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
We started school on August 22, so we are finishing up our local geography block. It was a fun block, and one I expanded into covering our whole state. I did this for two reasons: my daughter really has a good knowledge of local things; a keen sense of direction and was already offering to draw maps of everything local before I even got there (Can I draw a map of my room? Look, I drew a map of my neighborhood!) and because I really want to start to cover U. S. Geography so we can do Canada and Mexico next year.
I think one thing to consider in this block is how heavily you will employ history. Donna Simmons talks about this at length in her Fourth Grade Syllabus, and it was something I pondered greatly. Geography, to me, doesn’t mean much unless we know how it impacted the people living there (or how the people impacted it). So, I tried not to go overboard, but did lay a foundation for a few future things in the process. This is how I did it: Continue reading
This is the blog of one of my readers, and I think you all may like her page of Fourth Grade resources (scroll down, many of the resources are free on the Internet): http://closeacademy.blogspot.com/p/fourth-grade.html
And this blog has many wonderful lessons for Fourth Grade (and there are also posts for Grades One and Two as well): http://blueskiesdragonflies.blogspot.com/search/label/grade%204f
Thank you to these mothers for sharing their resources, ideas and inspirations!
Here is a list I have been compiling from different sources regarding typical readers and read-alouds for fourth grade Waldorf homeschooling. Please do remember that your student should still be reading out loud to you each day and you should be reading out loud to them.
Here are some suggestions for reading; I am sure there are many more not on this list but it is a place to start. These books can contain mature themes, more struggle and of what it means to be the complex human being, so most of them are recommended for those at least age 9 and up, and I would caution if your child just turned 9 and has not yet gone through the nine year change that you may wait to schedule these until the second half of the year. My assumption in making this list is that your child is actually TEN, or close to ten, for fourth grade.
The article “Geography In Fourth Grade” by Franklin G Kane (available here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/geography.pdf) was a lovely starting point for me to read regarding the inclusion of local geography in the Fourth Grade that I am planning for fall. Mr. Kane writes:
“The child around the ninth year undergoes an important turning-point in his development. As Rudolf Steiner pointed out, the whole approach to teaching must delicately adjust to meet the more conscious, questioning and independent being. For one thing a child of nine or ten now begins to
feel more separate from the environment which until now he accepted as a larger homelike protection. As one of the ways to meet this, Dr. Steiner suggested that in the Fourth Grade a study of the local area should take place. Through observation of the history and geography of the local
environment, a picture develops as to why the industries, occupations, and way of life of his home have evolved to what they are.
Unlike the early study of history that has its origin in the broad, cosmic remembrances of the old fairy tales and myths of long ago, the study of geography starts nearest the child and gradually expands, in the course of years, to take in a study of the whole world.”
I also keeping this scope and sequence of geography for the fourth through eighth grades in mind as I plan: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/waldorf-homeschool-publishing-and-consulting/curriculum/subjects/geography.html
And, the last thing I am keeping in mind that in a Waldorf Education we start with the child and with the doing. Map-making holds a dear place in Waldorf Education – drawing maps, modeling salt dough maps, etc. This is a wonderful book by David Sobel that could really assist one in planning this block: http://www.amazon.com/Mapmaking-Children-Sense-Education-Elementary/dp/0325000425
To create this block, I used suggestions from both the Christopherus Fourth Grade Syllabus and Marsha Johnson’s free files for Fourth Grade available at her Yahoo!Group. Here is my tentative outline/ideas, and I hope it will be helpful to you as you plan in your own area and state (and note these are loose ideas, not written in a two or three day rhythm or anything!)
Week One -
Start with taking a bird’s eye look (something for a child past the nine year change!) at our schoolroom, my child’s bedroom and our home moving into our neighborhood –draw maps. Take a blindfolded walk around our yard and in the little park in our neighborhood.
Walk outside of our neighborhood down to the main street of our community – make a diaroma of our community’s Main Street
Take a field trip to a historic site where there used to be a working Mill on a river near our house; this is what this land used to do and how people lived here!
Draw major features of our city into our Main Lesson Book along with facts about our city and how our city is part of a county
Over weekend between weeks one and two – hubby or I will rent canoe and take child on major river that runs through our area; on Labor Day we will venture to a canyon in our state
Main theme this week is the story of the four elements that shaped our state and the animals and people that settled here; and also geographic terms. Plan to go to high mountain top near our home and look out over our region at what we can see and identify; visit a park area near our major river that child went canoeing on and build and play in the mud and sand to create land like our four elements story
A look at the special element of water in our state and all the waterways, where they begin and end and create a salt dough relief map of our state
Talk about the barrier islands of our state in story form of course and add to our salt dough map; add beeswax animals to our map – talk about our state animals
Draw a map of our state freehand with the five geographic regions of our state (not sure if this will be here or at the end of this block)
Over weekend between weeks two and three, visit local Native American Mounds
Tell story of the Mound Builders, build a mound ourselves in sandbox and then in clay or salt dough
Tell story of the Native Americans in our area who conquered the Mound Builders and how they lived (review from Third Grade); plan to visit the Cherokee Museum in neighboring state
Talk about the Gullah culture, not detailed, in preparation for our trip; cooking projects!
