Grade 1: The Wise Enchanter and a Giveaway!

IMG_4665

This whole block was like a fairy tale. Everything we did seemed enchanted. And the best part? I didn’t plan any of it. It all just kinda happened. I knew I was onto something magical when I showed Jude the cover of The Wise Enchanter by Shelley Davidow. He had been asking me what we were going to do for his last block, and I told him we were going to read a story about the alphabet. When he saw the book, he looked at me with these big eyes and said, “It’s the prince. He grew up to be a wise enchanter.” I didn’t exactly know what he was talking about at first. Then I realized he was remembering the story I told him during his first letters block. It was a faux fairy tale about a prince and a wise woman who go on a journey. I had not realized how deeply the story and the characters had been for him. Quick to recognize a gift when I see one however, I said, “Yes, of course it is. We are going to see what happens now that the prince has become a wise enchanter.”

Jude loved this story from start to finish. It is about 4 children, all of whom are around 7 years old, who embark on a quest to rescue all 26 letters of the alphabet and therefore language itself. At the end of every chapter there is an illustration of each letter in picture form. After finishing a chapter, Jude and I would trace the letter with our finger. He was very solemn and ritualistic about this, and I just held that space for him. We took about 3 weeks to read it and created our own “magic book” similar to the one described in the story. I think The Wise Enchanter by Shelley Davidow would be perfect to read during the end of grade 1 or during the beginning of grade 2. It is a solid story full of adventure and magic, with a definite – but not overbearing – Waldorf influence.

And now for the giveaway! If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Wise Enchanter, leave a comment below telling me the best book you read this year. It can be either an adult book or one for a child – or both! I’ll announce the winner on Friday, June 14. Good luck!! And the winner is Amy! Over at Amy Learning to Love! I loved reading all the book suggestions and have added a bunch of them to our summer reading list. Thanks to everyone who left a comment.

Resource:

  • The Wise Enchanter, Shelley Davidow

Projects:

  • Created a magic book of postcards including all 26 letters of the alphabet

IMG_4091

IMG_4093

IMG_4094

IMG_4095

IMG_4092

  • Created little alphabet cards with uppercase and lowercase pairs of letters to hang on the wall

IMG_4253

***

Click the image below if you would like to see all the blocks we have done for grade 1 this year.

IMG_4090

Grade 1: Math

IMG_3893

This was our third and final math block of the year. Jude continues to be comfortable with numbers, so my goal was simply to continue using the 4 processes. We read a few fairy tales that showcased counting and also embarked on an impromptu handwork project: stringing 100 buttons. (This was the project I saw on The Magic Onions that we never got to during December.) Jude and I spent a good part of 2 weeks with the buttons. In addition to working with Jude’s fine motor coordination, he kept track of our progress. We counted by 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s. At one point, it became obvious the buttons were not going to fit on the piece of string we cut, so we had to cut a second string and divide the buttons in half.

I will be honest, by this point in the year, I was ready to start giving Jude some “real” work. He even asked to do mental math like Vincent does. We tried that for a day. He was not very enthusiastic about my story, so I let it go and he stopped asking. Seven is young. There will be plenty of time for proper math practice down the road – just ask Vincent! By keeping our main lessons short and full of movement, Jude was able to get back to his real work – play.

Resources:

  • Christopherus Grade 1 Syllabus, Donna Simmons

Projects:

  • Stringing 100 buttons. (I used a heavy cotton string and dipped the end in melted candle wax. The waxed tip made it much easier to thread through the holes. And what ever you do – do not put the strung buttons in a heap. Hang the string from something instead to keep it straight when you are not working on it. Let’s just say, I think it took me longer to untangle the buttons than it did to string the buttons in the first place. Not fun!)

IMG_3913

IMG_3914

  • Finishing main lesson book we began in October. (On the two pages below we traced 12 dresses for “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and came up with 12 ways to make 12.)

IMG_3915

IMG_3916

  • Skip counting with beanbags.

***

Click the images below to see our other grade 1 math blocks.

IMG_3097

IMG_2526

Lesson Plans for May 2013

IMG_3730

This post is a part of Waldorf Wednesday. See all the links here.

