Taproot Homeschool Teacher Training

IMG_5194This is the road that leads to Barbara Dewey’s farm, Taproot. It reminds me so much of the road I live on, that the first time I attended Taproot (you know, the time Andrea sent me ALONE) I had a vague, disconcerting feeling that I had just driven 8 hours and gone in a perfect circle. Over the past few years, I have grown to appreciate that visual familiarity and find it more than comforting. It reminds me of that quotation by TS Eliot, “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” Taproot is a safe place to explore where I am going on this crazy ride of Waldorf-inspired homeschooling. It also provides time to strengthen my resolve, deepen my commitment and remember why I choose to homeschool this way in the first place.

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I don’t seem to write at length about Taproot, even though I mention it frequently in my posts throughout the year. For me, those four days in August are difficult to capture and render into words. They have the feeling of summer camp mixed with the energy of a women’s dormitory. What I can tell you is this: Without Taproot, I would not be the same person I am now. I have had life-changing conversations with friends who frankly, I couldn’t imagine life without. I have laughed so hard I thought I was either going to have asthma attack or wet my pants. Invariably, I have found connection, community and continuity at Taproot and that is why I make the trip to Ohio every August. Plus, now that Andrea drives, it’s a piece of cake.

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Yes, there are classes in the grades, special sessions on Waldorf-specific art forms, panel discussions on planning, organization and homeschooling multiple children which give the days a solid structure and provide a grounding in the nuts and bolts of actually homeschooling with Waldorf-inspired methods. However, the pockets of times in between are my real reason for traveling all that way: the soulful conversations, the morning eurythmy, the group singing, the communal meals, the long walks on the gravel road, and the laughs – the laughs have a lot to do with it. It is in these moments where I am convinced again and again that it is not about special crayons, sanctioned resources or if Steiner really said this or that. It is a validation that this is a way to homeschool from a place that goes deeper than the trappings of curriculum and methodology and gets to what I believe is the heart of the matter: goodness, soul connection, spiritual awakening, balance and grounding. It helps me to come to my children from a place of wholeness and mirror that possibility for them.

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So mark your calendars: Thursday July 31 – Sunday August 3, 2014. And although no information for this year’s teacher training has been posted yet, you can check out Barbara’s website, Waldorf Without Walls or read the back posts listed below for some more information. Think about it. I would love, love, love to see you there.

Share the Cake

Destination: Taproot Farm

When in Doubt

Word 2014

IMG_5886Anyone who knows me in real life or has read my blog-bio knows that I keep it lean and mean in the clothing department: 2 drawers, 10 hangers, 3 pairs of boots. Done. The one exception to this minimalism is my vast collection of big, black and bejeweled sunglasses. I probably have a dozen pairs. No joke. I am never, ever without them. If I’m not actually wearing a pair, you can usually find some propped on top of my head or see several scattered around the kitchen counters. (Ask Tom about this. It’s his pet-peeve.) I wear sunglasses every day of every season and sometimes, even when it’s raining. Although I would like to tell you I’m trying to promote a certain mystique or that I have Hollywood aspirations, the real reason is rather prosaic. I hate glare. I hate squinting. And bright (ish) light gives me a headache. So when “Shine!” presented itself as my word for 2014, I didn’t exactly jump for joy. Here’s how it happened.

At Taproot in August, Jean Miller asked us to choose a word of intention for our upcoming homeschool year. I had already settled on a word earlier in the summer (“stretch”), so I was planning to just sit outside with my eyes closed on a grey and cloudy day. And even though I thought about it, I didn’t bother to go upstairs and get my sunglasses. As I sat on the front porch, I remember having my face tilted up to the sky and honestly, clear as a bell, a word came to me. “Shine!” Umm . . . no, my word is stretch. One more time, loud and clear, “Shine!” Shine? I don’t have my sunglasses. Is this some kind of joke? Even with my eyes closed, I could discern a brightening above me. Mustering my courage, I squinted out of one eye for half of a second. Yup, a slight brightening. I shut my eye, went inside and tried to ignore everything that just happened.

