October Rhythms and Meal Planning

I love October.  I love the temperature dropping, the leaves turning color and falling down, I love the golden rays of the Southern sun.  October is also when I feel the outdoors beckoning us, and the beautiful changes of seasons scatters us.

It is a perfect time to re-think rhythms and meal planning and perhaps get a little more grounded in the process.  Lately I felt like being outside, but at home and in our own neighborhood, so I think it is a good time to look at the things in our home as we head into cooler weather and  the autumnal rhythm.


Well, if I had tiny children, I would be totally focused on warming meals, layers for outside, and rest and outdoor play, and work around the house.  My rhythm would be simple, lovely and held.  I urge those of you with tinies to get some old watercolor paintings and cut them into pieces and write your daily rhythm on it.  Turn off the screens for yourself and your child (if any are on during the day) and sink into the warmth of nourishing your home and each other through play, song, work, and warmth.

I find it much harder with teenagers and the spread of ages we have. So, I have settled into

  • Warm Breakfast and Discussion about the day
  • We try to start around 8:30 or 9.  This is our littlest first grader’s time.  We try to start by going outside and doing most of school outside if possible.  Make sure high schooler and sixth grader are starting with music practice and any work they can do on their own.
  • Check in with high schooler about Algebra or Spanish or other work.
  • Sixth grader’s time with me- we will be moving into Roman History before Christmas, and I want to start our time together with the idea of being a Roman soldier.  So, hearty movement and then main lesson.  Work in handwork into our read alouds and invite first grader in.  High schooler usually has work that she is trying to get done, so it has been difficult to not honor that during this time, but I am hoping to get into a better rhythm with this so my high schooler has time to do handwork too.  She has gone back to crocheting for making some holiday gifts, so that has been fun.
  • Check in with high schooler and if time, start Biology. Sixth grader and first grader do chores around the house; walk and play with the puppy.
  • Warm Lunch and Rest
  • High School Time.
  • Finish sometimes between 3-4 in the afternoon
  • We have planned  several wonderful field trips a month.
  • I have planned one main lesson period for our first grader and anyone who can join in solely for nature/seasonal crafts in the backyard or neighborhood each week.
  • What I would like to see:  my goal is to free up one afternoon a week for “open studio time” where we can complete Main Lesson Book pages that need extra time and care.
  • My other goal:  toward mid to end of November, we plan to free up entire afternoons for crafting holiday projects.🙂

This is more complex than I would like it to be, but I guess that is life with a high schooler, middle schooler, and first grader.  It is what it is at this point.  I could spend eight to ten hours a day on schooling stuff, and it just isn’t feasible for my own sanity, so this is what I do.  We start early and try to get done!

Menu Planning:

I love, love, love Heather Bruggeman’s Whole Foods Freezer Cooking Class and am doing that now and re-working some of our menu plans.  October seems like the perfect time to think more about crock pot meals, stews, baked goodies, and heartier meals (even though it has still been rather warm here during the day!)

For breakfast, lately  I have mainly been making eggs in tortillas with avocado; oven puff pancakes;  french toast; oatmeal in a rice cooker with apples and cinnamon or baked bananas over the oatmeal; buttermilk banana pancakes; frittatas.  There is a recipe for morning millet that I want to try.  I always offer fruit as well; sometimes we juice.

For snacks we have been having hummus and carrots; muffins.  And three words:  pumpkin pudding cake.

For lunch, I have mainly been making green chile chicken enchiladas; caesar salads;  kale salads; leftovers from dinner, pot pie

For dinner, I have mainly been making fast meals such as marinated pork loin (olive oil, whatever citrus I have on hand that I can juice, thyme); chicken in many forms in the crock pot or grill; shepherd’s pie; beef stew in the crockpot, and still am grilling. I always serve at least two vegetables, salad and fruit salad.  I think as the weather gets colder we might add in some rice or potatoes. I am loving roasted veggies right now –  beets, butternut squash, cauliflower are my favorites.  And I just picked up cranberries in the store, so I am excited about making cranberry sauce!

Rhythms of Self-Care:

  • Rest. I find rest and just being able to do nothing an important part of my own rejuvenation during the school year, especially as we head into winter.
  • Making time to be with  family and friends who love me.
  • Making time to exercise and cook nourishing food.
  • Participating and being a part of the life in my parish.  It encourages me and helps me so much.
  • Learning things!

