We began first grade with an extended block that introduced all 26 letters of the alphabet. I retold a journey story from the Christopherus Grade 1 Syllabus that featured a prince and a wise woman. Interspersed within the larger story were several Grimm’s Fairy Tales, a story about St. George (for Michaelmas) and also the story of the Magi finding the Christ Child. A two-day rhythm worked perfectly. I told a part of the story on Monday, and we also drew the corresponding letter pictures. On Tuesday, we (well, I . . . Jude is resisting this aspect of our lessons . . . ) reviewed the story and practiced writing the individual letters we discovered the day before. By the end of the block, I was writing full sentences that Jude would copy from the board.
Jude already knew his letters, how to write and also how to read before beginning this block, but I went ahead and trusted the curriculum to meet him at a soul level. He really enjoyed hearing the story and loved doing the drawings of the letter pictures with the block crayons. Toward the end of the block, we only had 2 letters left to meet, and we went through the alphabet to try to determine which they were. I recited the letters alphabetically, and from memory, Jude said the picture we drew to represent that particular letter. I couldn’t believe how deeply the letter pictures meshed with the letters in his mind. I was so glad we decided to take our time and learn the letters on a different level. In teaching the letters in a Waldorf-fashion, I did not introduce the letters alphabetically, and I treated the vowels as heart sounds (A (aaah) = contentment; E (eeeh) = fear; I (I) = asserting the “I” or ego; O (oooh) = wonder; U (ooh) = concern).
I did my first chalkboard drawing ever for this block (above). I used a smaller chalkboard (18 x 24) than the one we use for school everyday. I would set it up in front of Jude while I told the journey story. I think it helped to focus his attention, without providing any substantial images to interfere with his imaginings. The fact that we used one drawing for 6 weeks felt like a good investment of my time . . . although I still can’t bring myself to erase it yet.
- Christopherus Grade 1 Syllabus, Donna Simmons
- The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (“The Six Swans”, “Mother Holle”, “Rapunzel”, “The Golden Goose”)
- Main Lesson book filled with block crayon drawings representing all 21 consonants; vowels were stars cut out of gold foil that we glued in the MLB at the end of the block. Our drawings were copies of the ones given in the Christopherus syllabus.
- Wet-on-wet watercolor painting of “The Six Swans”
- Wet-on-wet watercolor painting of a mountain (letter M) with a door (letter D)
- Beeswax modeling of a golden star to correspond with the story of the Magi.
- Writing letters in a rice tray.
- Reciting the alphabet while throwing a beanbag.
I will read these aloud throughout the remainder of the year.
- Waldorf Alphabet Book, Famke Zonneveld
- The Wise Enchanter: A Journey through the Alphabet, Shelley Davidow
- L,M,N,O,P and All the Letters A to Z, Howard Schrager