On The Land at Orchard Valley's East Montpelier Main Campus

“On The Land” is a new part of the curriculum at Orchard Valley’s Main Campus. We introduce this program here with a brief overview by On The Land Teacher Kelly Davis.

Afternoons at Orchard Valley will be taking on a new flavor this year with the addition of the On The Land program. On The Land aims to connect students with their environment through the practice of growing food, exploring the forest, caring for animals, and physically engaging their bodies through games derived from the Waldorf Movement curriculum.

While the On The Land program will take on some aspects of the Movement portion of the curriculum of prior years, students in grades 1 and 2/3 will also take part in Games class time with a teacher twice each week. Older students will still have the opportunity to participate in milestone activities and events such as the Pentathlon (grade 5), Medieval Games (grade 6), the Bolton ski program (grades 6-8), and snowshoeing/cross country skiing will also take place on campus for all classes. In addition, the fundamental elements of the Movement curriculum that follow the physical, emotional, and social development of the child, will be preserved within their time On the Land.

Each grade will take part in the On The Land class for one afternoon a week. It is a double block running from 1:30pm to 3pm. First grade will join together with the combined second/third grade class and the rest of the grades will participate in their individual or combined classes (4/5, 6/7, 8). (Due to early dismissal on Thursdays for faculty meeting, On The Land will not be offered on that day.) During the afternoons your child is not On The Land, they will be participating in their other subject classes, much like previous years; class schedules will be available from your child’s teacher.

Here is a brief look at the themes and activities that your child will be engaged in by grade.

A common thread that will weave throughout all the grades is the practice of sit-spots. This will be a unique practice to each grade and each child, but will be centered on fostering a sense of awareness through observation and reflection.

The first and second/third grades work will focus on Cycles. This theme will be examined through forest sensory exploration, working with the chickens, cooperative games, working with apples in the fall and sugaring in the spring.

The overarching theme for the fourth/fifth grade will be Interdependence. Students  will spend time looking at the relationship between plants in the garden, harvest and composting, the life of trees, and fire.

The sixth grade will be focused on Diversity. This will be explored through wildlife tracking, animal husbandry, and an interactive study of the native populations of Vermont.

The theme for the eighth grade is Systems. Students will learn the art of permaculture and use their experience at Orchard Valley to build a vision for future sustainability. Through community service, students will have the opportunity to engage with members of the broader community who dedicate their time to living and working in harmony with their environment.

This is just a brief glimpse into this upcoming year On The Land, a program which will grow and evolve alongside the students. The hope is that this time will serve as an out-breath in the overall rhythm of the day and forge a meaningful and lasting connection between our community and the incredible and rich landscape that surrounds us.