Mineralogy Studies in the Sixth Grade

The students are starting the year with a three-week study of mineralogy — a subject that is particularly potent when you live in front of three volcanoes! The students have learned a little about the volcanic history of Atitlán, as well as about the rocks of fire, igneous rocks, which comprise almost all of the rocks one finds around Lake Atitlán. The class is also studying the rocks of water, sedimentary rocks, and since it is nearly impossible to observe these rocks around Lake Atitlán, they hope to make a sixth grade class trip to another part of Guatemala in order to see first hand limestone rock formations and experience a sedimentary rock landscape. The cost will be about $100 per student, and if you would like to help the local Maya students in the class with this expense, you can make a donation by clicking here. Just be sure to write in “class trip” as a blank field (like “fax”). Thanks!

Below is an image of blackboard art in the sixth grade class at Escuela Caracol.


Central American Waldorf Kindergarten Teachers Gather at Caracol

Escuela Caracol is proud to be hosting this week the fifth annual Conference of Central American Waldorf Kindergarten Teachers with over 40 participants. The guest lecturers this year are Inés Spittler, from Peru, and Tamara Chubarovsky, from Spain. Inés is presenting the principal seminar on the 12 senses and their development in early childhood, and she is also leading a workshop on doll-making. Tamara is leading the morning rhythm, speech and singing, as well as presenting a seminar on the art of the word (working with Rudolf Steiner’s formative speech).

In these photos you can see an assortment of images from the week thus far.

Advent Spiral 2013

Since Escuela Caracol was founded in 2007, each year we have celebrated the Christmas season with the Advent Spiral. It is a special candle lighting ceremony for the younger children, ages 3-9. The day before the event, families and teachers come together to make and adorn the spiral, which is always a warm and special Saturday afternoon. Then on the first Sunday of Advent, parents, teachers and other friends and family come to watch in silence as the children find their way into the spiral (or “caracol”), light their own candle and make their way back out to the world again. Along the way each child chooses a special place to leave his or her candle, culminating in a beautiful spiral of candlelight. At this dark time of the year, when the days are shortest and the nights longest, this event gives us all courage to find the light within and share it with the world.

This year we were fortunate to have Terry Rubin, local San Marcos resident, accompanying the event with her enchanting collection of flutes. Thanks to all who contributed to make it a special evening in December.


Roma Amor – A Roman Comedy

Last Friday the children in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades presented the play, Roma Amor: A Roman Comedy. Over 100 people were in attendance for what was Escuela Caracol’s first full night theater performance. It was an exciting experience using our homemade light system in our large palm dome.

The play was written by Eugene Schwartz for the sixth grade (when Waldorf students study Roman history), and the fifth and sixth graders took the lead parts, while the third and fourth graders played supporting roles and helped with scene changes.The fifth and sixth graders have been preparing for over a month memorizing their lines, studying their characters, preparing their costumes, blocking scenes, and the third and fourth graders began helping in the last weeks. The performance truly benefited from all of their hard work and dedication. Thanks to everyone who came out to support them!

Hasta Siempre, Juanmi



Our good friend and the brother of our one our founding teachers, Juan Miguel Arrivillaga, ended his struggle with a brain tumor today at 5:16pm. He was a journalist, an activist, a graphic designer, a musician, a father of two boys, and a lover of Lake Atitlán.

Juanmi embodied a rare combination of passion and poise; he was idealistic and carried a profound sense of justice, and yet he was easy-going and a pleasure to be around. No matter the circumstances and perhaps differences of opinion, he always made a good impression with those who met him because he took a sincere interest in everyone he met. The sweetness and strength of his character was unforgettable. He was loved by so many and he will be missed dearly.

In honor of Juan Miguel, as well as his sister and our companion, Andrea, Escuela Caracol is canceling classes for Thursday, November 7.

¡Hasta siempre, Juanmi!  We will miss you.



Teachers from Retalhuleu visit Escuela Caracol

Yesterday we were visited by teachers of “Escuela Mixta Sinaí” from Retalhuleu in Guatemala. They received a workshop on Waldorf pedagogy, rhythmic movement in the classroom, and form drawing. As you can see in the following photographs, it was a sizable group that came to experience something of the Waldorf way. We are grateful to the Sinaí school or their interest in Escuela Caracol as an example of integral education.

Chalkboard Drawings

If you walk into any Waldorf classroom in the grades, one of the first things to strike you is probably the chalkboard drawing. Chalkboard art has become a time-honored tradition in Waldorf schools. It is how the teacher brings to imaginative life the content of the lessons. In a day when dry erase wipe boards (and their fumes) have taken over, Waldorf schools remain a sort of classic throwback to the days of chalk and slate. Dry erase boards, however, simply do not lend themselves to the artistic sensibility and emotional range that bright colored chalk can bring to a classroom.

It is also an important part of how the teacher’s own artistic activity — his or her own development and activity — relates both directly and invisibly to the child. Children experience great anticipation of the teacher’s next awe-inspiring image, which they later have a chance to recreate in their own books, in their own way. The images connect to the curriculum content and take the child deeper into the experience, through his or her feelings.

Here you can see a few of our teacher’s recent chalkboard drawings at Escuela Caracol. We cannot get slate chalkboards here, so we have to make our own using plywood and homemade chalkboard paint. Sometimes the grain of the wood is a challenge for the teacher, but the overall experience in the classroom is worth it.


You can also see the video of one of the most famous Waldorf Teacher Brian Wolfe in action With Some chalk.

Learning about Maguey

Children 5th and 6th grade learned about the process for obtaining maguey fibers. They learned that maguey fibers obtained by processing the leaves. The leaves were cut from the body of the plant and the spines removed. The leaves were then cooked in an oven to make then tender. Once they were cooked, the leaves were used as food or scraped over a pounding slab to obtain long threads to make ropes or to spin to weave textiles.

Dance Classes at La Cambalacha


When we returned from our mid-year vacations in August, the students in the primary grades began having dance class once a week. The class takes place in the dance studio of La Cambalacha, our neighboring arts center. Gabriela Cordón, who has taught dance classes for Caracol in the past, is teaching the class. The movement work she does with the students is broad in scope (e.g., cross-lateral, balance, stretching, strengthening, coordination) and is both challenging and fun. Certain elements are even similar to eurythmical work, such as interweaving group movement.  In this photo you see the 3rd-6th grades in their class.

Guatemalan National Day Celebration


The past September 15th we celebrated the Guatemalan National Day. Here you can check some pictures of the event and the participation of Escuela Caracol.