An Example of a First Grade Science Block

I am a Waldorf homeschooling mother, just like YOU!  This was a block I made up for First Grade (a January block) and thought it may give some of you inspiration for working science in with all the writing, math and form drawing of First Grade.  This is not to tell you how to do a block, but to inspire you that it is possible to write your own blocks!  It is doable!

Songs:  We learned a song in German about the Four Seasons and practiced it every day when we started school

Festival Celebration:  Epiphany (Three Kings’ Day) – we made a Twelfth Night Cake

WEEK ONE:

Day One –  Call to school with singing and verses

Warm up with singing, pennywhistle,  bean bag math

I recited a poem about the 12 months of the year and also the standard Mother Goose rhyme regarding the number of days in each month

We went through the names of each month in order, what each month made us think of, the four seasons

Made a calendar in English and German

Finished by telling Dorothy Harrer’s “The Four Seasons”

Movement Games

Wet on Wet Painting

Closing Verses

Day Two –  Call to school with singing and verses

Warm up with singing, pennywhistle,  bean bag math

Recited poems from yesterday and looked at calendar

We wrote  a title page for the Main Lesson Book:  The 12 Months, The 4 Seasons on a golden path, all capitals for the First Grader

Re-visited story and children dressed up parts in the story

Movement Games

Wet on Wet Painting

Closing Verses

Day Three –   Call to school with singing and verses

Warm up with singing, pennywhistle,  bean bag math

Recited poems again, revisited calendar

Had pictures drawn on the blackboard of the Four Brothers from the story which my child drew into her Main Lesson Book and captioned the names of each of the brothers

Movement Games

Wet on Wet Painting

Closing Verses

Day Four – Call to school with singing and verses

Hiking in the morning to really feel the weather and see its effects on the plants and animals of our area

Nature Arts and Crafts – made ice bowls, told the story of Dorothy Harrer’s “The Snowflake” after crafting

Closing Verses

WEEK TWO

Day One-  Call to school with singing and verses

Warm up with singing, pennywhistle,  bean bag math

Recited poems from last week

Talked about looking at each Season separately, this week we thought about fall, what season fall came before,  what season comes after fall, what months are in fall, what we associate with fall

Told the story “The Littlest Gnome” and “The Second Gnome” together as one story from Margaret Peckham’s “Nature Stories”

German Practice

Nature Arts and Crafts

Closing Verses

Day Two –  Call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with singing,  pennywhistle, bean bag math

Recited poems from last week

Re-visited the story and modeled with beeswax elements from the story while I recited some gnome verses!

Movement Games

Nature Arts and Crafts

Closing Verses

Day Three – Call to circle with singing and verses

Warm-up with singing, pennywhistle,  bean bag math

Recited poems from last week

Re-visited story

Drew picture in Main Lesson Book of scene from story representing Fall and captioned scene with part of a poem, “ Summer is flying,/Autumn is here,/This is the harvest of all the year.”  (written with all capitals for the First Grader).

Started to move into Winter…what the animals do in Winter?  What animals do we see in Winter?  How do we help our animal friends in Winter in our backyard?  Where are the flowers?  What is Mr. Sun doing?

Told the story of “Shingebiss” – this story is  in many sources, Winter Wynstones has it, the Waldorf Association pink Kindergarten book has it, it may be  available on-line, but the music with it is wonderful and I don’t think that is posted on-line anywhere.

Spanish Practice

Nature Arts and Crafts

Closing Verses

Day Four  – Call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with singing,  pennywhistle, bean bag math

Revisit Shingebiss, act it out!

(We live in a fairly snow-less area, so we made “snow” in a plastic sensory table, but if you had real snow it would be great to go and build snow forts).

We also cut out paper snowflakes.

Movement Games

Nature Arts and Crafts

Closing Verses

DAY Five – Shortened Day

Call to circle with singing and verses

Revisit story

We drew in our Main Lesson Books a winter scene from Shingebiss and wrote this caption, “Now that Winter’s/Come to stay/Little Birds must fly away.”

