Guest Post From Waldorfish: Things Steiner Never Said

(Here is a beautiful post by Robyn Wolfe from Waldorfish.  Please do look for a very special offer for Parenting Passageway readers at the end of this post.  Those of you new to Waldorf homeschooling will especially be pleased!  Thank you to Waldorfish! Here is Robyn…)

We’ve all been there — new to Waldorf education, possibly new to homeschooling as well. Some of us may have arrived more recently than others, but we share at least one thing: wanting something different than whatever wasn’t feeling right for our child at the time. Maybe you first heard about a nearby Waldorf school from a friend, or had a passing conversation about homeschooling at a playgroup event. At some point you made a bold decision, and here you are. Welcome!

I love the enthusiasm that comes with new endeavors.

The dialog, at least in my head, goes something like this. “Ok! Here we go! Let’s DO this!”.  I like to picture a few high fives, and maybe some chest bumps too, although I’m not certain how Waldorfy those actually are.  In any case, you made the decision, took the leap, and then likely realized …. there were a lot more decisions to make.

Curriculum! Toys! Local classes! Art Supplies! Hurray! So many great options available online these days.

So. Many. Options. Oh boy.

No doubt at one point or another, you have found yourself pondering just HOW one is supposed to weed through all the available information out there? Maybe you spent just a little more time than you meant to looking at all the gorgeous toys for sale online? Maybe you spent just a little more money than you meant to? Or maybe a lot? Does anyone else still have a few things collecting dust from the early homeschooling days that were purchased in a flurry of enthusiasm, but then never actually got used? In my case, a spectacularly expensive, gorgeously handmade wooden puzzle comes to mind.

See? It’s ok. You’re not the only one.

Most of you reading this are probably somewhat familiar with Rudolf Steiner. No doubt you are aware that he had a lot to say about Waldorf education. Like, A LOT, a lot. It seems to me that if you are at the beginning of this journey, there is plenty of time to work your way through his lectures, slowly and thoughtfully. My advice would be to keep good chocolate nearby, and pace yourself. Remember, this is a journey. In the meantime, though, what about the here and now? My inner pragmatist wonders what she can tell you right now that will be immediately useful to you. While pondering this, it occurred to me that although the list of things Steiner said can be dauntingly long, the list of things he never said is, by comparison, quite short.

I am 100% certain that Steiner never said we should go broke giving our children a Waldorf-inspired education and lifestyle. He did say that we should emphasize natural materials, and that teachers should consciously choose open-ended playthings and supplies for the home or classroom that will nourish a young child’s senses. It’s true, sometimes the toys and supplies made from beautiful, natural materials DO cost more, and well, rightfully so. They are often handmade, and they are worth more than their plastic counterparts, plain and simple. This leads me to my next thought.

At no point did Steiner ever say that we must buy all the same things that other Waldorf-inspired families own. Nor did he say that we must teach our children in exactly the same way. In fact, he was pretty clear about that,

According to each teacher’s individuality, outer forms of teaching may vary enormously in the different classes, and yet the fundamental qualities are retained…in a Waldorf school outer forms do not follow set patterns, so that it is quite possible for one teacher to teach his class of 9 year olds well, while another who takes a completely different line, can be an equally good teacher…and as long as the teacher feels in harmony with the underlying principals, and with the methods employed, he must be given freedom in his work instead of being tied to fixed standards” ~ Rudolf Steiner

A good Waldorf education will not fit in a standard sized box. More importantly, it will not necessarily resemble what our Waldorf friends and neighbors are doing either.  A pinecone you find on your daily walk can become a doll, or a loaf of bread, just as easily as it can become a large bear lumbering through the woods in your afternoon story. Before making any purchase, consider asking yourself, “Is this toy (or school supply) helping to nurture a spiritual depth and creative thinking within my child? Do we currently own something that can be used to the same end?  Could we make something similar ourselves?”

My husband and I have spent the past couple of years distilling our decade of experiences in Waldorf classrooms down to the most essential components. We’ve been looking at what is really important. Our new online course, Waldorf Art for Beginners, is one product of this distillation process. While planning it, we asked ourselves:

  • What art tools and supplies does a family just getting started with Waldorf education really need?
  • What’s worth spending money on, and what’s not so important?
  • What are the most basic skills they’ll need to move forward with chalk-drawing, watercolor painting, and using block crayons?

