Our visit to Reserva Natural Atitlán and Mariposario in Panajachel

Recently students of grade two and three made a visit to the Atitlán Natural Reserve and Mariposario (butterfly sanctuary). Our day began with a short walk from the school down to the lake. We had the good fortune to be accompanied by some of the student’s mothers. We took a boat 20 minutes across lake Atitlán to an idyllic enclave in the town Panajachel. The boat trip itself it was a unique and unforgettable experience for some of the children who had never taken a boat before.

The Reserva Natural Atitlán has nature trails surrounded by breathtakingly beauty. The roads have hanging bridges over ravines and waterfalls. One such path runs along the area where spider monkeys and coatis (members of the raccoon family) live in freedom. We had the great fortune to visit them during lunch, their caregivers provided us with bananas to feed them. This moment was very special for everyone, we had lots of fun and learned about the nature and behavior of these animals.

Everyone was captivated while visiting the beautiful dome full of water, plants and flowers where butterflies live and reproduce. The students learned about the species living in the dome, especially about the Pan Ajachel butterfly, native of this geographic area and amazingly beautiful.

Before returning to school, everyone enjoyed a snack in the playground area. The mothers enjoyed playing and laughing with the children. As you can see in the pictures, beauty, learning and fun were at every moment part of the activity! Opportunities like this reinforce the value of experiential education, and the memories will certainly enliven their minds and hearts as they journey further into their education and development. We are looking forward to finding our next destination!


Students go to horseback riding

The 4th and 5th grade class recently completed the block on Zoology, the study of animals. After studying a variety of animals such as the octopus, the elephant and the beaver, the students had a first-hand experience with an animal they all love: the horse.

We took the boat to the neighbouring village of San Pedro, where each student had the unforgettable experience of riding a horse. The students anticipated the trip for weeks, and when they finally faced the horses for the first time, some commented “We didn’t think they’d be so big!”. The two girls were the first to get on! After a little bit of hesitation and nervousness from the boys, they also got on their saddles. Before long, they wanted to know how to get the horse to really gallop!

We steered through the narrow streets of San Pedro and got out to a more rural road on the shore of the lake. When it was time to turn around, one student exclaimed, “Time is up? It can’t be! We need to do this every week!

Horseback riding has been noted to have a therapeutic effect on children, helping them with self-confidence, trust and learning boundaries, among other things. The teacher agrees with her students…. We should go horseback riding more often! We were thrilled to have three mothers from the class accompany us, and we hope to see them on the saddles next time!

Celebrating our 7th Anniversary

The 20th of June was a very special day for Escuela Caracol, It was our 7th anniversary! Celebrating another birthday is truly magical for us. Escuela Caracol is a dream come true for our entire school community, seeing it fulfilled every new year reflects the enormous effort and devotion in our daily work. Offering San Marcos La Laguna this excellent educational opportunity fulfills a community need for nurturing, arts-integrated, multi-sensory, intercultural education. It is with great joy and satisfaction that we continue to work towards increasing access to this education.

Our celebration brought together students, teachers, members of the school team, families and many other people who accompanied us on this fantastic celebration. We started the day with a meeting in our palapa, where students delighted the audience with their art. The palapa was filled with music and dance, as you can see in the gallery we share at the end of this article.

After that we held a raffle. Members of our community donated prizes, and this year they really surprised us! A few of the prizes were accommodations in some of Lake Atitlán’s most beautiful hotels, breakfasts and lunches in local restaurants, handicraft materials, honey, clothing, cakes, hours of internet, massages. The money raised through the raffle will support our important daily work. The continued success of Escuela Caracol depends almost entirely on the contributions of our donors and sponsors. We deeply thank all of the people who contributed, for they made possible this amazing activity.

Students in grade six participated in an exercise of courage and valor by jumping over the bonfire, a symbolic annual tradition offered to the graduating class. As they jump they ask for desires to be fulfilled in their future. This moment is a very special one and marks a farewell to our grade six students.