We did some wet on wet painting in blue and coated it with Epsom salts that leaves crystals behind as it dries.

One thing we did over the weekend was to make a little diaroma in a shoebox with Shingebiss (made out of beeswax)  in his lodge and the lake…Lots of fun!

WEEK THREE

Day One – Call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with pennywhistle, singing, bean bag math

See if we can recite poems from beginning of block

Tell story of  “The Prince of Butterflies” by Dorothy Harrer

We moved like butterflies, rolled each other up in silk cocoons and otherwise had a great time!

German Practice

Candlemas Crafts

Closing Verses

Day Two – call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with pennywhistle, singing, bean bag math

Recited poems orally from beginning of the block

Make a caterpillar/butterfly puppet show from Suzanne Down’s book “Around the World with Finger  Puppet Animals”

Re-visited our story!

Spanish Practice

Candlemas crafts

Closing Verses

Day Three – call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with pennywhistle, singing, bean bag math

Recited poems

Revisited story and drew a picture of Twig and Dame Nature from the story with the caption, “Trees get back their leaves/And out came bees and birds.”

We cut out felt shapes of waterfall, pool, wide stream, wide river with boats, ocean and then I told the story, “The Lazy Water Fairy” with these props about Summer.

Candlemas Crafts

Baking

Closing Verses

Day Four – call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with pennywhistle, singing, bean bag math

Recited poems

Revisited story and acted out the parts of the different kinds of fairies

Candlemas Crafts

Closing Verses

Day Five – call to circle with singing and verses

Warm up with pennywhistle, singing, bean bag math

Recited poems

Revisited story

Drew in Main Lesson Book with caption, “The Golden Sun so great and bright/Warms the world with all its might.”

Candlemas Crafts

Closing Verses

 

Unfortunately, I am not sure from my notes at this point where the poetry came from.  I am wondering if these came from poems from Eric Fairman’s Grade One Path of Discovery book which I lent out to someone so I cannot check and see if they are in there!    If anyone knows, I would love to post the reference!

The point of this is NOT to say this is how you should do a block or whathaveyou but to point out it is possible to create your own blocks!  Get inspired in your planning!  For example, there are so many different ways one could have approached this block!

I am up to February in writing lesson plans for a second grader and a kindergartner, where are you these days??

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

“What Do I Do? My Child Can’t Handle Fairy Tales!”

If this is your child, take a deep breath.  This issue comes up more frequently than one might suspect. 

First of all, check yourself.  I had a friend once who said how much she enjoyed fairy tales and felt comfortable with them, but then admitted there were parts that “were not so nice”.   Okay, so not as comfortable as she thought she was!  The thing is, one HAS to look at the fairy tales as archetypal images, not from an adult perspective of literal happenings. 

Secondly, check the age of your child and what adult factoids the child has been exposed to in their educational career.  If your child has been exposed to lots of “but these are the facts, m’am” regarding science and other subjects and things usually have a “literal” answer for the child, then it will be more difficult for the child to absorb these tales in an archetypal way.  Some children are truly not comfortable with Grimm’s tales until age six and a half or seven, but there are many other kinds of tales to pick before then.  If you need suggestions, please leave a comment in the comment box and I would be happy to suggest something for the age of your child!

Third, pick tales that you are comfortable with.  Read the tale for three nights before you tell the fairy tale so you  absorb it yourself and you can TELL it to your child.  Consider songs and puppetry and props for your tale as opposed to just straight “telling”.  I think especially for children who have been “over-factoided”, they need that soothing visual imagery of silk marionettes to help them along.    There are many wonderful Waldorf resources that have turned fairy tales into Circle Times and puppet shows.  “Plays for Puppets”, available through Waldorf booksellers, is a lovely place to start.