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Print available here.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I came to terms with what happened at Taproot and fully embraced the word “shine.” I did some body work with my spiritual director and located my shining center. I can’t fully explain how powerful this was and continues to be. Whenever I try to put it into words it always sounds trite (like the sentence above) and more than a little “woo-woo”. Be that as it may, it helped me to begin to claim my word in a literal and physical way. Around this time, I also saw the print shown above by one of my favorite artists, Kelly Rae Roberts. Her words helped me over my last vestiges of reticence and let me see the powerful ripple effect of embracing one’s own inner light.

I have guided my inner work with a word/concept in the past (fly), but this year feels more intentional. In addition to meeting monthly with my spiritual director, I am also adding in a few other components as well. I signed up for a year long e-course, entitled “One Little Word.” I have been diligently working on Susannah Conway’s (free) downloadable workbook Unraveling the Year Ahead 2014. I was intrigued by the idea of her workbook last year and even printed it out. However, I never put pen to paper. This year, I’m all over it. I’m enjoying the process and looking forward to seeing how it manifests. I am also making art horses like mad. More on that later. And lastly, I’m taking Vivienne McMaster’s e-course, Be Your Own Beloved, in February. I took a mini-version of this exploration of self-portaiture last year, and enjoyed it immensely. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get brave enough to take a photograph or two without my sunglasses. (Gulp.)

Shine . . . it’s going to be a great year.

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My cover for Susannah’s Unraveling workbook. Get yours here.

The Seven Lively Arts: Part 2

Jean Miller is back with Part 2 of her article “The Seven Lively Arts.” You can find Part 1 here. She is also available to answer questions and comments, so don’t be shy!

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The Seven Lively Arts

Drama, Drawing, Movement, Music, Modeling, Painting, Speech

By Jean Miller, www.waldorfinspiredlearning.com 

MUSICAL ARTS  (Singing & Recorder)

Steiner described the musical and poetic arts as bringing people together and having a harmonizing effect. Music creates the right mood. Steiner: “Music tunes and heals the soul life of the human being.”

One can bring music to young children in two ways: through singing, or leading simple melodies on simple instruments. Pentatonic songs harmonize what children feel inwardly; the pentatonic scale leaves out the 3rd and 7th notes in the octave – the sharps and flats. Until age nine, the pentatonic scale fits with child’s inner being.

One can use music for a variety of purposes:

  • To wake up children
  • To meet the mood of the season
  • To get them into the mood for work they’re about to do
  • To deepen feelings about work they’ve done
  • Singing in K; Recorder and Singing in G 1 & 2; Recorder, Singing and Instrument in G 3

Steiner: “Every child is a musical instrument and inwardly feels a kind of well-being in sound.” Steiner believed that the very forms of our bodies are made out of music.

Sing the melody in the early grades; children are naturally musical and imitate. Lead children into an experience of beauty and purity of tone through singing in unison. After age nine, rounds are appropriate and create harmony. Between the change of teeth and puberty, when the astral body is slowly being liberated, music is particularly important as an aid in this emancipation. In the upper grades, children can sing three and four-part songs.

Steiner: “If you can, you should choose a wind instrument…it is a wonderful thing in the child’s life when this whole configuration of the air…can be extended and guided.” Choices include recorder, choroi flute, or penny whistle.


VISUAL ARTS
 (Painting, Drawing, Modeling)

Steiner explained that the pictorial and sculptural arts (visual arts) deepen our experience of ourselves as individuals, and that the musical and poetic arts bring people together and have a harmonizing effect.

Painting
Painting is a way of exploring the beauty of colors on paper and gives us the experience of the quality and moods of different colors. We experience the harmony of colors inwardly.

Steiner: “Throughout the grades, painting primarily serves as a form of expression rather than a means of representation.”

Accompany painting with a simple story. Mondays are good days to paint (water day – also good for laundry). Tell a color tale or integrate painting into the main lesson.

Steiner said: “If there is a lot of flu going around and the children are not well, a painting lesson will renew their forces for their work in other subjects.”

Drawing
Steiner suggests that if children can be taught how to draw so that they let forms arise out of color and let lines arise out of the meeting of colors, they will be enlivened and will develop a truer relationship to the external world. Drawing is a skill we can all learn.

  • Drawing isn’t arithmetic, there is not one right answer; pictures will look more similar in grade one and become more individual.
  • Drawing is an expression of feelings and images in your heart and head.
  • To get away from outline drawing, draw lightly at first and then that can easily be changed.
  • Colored pencils after age nine (because pencils force children to draw outlines).

