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
(This guest post is written by a friend of mine who lives in my region of the U.S. She writes in):
As I write this I am enjoying a homemade sourdough English muffin, topped with homemade cheese and homemade strawberry jam. This, my friends, is the real reward of doing a Waldorf-inspired third grade year! We have just finished Grade 3, and what a fun year it has been. Although I have always homeschooled my boys, this has been our first year using Waldorf-inspired methods. I began our year by meditating on my son, Vincent, who turned 9 this past December. My number one goal for him was to get him out of his head a bit (well, a lot), which meant less reading and more physical activity. I also wanted to try to calm his mind and focus him to finish a task. Lower on my list of things to accomplish was to teach him all 4 processes in math, as we had only done addition and subtraction previously. And of course, there is my constant quest as a parent to encourage reverence, empathy and connection in both my boys.
I have written a few back posts about Grade Three, (and will have one on our last Old Testament block coming up), but I wanted to throw out a few things about Grade Three in general for those of you starting to plan. (And other Grade Three mothers, please do chime in with your experiences!)
This is the time of year when many mothers in the Northern Hemisphere are finishing up school and starting to think about summer and planning for next year. Perhaps you only have one or two blocks left before your school ends for the year! How exciting!
I would love to hear what everyone is working on right now and what you have left. Did this school year go the way you wanted?
Sometimes at this point in the year mothers can be really hard on themselves. Learning really occurs all the time, so even if you didn’t get to everything (and that happens in school as well!), it is okay. Children in grades one through three are still pretty little, and many of the concepts touched on in these grades are worked with and deepened in fourth grade, and other concepts are really honed in grades five through eight. There is time, and I think when we homeschool with Waldorf Education, we can be assured everything is in there in due time.
Are you already thinking about summer? Summer vacation is seen as really, really important in Waldorf Education. To read more about this and some ideas of what to focus on this summer, please see this popular post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/03/a-plea-for-summer-vacation/
I encourage YOU, especially if you are a homeschooling parent, to use the summer to get your homeschool planning and household organizing done.
In our family in the summer, pretty much I work on the house in the morning in small spurts between fun with the children, in the afternoon we go to our neighborhood pool and swim until we are ready to drop, and at night, at least for four nights a week I do homeschool lesson planning or my own work for a little bit before my husband and I spend time together. We also plan “fun days” of going to the lake, or taking in a puppet show, or berry-picking and canning, but we also spend a good amount of time at home. I tend to have my husband run the errands, or I do them around dinner time for an hour here or there. I try to limit errand-running as much as possible! That is my typical summer in a nutshell; I don’t know if that structure would be helpful to you, but in this summer I encourage you to think how you could get organized and prepared for fall. You will be so pleased how everything will be ready come fall!
Here is one of my favorite back posts about summer and tips to survive increased sibling fighting that sometimes occurs in the summer months: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/21/summertime-bickering/
My official view of The July Doldrums (yes, I coined that phrase myself since it seems to happen in my world in July): http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/
And last but not least, a project for parenting, just for you this summer: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/07/a-summer-parenting-project-for-you/
You can see this post regarding the first block of Old Testament we did here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/10/30/waldorf-homeschooling-third-grade-first-old-testament-block/
The main resources I used for this second block included (other than several Bibles of different versions):
- The Christopherus Old Testament Manual and Stories – the background information in there, the ideas for puppetry, modeling, and wet on wet painting were really very helpful.
- Ruth Beechick’s “Genesis: Finding Our Roots” and “Adam and His Kin” were helpful during the first block, but they chronologically ended where our first block ended.
- Jakob Streit’s “And Then There Was Light” was used in the first block and now in this second block we have moved into “Journey To The Promised Land” by the same author. Some may find this esoteric companion to be quite startling, but I liked much of it because it incorporated what is said in the Bible and what was said in Hebrew legends surrounding these events and fleshed the Biblical events out in a story format.
- Arthur Auer’s “Modeling: Sculptural Ideas for For School and Home” had excellent suggestions for modeling the Tower of Babel.