I wrote a full post regarding the necessity of fairy tales with more suggestions for choosing fairy tales by age here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/the-importance-of-fairy-tales/

These tales are medicine for your child’s soul; for helping your child deal with their own fears, for showing a child the optimistic view that the world is truly a good place.  Meditate on this, find the truth in this.

Blessings,

Carrie

Science in the First and Second Grade Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum

There is a wonderful article here regarding the approach toward science within the Waldorf curriculum:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/ScienceDavid.pdf

As a science person, I also wrote an article on this blog regarding how I view the rigorousness of science as presented throughout the Waldorf curriculum and also traced what subjects in science are brought in when here:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/28/science-in-waldorf-homeschooling/

Science is a very important subject to me and to our family.  I think Waldorf education provides a very rigorous and age-appropriate, developmentally- appropriate way to science education.  For First Grade and Second Grade, many parents wonder what they should be doing within the curriculum for Science since most of the emphasis is placed upon Language Arts, Math and Form Drawing.  Let me assure you there are plenty of places to work science in!

Here are some ideas and suggestions:

  • Form drawing off of simple nature stories. This is especially effective during these early grades.
  • Tell spontaneous made-up stories regarding the animals around your home and in your area.  A wonderful reference is Anna Comstock’s “Handbook of Nature Study.”  Read up on what animal or plant you would like to make a story about and work those characteristics into your story.
  • Do several short one to two-week blocks on backyard nature each season.
  • Spend lots of time outside just feeling, observing, using the 12 senses every day and in every kind of weather.  Look at how the weather affects plants and animals throughout the seasons.
  • Do get Joseph Cornell’s “Sharing Nature with Children” and work nature games into your school year.
  • Do plenty of festival preparation – this is part of science:  the cycle of the year.
  • Do plenty of arts and crafts involving natural materials on your craft days.  Look at things such as the cycles of wool from visiting sheep at a farm to raw fleece washing to carding and spinning to dyeing yarn and knitting as part of your handwork.
  • Start a garden!  Garden throughout much of the year.  See my review on “Gardening with Young Children” by Beatrys Lockie here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/07/book-review-gardening-with-young-children-by-beatrys-lockie/
  • Cooking provides many opportunities to observe chemical phenomenon.
  • Visit farms, orchards, aquariums, zoos, beaches, mountains, grasslands and other places.
  • Start terrariums and aquariums.
  • Catch small animals and keep them overnight and then let them go! We currently have a snail that we found and have enjoyed watching the snail move with its one foot, seeing the snail’s eyes on the end of the stalks up close, finding out what  a snail loves to eat, how to build a snail habitat. 
  • Feed the birds throughout the winter, put up bird boxes, bat houses, owl houses. 
  • Get your little outdoor  space certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.
  • Read stories that have to do with nature.  Donna Simmons has great lists in  her book “From Nature Stories to Natural Science” available here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/essential-christopherus-publications/from-nature-stories-to-natural-science.html
  • In first and second grade, provide opportunities to work through the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  Some second grade families do an entire block on these elements through toy and craft making.
  • Look at thing with the NAKED eye to really develop observation skills – you have years left in which to use microscopes, magnifying glasses and telescopes. You do not need these things yet!  Save your money until you really need these things in later years!
  • Work through poetry and movement.  Choose seasonal fingerplays, songs, circle time work that looks at animals and plants in the seasons.  Move like these animals.
  • Work with any pets you may have to train them.  Clicker training is just wonderful, and works with pretty much any animal from dogs to cats to Oscars (the fish).   If you google “clicker training”, lots of resources will come up.  Help your child to do such  things  as feed and brush the dog, but do NOT expect the child to take full responsibility  for a pet yet!  Work to include your animals in the rhythm of your day.
  • Other appropriate blocks to work in science include a block of the four seasons, length of year, length of months in First or Second Grade.  A good resource for stories involving the seasons is Dorothy Harrer’s
  • Blocks that include work with the Four Elements are great sources of inspiration and scientific thinking.
  • Blocks that include stories that revolve around the animals and plants of a specific habitat – mountain, desert, ocean.