Steiner: “In the sculptural and pictorial realm, we look at beauty, and we live it; in the musical realm we ourselves become beauty.”

Modeling
Modeling with various materials enhances a child’s experience of the curriculum and has a vitalizing effect on the human being. Working with the hands in this way trains observation and awareness. Modeling can be incorporated during or after a story, and often goes well with nature stories; the scene can then be set out on the nature table. Beeswax gives qualities of warmth, color and fragrance to suit the light and airy nature of the child. The progression of modeling materials begins first with beeswax in the early grades, then moves on to clay, then wood, and stone in high school.

Handwork
When Steiner describes the first day of school in Practical Advice to Teachers, he describes a conversation with the children about the importance of their hands – using their hands to work and create things. In the fourth grade block on the human being and animal, there is an important distinction about how our hands allow us to help bring goodness and beauty into the world. There are so many ideas for handwork, just remember to push through to finish!

Handwork ideas: knitting, crocheting, weaving, hand sewing, embroidery, paper crafts, felting, woodworking, carving and so much more. Handwork projects can also be tied to the seasons and incorporated into Festival celebrations.


Good luck and have fun bringing the Seven Lively Arts into your lessons! This will help to enliven your teaching and your time with your children. At the end of his life, Steiner talked about taking Waldorf education in a “drastically different direction” and was referring to grounding all teaching more fully in the arts! There are so many ways to do this that serve to inspire both our children and ourselves. Goethe believed that through art, human beings could reveal the secrets of nature that are concealed from our sense perception and consciousness.

A Brief Background on the Seven Lively Arts
The Seven Liberal Arts come from ancient times and grew out of the Four Branches of Knowledge in ancient Egypt: astrology, geometry, arithmetic and music. These Branches of Knowledge became the Seven Liberal Arts in ancient Greece, a time when spiritual and intellectual pursuits were intertwined. The Seven Liberal Arts included: grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, geometry, astrology, arithmetic and music. In the early part of the twentieth century, around the time Steiner opened the first Waldorf School in Germany, the history of western art was characterized as incorporating the Seven Lively Arts: literature, dance, drama, architecture, sculpture, music and painting. There is a massive mural depicting these Seven Lively Arts at the Center for Performing Arts in Toronto! In his time, Steiner was concerned that teaching had become too abstract and strictly intellectual, and so created Waldorf education to bring the elements of feeling and willing (through the arts and hands-on activity) into all lessons to accompany thinking. The Seven Lively Arts give us a great scaffolding for bringing the arts into all of our learning.

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JeanHeadShot3-13-13Jean Miller is the mother of three children and has been homeschooling inspired by Waldorf education for almost 20 years. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband of 25 years and their youngest child, who is still on the homeschooling journey and going into high school; their two sons are now in college. Jean has a Master of Arts in Teaching and has taught in both public and private schools, has tutored, homeschooled and taught small groups. She has been involved in and spearheaded several Waldorf-inspired groups over the years including Bridgeways, a charter school initiative, and Rainbow’s Edge, a small cooperative grades group. Her knowledge of Waldorf education comes from attending workshops, extensive reading, and planning and implementing many lessons. For the past seven summers, Jean has been one of the teachers presenting at the Taproot Teacher Training, organized by one of her mentors, Barbara Dewey, of Waldorf Without Walls. Jean finds inspiration not only in teaching and building community, but also from nature, poetry, the creative arts and singing.

 

The Seven Lively Arts: Part 1

Last year at Taproot, Jean Miller handed out an article entitled “The Seven Lively Arts.” I remember thinking it was rather interesting, but somehow those pages were filed away and not discovered again until this past spring. When I came across them for the second time, I thought, “This is exactly what I need!” I was stuck in the draw-a-picture-write-a-summary rut and these ideas were like a breath of fresh air. Below you will find Part 1 of Jean’s article. You can find Part 2 here. Enjoy! (PS Jean is currently offering a planning webinar that starts next week. Find all the details here.)

