Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas for Grades 4-6

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

Grade 4:

Fourth Grade Handwork

Teaching Fourth Grade Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology

Local Geography

More Local Geography

I went through every week of fourth and seventh grade in 2014.  This is the Week One post

Fourth Grade Man and Animal Block

More Man and Animal suggestions

Switching To Colored Pencils

Grade 5:

Fifth Grade Block Rotation

Struggles with Preparing for Grade 5

Botany

Botany – second time through

Ancient Mythologies

Extending Africa Through The Curriculum

Greek Mythology and Ancient History

Using Mainstream Math Resources

I went through an entire year of  fifth and eighth grade week by week on the blog.  This is the Week One post

Grade 6:

Planning Grade Six

Block Rotation for Sixth Grade

Planning Sixth Grade Roman History

First Block of Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome – second time through sixth grade

Gallery of Work from Ancient Rome

Sixth Grade Medieval History

Medieval Block

Mineralogy Block -first time through

Mineralogy – second time through

Astronomy

Sixth Grade Geometry

 

Blessings,

Carrie

 

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Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 1-3

The ten year anniversary of The Parenting Passageway is coming up in October.  This blog has seen me through the days and years of when our oldest child was tiny, all the way through high school and three children homeschooling multiple times through the grades! Amazing all the different changes in ten years!

One thing that has been consistent about this blog is a love of developmental parenting and education.  I often felt Waldorf Education met the developmental needs of our children very well, and wrote about what we were doing in our homeschooling.  I extend an invitation to you to check out my thoughts regarding the different grades and what we did for certain blocks.

All of this information is free, and I hope you can use what you like out of it to put together developmental education for your own children.

First Grade:

Main Lesson Books, Lesson Blocks, Three Day Rhythm

First Grade Handwork  and First Grade Knitting

Form Drawing for First Grade

Brambly Hedge Form Drawing

First Grade Fairy Tales

Adapting “Along The Alphabet Path”

First Grade Science

Science in First and Second Grade

First Grade Math

Tips for Teaching First Grade Math

Resources for Wet-On-Wet Watercolor Painting

Second Grade:

Planning Second Grade – Part One

Planning Second Grade – Part Two

Second Grade Handwork

Second Grade Math

Second Grade Resources

Deconstructing Grade Two

Nature Ideas – Squirrels

Mural-Sized Moving Pictures

Third Grade:

Third Grade Handwork Projects

Third Grade Resources

Third Grade Wool Pictures

Third Grade Math – Part One

Struggling with the Old Testament Stories?

Stories of the Hebrew People – First Block

Stories of the Hebrew People – Second Block

Third Grade Native American Block

Notes About Third Grade

Ideas for Field Trips For Third Grade

Tips for Third Grade

Third Grade Read-Alouds

Two Resources for Gardening

 

Look for upcoming posts with FREE back posts listed for Grades 4-6 and Grades 7-9.

Blessings,
Carrie

Eighth Grade Sustainability Block

One of the other blocks we will be doing in eighth grade is a block on sustainability.  The blocks on sustainability will also carry us into high school should our eighth grader choose to homeschool high schooler.  I originally heard of this block as a suggestion from Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc and it may have been in one of the earlier editions of the book

These are my plans for a three week block on sustainability, using the following books and resources:

  • Energy Island by Allan Drummond
  • Generating Wind Power by Niki Walker
  • Environmental Engineering and the Science of Sustainability
  • Biomass: Fueling Change by Niki Walker
  • Geothermal, Biomass, and Hydrogen:  Future Energy by Jim Olhoff
  • Ocean, Tidal, and Wave Energy: Power From the Sea by Lynn Peppas
  • One Well:  The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss/ ill. Rosemary Woods
  • The Science of Climate Change:  A Hands-On Course by Blair H. Lee
  • Vanderbuilt University’s Resources for Teaching Sustainability
  • Lesson plans from The Water Project  (51 page download of lesson plans)
  • How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Joanna Yarrow
  • Sustainability:  Building Eco-Friendly Communities by Anne Maczulak, PhD
  • Native Defender of the Environment by Vincent Schilling
  • Field trips

Sustainability can be a hard topic for a three to four week block of teaching because it covers so many things, and I also wanted to highlight we are looking so much at sustainability these days due to climate change (so we need to know the science of climate change to understand sustainability).  So that is two major topics in one block for a middle schooler!