Please share your rhythms of October!  I am always looking to learn from other mothers, and usually get so many wonderful ideas when we all share.





High School American History

We are finishing up our last bit of bookwork for our high school American History course.  It took us eighth grade through the first part of ninth grade to finish this with a few more field trips to come in the next semester.  I approached this through a doing/presentation-artistic deepening-academic skills sort of rhythm and used many experiential things as our “doing” – from field trips to Junior Ranger programs to reading primary documents.

The way I approached American History in our Waldorf homeschooling was actually to place Colonial History and an extensive overview of the American Revolution through biographies at the very end of seventh grade.  It just made sense in the context of the Age of Exploration and what happened after that.  This did not count toward our high school credit, of course, but it helped lay the foundation for what was coming in Eighth Grade.  I can give details of what we covered in our seventh grade American history block if anyone is interested.

In Eighth Grade, I did two blocks of American History.  I also wove Hurricane Katrina, The Panama Canal, and the history of the Modern Middle East/American relationships into our World Geography, but I did not count those hours toward American history.  I just wanted those subjects covered and I liked putting them in World Geography.

In Eighth Grade we covered essentially the time of Lewis and Clark through the War on Terror and the Age of Digitality.  In Ninth Grade, we started at the beginning again once more from a Native American perspective and talked about time back to the land bridge, how do we think the Native Americans came to be in America, the history of Native Americans in the Southeast where we live, the struggles up through Colonial Times, and then moved into Thirteen Colonies, the precipitating events for the American Revolution and the  outcome.  We used MANY primary documents from this time period, from Colonial documents to political cartoons from this period to American songsheets and music from these times.  We took our time to analyze the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

Our American History was…. a lot.  I will try to detail what we did, projects, what we read, what went into our Main Lesson Books.

Experiential Learning:

Native American/Early Regional Historical Sites Visited:

  • Russell Cave National Monument Site –   Bridgeport, AL  Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument –  St. Augustine, FL  Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
  • Fort Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine, FL
  • Etowah Indian Mounds – Cartersville, GA

Searching for some terrific American Revolution sites in our state and South Carolina to travel to in the Spring.🙂

Civil War Historical Sites Visited:

  • Sweetwater Creek State Park/New Manchester Mill Ruins – Lithia Springs, GA
  • Manassas National  Battlefield Park – Mannasas, VA
  • Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield – Kennesaw, GA
  • Earned Junior Ranger Limited Edition Civil War Badge (2015)

Play:   “Freedom Train” -regarding the life of Harriet Tubman  – Atlanta, GA

  • Mammoth Cave National Park – Mammoth Cave, KY – Historic Tour/Black History of Mammoth Cave

Gilded Age Historical Sites Visited:

  • Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC

Modern Historical Sites Visited:

  •  Jimmy Carter National Historic Site – Plains, GA Junior Ranger Badge Earned
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site – Atlanta, GA  Junior Ranger Badge Earned
  • On my list are our two museums of Jewish heritage and holocaust education and all of their programs as they tie into the local history  of our area, The Center for Human and Civil Rights, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.  Hopefully Spring!  There are so many places to go, and since I have younger students coming up, there will be many places to go and visit through the next four years.

Required Literature  List for Student for American History:

  • Poetry of Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley, which we analyzed
  • Last of the Mohicans – Cooper (ninth grade, difficult read for ninth grade.  Preview for your student).  Extensive analysis and vocabulary lists.
  • Sing Down the Moon – O’Dell
  • Sacajawea – Bruchac
  • Theodore Roosevelt – Benge and Benge
  • Freedom Train – Sterling
  • Across Five Aprils – Hunt.  Extensive analysis.
  • Elijah of Buxton – Curtis. An absolute favorite.
  • Profiles in Courage – Kennedy.
  • The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan – Reagan – mainly skimmed and picked out speeches or phrases that typified Reagan.
  • The Audacity of Hope – Obama
  • Political Documents included primary resources from Library of Congress regarding Colonial life, maps of Colonial Boston and Philadelphia, analyzing documents regarding Colonial New York City, songsheets from Colonial and Revolutionary War Era, polictical cartoons from varying time periods, The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, The Bill of Rights.