Our new course contains the answers to all these questions in one place. There are video tutorials, URL links, and written content galore — all designed to help ease you into this journey, and to help you wade through at least some of the options you will encounter.

Does this sound like the kind of support you’re craving? You can learn more the course here. Also, we’ve created a 15% discount code just for readers of The Parenting Passageway…we’re so excited to have you join us! Use PPDISCOUNT at checkout to make it happen. Registering before 3/5/16 will also get you our e-book, Paint with Watercolor: Pencils & Crayons, for free!

The decision to homeschool in a Waldorf-inspired way is going to take you on a beautiful journey! Our intention is that the work we do and the tutorials we provide will create a sense of ease around this for your family. We aim to provide the support that will keep families encouraged and confident, and allow you to find the JOY!

(Thank you so much to Waldorfish for this generous offer! I know my readers will love this so much)


All About Robyn Wolfe: An early career as a park ranger led co-founder Robyn Wolfe, to her love of illustrating and education. Trained as both a public school and Waldorf teacher, she has been involved in art + education for over 20 years, including homeschooling one of her two children. Robyn is currently working as an illustrator and as the manifestor of the creative vision held by the Waldorfish team. Working out of the premise that life is short (but sweet!), she and her husband Brian empower soul-filled teachers & families to (re)find their JOY in teaching and making art. Robyn’s work has been featured in Amulet magazine, The Mother magazine, the children’s book The Journey of Analise, as well as Annapurna Living and the Pence Gallery.

Weeks 21 and 22: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth and Kindy

It almost feels like the verge of spring here, despite several days of very cold weather and flurries.  The skies are blue, and it feels lovely to be outside today.  I think we all are feeling a little spring fever already!

These past few weeks have flown by; if you would like to see what we were working on in weeks nineteen and twenty, please see here:

Kindergarten:  Having a forest kindergarten program two days a week has been really wonderful for our extroverted little guy.  At home, we have been working with a winter/early spring circle at home, the story “The Quiltmaker’s Gift” and drawing, painting, bread baking and being outside hiking.

What I have been contemplating a lot is this balance between the older children and what they need academically and socially and  what our littlest guy needs.   Our oldest will be 15 this summer…and that seems a long way from 6 right now… How do we resolve and balance those needs?  Is there even a way to do this?  I have spoken lately to quite a few mothers of completely extroverted third children who would do fabulously if the entire day could be structured around them, but what do you do if the whole day cannot be structured around them?  Still contemplating deeply.

Fifth Grade:  We finished Ancient China and have been fully immersed in Ancient Greece.  We have studied the land of Greece, wet on wet painted the land and wrote a summary, and drew some forms to decorate our main lesson book pages.  We have gone through all the major gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, and then our fifth grader picked one myth to re-write.  Our fifth grader chose to re-write the story of Dionysus and the pirates he changed into dolphins as our major summary.  We moved into the minor gods and goddesses toward the end of this week and next week will choose another myth to re-write.  For the drama component, we are lucky enough to be working on a play  with a group of homeschoolers about the myth of “The Labyrinth”, which is a good opportunity.  We will head through more mythology next week, including  the labors of Hercules, the Odyssey and more in the next few weeks.    We have also been tying geometry into each day and looking at geometry within the context of the Greeks.  We may not have time for a long geometry block, so I think to tie this into Ancient Greece may be a way to work a little more into our school year.   We are also working with all four processes, measurement, fractions and a preliminary look at decimals right now in math along with spelling and spelling rules.  We finished reading “Understood Betsy” with its focus on New England and are now reading “Strawberry Girl” by Lois Lenski with its focus on Florida.

Eighth Grade:  In the past two weeks, we have continued our Geography of Asia block.  We went back and focused a lot on modern Chinese history, especially Chairman Mao and Chaing Kai-Shek, the cultural revolution and more.  Our eighth grader made a timeline about Chinese Revolution along with a pencil drawing to practice drawing people.  Our eighth grader has been reading “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck and we have used this to look at characters, theme, symbolism and more in a piece of literature and then as a read-aloud we are reading “Red Scarf Girl” which focuses on the Cultural Revolution of China.  In weeks 19 and 20 we had also covered Korea and Japan ; we also studied  Daruma dolls and their meaning and Japanese Buddhism.  We studied Vietnam and included a beautiful picture of a water buffalo to encapsulate our reading of the book  “Water Buffalo Days”; looked at Borneo; Oceania and its continental, high and low islands;  the continent of Australia; and compared and contrasted the Australian Aborigines and the New Zealand Maori.  Our main project for Australia is to complete a diorama and report of the Great Barrier Reef.    After this block our eighth grader really wants to move into World History, so we will be doing that as our next block.

