Wrap Up of Week Eleven Seventh and Fourth Grade


I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find weeks nine and ten here and and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.


Changes in the Air:  I alluded to changing our daily rhythm due to seasonal changes and also to feeling as if we need a greater dose of movement each day.  I have also found at this point in the school year, almost a trimester complete, that with three children I need to have more of a schedule with times than a rhythmic flow in order that all the children get what they need.  That is a large change from past years when I really had more of a flow than set start times and end times, etc.  So I am still meditating on this, but right now I am thinking we will start at 8 with prayer, connecting with each other in love; 8:30 walk our dog; 9 start with our little kindergartener and his daily work and this can extend with our thirteen year old helping him as 9:45 is about the latest I can start with our fourth grader.  So whilst I am working with our fourth grader, our seventh grader can assist him and then also do some independent work in math or rough drafts of summaries and creative writing pieces whilst he plays by himself.  At 11:15 our seventh grader would be with me, with our fourth grader and kindergartener together.  Lunch at 12:30 and rest.  At 2, several days a week I would like to do crafts and handwork and several days a week do the requirements for the presidential fitness awards.  I have not figured out where to put foreign languages in this nor music practice…so I am still thinking.  For my own sanity, I don’t want to do any school past 3 and several days a week I would like to end earlier than that.  Thinking!

Kindergarten:  This week was mainly an autumn circle, fingerplays and seasonal songs, making broth and soup, making banana bread, and the story of the Pumpkin Motel found in Suzanne Down’s “Old Gnome Through The Year.”  There is still whittling going on as our oldest shared one of her wooden animals that she started with him and he is whittling and sanding quite happily. However, I still feel there needs to be a bit more to his day so I am thinking about that in relation to the rhythm/schedule above.  I am happy he has friends his age to play with many days of the week because as a third child and with his personality, he seems to crave that. 

Fourth Grade:  This week we are solidly into local geography.  We began with a trip to our local historical society on Monday, and learned about the history of our county and how our entire county was Cherokee lands, what happened when our river was dammed and how that formed a lake that overflowed some of the plots that were given to settlers.  We also learned about some of the historical restoration projects that are ongoing within our county.  The volunteers there were extremely kind and patient with us!  The next day we wrote a summary about our county with a pretty border with many of the names of the cities within our county.  We then looked at the geographic regions of our entire state and free hand drew a map and labeled it with a key.  We have looked at each geographic area and written a summary on the coastal plains which make up most of Georgia’s land, and talked about each area and what kinds of agriculture and animals and plants are there, where do most of the people live, places we have visited in each area.  We spent a day on the Okefenokee Swamp and also the barrier islands.  The last thing we touched  upon were the many rivers of Georgia, how they widen and slow and wind when they get to the plains, and we will look next week at Georgia’s rice  production of the early settlers, and then cotton and transportation.  We also have a few summaries to write this week, another look at the major rivers and their important role in our county, and a salt dough map to make of our state on a piece of plywood.  We still have up until Thanksgiving in this block, so we have plans to go on several field trips as well.  I hope to use time in our last week to visit the history center and the new Delta museum, along with a small Cherokee museum several town away.

We are currently reading a biography of the childhood of Theodore Roosevelt, (which also ties into Georgia),  which I plan to tie into our next Man and Animal block, and at night we are reading “A Little Princess”.

We are also working hard every day on addition and subtraction facts and our multiplication tables (we are going over all of them except the 6s and 8s are still left).  We have played a game of Sequencing Numbers each day in addition to a lot of math practice in movement.    Next week I also want to work into adding and subtracting with and without carrying and borrowing and hope to dig into a review of short division and then long division prior to Christmas.   We are also working daily on spelling; this is extremely, extremely difficult for our fourth grader that ties into visual memory challenges and other areas.   At the beginning of this year, any of her own writing was mainly composed of  consonants or if a vowel was included it was typically the wrong vowel  for the sound.   Our eye doctor let me look at a copy of a mainstream spelling program he is scoping out to help his homeschooling patients and I have borrowed their idea of vowel and consonant chunking, etc with colors and working with the same passage for a week with a final dictation writing at the end and I have seen some improvement.    I have also been reading the book, “The Gift of Learning” for methods regarding ADD, Math and Handwriting problems. That has been a help. 

Seventh Grade: My seventh grader has proclaimed our American history block of Colonial times and the American Revolution (which we also go over again next year and look at the Dutch, French and Russian revolutions, along with the Industrial Revolution as well) her absolute favorite of the year so far.  I think this really spoke to her as a thirteen year old and she is very proud of her work. 