Between weeks three and four hope to visit the coast which has the first developed city of our state and the barrier islands of our state
Talk about first settlers in our state, first developed city; first capital city and how this moved around and how this was shaped by geography; make state flag and draw other state symbols
Talk about Gold Rush and farmers; visit farm preserved from days gone by; we have sifted for gold in the past at different places in the state so we can touch on that
Hang up a map of our state and mark places we have gone on this map; talk about how we are not driven so much anymore by industry in our state but by service and talk about several large local businesses. Hope to visit some of those and finish up with a visit to our State Capitol building that is not far away.
A busy schedule, but at least some general ideas! Hope that helps some of you who are planning. All of this will of course be presented in imaginative story and form and not much emphasis on the horrible and terrible but the general flow of how the geography of our land shaped who settled here and why they settled here and how.
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?
Many of you have been following along chapter by chapter the wonderful book, “Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children WITHOUT time-out, spanking, punishment, or bribery” by Judy Arnall.
The last chapter we reviewed was the chapter regarding the teenaged years. There were some very sobering facts in there, such as suicide is one of the top three causes of death in teens, that the average marijuana use in the US is age 14, that many children have tried alcohol by age 12. This really has hit home for me personally as I know three mothers who have really struggled with their teens in the areas of addiction issues and sexual promiscuity. One of the teens recently overdosed, was the victim of a crime, and lost his life. This is a heart-breaking tragedy and I have felt so sad about this. As parents we always wonder what we could have done differently in a situation like this, and my heart hurts for this family.
Judy Arnall, in this chapter about teens, goes through some of the things parents of teenagers need (for our teenagers to respect themselves and others, to have their teenagers feel successful in their relationships, school, work and community). She lists some of the reasons that teenagers try high-risk behaviors such as curiosity, unhealthy self-esteem and want to feel good about themselves, lack of coping skills to deal with their problems and needing to escape, not understanding that they can say “no” to a sense of obligation or pressure from peers or partners, needing to feel grown-up, needing to rebel, needing to fit in and win approval of peers, needing to escape uncomfortable feelings, feeling invincible and not understanding the risks/benefits/ consequences, not being able to communicate their needs to their family.
I would add a few things to this list: besides curiosity,I think boredom coupled with a lack of guidance by caring adults to channel this boredom or curiosity into healthy things, and also I think there is a lack of something bigger than themselves to worry about. I think this is extremely important.
I was talking to a dear friend about this chapter and she was saying one thing that really helped her in her teenaged years was that she was very into horses and horseback riding and that she had a horse who depended upon her every day to take of it. That is something bigger than yourself.
I talked about this book regarding rites of passage ( http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/30/rite-of-passage-parenting-four-essential-experiences-to-equip-your-kids-for-life-heading-up-to-the-nine-year-change-and-beyond/), and part of the book asks essentially “what does your child do around the house that you could not be without if they were not there?” There it is again: what is your child involved in that is bigger than himself or herself? How is your child tied to you, your family, your community?
If the average age of marijuana use is 14, and the average child has tried drinking before age 12, I believe the foundation for decreasing high-risk teenage behaviors HAS to start around that nine-year change (and before, of course. Attachment and security and so many things are laid during that first seven year cycle) But in many ways, I think because that nine-year change is a watershed where your child starts to feel separate from others, separate from you and the family, different, is noticing things about how different families and people do different things, now is the time to start.
I have an almost nine-year old, and I am trying to formulate some thoughts in my head as to how to create responsibility for my child that is bigger than her, how to keep time together,how to keep communication open, and how to best answer her questions about life. I am thinking hard. I have four years until the teenaged years, and this time is precious to me. Is it to you?
It is NOT enough to just talk about drugs and alcohol and sex. Yes, those conversations have to be there and they have to keep going throughout these years. But, there has to be ACTION. How will you help your child/teen structure their time, their environment, so these behaviors are less likely to occur? What are the top three things in your house that your child KNOWS is not negotiable? What freedoms can you give, but also what RESPONSBILITIES go with these freedoms? WHAT does your child have to look up to , to participate in, to take care of, that is bigger than himself or herself?
What community OUTSIDE the family is your child involved in and accepted in – is it one that you have helped create or one that just happened along the way? I am sure both can be okay, but it is important to know what is going on in that community. For example, how well do you know your child’s friends? Judy Arnall brings up the point of creating a “secondary community” away from the school environment if your child is in school – through church or other religious outlets, through Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, through volunteering . There HAS to be something bigger than themselves for these children.
