The Story Apron

My dear friend and fellow Waldorf Homeschooling mother, Natalie, has been busy making and dreaming about making several  “story aprons” of different types.  She has so inspired me, and I wanted to share that with you all.

One type of apron reminds me of “The Pocket Lady” from our local Waldorf School’s Holiday Faire.  Essentially, the Pocket Lady at the Faire has a long coat made with many pockets filled with little crafted treats that the children can pick.  My friend is making a simpler version of this – taking an apron with pockets, embellishing the pockets with a beautiful design and filling each pocket with a needle-felted creation or nature item that represents a verse or song for her Kindergarten-aged child.  The child gets to pick the pocket and hear the verse or song that goes with the object.  What a cute idea!  A type of apron that may work for something like this would be this one at Dharma Trading Company:  http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/7559578-AA.shtml  or to make your own!

The second kind of apron that we are both dreaming of making is one my friend saw over at Suzanne Down’s beautiful puppetry blog in the following post:  http://junipertreepuppets.com/story-apron-wool-magic-article/ .  You can see a photo of The Story Apron in action here:  http://junipertreepuppets.com/the-power-of-language/   and more pictures here:  http://junipertreepuppets.com/puppet-story-apron-class/

Essentially, my thought was to wet felt a circular, pizza -dish sized wool for the top, to embellish that with dry needle felting and then to sew it onto a silk I have dyed.    My plan is to make an apron  for Fall, Winter and Spring (ie, our school year) and use those seasonal backdrops for a variety of needle-felted puppets.

Has anyone done this and have experience to share?
This is such a lovely idea, thank you so much to my dear friend and to Suzanne Down for the inspiration!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf In The Home With The Five-Year-Old

MY CAVEAT TO THIS POST:  I write these posts from the perspective that the one-year-old, the two-year-old, etc is your OLDEST child in your homeschool, without older siblings to carry things… that may help explain my perspective on wet-on-wet painting and other such animals.  You can see the comments below as well…

We talked a bit about planning for fall in a recent post, and I wanted to make sure my mothers with under-7 children didn’t feel left out.  We are up to the five-year-old now!  I still hold some maverick views compared to much of the Waldorf community, so please take what resonates with you and leave the rest from this post.  If you are searching for the other posts in this series, here is the one- and two-year old in the home:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/06/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-one-and-two-year-old/      and here is the three- and four-year-old in the home:  http://www.theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/13/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-three-and-four-year-old/ .  If you review those back posts, you can see life is focused on rhythm, bodily care, singing, work around the house, being outside – no curriculums needed, although you may like some sources for verses, Mother Goose rhymes and songs.  I did do a review of one Kindergarten source here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/13/a-review-kindergarten-with-your-three-to-six-year-old-by-donna-simmons/

So here comes five!

Five can be such  an odd age.  It is the age that is considered a “golden” age by traditional perspectives, but many mothers of five-year-olds tell me they are pulling their hair out over their child’s behavior.  I think this is mainly because some five-year-olds are still in the four-year-old “out of bounds” stage, and some five-year-olds are beginning that six and seven-year transformation.  Here are some back posts about the five-year-old in general if you need some developmental help: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/10/the-fabulous-five-year-old/ 

Here is what I think a five-year-old should be working on with Waldorf In The Home:

RHYTHM!  Here is a lovely article detailing a rhythm in a Waldorf Kindergarten by Ruth Ker:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/blessingker.pdf

Meal times.  Think unhurried, unrushed, singing, having your child help with preparation and clean-up.  Use your meal time now to  work on things to develop their movement – kneading bread, using a rolling pin, sweeping the kitchen floor, scrubbing a countertop, etc.

Rest Times.  I honestly don’t know many five year olds who still nap, and that is a shame.  If your child is not a  “napper” at this age, you can still have a quiet time each day.  Your child  may not be able to do this well  on his or her own (although some will happily play with a play scenario you have set up), but this may be a time to read a story, a time to tell a story, a time to sing soft songs whilst massaging their hands or feet, and just dim the lights and be together and rock in the rocking chair for a bit.  You may also catch some down time for yourself at this time or during outside time if your child gets engaged.