Hope that sparks some ideas for you as you plan,

Carrie

The Wonder Years: Waldorf Homeschooling Grades One Through Three

There seems to be a perception amongst mainstream parents that children within the first, second and third grades should be “buckling down and getting to work”, which essentially means loads of worksheets and sitting with pen and paper in hand.

I have a different view, one that coincides with the way the grades are laid out in Waldorf Education, and one I would like you to seriously consider.

You will never get the ages of 7,8 and 9 back.  Seven, eight, and nine-year olds are still small, believe it or not.  The way they learn best most likely is not pen and paper and workbooks.  This only involves the head, and  nothing about the rest of the body.  Most of us learn best when we involve as many senses as possible, so why would we not offer the option of learning through movement, art, music and yes, paper and writing as well to the smallest members of our schooling community?

Seven, eight and nine are still ages of wonder!  These are not the ages for stuffing facts into their heads.  This is the age for igniting interest, for providing those valuable hands-on experiences that stimulate wonder.

Some of the physiologic parameters are not even there yet for true “sit down learning.”  A seven-year –old can still be fairly distractible, an eight-year-old finally has the development of the eyes completed, the nine-year-old is starting to be on the threshold from feeling as if he is one with the Universe and everything in it.  To treat these seven, eight and nine year olds any differently is not in accordance with their developmental level.  It is rushing, it is putting the horse before the cart, and it will set you up for problems as you actually reach the stages for greater “head-oriented” learning.

Here are some simple suggestions:

1.  Find and plan the ACTIVE part of each and every lesson!  A Main Lesson does not mean just sitting and writing!

2.  Have respect for the attention span and fatigue factor of the seven, eight and nine-year old!

3.  Realize that not every block calls for a Main Lesson Book creation.  Third Grade is full of hands-on projects, building and farming and gardening.  These bodily experiences are just as important, if not more important, than sitting and writing.

4.  Ignite the WONDER!  You are not there to stuff facts, you are there to distill the essence of the subject down into your Main Lesson, you are there to give SPACE to the child to let them form their own conclusion. 

5.  Leave your adult baggage BEHIND!  They don’t need it (and truth be told, do you really need it as well?)  Saints are wonderful other-worldly beings that the eight-year-old can still relate to as they do battle with the more heavy side of being human, the Old Testament Stories are stories of a people and how they dealt (or didn’t) with such concepts as authority and law and place in society. 

6.  Utilize REST and SLEEP as the true learning aids that they are to education.  Waldorf Education utilizes a three-day rhythm (some Waldorf homeschool curriculums utilize a two-day rhythm simply because Waldorf at home is not Waldorf at school).  This is vital!

7.  Understand the big picture for the 7 and 8 –year old, and also for the nine-year change.  I guarantee it is not textbooks and worksheets and workbooks that will speak to their heart, their soul development and their developmental stage.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a young lady who just finished public school first grade and she told me excitedly that her teacher had made snow in their classroom!  (Yes, making snow is a BIG deal in the Southeastern United States because we don’t really get any that lasts for any length of time).   That was the thing she mainly remembered from first grade, that is the one thing she really carried with her from the whole school year!

Work for creating wonder, for respect for the fact that 7 and 8 and even 9 year olds are still small.  Plan ahead with your 7 and 8 year olds for what they will need for the nine-year change.

Happy pondering,

Carrie

Age for Waldorf First Grade

If you are confused, well, join the rest of us!  Some Waldorf resources say the child is six in first grade, other sources say seven.  The general guideline I have used is that the child should be at least six and a half by the time the First Grade starts.  This means if your child has a summer birthday, they may be seven when first grade starts.  Most early six- year -olds are still in Waldorf Kindergarten (or should be). 