This is our work so far in this block:

  • We read “The Birchbark House” and drew a drawing of the First Americans and wrote summary
  • Summary:  The First Discovery of the Americans with a map of the areas of European settlement around 1620
  • A drawing/map of a typical New England Village
  • Summary:  The Pilgrims and the Puritans
  • Summary:  Roger Williams and George Calvert
  • Map/drawing of a typical Southern Plantation with a summary about plantation life, and the terrible “triangular trade” that involved slaves, and our own state’s colonial plantation history.  Georgia actually had banned slaves and rum at its beginning, and Savannah’s population dwindled down to about 300 people as everyone left to go to the Carolinas.    We wrote a little about our own state history.
  • Summary:  Pictures of beavers and the French-Indian War, the role of the fur traders and trappers in settling our country (and the role of the fur-bearing animals here!)
  • Picture of a lady Liberty with an eagle and a writing about “What is An American?” We looked at the still-read book “Letters of An American Farmer” and also at the life of Eliza Pinckney
  • The lives of Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry – we talked about the Magna Charta as well, which we will circle back to in  our world history block
  • The famous poem and ride of Paul Revere with a map – also discussed the writing of the Declaration of Independence
  • We discussed  the battles of Saratoga, what happened at Valley Forge, and Yorktown; a brief look at what happened in our state at Savannah, and will finish with the Constitution and Bill of Rights

This block has been a lot of drawing and maps and writing; I really wanted more hands on projects to do so we may extend some of those into the afternoon the next few weeks.  We will also be starting our Perspective Drawing block this week.  Originally I wanted to do chemistry here, but the block would have had to have been divided with Thanksgiving week, so we will do Chemistry in December first.

Our oldest has done a lot of Native American bead looming this week with those tiny seed beads and she is also pretty proud of that.  We have reviewed something in math everyday including business math, geometry and  algebra.  We read “The Birchbark House” in this block as mentioned, also a book about the ladies of the Revolutionary War and their role, and the iconic “Ben and Me”.  I also have several good books she has already read, such as “Phoebe the Spy” and “Johnny Tremain” (which I would like to re-read this year with her). 

I would love to hear what you are up to!


Children Who Resist School Time


Sometimes I see mothers post on different forums regarding their child who is ‘’resisting” doing much of anything the parent/teacher presents.   I think sometimes bloggers are reluctant to blog about this because perhaps they too, are in the trenches of it all and don’t feel as if they have much to offer than to say, “It happens here as well.”  (Which in and of itself can be nice to hear, too).   No one really seems to want to talk about when things implode, or that bad days do occur, even in blogland.   Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries wrote a   great post here about what happens when homeschooling becomes a battleground and how to make adjustments. 

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I think the things that help me the most is to know myself, know my child and to know the curriculum.  I am a good teacher, and I am an even better teacher if I don’t have to spend my time dealing with children who are resisting everything and we spend our morning more in a headlock over what they don’t want to do rather than what we can do together to learn and have fun.  I am sure many of you feel that way!

Here is my list of observations regarding when things aren’t going well – something homeschooling has given me lots of  practice with!

  • Look at your child.  How does he or she learn, what does he or she like?  If you are a Waldorf homeschooler, how does that child  fit into the curriculum?  How can the curriculum meet the child?  It doesn’t have to be story-main lesson book, story- main lesson book…Which leads me to……
  • How active is your homeschool?  I find some of the curriculums on the market beautiful and inspiring, but more geared toward “sit down and write/paint/draw”.  That is wonderful and part of the Waldorf educational process, but I also think in homeschooling we need to think carefully about the active part out in the world before we think about sitting down.  This is part of homeschooling, and it is different than a school.  What field trips and experiences tied into the block?   Ideally, when we plan a block, those would be the first things that we would plan.  We need to think about movement, oral recitation and speech, skill practice in the doing, and then after all of that,  think about the sitting down.
  • How much room do you have for play?  Sometimes, especially with older children,  it is easy to get into “we have to get this done and then in the afternoon we have [x scheduled activity].  Where is the spontaneity for play, the extra room in the block for this?  Scheduling extra time into each block is helpful. 
  • Is this attitude of being uncooperative  just for school or is it toward helping out in the family in general?  How nice is everyone being to each other in general? 
  • Too many late nights and too many activities?  That can dampen any momentum towards getting going in the morning…
  • Are you carrying this as the authority?  Does the rhythm help carry you?  Can you adjust your rhythm to better fit your family?
  • Is your child dealing with something bigger – a learning disability, dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, visual or auditory processing challenges?  That can really affect things as well and being uncooperative can be an attempt to hide things that really need to be sorted out and things that need attention. Resistance can be thinly masked frustration on the part of the child with learning challenges. 
  • Developmental age – I often see on mainstream homeschooling boards about small children who don’t want to sit down and do school. That is appropriate for small children and academics, but the kindergarten years in Waldorf Education are a time to put forth the effort in rhythmic activities each week that your child can depend upon and join into.  If you take this time, first and second grade will go much, much better…In first and second grade, the child is learning how to be a learner and needs strong authority and rhythm with experiential and kinesthetic learning.  Third grade is often a time of resistance and distraction, and often also needs to be as hands-on as possible.
  • If a child is coming out of a school environment and “resisting”, they need time to de-school.  Hike, play outside, read to him or her, work with wood and fiber and art, do seasonal activities, and be together for awhile.  To me, that is not ‘’resisting school” but part of de-schooling.


