The Wrap-Up of Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

Today was our last day of school!  It went longer into the summer than I originally anticipated because we lost days in the fall and spring due to extenuating circumstances. So, today was our last day!  For those of you coming up on fifth and eighth grade, I wanted to share a few things about what we did, and what we liked and didn’t like.  This was my second time teaching fifth grade, and my first time teaching eighth, and my third time being in a  kindy, celebrate the seasons kind of year.

Kindergarten:  If this little kindergartener is your baby amongst a multiple of children, please do make sure they get their time with you.  Older siblings can also jump in and do cooking, baking, and festival projects with your little one, but the littlest really wants their share of the “school” attention too.  If this is your first little kindergartener, please don’t overplan – you are living life and parenting.  First grade is the beginning of academics, and kindergarteners who are six will learn all kinds of things throughout the year, including “academic” things.  It will all be fine as they develop their bodies and develop a great foundation with crossing midline and visual skills for first grade.

Fifth Grade:  The blocks we did this year included Botany (in which I used a different framework to tie to the human being than the traditionally used infant-toddler-school aged child kind of reference); Fractions and Decimals through Ancient Americas/Chocolate; Geometry; The Metric System through Canada; Ancient Mythologies and Cultures – Africa, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, China, and Greece; North American Geography – all states, Mexico and the Caribbean.   Here are a few notes:

  • Think carefully about botany.  The simplest plants are mosses. Fungi, algae and lichens are not plants but I guess could be considered part of “general vegetation”.  Think about how you want to present this and tie it to the human being.
  • Think about bringing mathematics and tying that in to either countries you want to introduce or cultures. Geometry ties in nicely with Ancient Cultures.  It could also tie in with botany.
  • If you are going to require a report on a state, I recommend dividing North America into two blocks and doing the state report in the first block.  We did most of our North American geography at the end of the year and we were all tired.  It was not a good time to do a state report.  In fact, as another recommendation, don’t put that block last!

Eighth Grade:  We did the following blocks:  Platonic Solids and Loci; American History (Thomas Jefferson through the War on Terror, the Age of Digitality and the Challenges of This Century, strong emphasis on Native Americans in early America): World History; Peacemakers block; The Geography of Asia; Chemistry; Physics – mainly focused on aviation principles; Oceanography and Meteorology.  We didn’t get to Physiology. Great literature was required reading during all of these blocks and many biographies were covered.  Year long courses included High School Spanish ! through Oak Meadow and I ran World Geography as a separate year long course for a high school credit.  Here are a few notes:

  • History may be the hardest piece to figure out and much of it will depend what you got through in Seventh Grade.  Look for the big themes and contrasts, and bring the child into the present age if you can.  To me, that is what the eighth grade year is about – coming to the present, finding the light in things, identifying the helpers of humanity, providing hope and encouragement that the young teen can go on and do great things for humanity.
  • Science typically includes Oceanography and Meteorology (some include in Ninth Grade; parts of this may also be included in a high school level World Geography course); Physics; Chemistry; Physiology.  Only you can decide how much science your year needs and how it will all fit in.
  • It is so tempting to overschedule – we must cover it all, right?  You cannot cover it all.  Schedule less weeks than you normally might so there is space and time to work on Main Lesson book drawings and projects.  Many of these things due to arranging page layout, fonts, synthesizing of information and writing drafts,  take much longer than the earlier grades.
  • Every block should contain great literature, great biographies, opportunities for great writing, hands-on projects. Tie things into exhibits and things in your area to see and do.  This makes all of this come alive and brings the eighth grader solidly into the world for high school.
  • Think about what you are going to do with computers.  There is a great free resource available through the Waldorf Library On Line that shows what many Waldorf Schools are doing regarding computers.  It is important to think about!

 

I would love to hear how your homeschooling year went and what worked and what didn’t work for your family.

Blessings,

Carrie

Which Waldorf Curriculum Do I Buy?

