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 twenty four through twenty six and further in the 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.
Living With The Seasons: Week twenty-seven of school was spring break around here, so we had a lighter than normal schedule that included a day off, a day that involved a physics class taught by a Waldorf teacher for our oldest and a field trip to an animal rescue facility for the younger children, two days of homeschooling, and a day of drama class for our middle child with playtime for the other two children.
Week twenty-eight saw us trying to get back into a rhythm. I find down here in the south that as soon as spring break has happened, most homeschoolers are ready to quit school. I feel like for our youngest children that could happen and be okay (so long as we didn’t actually have state requirements to fulfill! Hahahahaa!) but our seventh grader has quite a bit to finish up!
Homeschool Planning: I have four blocks plus daily math for three months planned for fifth grade and three months of our six year old kindergarten year planned. I am still ordering resources for eighth grade but I did sketch out three blocks so far and am going back in as I receive resources and filling things in…
Kindergarten: Well, we are officially at five and a half year of age right now! We are still doing a springtime circle along with a new story of Old Gnome and Young Frog, found in Suzanne Down’s wonderful “Old Gnome Around the Year” book. We are working on painting, baking, playing, drawing, crafts and handwork. Our kindergartener is good at cutting vegetables with a knife and assisting with pouring and stirring in baking. We have been painting with yellow for spring and drawing with the three primary colors. Our crafts have involved Eastertide!
Fourth Grade: In Week twenty-seven, we talked about the ocean and the different zones of the ocean – sunlight (also called photic), twilight, bathyal and abyssal zone. We looked at our state marine mammal, the right whale, and recited a lot of poetry regarding ocean life. We wet on wet painted a sea turtle, a whale, and a gulper eel (gulper eels live in the bathyal zone). We talked about sperm whales and their relationship with giant and colossal squids, and the tube worms that live in the abyssal zone vents and how they take the poisonous gases from the vents and change it into energy. Our local library happened to have a wonderful selection of books related to the ocean and ocean animals. For myself, I went through “Oceans: An Illustrated Reference” by Dorrik Stow. The other books for children were:
- Creatures of the Deep: Giant Tube Worms and Other Interesting Invertebrates by Heidi Moore – very interesting!
- Animals and Their Habitats: Oceans (World Book)
- Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky
- Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs (I highly recommend! I am going to buy a copy for myself!)
- Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by HP Newquist I have used this book twice for this block now and it excites me every time.
- Giant Pacific Octopus by Leon Gray
- Journey Into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca L. Johnson – this book is about the 2000 Census of Marine Life and was fascinating!
Along with our paintings and modeling (sea turtle; I had plans for us to model tube worms but we didn’t get there), we did several poems and wrote them out. This may be a spot where we differ from a Waldorf School in terms of all that reading from books, but they were just so gorgeous to see all those beautiful animals! This week we forayed into insect life. We are reading “Little Bee Sunbeam” and talking about the hard and soft, night and day polarities of our insect friends. We used beeswax to model a grasshopper, talked about the grasshopper and are finishing the week by talking about ants. Next week we will finish ants, butterflies and bees.
We have also worked very hard on math – adding, subtracting, review of fractions and equivalent fractions, multiplication tables and multiplication, division problems and measurement. Our fourth grader all of the sudden was interested in book one of the Key To Measurement book that she had started some time ago and really just was not there developmentally. So now she is almost done with that book and will move on to Book Two. We have also been working on spelling and have seen a good progression since the beginning of this year. Sight words and commonly misspelled words have made up the bulk of our words at this point, since spelling is really holding our daughter back from being able to write more independently what she would like to write. Visual therapy is completed, but our fourth grader has had to really go back and re-learn the letters and how they are imprinted in her visual memory.
What I would like to do now is to complete another short math/form drawing block, and then move into a little project now that we have gone through local geography in a block and more geography and animals in our Man and Animal Block with our state animals. I would like to have us make a large salt dough map of our state and label the rivers, mountains, plains, cities and go over our animal friends again and where they live. I also would like to foray our insect studies into a bit of herbs and gardening to end the year. We only have about five and a half weeks left of school, maybe six and a half if my seventh grader needs more time, so I think these ideas are doable.
Seventh Grade: We are working hard in algebra right now and also metric measurement. Our study of the Renaissance has brought us face to face with Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael and from there we moved into a brief discussion of paper printing, gunpowder, the growth of Portugal in exploring (Prince Henry the navigator and a review from astronomy and Africa blocks), Christopher Columbus and the events leading up to the Reformation. A word to the wise, the chapter regarding Borgia (Pope Alexander the sixth (not the fourth as the book states) is historically inaccurate according to the other resources in which I have been searching). So, read ahead on that one and decide how you want to approach that.
What we have so far in our main lesson books is
- A beautiful title page with hand-lettered calligraphy painted with gold paint.
- A beautifully lettered Table of Contents
- A map of China with a summary about China, Marco Polo.
- A drawing from The Silk Road and a brief summary
- A beautiful watercolor painting of Joan of Arc and Saint Michael – gorgeous! And a summary of The Hundred Years War and Joan of Arc, the rise of nationalism.
- A map of Italy at the time of Lorenzo di Medici and a charcoal portrait of Lorenzo. A summary regarding Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael that my seventh grader wrote herself with a little help in getting the ideas down regarding comparing and contrasting these figures and what the really represent in the Renaissance.
- A map of Spain at the time of Christopher Columbus and a chalk picture of his caravels.
Our daughter is spending some time drawing from Leonardo’s sketches as part of this block. Very beautiful and a great way to work on portraiture and proportion! We are finished a book about the “Magna Charta” and will start reading “The Second Mrs. Giaconda”.
What we have left this year is South American Geography (and review Mexico and Central America) and the great Incan, Mayan, Aztec civilizations and the explorers who came to this continent. Depending upon our time frame, I would like to either finish up our algebra Main Lesson Book, although we have been practicing algebra almost daily now or finish with a bit more physics (see below). Or both together. Veteran Waldorf Homeschoolers call this “doubling up a block”. It probably never happens in the school environment, but it does happen at home sometimes with math and another subject. We have five and a half to six and a half weeks of school left, so this seems feasible.
Our daughter had the opportunity to take a physics class with a Waldorf teacher, so that has taken away one of our school days at home for this month, but has been beneficial I think. There are four classes and each class is three hours long and is combining different topics in physics from sixth, seventh and eighth grade. There is homework, including writing up (materials, action, thoughts along with related drawings from the experiment) two experiments a week and demonstrating one of the experiments they did to family members at home. Once I see exactly what has been done in this class, if I feel we need any other seventh grade topics in physics, I will jump into that the last few weeks of school. We also started this year with physics –lightness, darkness, color, so it could feel right to end with more physics or it might be that the class is just enough. We were lucky to have an opportunity to participate in it.