Do not rush, you can never get the Waldorf Kindergarten six –year- old year back!  And most children will benefit from the extra time to just “be” without having to focus on a main lesson for two hours.  No need to rush the end of that first seven-year cycle.

Hope that helps,

Carrie

More Great Read-Alouds for Waldorf First Grade

I wrote a post about good read-alouds for first grade here a bit ago: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/11/great-read-alouds-for-waldorf-at-home-first-grade/

Today, we are going to add these titles to that list:

The Cat’s Vacation by Irene Schoch for 6-8 year olds

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace for 6-7 year olds – Please pre-read as you usually do; as I remember Tacy comes from a large family and the newest baby in their family either dies at childbirth or right after childbirth.  It is addressed in a very sensitive way in a chapter, but it may be too much for some of the children.

Freddie the Pig Series – Walter R Brooks

Mrs. Pepperpot by Alf Proyson

One Hundred and One African –American Read-Aloud Stories by Susan Kantor

The Curious George Series for ages 5-8 by H.A. Rey – yes, either you love it or hate it!

Honk the Moose by Phil Strong for ages 7 and up

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie dePaola for ages 6 and up

The Wind Boy by Ethel Cook Eliot

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen – a picture book, but just lovely to re-visit every year in the Winter

A Ride on the Red Mare’s Back by Ursula LeGuin

Paddington Bear Series – Michael Bond

If any one has others to suggest, please leave your thoughts in the comment box.  Please remember to pre-read and decide if these titles are right for you and your family. 

Also, the main goal of stories at this age is still to provide more of an archetypal element and not so much of  a ready to identify protagonist.  Fairy tales should still be the bulk of your stories this year in Main Lesson, and also outside of Main Lesson time.  Also, do not neglect your oral storytelling by telling  stories about animals around your home, what happened when your child was little, what happened when you were little.

Happy Reading,

Carrie

Flu Poems

My first grader wrote these while she had the flu and a 102 degree fever (before we went island hopping).  I thought they were cute and I would share:

Thank You

Many thanks for our food.

And many thanks for our love.

Many thanks for my prayers which

My Lord hears so well.

And this one:

Do You Love Me?

Do you love me Mother?

Yes, for all the world.

Do you love me Father?

Yes, with all my heart.

Everyone loves me.

Peace,

Carrie

Ron Jarman’s Math Goals for Waldorf Grade One

This is from Ron Jarman’s book, “Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools for Classes I-VIII”: (some of these goals have been shortened, you need to get his book to see more of the details!).  I took them directly from the book, so please note the very English spelling of some of the words! :)

a. Experience of straight and curved lines- in bodily posture, by walking along them and through drawing them in colour on the blackboard and on large sheets of paper.

b.  Introduction to whole numbers, proceeding from whole to its parts (e.g. breaking up a dead stick). Finding where they reveal themselves in the world.

c.  Counting – first up to 10, then up to 20, later up to 100.  (He mentions counting rhymes, jumping, skipping, singing, movement, movement, movement)

d.  Estimating the size of collections, especially of shells, stones and nuts.  Arranging them in groups and patterns.

e.  Experience of forms containing straight and curved lines…finally concentrating on the writing of the Roman numerals and later the Arabic numerals.

f.  Experience of the 4 rules and developing imagination for the invisible third number in each sum (using concrete objects)

g.  A lot of mental arithmetic – both orally and through writing down just the answers.  Games with mental arithmetic.

h.  Written arithmetic with the 4 rules, (physical demonstration first, going into imaginative type, then into purely computational kinds of sums)

i.  drawing repeated patterns

j.  symmetrical form drawing

k. free modelling of shapes including flat and curved surfaces

l.  comparison of lengths and widths, but not by using rulers or pairs of scales – instead using their own limbs and body weights together and as a group

m. rhythmic learning by heart of the 2 times, 3 times, and 10 times tables; also of number bonds up to a total of 20.