During this block we will be reading “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” as our read-aloud.  This is how I set up this block, choosing essentially climate change, alternative energy, and water scarcity as the topics we will touch on (note we will do the LABS first if a lab is mentioned, and cover the concept part of the lab the next day after sleeping on it, so a little different than the way some resources are set up).  I will figure out the artistic work and main lesson book work closer to when we start this block as this is a spring block and it still quite far off.

Week One

Question: What impact do we have upon the environment and the world?

Day One:  What is Sustainable Development?  (social/environmental/economic – where do these areas overlap?  How?)/Biography of Ben Powless or Tom Goldtooth/How Sustainable Are We –  What is a Carbon Footprint? Carbon Footprint Quiz (my plan is to do this block around Lent so we will talk about ways to reduce our carbon footprint as part of our Lenten practice)/Air and Greenhouse Effect sections from Blair Lee’s Book, labs

Day Two:  Review/ Carbon Footprint results (and yes, at this point I will work in some of our religious beliefs because we put a very large emphasis on environmental justice in our church)/ Greenhouse Gases and Labs from Blair Lee’s book

Day Three:   Review/Combustion Reactions and Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide, labs from Blair Lee’s book/

Day Four:  Review/Feedback Mechanisms and labs from Blair Lee’s book/

Week Two:

Day One:  Review/Weather versus Climate/Rising Sea Levels and Melting Ice Sheets from Blair Lee’s book/

Day Two:  Review/Adaptation/How We Help

Day Three:  Review/Read the book “Energy Island”/ Wind Power – its history and where we are now around the world with wind power (case example of Denmark)/Build a windmill generator/Biography of Winona LaDuke – Question to think upon:  Could wind power become a major way we power the United States?  Why or why not?

Day Four:  Review/Finish Wind Power/ Concerns of Wind power -role of environmental engineer

Week Three:

Day One:  Review/Solar Power/local solar power intiatives in our community/field trip

Day Two:  Review/Solar Power building- solar pizza oven

Day Three: Review solar field trip and projects; Review Carbon Cycle and Biomass energy/Brazil as example of Biomass energy

Day Four:  Review/Wave, Tidal, Ocean energy/  Energy from Dams – are dams damaging? Visit to our local dam

Week Four: (I chose water as our last area of sustainability to look at) (would love to have a field trip to a local water filtration plant this week)

Day One:  Review the water cycle/Read One Well:  The Story of Water on Earth/ Use Water, Water Anywhere lesson plan from The Water Project

Day Two:  Review sustainability spheres we started with in the beginning/ Use Dirty Water – So What? lesson plan from The Water Project

Day Three:  Review with quiz from The Water Project on the Dirty Water- So What lesson/make a Tippy Tap in the backyard

Day Four:  Review/ Use Village Voices plan from The Water Project/finish up all work

Blessings,
carrie

 

 

 

Applying for College As A Homeschooler

I just attended a workshop about applying to college as a homeschooler.  One of the main ideas in this session was that  many college admission officers are asking homeschooled applicants:  “What did you do with the freedom of homeschooling?”  In other words, being homeschooled in and of itself is not that interesting anymore in regards to the college application process!  What could your student’s homeschooling experience bring to the college of their choice?