- Dorothy Harrer’s “An English Manual”
- Roy Wilkinson’s “Commentary on Old Testament Stories.”
- For this second block, I found Geraldine McCaughrean’s “God’s People: Stories From The Old Testament” helpful for some of the drawings that I could easily translate to more archetypal figures and such.
This second block of Old Testament Stories we did included the stories of The Tower of Babel, Abraham, the story of Isaac’s servant at the well meeting Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, the story of Joseph, Moses in the Bulrushes, Moses and the burning bush, The Exodus, and The Ten Commandments.
We did several modeling projects, wet on wet paintings and crafts. These stories are very deep and really penetrate into the nine-year-old child. I came out one morning long after this block had ended and my daughter was actually drawing on one of the chalkboards a picture of The Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. She didn’t say anything about it; she didn’t have to as these stories so deeply affect a child of the nine-year change.
Well, this year in Third Grade has been an interesting ride. I have some advice for all of you coming up to Third Grade, but please keep in mind I am only basing this on my personal experience and your child may not experience any of this at all.
Nine is the age of DOING. I read that over and over and over places, did my best to put it into practice with practical life skills, music and singing, crafts, handwork, doing math with games and hands-on application in addition to more regular work.
And it was interesting, because it seemed as if nine has been one large outbreath. It was an age of writing and drawing skills regressing for my child, to the point where she looked at her Second Grade Main Lesson books and said, “I did a much better job last year.”
It was the year of “Mommy, I am trying to be careful and not rush……but I just want to be done.”
It was the year of frustrations and tears in the late fall especially, and now things seem to have evened out.
So, here are my suggestions:
- Keep Third Grade on an even keel and do as much hands-on, practical work as you can. Don’t try to schedule too much and really focus on the main things. I felt like, at least for my child in this year, less was more for her. Your child may be different, but this was my experience.
- But also, remember, some regular writing and such needs to happen and only you can determine the line and when to gently push and ask your child to rise up or when to let it go. As the homeschooling parent only you can determine this by watching your child.
- Remember, some children hit the nine year change hard, and nine-year olds are actually fairly fragile. Consider how you deal with this time in your gesture, your mood, your words.
- Alternatively, this is still time for boundaries and using your gentle and loving authority in your home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/03/discipline-support-and-guidance-of-the-nine-year-old/
- Take the long-term view of discipline: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/20/how-do-i-instill-inner-discipline-in-my-child/
- Consider ditching the Main Lesson book for some blocks.
- Be wary of outside activities. If Third Grade is a rather big leap from First and Second, which I think it is, sometimes the other issue is it seems as if extra-curricular activities also ramp up and expect more and the combination can be just way too much. Sometimes you have to weigh things. We were involved in sports this year that culminated in two competitions for the whole year, the experience was a very positive one overall for my daughter and she was so pleased, but the practice schedule was challenging.
- Play, play, play. Let your nine-year-old have plenty of time for PLAY.
- Depending on your child’s birthday, this sort of experience may not happen in Third Grade at all. It may be Fourth. Just something to keep in mind. Children develop at different rates.
- Consider that what you lay as a foundation between at ages 9, 10, and 11 is preparation for the twelve-year change and heading into the teenaged years. See back post listed below, and also this really popular one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/18/the-assault-on-girlhood/
- Here are some back posts about the nine year old: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/02/15/my-advice-for-the-nine-year-change/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/23/the-nine-year-old-girl/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/06/the-foundation-years-of-ages-9-12-decreasing-high-risk-behavior-in-teens/ and and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/28/the-nine-year-old-a-traditional-view/ Whew, I have written way more about the nine year change than I have thought.
Here are some posts about homeschooling Third Grade:
- and here:
- and here:
- and here:
- and here:
- Many blessings to all,
(Note – this is long so feel free to go and get a cup of tea!)
We started our school year with Form Drawing and then moved into our first Old Testament Block.