Bath times.  Singing, finger plays and toe plays, gentle rub downs with the towel (those textures again).

Outside timeBeing outside is of extreme importance and to provide opportunities for physical movement outside.  If your child is a reluctant woodsperson, try the following posts:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/25/nature-day-number-8-of-20-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/  and this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/24/connecting-your-children-to-nature/

I think really three hours a day outside is not too much, and you could do more.  It is important.  Some homeschooling mothers arrange to hold almost their entire school day

Participation in household life.  Your very gesture is so important, it should not be you rushing around trying to get the whole house clean in one day!  It really  is about  taking each article of laundry and smoothing it out, folding it tenderly, putting it in the pile to be put away with love for your family. What is important is not only that the child sees the work being done, but imitates that gesture of love and care.  That extends into caring for plants and animals, this is the very first “environmental education” that a child gets with you, right at home.

To this we add the thought that physical work is very important, not only outside, but inside as well.  Can your wee one help you wash lettuce?  Peel carrots?  Peel an apple? Grind wheat? Knead bread?  These experiences are the first form of handwork for the young child.

Music – as mentioned many times, music and rhymes and verses should take precedence at this point over any written word. 

Inner Work/Personal Parenting Development:  The most spiritually mature people should be the ones coming into contact with the youngest children.  This is a very important time for your own work and  development.  If you are anxious, practice being calm.  If you are impatient, practice being patient.  If you talk in a stream of conscious way, practice being silent.  This is a time to develop your spiritual and religious beliefs.  It is a time to become more aware of the things unseen. 

We continue to  work on building up the first four of the twelve senses:

The Sense of Touch: Holding, cuddling, taking baths together, swimming, piggy back rides, games that involve holding hands and singing, wrestling and roughhousing, tickling games if your child likes that, rolling around on the floor together,  being outside in nature, natural materials to touch and play with and wear

The Sense of Life:  RHYTHM, humor and joy!

The Sense of Movement:  crawling, any sustained movement over time such as learning to ride a bike or swim,

The Sense of Balance: RHYTHM again, swinging, rolling, and now working toward more complex gross motor skills – riding a bike, trying the monkey bars and climbing structures,   skipping

If you need to know realistic expectations for a five-year-old, please see here: 

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/29/more-realistic-expectations-day-number-ten-of-20-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/

PLAY.  In the imitative phase of the first seven year cycle, your child may very well need some help from you in play without a group around to carry it.  You can see the back posts on fostering creative play and the progression of play by age and suggested toys.

People ask about play dates for this age.  I think play dates need to be structured with the adults doing something that requires taking turns and modeling the behavior you would like to see, and then moving into free play with the adults really in tune as to what is going on with the children (not off chatting in a corner ignoring the children).    I think play dates should be kept short.  If you would like to see more about social experiences, here is a post about the four-year-old I like:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/09/more-about-social-experiences-for-the-four-year-old/  I think much in this post holds true for the five-year-old.  Five-year-old boys also may really not be ready for group situations until they around are seven years old.

Preparation for Festivals. This is a great time to help children participate by DOING, not explaining in words.  There are lots of posts on this blog about individual festivals. 