So what can make the college application of a homeschooled student stand out?

interesting experiences – internships, volunteer hours, getting involved with a passion through a club or community situation, working with mentors. It doesn’t have to be an inch deep and a mile wide, but demonstrating some sort of enthusiasm over time is important!

socialization is STILL a consideration that many college admission officers look for. How well is your homeschooler “socialized”? Yes, this term may still make us bristle as homeschoolers, but again, this goes back to the importance of being involved and being able to show that on a college application.

letters of recommendation by adults who know the student well.  These are important for homeschoolers as it again demonstrates a wider connection to the community and usually to a demonstrated passion that the student can highlight in their application

-the elusive “fit” :  you can check http://www.unigo.com to look at the student life on any campus and see how your student’s profile compares to the students there. More than just a generic college application essay, admissioners officers want to know how your student fits into their university. So, with that idea, any essay question for the college should be geared towards how the student fits into that university’s environment and really highlight the student’s story.

interviews are very important for homeschooled applicants, and many universities do require this for homeschooled students

social media presence:  one thing that is new that may have changed from when YOU went to college is the student pursuing the university a bit by attending open houses or student tours, taking advantage of programs the university may hold for high school students, participating in polls or  yes, even following them on social media.  This demonstrates your student’s interest and yes, it can tip the scales in the admission process.

That’s what I learned recently; those of you who have had homeschoolers go on to college (not dual enrolled, but the traditional application process) – how was it for you?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Toolbox of Tips For Dealing With 9-12 Year Olds

(This is Part One of a three-part series)  There is absolutely so much written about how to discipline, communicate, and recognize the stages of human development in smaller children, especially those under the age of 7.  And then…

Things just sort of drop off.  Community and friend support diminishes.  Family support may be there, but it can also be difficult if you are raising your children differently than your parents did.   It can feel invasive to talk about what is going on with a twelve-year-old to friends.  Parents end up feeling alone.  

The good news is that information is out actually out there, and this series of  posts is the round-up of helpful hints and ideas!  Take what works for you and your family and leave the rest behind.

Discipline:

Rhythm is STILL your friend.  Hold on to it!  This is the step that makes life and your nine to twelve-year-olds less crazy and easier to deal with! Don’t move too fast into the realms of letting 9-12 olds deciding everything that is going on for them.  Nine-to-twelve year olds still need bedtimes, help in not taking on too much at school, and yes, even helps in  taking breaks to eat and drink.  I personally recommend that if you are not working later at night and are home that your nine year old still goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 and that your 12 year old is in bed by 8:30. In order to do this, your children need to (and will be up) in the morning and will need to expend a good amount of physical energy  outside each day. The energy of  many boys in particular, seem to go up around age eight or eight and a half  and continue through about age fourteen, so they need hours of physical work and exercise.

That being said, RESPONSIBILITY is important, even as you carry the bigger pieces of the daily and weekly rhythm.  Nine to twelve year olds are very capable.  They should be doing chores and helping around the house, yard, or farm.  The way I work with chores is to make a list of daily chores for morning and evening, and assign teams. I only do morning and night because that tends to be when I have time to be available and check and rally the troops of this age.  I also try to catch children of this age doing fantastic things to help or be kind without being prompted.  Having a culture of taking responsibility and contribution is so important, and these ages are a great time to build that! I consider this step the first real step towards self-discipline.

WONDER is still important. This is NOT the time for a computer or cell phone yet.  It just crushes wonder and limits in-person communication – and in these days, most cell phones that parents give children also open up the Internet.  You can see more about smartphones here . Boys and gaming is also an issue, and I would encourage you to wait.  You can see practical advice about gaming here..  

I recommend clocking (in your head at least) the number of hours you are spending outside in nature – hiking, biking, walking as a family, camping. If you have difficulty with this and you are in the United States, there are several organizations you could look into that would help your children get outside, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Fire Side, Earth Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Fresh Air Fund.  This is a step toward learning self-regulation.

PROTECTION – Yes, the world is opening up but some level of protection is still important. The best way to start is, of course, modeling and exposure to different people and culture in real life in whatever way that looks for your family and talking about things that you come across.

