As promised, I am sharing what we are doing in our family to gather everyone up and start our homeschooling adventure for the day. I have a wide variety of ages – age 2, age 6 and a half, age 10 – just to make it all interesting! Continue reading
I am gathering my list of fairy tales for first grade – you can see the tales I choose the first time through first grade here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/25/great-fairy-tales-for-waldorf-first-grade/ (and here were a few more thoughts for those of you who are wondering what Dr. Steiner himself said about introducing the alphabet: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/20/infusing-waldorf-elements-into-your-christian-homeschool/)
This year, I am planning the following: (# in the Pantheon Edition Grimm’s Fairy Tales) Continue reading
(7/16/2011 – Comments on this post are now closed! Thank you for all your comments and questions!)
Our guest post today comes from Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources (http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/home.html). This is a very comprehensive look at the topic of first grade readiness. This article includes her perspective as a Waldorf educator, but also as a parent and homeschooler, and includes a deep understanding of the foundation of Waldorf Education, but also includes more mainstream resources for those of you seeking those.
This article is long, but I encourage you to read all of it. Donna will be answering your questions left in the comment box in regards to this post, and we both look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Here is Donna….. Continue reading
I have gotten a few emails asking me about how “form drawing with Brambly Hedge” is going. I first wrote about this idea here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/01/22/two-ideas-for-firstsecond-grade-blocks/
When we start school, it will still be very summertime weather here in the Deep South. So, my first thought was to incorporate the summer and autumn Brambly Hedge books into this two-week form drawing block. I picked a two-week block as opposed to a three or four week block because I think this particular child will be fatigued by a longer block of form drawing at this point in time.
My fourth grader will be doing local geography and as such will be creating a map of her room, our home, the yard in the first part of this block, so I thought it might be fun for my first grader to have something “map-ish” as well…. So: Continue reading
So, I am busy planning a second go round with first grade (along with fourth). First grade is really fun, simple to plan (I know it probably doesn’t feel that way when you are going through it for the first time, though!), and can be simply magical.
I think there are several things to consider when planning First Grade. Continue reading
I love the book “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin. It would make a great read-aloud for Waldorf homeschoolers in the second grade. You could also make a language arts block out of it. My friend Jen over at Ancient Hearth did just that, and you can see the spectacular results here: http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2011/01/la-block-where-mountain-meets-moon.html I am so pleased looking at Jen’s pictures; her block turned out so beautifully!
I also wanted to share a little idea I am working on for my First Grader’s form drawing blocks for fall. I want to use the little mice of Brambly Hedge to do our form drawing and I may also move the idea of mice into our math blocks for the four processes.
For those of you not familiar with the Brambly Hedge books, they are small pocket- sized books with intricate watercolor illustrations about families of mice who make their homes in the roots and trunks of Brambly Hedge, “a dense and tangled hedgerow that borders the field on the other side of the stream.” The main first four books go through each season with the assorted activities of gathering food, storing it for winter, and all the feasts and festivities that go with each season.
These were first published in Great Britain in 1980. You can see the first four books here: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Brambly-Hedge-Jill-Barklem/dp/0007371667/ref=pd_sim_b_8
My thought is to make a giant wall mural of the hedge and the assorted places of the hedge and then to use the stories as a springboard for the imagery of form drawing lines and curves. There is also a Brambly Hedge Pattern Book to sew fabric versions of the mice characters here: http://www.amazon.com/Brambly-Hedge-Pattern-Book-Dolman/dp/0399211942/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1295721650&sr=8-8
Many blessings today,
Apparently Kara over at Rockin’ Granola and I are on the same wavelength recently…..Several weeks ago I got this urge to make a quick skeleton outline of blocks that I am going to start in the fall with my First and Fourth Grader. This sounds a little crazy for this time of year, perhaps, but inspiration really struck me and it took very little time.
During the quiet of the Twelve Holy Nights, I urge homeschooling parents to take some of these days and lay out a skeleton plan of the blocks you are going to tackle in the fall. This way you will be ready to order supplies around March and you will be able to start putting your blocks together. You will be so proud to have a jump-start on your next school year!
Here is my quickie outline for 2011-2012, subject to change at a moment’s notice.
(Of course this does not include the middle lesson (s) or the afternoon lessons…just the Main Blocks).