I have posted on this in the past, but feel the need to bring it up again since it has been a little while since I last wrote on it and it is that time of year when people are looking for resources and asking about which Waldorf curriculum they should buy.  Some people have asked what I use personally.  I have box (es) of materials for each grade  ( grades 1-9 so far plus Early Years) because I make up my own curriculum for each grade for each child.  If you came to my house and looked through my boxes, you would see I own pieces of most major Waldorf curriculum providers for each grade ( at least for grade 5 and under; the pickings get more and more slim for grades 6 and up and for high school there is not much at all) and many of the resources from Rudolf Steiner College bookstore that Waldorf teachers use.  I am reluctant to “recommend” anything because I find it to be such a completely subjective experience – what I love and what works for me and my family absolutely may not work for you.  So I really refrain from giving recommendations, but I have in the past mentioned pieces that were helpful to me in particular blocks for a particular grade for a particular child.  It changes year to year as I go through each grade three times because each child – and our family dynamics at each stage –  is quite different.

So, this is what I recommend when thinking about Waldorf curriculum in general:

Look at the curriculum writer’s experience – do they have background in anthroposophy, the educational lectures of Steiner AND do they have background in homeschooling and teaching?  Have they gone through Foundation Studies or Teacher Training or both?  (This is a plus, I think, even in the homeschool environment).  Have they attended workshops to further their own understanding and also to be tied into the larger Waldorf educational community?  Have they worked with other children besides their own? (this is a huge plus!  Their child is not the same as your child!)   Have they homeschooled through all the grades, or just a few?  Do they have a big picture of where the curriculum is headed  or not (ie, high school!)?

Look at what  YOU need – do you need something to riff off of, so to speak, just to get started?  Do you need a full curriculum with lots and lots of ideas?  Do you need help implementing things practically in your home?  Do you need help with the artistic pieces?    Everyone asks for a completely comprehensive, organized by the minute Waldorf curriculum, and I understand the “want” for that in getting started due to fear or inexperience.  However, most of the curriculums written by experienced Waldorf homeschoolers/teachers will give suggestions that you  have to flesh out as Waldorf Education is an art.    And quite frankly,  at some point if you are going to stick with Waldorf homeschooling, you will be piecing things together. Commit to try and do something original for each grade, even if it is to just write a few poems and stories for first grade or some riddles for second grade or make up some stories, etc.  For sixth grade and up, I think you will be writing and piecing together an awful lot of your own things. Which leads to…

What are you willing to invest?  It takes time to develop your own skills in drawing, painting , and modeling.  It takes time to learn about things and the more complex subjects of the upper grades take time to flesh out and understand before you try to present it to your child.  So, what are you willing to invest in time and will the curriculum help guide you?

What are the goals for your family?  What are the dynamics for your children and family?  How will this curriculum assist in that?  Remember, homeschooling is about family and relationships first and foremost. And, when you talk to other people, they may or may not know what you need and what your family dynamics and rhythms are.  Know yourself and your family first!

Can you see the curriculum in real life?  It really helps to see what you are feeling drawn to if that is possible!  It helps you find what voice as an author reaches you and makes you feel empowered to homeschool.

Much love,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

Waldorf Homeschool Planning: Hands, Heart and Head

It is that time of year in the Northern Hemisphere!  School here in the Deep South is ending this week for most of the public schools, and we are coming to a close fairly soon as well.  This year our oldest will be heading into homeschool high school in the fall, and we will also have sixth and first graders starting anew!  These  important transitions are all the more reason to get organized over the summer.  I find myself following essentially the same sorts of rhythms ever year and  it really seems to fall into a hands, heart, and head pattern:

Hands – I start packing up the books for each year into bins and start getting out the books for the upcoming grades ( I have so many books by grade that I essentially only keep the grades we are doing out and the seasonal books and the rest go into the garage).  I organize the bookshelves and the school room supplies and see what we need to purchase in terms of art supplies and science supplies.  I also see what might need to be made for the first grade stories for our littlest member.

Heart – I sit down with my planner and figure out approximate start and end times for the school year and vacations; how many weeks of school I think we will do (which is usually 34-36 to fit things in); and I remember  and remind myself “what” our family’s goals for education are; I go through my Pinterest boards for homeschooling planning and make note of things that stir my soul for this year; I observe where the children really are in all spheres of development.  Over the years, I have made so many of those “divide a piece of paper into 12 blocks” – where you  write down your festival days, in our case Feast Days of Saints, seasonal qualities for where we live – that I don’t really have to do that anymore, but I do go through my seasonal Pinterest boards and see what we might like to make or do or use to celebrate by month and write it down.