Talking about bodily changes needs to happen for most children who will have bodily changes between ages 10-14 (and some as early as 8 or 9). Most parents do not do an adequate job preparing their girls for menarche or talking to their boys about bodily changes.  The first part of sexual education is seeing the body in a healthy light, and yes, in seeing healthy relationships that include facets besides just sexual activity.  

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCEIn a society  where our number two killer of our teenagers is suicide, we have got to do a better job as parents talking to our children about growth mindset, resilience, emotional attitudes, positive attitudes, what to do with feelings, how to cope with stress, and providing techniques for breathing, yoga, body scanning.  

It is our job to model dealing with stress effectively and to model humor and to keep the lines of communication open.  This age benefits greatly from some one-on-one time with a parent if you have a lovable tribe of kids.

Also, don’t underestimate the sibling pack as the first way of promoting how we act in relationships, respect, love, loyalty, and yes, how we make restitution when we cross the line as siblings are wont to do!

SPORTS– I think in the United States if parents hold off till nine to start organized sports, especially in this day and age due to the lack of neighborhood play and less space in general to run for many children, you are doing well. Holding off until middle school would be even  better.  If you must start something, please see the back posts on sports (here is one to start). I recommend i9 sports for a variety of reasons, but mostly because this organization seems to understand the importance of rotating sports, of practicing and playing a game in one session for recreational sports, and the fact is that whilst some children are crazy about one sport and play for years on end, the majority of children involved in sports QUIT by the teenaged years if they are pushed too hard.  Also, from my standpoint as a pediatric physical therapist, many coaches are simply not educated enough about the developing pre-teen body, the importance of things like pitch counts, etc whilst they are in the midst of pushing intensive year round practices, weight training , and more.

 

Up in Part Two;  Communication!  This is what parents are really talking about  when they talk about “talking back” or “tween attitude”. I think it is actually less about discipline and more about teaching our children how to communicate not only with us, but with their friends.  More on that to come!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Eighth Grade Oceanography

Oceanography is one of those blocks that I think makes perfect sense for eighth grade – if we are going to study meteorology in eighth grade, why not oceanography?Seeing the large picture, from the heavens to the depths of the sea is awe-inspiring for me as a teacher and for my students.    It goes well with physics, earth science, chemistry, biology, and even geography and history.  I love marine biology in particular, and live in a coastal state, so this one makes perfect sense to me!  Meteorology and oceanography usually re-appear in the Grade 10 high school curriculum of many Waldorf Schools.

The first time I went through eighth grade I did oceanography and meteorology together.  This time around I am doing physics and meteorology together and running oceanography as a separate two-week block.

The main resources I use to put together this block includes the following:

  • Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science by Garrison (used college textbook)
  • Explore The Southeast National Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Oceans for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave (I don’t really love her work but sometimes find a gem)
  • Marine Biology:  Cool Women Who Dive by Karen Bush Gibson
  • Down Down Down:  A Journey To The Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins
  • Journey Into The Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca Johnson
  • Stories of William Beede, Sylvia Earle, Eugenie Clark, Jacques Cousteau
  • Hydraulics and Aeromechanics by Mikko Bojarsky (Waldorf book available through Waldorf Books or Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore)

My basic outline (and we cover a lot of ground in two weeks!):

Day One:  Review the Water Cycle/What Is An Ocean?/Interesting Ocean Facts/Explorers of the Oceans (Phoenicians through James Cook) – Question to leave student with:  Why are the deepest parts of the oceans not in the centers?

Day Two:  Review/To Understand the Oceans We Have to Understand Plate Tectonics/Biography of Marie Tharp/ Question:  is the motion in the ocean caused only by ocean currents?/

Day Three:  Review/Lab on Ocean Currents and Fluid Mechanics – biography of Kakani Katija (see National Geographic)/ Edward Forbes/Ocean Zones Introduction – Question: How much of the ocean has been explored?