There you have it!  This really is a book that belongs on your bookshelf; it is easily available through Bob and Nancy’s at www.waldorfbooks.com, the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore, and many of the used Waldorf curriculum lists.  Maybe my Canadian and British readers can let me know a supplier they use. 

Thanks,

Carrie

Some More Straight Talk About Waldorf Homeschooling of First Grade

(You can read the comments below, but I thought I would re-print one of my replies to the comments here for clarity with some questions that came up:

Foreign languages typically are introduced in Waldorf Kindy solely through puppetry, songs, verses. In my area at the local school they introduce German and Spanish, and I could find resources for that in my area. First Grade is kind of a continuation of that, I will try to find the post on this blog about foreign languages for you…..As far as math, we moved pretty aggressively which you don’t really need to do unless your child is moving along, but yes, all four math processes are introduced. Keep in mind this is with counters, objects, bodily movements such as oneTWO(stomp)threeFOUR(stomp)fiveSIX(stomp) for example to start learning the two’s table through skip counting and then moving into whole to parts 2=1 X2, 4=2 X 2. At some point I will do a review of the math books out there, but Ron Jarman’s, while it moves too fast for some folks, at least does have a list of goals for each grade in it, which I found to be helpful.
Also, we did do sight words because my daughter had already taught herself to read, but I think Donna Simmons says that normally comes in in second grade.
The joy of homeschooling though, is that you can go at your child’s pace and also to see how satisfied they are with the curriculum even if they are ahead or behind here or there.
Waldorf homeschooling is a wonderful adventure!)

 

On to the post:

I make up our own curriculum, so this is based off of what we did this year, but it may give you some idea of our particular scope and sequence and you could modify it for your own children and use:

Language Arts

First Block – Letters A-J with phonetic sounds, alliterative oral phrases, thinking of all words that begin with one letter and writing those down, rhyming words,  and writing of phrases through fairy tales.  Start reading what your child writes, help them follow left to right with their finger for visual tracking if they need it, read the sentence and cover a word up and have them fill in the blank.  Practice!  Use sentences and look at not only the phonetic sounds, but sight words (usually this comes more into consciousness in the second grade than first, but my child was already reading).  You can write the sight words on the board in a separate list if you need to!  Waldorf is a whole language approach to reading so look at both phonetic sounds and sight words and the whole sentence!

Second Block – Letters K-S as above through fairy tales

Third Block – Letters S-Z, vowels, starting with writing of familiar phrases, songs, verses moving into writing longer sentences for different fairy tales involving capitalization, punctuation, contractions.

What I would do differently: I probably would introduce just the letters Steiner indicated in his writings and go into more writing quicker.  Steiner did not say to introduce each letter with a separate story!  My child was a  fluent reader before we started first grade and not surprisingly hated writing (well, copying but she did a lot of writing of poems and stories on her own time), so we went easy on the “required”  writing for much of the year.  I recently went back through a bunch of our schoolroom papers though and found a large number of poems and stories my child had created “outside of” school, so if you have a child like that you may not have to be so worried about the writing.  If your child is reluctant to write, it is important to look at the age of your child (hopefully they are seven for this grade), their gross and fine motor skills and then look at how much you should require.

Essential Resources: A copy of the Grimm Fairy Tales or other fairy tales from around the world that you would like to use.  I also found Donna Simmons’ First Grade Syllabus and her Living Language book to be of help for gauging where we were.  The other thing to  remember is that the letters are being taught through art, so you will need to know how to use block crayons, how to model, all those things.   Sigi’s block drawing book is a must, and Melisa Nielsen now has a DVD of Sigi drawing through her book available for sale.   Drama is another fun way to bring the fairy tales to life.

Math

First Block (6 weeks) – Quality of Numbers 1-12 (I think most Waldorf teachers do numbers 1-10 only) through fairy tales, Roman Numerals 1-12, introduction of all four math processes through our friends the math gnomes.

