Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 7-9

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 7

Upper Grades: Getting To The Essence of A Block

Resources for Seventh Grade

Ideas for Teaching About Africa

Ideas for Teaching About Latin America

Seventh and Eighth Grade Chemistry

Guest Post: Seventh Grade Chemistry

Seventh Grade Physiology

Writing in the Middle School Grades

Charcoal Drawings

Drawing and Painting in Grades 6-8

Life Skills For Seventh and Eighth Graders

I went through seventh grade week by week , starting with Week One here

Grade 8

Block Rotation – second time through 8th grade

American History Blocks for Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade History

Eighth Grade Oceanography

Computers: A Waldorf Perspective

Emotional Health

Homeschooling Eighth Grade for High School Credit

Pondering Homeschooling High School

I went through eighth grade week by week for the entire school year starting with this post:  Week One Eighth Grade

Grade 9

Homeschooling Ninth Grade

Block Rotation for Ninth Grade

First Semester of Ninth Grade Wrap-Up

Homeschooling High School Biology

High School American History

Multicultural Literature Recommendations

Blessings,

Carrie

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Multicultural Literature Suggestions for Waldorf Ninth and Tenth Grade

This list is not all of the literature we read in ninth and tenth grade, but it is the literature we did that focused on treatment of minorities or women or were by minority or women authors.

9th Grade

In eighth and  ninth grade, our history covered mainly Southeastern Native American History/Native American history and American history (so keep in mind this book list was spread over two years for history if it seems like a lot to you!)

Poetry:

  • Langston Hughes
  • Phillis Wheatley  (as part of American History)
  • “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou

Drama as part of our Comedy and Tragedy block as suggested by Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc in their former main lesson unit book “Comedy And Tragedy” which I don’t think is available anymore.

  • The Damask Drum – Japanese Noh Drama
  • A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

Novels for American History:   

  • Sing Down the Moon – Scott O’Dell (8th)
  • Sacajawea – Bruchac  (8th)
  • Freedom Train -Sterling;  (8th)
  • (The Last of the Mohicans was another big read for this block;  it does deal a lot with Cooper’s ideas about Native Americans and the French and Indian War in the Northeastern United States)
  • Black Like Me – Liddell-Benge

Nonfiction for American History

  • Let It Shine:  Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters –  Andrea Davis Pinkney (8th)
  • Indian Chiefs -Russell Freedman
  • Malcolm X – Linde (picture book; I used it for my own presentation about Malcolm X)
  • (general books about Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis)

Literature: 

  • Rain Is Not My Indian Name –  Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Hurston
  • The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian -Alexie Sherman
  • The Good Earth = Buck
  • Red Scarf Girl – Jiang
  • (interestingly, we also did two science fiction selections as well!)

10th Grade:

A block of Ancient Epics  is traditional in Waldorf Schools and developmentally tied to this grade, but we also did  a block of post-Harlem Renaissance African-American literature tracing vernacular  tradition in music traditions to poetry to a variety of written literature.

Poetry: 

  • “Fundamentalism” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Still I Rise” -Maya Angelou
  • “We Real Cool” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Eventide” – Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Georgia Dusk” – Jean Toomer
  • “Dream Deferred” -Langston Hughes
  • “Haiku” – Sonia Sanchez
  • Music Lyrics as Poetry: “Get It Together” by India Arie and “The Evil That Men Do” by Queen Latifah; “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Shakur
  • “Ego Tripping” -Nikki Giovanni
  • “American Hero” – Essex Hemphill
  • “To Some Supposed Brothers” -Essex Hemphill

Literature:   

  • “Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation” – Toni Morrison (essay)
  • “The Sky Is Grey” -Ernest Gaines (short story)
  • “The Burden of Race” – Arthur Ashe (nonfiction excerpt)
  • “The Bean Trees” – Kingsolver
  • “The Joy Luck Club”  –  Amy Tan

Nonfiction, tied into American Government

  • “Just Mercy” – Bryan Stephenson

Assigned Reading between 10th and 11th Grades:

  • “Beloved” – Toni Morrison
  • “Invisible Man”  –  Ralph Ellison (probably will end up doing together as first book in fall)
  • “Dear Martin” – Nic Stone
  • “All American Boys” – Jason Reynolds
  • “Piecing Me Together” – Watson

Would love to hear some of your early high school multicultural selections!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

The Christian Corner: The Episcopalian Homeschool

I don’t normally spend a lot of time here on issues specific to homeschooling as an Episcopalian, but since there are no resources devoted to Episcopalian homeschooling at all (you can see more about that lament on back posts on this blog), and I have had multiple mothers ask, I thought I would lay out a few thoughts.  I hope eventually to turn this into some kind of e-book so those of you who are interested have a small resource to get started!