Students and their families also shared game time in front of our new classroom building, newly built with the support of donors and sponsors who strongly believe in our educational project. The students especially loved seeing their families and teachers laugh and play with them enjoying the party as if they had themselves returned to childhood.

Following game time everyone enjoyed a feast that was made possible through the contributions of all of the families. Each family brought food and helped serve and clean. Escuela Caracol is a team that involves families in the educational process of their children and conveys values ​​that enrich the development of the students, the families and the San Marcos community.

Many thanks to all who joined us, which made it possible to enjoy together as a community!

Happy Father´s Day!

This week we had the celebration of Father’s Day in Guatemela, and our students worked enthusiastically with their hands creating gifts for their dads.

From Escuela Caracol we also want to congratulate all the dads and share some of the work that children did with all their love. Felicidades!

A Glimpse into the Caracol Kitchen

The cooks at Escuela Caracol strive to bring fresh, local produce to our students. Ingredients often come from our very own garden, such as avocado, bananas, pitaya, papaya, squash, lettuce greens, carrots, radishes, camote (like sweet potato) and güisquil (also known as chayote). The menu also strives to reflect local culture and traditional Guatemalan dishes, like Guatemalan chilaquiles, which we ate just last week. And the teachers also enjoy the coffee from the Caracol harvest! Below are some recent images from the kitchen.

Living the stories of the Popol Vuh, the Sacred Book of the Maya

The 4th and 5th grade class heard the stories from the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya. The stories really resonated with them, so their teacher Karin felt inspired to write a script based on a modern version of the book. The Class Play allowed the children to really take on the personalities of the characters, and have a personal experience with the mythology. The first half of the play takes us from the Creation Myth to the adventures of the Hero Twins. The second half takes place in Xibalbá, the Underworld of Mayan Cosmology, and ends with the Creation of the Human Beings of Corn.

The performance was a great success, an experience which we will always remember, and a shining moment for Escuela Caracol.

Thanks to everybody who helped and supported this undertaking!

As part of our studies of the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya, we took a field trip to Sololá, the department’s capital.  The class, accompanied by several parents and a visiting Waldorf teacher from Germany, took a boat and a bus up the mountain to get there. We were invited to see a private rehearsal of the Sotz’il Jay group, amidst the corn fields on the slopes of Lake Atitlan.

Sotz’il Jay means the House of the Bats, and is a renowned group of Maya Kaq’chikel artists and performers. They keep their traditions alive by deeply exploring Mayan Cosmology, talking to elders of the community, making masks and musical instruments using natural materials, and choreographing dances which convey the essence of their cultural heritage.

Watching the rehearsal and getting a tour of the House of the Bats, was an unforgettable experience for the children who were deeply moved and inspired by what they saw.


As part of our preparation for the Class Play and our studies on Mayan Mythology, we had the privilege of having special guests visit our school. They were two players from the team of Mayan ballgame from the neighbouring village of San Juan. Their team is actually second place nationally and they were kind enough to put together a presentation for our 4th and 5th grade class.

The Mayan (or Mesoamerican) ballgame is an important part of Mayan history and mythology, with important ritual aspects. Seeing it come to life in our own school was really something special. The players brought the heavy rubber ball, the scoring rings and the traditional attire, and gave us a demonstration along with drumming and chanting. They talked to us about the rules of the game, the history and mythology of which it is part, and the symbolism of duality of night and day, represented by the rising and falling of the ball.

To finish this deep immersion into the sacred Popol Vuh, teacher and students used their imagination to created beautiful pieces of art.

Learning through music (videos)

The Escuela Caracol has in its academic program classes in Spanish, English and Kaqchikel, the local Mayan language.

The videos we share below are two beautiful songs in Kaqchikel, where the teacher Diego guides the children of second and third grade.

The first song is a show of gratitude to the Creator of All Life while the second is a celebration of joy of living in such a beautiful place like San Marcos La Laguna.

You can find more videos on our YouTube channel!