Would love to hear your thoughts!
So, I am planning for homeschooling Waldorf Third Grade right now………
and I am glad I have started early. There is a lot to figure out!
Many people talk about how Third Grade is the year of “doing” and how things in Fourth Grade really shift. I actually see a bigger shift occurring in Fifth Grade, with the start of ancient history and such, with first through fourth leading up to this point in tracing human consciousness and evolution. So, I actually am planning Third and Fourth Grades together so they flow nicely.
This came about because I feel one has some decisions to make regarding Third and Fourth Grade:
1. Do you want Third Grade to be the year of the Old Testament stories (Eugene Schwartz, Eric Fairman) or include Native American stories as well (Melisa Nielsen, Donna Simmons)?
2. Where will you put Native Americans? In with the Third Grade building block? In with gardening in the Third Grade? In with local geography in the Fourth Grade?
3. Do you want to split the Old Testament Stories up between Third and Fourth Grade? Donna Simmons makes an argument for that here: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2009/06/ot-stories-again.html
4. What about those Norse myths – do want a shorter block of those, several blocks throughout the year, do you want to do any part of The Kalevala? The Norse myths are dark, good for a TEN-year-old, do you want to put them toward the end of Fourth Grade depending upon your child’s birthday?
5. In Fourth Grade, do you want to bring in US Geography along with local geography? I have heard good things about the way Melisa Nielsen approaches local geography in her Fourth Grade curriculum guide, and I like how Donna Simmons lays out her approach to geography through the grades here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/waldorf-homeschool-publishing-and-consulting/curriculum/subjects/geography.html
According to “The Waldorf Curriculum Chart” I have hanging on my wall, the following areas are typically covered in Third Grade:
- History- Biblical stories as part of Ancient history and American Indian tales and fables. History in the Fourth Grade includes local history, why the early settlers chose your geographic location to live, how they developed the natural resources
- You can see more about literature and skill development throughout the grades here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/10/history-and-literature-waldorf-homeschooling-grades-one-through-twelve/
- Math – times tables, prime numbers, carrying and borrowing, problems in time and more goals are listed in other Waldorf math resource books (remember this is just a little chart with boxes!)
- Housebuilding, farming, clothing are mentioned along with studies of the cycles of the year, soils, farm life, grains, vegetables and fruits, practical work in a garden, introducing colored pencils for writing (my daughter’s handwriting is exceptionally good so we probably are going to go with a fountain pen at this point), crochet work, forest walks and stories about trees and forests as an introduction to woodworking, beginning an instrument, lots of games and more!
Lots to think about! Start now!
This morning Mrs. Johnson posted a wise response on her list (email@example.com – please join if you are not on this list) to a mother. This is a post regarding spelling/ grammar within the Waldorf Curriculum:
“Waldorf is just so different, often. This is one of those areas.
Here are a couple insights to get you thinking inside the Waldorf box.
1) the spelling words come from the curriculum. They are part of the block, part of the ‘story’, part of the telling you are doing in your story-sharing time. They are not ‘disconnected’ random words. They certainly can lead to word family lessons and discussions to cement and explore spelling and phonemes. So the grade three child is hearing the Old Testament and the Practical Arts block stories all year long and the spelling words come from these areas.
2) the grade three child learns about Naming words (nouns) and Doing words (verbs), most often in the telling of the story of Creation as Adam names each animal as they are created.
You are Rabbit! Rabbits jump!
You are Goat! Goats leap!
You are Snake! Snakes slither.
You are Fox! Foxes slink.
And so on. Simple Naming and Doing, great basis for movement exercises, too.
3) In the grade 4, we begin with the nine parts of speech. We bring this from the Nine Worlds of the Norse gods, the Nine Days that Odin hung on the tree to obtain the ability to write, and the inclusion as we can see for that post-nine year change child of being able to step back and divide things into their parts now….fractions, music, and so on. So we have the ability to divide a bit and that is when we bring the Nine Parts of Speech. But we do this with games and directly from the curriculum as well.
He is Odin.
He is the wise Odin.
He is the wise Odin who sees.
He is the wise Odin who sees so clearly.
He is the wise Odin who sees so clearly and speaks so calmly.
Dissecting abstract language concepts into diagrams is meant for the middle school child. The younger ones need to stay in their imagination and in the story of the moment. We can see with each Norse god, unique characteristics that create a personality and a ‘type’. This is also true of our spoken language, each one has a personality and even a culture embedded in every single sound. Some languages do not have all the elements of English, others do. In some, the word order is quite different. In English we say I I I at the first, I am the most important. In others, the I is hidden or unspoken or ignored….
Children can be taught many things. We know this, but it is HOW we bring it that makes it Waldorf or not. Creating images, living pictures, in our hearts before we bring it to the children is very important.