I like to think of the progression of Episcopalian homeschooling as a threefold structure, so these are my ideas.

From:

Ages 0-7, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING.

  • As parents, we model from our Baptismal Convenant that we “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and we “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”
  • We go to church and celebrate the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days. We look at the stories in the Holy Bible as God’s story of LOVE for us and for all others.   We, as parents, learn for ourselves what these things mean and it is part of our daily and weekly and yearly routine.
  • We USE our Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.  This is important, because we don’t have a lot of creeds or statements the way other Christian denominations do.  Our path as Episcopalians is largely a path of prayer, of joy, and of standing up for what is decent and right.  It isn’t complicated.  But it does require work.
  • We spend lots of time in nature, not only because Episcopalians are concerned about climate change and want to be informed stewards, but because nature is a strong strand of our beliefs that ties back into the Celtic roots of Anglicanism.

From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.

  • We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life.  In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
  • We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
  • As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God.  Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
  • We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps.  We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
  • We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
  • We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
  • We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church.  We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
  • We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
  • My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith:  King Henry doesn’t count.  I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else.  Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it HAPPENED –  The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation.  So in a way, it was and still is its own thing!  If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints!  A little different concept in the Anglican Communion) (the Saints this month in June have varied from St. Columba to St. Ephrem of Syria to St. Enjegahbowh to Sahu Sundar Singh of India), and then some of the traditional heroes: Bede the Venerable, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Becket, John Wycliffe, Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Samual Crowther, Janauni Luwum, Archbishop Tutu,  and more.
  • Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
  • We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights,  the environment,  and more.

Ages 14-21  We walk the talk by publicly professing our faith and Baptismal Vows, not only in confirmation, but in striving for justice for all people, for loving all people by trying to see Christ in them, and for standing up for the dignity of all human beings.  We profess our faith by walking in love.  

  • At this point,  teens get involved in running the life of the church – acolyting, helping at Vacation Bible School or summer camps or with the smaller children’s choir.
  • Teens start to think about their faith and if they want to publicly profess in Confirmation with hands laid on by the Bishop if they believe in The Apostles’ Creed (the Nicene Creed is said weekly, but the Apostles’ Creed is used at Baptism and Confirmation), if they believe and will continue in teaching what the apostles began, will persevere, will proclaim the LOVE of God in Christ to the world, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people and to  respect the dignity of every human being and be a part of the belonging that is the Episcopalian Church.
  • They can use their Book of Common Prayer and the resources of the church to have an active prayer life.
  • We help our teen investigate the resources of the Episcopal Church, so they can make an impact in the world. These resources include:

The Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Public Policy Network

Episcopal Climate News  and  Green Anglicans

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Episcopalians Against Gun Violence  and  Episcopalians Against Human Trafficking

Episcopalian Migration Ministries

Episcopal Intercultural Network

  • Some teenagers will choose to attend an Episcopalian college.  The Episcopal Church has the highest number of people with graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita than any other denomination in the United States and has a strong system of colleges, both regular and historically black colleges and universities.
  • After Confirmation, which varies from parish to parish in what grade it occurs (in our parish it is tenth grade), the teenager is considered an adult and equal in the church. The last few years of high school and headed into the twenties are good times to deepen spiritual formation, become involved in and make good decisions based around what we believe as part of the Episcopal Church of the United States and part of the Anglican Communion.  Some will continue into college deepening their faith through Campus and Young Adult Ministries and some will even branch out after college to do things like Episcopal Service Corps or  partake in other ways to serve others.

Hope that helps,

Carrie

 

Part One: Friendships for Ages 10-11

Friendships are an amazing (and sometimes challenging thing!) for children of the ages ten to fifteen to really navigate! This week is friend week at The Parenting Passageway, and we will discover what children ages 10-15 really need to make friendships that thrive!