The last blocks of the year! WooHoo! Yippee-yie-yay!! Happy dance, happy dance, happy, happy, happy dance!!! Here is what we are up to this month:

Vincent, 5th grader, 11 years old: Vincent will finish his Greek block by transitioning from Greek mythology to Greek history, again using Charles Kovacs’ wonderful book, Ancient Greece. Our study of Greece will finish with Alexander the Great and we plan to watch the 4 hour BBC production, In the Footsteps of Alexander. I am not much of a movie person and neither are my boys, but I think this will be a fun departure from our normal course of study. After the popcorn-fest, we will delve into A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich, reading up to the beginning of the Roman Empire. Our final project of grade 5 will be a timeline that I plan to have Vincent add to over the next couple of years. To say I have deliberated about how to do this timeline would be the understatement of the year. (I can see Tom rolling his eyes as he reads this.) However, I have made the decision to use these beautiful, hand-drawn figures from Homeschool in the Woods as our base. I will be modifying some of the early dates however, as they are based on a biblical view of creation. We will be coloring the figures with colored pencil, cutting them out and gluing them onto cardstock that I have printed using this free timeline maker. The completed pages will then put into plastic slip sheets and stored in a binder.

Jude, 1st grader, 7 1/2 years old: I have followed the Christopherus grade 1 syllabus pretty much block by block this entire year, but for some reason, I had absolutely nothing planned for Jude to do after April. When I realized my snafu, I looked at my grade 1 bookshelf and came across The Wise Enchanter by Shelley Davidow. We will be reading this lovely story and revisiting the alphabet, which is where we began back in September. Because Vincent will be doing something fun with his timeline, I am going to have Jude make an alphabet book using a set of Mother Goose postcards. There is one for every letter, and on the back I’m going to have him write a few words and draw a picture of something that starts with that letter. We will then bind the postcards into a book of sorts. Jude has also taken a fancy to Tiptoes Lightly, so we will be reading Eggs for the Hunting by Reg Down sporadically throughout these last few weeks of school as well.

Sheila: My brain shuts off around Memorial Day. As soon as the American flags start flying and the red, white and blue bunting appears, this year is officially over as far as I’m concerned. Of course we have loose ends to secure and testing needs to be done, but I feel like I can do this with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. I give myself this little lull, because I know next year’s planning is right around the corner. And this year, the planning will be sooner rather than later. Due to a serendipitous alignment of the Waldorf homeschool planning stars, Jean Miller will be in town visiting her sister who happens to live a mere 45 minutes from me. Andrea and I are having a day-long planning session with her to hammer out next year together. I expect this to be a lot of fun and also very productive. I will still have a bunch of planning to accomplish, but I hope to have the big stuff out of the way, and spend my summer focusing on reading primary materials for grades 2 and 6 and also furthering my art and handwork skills. Crochet, anyone? (You can see the very beginning of my plans for grade 2 and grade 6 under “Planning” beneath my header. Right now, it is basically a list of resources organized per block.)

***

Here’s a peek at what we were doing this time last year. (US Geography)

IMG_0973

Grade 1: Nature/Gardening Block

IMG_3589

Sharing on the Magic Onions: Friday Nature Table. See all the links here.

 

For me, this block encapsulated the essence of grade 1: lots of physical activity in the form of playful work, fun stories that captured the imagination and simple crafts that little hands could accomplish. Yes, we had dedicated main lesson time, but so much of what we did became a seamless part of our daily rhythm. The little Easter garden shown above was Jude’s favorite part of the block – and may well be his favorite part of the whole year. We took a shallow metal planter, filled it with potting soil and scattered wheat berries that we had soaked overnight in water. The wheat sprouted within a week and Jude had so much fun spraying/watering the seeds and the seedlings. I don’t know whose idea it was to add the bunny finger puppets, but that’s when the fun really began.

Watching Jude hop the bunnies around and get lost in his imagination showed me how small he is and how little he needs as far as “instruction”. I have said this before and consider yourself forewarned that I will say it again, taking the time for these elemental grade 1 lessons is so important. Because I came to Waldorf when Vincent was in grade 3, he/we did not experience how incredibly beautiful this curriculum is laid out from the beginning. I can appreciate how the measured progression of the subjects nourishes the soul in a way that allows time to unfold in a radically different way than it does in the current frenzy we call everyday life. Whether you homeschool with Waldorf or not, I think we all need to find a counterbalance to the lightening fast pace of how we live today. The lesson of watching the grass grow is one I want to remember.