Day Four:  Review/ The HMS Challenger/ Barton and Beede’s Bathysphere (library books and Bojarsky’s book)/ Aqualung to SCUBA/Remotely Operated Vehicles/Different jobs in Marine Science – biography Ashanti Johnson

Week Two:

Day One and Two:  Review/ Zones in Detail -sunlit zone, twilight zone, dark zone, abyssal plain, trenches – what lives there?  chemosynthesis, cold seeps, brine pools, methane freezes, deep sea coral gardens in the dark depths, whale falls – biography Lauren Mullineaux (see Oceanus magazine)

Day Three and Four:  Review/Census of Marine Life 2000-2010 /what did we find?/Biography of Natalie Arnoldi/ Climate change and the ocean (which we will follow up in our Climate Change/Sustainability block a few months later)

I essentially go through this outline and write a presentation for each day and decide on labs.  I usually think of review and artistic activities in the weeks preceeding the block.

Oceanography is always so fun to explore and great to tie in field trips if you live near or can get to a coastal area!

Happy adventuring,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

Financial Aid For College: What You Need To Know

In many countries, going to university is free.  Not so in the United States, where there is a complex process of garnering money from different sources and essentially what is the “price” of college may not be the final price once the financial pieces are put together. There are also comparisons to be draw between the systems of community college (usually a two-year degree), a public university system (usually done by state, like Univerity of Georgia or University of New York with multiple colleges falling into this system) or private universities.  Sometimes a private school, which has large private endowments, can end up with a comparable cost to a public university.

The cost of attending college includes both direct and indirect costs.  Direct costs are paid directly to the institution and may include things like tuition, room and board (board is essentially the meal plan) (check with the college whether or not your freshman has to live on campus; some colleges require this).  Sounds confusing?  It is, but here are some tips to help de-mystify the process a bit!

This information is accurate as of July 2018, but always changing, so please do check your resources.  Here are a few points about financial aid:

  1.  You have to apply for it and it doesn’t cost anything to apply.  You must apply every year starting October 1 of your student’s senior year of high school.
  2. Financial aid can be based on skills, abilities, etc but doesn’t automatically happen – you have to apply!  The four types of financial aid are grants, scholarships, student loans, and work study.  Grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back, but student loans obviously do need to be paid back.  Work study is often based upon financial need and assigned by the university, but some colleges offer work study to all students independent of financial need.  It depends upon the college.
  3. The FEDERAL Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed October 1 of your student’s senior year in high school and you must apply every year afterward.   Some colleges may require an institutional application for financial aid and/or something called a CSS Profile (this is usually for private universities) as well. State financial aid may have a separate application and deadline, so don’t miss the deadline for the state!
  4. The FAFSA is based upon your untaxed income and does not include retirement savings.  It includes information for both biological parents and includes the “prior prior year” – the incoming freshman class of 2019 is using the 2017 tax data.
  5. Sources for financial aid could include not only the federal governement but state awards, college and university endowments, private courses, civic organizations and places of worship, and employer. Most scholarships come from the local community – employers of parents of the student, credit unions/banks that the family does business with, civic groups, organizations the family belongs to.  Most scholarships are applied to tuition, not room and board.  Homeschoolers need to search out  local scholarships because this is the sort of thing that is typically funneled to a school guidance counselor, and since homeschooling parents are acting as the guidance counselor, we need to be on the lookout!

One number that colleges and universities work with is the “Expected Family Contribution”.  This number is used for calculating need-based financial aid and is a calculated from a federal government formula. Everyone panicks when they see this number, because it generates and parent and student contribution which is always a high number that no one feels they can meet.  The financial aid awarded is supposed to equal the cost of attending the college -the expected family contribution.

The other number that is important to know is essentially the net price for each college or university. You can get this number at studentaid.gov by entering your student’s GPA/test scores/financial data, and it will help you figure out what you might be awarded.

Blessings,

Carrie