In our last post in this series, we left off where after reading all of our resources, we have ideas, a general flow of topics or stories for a block and set them on paper. I find this especially simple for the lower grades. For the upper grades with subjects where I have to write and condense information, I may take notes on paper from different resources and then gather them into one document on the computer – “The Silk Road”, “Charlemagne” etc. This is especially because I may have to combine sources to write a complete picture of something in history through a biography. I have found that I have to be careful and confirm things one source says against another source…just to be sure of accuracy for the upper grades – every author has a bias.
With the early grades, it may be simpler in a way because you are choosing stories, not sifting through historical data or experiments to illustrate ideas in science, but the stories also have to be tailored to be the best story for your child through pedagogical storytelling. For example, I can add in little details that appeal to my child’s temperament. I also can also write little nature stories based upon the plants and animals in our area; I can also put together verses and little songs. (We do this tailoring in the upper grades too when we tell great biographies to our children and really tailor it for their temperament or what they need to see as a consequence positive and negative of certain choices in a historical figure’s life!)
Then on to really work on the artistic. Many times, this starts with chalkboard drawing. I always had images “around” in my head and could draw on a chalkboard fairly quickly, especially in the early grades of 1 through 4 or 5 or so….However, the drawings of the upper grades are much more intricate, and some of the drawings for seventh grade have taken three to four hours. I do not think my chalkboard drawings for seventh and eighth grade are as up to par as some Waldorf teachers in the Waldorf Schools for the upper grades at this point. I realize also that those chalkboard drawings can take a weekend to put together and I don’t know as that is always a realistic or efficient experience of time for a homeschooling mother, to be honest, especially with multiple children to homeschool…. So I would say I have used some chalkboard drawings this year, but I have also had more the experience of creating on paper with charcoals, pen, pastels, colored pencil, veil painting, etc. It seems quicker and a better use of my limited time to work in the medium my child will be working in (ie, the child is not working in chalkboard drawing). Modeling also is still important – in eighth grade we will be tackling modeling the head! Guess what I will be practicing this summer??
As we move up in the grades, I find I also have to rely in some ways more on images from other people – because, for example, I can’t just do a portrait of Lincoln anyway I like. It has to look like Lincoln. So when my plans are on paper then I may need to go back and add in specific images or ideas for imagery sources. This is where books, pinterest, image searches, etc can come in handy. However, you still have to bring your own creativity into it as far as layout and ideas. Do you want charcoal drawings for this subject or how will you set the subject up to bring something new artistically into the layout, the title, etc?…. But back to the chalkboard drawing and artistic endeavors in general..
For some mothers who are just starting out, they may have to really work the proportion of their chalkboard drawings and simple people and animals. This is okay. It is important to be able to break it down into simple shapes with block crayons, stick crayons, chalk. So the chalkboard can be a great medium for a homeschooling parent to work with! What children in the home environment often need most, however, is you to sit down and draw with them when the time comes. They are not in a classroom where they can look around and see other first graders drawing and how that other child is approaching it! So in the home environment, don’t panic and do remember that if drawing or modeling or whatnot is difficult for you, remember the forms in grade one are simple! They are for a first grader! However, even children in grades 6-8 like you to draw with them in charcoal and later in pastel chalks, etc. So plan to have finished products in a folder that you have done over the summer (or your own main lesson book) but also plan to sit down and do the artistic projects with your child.
The end of the lesson normally is new material or leaving with a deepening question or idea regarding the same topic. Steiner often talked about leaving students with a question to think about….
I hope this helps you see that putting together blocks is actually not that difficult, but it takes doing it. You can do this! I am planning right now at night….hard work especially for eighth grade, since I am learning everything I forgot from school (LOL), but well worth the time.
I hope this helps.