Resources:

  • Joyful Movement, Donna Simmons
  • From Nature Stories to Natural ScienceDonna Simmons
  • The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly, Reg Down (I cannot recommend this book enough! I’m sure I will talk more about it in subsequent posts.)
  • The Gift of a Tree, Alvin Tresselt (Fantastic story and stunning illustrations.)

Projects:

  • Planted wheat berries to create an Easter Garden. (photo above)
  • Made boats out of acorn tops and holly leaves to go along with the tale, “The Bee who Lost his Buzz” by Reg Down.

IMG_3594

  • Painted a hillside in winter. (We will do this again when spring is really here and the hill turns bright green.)
  • Worked in the garden.

IMG_3414

  • Cleaned up yard and gathered sticks.

IMG_3607

  • Painted dirt by mixing all the colors and making brown.

IMG_3560

***

Read about what we did for Autumn by clicking the image below.

IMG_2385

Lesson Plans for April 2013

IMG_3514

Who am I to argue with T.S. Eliot, but with two separate weeks of spring break, April may be the kindest month. The first week in April we will be taking a break from main lessons, spending a day at the dentist, and (hopefully, fingers crossed, please, please, please) finish all the scouting requirements for this year. On Friday, Andrea and I leave for Hot-lanta to attend the Peach Cobblers’ Waldorf Curriculum Fair. I am really looking forward to this little getaway. The next three weeks will be spent completing our second to last block of the year – unbelievable, but true. The last week in April will find us all at the beach with both sets of grandparents, hopefully catching some rays and eating lots and lots of shrimp.

Vincent: 11 years old, 5th grader Vincent will begin the first half of our 6 week block on Greece that will focus on Greek mythology. This will segue into Greek History for the better part of May. We will be using both the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and also Ancient Greece by Charles Kovacs. I am interested in seeing if the Greek myths will captivate Vincent’s imagination as others have spoken about with their fifth graders. We will be drawing a map of Greece, memorizing, drawing and summarizing the 12 Olympians, summarizing the myths we read, and perhaps rewriting one. I hope to continue our form drawing practice with some Greek inspired designs. I’m sure Vincent is planning to research and make some traditional Greek foods. Bring on the spanakopita!!

Jude: 7 years old, 1st grader Jude will be completing his final math block of first grade, delving a little deeper into the four processes with some mental math and also a few written problems. We will also be concentrating on memorizing the 2s, 5s and 10s multiplication tables by tossing around our bean bags. (Jude is reading this over my shoulder as I type and just informed me, “I know all those!” So, I don’t know what we’ll be doing with Sir Smarty Pants! Ok, he’s gone.) There will be some fun fairy tales to illustrate these math concepts and keep them from becoming too abstract. I think I will also pull out our jar of wooden shapes and work on some tanagrams during main lesson time. Those things always make my head hurt, but maybe Jude will like them. I also plan to bust out our jump ropes and get both boys jumping outside.

Sheila: This feels like the sweet spot in the year. I can appreciate how much we have accomplished, yet I still have some stamina and enthusiasm left for the last couple of blocks. Contrast this to the previous two years of homeschooling with Waldorf where I can vividly remember wanting to scrap the remainder of the year and just start planning next year’s blocks. Because then I had a clean slate and could get it all right – whatever I thought that meant! I know everybody says this, but I am going to say it too. Coming to Waldorf late is a process that takes time. I may even go out on a limb here and say homeschooling with Waldorf – no matter when you come to it – is a process that takes time. If it speaks to you, if it feeds you, if you can catch glimpses of it changing you, your children and your family for the better, stick with it and give yourself that time. Listen to the whispers that speak to that part of you that resonated with Waldorf in the first place. Focus on that and ignore the rest for now. You will get there. I am so grateful for all that I have learned this year and I plan on recording it like I did for Year 1 and Year 2 of our journey.

***

Here’s a look at what we were doing this time last year.

IMG_0939