In  math, we are still working on ratios and proportions – especially as they pertain to blueprints and scales for a map.   Spanish still continues to come along.  The 4-H District Project Achievement is  coming in the first weekend of April at the 4H center.  Our eighth grader is presenting a speech on the Get Outdoors Program and the Junior Ranger Badge Program in Outdoor Recreation.

I would love to hear what you are working on this week!  I am glad we are a little more than halfway through the school year.There were many points so far this year where I felt completely under water trying to juggle children of such vastly different ages so  although we still have quite a few weeks of school left, I am hoping it will be successful.








The February Homeschool Rhythm Re-Check

February is such a great time to re-assess what is working and what is not.  I have had conversations these past few weeks with several different homeschooling families about when to “do school” during the day.  I don’t think there is a “right” answer; every family is different and we are not running Waldorf schools.  And, because we are also (usually) the chef, driver, housekeeper, keeper of the tone of the home, and hopefully taking care of ourselves (and many of us also hold down an  outside or from  the home job while homeschooling!), we have a lot to consider when crafting a rhythm that works for the family.  Because, really, the homeschooling rhythm cannot be separate from the home rhythm.  Homeschooling is part of that home rhythm, but if you get up and the house is a mess and you have no food in your house, then probably homeschooling is going to go by the wayside whilst you clean up and go get food.   (Okay, some homeschooling families live in remote areas and have well-stocked stores, so perhaps this is more of a suburban/urban challenge, but I am throwing it out there as an example!)

I can only share with you what is working for me this month…it changes frequently!  Take what resonates with you, and works for you.  We are all different.   These are the things I try to examine each and every week:

    1.  Self-care.  I recently discovered my Vitamin D levels were at why-don’t-I-have-rickets- levels.  It was rather shocking, considering that we live in a Southern climate and are outside a lot, but it also explained a lot about how I was feeling.  So, I think if you are feeling as if everything is chaotic and awful and fatiguing, start with yourself and perhaps a trip to your medical professional.  Also, are there any medical trips you need to make each week?  Are there things you need to do each day for your own health?  Most homeschooling mothers I know run from sun-up to sun-down.  So seriously, where can your self-care go?  That takes thought and it may involve cutting back somewhere else.
    2. A schedule for meal planning, shopping for food and cleaning. Use of crock-pots, Instapots,etc are usually helpful.
    3. Knowing if there is anything “special” coming up in the week – festival celebrations, birthday parties, etc  It helps to plan ahead!
    4. Check your amount of running around outside of your home.
    5. Look ahead on what you are teaching! It really helps to have things planned ahead, for example, to have your watercolor painting done or an example of your modeling done or an idea of what the summary should say.  It is a lot easier to fly by the seat of your pants in the early grades than it is the upper grades!

For us, we have been trying to get up by 7 and  be ready to start school by 8:30 or 9. With having three children, it would be even better for me if we could start school by 8, but I find with breakfast, cleaning up the kitchen, starting laundry, pulling out food for dinner and the children doing chores with me, that is as early as it seems to get.

I usually work with our kindergartener first – circle, story, work of the day.  Our eighth grader is usually working on something independently at this time. Our fifth grader is still not a good independent worker, so she usually has to wait for me.   Depending upon the day, I might meet for fifteen or twenty minutes with our eighth grader to lay out work or answer any questions for her before I work with our kindergartener.  It just depends.

Then I work with our fifth grader – usually this is opening activities, spelling,  math if we are not doing a math block,  main lesson activities and a chapter or two of a read-aloud.  Our eighth grader is usually still working independently on Spanish, math, reading something for school, working on main lesson book pages, or helping with her little brother during this time.