Week of August 29 through September 9 – First Grader Form Drawing and Counting Games (2 weeks) ; Fourth Grader Local Geography (3 weeks total)
Week of September 12- First Grader Beginning Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting and Crayon Drawing (2 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Local Geography
Week of September 19- First Grader Beginning Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting and Crayon Drawing’; Fourth Grader Math (3 weeks total)
Week of September 26- October 7 First Grader Introduction to Letters (5 weeks total); Fourth Grader Math
Week of October 10– Week of October 31 - First Grader Introduction to Letters, Fourth Grader Man and Animal I (4 weeks total)
Week of October 31/November 1 First Grader Fall Crafts and preparation for All Saints Day (1 week) ; Fourth Grader Man and Animal I
Week of November 7-December 2 First Grader Introduction to Numbers (4 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Norse Myths (5 weeks total)
Week of December 5- December 16th First Grader Writing First Reader (2 weeks) ; Fourth Grader Math (2 weeks) with Grammar as Middle Lesson; Advent Crafts
OFF December 19- January 7th
Week of January 9-January 13th First Grader Introduction to Pentatonic Flute and Counting Games (1 week) ; Fourth Grader Kalevala (3 weeks total)
Week of January 16-27 First Grader Science (3 weeks total) ; Fourth Grader Kalevala
Week of January 30th- February 3 First Grader Science ; Fourth Grader Local Geography (4 weeks total)
Week of February 6-February 24 First Grader Math (3 weeks total); Fourth Grader Local Geography
Week of February 27-March 9 First Grader Form Drawing (2 weeks); Fourth Grader Local Geography Man and Animal II (4 weeks total)
Week of March 12-23 First Grader Word Families and Phonics /Make Readers (3 weeks); Fourth Grader Man and Animal II
Week of March 26-30 First Grader Word Families and Phonics/Make Readers (3 weeks total); Fourth Grader Math (3 weeks total)
Week of April 2- 13th OFF
Week of April 16 and Week of April 23rd Finish First Grader Word Families and Phonics/Make Readers (2 out of 3 weeks); Fourth Grader math (2 out of 3 weeks started before break)
Week of April 30 –May 18th First Grader Math (3 weeks); Fourth Grader Four Elements (3 weeks)
Week of May 21-May 25 (1 week) Drama, Stories, Review
Week of May 28th – safety week if we need to make anything up and push school further….
Anyone else care to share their blocks for fall?
My wonderful handwork teacher Judy Forster noted to me the other day that the control and sharpness of the needle for dry needle felting are challenges that are just right for the physical and emotional changes that occur in middle school (typically 7th and 8th grade).
From my observations of the development of the child at different ages, I agree with her. I also think there are many, many projects one can be busy with, so why be in such a rush to get to that rather hardening gesture? This is an important point for Waldorf homeschooling parents who may be guiding their children’s handwork program without having a Waldorf-trained handwork teacher to assist them!
Wet felting is a wonderful alternative, and children in the grades can knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch (fourth grade, age 10), sew (typically grades six and seven for projects) and do many other types of work with their hands.
If you have small children under the age of 7, I like to think about color and freedom. The small child should be able to choose colors and materials and turn them into whatever suits the child’s fancy of the moment, whether that be a ghost or an elephant. They may imitate you, but often they are just a wellspring of creativity. I remember I had one good friend whose little boy made a whole bunch of creatures and critters from sheets of felt when he was around four or five. The colors and shapes and what they were called were all his and he loved them.
Even in older children, seeing what colors the children pick and what they want to make is fascinating. My Third Grader is currently drawn to blues and greens and I feel this is meeting her temperamental traits and where she is. Color and form is fascinating!
If you need help determining what project comes when within the Waldorf curriculum,, please look at this back post that Ms. Judy Forster was so kind to write for this blog: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/
Many blessings to you all,
This article is by Donna Simmons and can be found on Donna Simmons’ Christopherus Blog. Please see Donna’s blog for more wonderful articles about topics near and dear to your heart as a parent here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/home.html
Here is a link for this special article: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2010/06/musings-on-school-readiness-and-older-children.html
This article addresses not only the six-year-old year but other transition years/grades for older children. This article is really wonderful, and I encourage you to read it.
For the Early Years section of this article, I especially and wholly agree with the idea that we are starting children much too early in Waldorf Kindergarten at school. At home, we have the opportunity to make the “Waldorf Kindergarten” years the “five-year-old year” (ie, starting at the ages of four and a half/five years old) and the “six-year-old year” (ie, starting at five and a half/six years of age) with first grade starting at six and a half or seven years of age based upon your individual assessment of your child. I have posts on this blog about the one and two –year- old in the Waldorf Home, the three and four- year -old in the Waldorf Home, and many articles about the six-year-old kindergarten year. My perspective on the five and six-year old years will be forthcoming.