Art/Creative Experiences

  • Painting -  Some five year olds may do well doing wet on wet watercolor painting  and some may have much difficulty in this  area.  I personally like the idea of starting wet on wet painting during the six-year old kindergarten year, as something special and new for that final year of kindergarten.  Wet on wet painting, to me, should have a very quiet, contemplative and meditative quality. 
  • Coloring with crayons  — you can see this book about Drawing with your child here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/04/drawing-with-your-four-to-eleven-year-old/  And here is an article about block or stick crayons in the Kindergarten from the “Gateways” Journal:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3606.pdf
  • Carding wool – can be a hit as it is repetitive sensory movement.  You can buy fleece to wash and dry and card it with little dog brushes.  This is great.   You could also consider dyeing with plants…here is an article from the “Gateways” journal here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW57grant.pdf
  • Sanding wood might be good as well.  Any thoughts?
  • Modeling – I like the idea of modeling with sand, salt dough, snow, kneading bread.  I would save  beeswax modeling  for the six-year-old children myself.  Again, this differs from Waldorf school.
  • Sewing – I disagree strongly with the kindergarten aged child using a needle to penetrate cloth.  I  know that is not especially popular opinion right now, but oh well.   :) 
  • Wet felting is a fun activity for five year olds.
  • Finger knitting – can try with the OLDER  five and six year old.  
  • Other Arts and Crafts – some can be successful, especially in preparation for a festival, but I think for the  most part recommendations in books such as “Earthways” the age range is always put lower than what I would put it.  Why be in such a rush to do all this? Six, seven and eight are still good ages for crafts.

Storytelling and Puppetry – If you have not had a time where you light a candle and tell a story, now is the time to begin.  Pick a story, memorize it, and tell it at least three days a week for two weeks to a month. 

Here is where you can start bringing in some traditional fairy tales.  See here for a list of recommended fairy tales by age, but pick one that that resonates with you: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/20/fairy-tales-books-and-storytelling-with-the-little-ones/  and here:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/the-importance-of-fairy-tales/

You could also make your five year old year your Nature Tales year (there are many on http://www.mainlesson.com ) and then bring in more fairy tales in your true Kindergarten year (your six year old year).  And don’t be afraid to repeat stories from year to year – your children will ask for them!  That repetition is wonderful!

My other thought is to create those stories to address challenging behavior.  There are several examples here in this article from the “Gateways” Journal:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW55brooks.pdf

Circle Time is the heart of the Waldorf Kindergarten, but can be a complete flop at home.  I love the book “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” (see this post for the review: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/29/favorite-waldorf-resource-5-three-resources-to-help-you-get-more-movement-into-your-homeschool/ ), but at home it can really flop.  Still, I think it is worth a try if you can convince your five-year-old to “teach” your younger child, LOL.  Still stick to the verses and songs you have in daily life, and add seasonal finger plays and seasonal songs.

Hope this helps you as you plan.  Please do take what resonates with you.

What concerns or challenges are you facing with your five-year-old?  Please do feel free to leave a comment below. 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Some Quick Autumn Ideas For Waldorf Homeschool Kindergarten

I wrote a post some time back regarding tales for Autumn for Kindergarten here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/03/favorite-fall-tales-for-waldorf-kindergarten/

I was thinking about that post, and thinking about things I personally associate with Autumn.  It seems as if almost every Waldorf-y resource includes squirrels, chipmunks, leaves and acorns.  But here are a few other ideas:

  • How about a mouse and an apple house?  My homeschool group is getting ready to do some wet/dry felting to make a little apple house with two mice.  I also like the verse in Suzanne Down’s “Autumn Tales” book about  a mouse and  a spider who live in a little snug pumpkin house.  How cute is that for October!  You could turn that into a whole story – practice those storytelling skills!
  • How about something to do with deer in the forest?
  • For those of you at the beach, what is changing with the color of the water or the animals you are seeing?  Perhaps you could reflect that in your homeschool tales or nature tables.
  • I love geese and turkey for November, and notions of bears getting ready for a long Winter’s nap.
  • How about a groundhog (woodchuck) eating apples from the orchard and getting ready for Autumn and Winter?  I saw this idea in this sweet little book:  http://www.amazon.com/BLEST-CELEBRATION-Mary-Beth-Owens/dp/0689805462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282352427&sr=8-1   There is essentially just a short poem to go with each month of the year.  I think you could easily turn this into a sweet little story. 

What do you associate with Autumn in your part of the world and how will your homeschool reflect that?

Many blessings,

Carrie

Waldorf Homeschooling With a Kindergartner, Third Grader and A Baby

Yes, this is where I am these days.  Planning away, dreaming and thinking.  And de-cluttering my house.