Usually, our eighth grader gets in some time with me before lunch and then again right after lunch because everyone gets hungry by 11:30 or 12.  Our fifth grader usually is the main lunch helper and sometimes solely responsible for lunch for the family.   Our eighth grader’s school work with me usually consists of  opening activities, reviewing her math and looking ahead to the next day’s math so she will be able to do it fairly independently, main lesson activities and a read-aloud.  I don’t do a lot of formal spelling or grammar with her because that comes very naturally to my student, but we do spend time reviewing her Spanish vocabulary and grammar for her lesson for an outside class either when we meet in the morning or just on the fly.  Our fifth grader at this time is usually helping with her little brother or reading or gasp-playing.  If the weather is nice, they may be outside.

Some days go smoothly.  Some days we are still working at three o clock.  Some days I feel like someone gets short-changed, but that will even out and another day someone else will get short-changed in time with me.  That is how it goes when you are using a very teacher-intensive method such as Waldorf Education, and especially if you have children who have learning challenges and need more of you or an older grade compared to kindergarten or an early grade.

People always ask about where to put handwork, music, etc.  I try to incorporate music (and drama, speech and poetry) into main lesson activities and we do more formal music through our church’s program (which is part of the Royal Church School of Music ).  We try to do handwork two  afternoons a week, but fully admit I am thrilled when there is a handwork class with  Waldorf people we know in our area since I would rather do that.  I love fine arts, and I do like handwork, but I am not a handwork teacher by a long shot.  My thought for fall, when I have a high schooler and middle schooler is to schedule two afternoons a week to do fine arts or handwork depending upon what outside classes are available, and use that time for our first grader to do handwork or festival preparation.  And maybe in nice weather we will work outside and he can garden and such.

Things such as woodworking, foreign languages, even things like blacksmithing and glassblowing and basketry , I try to find in the community, even if it is something like a summer activity.  For example, for high school , I feel grateful that we are within driving distance of a folk school that has a lot of blacksmithing, basketry, etc that we could do over the summer.   I cannot do it all and also bring my older children to activities, take care of myself, and take care of the house and cooking. And I don’t even have a job outside the home!

It can be a complete struggle to meet everyone’s needs.  People want to know what homeschooling is “really ” like, and I think with any teacher-driven method of homeschooling in what I described above would ring true for many families with multiple older children where you cannot really combine main lessons.  I understand why people drift to unschooling, or field trip/road trip schooling or something where you can combine more as opposed to Waldorf.  I have zero judgement about that.  I also understand why those who love Waldorf Education sometimes move to an area where they have a Waldorf school available.

Homeschooling this way is hard.  It takes planning. It takes perseverance. It takes organization. It also takes realizing you cannot do it all and that we homeschool hopefully for things such as family love and togetherness, fostering strong bonds between siblings, giving our children unhurried childhoods, having time to travel and experience life, spending time with extended family – whatever your reasons for homeschooling are, that these reasons are even “bigger” than each and every day’s highs and lows  If something about your homeschooling is bothering you, now is time to take stock and make changes.

Lots of love,



These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: February

Generally, February is one of my most hated months of the year.  There.  I admitted it.  However, this year I am determined to change my own attitude and find all the beauty in this month of love and kindness!  Who is with me?

February starts out with the beauty of Epiphany , the fun of Carnival, the love of Valentine’s Day and then we go into the Lenten season of quiet and silence.  This should make for a beautiful month!

Here are some of my favorite things this month for our family:

  • The festivals!


Chinese New Year:

Valentine’s Day


  • Fostering Community.  We stayed at home more throughout the fall, but recently added in some Waldorf based classes two days a week for our smallest child.  I am looking forward to seeing beautiful people who love Waldorf homeschooling several times a week now!  We also joined a homeschool field trip group and we have not many field trips planned, but a few.  For us, this is a small miracle because I am not a very field trip oriented person as much  as I would like to be.  We have already been on several field trips this school year and have a few more planned.  Hopefully, the love of community will keep February looking bright!
  • Fostering health -keeping all of us moving and outside should help keep all of us happy.  We are having a little activity challenge to make movement one of the first things in our day after breakfast and chores.  We hope to instill a habit in our children to take care of themselves daily with movement that will stick as they grow older.
  • Kindness – in this month of love, I want to really emphasize kindness and manners. Manners are just a way we show kindness to one another.  In small children, this is done through modeling.  Middle schoolers and high schoolers  can receive more direct instruction.