For those of you with older children, I encourage you to read this article as Donna shares candidly about her high school experiences from her perspective as a Waldorf Educator, now a high school teacher, and as a parent.
I hope you find this article as wonderful as I did… Donna Simmons has many wise word regarding children and their needs. Thank you Donna!
So I wrote a bit about the use of saints to teach letters in a Waldorf-style for mothers who had asked this question about how to work in Waldorf elements of teaching with a predominantly Roman Catholic/Orthodox focus.
Now I would like to share a bit about what personally I did when my oldest was in first grade. Perhaps it will spark some ideas for you and your summer planning!
My oldest was a fluent reader prior to when she turned seven and started first grade. And by fluent I mean she could read whatever she wanted, so beyond Frog and Toad and all that…People freak out about a situation like this frequently on Waldorf boards and forums, because they don’t realize that the content of Waldorf first grade so speaks to the soul of a seven-year old and the academic skill level can be adjusted up or down. Also, early readers frequently need the balancing and harmonizing Waldorf first grade provides.
At that time, I really liked the “Along The Alphabet Path” that Elizabeth Foss created (see link at end of this post). I loved Saints, I loved the flower fairies, but I also liked that archetypal imagery of the fairy tales. What was a homeschooling mother to do?
Create her own story, of course, in a three day rhythm.
Here are examples from my story (PS, the Saint book I used was the original one Elizabeth used before she switched to a different Saints book. I used “Letters From Heaven: An Illuminated Alphabet” by Susan Kelly vonMedicus. There are essentially poems to go with each Saint for each letter of the alphabet).
The Beginning: (we started with Circle Time and alliterative verses for the letters A and B)
“Once upon a time there was a little girl named Lily who lived with her mother and father and her little sister Tess in a far away Kingdom. Today, Lily was very excited – Lily had turned 7 just a few weeks earlier, and in her family, once you were 7 you started training in order to be able to wear a crown…You see, Lily’s mother and father were the Queen and King, and Lily was a princess. But there was no crown to be worn until one was seven.
The King and Queen called Lily into their chambers and told her, “You are now 7, which is a very important age. You will be the Keeper of Knowledge and you will be learning all kinds of things to help you be a kind, compassionate Princess for all the people in our land.
We have a special task for you to complete before you can be crowned. You will travel with the wisest woman in our land to meet 26 of our most loyal fairy subjects. You will learn much about our world and we are proud of you as you undertake this task. We wish you much luck.” And they kissed her.
Lily could hardly believe her ears! What an adventure to be had! 7 is such an exciting age, she thought, and she wanted to be the very best princess she could be and learn a lot. She looked up with her eyes full of wonder and who should she find standing there but Queen Bluebell, the Queen of all the fairies.
“It is time, my dear, to come with me to start your very special task,” Queen Bluebell said. Lily’s eyes shone and then she grew sad. “I will miss my little sister so much,” said Lily to her mother and father and Queen Bluebell.
Queen Bluebell smiled, “And she shall miss you. Please go say goodbye to your little sister and then we shall start our journey.”
Lily ran outside to give her little sister Tess a big hug. She loved Tess so much. Tess looked up at Lily and said, “Take this, and if ever you are scared or lonely, look at this and think of me.” She pressed a tiny sack that fit inside her hand into Lily’s hand. “I shall be happy to see you return once your journey is over, and see you crowned as a princess!”
And so Queen Bluebell and Lily started off on a pathway that went through the Palace Gardens — there were many beautiful flowers there. Lily wondered if that was where they were stopping, but Queen Bluebell continued on, toward a large meadow in front of the woods that surrounded the castle…
“Princess Lily, I would like you to meet a friend of mine – This is the Bugle Flower Fairy.” And there, standing before Lily and Queen Bluebell was a small clump of herbs with purple flowers growing in the shade.
“Umm, excuse me, Queen Bluebell? I do not see a friend anywhere,’” whispered Lily politely. Suddenly, up from the clump of purple flowers rose a tiny purple fairy, a boy with a small purple bugle tucked into his waistcoat.
“Queen Bluebell and Princess Lily,” said the boy, bowing. “Let me be the first to welcome you to your journey. May luck and peace be with you.” Lily fingered the small sack Tess had given to her.
“And every good journey should have a song and story to begin by. “ and he settled himself on the ground cross legged and began to sing the song that all Bugle Flower Fairies sing This is from the Flower Fairy Alphabet Book, this is not original by me!):
“At the edge of the woodland
Where good fairies dwell,
Stands, on the look-out
A brave sentinel.
