Relaxed Waldorf Homeschooling

I wanted to thank all of you who participated and left comments in regards to the post Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources on Catherine’s blog.  You can see the original post here (and do be sure to read the comments, because that is where the discussion really is, including an interesting side thread on forming the space between two siblings who are very close in age): Continue reading

Deconstructing Grade Two

Grade Two promises to be an interesting year as not only is there a wide variety of stories to choose from (legends, tall tales, Saints, Jataka Tales, animal stories, Aesop’s fables, trickster tales) but also a wide range of academic, social and emotional abilities and levels amongst eight year olds.

Here are a few thoughts for heading into grade two: Continue reading

Two Ideas for First/Second Grade Blocks

I love the book “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin.  It would make a great read-aloud for Waldorf homeschoolers in the second grade.  You could also make a language arts block out of it.  My friend Jen over at Ancient Hearth did just that, and you can see the spectacular results here:  I am so pleased looking at Jen’s pictures; her block turned out so beautifully!

I also wanted to share a little idea I am working on for my First Grader’s form drawing blocks for fall.  I want to use the little mice of Brambly Hedge to do our form drawing and I may also move the idea of mice into our math blocks for the four processes. 

For those of you not familiar with the  Brambly Hedge books, they are small pocket- sized books with intricate watercolor illustrations about  families of mice who make their homes in the roots and trunks of Brambly Hedge, “a dense and tangled hedgerow that borders the field on the other side of the stream.”  The main first four books go through each season with the assorted activities of gathering food, storing it for winter, and all the feasts and festivities that go with each season.

These were first published in Great Britain in 1980.  You can see the first four books here:

My thought is to make a giant wall mural of the hedge and the assorted  places of the hedge and then to use the stories as a springboard for the imagery of form drawing lines and curves.  There is  also a Brambly Hedge Pattern Book to sew fabric versions of the mice characters here:

Many blessings today,


How Old Should My Child Be For Dry Needle Felting?

My wonderful handwork teacher Judy Forster noted to me the other day that the control and sharpness of the needle for dry needle felting are challenges that are just right for the physical and emotional changes that occur in middle school (typically 7th and 8th grade). 

From my observations of the development of the child at different ages, I agree with her. I also think there are many, many projects one can be busy with, so why be in such a rush to get to that rather hardening gesture?  This is an important point for Waldorf homeschooling parents who may be guiding their children’s handwork program without having a Waldorf-trained handwork teacher to assist them!

Wet felting is a wonderful alternative, and children in the grades can knit, crochet, macrame, cross stitch (fourth grade, age 10), sew (typically grades six and seven for projects) and do many other types of work with their hands.

If you have small children under the age of 7, I like to think about color and freedom.  The small child should be able to choose colors and materials and turn them into whatever suits the child’s fancy of the moment, whether that be a ghost or an elephant.  They may imitate you, but often they are just a wellspring of creativity.    I remember I had one good friend whose little boy made a whole bunch of creatures and critters from sheets of felt when he was around four or five.  The colors and shapes and what they were called were all his and he loved them.

Even in older children, seeing what colors the children pick and what they want to make is fascinating.   My Third Grader is currently drawn to blues and greens and I feel this is meeting her temperamental traits and where she is.  Color and form is fascinating!

If you need help determining what project comes when within the Waldorf curriculum,, please look at this back post that Ms. Judy Forster was so kind to write for this blog:

Many blessings to you all,


Plans for Waldorf Homeschooling Second Grade

For those of you finishing up Second Grade planning, Eva over at Untrodden Paths has just posted her Second Grade layout of blocks and I thought you all might be interested in how she did it here:

Her blog is beautiful, head on over and say hello!

Jen over at Ancient Hearth also just posted her Second Grade plans here:  She has some great read-alouds that are traditional for Waldorf Grade 2 along with some of my favorites…Peter and Annali and Min!  Yay!

For those of you looking for how I laid out Second Grade, here is a back post to get you started:

For those of you who are not aware, there is a Yahoo!Group for mothers planning their Second Grade experiences here:

We have been having a discussion on the Second Grade Yahoo!Group regarding trickster tales…..The next time I do Second Grade, I think I am going to do an entire block of Anansi the Spider tales from the book by Philip Sherlock.  I think I would also add a block of Celtic Fairy Tales (we did Russian Fairy Tales which is also enjoyable!)…   I have some other thoughts as well for the next time around because the child coming up to Second Grade is different than the child who just finished Second Grade.  That is the joy of homeschooling, that we can tailor things to each individual child!