Head – This is the most time-consuming part.  This is where the rubber meets the road and I start to lay out blocks – what blocks will I teach, in what order, how long will the blocks be, what resources will I use (which could be a post in and of itself!), what will each block contain and I write it all up day by day.  This part will take me most of the summer, even having been through first grade twice before and sixth grade once before. I include not only the block work itself, but opening verses, poetry and movement and other notes.

I also think hard about the daily rhythm at this point.  How many teaching periods each day or per week can I reasonably handle and not feel crazy?  Where can I combine?  What do I need to let go of and what do we really, really need as a family to be happy together?   I am finding the older my first child becomes, things are shifting in my family.  All the family in the children have very different needs right now, and I have different needs than before as I approach the last half of my fortieth decade of life.

Lastly, I make a schedule for myself for summer planning.  When will I plan exactly?  That part is really important because the follow-through has to be there.

Would love to hear what you are planning for fall!

Blessings,

Carrie

Weeks 31-33 Waldorf Homeschooling

Some weeks have gone by since last posting in this series.  It has been a busy time of year with our children’s dear grandfather celebrating his 80th birthday, our middle child fracturing her arm, and end of the year performances and banquets. In the midst we have celebrated the Feast of Ascension, Ascensiontide, May Day, Mother’s Day,  and today is Whitsun, the Feast of Pentecost.

Kindergarten:  During these past weeks, we have been living life together making bone broth, baking, walking and hiking, wet on wet painting, modeling,  and preparing little things for the festivals.  Our circle time included an adventure circle modeled after Peter Rabbit’s garden adventures, finger plays about birds and bunnies,  and this week included songs and finger plays about doves for Whitsun.  We were immersed in the story of “Forgetful Sammy” from the book “All Year Round” but we have now moved into a story from the Summer Wynstones book simply titled, “Whitsun Story”.  Our major project this week was a garland of doves made from watercolor paper and singing!    I also made a tiny jar of woolen white birds on little sticks to decorate our nature table.

Fifth Grade:  We finished our Canada/Metric System block and moved into the totality of North American geography.  Before this, our read alouds involved  books about Canada and also Hawaii, but now we are moving into a different part of North American geography with a little book called, “Salsa Stories”.  I began this block with an expansive look at North America and the  United States, all the major mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, and lakes.  Then we went to Alaska, and from there we jumped across the continent to the Northeastern United States and spent time there on the land, on logging and whaling and the Erie Canal.  So, we have done mainly singing, painting,  and drawing this time around. I had plans for modeling but that is difficult with one arm casted, so I am saving those ideas for now.  We have discussed the District of Columbia, and Washington DC, which we have visited, talked about George Washington and Mount Vernon and tied the flora of the region in the early days of Colonial America to the early Presidents and their role in a primarily agrarian country that was different than England.  We looked briefly at the Appalachian Mountains through literature and now are looking at life in a southern plantation, the life of Sequoyah, and then into the Mississippi River and the wonderful Western United States.

Every day we are reviewing provinces, capitols, and geographic features from our Canada block, reviewing the states and capitols, the mountain ranges and deserts, etc, locating things on a map and making all of this as physically active as possible.  We have been using extra books for reading aloud and also the “Stories Where We Live” series.  For skill development, we are working on a state report, which I modified from A Waldorf Journey’s ebook about this block, which was my biggest inspiration for this block.  Author  Meredith is a wonderful,  actively teaching Waldorf teacher, and I love all her little guides.  I also garnered inspiration from a book of poetry called, “My America:  A Poetry Atlas of the United States.”

We are also continuing to work on math and spelling daily.

Eighth Grade: We finished up our American History block, including the War on Terror, the Age of Digitality, and the challenges we face ahead as one humanity.  Our daughter drew a very gorgeous title page and everything is done! Yay!