I saw a post recently on Marsha Johnson’s list regarding doing Waldorf homeschooling with a First and Third Grader;I think one of  the responses was something along the lines of try doing the Main Lesson for the First Grader first thing and make the traditional Middle Lesson for the Third Grader.  I thought that was interesting.

I am trying this rhythm ( below)  this year for my Third Grader and Kindergartner.  Essentially I used my Word program to make a table with two columns with the older children’s names in it because even if one child is working with me on something there has to be something going on for the other child.  Does that make sense?  I cannot leave my Kindergartner to wander about and have nothing planned whilst I am working with my older child, and vice versa.  Or if they are playing or doing something on their own, when that runs out and they need something to do, I have to have something ready to go!

So, the general flow of the day and my chart looks a bit like this:

  Third Grader Kindergartner
Main Lesson

(one to one and a half hours)

Days One through Four here

Movement last 10 minutes or so

Activities to do during Main Lesson, Days One through Four

Movement with Third Grader last ten minutes or so

Kindergarten Story

(15 minutes or so)

What will Third Grader be doing during this time? Listening to the Kindergartner story or working independently? Days 1-3, story, puppet shows Day 3 of last week of story

Day 4  Wet on Wet painting and Bible story

Lesson A (half hour) 10 minutes Movement

plus whatever I put here – math or grammar practice, form drawing, music etc.

10 Minutes Movement with Third Grader

Ideas for Creative Play here

Practical Work (half hour) We can do this together, but I am also thinking:  What can my child do around the house to help today that would be specific to a nine-year-old? DAY ONE-Craft DAY TWO Gardening; DAY THREE Housecleaning; Day four baking
Lesson B

(half hour or so)

Days 1-2

Day four out of house

Days 1-2 Art

Day three Music

Day four out of house

Lesson C (this would be after lunch)

(forty five minutes)

Hands – cooking, painting, modeling, handwork, etc.

Some of this will be done together; Crafts and festival preparation we will do together

Six Year Old Projects
Directed Movement

anywhere from 15 minutes to an afternoon adventure)

   

 

The length of time is approximate, there will be rest breaks and snacks and lunch and quiet time in there….I am not saying this is how YOU should do things, this is just what I am experimenting with.  LOL.  If you are wondering where the whole lessons A, B, C, originated from,   I actually liked the lessons A,B,C that Christopherus Third Grade  had, and I only have two children to work  with, so I thought I would give it a go.  As usual, I am taking some things from some pre-created curriculum and creating some blocks myself and melding it all as I see fit.

This is the big idea though:  the more children you have, the more you will have to integrate lessons and not have things be so separate. There are some of you who read this blog who have five or more children,and I am sure you can attest to this! Your Waldorf homeschool will not look like a Waldorf School with everyone having a separate Main Lesson, and that is okay!  Home has so many advantages, and family is first and foremost. 

I am also making lots of plans revolving around the liturgical year; these traditions are precious and dear and another excellent reason we homeschool, so sometimes things will be pared down to a Main Lesson and maybe one other thing involving crafts or  cooking or putting on a play for that particular festival. 

I hope this stimulates some ideas for you all, I hope some of you will share on your own blogs what your planning looks like to help other mothers.  We are all here to help each other and learn.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Talking In Pictures To Small Children

A small child under the age of seven needs to hear you paint a picture with your words instead of a direct command.  This can really be a very difficult thing for us to do as adults, and as such we find ourselves barking commands (politely, of course :)) at our small children all day long.  “Come to breakfast!”  “Use the potty!”  “Get your shoes on!” “Now please!”  “Stop doing that!”  Even if we frame things positively and say what we do want, the point is that a million times a day we are asking our child to do something.  And when we only use a command, we are essentially giving the small child a chance to think, a chance to decide their behavior, and then we get angry when they don’t do what we want when we want it.  How funny how that goes.

Small children are often in a fantasy, imaginative world much of the day as they play and create games.  They are not adults, they do not view time as adults do, they do not have the sense of urgency that you do.  And nor should they.