Many blessings,


A Quick Note About Waldorf Grade Two

Hi all,

I have been thinking about those of you planning your Waldorf homeschooling Grade Two experience.  I have been speaking with several mothers locally and via email.

One thing that has come to  my mind is that whilst the theme of Waldorf Grade Two is this notion of the duality of man (as shown in the lesser traits in some of the animal fables and the higher traits shown in those other-worldly Saint stories) , sometimes it is easy for the year to feel a bit disjointed. 

One thing that I think will assist you is to think of what you would like to predominate in your Second Grade experience – folk tales?  American tall tales? Saint/hero tales? Fables?  and build the majority of your blocks around that.

Thoughts from anyone out there planning Grade Two?

Many blessings,


How To Plan Waldorf Homeschool Second Grade: Part Two

You can find Part One to this post here:

I broke my “no-photographs” rule simply because there are not many blogs with examples of Waldorf Second Grade and I wanted to show some sample works. 


January: More poetry. Snowy Village Math from Marsha Johnson’s files and I told Russian Fairy Tales at the end of the Math lessons (also from Marsha Johnson), cooking, singing and pennywhistle – here we again went over place value, carrying and borrowing and multiplication and division



Russian alphabet to go with Russian fairy tales:


February:  Saints and Heroes from Donna Simmons and a few I picked based on Donna’s suggestions in the back of this book; special attention to word families, writing, painting and drawing –  one of these shows just a simple summary because we did a wet-on-wet painting as our artistic work for Finn MacCool.  Math rested during this month except for daily practice of math in Circle Time.



March:  Math – mixture of Melisa Nielsen’s Math Ebook and Donna Simmons’ Second Grade math; math skills as above along with money.



The week around Saint Patrick’s Day we did The Leprechuan Factor Trees of Ireland from Marsha Johnson’s files, first with a lovely drawing before we made our addition  factor trees:


And then those wild little  leprechuans traveled to the mysterious Multiplication Island where the multiplication factor trees grow; a TROPICAL island in the middle of an Irish lake..LOL.  Here is a leprechuan cobbling shoes on the back of a giraffe!



March was also Lent and crafts, weekly form drawing, wet on wet painting, the story of Saint Patrick.

April:  We did a block on Earth, Water, Fire and Air – I used stories from , including one I found on Saint Kentigern and The Robin that involved the element of fire, lots of hands-on activities, weekly form drawing, pennywhistle and singing, math rested.



May:  Math from Marsha Johnson’s files  using “Watercraft of the World” as a theme,  more poetry and singing and pennywhistle, wet on wet painting, weekly form drawing, gardening.


Here we counted dates and grouped them in twos and fives, and re-visited our three, four  and six times table with the help of  our hippo friends and the sails..… (these are dates along the top of this picture that we were counting -  we were working with the two-sailed lateens that sailed along the Nile River, and the dates and barley that were agricultural products in this area).  Note the hasty work in this drawing compared to the other drawings… you can really tell the difference between outlining and just building the picture up in layers with the crayon.



June:  Saints from “Stories of the Saints” , review of work

Anyway, hope that helps provide a few resources for next year for those of you with rising second-graders.

Many blessings,


How To Plan Waldorf Homeschool Second Grade: PART ONE

I broke my no-photograph rule to post a few pictures from our Second Grade Main Lesson books…there really don’t seem to be many Second Grade Waldorf blogs out there and I wanted you all to see some examples from our work.

Below you will find the resources that I used for each block; you can also see this back post that talks about Second Grade resources  here:


Planning (two posts, one here and one link embedded in this post):


Let me make it very, very clear that I think you could focus on animal fables and legends and not do Saints at all.  I liked Saints for  my oldest, for this particular child,  so I included them.  Also, our year was more weighted toward math than language arts because that is what my child needed. Also,  know every day had movement, modeling was often included in the Main Lesson so not mentioned separately here, and handwork took place every week along with Spanish and German, and math happened nearly every day during non-math blocks for practice unless we were letting it rest…

Thanks to Lovey for taking these pictures!  Many of you remember Lovey!

I actually took a few of the pictures as well!  A miracle for me!