Artistic Projects Completed:

  • Native American Basketry Project
  • Native American Beading Project
  • Early Colonial American Teapot
  • Portraits of American leaders in multimedia – pencil, collage, charcoal
  • Learned three songs from the American Revolutionary time period to perform
  • Mapmaking
  • Main Lesson book pages listed below

In our Main Lesson Books, Eighth Grade (note this doesn’t cover every thing we did or discussed in class, but just what we decided to put into the Main Lesson Book).

  • Beautiful Title Page
  • Portrait Thomas Jefferson
  • The Louisiana Purchase (map, summary)
  • Map of the Travels of Lewis and Clark
  • Summary, drawings of the Mexican-American War, Timeline of the Mexican-American War
  • Multi-media presentation of the North (mill) and the South (cotton fields) – one was watercolor painting, one was oil pastels
  • Causes of the Civil War (extensive summary)
  • Map of the Union and Confederate States and the Territories
  • Biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Robert E. Lee
  • Timeline of the Civil War
  • Summary of the Plains Indians War, the Indian Removal Act, multimedia portrait of Sitting Bull
  • Summary of the Gilded Age and a Map of the Biltmore Estate (an example of Gilded Age architecture)
  • World War I Summary (extensive)
  • Portrait of a flapper from the 1920s
  • Portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt (and Winston Churchill as well) (we spent a lot of time on their biographies),  large page with a timeline of World War II, The Seeds of WWII, The Home Front, How the Allies Won WWII
  • Drawing and Summary of the Cold War – we studied Eisenhower extensively and included McCarthyism, the Korean War, the Day of Pigs invastion, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Vietnam War in this summary, along with the fall of the Berlin War
  • The Speeches of Ronald Reagan – student used an excerpt of Reagan’s speech “A Shining City” and drawing
  • War on Terror, comic book strip style of events
  • Summary of The Digital Age – Coloseus Machine to ARPANET to the  WWW onward
  • Peacemakers – started with poem from Mattie JT Stepanek
  • Civil Right Timeline/Multimedia Collage tissue paper, drawing, cutouts of the saying of Martin Luther King Jr. “Love Will See You Through”

Ninth Grade Main Lesson Book Included:

  • Beautiful Title Page
  • The PaleoIndian Period (summary and drawing)
  • The Archaic Period  (summary)
  • The Woodland Period  (summary and drawing)
  • The Mississipian Period  (summary and drawing)
  • James Ogelthorpe and Chief Tomochichi (line drawing,  summary)
  • Letter to sibling extolling Colonial life, natural resources of chosen colonial city (we had compared and contrasted Colonial New York City, Colonial Boston, and the Southern Colonies  ( our daughter chose Boston as her pretend place of living during Colonial times)
  • Map of Boston during Colonial Times to go with letter to sibling
  • Events Leading to the Revolutionary War (summary)
  • Timeline of the Revolutionary War by year – so pages for 1774-75, 1776-1778, etc.  These had a large border with events listed inside the border and then a featured point of interest about those years in the middle of the page.
  • Analysis of The Declaration of Independence, The US Consitution, and The Bill of Rights

My hope is to keep extending the theme of America into our high school years in varying subjects and to especially look at Native American literature and literature and to keep referring to and analyzing political documents from history and to keep looking at current events.   So, I guess the learning never stops, but this was a good foundation.

Many blessings,



Scattered October

Every year, I tell myself that  I should  plan a fall break in October. And every  year, by May or June of every year, I totally forget this intention and don’t schedule it into our school year.

But October has a way of working it out without my help.  Because, October, you scatter us so.

Out into the cooler weather and into the sunshine to play, ride horses, be with the puppy , camp, and dream.

Out into the heating up of outside the home activities that our teenager so wants and needs.

Out into the golden yellows, reds, and browns of the leaves.

October, you scatter my brain.

This month I have felt so slow.  All the children are sleeping later.  We are all looking for play and sunshine due to the cooler weather.  We are looking to change up the routine.  And we are moving so slowly in our blocks that I pretty much decided to call a vacation last week.  I didn’t tell the children that in so many words, but I told MYSELF that so I wouldn’t feel “behind” (although the whole notion of “being behind” in homeschooling  is rather  ridiculous.  Slow and behind compared to what?!  You would think I would know this after so many years of doing this!) .  We are finishing our first block of ninth grade (although I only have five blocks planned for the whole year on top of our all year round classes); our sixth grader is in the midst of her second block; and our first grader is starting his third block this week.  Our teenager is also moving through Algebra I and Spanish II and Biology (we are finishing up cellular respiration right now and will move into cell reproduction soon!) pretty well.