Second Block – Used work with concrete objects and whole body movement to explore addition and subtraction facts up to 20, division, multiplication tables of 2s, 5s, 10s, skip counting, counting to 100 forward and backward.

Third Block – Worked on same as second block, moving into  working with addition and subtraction up to 100, introducing columnar math problems by end of year.

What I would do differently:  I introduced the numbers pretty fast but from what I read in Steiner’s work it seems as if the numbers would be introduced from things that are part of the children (fingers, toes) or around the children even faster than what I did.

Ron Jarmon’s math book moves fast but has clearly outlined objectives for each grade.  You may have to tone it down, but it should be on your bookshelf as a reference for math.  The other book you may want to check out is Melisa Nielsen’s new math book; I have heard spectacular things about it.  You can see a review of Melisa’s book over at Lovey’s blog here:  http://lovey-land.blogspot.com/2008/12/journey-through-waldorf-math.html

The other thing to keep in mind is much of math is bodily movement, rhythm, music, so to have ideas for that floating around your head.  Math, to me, is also one of the areas where kids kind of seem to get it (or not), so I wouldn’t  feel badly if your child doesn’t move as fast as above and needs a summer to sleep on it before it all clicks in second grade!

Science – my own personal theme was “Looking at Things Around Us” (through all 12 senses of course!!)

First Block – we did River Life in with form drawing and explored stories (with characteristics of those animals)  about Ms. Turtle, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the Otter Family, Old Mister Frog. You could pick whatever kind of habitat is predominant in the area in which you live and make up stories about the animals.

Second Block – introduction of calendar, making a calendar, spending time with stories about each season and how one season gives way to the other.  From that point on we also made calendars in German and Spanish each month.    A really fun block!!

Third Block – Backyard Nature – bees, ants, dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs.

Essential Reference:  The Handbook of Nature Study.  I also like Donna Simmons’ From Nature Stories to Natural Science as a reference.

Form Drawing

First Block – line and curve and variations

Second Block – moving from line and curve into spirals, lemniscates

Third Block –  moving into closed forms, how lines and curves can change a form from one shape and feeling to a completely different shape and feeling

Fourth Block – closed forms with and without shading, running forms

Essential Reference:  Embery-Stine and Schuberth’s Form Drawing Grades One through Four.

Knitting

We had a tough time with knitting; my child hated it and was extremely frustrated.   She did careful, cautious work but you could tell it just required so much concentration for her.   She knit a rectangular scarf for her bear and started a square to make a chick for Easter.  I don’t know if we will get to a third project or not!  There are lots of wonderful knitting resources out there though to help you get started.

Wet-on-Wet Painting

We started with our three color friends of red, yellow, blue and those qualities, moved into painting with two colors where the colors exchanged places on paper, then into all three colors where they changed color on the paper, some color blending to make orange, purple, green, and then at the very end of the school year plan to move into painting some simple shapes with gesture.  I wrote a post a while back about the wet-on-wet painting books on the market here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/02/resources-for-wet-on-wet-watercolor-painting/

Modeling

Arthur Auer’s book is a must!

 

Pennywhistle

We learned many songs this year, played with rhythm and learned five songs together on the pennywhistle.  Looking forward to even more next year!

Foreign Language

We did Spanish and German; celebrated many German holidays and made a lot of typical German crafts for the holidays.

(Lucky enough to have tutors  and Saturday German school for these areas!)

Religious Studies

We learned about the 9 Fruit of the Holy Spirit through stories and did one fruit for each month of school, which worked out well.  Next year I plan to focus on what I call “The Be-Happy Attitudes” (the Beatitudes).

 

First Grade is the BRIDGE between Kindergarten and Second Grade; so although this sounds like a lot I would say our school hours were short, we did a lot of gardening, baking, cooking, crafts and being outside.  We also continued work on a lot of gross motor skills involving balance, hand-eye coordination, working with jumping rope and jump rope rhymes.