A small child lives in the physical realm and in their bodies.  So, to most effectively parent, we must reach to that for the small child as often as possible instead of playing commander, or worse yet, trying to drive the car with our horn by yelling at the small child. 

Here are some examples:

  • Think of animals that involve what you need.  Can the child hop like a bunny, run as fast as a roadrunner bird, swim like a fish?  Can they open their big  crocodile mouths to have all those teeth brushed?  Can you be a bear that needs a big winter coat ?  (And as you say this, you help put the child’s arm into the coat)….It is the imaginative movement plus the physical piece that gets it all done.
  • Can you involve their dolls or their imaginary friends?   Quietly take their favorite doll and start to get it ready for bed and sing to the doll. “ You and Tim (the imaginary friend) can sit right for dinner “( and lead the child by the hand to the table).
  • Can you employ gnomes, fairies, giants, leprechuans?  Today a four- year- old and I looked for leprechuan shoes by my back door….  Oh, look at these leprechuan shoes sitting here, do these fit YOU?  Oh my, look at the turned up toes on your shoes, I wonder if those shoes will lead you to a pot of gold!  How about gnomes exploring the mouth cave for teeth brushing?  Big giant steps to settle into a big giant bed?

You do not have to do this to the point where it is tiring to you, but do try here and there, because I find most parents employ very little imagination with their children during the day and the children really do respond to it well and do just what needs to happen.

Your part though, is to plan enough time so things are NOT rushed.  Rushing is the death of imagination and the beginning of stress.  Please plan ahead! 

Also, rhythm is your friend.  It is in that space to help you and your child.  If you do something different every night to get ready for a meal, to get ready for bed, what cues does your child have for when things are going to happen?  Again, their sense of time and urgency is not that of an adult.  Also, please seriously evaluate how many places you are dragging a small child.  Are these places for them or errands and would your child just rather be home?   I am just asking you to consider this piece of the puzzle; only you know the answer for you and your family. 

The last piece is the physical end of it, DOING something with a child whilst using the imagination and movement goes much better!  Yes, it is tiring that that is what small children need.  But better to do that than to complain and moan and groan that your small child, who is perfectly  normal, is “not listening”. :)

Try it out, I think you will find life to be much easier. 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Regarding Waldorf and Reading

Please read on for some encouraging words for folks with both early readers and those who have later readers….

People get very, very wrapped up in our society about reading.  Reading is very important, to be sure, (I have a journalism degree!)   but I hear from mothers all the time who either believe that bringing in reading prematurely is the right thing to do, or from mothers who are following a Waldorf model and their children have taught themselves to read and now they are saying to me, “But Carrie, I can’t do Waldorf First Grade because my child can read really well!”   

First of all, some  children do  read earlier than age six and a half or seven.  Of course!  This is not to be discouraged per se, but in these cases, we must be sure to look at the holistic development of the child first.  For example, can your early reader ride a bike with training wheels?  Without training wheels?  Can your child swim independently with your supervision?  Can your child do the monkey bars with just your supervision?  Does your child know by heart many poems, verses and songs?  Can your child sing and display a sense of rhythm in music?  Can they gallop, skip, hop on one foot?  How is their endurance for activities and  how is their sleeping?  Attention span?  Can they bake, garden, order things, dance?  How are they in social situations with other children?  How are they with adults?     I will write a post on First Grade Readiness in the future!

And I am not saying this to knock an early reader at all!  I have an early reader myself, who could read anything she wanted to read, adult books and newspapers included, at an early age. This is typically the case with children who truly teach themselves to do it.  They just can do it.  We just want to ensure balance!

There is one  issue that I see to be significant  though.  By MOST curriculums, not just Waldorf, the children in First and Second Grade are typically reading Frog and Toad and those sorts of books.  Waldorf at home can certainly involve these types of books.  There is in general a difficulty when your children truly are very fluent readers, that they are beyond those beginner reader kinds of books, there is not much for them to read.  A true “I taught myself how to read” kind of five year old typically goes from reading something simple to being able to read whatever they want (newspaper, portions of grown-up books) quickly.  They are so far beyond Frog and Toad and other books, they want thick books to read, and most of those books are for children much, much older so the themes are much older.