For Oceanography and Meteorology, we moved from the very first marine scientists, who were explorers.  We looked at the explorers of Easter Island,  and the development of civilization on that island and then the life of Captain James Cook.  From there, we moved into the science of the oceans – what is an ocean?  what is oceanography?  how do our oceans change?  We looked at the biographies of Alfred Wegener and Hess, and the Theory of Plate Tectonics and the layers of the Earth.    We went through all the landforms of the ocean floor and what ocean life is like in different zones of the ocean and around different landforms.  We also looked at the biography of oceanography Sylvia Earle and looked closely at the Marine Sanctuary off the coast of our state – Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. From the hydrosphere,  we moved into the Atmosphere.  We discovered the layers of the atmosphere and their characteristics, what clouds are, the types of clouds, winds and then we moved into extreme weather – thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.  We spent one whole morning drawing clouds with pastels and our eighth grader created a very beautiful main lesson book for this block.

This week we have moved into our “Peacemakers Block”.  My main inspiration for this can be found over at Waldorf Inspirations’ website.  We have so far looked back at Harriet Tubman and Sojurner Truth (and their meeting!), the women’s suffrage movement in the United States and around the world, and Gandhi.  This week we will be moving into more in-depth about the Civil Rights Movement, which we have studied quite a bit both in our American History block and also just in our local field trips as we live near Atlanta.  I would like to compare Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (I read his book this past summer!) and look at our local leaders – John Lewis and Andrew Jackson Young.

We have also been working on math almost daily, brushing up on geometry, algebra basics, and some business math.  Next year we will be tackling Algebra I, so it is coming together!  In World Geography, we will be taking the next three weeks or so to finish up Europe and then that is done as well.  Yay!

Our eighth grader is working on finishing a Waldorf doll she is making, and our fifth grader will be working on finishing her set of fingerless gloves she is knitting in the round once her cast comes off.  Our little guy is not in first grade but he tries to knit and has been working on what he calls a scarf, but what i think we will try to encourage to be a block we can turn into a pouch or little animal over the summer and the first part of first grade in the fall.

Homeschool Planning:  I am ready to start again.  I have most of sixth grade planned, but with some (many? LOL) presentations to write and also quite a bit about skill development to consider since our soon to be sixth grader needs quite a bit of  repetition to remember foundational things.  I have planned out a lot of high school biology and have really mixed in a good deal of Goethean science to it, so I am quite happy with how that is shaping up.  I have a few blocks of ninth grade planned, and then I have the rest of ninth and first to plan.

One of my considerations is time for planning.  As my children have gotten older, they are ready to go and do more and are not as content to just be home running around in the sprinklers or something while I plan.  Nor is my husband content to lose me every night to planning after they go to bed.  I think my solution is going to be to plan every morning for an hour and  a half as part of our rhythm to summer (early), to plan at night when my husband is traveling, and then to plan several “Saturdays at the library” where I just go and leave the house and plan .  That is harder because it is hard to drag stuff for three grades for planning, but I think so long as it is all on the schedule for the summer, it will happen.

Self-care:  I have been working out most days.  I get up at 5:40 and go to the gym or use workout videos.  I also have been walking at night if my husband is home and not traveling.  This has been wonderful for me.  I also have joined the “KonMari in the Waldorf Home” Facebook group and have going through the house.  This is something I do every summer to get us ready for the new school year, but this year I have gotten a  jump on it and even started the school room switch of books by grade.

I would absolutely love to hear what you are finishing up, what grades you are preparing for next school year, and what you are working on in your home.  Please share!

Lots of sunshine love,

Carrie

 

 

Weeks 29 and 30: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth, and Kindy

We took a lovely week to be at the sea and had a little holiday.  I spent a little time thinking about our rhythm, which has withstood quite a number of disruptions this year.  We need a strong ending to the school year, so I think I pretty much came upon refining our rhythm to be: me working out early/breakfast; going over our Anglican Spiritual Studies; time for our kindergartener; recess; Main Lesson for our fifth grader; Main lesson for our eighth grader and then a late lunch and more recess.  Several days a week we may have to come back to finish up main lesson kinds of projects and such.  So, it feels comfortable and do-able for the rest of the school year to me at this point and I am hoping to have a great ending to the school year.