Ten- year -olds really love their friends, and it can be astounding all that a ten-year-old will know about their friends.  While it is true that some ten -year girls are in a dramatic fight with their friends for what appears every minute, many ten -year- olds really appreciate having loyal friends.  If neighborhood friends exist, that is probably the healthiest and most wonderful relationship for children.  Neighborhood loyalty can be strong, and a lot can be learned participating in neighborhood games and large groups.  (Sadly, this doesn’t seem to exist as much as it used to).  Ten is also the age for forming “groups” and  even participating in groups such a Girl Scouts.    Ten generally is not a hugely exlusionary age, although they may “forget” to invite people to a birthday party or their club that they made up – they may not really want that person there, but they don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings or lose that person who is a “friend”.  Lots of people are their “friends” – even if it is just an acquaintance from the next neighborhood over.

What you can do to help:  Talk to your children about how to  be a good friend, what is mean behavior, and what is plain bullying.  Encourage the neighborhood group and lots of outside play.  This is the age of games with rules that the children themselves make up (and break, and change the rules).  No adults should be needed.  If fighting erupts, don’t be dramatic with your child and give it a chance, because they may make up in a day or two.  Particularly if the arguments are amongst those in a neighborhood, it will blow over.  Do not give a child this age a phone!  All these little spits and spats that work out do not need a phone element involved!  If you think your child is being bullied,  try  the tips on this website.  Bullying is  different from mean behavior., and I like  this article because it talks about the difference between bullying and when exclusion is or isn’t bullying.    Social media exacerbates this, so please, do not give your child a phone!

Eleven -year-olds  can be a having a time of sadness and anger in general.  Eleven-year-olds often yell, cry, stomp away, become exceedingly competitive, and act very silly or giggly.  Eleven usually marks the beginning of choosing friends not just because of proximity, but because “we get along”.  Best friends are really important for many (not all) at this age, particularly boys.  Girls may still have more of a group to hang around with.  There may still be quarreling, but most eleven-year-olds can work things out.

What you can do to help:  Have your home be a place where eleven-year-olds want to land and be.  Help eleven-year-olds be outside to play and get physical energy out.  Talk to your child about being a good friend, and also about the confidences and loyalty that go along with being a “best” friend.    If they are super competitive, talk to them about how that fits in (or doesn’t) in being a great friend – does super competitiveness lead to incredible friendships and make people comfortable? When is competitiveness healthy and not healthy?

Later this week we will be talking about friendships for ages 12-13 and then ages 14-15.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

Ideas for Deepening Emotional Health: Ages 9-18

Waldorf Education does an amazing job laying the foundation for empathy, compassion, kindness, respect for the dignity of each child and each child’s differences as folded within the archetypal journey of the human being.

The view of Waldorf Education regarding tiny children and their large emotions, is to handle the children with compassion, caring,  an extremely solid rhythm that incorporates wholesome foods, rest, exercise, and nature, distraction, pictorial imagery for the early years, and general loving authority by a kind adult in the early grades.  There is  not  so much value placed on the words behind emotions as words  1 – are often parroted back by the child but do not really hold meaning (smaller children tend to think in terms closer to “things are good” or “things are bad”and not much beyond that)  and 2 -the child is a creature of will in this developmental stage rather than thinking in terms of heady strategies of dealing with emotion.  So we don’t expect tiny children to dwell and think on emotions in a heady way.  Instead we expect doing, restitution, good modeling from adults, a wonderful dose of “ho-hum” on the part of the adults.  This is really true throughout the early years and even into the early grades.

We can see temperamental tendencies, of course, even in the early grades,  and work with that through methods relating to each temperament and towards helping children find balance throughout all of their years of schooling.  We also can use growth mindset modeling for our younger children.

However, once a child hits past  the nine year change, I think it is time for more direction instruction  for emotional health.  Some in Waldorf Education may balk at this, as true ideas of causality really don’t hit until the twelve year change, but I think with this generation of children, after the nine year change is a great place to start (so fourth to fifth grade seems about right).  

