Screen Time Rules

I love the writings and musings of  Elizabeth Foss and her mighty blog, In The Heart of My Home.  She is a lovely mother to nine children of varying ages,and wrote this all-encompassing post about “Screen Rules”.  I do hope you check it out:  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/07/screen-rules.html

Some of these rules are really wonderful for all of us, especially as homeschooling mothers.  Wouldn’t life in your home run more smoothly if your computer or phone was tucked away by 9 AM and not taken out again until school and chores were over? And,  I really appreciate the integrity represented here as the public image created on the Internet should always be what a person really is in his or her heart. I know many of my readers have younger children, but this would be a great list to tuck away and bring out for discussion with older children when the time is right.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Fourth Grade Handwork

 

I was going to post pictures of fifth grade handwork projects, and realized suddenly I had never posted the fourth grade projects!  Our homeschool group has been exceedingly lucky to have trained Waldorf handwork teacher working with us.  She really knows the Waldorf curriculum inside out, and has taught  many of the children for years, so can really  invent projects for them that are stunningly beautiful and fulfilling to the children.

 

So here are the fourth grade projects in all their glory:

The first project, which was actually done in between third and fourth grade,  was a bear that had a pattern of essentially knitting an entire row, then knitting half a row, purling a stitch and then completing the row.  He came out like this:

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Fourth grade is a time of cross stitching.  The designs for these projects were done by my fourth grader, including choosing the colors and such.  The pin cushion has leather backing so the pins will not stick through!

 

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The last project of fourth grade was a hedgehog that was knit but the face was done in the round.  This was a preparation for knitting in the round. 

 

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Blessings,

Carrie

Third Grade: Wool Pictures

 

 

 

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This time of year for me is not only for planning on paper for our fall homeschooling, but also time for de-cluttering, re-arranging the school room, and crafting some beautiful things to inspire us through the grades.  This fall, I will be teaching third and sixth grade with a cute little three year old in tow.

 

I wanted to make something to hang on the wall that represented Third Grade for our schoolroom and the picture of Moses and the burning bush was foremost in my mind.  There are images of this scene on the Internet and in iconography and I looked at many images before I decided upon an idea to use to paint with wool.

 

Making wool pictures is an easy project – all you need is plant-dyed wool felt for your background, plant-dyed wool roving, an iron and ironing board, and your imagination.  I order my plant dyed materials here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mamajudes#   I don’t believe synthetically dyed materials will work  for this project.

 

Start with a background felt of your color choice.  Take the wool roving and tease it apart with your fingers.   Start to layer it in very thin layers into the shape that you want by taking small amounts of the fiber,  holding one end in place and stretching the fiber apart.  Pat everything down.  I suggest ironing the background with long periods of holding the iron and then layering in more fibers and the details that are more in the foreground.  The wool roving will then stick to the wool felt and you will have a beautiful, dreamy picture.

 

Here is a picture of this process; layering the background first:

 

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I pressed this with the iron, and then added in the bush with its green leaves.  Then I layered in special red wool roving into fire on the tips of the leaves and pressed that.  The figure of Moses came last.

 

These pictures are easy to do and so full of possibilities!

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Fifth Grade Greek Mythology and Ancient History

 

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Greek mythology is a wonderful block.  These stories have lent so many expressions into Western Culture and much like expressions from the Bible, a student will be at a disadvantage to not know these stories, to be familiar with these expressions, and to later understand Greek civilization and how that has impacted our own history in the United States.

 

You can see the resources we used in my previous post regarding Ancient Mythology and Civilizations.  Our projects this block included a lot of drawing, including a large picture of Artemis as chosen by my daughter as her favorite to draw, modeling of columns and vases in clay (see the Christopherus Fifth Grade syllabus), drawing of columns, freehand map drawing, learning the Greek alphabet and writing a few simple phrases, and memory and recitation of poetry. 

 

We started in the land of mythology with the book of Greek Myths from D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and then leading into the wonderful stories of Perseus, Heracles, and Theseus.  Here is a scene my fifth grader drew from the story of Perseus:

 

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I used Dorothy Harrer’s “Chapters In Ancient History” as an aid in contrasting life in Sparta and Athens, talking about the landscape of Greece, the school boy in Athens, and many of the biographical sketches.

 

We finished with the history of Ancient Greece, and Charles Kovacs’ “Ancient Greece”, did an excellent job in terms of making Greek History and Alexander the Great accessible, understandable and memorable.  I cried at the end of telling the story of the Battle Of Marathon.

 

One note about Ancient Greek History: many Waldorf homeschoolers put this off until sixth grade. My fifth grader was eleven for the entire school year, and close to turning twelve by the end of the school year, so I chose to go ahead and include it, but if you have a younger fifth grader you might want to place this in sixth grade.

