It is hard to believe that my last post on eighth and fifth grade was back in August; you can read that post here and see what we were up to!
Six Year Old Kindergarten – I described in my first post the joys of our liturgical year and August; for September we have moved into so many of the traditional Autumn things that I love – songs and verses about squirrels, chipmunks and apples; Suzanne Down’s sweet story about “There’s a Bear in Our Plum Tree!” and now the story “The Princess of the Flaming Castle” found in the red book, “Let Us Form A Ring”. This month, we have focused on Saint Helena and Holy Cross Day, celebrated in the Episcopal tradition on September 15th, and reading lots of stories and saying verses about angels in preparation for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. This has been a fun time of starting church choir for our little one, attending Sunday School and finally being old enough to go to Cloverbuds in 4-H when his big sisters attend our homeschool 4-H meetings. So lovely! Mainly we have been enjoying baking, painting, modeling, playing in the dirt, and being outside with the change of weather.
Fifth Grade – This botany block is stretching out to be the longest block we have ever done,much like the way our Native American block of Third Grade went on forever (same child as well!). At any rate, once we got settled in, we enjoyed moving into algae and lichens and their varying connections to animals from our fourth grade Man and Animal block. We moved into mosses and ferns with painting and modeling and walking in the woods. We read “One Day in the Woods”, also by Jean Craighead George, and looked at the beautiful fern family in modeling and painting. We went apple picking, and used the process of drawing and describing the apple tree and orchard as a basis for talking about the steps in writing – pre-writing, draft, revision, edit and final stage – and types of writing. For conifers we have extensively discussed the ecology of the longleaf pine, which we will also be visiting this coming week; and how this habitat is intricately intertwined with the red cockaded woodpecker, one of the first animals I learned about when we moved to this state, and also with the keystone species of the gopher tortoise that we learned about in our fourth grade Man and Animal block and reviewed here. “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood” by Janisse Ray is a great read for teachers looking to know more about this unique habitat. We will have a field trip and poetry to look at trees, and a final look at botany with the flowering plants and an introduction to biomes. It promises to be a full last (hopefully last!) week.
We have been reviewing a lot of math and spelling. Music theory is going full force again with our choir director from church, along with choir practice itself and swimming and 4H. Busy days!
Eighth Grade – We finished our Platonic Solids (Stereometry) and Loci block. Loci were great fun and we looked at the basic building blocks of loci and then moved into creating parabolas, hyperbolas and ellipses. We then did some work with HOW one gets those formulas of volume. Then we moved into American History. We had done a Colonial/American History block last year in seventh grade, so in this grade we picked up with Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark and moved onward. We have talked about the changes in transportation with the steamboat, the Golden Age of Canals, when Texas was an independent Republic and the Mexican-American War, the Pony Express, and the inventions and changes that helped shaped America. I assigned a paper regarding Eli Whitney as I feel this ties into the pre-Civil War Era nicely. We moved into the Civil War at the end of this week.
We did a more exhaustive literary analysis of Scott O’Dell’s “Sing Down the Moon”, looked at Navaho songs, and are now reading “Sacajawea” aloud. There are many wonderful books to read about this time period in American history, and just not enough time! We have continued with math, vocabulary and Spanish, and finally did start that World Geography, which will have enough hours at the end of the year and be rigorous enough to be a high school level course. So far we have looked at types of geographers and their areas of study, the five lenses of geography, a review of globes, maps, latitude, longitude, different types of maps, and then delved quite deeply into Antarctica (where there is an island named after my husband’s family!), the explorers of Antarctica and its wildlife and now into North America.
4-H has been busy with forestry judging (tree identification, tree diseases and insect identification, saw timber estimation and pacing) and now wildlife judging, along with choir and other activities. One interesting activity my eighth grader found through 4-H is Walk Georgia – for each certain number of minutes of movement, one “unlocks” one of Georgia’s counties on an interactive map and with this, pertinent attractions for that county are listed. What a fun way to review all of the counties of our state and stay active!
It has been a busy year so far…
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Lovely to read what you are doing!
By the way, I loved reading that you are studying Antarctica. My brother worked there extensively for over 10 years, so we feel a special bond, although we have never been there ourselves.
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For the first five weeks of our homeschooling, I told a story I made up about the wedding of the Princess and the Baker, characters from a favorite story of ours by Suzanne Down called “The Baker of Pink”. At the end of the summer, there was a beautiful outdoor wedding in our village, and afterward my daughter’s play was “wedding” themed constantly. “The Baker of Pink” is a story my daughter asks for year-round, so I knew she would like having the characters continue in another story. She was so delighted by the story, and it informed her play in such a sweet way, that we kept it going for a long time! I’m planning each of our stories to last three to four weeks, depending on the season, holidays, family trips, etc. It’s great to read about your little one’s involvement in church and 4-H activities. We are doing a co-op day with another family one morning a week. The other family is very mainstream and academically focused, but there aren’t any other Waldorf families in my area. It is wonderful for my daughter to play with other children. We live in a remote place, so this is her only opportunity for that. The other mother and I have found common ground for activities for the children, and it is going well so far. (Just have to let some things go…not everything can be perfectly “Waldorf” and there are always pros and cons to weigh.) We are meeting in a spare room at our local public school, and the teacher there has truly gone out of her way to create a Waldorf inspired space for us and to welcome us into the school community for the morning. What a blessing!
I love “The Baker of Pink”! And I am so glad you are making it work with another family. I think it is important, even if it is not “Waldorf”. The longer you homeschool, the less important that seems to become and if by high school you are not connected into the larger homeschooling picture, you will NOT know what is going on with homeschooling for high school credit, CLEP, SAT/ACT, state scholarships, etc. And, what I have found, quite frankly, is that many Waldorf homeschooling groups stay strong until the children hit fourth or fifth grade and then it kind of falls apart at that point…so I think build your community. Our favorite friends are still the ones that we made when our older children are quite young, so they can really stick around.
I don’t know as I would have my little guy in anything if it weren’t for the fact that we are already there and he is beyond extraverted….third child has such a different experience than the first or even second child it seems!