In my next post, I will detail how I think about the child that resists school from the framework of my own experiences.



Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting


We are at the last of this wonderful book, the epilogue, in which we see many of the principles of simplicity parenting applied to real-life cases.  The epilogue opens with the case of six-year-old Carla, who is full of aggressive and controlling behavior.  Kim John  Payne notes that the parents wanted to “please and appease” and that the six-year-old was well on her way to complete domination and control of the home.  Yet, this story is here because it shows that there is not an “ideal family” candidate for simplicity parenting and that any family can benefit.  Simplicity is not just about simplifying stuff, but clearing out the space to be in each other’s hearts and to nurture each other.  Increasing rhythm in the home, having more consistency in daily life is nothing but calming to the families of today.  Meals and bedtime routines are still the hallmark of making a house into a home.  He talks about the “sliding” we can do as parents into the company of our children. 

It all takes time and energy, but the benefits of balance can be so outstanding for family life.    I would love to hear your story about attaining balance and a simpler life!



Homeschooling Eighth Grade History In The Waldorf Curriculum


The work I am doing in teaching our American Colonial History block in seventh grade and thinking a bit to eighth grade has prompted a bit of a search for me for history resources to help guide my teaching.  I  recently went over to the Waldorf Library On Line and read the free ebook, “The Riddle of America” (which also would be lovely for those of you preparing for fifth grade next fall), and it was a great read for those of you interested in a perspective regarding American geography and history. 

The thought of eighth grade history really has me a bit stymied.  Many talk about how the goal is to get the child up to “modern day times”.  However, I do know parents who put that “Revolutions” block in ninth grade.  Everything in history is also circled around again in high school, so I have been pondering this and how much detail or how far do I need to go in eighth grade.   I just found this blog post  about teaching eighth grade history and it was very helpful to me.  I am still thinking.  I also found this video, which I haven’t watched yet, about teaching American history in the eighth grade Waldorf classroom.

The thing I am finding most helpful, though is  the 123 paged AWNSA document, “Colloquium on American History”. It talks about teaching American history in high school, Waldorf high school teachers give many examples of what is taught when and why (and how this varies from region to region!), and looking at bias within history.  When I pull it up as a search, it goes directly to an Adobe document and I am not sure how to link to it, but it should come up if you search.

Here is a   document  by Betty Staley that details the high school grades, but also alludes to the seventh and eighth graders and their developmental changes and how the curriculum fits into that:

Would love to hear from you about this subject.  Many Waldorf homeschooling mothers have told me the history blocks can be difficult to plan because the biography/symptomology approach is foreign to them and the blocks cover huge expanses of time in grades one through eight. 

Many blessings,

Time of Lanterns


This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns.  There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:

“Two lantern festivals mark this time.  From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11.  Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground.  Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand.  As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns.  Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas.  The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”

This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder.  It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home.  I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes.

Outside, one can work in tidying the garden, caring for the birds and other small creatures, and planting flower bulbs for spring.

I would love to hear what you are planning for this time of year.



Holiday Gifts To Make


Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day.  Uh, no stress there at all!  

That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home  here.  It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….

Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give.  I have some tried and true favorites, including:

  • Candle dipping
  • Dipping pinecones into beeswax as fire starters (you can see instructions in the book “Earthways”
  • Wet felted ornaments
  • Homemade bath salts, bath bombs, homemade soap
  • Peppermint bark
  • Homemade cookies


Here is a great list of 40 gifts children can make for the holidays:  at Happy Hooligans.

This was listed as a gift a teen could make – a fish clock!


And what about what to make for our children?

Here are  ideas for 70 toys to make for children.

For teen girls, I was thinking of a custom made rack with knobs to hold jewelry or belts,  or homemade hair accessories, knit or crocheted hats, scarves or mittens.

For teen boys, I was thinking of tie-dyed clothing, art that had on it custom quotes or sayings, knit scarves or hats.


Please share your holiday plans for crafting!