September: Form Drawing and Math; I took the forms from a variety of resources and used some Cherokee Trickster tales to set the stage.  The forms this year included running forms and vertical  forms  with a midline drawn and a midline present but not drawn.  Math was taken from Melisa Nielsen’s Math Ebook and Donna Simmons’ Second Grade Math book:




We also celebrated Saint Michael and Michaelmas, baking, singing and pennywhistle.  We did wet on wet painting of the geometric shapes from Donna Simmons’ Second Grade Math Book.

October: LA Block, Aesop’s Fables – find free on Internet and flesh out for three-day rhythm (look at Marsha Johnson’s files for examples at; continue with daily Math and weekly Form Drawing, singing and pennywhistle



November:  Math, resources as above, kept circling back to place value, carrying and borrowing; the story of Saint Martin and some other Saint stories at the end of Math lessons.




December:  Saint Nicholas – many free resources on the Internet for this one- and Saint Francis and Clare (we did a very BIG wall mural); Santa Lucia, poetry; daily math, singing and pennywhistle





Keep it simple;  you are teaching through art as your vehicle but the skill development is still there!  You must know where your child is and what you are trying to accomplish in terms of skills, and then how do I bring that actively within the things that speak to the soul development of the eight-year-old.  And don’t forget your singing, handwork, painting, modeling, games and movement!



Waldorf Second Grade Handwork

In Waldorf Second Grade, I believe in working with casting on, knit stitch, casting off, and the simple sewing necessary to finish a project.  I strongly believe both purling and dry needle felting should be left alone until the nine year change.  You can see more about the indications for Waldorf Handwork, written by our homeschool group’s wonderful, wonderful Handwork Teacher here: 

I feel very, very fortunate to have found a Waldorf Handwork teacher whose views are similar to mine, and I am thrilled she is part of our homeschooling group. 

Here are some of the projects my second grader has done this year:


Above:  A special pouch necklace to hold treasures!

Below:  A sachet; slip your favorite- smelling tea bag inside!


Below:  A rainbow ball


Below:  A child-sized scarf:


Below:  A scarf for Beloved Bear!


In progress right now is a doll poncho, since the scarf for Beloved Bear is now finished. 

Hope this gives mothers out there some ideas for longer and shorter projects for the second grade year.



Fairy Tales, Books and Storytelling With The Little Ones

Some wonderful mamas have asked about storytelling with the little ones- how many stories, what kinds of stories  to bring in when, how often, so I thought I would quickly address this and then I have a writing deadline for something else to get to!

We look at building an oral basis of language first and primarily (this later extends into the grades because we first write what we know orally, and then we learn to read off of what we write.  The lectures in “Practical Advice to Teachers” by Rudolf Steiner elucidate this very well).

For one to three year olds, I would suggest mainly nursery rhymes, singing, singing, singing, little rhymes or short verses,blessing before meals, verses regarding animals and plants you might see on your nature walks.  For a three year old, some folks would start to add fairy tales, but I feel a little  bit differently about those tales for the three-year-old.  I often feel the “list” of fairy tales was designed for a mixed age Waldorf Kindergarten, and if your oldest is three, they are not going to have those older ages to really carry those tales.  So, you have to know your child well.  Sometimes introducing children to these fairy tales goes better in a song format, called a story circle, by many Waldorf Kindergarten teachers.  I tend to say for three year olds at home with no older siblings, how about using Juniper Tree’s “Around the World With Finger Puppet Animals” by Suzanne Down?  Also, simple stories you make up…  Then, at four, you could move into Suzanne Down’s nature stories, other nature tales, and other fairy tales and more complex stories you make up.

The fairy tales, whilst the hallmark of the Early Years and first grade, don’t have to go away completely!  We can always circle back around.  There is a book called “The Pancake” made up of repetitive fairy tales and such  that could be an effective reader for first or second grade.  Mrs. Marsha Johnson has a free “Russian Fairy Tales” block on her Yahoo!Group  that involves creating readers and such for second grade – this expands vocabulary quickly!  It also takes something the children know through the oral tradition, we write it, then we make readers and read it!  In Third Grade, that whole series collected by Andrew Lang (The Pink Fairy Tale Book, The Blue Fairy Book) could be readers or read-alouds.  There are collections of fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world.  This then later moves into mythology and finally into other great works of literature. 

The other place I differ is that all the stories have to be memorized.  This makes no sense for those of us who have small children, as the memory is part of the etheric body and that is being depleted when we have small children  as we share our life forces with them as they are still connected to us.  Donna Simmons always talks about using two beautiful watercolor paintings and making a beautiful, special book that the tales are written down in.  I have seen that work.  You can also try a bag of props to help you remember the story.