Here are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Rest and sleep.  I think February is the perfect month to focus on rest and sleep and solitude.
  • Working with beeswax.  It is sweet to set up a little scene with natural objects, make a little something out of beeswax and add it to the scene, and then let your little one try!
  • Changing the nature table.  We changed ours this week to coincide with Candlemas and we have on it a picture of St. Offerus.
  • We also have a little bare tree, but with a few bees, to remind us of the gifts of the bees in our beeswax candles of Candlemas, a little wooden groundhog, a wooden angel to remind us of Lent, and some small winter animals.  During Lent, we most likely will add a bowl of mixed soil and ash that will remain empty until we plant some seed for an Easter garden, and a little vase of bare branches or pussy willows.
  • Focusing on ME modeling good manners and kindness, and clear thought by my clear speech.

Here are a few of my favorite things for older children:

  • Celebrating Lent by creating a mood of silence and quiet each day.  This can be getting up early to see the sunrise, it can be taking a few minutes before bed with a lit candle, it can be understanding more deeply what goes on in church during the Lenten services.  It can be learning new prayers or about a new Holy Man or Holy Woman.
  • Learning to cook simple meals that are in the spirit of Lent – more plant-based foods, less sweets, more simplicity.
  • Focusing on ME modeling really good manners and kindness, and clear thought by the way I structure my clear speech.
  • Vigorous exercise.  The children I have noticed lately ages 10 and up are fairly bouncing off the walls.  This is the age to have opportunities for the children to move!

Here are a few of my favorite things for teens: 

  • To talk directly about sacrifice during Lent.  An idea of perhaps not just “giving up” in the traditional sense (“I am going to give up candy”) but this idea of what we really want to cultivate that is hard sometimes.  Cultivating kindess and inclusion, even when we don’t want to.  Cultivating perseverance.  Cultivating a good attitude when we just want to be snappish.
  • Vigorous exercise!
  • Creating things of beauty for the home during this time. I especially like rose windows and transparencies.  Teens are really able to do these well!

Here are a few of my favorite things for my own health:

  • Adaptogenic herbs.  I am not a herbalist, but I have been reading Susun Weed’s books and putting together some teas for my own usage.
  • Follow up from any doctor’s appointments from last month where the results need follow up.
  • Simple, clean meals for Lent.
  • Vigorous exercise!

Here are a few of my favorite things for homeschooling:

  • Double check materials if you didn’t order last month and get re-stocked.
  • If you don’t have your start and end dates, vacation dates, blocks and length of blocks planned – get moving!  Make a goal to plan at least two or three blocks this month, so order the resources you need to be able to do this.

Please share what is inspiring you this month!


Block Layout Plan for Sixth Grade Waldorf Homeschooling

This fall will be my second time through sixth grade.  I have a plan made of our block layout and thought I would share for anyone else getting ready to start planning sixth grade.  This is only one way of many ways to do this, of course, but perhaps it will stimulate some of your own ideas as well.

This is what I am planning on doing:

Physics – 4 weeks

Geometry – 3 weeks

Business Math – 3 weeks

Roman History – 6 weeks

Christmas Break

Medieval History – 4 weeks

Astronomy – 3 weeks

Medieval Africa and Japan – 3 weeks ( an out of the box block!)

Mineralogy – 4 weeks

European Geography – 3 weeks


Update 10/2016:

We started with Astronomy

We are now in Mineralogy

We will do two to three weeks of European Geography and integrate ourselves into Rome and do Roman History

Winter Break

Medieval History (including Africa and Japan)

Business Math




How is your planning coming along for fall?  If you get your start dates, end dates and vacation dates planned, you can start planning out your blocks and how long you think they may last.  Then you can start getting resources and digging in to the flow of a block!

Many blessings,



These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: Advent Week Four

The week is upon us!  Christmastide is almost here!  For those of you counting up to Winter Solstice, that day is coming as well.  A week of love and rejoicing! 

This week, we are also celebrating the crowing kingdom to rejoice in Christ’s coming: mankind.  In following this week’s theme of man, I have chosen the following books (the older children and I are also reading “The Return of Light

20- The Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett.  I love these, because they talk about finding rest and joy in friends and in community and belonging.  I know the gingerbread baby and his friends are not people, but the qualities they convey are certainly very human-like!

