The first Holy Week carpet of Escuela Caracol

The elaboration of sawdust, flower and fruit carpets is one of the most important aspects of the Guatemalan Semana Santa. The long and stunning carpets are a very significant part of the popular art and they are deeply rooted in the collective memory of Guatemalan people as a part of their cultural and religious syncretism.

Their functionality is also linked to the prayer. The faithful elaborate carpets not only as a form of decoration, but also to thank the divinity or to ask for some favor during the process.

We are lucky that in San Marcos La Laguna many people share their creativity in the form of amazing carpets. Different families and groups gather in the streets and combine their abilities to create beautiful pieces worthy of our admiration.

This year, the Escuela Caracol decided to create its first carpet, and the result was quite impressive! Without any previous design, and basically using only plants and flowers, all the people involved (students, parents, teachers, friends…) were able to create a lovely, improvised carpet.

This was our first experience elaborating carpets, but for sure that next year we will be filling the streets with colors again!

Below we share some pictures of other carpets made here in San Marcos La Laguna. Brilliant!

Chalkboard Drawings with Jana Senchan


Escuela Caracol has had the good fortune to host a mentor teacher from Germany. Jana Senchan just finished taking a class from grades 1-8 at the Berlin Waldorf School, and during her sabbatical year she chose to dedicate several months at Escuela Caracol. She has spent her time observing all our classes and meeting with teachers, especially in the primary grades, as well as leading an art activity for all the faculty. Since she has considerable expertise as an artist, we asked her to work with us on chalkboard drawings. Below you can see the results.

Many thanks Jana, as well as to Svenja Büntjen, who put us into contact with Jana, and to the Freunde der Erziehungskunst, who helped to fund her travel expenses.

Big Brothers & Sisters

This year we have paired up our 6th graders with the entering 1st graders as “big brothers” and “big sisters.” The 6th graders have written decorated notes to their little brothers and sisters (which their teacher read for them), and each Monday afternoon they visit the 1st grade class to help with handwork projects. Their first project of the year was making fabric holders for their crayons. As you can see in the photos, it has been a success. At an age characterized by increasing hardness — in both bones and attitude — it is a joy to see these students being so tender and connecting with their own lingering childhood.

Sculpting Rocks in 6th Grade

The sixth grade students at Escuela Caracol are not only learning about rocks in their Mineralogy block in main lesson, but in their handwork class they are also learning how to sculpt rocks. What better way to connect with stones than by learning how to bring a form to birth from them? Working in the tradition of local Maya stone carvers, our handwork teacher, Ignacio Porón, is immersing the sixth grade in this ancient art.

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.


Form Drawing

Form drawing is the freehand drawing of non-representational forms such as rhythmically repeated patterns, reflections, geometric figures and interlaced designs. It was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. This unique element of Waldorf education is taught in Grades 1 to 5.

In childhood, we learn best when we learn unconsciously. To make the process work on the unconscious level, the children could be asked to walk the form, trace it in the air or sand using their arms or feet, draw it using water on the blackboard, or manipulate wire or wool to create the form in real life before actually drawing the forms. The idea is for the students to feel the forms in their body before using the fine motor skills to put them on paper.

Different forms are used for different classes according to the stage of childhood development. In first grade, form drawing begins with the straight line and the curve. Other forms are based on these basic forms. In fourth grade, students draw interlaced forms with a three-dimensional effect. These include Celtic knots which tie into the studies of Norse mythology.

The educational value of the forms lies in the process behind the drawing and not in the drawing itself. Form drawings can affect the feelings of children. By way of illustration, angular forms are considered to have an awakening tendency and curved forms to have unconscious forces which produce a relaxing effect.

Form drawing nurtures a sense for beauty, harmony, and proportion. It also develops technical skills and accurate observations. Taken together, form drawing helps the student enjoy a stronger will and flexibility to adapt to changing situations.

Bibliography: Gebert, Rosemary. “Form Drawing.” Child and Man, Volume 21, 1987. Online at

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.