The Old Testament Block is one that many folks struggle with due to their own experiences with religion. Please remember, these are stories of a people and that people’s relationship to authority; they are also the stories of a people trying to make a home for themselves on earth. These issues speak clearly to a nine-year old who is grappling with these ideas if only subconsciously. These stories are not dealt with from a religious perspective within the Waldorf curriculum, although of course one is free to do this at home if one is Christian or Jewish. I am Christian and tend to look at these stories from that viewpoint. I highly suggest you obtain a copy of the Christopherus Homeschool Resources’ Old Testament Manual and Stories: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/publications-for-grades-1-through-5/old-testament-stories-3rd-grade-curriculum.html I think that the Christopherus notes to approaching these stories is helpful. The other source that helped me approach this block was the Christian resource “Genesis: Finding Our Roots” by Ruth Beechick.
We looked at what was present before Creation occurred and how the singing of the stars accompanied Creation (another quote for the Main Lesson book – see Job 38:7). We also looked at the beginning of the Book of John, of which many of you are familiar, that talks about what was present from the beginning of time. We started with these quotes in print and moved into cursive writing later in this block.
So then we were ready to start talking about the first story in the book of Genesis, the story of Creation. We wet –on- wet watercolor painted the 7 Days of Creation. My main resource for the painting inspiration came from the Christopherus Third Grade Curriculum. We looked at God creating man in His own image, I had my Third Grader write in her Main Lesson Book “God created human beings in His image” (Genesis 1:27). I pulled spelling words from the story of Creation.
We then moved into the story of Adam and Eve, The Garden Of Eden and the Fall. I used the animals and plants inhabiting the Garden of Eden as a way to start forming sentences with a subject and a predicate (subjects in blue and predicates in red). I have mentioned before that we have done a little more grammar than is typical of this point in the Waldorf curriculum due to the fact that my Third Grader is also in German School on Saturdays and was getting the grammar between German and English rather mixed-up.
The story of The Fall and of Cain and Abel can be very challenging ones! We found the language to use for the summary of Cain and Abel to be challenging and we consulted several different renditions of this story – the Bible, Ruth Beechick’s “Adam and His Kin” and Jakcob Streit’s “And Then There Was Light”.
My daughter’s narration of The Fall ended up being this: “Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. They were driven out of the Garden of Eden. On earth they had to make clothes, build a shelter and gather food.” It is very important to really go through this process on the board and not rush trying to obtain a summary.
We then looked at the story of Cain and Abel. My daughter’s narration about this was: “Adam and Eve had two sons. Their names were Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Cain thought God refused his sacrifice but accepted Abel’s. Cain became angry and struck his brother dead. The Lord punished Cain and Cain became a wanderer on earth.”
After this we traced the descendents of Cain and Seth and my daughter drew these family trees in her Main Lesson book. This idea came to me through Christian author and homeschooling consultant Ruth Beechick’s book “”Adam and His Kin”. This lineage will become important later as we trace the lineage leading to Abraham (and in our faith, leading to Jesus) in our second Old Testament block. We talked about the sons of Lamech (a descendent of Cain): Jabal, Jubal and Tubal Cain and their contributions to civilization. For these stories I used a combination of what is in the Bible and what Ruth Beechick fleshed out of the sparse lines in the Book of Genesis in story form in “Adam and His Kin”. I also found the section of these stories in his book mentioned above to be helpful.
Here is a chalkboard drawing of Jabal, Jubal and Tubal Cain. Go peek at the Book of Genesis and see if you can match my drawing up with who is who!
After that we moved into the story of Noah and the Ark:
We used the animals of the Ark as a springboard to talk about naming words, doing words, how words and picture words and made many sentences with pictures. We ended this block with the story of what happened to Noah after the ark came to rest and how Noah’s descendents populated the earth. We will pick up our next block with the story of The Tower of Babel.
For this block I would highly recommend the following resources:
- The Christopherus Old Testament Manual and Stories – the background information in there, the full-color reproductions of the seven days of creation and other ideas for working with this block are helpful. Also, the music section of the complete Christopherus Third Grade syllabus had helpful music and poetry suggestions to go along with this block, including an intriguing poem about Tubal Cain.