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The Seven Lively Arts

Drama, Drawing, Movement, Music, Modeling, Painting, Speech

By Jean Miller, www.waldorfinspiredlearning.com 

The Seven Lively Arts evolved from the concept of the Seven Liberal Arts of ancient times; these were the key subjects one would master to become a scholar.  Rudolf Steiner felt that these liberal arts, once considered high arts, had become abstract sciences and that teaching needs to be alive rather than abstract. Steiner encouraged teachers to foster what is artistic in the child because the artistic element strengthens the will. This is the core of the Waldorf hands-on approach to learning.

The Seven Lively Arts are very helpful as touch points for planning Waldorf-inspired lessons, along with Steiner’s concept of “bringing about the working together of thinking, feeling and willing.”  We want to incorporate the Seven Lively Arts as well as material from each of these aspects into every lesson:

  • Thinking – teach imaginatively
  • Feeling – engage for connection and motivation
  • Willing (Doing) – promote practical and artistic activity

In this article, I offer a description of the Seven Lively Arts and how they might be incorporated into lessons. I have grouped them into the five areas of teacher training that Steiner described as necessary for all teachers to pursue. I have expanded and renamed the five categories slightly to include all of the arts that Steiner covered in his lectures, including storytelling. The five categories form a pentagram (a five-pointed star): the Literary Arts, Movement Arts, Poetic Arts, Musical Arts, and Visual Arts.
LITERARY ARTS (Storytelling)

Steiner talked about the importance of finding stories for telling and retelling that have a “free and narrative style.” This lays the foundation for speech and then writing. Since the Waldorf curriculum is delivered through stories and presentations of new material by the teacher, the importance of finding the right stories and resources is clear. Steiner also talked about the “imaginative process of creating” our own stories for our children. With storytelling, knowledge is passed on through narrative rather than direct instruction.


MOVEMENT ARTS
  (Eurythmy, Ring Games, Gymnastics)

Eurythmy
From a Greek word meaning “beautiful rhythm,” Eurythmy is Steiner’s own movement art that he created with his wife. Eurythmy strives to make visible the soul and spirit of language and music through human movement. Steiner suggested that parents learn simple Eurythmy with their young children.

Ring Games & Gymnastics
Steiner never talked about the concept of “circle time;” that came from American nursery schools when the Waldorf movement came to the USA. Steiner did speak on the importance of children engaging in “ring games” where groups of children are singing and moving to a poem or story in a large “ring” or circle. Steiner suggested these games, as well as gymnastics exercises, to help develop confidence, concentration, balance, control and coordination, a sense of rhythm, direction, and form in space. These ring games allow children to breathe out after doing concentrated head work. Large circle songs and dances are great for Festival celebrations as well.

Thom Schaeffer, a Spatial Dynamics practitioner, commented that “the one thing homeschoolers lack most is movement skills.” So do make an effort to get movement into your lessons in as many ways as possible! Use rhythmic activity in warm-up each morning before the main lesson. This is harder at home because our children are often self-conscious and there is no power of the group. Consider convening a group or incorporate movement activities at other times throughout day.

  • Gestures to a poem
  • Stepping to the rhythm of a verse
  • Circle Games
  • Learn a poem one line at a time with bean bags
  • Clap a rhythm (one claps, the other echoes the rhythm back)

Morning Circle or Warm-Up Time
Warm-up Time can incorporate many of these lively arts: movement, music, and speech through verses. Begin the day with rhythmic activities – anything of a rhythmic nature has to do with feelings. Rhythmic activity involves the whole body, warms up children to prepare for conceptual work, wakes up sleepy children and calms over-excited children, helps children remember the work of the day before, and deepens concepts the teacher has been working with.  This can be up to 30 minutes, but in a homeschool setting, it is sometimes best to keep this shorter, even 10 minutes is helpful (gauge this to your children). Here is a simple structure to follow:

  • Song calling everyone to the circle (keep the same all year)
  • Verse (seasonal)
  • Song (seasonal)
  • Bean Bag passing to a simple verse
  • Math games or material related to the specific block
  • Song
  • Opening Verse to begin lessons (keep the same all year)


POETIC ARTS
  (Speech & Drama)

Speech
Research shows that children who are exposed to rhyme, alliteration (beginning sounds) and phonics (single vocal sounds) at an early age (such as ages 4 to 5) develop reading skills more quickly and effectively three years later. The earliest literature in every culture was in verse form, often heavily rhymed to aid oral transmission from one generation to the next. Like music, speech has shaping and healing power. Recite verses every day, and learn a new poem once a week. Verse recitation can be used for many purposes:

  • Movement
  • Setting mood
  • Language and literature

Steiner: “Poetry is conceived only through a solitary soul; but it is comprehended through human community.”

