turn and found herself in the
She asked herself, “Which way do I go?”
Then she heard a familiar sound.
Hooooo Hooooooooo Hooooooooooooo!
It was the sound of her friend Owl. She was so happy to see him! Owl swooped down to her.
“Halima, what are you doing here all alone?” asked the gray owl with huge round eyes and
“It is almost Ramadan!” said the girl. “Soon it will be time to fast.”
“What is Ramadan, and what is fasting?” asked Owl.
“Ramadan lasts one month. It is a time to reflect on ourselves, to be thankful and to help
others. Fasting happens during these special thirty days. During our fast, we eat and drink
only when it’s dark outside.”
“You don’t eat and drink all day?!” said Owl.
“Well, before the sun peeks out each day, we have a big meal. We fill our bellies with food
that will give us energy all day. When the sun disappears in the evening, we gather with
family and friends to break our fast with a feast!”
“That sounds so fun,” said Owl. “Can I come? What do you eat?”
“Every family has different foods that are part of their tradition, but everyone begins their
evening meal with a plump juicy date. In my family, we always make pakoras! Those are
delicious fried potatoes and vegetables with yummy spices!”
“But why do you fast?” asked Owl.
“We fast because we know there are many people who are less fortunate than us. We
appreciate how lucky we are, and we give thanks!”
“Halima, what else do you do during Ramadan?”
“We think about what is most important to us, and we spend time with family. We pray, we
lend a helping hand, and try to do other good deeds.”
“How do you know it is the end of Ramadan?”
“When the new crescent moon finally appears in the sky, it marks the end of Ramadan and
then we celebrate Eid! Eid is also called the Sweet Festival.”
“What happens then?”
“For the next three days we eat and pray, and we give each other gifts.”
“This all sounds like so much fun! Can I come and celebrate with you?”
“Of course you can! Gathering together in community is the best way to spend the month
of Ramadan. But first, I need to get to my family. Can you help?”
“Yes! Jump on my back, and I will take you to them.”
Halima and Owl soared up in the sky. It was a cloudy night, but they flew up so high they
made it above the clouds to a clear sky, and there they saw…
A beautiful, thin crescent moon.
“Ramadan Mubarak! Happy Ramadan!!!!” Halima exclaimed.
They swooped down and found her family and so many other families looking for the
moon. Halima announced, “We saw the moon! Tomorrow is Ramadan!”
Everyone celebrated and shouted “Ramadan Mubarak!” while hugging each other.
What a joyous time it would be.
– Saadia Shaza, Kindergarten Parent
Diversity & Inclusion in Kindergarten
Rainbow Room Kindergarten is celebrating Khmer New Year this week, singing a Khmer song and hearing a Khmer fairy tale in circle time. Did you know the third-largest Cambodian community in the world, after Cambodia and California, is in Massachusetts?
A New Friend
Teacher Charlotte Hoppe writes: ”A ‘new student’ named Kim Huoy joined our class this week. We are treating her as a peer because it’s important that the children’s relationship to this Persona Doll feel real and personal. By encouraging their imaginations to grow in this way, we can work with the values of empathy, sympathy and feelings as a shared experience.
“This work is based on the concept of ‘windows and mirrors’ when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion education. We want our children to have the chance to see themselves mirrored, but we also provide opportunities to see into someone else’s life, and what it’s like to live or look differently than they do. This helps us celebrate both the ways we are the same and the ways we are different.
“I introduced Kim Huoy (a doll that I made),” Ms. Charlotte continues, “And shared parts of her background story–not all of it, just little parts as they come up in conversation naturally. Here is the story as I created it for Kim Huoy:
- She is Khmer-American and just moved to Massachusetts with her mother and father.
- They moved here because of the virus and her dad’s new job. Her mom is Cambodian (Khmer) and her dad is American, from Massachusetts originally. They met when her mom was going to college here, then moved back to Cambodia to get married and work for awhile, so that her new husband could meet her family. Then they had Kim Huoy, who is now 5 years old.
- In Cambodia, Kim Huoy lived with both her parents and grandparents; since they have moved, she is missing her grandma and grandpa. She loves to jump rope and play hide and seek. But she’s a little nervous about going to a new school, and doesn’t love the cold weather because she isn’t used to it yet.
- She loves fruit, especially watermelon, and her grandma’s chive cakes. She even likes spicy food, but she doesn’t know if she will like our snacks at school.
- At her old school, Kim Huoy had to wear a uniform every day, so she is really happy to wear her own clothes to school now. In Cambodia, her dad used to drive a moto to take her to school, and she had to wear a helmet. Now they have a car, and she likes to look out the window.
- Wearing a mask is easy for Kim Huoy. People do it all the time where she used to live, even before the virus. It helped her stay healthy, and she likes masks with cool patterns and colors.
- She has black hair and brown skin, and can speak a little bit of Khmer, but mostly she speaks English. Her family is Buddhist. She loves visiting Angkor Wat, and being blessed by the monks.
Story Circle with Kim Huoy
“Our first circle with Kim Huoy was a huge success,” Ms. Charlotte says. “The children were kind, welcoming, brave and had many great ideas. I was so proud of them! We will continue this work in circle time, and if we have a pattern of behavioral problems, or a social incident that causes someone to feel left out, teased, or embarrassed, I can bring out Kim Huoy to help the children work through their own emotions and find solutions as a team.”
Khmer New Year in Massachusetts
Rainbow Room kindergartners will celebrate Khmer New Year in their circle starting on April 15th, with a special fruit feast. Families are also invited to connect to the local Cambodian community of Lowell, Mass during this festive time of year. The celebration will include singing, dance and poetry.
Sour Sdey Chnam Thmey (Happy New Year)!“
To learn more, Ms. Charlotte recommends these books for children:
Colors of Cambodia highlights one thing from Cambodia for each color of the rainbow. It’s is written in English and Khmer. Many children noticed how the Khmer symbols look like Hebrew symbols and they all loved the painting of the Khmer dancers and the monks.
The Cambodian Dancer – Sophany’s Gift of Hope is about a young girl who was a dancer before the Khmer Rouge (“bad people”) came to Cambodia. This child-appropriate story tells how Sophany came to live in the United States, and how her gift of dance made her feel close to her culture, so she opened a school of dance for the Cambodian children in California. The story is told in a beautiful and artistic way, but highlights that there were people who didn’t know how to share, made lots of bossy rules that hurt peoples’ feelings, and forgot to act with love and kindness. Ms. Charlotte adds: “This story provides a great opportunity for talking about empathy. It helps to address some of the bigger problems of race and racial injustice in our culture today that many children in our class are aware of and trying to understand.”