Kindergarten:  We have had a grand time with our Spring Circle.  Our story has been Suzanne Down’s “Spring Kite Music” from her book, “Spring Tales”.  Our general rhythm has been baking on Mondays, crafting on Wednesdays, and painting on Fridays with Tuesdays and Thursdays being our days out at Forest Kindergarten.  We have also been making and playing little homemade games – things such as a variation of a homemade Candyland – and other games.  We have been singing and doing a lot of little finger plays for Spring as well.  Such a sweet time.

Fifth Grade – Our fifth grader is finishing up a block that combined Canadian Geography with the Metric System.  Our main project for Canada has been a giant salt dough map where we have been painting provinces, rivers, and marking towns.  We have been using the metric system to go over the height of landmarks, distances between towns, what we would eat in our meals in Canada in grams and liters.  We have been reviewing and practicing a lot with the four math processes, and fractions.  We finished reading the book “Seabird” by Holling C. Holling and have now moved into reading about Hawaii in preparation for our North American Geography block.  We are also working diligently on spelling as well.

Eighth Grade – We finished tracing the events of the Cold War through four decades, mainly through the biographies of Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, and Reagan.  This included the arms race and the Space Race, the benefits of space exploration and where space exploration is today (and a lovely tie in was seeing the rocket launch on the Florida coast whilst on vacation), the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the differences between a president such as Nixon and detente and Reagan’s policies.  Then we moved into the War on Terror and all the different groups and players involved from the Persian Gulf War right up to today.  Our last foray this week is into the Age of Digitality – the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web and challenges of this century.  Our Main Lesson book pages have included amazing writing and art work for this block.  We are looking forward to starting Oceanography tomorrow.  We are starting the first few days by tying in to some of the peoples who traveled the oceans in different watercrafts, and then a little about plate tectonics and a beautiful look at the all the wonders of the ocean floor.  I am very excited about this block!

In World Geography, we finished up Africa and also Russia.  We have reviewed all the geography of Russia, the different ethnic groups within Russia, Russia’s history, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The only place we have left to study is Europe, so it feels good we are coming to the end of our year-long geography course.

I am ready to keep forging ahead with our homeschooling year, and also looking forward to get back on planning for first, sixth, and ninth grade. I have actually felt more stumped by first grade lately in planning, but recently came up with some creative ideas that I think will lead to a fun first grade for our littlest.

I would love to hear what you are working on!

Blessings,

Carrie

Weeks 25 -28: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

These last few weeks have been heartbreaking.  The giant dog that we owned and loved, the best dog we have ever had out of the four dogs we have owned over our nearly twenty-four years of marriage, was diagnosed with bone cancer and died.  So, it has been a time of  great sorrow and now emptiness in our household.

It has also been a time of spring, of new life and new beginnings, and trying to homeschool in the midst of the jumble of emotions and juxtapositions has been a challenge.  We move forward each day, one foot in front of the other, and sometimes that is all that there really is.  In the meantime, we are moving slowly through our blocks, but here are some of the things we have been working on (if you need to see where last were, try this back post:    https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/03/06/weeks-23-and-24-homeschooling-eighth-fifth-and-kindy/)

Kindy:  Holding a steady rhythm has been a real challenge throughout all the uncommon things going on.  However, we have managed to do braiding, wet felting and knitting; loose parts play; painting and modeling; hiking and biking and being outside in the yard especially.  Our dog really enjoyed that most in her last days especially, even when we all had to carry her outside.

We were doing an Early Spring Circle but now have changed into a circle of “Rabbit’s Adventure” as I have modified it from the book “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures”.    Our story earlier this month was Suzanne Down’s “Lucky Patrick” and now we have moved to one of my seasonal favorites for spring, also by Suzanne Down, called, “Spring Kite Magic.”

Our preparations for Lent were way behind what we normally did, other than making wet felted eggs and dying eggs.  We missed all the Great Liturgies for Holy Week because I just felt too fragile and sad  (except for the Great Liturgy of Easter),  but I hope to attend the celebrations of Eastertide to the fullest.

