So, now we are up to the nitty gritty of planning. Details on that in just a moment!
I have posted a few updates on Facebook at The Parenting Passageway page and on Instagram @theparentingpassageway, but here is an official updated planning post for fourth grade and where I am now…
- I have laid out our school year and matched each week of our school year to a main lesson block topic
- I looked at our “big picture rhythm” and thought ahead about festivals and birthdays
- I have laid out a general rhythm for the school week – Mondays are journal writing and movement (and on selected Mondays, writing a rough draft of a letter in place of a journal entry); Tuesdays are yoga and journal writing; Wednesdays are movement and the day for our fourth grader to cook dinner; Thursdays are mindfulness games, cleaning day, painting day, and instead of main lesson we will have nature studies or STEM kinds of activities or both. Fridays we take off.
- I made a quick list of each block by week on a legal pad and jotted down some brainstorming notes for practice ideas and projects.
- I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles by block or topic.
- My block list for fourth grade, with one block still undecided and now I am leaning towards inventors because my son is really interested in birds and engineering.
- August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds (American folk tales, which I switched – originally it was in November)
- September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
- September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks) (tales from Lawrence Yep’s The Rainbow People, added)
- October – Man and Animal 2 (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography) (tales of the beginning of The Dwellers of Asgard in Padraic Colum’s book, “Children of Odin”)
- November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food tales of Odin from “The Children of Odin” by Padraic Colum)
- December – Tales of Thor (changed, tales from D’Aularies’ Book of Norse Myths),The Dream of King Alfdan from Isabel Wyatt in “Legends of the Norse Kings” , knots and forms
- January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we will draw or paint off of those (tales of Loki, Loki’s punishment, the Twilight of the Gods)
- February – Birds of Prey, report writing
- March – Weland the Smith (undecided and at the moment I can’t seem to locate either book in my house since I am in the midst of cleaning out our school room. End of year woes). Or Inventors. My little guy would love a block on constructing bridges or something like that. Totally not Waldorf, but I am looking at my child.
- April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
- May – African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths)
So, now we put the nitty-gritty together for each block, using the daily rhythm I have already created to know our rhythm, and knowing the parts of a main lesson block.
First, I read the resources for each block and jot down ideas on a form I made up. I read my resources with ideas for the GOALS I want to see accomplished each block. I don’t think you can effectively TEACH a block just by picking out story content. Telling stories isn’t the same as teaching, so there is an idea of “soul food” – these are the stories that are needed for the development of the archtypal human being, and then there is the idea of what goals (skills, foundations, capacities) that need to be developed during the block.
So, for our first block I pulled from “Math Wizardry for Kids” (Barron’s); “Making Math Meaningful: Fun With Puzzles, Games, and More!”, “Math Games and Activities” by Claudia Zaslavsky; “Introducing Fractions” by Marilyn Burns. I usually check in with Pearson’s “Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics” and York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for general progression and ideas as well. I don’t tend to use a lot of stories in math for fourth grade, but instead use hands on activites. I will tie in some of our math hands-on work to our bird of the week since our fourth grader loves birds!
I pulled forms from “Creative Form Drawing Workbook 1” by Angela Lord.
Our stories came from “With A Wig, With A Wag,”edited by Jean Cothran. These we will model, paint, draw from each week during our extra art lessons. I do this because for me, unless it is geometry, I find it difficult to really work on art with a fractions block. Just me.
I decided what birds we are going to study (one kind each week) for our bird loving little student and what other nature we will be looking at for our Thursday Nature Day.
I pulled together ideas for music, art, cooking, movement, yoga, mindfulness.
It’s a little jumbled on the form I created, but I can follow it. You can see a picture of a few sample weeks on FB and IG.
For our second block, local geography, I pulled from the same form drawing book and math games books. I used “The Mapmaker’s Daughter” by MC Helldorfer for for the idea of maps; and then my own notes from going through this grade two previous times regarding local geography.
Second, I plugged in ideas for our opening verses, practice work, review of our main lesson/practice, main lesson work, closing verse, lunch verses, our art/crafting/music/cooking slot after lunch and our Thursday birds/nature/survival skills. I think I will be writing out ideas for movement separately.
Third, I have to write some things out for main lesson. Some things are like refer to page X in a certain book, but sometimes I have to write out a story or a narrative about something. For example, I have narratives written out for the different types geographic provinces of our state, the first settlers in our state, and the first staple crops of our state. You can do this ahead of time or the week before. Just know what you need a narrative about and which sections really need that! When you get into upper level grades, pretty much everything needs a narrative. For something like math, which I approach more hands on and less story like in fourth grade, I might not need the narrative, but I will need an idea of how to progress math within each lesson.
Then the fun part of putting things in my own main lesson book begins! More on that later.