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.
I love the insight I glean from your real world examples. Thank you so much. Just wondering if you plan to do K or 1st with your 5 year old next year.
We will be in six year old kindergarten in the fall. He will be 6 in October. I found seventh grade to go much better if a little person is seven or as close to seven as possible.
I had to laugh at this, Carrie, because it is EXACTLY where we are:
“…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…”
We had our official spring break during Holy Week, and we just haven’t gotten back into the main lesson rhythm since. I feel quite relaxed about it because my kids ARE very young (5 & 7) and running, jumping, and romping outside for long periods is still a top priority (and no state requirements to meet at this age in WA).
My 7 year old is getting the hang of jumping rope at last, and both are enjoying their new hula hoops. Birds are nesting in the bird houses, the tulips are fading but bleeding hearts are blooming magically. We’re weeding, turning, planting and mulching all the flowerbeds, and the first butterfly was spotted this week. All about us spring leaves are unfurling. It’s warm enough for picnics but still cool enough for cocoa (in the 50’s mostly)… A glorious time to be outdoors!
I do so admire your ability to homeschool 3 children of widely different ages – and share it with us!! You are truly an inspiration.
Thank you Carly! And I am glad you are having fun this spring! Jumping rope, to me, sounds like a really great thing!
Carrie, thank you so much for posting about 7th grade. You mentioned the book you were using was historically inaccurate. Is that the Kovacs book?
I am wondering what changes you’ve made to your homeschooling routine/methods now you are working with a seventh grader. Do you set your daughter reading assignments and allow her to work with the material in a way she wants, or do you suggest the subject for her main lesson book work? How much guidance do you still give? Do you expect her to continue her reading outside of main lesson time or is that a part of the lesson only? Do you still guide her summaries or are you just editing with her now? How much writing are you expecting from her? Do you work on art work with her or allow her to copy pictures in books? I know all of this depends upon the individual student, but I am curious as to how much it has changed from, say, fourth or fifth grade. Lots of questions here – probably a post rather than a comment! Thank you, Cathy
Yes, the section on Borgia in the Kovacs book was historically inaccurate at least as far as I could find in my other resources. The main book I used this block was “When The World Awakes” http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Awakes-Renaissance-Western-Europe/dp/B0007DV4YG
Yes, your other part I might have to answer in a post. I tend to not push too much in regards to independently writing summaries but my daughter is also a reasonably good writer. We often write the summary together. She wrote one alone but really needed a lot of help to gather thoughts beforehand. I find trying to summarize these large historical themes is really more, to me, of high school level work. So again, I guess I am not a big pusher during those blocks. I tend to push for more writing of summaries from her during other blocks, write it on the board and correct it together. So, first I think look at your own child and see what you think they need. Reading – yes I have been assigning books to read that coordinate with our block. I started that in sixth grade. We do art together, sometimes we both are copying a picture from a book or she is copying something I did but we both are learning how to be more creative this semester in preparation for eighth when she will do the vast majority of her own work and I will correct and guide at rough draft stages, etc.
I think the summaries are longer, way more complex and involved, way more thinking than fourth or fifth grade. However, I think the biggest shift has come this last semester of seventh…. I don’t know as this is “how it is done” in a school, just how it has worked out for us this time around. I will let you know when I go through seventh grade the second time in a few years how it goes again!
Licoricelovinglady – PS
Fourth grade I don’t expect a lot of writing. Fifth grade I think writing and dictation skills really jump up quite a bit. Sixth grade builds on that and to me than seventh is where working independently more starts to gradually unfold in a gentle way.
Carrie, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! I am feeling quite torn at the moment between doing longer summaries as the content becomes richer, or focusing on beautiful handwriting. I know, even with my own writing, that unless I write very slowly I start to get sloppy. Yet I can’t seem to let go of the idea that we must record what we are learning!
You make a good point about history being a difficult subject to summarize and that those skills might be better developed in other blocks. I’ll try to keep that in mind when we start our “true” history blocks next year.
Cathy – I was thinking about this throughout the day today — I mean we think this main lesson book summary thing is about “writing”. And it is, but writing is so much about the thinking and then choosing the right words, punctuation, spelling to make our thoughts clear to another. That draws in so many of the twelve senses that are still developing in these 4-7th graders. So, I was thinking about progression — copying a summary, writing a summary from dictation, composing a summary on the board together, composing a summary with just bullet points and the student writing a rough draft and go over that together, the student writing a rough draft from an oral discussion with you but really writing it on their own, writing on their own and you looking at the rough draft, finally being able to pretty much write on their own…maybe something like that progression. It really takes time, but I think those in Waldorf programs really do end up to be good writers simply because of the richness and depth of the topics and how they really do have to work to be economical with all the information they receive about a subject…
And yes, hard to break that whole everything has to go in the main lesson book thing..but it really doesn’t. Sometimes we only draw or create art, sometimes art with just a poem, sometimes art with a summary…sometimes something unorthodox like a recipe/cookbook or something like that..think and be creative!
That’s a great progression, I’m going to print that out. Thanks again, Carrie!
Thank you for such detailed posts!
Thank you so much for this series! Do you do beeswax modeling with your kindergartener? Do you only color with the three primary colors?
In our state, there really are no reporting requirement other than to declare we are homeschooling, and fulfill 180 days with an assortment of normal subjects in a four hour day. So in my state it is easy to homeschool. We have testing every three years starting in third grade.
Maybe you can tell me more about your state, what grades you are doing and I can give you some ideas.
For the most part I pick one to two colors for painting and drawing based upon the season. We do beeswax model but I use more sand box and mud in nature, bread dough and salt dough at this point for a five year old.
Hope that helps,
Hi Carrie! I’m just wondering about the state requirements where you live and how you happen to jump through those hoops while maintaining your own homeschooling goals through Waldorf? Thanks!!!
Cathy – I was looking through Waldorf Inspirations website and I caught this under third grade: http://www.waldorfinspirations.com/images/3rd-grade/lang/more-ideas-for-third-grade-language-skills.pdf – it talks about 1/3 of writing being the students’ own in third grade, 1/3 copying and 1/3 dictation. I know other teachers such as Meredith over at The Waldorf Journey focuses a lot on dictation in fifth grade. So I guess please know that each teacher has their own ideas. You may also want to look through Donna Simmons/Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc’s “Living Language” as well as that has a progression from first through fifth grade. The more no-man’s land of writing is the upper grades, really.
Many blessings, Carrie
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