Fifth Grade: We finished our Greek Mythology and we finished our math block of the Ancient Americas/Chocolate, where we focused on all four math processes, the stories of Toltec and Mayan mythology, and cooking with chocolate.  My original inspiration for this block was from Marsha Johnson, and you can find her notes on her “Magic of Waldorf” website, but I built on it quite a bit from there.  We also spent a bit of time this week on the  Ancestral Puebloans of the American Southwest and will swing back around to this when we do North American Geography in a few short weeks.  We kept on with geometry and have worked our way through the six types of triangles, discovering interior angles, the chords of a circle, quadrilaterals, some biographies of Ancient mathematicians and their discoveries,  and will be moving into circles and ellipses this week in conjunction with our new block.  This week we will be beginning a block on the metric system based around the geography and sites of our neighbor, Canada.  We just finished  the read-aloud of Padraic Colum’s Children’s Homer and will be starting Holling C. Holling’s “Seabird”.  My original goal was to make a board game of the journey of Odysseus, but I feel as if we are running out of time and no longer in that place as we have moved on in blocks. We shall see.  Other than that, we have been working on spelling in addition to the math.  I find when we have a math block it is very taxing for our fifth grader and there is not a lot of energy left for as many artistic pursuits, so cooking has been a good adjunct to this block.

Eighth Grade:  We finished the Gilded Age with a summary and a lovely map of the Biltmore Estate that is our regional representation of the architecture of the Gilded Age.  We did talk about Einstein, we discussed Trotsky and Stalin and the Russian Revolution and spent some time comparing totalitarian regimes to our own country and our Bill of Rights, and then moved into the causes, events and outcomes of World War I and read a biography of Woodrow Wilson.  (The causes of World War I tied in nicely into our World Geography course where went back over the history of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire).

We talked about the outcomes of World War I planting the seeds for World War II, the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance and  some poetry from that time period, drew a picture of the flapper for the Main Lesson Book, discovered the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, along with more poetry.  This week we are finishing up World War II – we looked at the causes of the war and conditions in Germany, Japan, and Italy;  we are reading a biography of Churchill; I told the stories of FDR, Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito; we discussed the complete horrors of the Holocaust and the people who were lights within the Holocaust  – for this time around I focused on the role of the Grand Mosque in Paris as a short-term safe haven; we reviewed all the events of the war and the prominent American generals of the war, the horrors of Japanese-American Internment and the reasons the Allies “won”.  We looked at if there were any parallels between WW II and what is happening in our world with the Islamic State. FDR died here in our state, so it is my hope to visit Warm Springs and talk more about FDR’s life.  We are now moving into the aftermath of World War II and the timeline and  development of the events of the Cold War, including Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War – mainly through biography, just as we did in studying World War II.   This week has mainly been the history of this period, including the struggle for Civil Rights, through the biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK.

We will also look at the  Space Race, and the era of Reagan and  end with the War on Terrorism and the Age of Digitality before this block is over.  I Our eighth grader read “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” and we discussed it as a piece of literature, and now she is reading JKF’s “Profiles in Courage.”

In World Geography, we finished Oceania and also finished the area of North Africa/Southwest and Central Asia.  We looked thoroughly at the Middle East and its history again, through the modern era, and focused on OPEC and the Creation of Israel.  We read Julia Johnson’s “Saluki, Hound of the Bedouins” and our eighth grader drew a picture from that.  She also made a very large map in which we labeled all the tribes of the Middle East.  We covered the geography and culture of the sub-Saharan African countries and discussed the intertwining of electricity, economic growth and how South Africa has been displaced in economic growth by Nigeria and how it is predicted that Nigeria will be replaced by Ethiopia and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo (in second place) by 2050 depending upon infrastructure and power.  We also have discussed President Obama’s 2013 initiative, “Power Africa”.    We have Russia and Europe to finish off our World Geography course.  I feel this course has been a very successful one this year and a high school credit will be well-earned for the amount of work it has been.

We are working on math daily as well, and I am looking forward to ending our World History block and moving into Oceanography and Meteorology in April.   Our eighth grader did her presentation on the Junior Ranger Badge/Get Outdoors Program for her 4-H presentation and is looking at options for 4-H next year.  I am also excited about a regional homeschool field trip group that has formed that has over 3,000 members and will be doing all kinds of wonderful field trips this summer.

