The 4th/5th grade students were thrilled to trade in their crayons and pencils for ink. In Waldorf education, we make an effort to present new concepts within a context. As such, before the students received their fountain pens, we talked about the history of writing. Students were asked to think about how it all began: from making cave paintings using fingers and natural pigment, to selecting specific feathers for quills. This exercise tied into our current Ancient History block where we have been looking at the development of human civilization and the different advances which accompanied each period.
We first experimented with feathers which the students collected from outside. As it coincided with our studies on Ancient India, we wrote our names in the Hindi script with the feathers and ink.
Then, with some help from our handwork teacher, we selected bamboo from the school grounds, took knives and sandpaper, and created our own pens from bamboo. During the process, the children were asking, “Are we actually going to be able to write with this?” They were surprised when they saw how the ink first flowed up the tip and then how smoothly it went down on the paper. They couldn’t wait to take their work home to show it to their families.
Finally, the parents were invited to come into our class to take part in handing out each student his or her fountain pen. Students were reminded of the importance of caring for their pens and using a proper grip when using them. The students couldn’t wait to start writing!!
- Written by Karin Pogharian, 4th/5th grade class teacher