At the call of his bugle
Out the elves run,
Ready for anything,
Danger, or fun,
Hunting, or warfare,
By moonshine or sun.
With bluebells and campions
The woodlands are gay,
Where bronzy-leaved Bugle
Keeps watch night and day. (A Flower Fairy Alphabet, page 165)
And then he said, “Now you shall have your story as well!”
“Once upon a time (Tell story of Snow White and Rose)
** So, there were other things on “DAY ONE” to do in school, but that was essentially the Main Lesson Story.
Re-visit Snow white and Rose Red with child helping tell it in parts, dress up and dramatize it. Practice writing “B”s in words – BEAR, BED, BET, BEAT, BABY etc. on chalkboard. Draw a picture of a bear and the “B” hidden within the shape of the Bear.
Write a simple sentence on the board such as “The bear was brown.’” and such and have child copy. A poem about a bear to orally recite would be nice here as well. (TYPICALLY, we would only do artistic work here and do a summary of the story or saint for the third day, but I feel it can be a bit different whilst learning letters).
We baked because it was baking day for my kindergartener and we made B’s with the dough
Recite poem from yesterday, go over b words and read sentences with “B”. Re tell Snow White and Rose Red with silk marionettes
Skip the first two pages of the Main Lesson book and on the second page of two page spread, design border with bugle flowers. On a golden path with stars between the letters, practice writing a line of big B and little friend b’s , think of words from yesterday and add new words that begin with “b” and write on blackboard or sheet of paper.
(Further along in grade, this would be time to draw the picture and if you have an already fluent reader and writer, the child could already be writing short summaries. You are the teacher, you assess and decide and execute your plan for that particular child.)
Wed – toward end of lesson: new story – Have ANGEL puppet ready!!
The fairy was very proud of himself for being the first loyal subject to tell a story to the Queen and the Princess. He was puffed up with pride! He put his bugle to his lips, but as he went to blow, suddenly a great light illuminated the area and an Angel, a messenger from God appeared. The Bugle Fairy bowed so low that the point of pointed hat touched the ground.
“AAAH,” said Lily, who was amazed at the sight of the angel. The light was brilliant and wonderful.
The angle unrolled a scroll and from the scroll he read, “There has been a heavenly decree that Princess Lily shall hear the story of Saint Brendan for the letter “B”
(Story of Saint Brendan) Use drawing of Saint Brendan with a B for the sail. There is also a verse that goes with this story from “Letters From Heaven”, recite together and can be left on the board to look at next week and perhaps write in Poetry Main Lesson Book.
When the Angel was finished with the story, he pulled a beautiful Apple Blossom from his robe and handed it to Lily. It had a golden stem! Lily was again amazed and said “AAAHHH.” Then the angel was gone.
Lily wiped a tear away from her eye. “Those are wonderful stories! Especially Snow-white and rose-red, who were never to be parted…and the Bravery of Saint Brendan! How I wish to be brave as well!” Lily had a lump in her throat as she missed her sister, but as she looked down she saw a bugle-flower in her hand and brightened.
“I will collect a whole bouquet of flowers for my sister” Queen Bluebell patted her on the arm. “I feel amazed at all I have seen! An angel of God!” (Have paper flower with gold chenille stem ready to press in main lesson book)
And she and Queen Bluebell went a little further on…
In Main Lesson book, on first two skipped pages, draw picture of an Angel with Big A and little friend a in one corner and on opposite page, write a sentence to caption the angel picture….. think of A words, write on board, think of sentences with a, such as: Lily was amazed to see an angel.
Look at b spread on next two pages and be excited and proud.
**Carrie’s note: Okay, so there were other things for school on this day, but that was much of the main lesson story.
I know a bit more about the three-day rhythm now, and I am not certain this is the best way to divide this up, but it gives you an idea of how to start and create something for your own family. I have another child coming up to first grade not this coming fall,but next fall, and I am planning on writing her her own story – probably something involving animals and Saints and the fairy tales, unless she falls in love with flower fairies by then..:)
Also, this probably would be WAY too much for many children, too many tangents of flower fairies and saints and fairy tales, but for a quiet-already-reading- at a high level little girl, it was well-received, and well-loved.
Don’t you all want to know what happened, and how it ended? LOL.
Thank you to Elizabeth Foss, whose “Along the Alphabet Path” became an inspiration for me to write my own. Please visit Elizabeth here: http://elizabethfoss.com/ and see her other Learning Ideas at Serendipity. Readers looking for a direct link to The Alphabet Path, can find it here: http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/along-the-alphabet-path-1.html