For example….why are some verbs regular and others not? What are irregular verbs like, then> I am, you are, he is, she is, we are, they are………why, they are a bit individualistic aren’t they? Yes, why they are quite independent and not very easy to rule over, they are like the sons and daughters of Moses who don’t really pay attention to what he says when he is not there! They go their own way…and over here, so many good little words….I fly, you fly, he and she fly, we fly and they fly. Good little fly, way too obedient! Good two shoes? Or a good student? Always minds his manners, that fly.
And so we can see, can we create a town or a land where these characters live, some decent and easy to understand, others quite persnickety and rebellious but cute as bedbugs! Little rascals. Well we must make friends with them all, shan’t we?
Yes, bring in the materials, but do bring it on a platter of the imagination and this will create in the child a mood of play and drama and pure fun.
Hope this brings blessings to you,
Question from the field:
I have an 8 year old second grader and a 5 year old. We all come together for morning lesson and it used to be that my little one had his own work – puzzles, play dough, stringing beads. But recently he has been joining the lesson, drawing the lesson picture into his sketch book, he’s trying out copying letters and he has learned to write his name. He does not want the other work right now. The reality in our home is that there is no separation when I read a second grade story they both listen, when we do second grade work, my 5 year old is right there. It’s been this way since the very beginning. Whatever work or story we’ve been doing for my older son, my younger son is a part of it too. We share our day and I love that! But it sure feels like everything revolves around my older son. I feel guilty! We already include some things in our day that are geared more toward the younger, I guess maybe I should step that up. And I do get little moments in my day to cuddle or play a quick game with my little guy. It’s hard to keep it simple, especially when I think about the future! I visualize a Waldorf-one-room-homeschool-house where both boys get what they need and feel (obviously!) overwhelmed!
This is a great question, and it comes up so frequently that I would like to address it in a blog post for everyone to see and read.
First of all, take a deep breath. Part of homeschooling is more relaxed than a Waldorf School, and that is okay because there are many other advantages to being home. One of the main advantages is that instead of being separated from each other all day, your children will form a strong bond by being together day in and day out. The other thing to think of is not only is there an advantage for the younger one to see what the older one is doing, it is an advantage for the older one to see and be a part of what the younger one is doing. So, please do start with a very positive attitude that this is very best set up for both of your children.
That being said, I agree with your caution regarding running your homeschool just to suit your oldest. If your oldest is 9 or under, I think we must be especially careful to allow for time for the oldest to play, play, play and be outside and to do other things. A 7 or 8 year old is still small and has energy to get out, for sure. This is an advantage
Several things to think and meditate on: How long is the Main Lesson? I would say for first and second grade one to two hours is typical (don’t forget daily practice of math as part of your Circle/Opening!). How many days a week are you doing school? Most people do four days a week in these very Early Grades.
Where do you put the Kindergarten Circle/verses, Kindergarten Story and Activity of the Day for the Kindergartener? You could do baking one day, soup making one day, etc either in the morning before you start the older one’s school or in the afternoon. It should be the type of thing that the child can join in on or not, and that the oldest can participate in as well or even lead a few songs or verses for the younger child.
In contrast, the older child should have several days a week to devote to handwork or playing a musical instrument and not work with a different activity each day. They need consecutive days to get things done, projects completed.
How active is your Main Lesson? There should be singing, movement, oral recitation, cooking, painting, modeling, drawing (not all at once, of course!) The movement, etc are all things a younger child could join in on. And don’t go crazy, keep it simple, short, “economical.”
Some Waldorf homeschooling families also have a “Kindergarten Day” a week, where that day the Kindergartener’s activities move to the forefront for that day and the Grades child joins in.
I think too, the longer one homeschools, the more one is not afraid to be “rigid”, in other words, if the children are playing well, to let them play and start school in a bit or go hiking if the weather is gorgeous….But then also, on the flip side, to know when your Grades child really does need to buckle down and get to work.
As far as a five or six year old listening in on the Main Lesson, try not to worry too much. Children under 7 are at the height of imitation, and they are imitating what they see around them. Give them a “Main Lesson” book and respect if they want to draw in it, but also respect when they are running off to play and are tired of “playing” school. Writing one’s name and copying down a few letters does not mean they are ready for formal Grade One lessons yet! When it is their turn for First Grade or Second Grade, they may vaguely remember some of the stories, but the stories will speak to them on a much deeper level at that point because they are at the right age for them. And your older child gets the benefit of listening in to the stories for a second time and deepening how they view things as well. I think that is a very enjoyable part of homeschooling!
That being said, though, do carry on with typical Kindergarten activities, lots of movement, Circle Time and other things that nourish your Kindergartener’s soul. Meet them where they are developmentally.
Lots of fun, good times, and holistic educational progress is the key!