This is the really fast list I came up with after about ten minutes of brainstorming; I am sure you could add an awful lot to it, but maybe it would give you some ideas for your own family.  As always, take what resonates with you and leave the rest.

Ages 10-12 – Make sure the child can correctly identify emotions in themselves and in others (this can take time; many  children are often not good at reading body language at all ); how to discuss problems/conflict to improve relationships and how to apologize most likely done through modeling and helping children along when there is conflict in a group; more direct conversation about growth mindset; what can I do when I am upset/mad/sad;  how big is my problem scales; thinking like a team;  how to be a friend; difference between being a leader and being bossy (comes up in group work!); activity pyramids for physical exercise

Age 12- The value of challenging oneself (works well with Roman History block of 6th grade); the value of physical exertion for emotional health;  how does conflict escalate; rules for fair fighting; how to apologize; thinking like a team; individual accountability; mindfulness techniques

Age 13/14- Understanding steps to self-care (this ties in well with the physiology block of seventh grade)(if you are homeschooling you need to model this too!) ; beginning work on boundaries;  ethics of hard work (fits in well with some of the Explorer stories); negative self talk and what to do about it; repairing relationships after conflict (see Gottman Institute); dealing with friends; what we think about BEFORE we say something; handling gossip;  areas of the brain and how that relates to how we emotionally react to things; dealing with friendship bullying; filters we can use before talking other than just saying the first thing that comes into our mind; self talk for decreasing anger or anxiety

Age 15- Relationships – narcissistic tendencies and personality disorders – what does that mean for dating or intimate relationships?,  abuse in intimate relationships; talking about effective communication; “I” message starters; setting emotionally healthy boundaries; rules for “fair fighting”

Age 16- Things that can tip/trigger depression; active and negative coping ;  what is passive-aggressiveness and how to avoid communicating like that; help discovering personal strengths and weaknesses;  habits of effective people;  fostering good habits; the teenaged brain; communication regarding sexuality and sexual decisions

Age 17/18 – adulting! ;  secrets of happy couples/intimate relationships; what to do when relationships are hard; dealing with difficult co-workers

Many blessings and much love,
Carrie

From Circle Time To Morning Time All Together

Circle time is something that is fairly well discussed in Waldorf resources; circle time is indeed viewed as the main focal point of the Early Years.  It is a way to help form the fabric of the social cohesiveness of the classroom, mark the seasonal changes and festivals, work together, and develop all twelve senses.  Even in the early grades, the circle time works on the very foundation of learning and is a way to wake up the body, the voice, and the fingers for a day of developing capacities in learning.  Over the years, circle time often morphs into a physical warm-up time for the upper grades, even in the classroom setting.  Many times this includes going for a walk or physical games for these middle school grades.

In the homeschooling realm,  I have often thought about circle time.  Does it always work with just one parent, one child, and the family dog?  Does it work with children who have large age gaps in the family?  What is the purpose and goal of the circle and how can we meet those goals best in the home environment, which is a different thing than developing a social organism of a classroom.

For the early years, I have maintained for years the importance of circle time I think due to the foundational senses developed in movement and word during this time, but that the heart of the home Waldorf kindergarten may actually be practical work.  There are quite a few back posts on this subject.  I have created my own circles for years for the Early Years and early grades and feel circle time can often work for all children under the age of ten.

Lately, though, I have been pondering something else. If circle time is about developing a social cohesiveness, what are we doing to develop the social cohesiveness of the FAMILY.  We are homeschooling and it is still tempting to not combine children in main lesson work as most of the resources on the market, even homeschooling resources, are developed by individual grade (not as combined grades or ages, perhaps with the exception of the work of Master Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson).  Also, what happens when circle time or a gathering time morphs into something else as the children grow up. It is easy to start throwing the morning walk out the window because we have more academic work that needs to get done with more children.

In mainstream homeschooling, there is often an idea of a “Morning Basket” or “Morning Time” in which all family members gather for any of the following: family announcements, spiritual direction, read alouds, poetry, art or music history with composers, etc.  It serves as a market to begin the day, and a time in which the smallest to oldest can participate.

So how would this look in a Waldorf Environment?