Yes, the stories in a Waldorf Kindergarten are usually brought for anywhere from two weeks to a whole month, the same story.  If you see the story coming out in their play, or they can chime in on the story and the story’s repetitive phrases, then you know it is sinking into them and doing good work!  Puppets, drama, music, props, all enliven the experience. 

As far as books, we know the first seven years are truly for the development and protection of the lower four of the twelve senses.  This is for interaction with people, and yes, reading to a child is interaction, but we would like to see even more in the way of singing and storytelling than books. 

For example, for children from birth to three, they don’t necessarily need books at this point.  A bedtime routine could be singing or storytelling and oral traditions.  I think many of us with multiple children admit to reading far more books to our first child as a baby than our subsequent children; we didn’t always know or have at our disposal the wonderful songs, nursery rhymes, etc that we build up over time.  There are some lovely books for babies, but is this an indispensible part of building literacy?  I don’t think it is; I actually think oral recitation,  singing and rhymes are.  Children who lack fluency in reading, children who have dysarthria (speech expression), etc actually  often need to go back to recitation of oral material in a rhythmic manner.

What babies need is human contact, being carried, being in a sling, being talked to and sung to and rhymes and learning to enjoy and play in silence as well, and to listen and hear the sounds of nature!  If you are going to read something, how about beautiful poems or things out of the Bible or the Koran or whatever fits your religious traditions?

For ages three to five, ideally, the books are kept up on a shelf and brought done with reverent care when it is reading time.   Perhaps you  have a  set reading time before quiet time and then  again at bedtime.  Rhyming, repeating books are wonderful for this age, such as the story of  Chicken Licken or Henny Penny or The Gingerbread Man. The other kind of book  is ones of  simple stories of every day life where not much happens. Books such as Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day” and other by him.   You want the same books to be around for one whole season if possible, and then change them out with some new ones.  And yes, that means you read the same books over and over and over, but that is really what small children need to develop vocabulary and a sense of sequencing in the story line.

For ages five to seven, we can now add some weightier stories and books.  More complex fairy tales, more formal story times where we sit and light a candle and listen to this story.  This is where you look at that list of fairy tales by age and read them and see which story speaks to YOU and then you tell that.  If it doesn’t speak to you, pick a different one!  Here is the list:

Chapter books most likely are something that should wait, I think, until at least age six and more ideally, probably grade one and being seven years old.  Don’t rush this, there really is time.  Here are some back posts with books for the under-7 crowd:   

One thing that always baffles people about Waldorf is starting things a bit later. ( I actually don’t consider it later, I consider starting it at the normal, appropriate time) This is what  EVERY country almost around the world does except us and England at this point. Yes, the children go to school early, around age 3 or 4, but no academics are taught until the first grade.  There is no rush, and those children beat our children on every kind of standardized test and our educational system is particularly failing boys who often have trouble sitting still during those first seven years.  There are NO studies that back up introducing “academics” at an early age, and in fact, children are play-based programs for the first six years excel ahead of children introduced to academics early!    But I digress here, back to the main subject at hand….

Someone asked what I personally do with my under-7s.    My oldest, as I have repeatedly written about on this blog, pretty much taught herself to read around age  five and a half.  I have some posts on  here about doing Waldorf First Grade with an early reader.  The thing no one tells you about early readers, is that there are few things for them to read that are worthy!  The things they can read have themes that are way too mature, and the rest are series that are short and not beautiful – sorry,  Captain Underpants does not count to me.  :)  So, her books were limited and that was a source of complaint, but I am glad we stuck to it.  Before the nine-year change, you really want more of the archetypal, life is beautiful and good and safe and orderly kind of books.   My second five-year-old is not yet reading, but likes to be read to and loves stories and can sing, sing, sing. She is picking out letters and letter sounds, and that is okay (and it would be okay if she were not).    My third little guy is just a wee baby, so he is enjoying songs and hearing passages of the Bible hear and there..:)

As far as storytelling within the Waldorf homeschool, I did stick to the same story for usually a month, unless there was a special story I really wanted to bring around for a festival.  I know many of the Waldorf schools stick to one story every two to four weeks, but bring in a separate  story for baking and/or gardening or nature walk day.  That may very well be way too much for a mother tending to multiple small children at home, so I think you must do what resonates with you.

Hope some of that helps; take what resonates with you.

Many blessings,