21-  Getting ready for the Winter Solstice!  The older children and I are reading “The Return of Light:  A Christmas Tale” by Dia Calhoun; the youngest and I read “The Sun Bread” by Kleven.

23– Little Golden Books – “The Christmas Story”; also Reg Down’s “The Cricket and the Shepherd Boy”

24 – The Night Before Christmas – any of the many illustrated editions will do and “Christmas in Noisy Village” by Astrid Lindgren

There are also many wonderful stories for this week in “The Light In The Lantern” and “The Christmas Story Book” by Floris Books.

Some activities for the week:

  • Random acts of kindness for other people.  The possibilities here are endless for paying it forward.
  • Assisting in any way possible to help others who need it – we have participated in gift and food drives for the poor, wrapping gifts for homeless children…this week we will be keeping our eye out for anyone else who needs our help.  
  • Look for the people you know that are lonely and sad with the holidays.  Maybe they are dealing with divorce, the loss of someone they loved through death, poverty.  Take your time and spend it with them.
  • Honoring the wonderful people who impact us  personally every week.  I am thinking especially of our children’s teachers, such as our choir director at church and our horseback riding instructor, our county’s 4H staff.
  • Honoring our town and county’s police and fire personnel.  We are so lucky to live in a county with a wonderful police, fire, ambulance response team.
  • Make gingerbread men cookies!
  • Celebrate the First Day of Winter.
  • Prepare  for the flow of Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day.  These can be quiet days, or in some families it can be days of family coming in, lots of cooking and craziness and small children can have a tough time without their regular rhythm. 
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, or Christmastide, begins on Christmas Day.  These twelve days can be a time of inner work, inner preparation for the New Year.  This is about the The Twelve Days of Christmas  and  Celebrating Christmastide
  • Here is a message for Christmas Day about wonder 



Weeks Twelve Through Fourteen of Homeschooling Eighth Grade, Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

Week Twelve was the week of November 9th, we took two weeks off due to a family wedding and Thanksgiving and came back to do Week Thirteen of school the week of November 30th and Week Fourteen the week of December 7th (this week).  Normally, we slow down in December or take quite a bit of time off in December, but we have lost a lot of time this fall due to varying circumstances, so I actually feel the need to power through a little bit.  So, please know this isn’t a normal December rhythm for us!

Kindy –   There has been a lot of “life” and less normal rhythm than I would have liked leading up to our family wedding and Thanksgiving..So, we are enjoying getting some balance back with a small circle, stories to go with the weeks of Advent and the Saints we celebrate in Advent, holiday baking and crafting and long walks outside in our nice weather.

Fifth Grade –  We finished India during Week Twelve. We were exceedingly lucky as that week was the celebration of Diwali and whilst we had already attended a Diwali cultural event at our local library that had crafts, food and Classical Indian dancing, this week we had a wonderful neighbor who invited us to their home for their Diwali celebration, complete with sweets and dinner and fireworks.  So, that was a wonderful way to cap off India.  We spent most of Week Twelve talking about the caste system, reading the Mahabharata, and finishing the book, “The Iron Ring.”

I realized that in fifth grade with our first daughter, she did about fourteen pages of paintings, summaries, drawings.  This time around we did about half that – seven pages.  Part of this is due to different temperaments and capacities and part of this is due to the fact that I am much better at not over-assigning workYou do not need something in a main lesson book for every single thing you do.  Even in the Waldorf Schools, from what I have seen, most blocks seem to have around 6 to 10 pages in the Main Lesson Books, depending upon the block.  (If someone reading this has a child in fifth grade in a Waldorf School, please do write in and tell me how many pages in a Main Lesson Book your child’s work on Ancient India was, for example.  I would love a larger sample than my local area).  So please do think projects, modeling, field trips.  You are in the home environment and you are a homeschooler.  This is and should be different than the school environment.  I think if you push main lesson book drawing and writing in the grades 1-6, many (not all, but many!  There will always be those students who love to draw and write) seventh and eighth graders homeschooled students will really balk when the see main lesson books in those grades. Being mindful of the amount of sitting work for a particular block you are asking for with a particular child is so important!