Maybe, after all of these years of homeschooling,  I should realize that this is a  fairly normal pace for us.  Not all of us are speedy  homeschool families,  some of us are more snail- like and distracted by bright  shiny fun than others (!!), but I always remind myself that we are steady and we do keep learning. And every year, at the end of the year, I am always surprised by how much we material we really have covered, how much the children have grown, and how another school year has gone by and how all of it just keeps integrating and overlapping and circling around again.

This year, the scattering forces of October’s golden rays  has reminded me yet again, stitched into my brain yet again,  that we might sometimes be slow  but that we try so hard as a family to learn.  We love the diversity in our world and to have our children be lovers, encouragers, and hopefully action-takers in humanity.  Let’s just go slow, and deep, and steady, and have fun.

October, maybe you scatter us in all the right ways.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful, sparkly, golden Autumn.

Many blessings,


The Outdoor Learning Symposium

I am a member of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia  and recently went to a day of workshops during The Outdoor Learning Symposium.  The workshops I attended were very interesting.

I went to one session that was held by a geologist and a biogeologist and talked about how we can use plants to identify the rocks beneath our feet.  Our state is very wooded and covered in plants.  Our capital city has the highest density of tree canopy coverage in the nation, so plants are an important intersection with Earth Science teaching in our state.  We essentially looked at the most common types of rocks found in our state by geographic region (which is taught in our state in the third grade, in Waldorf Schools we tend to teach this in fourth grade) and  then  what plants grew there due to the soil conditions.  We went through the prehistoric epochs to see WHY we have the types of rocks here that can be found, why our state is low in fossil finds, how Africa merged with North America and essentially took the part of the state that is now Atlanta, which was off the coast of Cape Hatteras and shoved it into where it was today.  Some of the rocks we went through included quartz and the plants associated with quartz, granite, amphibilate,  and limestone (and why our state only has marble in a certain place).   The best resources for this type of work include using indicator plants, using geologic maps, the web soil survey of the USDA. I bought a great geologic game for children. I already had the roadside geology guide for my state, and many other states are available.  This is the site for the Georgia book and geologic game that I use.  Earth Science Literacy standards were also addressed.  We received free pamphletswith the “Big Ideas” of Earth Science literacy.  For more information on this, you can see Earth Science Literacy.

I also went to sessions about Project WET and Project Learning Tree.  Project WET focuses on action-oriented education that helps children understand the value of water in the world. In that session, we played a variety of games, even including magic tricks, that focused on water.  They have a great curriculum that can be obtained by  taking a certification course that runs about 10 hours, but there are also a variety of free resources available as well.  There are other “sister” organizations in my state that work together, including Project WILD (wildlife focus) and Project Learning Tree (forestry).  All of these have separate certifications to be able to use their curriculum, but from what I saw it would be easy to incorporate many of these ideas and concepts into Waldorf Education.

The last session I attended was a Project Learning Tree session where we discussed forestry,  the role of trees in our state, and made paper.  It was a fun session.  For those of you looking for ideas regarding paper making, this book was there and it was fun to look through:  300 Ideas for Papermaking.  We had a great time making paper with all kinds of add-ins.

Lots of fun, and looking forward to the Annual Southeastern Environmental Education Conference and Research Symposium  next year!





The Laying Down of Love

Quite a long time ago, I wrote a post about “Loving Children In Their Language” and a follow-up post, “How To Work With The Love Languages of Children.”   These posts were based upon the seminal work of Chapman and Campbell called, “The Five Love Languages of Children” (there is an adult version too).

I have been thinking a lot about this recently in the context of parenting and homeschooling.  How am I laying down love on my children?  How am I connecting with them? How am I finding joy in our connection and love?

The reality is that children grow up and relationships change over time.  Perhaps what filled my children’s cups when they were so very tiny no longer applies very well; perhaps I need close observation to see in their becoming how I need to love them and what makes them feel loved.  And in doing this, I see what makes me feel loved in turn.