Drama & Role Play
Drama and Role Play both help to develop recall and ease with speaking in front of a group. Drama can aid children in “acting out” temperaments, and helps a group work together socially.

  • Make up simple tunes and simple verses from main lesson pictures or scenes
  • Create a puppet play
  • Act out a story you have read

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JeanHeadShot3-13-13Jean Miller is the mother of three children and has been homeschooling inspired by Waldorf education for almost 20 years. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband of 25 years and their youngest child, who is still on the homeschooling journey and going into high school; their two sons are now in college. Jean has a Master of Arts in Teaching and has taught in both public and private schools, has tutored, homeschooled and taught small groups. She has been involved in and spearheaded several Waldorf-inspired groups over the years including Bridgeways, a charter school initiative, and Rainbow’s Edge, a small cooperative grades group. Her knowledge of Waldorf education comes from attending workshops, extensive reading, and planning and implementing many lessons. For the past seven summers, Jean has been one of the teachers presenting at the Taproot Teacher Training, organized by one of her mentors, Barbara Dewey, of Waldorf Without Walls. Jean finds inspiration not only in teaching and building community, but also from nature, poetry, the creative arts and singing.

 

Main Lesson Block: Birds

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Alison Manzer is one of my favorite people, and I am so happy she agreed to guest post here at Sure as the World. I am using her main lesson block about birds to kick off our school year next week. One of the beauties of this block is it could be used for almost any age and at any time of the year – file it away for that inevitable “oh-no-what-are-we-going-to-do-next??!!XX” panic. I find Alison’s approach to Waldorf-inspired homeschooling in general and this block in particular to be fun and easy, yet so grounding and nourishing. She is a wonderful resource – so please don’t hesitate to comment and/or ask questions. (Be sure to click on the comments – they are chock full of even more great book suggestions and activities.)

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Everywhere you go these days someone seems to be suggesting you go all in and sign up for some sort of challenge. Examples abound. There is the Crockpot 365 Challenge that dares you to try to use your crockpot every day for an entire year. Or how about the 40 Day Yoga Challenge, advertised at my local yoga studio, which invites you to try to practice yoga for 40 days in a row? And then of course, there is the Special K challenge, which encourages you to eat a bowl of Special K for two out of your three meals in order to lose weight.

I must admit that I have never been in the least tempted to take the challenge bait until I came up with this little Main Lesson Challenge for myself. I wanted to see if I could plan with EASE a Waldorf main lesson block that would use only books and supplies that I either had on hand or that I could get EASILY from the library, grocery store, hardware store, and the local Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. I also wanted my main lesson block to revolve around picture books because they are living books that bring a subject to life through story and pictures. They also are perfect to use with children (and adults) of all ages. Another criteria of mine was that this main lesson block had to be EASY to actually DO in a homeschool setting.

Initially I crafted this little main lesson block on Birds as a little Christmas gift to my Taproot 5th grade group. I dashed it off and emailed it last December with the hope that it would provide something easy, yet also MEANINGFUL and FUN, to turn to during those holiday hangover weeks of early January.

So without further ado – here is my BIRDS main lesson block.  I hope you enjoy it – and then take the challenge – and design your own main lesson block around a subject that inspires you and speaks to your heart. Remember that Steiner encouraged all of his teachers to create their own blocks. We all have the capacity to do this! Trust me, you too can create a main lesson block that is chock full of all of the beauty and wonder that this world has to offer. Go ahead. Take the challenge!

Bird Study 

Here is a collection of great picture books that revolve around birds. A short zoology main lesson –if you will. These books are all stories. They are all fantastic – I have used them all personally. In fact my seventeen year old son, Jack, just strolled by the couch as I was working on this and picked up Albert. He nonchalantly commented, “Oh, this is one of my favorite books.”  We used it when he was in 6th grade and James was in 4th grade … and he still refers to it as one of his favorites!