So, I think if you truly have an early reader, you can limit the books and the reading time in general  in the under-7 years until their maturity and understanding can catch up with their ability to read and not feel badly about it.  Some would say, well, you can explain it all to them!  You can go over vocabulary with them!  Why?  First of all, they should be laying that foundation of experience in ALL areas of life for even greater academic success later on!  If they can truly read, they are still reading, they are not going to forget how to read just because they are not reading novels!  And,   It is not all just about reading!  What about math? I personally would rather see a child move ahead in math and numeral literacy, than reading, but in American society we put so much emphasis on reading, almost to the exclusion of other things.  Second of all, if the themes are just too mature, there is no fix for that but TIME.  Nearly EVERY OTHER COUNTRY starts reading when children are 7, again, there are NO studies that show starting early reading is better in the long run for academic or professional success.  Third of all, from a physical perspective, the eye is NOT fully developed for lateral tracking until age EIGHT, so perhaps those countries that are working with starting reading at the right time are based more upon the physiology of the child than the American system is!  So please stop talking about “delayed academics”!  How about talking about bringing in academics at the right time?!

My other issue in general with these books for even a six or seven year old who is reading is that there are rarely beautiful long, thick books with no pictures  for these children to read.  In Waldorf, we try to pick books for the under-9 year old  that focuses less on an individual protagonist because at this point the child does not feel they are an individual.  That doesn’t happen until the nine-year change and to point that out, that separation of yourself as an individual, is rather premature for the six and seven year old.  That being said, I think an eight- year- old can certainly read “B is for Betsy” and that sort of series, some of the older series of books published in this country in the forties and such.  A six and a half or seven year old can certainly enjoy chapter books if you can find good ones!  But please don’t rush your children into it all, and do not neglect reading to them and the oral storytelling, oral verses, singing end just because they can read. 

In Waldorf, what you are building up in the Kindergarten is that treasure trove of oral tradition.  Then in first grade, it is typically  NOT going through the whole alphabet in order, it is “seeing” the letter arise (certain consonants and certain letter combinations that usually travel together) from a picture, just how man probably invented writing (and then reading) in the beginning. It is going over the vowels, those “heart sounds” and what feelings these arise for us within our language. It is faster than one thinks, and children who can read LOVE to make the letter pictures just like those who are not reading yet.  The children are writing simple sentences to more complex summaries  by the end of the first year.  And the oral traditions carry throughout the Waldorf Grades – there are songs and poems to memorize and recite, drama, lines and lines (sometimes up to 400 or more lines of poetry a year!), there are riddles and tongue twisters and such in opening school.  The oral tradition of speech is very important, then the writing down, then the reading.  Reading for each grade may often include the subject that was the focus of the previous grade, and more importantly,  respects the child’s maturity and soul development and holistic development.

If you need to understand how reading and writing and language arts develops within the Waldorf Curriculum:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/10/history-and-literature-waldorf-homeschooling-grades-one-through-twelve/

If you would like to see recommended reading for first grade, please see here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/10/more-great-read-alouds-for-waldorf-first-grade/   and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/11/great-read-alouds-for-waldorf-at-home-first-grade/

For second grade see here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/29/great-books-for-second-grade-in-your-waldorf-inspired-homeschool/

Many blessings!  Be confident in what you do!

Carrie

Favorite Spring Tales For The Waldorf Kindergarten

Like the Fall Tales List for Waldorf Kindergarten, this is NOT an all-inclusive list, these are just some tales I have enjoyed or I know other mothers have used at these ages…..Happy finding the tales that speak to you and to your family!

 

January (Okay, still Winter!)