I love the ideas of the five love languages and that children need to be loved in all five ways – quality time, words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, gifts – and how we need to be sure not to use the child’s love language against them.  For example, “time-out”, can be devastating for a child whose love language is quality time and may not be the most effective way to  guide a child ( time- out as a punishment is different than having a child take a quiet down time when his or her emotions are high).

How do use this?  How can I lay this love down?

For me, it is trying to use connection in the  love language that helps the most in the moments that are hard.  It is having more fun and more joy in the day through this connection.  It is about letting go and being together in that moment.   It is about loving myself and knowing what makes me feel loved exactly so I can be more present for them.

Boundaries are a part of love for me. Without boundaries, my children would not feel as secure and safe as they do.  They need to know how things are held and they in turn can spend their energy holding themselves instead of trying to control the space around them or trying to control me.  Boundaries and love are intertwined in a beautiful, peaceful way.  Teenagers may not always love boundaries, but they do know and understand their value as they themselves experiment with boundaries with their peers and with their parents.

But most of all, I just hope to lay down the love thickly.  May it insulate them in the times when I am not present, may they know that I carry them in my heart, may they know that through their family’s love for them they can find love for every person and be ready to help in times of need.  May they be generous and kind from that kind of love.

I guess that is the ultimate goal of parenting:  to lay down the love so it shimmers unbroken like a light in the darkness.

Many blessings tonight,




The First Two Blocks of First Grade

We are finishing up our second block of first grade this week.  This is my third time teaching first grade, and I am discovering I have some set patterns about the way I go about  presenting the material that I thought might be of interest to other homeschooling parents starting out.  In teaching Waldorf First Grade, we know our material, we do our inner work, and we look at the child in front of us and ask for spiritual guidance as to what this child needs.

So, first of all, I like to schedule form drawing and qualities of numbers as the first two blocks before we get to our first letter block.  This gives me plenty of time to work with movement and rhythm, to really see developmentally where gross and fine motor skills are as we work.   I can see what skills and capacities are emerging as we go through singing and ( in our second block) with an introduction to pentatonic flute,  painting and modeling, form drawing,  and even cutting and pasting in the qualities of numbers block.  I can look at working memory and how the child is with bodily geography as we work with  verses and rhymes, fingerplays, songs, pentatonic flute, rhythm, and I get a general sense of temperment and how this child reacts to something new and uncharted.  It give me an idea of the level of joy and humor this child finds in his or her work.  In other words, it gives me A LOT of information about the child in front of me that I can use when we move into our letter block and into subsequent math blocks.

Form drawing is a block that is unique to Waldorf Education.  To me, this block (and all of First Grade and all of Waldorf education)  is about taking the capacities a child has and bringing them under conscious control.  It takes time, and it is not about perfecting the forms, but it is about self-awareness and following instructions and trying  and how that ties into memory, fine and gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination.  Our first block also included a lot things from Movement for Childhood, a seasonal circle with gestures,  lots of fingerplays and games that involved rhythm (great preparation for math – get rhythm in the body, in the feet, in the hands!).  We always paint on the first day  according to Rudolf Steiner’s indications and  we also paint a few more times in this block and do some modeling with beeswax and clay too (yup, clay.  Send out the Waldorf Police.  I like clay, although we also beeswax modeled every week as well, especially in the qualities of numbers block).   The modeling exercises are usually archetypal transformations from one thing to the another thing but our math block included numbers, transitioning forms from three sided things to “how many things with three sides do we need to make nine sides all together” – that sort of thing.

I also always include within our form drawing story opportunities for acting out different gestures with movement and rhythm – walking like a giant, walking tiny and fast, walking slow.  How many steps does it take to get to the door, the window, the kitchen?  These things start to move into mathematical thinking of estimating, counting, size differences.  We also work on rhythmically walking/jumping/hopping to include counting of ones, by twos, by threes, by fours, by fives.  We work on counting forward and backward.  Again, this is all done orally and  just as part of our form drawing story.  And,  of course we work on movement and forms in space and on paper!  We also knit, mainly because our son already knows how to knit with needles.  So off we go.

And I just keep observing.  What is hard, what is easy, what is needed, how is behavior with each activity – that gives one a lot of clues. And I think what do I need to do for this child?