I hope your spring is springy and sprongy and full of sweetness, always full of light in the shadows –

Carrie

 

Weeks Nineteen and Twenty of Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

This is the week of Candlemas, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and I find us just turning past the halfway point of our total number of school weeks this year.  If you want to know what we were doing in weeks seventeen and eighteen, try this back post https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/01/21/weeks-seventeen-and-eighteen-of-homeschooling-eighth-grade-fifth-grade-and-kindy/.

Kindergarten –  I really cracked down on our rhythm in week nineteen and we have worked hard to stay on task with meaningful work and festival preparations for Candlemas.  One of our favorite activities for this week’s Candlemas festival was making little beeswax walnut boats with candles.  We also made earth candles at our homeschool classes, and rolled beeswax sheet candles at home.    This week was the beginning of our two day a week forest kindergarten program and our kindergartener was very happy to spend time with friends and be in the woods.  We feel extremely fortunate to have such a program available in our area.

Fifth Grade – Last week we finished up Ancient Africa.  I mainly focused on Nubia, Kush, Meroe, the Mbuti and the San, with more to come in sixth and seventh grades.   Our fifth grader did a beautiful pastel picture of the African pharaohs that ruled Egypt and we talked about how there are actually more pyramids in Sudan than there are in Egypt.  Ancient African history is so fascinating!   We then  moved into Ancient China and talked about the geography of the land, and extensively about the Gobi Desert and the Bactrian camel  and camel caravans.   Our fifth grader wrote a little piece from the first person perspective about being a camel puller on a caravan and also modeled a camel in clay.  We reviewed some Chinese legends and learned about the biographies of  Confucius and Lao Tzu, and the Great Wall of China.  My original plan was to move into math and the Ancient Americas this week but my fifth grader is begging to start Greek Mythology, so we started at the end of this week with the land of Greece and introducing Mount Olympus and the battle of the Titans.  I don’t mind moving blocks around at all.  This year has just been like that, so I am just going with the flow of it.

We finished reading “The Golden Goblet”  for our Egyptian studies and now we are reading “Understood Betsy”, which to me is a rather regional New England book that was one of my favorites when I was a child.  A lot of the read-alouds I have chosen for this second half of the school year have to do with regions in the United States in preparation for our final block which will be North American Geography.  We are still working hard on math – all four processes, fractions, a little bit with decimals.  We are also working with spelling and spelling rules.  Our fifth grader is also doing some handwork in a class that meets the same time as our kindergartener is in forest kindergarten, and working hard in choir and for the church’s spring musical.  Our fifth grader will also be taking part in a play some homeschoolers are putting on for studies in Greek Mythology, and of course, the beloved barn shows are starting back this month as well.

Eighth Grade  – We wrapped up physics with making flying objects and learning about gravity, lift, thrust and drag, and about wings and rotors.  Great fun!  We studied many, many biographies of aviators, as I mentioned in the last post in this series, and our eighth grader completed a pencil drawing of Amelia Earhart that turned out well.

We started our Geography of Asia block with a review of the geography and some of the history of China, along with a pencil drawing;  then we mainly focused on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and a comparison and contrast of  Mao Zedong/Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai -Shek.  After that,  we moved into Korea and a discussion of the geography and history of Ancient Korea and more modern history including the division of North and South Korea, the DMZ,  and what life may be like in North Korea.  We are now talking about Japan and Japanese history.  We will have Vietnam, and Borneo to talk about and then we will move into Oceania.  After this block, we will jump into Oceanography, which my inner marine lover is heartily looking forward to!

We finished our read aloud, “The Brooklyn Bridge” by Karen Hesse (please, please pre-read for your eighth grader as it is a wonderful book but has some more mature themes and may not be wonderful for very sensitive children) and we are now reading “Water Buffalo Days:Growing Up in Vietnam” , obviously about Vietnam, which we will cover next week.  I also have the books “Red Scarf Girl” and “The Good Earth” tapped to read for this block.

We are also working hard on ratios, direct and inverse proportions for math, and high school Spanish.  Choir and preparing for the  church musical and now a fortunate turn to have a class in doll-making for our eighth grader, is  also keeping us busy.  Horse shows are starting up again this month, so we are also busy at the barn.

I would love to hear what you are working on.

Many blessings,
Carrie