Four Year Olds:  Shingebiss (Winter Wynstones)

Five Year Olds:  The Snow Maiden (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  The Twelve Months (www.mainlesson.com); 

February

Four Year Olds:  “Pussy Willow Spring” from Suzanne Down’s “Spring Tales” or a story about how the snowdrop got its color

Five Year Olds:  “The Rabbit and the Carrot”  a Chinese Tale found in the Spring Wynstones and also in “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”

Six Year Olds:  “The Three Brothers” by the Brothers Grimm

There are also a few Saint Valentine’s Day stories on mainlesson.com

 

March

For  ages three and a  half or so  and up for Saint Patrick’s Day:  “Lucky Patrick” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

There is also a great “leprechuan” circle adventure/movement journey in the book, “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” based upon “Tippery Tim” the leprechaun in “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

Four Year Olds:  The Billy Goats Gruff

Five Year Olds:  “Little Brown Bulb” from “Spring Tales” from Suzanne Down or “Little Red Cap” from Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds: “ Bremen Town Musicians” from the Brothers Grimm;  or “An Easter Story” from “All Year Round” or “The Donkey” by The Brothers Grimm

 

April: 

Four Year Olds:  Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Five Year Olds:   “Mama Bird’s Song” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down  or”Rumpelstiltskin” by the Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds:  “Frog Prince” from the Brothers Grimm

 

May

Four Year Olds:  “Chicken Licken” or “The Pancake”  with Spring details

Five Year Olds:  For Ascensiontide, the story “Forgetful Sammy” from “All Year Round” or “Twiggy” from “Plays for Puppets”

Six Year Olds: “The Magic Lake at the End of the World” (from Ecuador, found in “Your’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation)  or “Queen Bee” from the Brothers Grimm  or “Forgetful Sammy” or “Twiggy”  as listed for the five-year-old.

 

June

Four Year Olds:  “The Pancake” with spring/summer details

Five Year Olds:  “Goldener”  (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  “Snow White and Rose Red”  or “A Midsummer Tale” from the book “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”, also in “Plays for Puppets”

What are your favorite stories?  Please add them below!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Multiculturism in Waldorf Early Grades

Annette wrote a lovely post about using stories beyond just The Brothers Grimm here:  http://natural-childhood.blogspot.com/  Please do take the time to go and read it; Annette has some great thoughts about how to bring all this to your children!

Please do keep in mind that modern Waldorf schools in the United States and Europe now pull from a variety of cultural traditions for fairy tales, folk tales and legends besides just the Brothers Grimm.   I know our local Waldorf school here in Kindergarten and First Grade uses a large number  of African and Asian fairy tales.  Besides that, different cultures, religions and places in world geography are addressed each year in the journey through the grades.

Luckily, in homeschooling, we can pick and choose the best for our family!

Here are some resources to assist you:

  • If you are Waldorf homeschooling, you really should have Betty Staley’s book, “Hear The Voice of the Griot!” which is a Waldorf  resource for teaching about  Africa for Kindergarten all the way through high school.    I wrote a review here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/10/hear-the-voice-of-the-griot/
  • Here is a wonderful article “Diversity and Story in the Kindergarten” from Gateways:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3303.pdf
  • Here is an article by Donna Simmons tracing geography through the grades:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/waldorf-homeschool-publishing-and-consulting/curriculum/subjects/geography.html
  • There is a wonderful little booklet called, (can you guess?LOL) Multiculturism in Waldorf Education…In it are fairy tales from around the world appropriate for the Kindergarten Years – the tales are from Africa, Zulu, East Africa, Japan, Tlingit, and Micmac traditions.  THere is also a list of multi-cultural picture books.
  • Teach your children foreign languages, there are several posts on this blog about that.  It is a great way to absorb information about new cultures.  We are learning Spanish and German in our homeschool and interact with native speakers from Spanish and German speaking countries. 
  • Cooking is a great place to add in different types of foods from different lands in connection with festivals from those places. 
  • Music is another wonderful place to add in languages and ideas about how people from other cultures do things.
  • Do work consciously to provide tales from many different traditions,and to really study cultures and geography in the grades.  There are many wonderful archetypal tales out there for the younger crowd; you see similar themes appearing again and again.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Which Early Years Book Should I Buy?