Our second block  has been a quality of numbers block.  For the numbers 1-9, I  made a new container story based upon a greatly expanded version of  the story “Robert’s Harvest Loaf” from the back of the book, “All Year Round”.  For the numbers 10-12, I used individual stories.  This block also included things from Movement for Childhood, a seasonal circle with gestures, and lots of seasonal fingerplays and songs.  We have  been painting and  modeling as I mentioned above.  We have done so much rhythmical movement with counting, counting backward, skip counting, and even informal adding and subtracting (We have a math-oriented little guy who loves little oral games or games with nuts or jewels) We have done a lot of searching in nature for numbers and shapes, cutting and pasting of three and four sided figures (and multiples of these figures to make more sides all together!), making circles and arranging jewels or nuts on the circle to make stars for the number five and other number patterns, finding the star in our own body for the number five and moving in a circle together fast and slow and listening to each other’s feet so we can move together (remember, rhythm is math! patterns are math!).   We also did counting and sorting – I like to see how children move objects when they count (or do they? do they put them in groups at all? )  I looked to see if my student uses words like “more”, “less”, etc.  It is all playful, fun.  We laughed a lot.  And we did some writing of numbers and how to spell “one”, “two”, etc.,and modeling of the numbers with beeswax.  I also introduced more rhythmic musical games and pentatonic flute because I think math and rhythm go together.  And we keep knitting and cooking and carrying that Michaelic spirit throughout September and this month.

I think if  you approach these blocks with the purpose of gathering information about bodily rhythm, movement, gross and fine motor skills, you will walk away with a much fuller and rounder experience and picture for both you and your child.

Some children are more resistant than others.  I actually find this is usually the more phlegmatic children, but it can also  be children who have learning challenges.  In my experience, children with learning challenges also have incredible trouble with rhythmical movement and working memory, yes, even as early as the first and second blocks of first grade.  So, that could be something to keep an eye on if that is an area where your child struggles.  Yes, all children unfold in their own time, and some do not unfold until the nine year change,  and yes first and second grade are gentle, but some children really do have learning challenges that deserve to be addressed as well and it is important to not discount that.   Sometimes it is hard to tell if it is a later unfolding of capacities or if it really is a learning challenge, but I think observing with attentiveness is so paramount. What is this beautiful soul telling you?

I really am sharing this  all with you to say this is all first grade is!  You can do it!  It is not hard to do first grade – keep thinking movement and rhythm, gross and fine motor skills, strengthening the will and the memory.  I really don’t want people scared away by the “Waldorf” part of homeschooling – jump in and give it a try!  I hope it feels “do-able”!




Sixth Grade Astronomy

I never really wrote a separate post about our first time through astronomy – I think some things are mixed throughout the seventh grade posts.   Anyway, we ended up doing astronomy in seventh grade the first time around, and I remember feeling like I wished I had had more “naked eye observing” skills.  I remember I had Marsha Johnson’s block, I had looked at Live Education, I had some mainstream and Waldorf astronomy resources from Rudolf Steiner Bookstore..and it just didn’t really flow for me.  It was an “okay” block, but probably the least favorite block we had ever done, at least for me,  because it wasn’t really coming from my own knowledge and interest.  My student enjoyed it, but I felt like it was kind of flat.

So, I knew this second time around through the upper grades I wanted to put astronomy in sixth grade, not seventh, and treat the whole year with field trips and experiences that centered around this theme of polarity between heaven and earth with human beings as the intermediary.  We can reach for the stars, we can sink our roots into this time and place, and we can shine where we are.   It is about where we find our place and space in the world.  Such an incredible theme for sixth graders!

My first thought (gasp!) was to not do a block and just experience things, but one thing that I came up with in researching this idea of naked eye astronomy was not only how this ties in so well into Ancient Civilizations, which I knew, but into the First People of the Americas.  And you all know how much I love American stuff in the Waldorf homeschooling experience when I can fit it in.   This little video from rocket scientist  Dr. Maggie Aderin Pocock was helpful to me in seeing why I wanted to make this a block and present something from myself in addition to experiential learning and art.