This past fall, I tried something new. I wasn’t quite a Morning Time altogether in a sense because I did Circle Time separate for our second grader. We did have some verses to do together, but the main thing I did was pick an area in geography (Africa) and we all worked together, ages 8 to adult, on   all kinds of  fun things together, including music and singing, poetry recitation, making maps, reading aloud, drawing, and painting.  It was fun, and I think it could be a great way to work in some blocks that are either harder to work into the year or the areas where you want information to be constantly reviewed and refreshed, and a way to tie everyone together instead of sending the notion that learning is only for separate times and we are all on such different levels we can’t possibly all learn together.

So, some ideas for transitioning from a traditional Waldorf circle time to a wonderful family gathering time could include prayers from your spiritual tradition, family singing and accompanying instruments, poetry recitation,  read alouds, geography, math fun, and more.

I encourage you to think about how a wonderful gathering time, which could include a combination of circle time for younger and older children and a gathering time for older children with little ones participating as able.

I would love to hear what you do in your family!

Blessings,
Carrie

Four Things To Do In The Year of Crazy

This year, as many of you know, has been a super tough year on my family.  We began homeschooling for the simple reason of wanting our children to have health in all its forms, and to choose a developmental educational method.  This year, health hit us all in the face over and over as one thing after another happened that involved a sick horse, sick extended family members, and accidents that required lots of follow-up appointments.  I gained a completely newfound  and amplified respect for mothers who homeschool through chronic illness of themselves or their children. The lack of rhythmicy was okay for a few months but honestly drove me (and my children) insane after the first few months.

I think if you homeschool long enough (my oldest at this writing is 16 and a half), at some point you may just hit a year like what we had.  Maybe it is illness or divorce or death or just one thing after another where the hits just keep coming.   In the midst of a year like that, what do you do?

Let Go.  I think the biggest thing I learned this year is to let go.  I thought I was letting go since my some of the children are older, but what I learned is that just by being physically here there is a lot I normally do and don’t think about it.  When I physically wasn’t present due to having to be in hospitals or meeting health care team members, they really had to step up. I always thought they were fairly independent and good at taking charge of household things, but I learned that they could pull it out without any supervision when they needed to. I also learned that I am still doing an awful lot that I probably need to just let go even when things are calmer.

I let go of things that normally  would bother me or seem like a big deal, extending down to end of year activities at this moment that in the past would seem stressful. I simply haven’t even been physically at home sometimes when my kids were.  I was out of state or out of town dealing with medical emergencies.  This year,  things such as end of year things that would normally be a bigger deal to get everything right and ready  are really no big deal  in the scheme of things.  To the things that normally would bother me in the scheme of dealing with teenagers, I asked myself, is it fatal?  Is it so unhealthful that I can’t stand it or is it something we will survive?  Can it be there with limits?  Let it go. Inner work is perhaps the biggest help here.  Pause and listen.

Find rhythm where you can.  In the beginning of some of these things, there was no rhythm.  We were needed  or I was needed at places daily in the middle of the day or the morning.  It didn’t feel like  much was happening as far as the academic end of school unless my students could do it on their own.  I set very small goals for schooling, and just felt that any little step was a step forward in our original plans.  It also helped that in general I plan less weeks and less days because I know life happens and I otherwise am too ambitious in what we should be covering.

What was comforting to me came from our unschooling friends.  I got remeinded that there is a lot to be learned in life in general and unschoolers go on to college or whatever their life plans are as well! I also took a very long-term view that everything we wanted to do, or at least most of it, would be covered by high school graduation!  As things would calm down, some rhythm would emerge.  Maybe it wasn’t a normal rhythm, but a rhythm nontheless.  Let go, and grab onto what you can regarding rhythm.  Listen when everyone is tired and says they cannot do one more appointment.  Find the spots of rest.  Don’t push through.

Do what you can.  We did get through blocks this year and math practice and reading practice for our little student and more.  We didn’t take field trips really, but things happened – just at a slower pace.  Waldorf homeschooling doesn’t mean covering 9 blocks a year.  It means sinkly deeply into what you are doing; that less is more; and that skills are being supported and emerging.  It also means total overall health.  All you can do is what you can do!

When it is all over, take time to rebuild.  We are looking forward to a summer of rejuvenation and a new year in the fall.

Many blessings,

Carrie