The books focus on many different birds. For each species you might look at some of the following topics: scientific nomenclature, anatomy and skeletons (lots of diagrams on-line –see Enchanted Learning), diet, climate areas and habitat, eggs, nesting habits and materials, life cycle, appearance and different morphs (pigeons), feathers and flight, migration, vocabulary words (clutch, fledge, incubation, preening) wild or domestic, comparing different birds beaks, feathers, feet and so on and how their bodies are adapted to their environments.

ACTIVITIES

  • Bird watching and casual bird walks
  • Nature Center programs and hikes
  • Zoos and ponds at local parks
  • Raptor rescue programs and centers
  • Parrot rescue programs
  • Audubon Society
  • Making homemade bird feeders and houses-or buying some neat feeders and putting them out.
  • Feeding the pigeons in the park
  • Bird call CDs
  • Keeping a pet bird. Parakeets are very easy. We have had two of them for years (one is at least 6 and one is 4). We love them. If your child takes to this study…it could be a possible Christmas gift.
  • Beeswax and Clay modeling and Origami.
  • Beautiful colored pencil drawings and water-color paintings would be very easy to incorporate into this study.
  • I have seen patterns for little knitted owls as well.  Barbara Dewey makes a really cute one!
  • Keeping a nature journal of sketches and photos of birds you observe on your ramblings would also be a nice main lesson project.
  • A display or treasure box of little birds from one of those animal tubes would also be cool. A main lesson page report could be done on each bird in the tube.

Book List

1. Tree of Cranes by Allen Say: A must for Christmas time!!!!  A beautiful Christmas story set in Japan. Maybe you could set up a small tree of cranes in your own home. Make origami cranes. This book is also gives a very detailed depiction of a Japanese household for the 3rd graders.

Cranes –especially Japanese cranes

2. Albert by Donna Joe Napoli: A story of a young man too afraid to leave his apartment until he befriends a pair of cardinals nesting on his window ledge.

Cardinals

3. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson: A beautiful rendering of a Japanese fairy tale – woodcut illustrations.

Ducks – specifically mandarin ducks

4. Grimm’s Six Swans: As a go along, you could read the Christmas chapter in By the Shores of Silver Lake. Ma and the girls make Grace an exquisite swan cape for Christmas. Of course, Trumpet of the Swans would make a wonderful chapter book.

Swans

5.  Angelo by David Macaulay: Angelo rescues a wounded pigeon while working on restoring an old building in Rome.

Pigeons

6. My Grandmother’s Pigeon by Louise Erdrich: A wonderful, fanciful story about some extinct passenger pigeon eggs hatching in a nest left by an eccentric grandmother. Great illustrations to inspire any budding ornithologist.

Pigeons – passenger pigeons

7. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen: A classic – a father and son take a night-time walk in the woods in search of a great horned owl.   Farley Mowat’s  Owls in the Family is a great chapter book go along.

Owls

Non-fiction go alongs

Any books on specific birds and birds in general from the non-fiction juvenile section in your library are must for this study.  Online sources and/or an old-fashioned encyclopedia would also be helpful. Cornell University has a well-known ornithology program with its own website. I have looked at their material on pigeon morphs and it was very user-friendly.

An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hicks is very good.

The Boy who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies and Melissa Sweet is a treasure – another one of my boys’ favorites. Inspirational for painting and drawing. You could leaf through a book of Audubon’s paintings or go see an exhibit as well.

Enjoy! As always these are just suggestions. Just savoring these beautiful living books – observing and discussing the details discovered about the birds depicted in the stories – would be soul nourishing and memorable.  Anything else is gravy!!!

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003Alison Manzer majored in history at the University of Chicago. Upon graduation she spent a year studying in the Basic Program at the University of Chicago which focuses on close readings of the classics. Alison continues to be passionate about studying history and literature and endeavors to use this enthusiasm to reach her students. She has taught courses on ancient history, World War II, and history through biography. She has also held a lively history club in her home for junior high and high school students for several years.

Alison has attended numerous Waldorf homeschooling workshops, and in 2010 she completed a seminar at the Ambleside School of Fredericksburg on the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She and her husband, Rob, have homeschooled their three sons in three different states. Over the years she has gained a good deal of experience in adapting her ideal of teaching history in a way that inspires both the head and the heart to a variety of children, communities and educational settings.

In her free time, Alison enjoys yoga, reading, cooking and exploring the scenic byways of Texas.