Fourth Grade Grammar

The best way to learn grammer is to hear proper grammar being spoken, to write (and revise and write again) nwith good grammar, and to read good works of literature. If you have a reluctant writer, I  think you can let the study of grammar ride for a little bit in the homeschooling environment and just perhaps try to write without pressure.  However, for some children, the study of grammar can be helpful in reaching new heights in writing. For other children, many  write well without much in the way of formal grammar.  We do, however, want  enthusiasm for writing for the future because there is quite a bit of it in middle school and certainly high school.

This is my third time through fourth grade, and this particular student has been a very reluctant writer, so this block is a good exposure towards writing more and the mechanics of writing.  My tack in this block was to do a preassessment – Dorothy Harrer has a little list of third grade free writing assignments in her  little book An English Manual for the Elementary School available for free at Online Waldorf Library. In this way, I could look at his overall writing – his flow of thoughts, how he writes, the quality of the sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, grammar – just within free writing.

We went through the second and third grade lessons from the above book rather quickly, focusing on the different parts of speech first with different colors in sentences on the board, and naming them BOTH with the “little person” version (naming words) and the “bigger people version” (nouns).  I pulled poems out of  books by Caribbean poets and reinforced with examples from those poems.  Then we moved into the fourth grade lessons and are moving through types of sentences, parts of speech, adverbs, prepostions, tenses, adjectives, linking and helping verbs.  For some children, understanding grammar helps them understand how to write.  Our fourth grader is very much like that.

I anticipate this block to take about six weeks or so.  For the first three weeks, I will take things relatively slow and have free writing, correcting writing I put on the board, looking for parts of speech in poems and such plus some of the specific things I listed above and free write something once or twice a week.  For the last three weeks, we will delve into writing three smaller pieces a week, using our work to tie stories, paintings, and writings with the stories from the book , Myths of the Sacred Tree, which I think is a wonderful bridge between fourth and fifth grade.  Excited as we head towards fifth grade!

Would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
Carrie

planning the first two blocks of fourth grade

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.

Blessings,
carrie

Updated Fourth Grade Planning

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.
  • This week I gathered many of my resources and grouped them into piles  by block or topic.

In my last post here, I detailed the order of my blocks.  So I started here:

  • August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….
  • September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping
  • November – Math/Introduce fractions
  • December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt
  • January – Norse Mythology
  • February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!
  • March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.
  • April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips
  • May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

And this is where I currently am from that:

  • August – Math Review of Measurement/Fractions (will introduce fractions over the summer) – I think with birds
  • September – Cherokee and African-American tales leading into local geography
  • September – Man and Animal 1 (2 weeks)
  • October – Man and Animal 2  (tied into animals of our state, keystone species of our state, review of geography)
  • November – Math – Geometry, review of fraction skills – adding and subtracting fractions (soul food American folk tales)
  • December – Thorkill of Iceland or Viking Tales, undecided, knots and forms
  • January – Math, Fractions – Norse Myths as “soul food” and we may draw or paint off of those
  • February –  Birds of Prey, report writing
  • March – Dream of King Alfdan or 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).
  • April – Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt); Camping
  • May – African Tales

Right now I am essentially grouping books and resources into piles by block, and throwing possible read-alouds near there.  As I put blocks together more fully, I will post pics on IG/Facebook and update here.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Planning Fourth Grade

So, fall of 2019 will be my third time teaching fourth grade, and it is a fun grade!  This is my tentative block plan –

August-  Man and Animal 1 which will flow into….

September/October – Local Geography and Man and Animal 2 – we will be looking at the regions of our state through habitats and our local animals/camping

November – Math/Introduce fractions

December- Geometry/ Form Drawing – most likely will draw from Viking Hero Tales by Isabel Wyatt

January – Norse Mythology

February – Birds of Prey (special interest of my student)- each morning I am going to try to work in fraction problems related to birds!  That should be interesting!

March – Weland the Smith – rather dark tale, but I think our son will love it.

April – African Tales/African Hero Tales/camping trips

May – Math in the Garden (leading into Botany for Fifth Grade)/ camping trips

We will be doing math daily and extra reading and spelling practice as my little guy is behind in  academic skills. We will also be working on survival skills in conjunction with his ninth grade sister, and in handwork we will be working on cross-stitch throughout the year.

It’s going to be a fun school year in the fall!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

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

 

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

 

Upper Grades: Getting To The Essence of A Waldorf Block

The concept of “soul economy,” teaching in such as way as to succinctly represent themes and polarities in the world and then letting that knowledge sink down into the subconscious through sleep as an educational aid, is a concept in Waldorf homeschooling that sounds wonderful but  often feels like a mystery to attain without a lot of experience or teacher training!  For example, when I first started homeschooling the upper grades, about fifth grade and up, I realized I was trying to cram a lot of information into the blocks.  It was a feeling, perhaps from my own public school education, that I needed to pick out the most important things to represent the essence of a time period but also I *needed* to get through most of the book of Greek myths or most of the biographies of famous people in Rome or most of the timeline of American History or most of the experiments for different concepts in physics or whatever it was.  Yes, I tried to pick the most pertinent tales or biographies for the child in front of me, so in that sense it was personalized, but it was still that feeling in my head that we had to get through *all the things*.

Something shifted for me going through the fifth grade and up material a second time, and I think also combined with going through now the first two grades of homeschooling high school, which gives you a much better perspective on these upper grades.  I got much better about really narrowing down the pertinent points and choosing for my child what they needed to hear.  We really have this as such a luxury in the home environment!

I think in order to get at an essence of a block though, you have to know the material.  This actually can be problematic for us as homeschooling mothers when we approach new material because we may be looking at new material across several grades.  For example from my own time through sixth grade – there I was,  two college degrees, and I knew very little about the Roman History covered in sixth grade!  Not really enough to pick what were the watershed moments of this time period and also to choose what really my daughter and her temperament and development needed to hear.  Again, I did much better with this the second time around as I was familiar with the material!

So, what can you do if it is your first time through a block of material? How do you find the essence?

Honestly, I think pick 4-6 “things” out of that block that you really want to bring to life for that time period, block of physics or chemistry, concepts of grammar or  tales of mythology.  I wouldn’t pick more than that.   You really can’t do it justice. Find the broad arc and themes, or the broad polarities in science, and pick things that illustrate that. Arcs, themes, polarities, should be your mantra. Then you can pick what really speaks and stands out to you for your child.

Check out the suggestions in the book “Towards Creative Teaching: Notes to an Evolving Curriculum for Steiner Waldorf Class Teachers” edited by Rawson and Avison.  I think their suggestions at least helped me think about what I really wanted to economically bring.  This book says things such as, “One of the three great discoverers – Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus – might be taken to represent the time of the great discoveries.” (Page 153).  That is just one example of many suggestions as to how to pair things down and gather the essence of a particular block.

Think what and how concepts can be integrated across blocks. By that I mean, can the themes and polarities of one block be reinforced in another block?  For example, history, math, science, world religions, and handwork can all overlap.  Botany and mineralogy often overlap into geography and how people lived, and vice versa.  Many of the  concepts of sciences overlap. What overlaps personally to your child because of where you live in the world? What is reinforced by living where you live and how you live or the people in the child’s environment?  That is another part of homeschooling.

Use art with drawing, painting, modeling, poems, songs,  drama, and recitation of poetry in order to tie it all together.  These arts are so wonderful and what makes a Waldorf Education different from anything else.

Just a few musings.

Many blessings,
Carrie