In my mind, the ‘big three” of the Early Years books are “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:  Nurturing Our Children From Birth To Seven” by Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley; “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher” by Rahima Baldwin Dancy; “Heaven On Earth” by Sharifa Oppenheimer.

Here is a quick run-down of each book, and then some additional resources for you consider.

“Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:  Nurturing Our Children From Birth to Seven” is frequently, at least in my area, given out at Parent/Child classes in the Waldorf schools.  So, although the information in this book could definitely be applied to older Kindergarteners, there are plenty of nuggets of wisdom for the younger set.  This book is soft-cover and is 193 pages long. The chapters in this book mainly focus on warmth, rhythm, play at different stages (newborn to two and a half; two-and-a-half to age five and age five to seven), developing the twelve senses and a section on creative discipline.  There is also a section on Parent/Child classes, some sample crafts, verses and a fairy tale list.

My recommendation for this book would be to look for it if your children are younger or  if you are involved in a Parent/Child class for the first time.

“You Are Your Child’s First Teacher” by Rahima Baldwin Dancy is often available through your library system, so look for it there first.  This is a book I turn to time and time again, because I read different things in different ways as my children grow and I look back on those ages.  This book covers a lot of territory, starting with the notion that children are not tiny adults, that the consciousness is different, going into receiving and caring for your newborn, looking at the stages of babyhood and toddler hood through the lens of learning to walk, mastering language, the emergence of thinking and of self.  There are chapter on helping the development of your baby and toddler, parenting issues of the first three years, developing your child’s fantasy and creative play, developing your child’s imagination and artistic ability and musical abilities, rhythm and discipline in home life and more about play-based kindergarten experiences and parenting issues.  This book is also soft-cover and is 385 pages long.  Whilst I don’t agree with every single thing in here, there is much to be treasured.  In fact, you may get it from your library and then decide you would like a copy of your own!  I am positive you can find this book used and get it  fairly cheaply.

“Heaven On Earth:  A Handbook for Parents of Young Children” by Sharifa Oppenheimer is a soft-bound book of 235 pages.  There are many concrete examples in this book of, for example, a rhythm of weekly breakfasts, songs and verses, recipes, lists of things such as “elements of a balanced outdoor playspace”, and more.  The unique layout feature of this book is the boxes that these lists and recipes come in in the margins of the pages. There is quite a lot to digest in this book, and I think it would be easy to plan some concrete changes in the rhythm of your life based on some of the things in this book.  I would suggest you IGNORE completely the references to time-out in this book, that really did bother me, as time-out is not something I have ever seen reference to in any other Waldorf Early Years book.  Many mothers love this book, some Waldorf schools run “book club” type meetings around its chapters, so I think this one is worth checking out.

Other references you may consider reading include “Simplicity Parenting” ( I have a review on this blog; it is hard cover and I have heard some library systems have this book);  Donna Simmons’ “Joyful Movement” which has information about the holistic development of wee ones with lots of concrete suggestions about what to do and not do for different ages and also  Donna Simmons’ “Kindergarten With Your Three to Six Year Old”.  I have heard some mothers who like Melisa Nielsen’s “Before the Journey” – this book does have crafts, recipes, and follows the festivals/seasons of the year.  It is in story format and  tells how four different women of different religious/socio-economic backgrounds bring Waldorf parenting and education into the lives of their small children in a journal –type form where each of the four mothers (one for each season) journals about what they are doing and what they are discovering.   The other book many people in my area discount because they cannot stand the way breastfeeding and other attachment practices are viewed is Joan Salter’s “The Incarnating Child.”  I think if you can ignore the references to weaning and such, there are many gems to be found in that book from an anthroposophic viewpoint (but I also know so many AP parents who read it and were completely turned off  and turned away from Waldorf because of that book so please don’t say I didn’t warn you, I am an AP parent as well!)  So, again, if you can read it and ignore the fact it is not AP and just cherry-pick the anthroposophic nuggets out of it here and there, I think you will be okay.

Hope that helps!

Carrie

HELP! How to Waldorf Homeschool With My Grades and Kindergarten Child?

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!

Many blessings,

Carrie