Definitely do not drive yourself insane with first grade, but do look at where your child is and where they need to get to by the end of the year!

The sequence I used may be too fast or too slow for your child, but hopefully it will give you some idea of ways to progress forward in first  grade!

 Hope this post will give you some ideas,

Carrie

Things I Learned Along the Way in Teaching Homeschool Waldorf First Grade

Well, now that we are more than half way through our first grade year, I thought I would re-cap a few things I have learned and discovered; maybe they will resonate with you as you either plan for first grade or finish first grade up this Spring.

1.  There cannot be enough Form Drawing.  I planned three form drawing blocks plus weekly form drawing most months; it is that important.  I highly suggest that you start First Grade with an entire MONTH of Form Drawing.  There is a post on this blog about Form Drawing; please refer to that for further details. 

2.  You simply must plan handwork a certain number of times a week or it will may not happen; your child may love to knit but mine did not.  We worked essentially on a row a day every day in knitting and we are still behind completing the number of projects she probably would have completed by now in a Waldorf school.  This fact does not really bother me, she does beautiful and careful work and I feel certain by next year she will enjoy knitting when she doesn’t have to think so hard about it, LOL.

3.  Which brings me to my third point – sometimes your little one will balk and YOU have to know when to take the day off and go hiking, when to allow play with the siblings,and when to say, “No, really, this has to happen today.  Back to work, please.”

4.  You can imbue many opportunities for nature and ecological study throughout the curriculum.  We kept a gardening day due to my kindergartner and I think next year I may expand this to twice a week in our rhythm instead of once; I also planned nature blocks in with Form Drawing and we also did Nature Blocks in January with the The Year/The Four Seasons and a Backyard Nature Block.  I hope to write a post on the Waldorf way of teaching Science in the future; it is fascinating!  As a science person, I totally appreciate it!

5.  The story of the letters can be taught in many different ways through the use of a container story to hold the fairy tales together.  This was helpful as I made up something that spoke to my daughter, a story with fairies and princesses that also involved some spiritual elements as well.  Think of what truly speaks to your child and work that in.

6.  Wet-on-wet watercolor painting is important, and it is great fun to alternate this with modeling.  We painted twice a week and modeled two to three times a week. 

7.  Math is one of those subjects that people tend to put in a secondary position versus reading; but please do not be fooled.  Math is of the utmost importance; Eugene Schwartz is convinced that there are periods of math windows for math literacy.  I think it is important once you do your initial math block to practice every day you do school where that is not the main lesson focus (with a few breaks here and there for holiday crafting and  such).  Math is one of those subjects that works whole to parts, that needs to build in the child.  Please keep working on it.

8.  Please do not neglect the fun things- festival preparation, crafts, projects.  Don’t forget that the “head” part of your main  lesson can be totally hands-on.  Today we did the Grimms’ fairy tale “The Pink” and drew a huge, as tall as my daughter mural of the castle/tower from the story.  We also wet-on-wet watercolor painted ‘the pink” (a flower) from the story.  Tomorrow we will use our third day of this story to draw giant P’s on the driveway with chalk, walk them, hop them, draw them on each other,  and finally draw them in our  Main Lesson Book.

9.  We waited to start our “blowing instrument” as Steiner called it (we have been using a pennywhistle this year) until after the New Year.  You really don’t have to do it all at once; we did however bring in a lot of singing throughout the school year. We learn at least two new songs or more a month, and often make up repetitive songs to go with the fairy tales or the season.  Think how you can bring music into your homeschool!  Steiner talked about how the seven-to-fourteen-year old learns best through rhythm, so thinking about how to bring this to your child is so important.

Just a couple of things from along the way; if you are finishing First Grade please your nuggets of wisdom in the Comment Box to share and help other mothers just like you!

Carrie