I started researching.  There were some Native American Astronomy lesson plans that I found that helped me start to pinpoint resources and such.  The ones that were most helpful to me were:

  • Sharing The Skies: Navajo Astronomy A Cross-Cultural View by Maryboy and Begay
  • They Dance In The Sky:  Native American Star Myths by Monroe and Williamson
  • The Stars We Know:  Crow Indian Astronomy and Lifeways by McCleary
  • Her Seven Brothers by Goble (picture book)
  • Star Boy by Goble  (picture book)
  • Storm Maker’s Tipi by Goble (picture book)

Then I looked at Waldorf/Mainstream resources:

  • The best book I have found is this free one at Waldorf Library On-Line called An Introduction To A Study of the Stars by Mirbt
  • Sky Phenomena by Davidson (great source of poems too)
  • Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
  • I see Meredith over at A Waldorf Journey has a brand NEW guide out –I will totally pick this up for future use and as we extend astronomy throughout this grade. Here is the link.
  • Geology and Astronomy by Kovacs (mainly for the spiritual perspective of the sun; ideas for biographies) (information often not detailed enough and not up to date)
  • I used Internet resources for various topics that I wanted to up-to date information, especially the NASA website and the NSTA website.
  • I wanted to include the metric system, which we had done in fifth grade.  As an introduction, I  used an article that was a bit old -September 1999 from CNN – I don’t have the headline, but I used it as an example of why we care about the metric system in the US . It was about how NASA lost a 125 million dollar Mars orbiter because one  team used English units of measurement whilst the other team used the metric system and the measurement systems didn’t coincide!
  • Astronomy Curriculum from Georgia Performance Standards (my state); the astronomy club in our metro area and their resources
  • Poems:  I used poems by Walter de la Mare, a North American Indian song, a poem by William Carlos William.


  • Annie Jump Cannon, Astronomer by Gerber
  • Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman, Astronomer
  • Three biographies about Benjamin Banneker
  • Will introduce the biographies of Galileo and other traditional astronomers , etc   but will go over them again next year in Seventh Grade (my first time through I did the traditional astronomers from the Renaissance/Age of Exploration and tied it into navigation)

Main Lesson Book Pages/Projects/ Field Trips:

First Time Through Astronomy:

  • The Circumpolar Constellations (drawing and summary)
  • Orion the Hunter (drawing) and “Choose Something Like A Star” poem
  • Prince Henry the Navigator (charcoal drawing) and Summary
  • Longitude and Latitude
  • Latitude and The North Star (drawing and summary)
  • The Planets drawing and summary
  • Copernicus drawing and summary
  • Brahe and Kepler
  • Paintings of Terrestrial and Gaseous Planets
  • Projects included model of the solar system, marking out distances of solar system with objects outside
  • Field trips – several field trips to the planetarium
  • Opportunities for eye gazing

Second Time Through Astronomy:

  • Oil Pastel based off Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” for cover
  • The Native Americans and the Cosmos drawings and summary
  • The Earth and the Sun  drawings and summary
  • Equatorial Seasons  drawings and summary
  • The Moon (drawings, watercolor paintings, summary)
  • The Human Being and the Cosmos (drawing, summary)
  • The Planets
  • Our Solar System Address
  • Projects- model of the solar system, marking out distances of the solar system with objects outside, and this awesome kit from Etsy to “Stitch the Stars” by Heather Lins Home – here is the Etsy link.
  • Field Trips – we found a walk through the solar system that I had no idea even existed in my area the first time I went through astronomy (maybe there is one in your area?), planetarium, and I really would love to take a trip to one of those “night sky” parks.
  • Opportunities for star gazing

Academic Skills we worked on:

  • Metric System and an introduction to Scientific Notation
  • Writing paragraphs: organizing information to write, combining shorter sentences to make longer and more complex sentences,  using -ly words in writing, using words that invoke five senses.  We also have been working on grammar.
  • Longitude and latitude, reading an atlas.

When our block ended, we will be reading these throughout the rest of the year:

  • Stories from the Stars:  Greek Myths of the Zodiac by Burke through the year
  • 365 Starry Nights:  An Introduction to Astronomy For Every Night of the Year by Raymo
  • Various Native American Star Myths

Our naked eye star gazing is really just beginning as October is the least cloudy month in the Southeast and one of  the best for stargazing.  We have moved into a mineralogy block, but will continue in any opportunities for astronomy as the year goes on.