- Ruth Beechick’s “Genesis: Finding Our Roots” and “Adam and His Kin”
- Jakob Streit’s “And Then There Was Light.” Some may find this esoteric companion to be quite startling, but I found much of it matched up to Ruth Beechick’s book quite well because both incorporate what is said in the Bible and what was said in Hebrew legends surrounding these events and fleshes the Biblical events out in a story format.
- Arthur Auer’s “Modeling: Sculptural Ideas for For School and Home” had excellent suggestions for modeling for Noah’s Ark, and the animals of the Ark and the Garden of Eden.
- Dorothy Harrer’s “An English Manual”
- Roy Wilkinson’s “Commentary on Old Testament Stories.”
- One resource I do not have but would really like to get for when I do this block again is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Legends-Bible-Louis-Ginzberg/dp/0827604041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288451554&sr=8-1 I believe Eva over at Untrodden Paths mentioned this on her blog and it was the first place I had heard about it. Thank you Eva.
The challenging areas about this block outside of the themes and stories themselves included the drawing – moving into drawing animals and the importance of gesture and color in these drawings; what spelling words to really pull from these stories (too hard? too easy?); and being able to really pull in the music, painting, modeling, poetry in conjunction with all the grammar and spelling and introductory cursive writing. Again, I enjoyed working grammar in with these stories for my child but not every child will be ready for that.
The other interesting aspect of this block for me personally was seeing my nine-year-old’s work. It was, to be frank, rushed and sloppy. Some of this was no doubt due to me having to stand up and hold and dance around with a baby and tend to a kindergartner and not being able to always sit right there and draw each step by step, but some of this was also due to where my nine-year-old was. She did not want to rush, she told me, but she wanted to “get through the stories and drawings.” (She told me this after the block was over, and you can see the logic of a nine-year old right there, bless her heart). I felt we did a lot of “active” in this block, singing and stamping and poetry and modeling and painting and drawing, so I do think some of that is just indicative of where she is developmentally right now. This is the blessing of being able to work with our children at home and meet them where they are.
Hope that this post will be helpful to some of you as you plan.
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: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/
Many blessings to you all,
So far my third grader is learning to crochet. Here are examples of beginning crochet work that she has done so far:
A belt with wooden beads:
A crocheted “Thread of Life” (my term) for our All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) table:
And another view, with some orange paper flowers the children made for this festival:
Note there are no examples of knitting projects yet as our year just began in September. Third Grade is also the correct time to teach the purl stitch as the nine-year change marks the appropriate time to move out into the space beyond and behind oneself. This experience of self- awareness and what may lie away from oneself belongs to the nine-year old who is beginning to separate.
If you need a recap as to what types of handwork comes where within the framework of Waldorf Education and why, here is a wonderful article by my Waldorf homeschooling group’s handwork teacher Ms. Forster: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/
I have been tossing around some ideas for field trips for Waldorf Third Grade. Perhaps my list will spark some of your own ideas for your family!
- Obviously, working on farms if that is possible is a biggie. The point with farming is not so much to visit farms but to WORK on them, to have that experience of building the will when you must do something and see it to the end. So, that is not so much a field trip but an experience to plan…
- But, for field trips involving farming, I have also been thinking of orchards, cow dairy farms and goat diary farms, beekeeping operations
- State Agricultural fairs
- Native American pow-wows or visits to Native American reservations
- Perhaps a visit to one of those museums where the people dress up and re-enact how things were done in pioneer days
- Visits to a working quarry, building sites
- Visit to see wildlife rehabilitator who deals with injured owls, birds or a visit to a falconer (it seems as if someone I know was telling me they had a family member who was a falconer, if only I could remember who that was!)
- Thrift shop/fabric store during textile block
- Sheep shearing to washing to dyeing to making yarn
What experiences or trips are you planning for Third Grade?