Then we moved into Persia – the land itself, the creation of man, the story of King and his golden dagger and then into the life of Zarathustra and the Magi.  We painted the Land of Persia, wrote a summary about that, modeled King Djemshid and his golden dagger and did two separate pictures of Zarathustra in a chalk pastel medium.    There were also some beautiful verses and poetry I found.  Now, in  the middle  of Week Fourteen we have moved into Ancient Mesopotamia – the land and the people, Marduk, Hammurabi and his code, and hopefully into Gilgamesh by Friday.

Math and spelling are still coming along and being practiced daily in addition to our block work.   Spelling is making a few leaps;  because of challenges we are still in the land of short vowels and initial and final consonant blends but it seems as if there is an increased awareness these days that shows more is clicking and being retained in the memory.    Our daughter read “One Day in the Desert” on her own,  and we are currently reading the Childhood of Famous Americans “John Muir” since that touches on botany, ecology, upcoming mineralogy.  4-H has been busy with the homeschool meeting and the Fall Fun Day.  Choir is also busy now that we are in Advent and all of the end of the year horse show and banquet and barn work.

Eighth Grade –  We moved into Chemistry during Week Twelve, but honestly, we were still finishing up a lot of work from our American History block and didn’t get to start Chemistry until the last day and then we had two weeks of vacation.  So, we are moving slower than I would like as we mainly started Chemistry this week and I really wanted to finish this block and a block on Asian Geography before Christmas but it looks like that is not going to happen, so I will have to decide what we will begin with in January after break. 

So far we have done an intensive look at carbohydrates – sugars and starches, the solubility of sugar and salt, enzymes and how they break down carbohydrate, Fehling’s solution and the use of hydrochloric acid in breaking down carbohydrates and how this is indicated, and on a practical level how sugar is processed from sugarcane.  We looked at the history of sugar cane in the United States in Louisiana, St. Croix (US Territory), and Maui.  Now we have moved into proteins, and I hope to wrap this block up next week or so.  With proteins we are looking at how heat denatures proteins, coagulation of proteins, (cheesemaking would be great here, but we have done that quite a bit in the past). We have cooked quite a bit (meringue cookies, fudge, meat dishes)  and that has been an enjoyable part of this block for our teen.  In our look at fats next week, we will be dealing mainly with rendering fat, extracting essential oils, oil and water.  Soap making is good here, but I decided to try to keep our practical things to food making this go around, so we may experiment with some of the things we have done before, like making our own mayonnaise and ice cream.   I have tried to make this block as hands-on as possible.

In our year long course of World Geography, we finished up our page for the United States.  I gave homework about the United States and Canada,  an end of unit test for the United States  that focused on several questions to be answered in paragraphs, labeling a map with all 50 states and capitals, and labeling a physical map with natural features.   In Canada we reviewed from fifth grade all the provinces and capitals, all the physical features and then the history of independence of our neighbor and some current events with Canada’s new Prime Minister.  Our daughter finished the Canada pages, including a products of Canada map.  Spanish is also coming along; we are almost halfway through this high school level course (which, by the way,  has been so much work!)  Typing is also coming along, and our daughter got to help my husband build a new computer from scratch and learn all the parts of the computer and their functions.

We are still reading “Elijah of Buxton” but almost finished!  Finally!   Independent reading has been difficult these past weeks as “Riders of the Pony Express” was not enjoyable to our eighth grader, and she never really dove into the biography of Harriet Tubman I shared with her.  I hope to return to Harriet Tubman’s biography this spring with our Peacemakers block, and plan to instead  assign Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” on Friday.  The next book we will read together will be “Brooklyn Bridge” by Hesse.

Math is still happening daily, mainly right now we are reviewing fractions and all the operations in fractions and financial math.   This has been a busy time with 4-H as our daughter attended the overnight Statewide Junior Leadership Conference with all kinds of leadership sessions and service opportunities; we also had the Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging Competition, and portfolio for District Project  Achievement.  I would love to talk a little bit more about homeschooling with 4-H in a different post.  I think there are many ways seniors (so for us, starting next year), can use the 4-H events and knowledge gained in preparing for DPA as part of academic credit. Choir is also busy since we are in Advent!  And the horses!

I would love to hear what you have been working on in November and December.