Many blessings,

Wrap Up of Weeks Nine and Ten of Seventh and Fourth Grade


I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week eight here and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Changes in the Air -I am getting ready to change our daily rhythm.  The nights are colder, the children are sleeping longer, and I think this is something natural and healthy for this time of year.  So, I am planning on starting later for the sake of reality.  The other change I want to make right now is to make sure we get to a daily walk.  We have been starting with movement, but not a walk because it is so hard to wrangle three bodies back in the house and not have to then use the bathroom, have a snack, etc. and have it add an hour to our already long day.  However, our dog was just diagnosed with some degenerative changes in her spine, and walking is important for her.  It is also important for me.  I feel as if I spend part of my day on my feet at the blackboard, but unlike a classroom situation where a teacher hardly sits down, I also spend a good amount of time sitting next to a child.  And if we go to an activity for the children in the afternoon, many times they are being active but I am watching a four year old and not active.  We are watching the older children or waiting.  It is not movement for me.  So, I also want to start scheduling “P.E’’ in our afternoon four days a week.  I will let you know how that goes.    Handwork is also taking a larger priority now that the weather is cold. 

Kindergarten:  We are in the lovely land of autumn circle, pumpkin and Halloween fingerplays that our five-year old loves to recall from memory, autumn crafts and the adorable story by Suzanne Down, “How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch” from the Autumn Tales book.  Making bone broths has also been a priority as the weather has cooled and we have made several batches.  We are also working on making beds together and self-dressing. 

Fourth Grade:  Week Nine saw us finishing up our Man and Animal block.  We did some drawing and poetry for the seal, and modeling for the Eastern Harvest Mouse for trunk animals.  Modeling mice is a wonderful exercise in transitioning shapes.    We looked the the different limbs of different animals (mole’s paw for digging, bird wings for flying, seal flippers for swimming, bird’s feet for perching, and an extensive look at the elephant and his trunk), drew the elephant and practiced hatching, did a “list” of these limbs and finally looked at the only true limb animal- the human being.  Week Ten saw us moving into Local Geography.  We started with drawing ourselves, and thinking about our own bodily directions and place in the world (address, neighborhood, city, state, country, hemisphere, etc).  We looked at our place in the family, another “address”  and location of sorts.  Then we looked at our house.  I know many people start here with a “bird’s eye view” map of a bedroom or the schoolroom, but I decided to hold off on that for a bit and focus on flat maps.  (We will have the chance to do a three-dimensional map later in this block).  We walked the neighborhood and drew a large three-paged neighborhood map.  This week we will start with the greenway that is attached to our neighborhood and look at that familiar place and move into our county.  There are many interesting historical places to visit!

We finished “My Side of the Mountain” and I hunting for what we will read next week. 

Seventh Grade:  We finished up astronomy during Week Nine and began Colonial History.  Colonial History, like all major history blocks, has been an interesting one to try to put together.  The goal is to pick the things that are symptomatic of an era, the biographies that really sing.  I found this difficult because my approach often tended to get mired in the details.  So far we  have looked extensively at the First People of our Nation, drawn and summarized and looked at how those people may have gotten here in the very beginning; we talked about some of the earliest explorers and how America got its name, the earliest of trading posts that were here when the Pilgrims arrived and made a beautiful map to show how far these posts were apart from each other and which countries had started them, compared and contrasted the Puritans and Pilgrims and how life in New England Villages began and constructed a map of a typical village (a building diorama on a piece of plywood would have worked well too), compared and contrasted Roger Williams and George Calvert, and started a map of a typical plantation.  We are reading a biography of William Penn.    This week we will move into plantation colonies and talk about the colonial history of our own state, talk about the thirteen colonies as a whole and move into colonial life and the basis of the Revolutionary War.

“Revolutions” is usually fodder for eighth grade, but I really wanted the colonial history in seventh grade as background.  We will cover the Revolutionary War in sweeping strokes during the next two weeks and circle back around to it in our “Revolutions” block next year.  Some Waldorf curriculums on the market start in the 18th century, but I think it is a shame for Americans to miss out on the earliest foundings of our country.  If you are homeschooling these upper grades, I urge you to give thought to how you want to put American history into the curriculum.  I have heard of some Waldorf Schools in eighth grade who did as many as three blocks of American history in that grade, and some who had a block planned but then it didn’t happen and the children got no official American history for all eight grades, which seems absolutely appalling to me for American schools.  So please do plan.  Smile

I am gathering a list of supplies for chemistry and looking forward to that block.

I would love to hear what you are working on in your homeschool!  You can drop a comment in the comment box or if you are blogging about your days, please leave a link!

Many blessings,