Stories of Heroes and Saints in Second and Third Grades

Since the beginning of the creation of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner said that the main objective of this type of education would be to contribute to the overall healthy development of each child’s individuality, encouraging the development of all the forces and powers of the child in their growth: interest in the world, creativity, healthy morality, sensitivity to art, craft skills, own thinking, social virtues and willpower.

Waldorf Education is based on a true knowledge of the human being and the developmental stages described above. Steiner himself in his lectures advised teachers that hey should know the child, they should create the curriculum to accompany their class to help and support them in this process of developing their individuality.

“I cannot condition the child that I teach from me, but I rather must take what for me is totally unknown from his/her enigmatic interiority.” – R. Steiner

We must create the right environment for the child to be educated with us according to his/her destiny.

Stories of Heroes and Saints are special to nourish the soul of the children between 8 and 9 years, which is why I chose to narrate these stories. In these ages, more than give speeches about morality, many times the message is given through these stories, where children are identified with people who existed and whose lives were filled with exemplary qualities such as courage, love, calm, respect, humility.

Stories of Saints (Saint Francis, for example) are stories of people who have fought for their ideals, even against their family. It is a struggle with the world. These are stories that inspire the listener. When the child hears the stories he/she feels “identification, admiration and reverence”. We look for qualities that lead to these ideals. By narrating we can describe the village where this exemplary person lived, how were the people, the family, how he was when he was a child; children will love it.

One of the characteristics of children between 8 and 9 years is their desire to learn, yet without forming their own judgments. Memory, imagination, rhythmic repetition, satisfaction and desire for universal concepts presented in image form are part of this stage. The neccesity of adults acceptance is still strong, but now changes from being a matter of imitation of his senses to a matter of focusing on a model that affects the child, not only by words, but also in the way in which the teacher acts in life. Of the 9 onwards, children start to move away, and they question the authorities that are given to them.

Steiner recommended the use of parables to approach the soul of the child; by the spiritual content of the parables, the child can feel the inherent laws of existence, rather than merely grasp concepts . “All the transitory things are just a parable”, this is the permanent slogan of all education in this period. It is very important that the child receive as parables secrets of existence, before his soul face them in the form of “natural laws” (The Education of the Child, R. Steiner).

Current education, and this world of materialistic thinking, believes that the only path to knowledge is abstract; for that world it is difficult to admit that other psychic powers are as necessary as the intellect. Today’s education is often dry and dead, filled only with abstract concepts. For the cultivation of memory, the child has to learn things, like words, that only later will capture intellectually. The more your child´s memory capture, the better for him. In this period we must not exhaust the child’s mind with intellectual concepts. The Waldorf curriculum is designed so that the child is identified and reflected in the stories he/she hear.

In our mixed class of 2nd and 3rd grade, where all children are between 8 and 9 years old, has been a beautiful experience to see the reactions of each of them. The emphasis on grammar during the block of Heroes and Saints has been the use of punctuation and the class is learning calligraphy. They are writing their books with summaries of the stories they hear.

This time Giulio´s mom, Marinella, is accompanying us and teaching us each week, the song “Laudeato Si, Oh Mi Signore”, classical choir piece in the Italic language (old Italian), that has been sung in many languages ​​and countries around the world, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

  • Andrea Arrivillaga Hurtado

Donate to our Wish List

Help Escuela Caracol keep costs down by donating goods from our Wish List.

To make a donation of any of the following items (can be second-hand), or to help in any other way, please contact us. We appreciate donations at all times.

Right now we are in need of the following:



  • Projector


  • Computer (laptop if possible)

Learning to weave

Since the beginning of this school year, kindergarten students basically made short-term projects, just one or two weeks per project. Children needed a long-term project, a challenge where they could develop their will, their concentration and their skills. This project was the perfect one at this stage of their learning process.

As can be seen in the photos, the little ones (3-5 years old) were devoted to weave according to their age and capabilities, while students ages 5 and 6 produced beautiful looms that require a little more dedication.

One thing is certain: our children enjoyed learning!