 

More next time,

Carrie

Fifth Grade Ancient Mythologies and Civilizations

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These blocks are the hallmark and mainstay of the fifth grade experience for Waldorf students.  They are fun blocks and there are many things you could do with these stories and with Greek history ( if you choose to include Greek history and not push it off until sixth grade).

These blocks go through the mythology of Ancient India, Ancient Persia, Ancient Babylon, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece and then possibly move into early Greek history.  The Christopherus curriculum has a wonderful block on Ancient China; Live Education includes this in eighth grade.

The resources we used included: Continue reading

The Mood of Celebration–Part Two

I have had numerous requests to share my little monthly lists.  I am happy to share one with you, but I am not sure it will be of service to you other than to provide an example.  This is because these lists are very specific to my Anglican faith, and also to the seasonal changes within the climate and area of the country in which I live, and also to what I have available locally regarding celebration in food, events and  place.

For me, the weaving of the natural and the liturgical year is common to our family. So, to plan, the first thing I literally do is get out My Book of Common Prayer and find out when things such as Lent, Easter and Ascension are, Feast Days of Saints, and things that I just know from tradition within my Parish that happen each year.  I also try to think in terms of attending the Divine Liturgy itself, but  also what speaks to that particular season through nature because that is where  I can more show my children in our home what ties this whole season back to the Holy Trinity.

For example, the days between Easter and Pentecost, (when we celebrate when the church was born), is a time I like to think about family.  We are part of the family of humanity, we are part of the family of the Church, if we make a birthday cake for the church on Pentecost, what could we be doing to talk about the Church and family and us as the broader picture of Anglicans around the globe to lead up to this?  (Please remember that I have older children as well, so things are more direct for them than just the indirectness that goes on for a tiny child under the age of nine!)   The idea of family, of living in communion,  is a huge concept, but there are indirect ways to do this.  Or, for another example,  how about the days after Pentecost as a time of growth?  There are many sweet picture books about nature and growth to have in a book basket, many ways to experience a beautiful garden and how we grow as Christians.  These are just a few examples.

The second thing I do is just start making free form lists with what I associate with each month – bonfire?  certain foods?  certain events in our community? certain craft  or handwork projects?  certain songs?  I get out my memories, my notes from previous years, my Early Years books and make lists.

Then I can take these ideas and plug them into a monthly rhythm and a weekly rhythm.

So, here is an example for you, but you really need to sit down and do this for yourself.  I don’t mean this harshly, but if creating a family culture is important to you, if Waldorf homeschooling is important to you, then you will try to do your own lists after you see this example.  You must be a person of initiative in order to have this be true to your own family.

So, here is my list, for example, for September: Continue reading

The Mood of Celebration

I think one of the main things that we can give our small children is a sense of life as a celebration.  I don’t mean an all-out wild party, the way we often think of celebrating today, but a mood of joy,  a mood of anticipation and wonder and a happy feeling that we are at one with nature and the world.  A mood of celebration in the small child fosters a sense of unity and commonality with nature and others.

Ideally, once you have gone through cycles of celebration with the small child, with its wonder, anticipation and joy, these cycles will continue throughout the life of the people in the family and become an embedded part of that family;s particular culture. Continue reading

Am I “Waldorf Enough”??

This is a question that NEVER comes up with other homeschooling methods.  You never hear another homeschooling mother say, “Gosh, I don’t think I am Montessori enough.” or “Gosh, I wonder if I am Classical  enough.”

What is it about Waldorf homeschooling that brings out this guilt?

I think it is because no one other form of homeschooling is so tied into the universal picture of child development and how the development of the human being impacts parenting and education.  I don’t know as any other form of education has such a strong idea about what leads to good adult health in the future.  It is also more teacher led, than say opening a textbook or workbook and reading that.  It involves a certain initiative.

So, because of that it is natural to wonder if one’s efforts measure up.

“One’s efforts.”  I think that is the first thing we need to ask ourselves when we are wondering if we “measure up” is:

Am I making an effort?  What is my effort toward?    I think almost more than any physical  piece, like do I have a rhythm to my home,  or do I teach Greek mythology to my 11 year old,  the answer to this question lies in what initiation am I taking in adult education and learning about this subject?  What are the why’s beneath the “Rhythm would be good” or “Greek mythology would be good around fifth grade”?  Am I interested in learning more about how a subject that I am teaching would be approached by Steiner himself or by a teacher who really has studied Steiner?  Do I care about the developing human being and do my thoughts on this leave open some room for what Steiner or other secondary Waldorf education literature/pedagogy have to say according to what age my child is?  Does that resonate with me?

There is no “check-off” list for what is “Waldorf enough”.  It is a subjective experience.  So, when you ask yourself about “Waldorf enough”, I think all you can do is look at where you are, and where you want to go.  How do you get there?  Where are you on this walk, and is this actually the path you want to walk on to an extent?

Sometimes we hear in Waldorf Education that we have to digest things and then bring them to our children.  I think that is why so many teachers are reluctant to endorse or write a homeschool “curriculum”, because Continue reading