Monday, 29 August 2016

July 2016: Second Grade Math Block 1: Time Unit



Sunny skies after the storm, though fallen trees are still suspended across our road!

The North Wind 

(Adapted)
By Alfred S. Gatty

When the Winter Wind whistles and blows,
Cherry red is brother's nose,
Very cold are sister's toes,
When the Winter Wind's blowing,
When the Winter Wind's blowing.

Logs upon the fire we'll throw,
For, as everybody must know,
We will have a fall of snow,
When the Winter Wind's blowing,
When the Winter Wind's blowing.

Week 1

Snippets from our week...


What a stormy start to this month!

We caught a viral respiratory illness at the start of this month which saw all of us sick with a cold, the boys with a rather nasty croupy cough, and unfortunately our little 6 week old baby ended up very ill in hospital for 5 days needing some breathing support which was distressing for us all. We were in very good hands though, and it made us realise once again how fortunate we are to live in such an amazing country with access to excellent universal health care, and how important it is to have a supportive network of family and friends around us.

We planted baby's placenta in our courtyard
and will choose a tree to grow over it.
The day we were discharged from hospital, Tasmania was hit with a big low pressure system storm which brought with it widespread damaging winds, sea-level snowfalls, floods and significant power outages as lines were down all over the state. We spent a few of these days at my parent's house while power to our house was being restored and the roads reopened. So homeschooling was postponed for a week over this period, though we did get one or two little things done either side of our illness.
Mr Grade 2's July calendar
This month was to be our first math block, and I had planned to begin by looking at Time, culminating in learning to read a clock. Time studies may be introduced in Grade 3 in some Waldorf-Steiner curriculums, however the <Making Math Meaningful> and <Waldorf Essentials> curricula both offer a block on Time in Grade 2, and as my Grade 2 boy had been very curious about learning to tell the time, I decided I would bring this block to him now.

Indigenous Studies
I had planned to begin this first unit on Time with some local Indigenous studies, to coincide with <NAIDOC week>, but I found it very difficult to source Tasmanian Indigenous knowledge about the stars and the seasons, both online and off, so I decided to use information available from Victorian and Melbourne Indigenous groups, the closest I could find to Tasmania. Whilst I didn't discuss this fact in depth with the children at this age, it was a sad reminder of the terrible devastation of the Indigenous people of this state and the incredibly sad loss of so many of their storylines, and so much of their history, language and culture.

The most comprehensive resource I found for the Boorong people of Victoria was <Stories In The Stars –The night sky of the Boorong people>. 


Some of the additional resources I read/used:

<Dreaming The Stars>
<Australia's First Astronomers>
<Astronomy and The Australian Indigenous People>
<Australian Aboriginal Astronomy>
<Australian Indigenous Astronomy> - A blog with a wealth of information.
<Sky Stories Project - Indigenous Perspectives Resource Kit>
<Stories in the sky: Indigenous Astronomy>
<Stories from the sky: Astronomy in Indigenous Knowledge>
<Australian Aboriginal Astronomy> - (wiki link)

* If anyone does have any information relating to Tasmanian Indigenous people's understanding of the seasons and stories of the stars, please contact me. After we finished this block, a friend found <these> books which I will be ordering for our Tasmanian Indigenous culture studies in the future. I have also contacted local Indigenous groups in Southern Tasmania to see if there are elders who would be willing to share some local knowledge with us.

Week 1 Main Lesson


Indigenous Astronomy

So the introduction to our block on Time was actually stretched over two weeks due to our illness. Following on from the last story in our first <Saints and Heroes Language Arts block> in which we read about the voyage of St Brendan the Navigator, this week we talked more about ancient ways to navigate using the stars and the ways we use nature, the sun and the moon to observe the passage of time. We actually transitioned into this block by learning a little about the mysteries of Newgrange and Stonehenge, rounding off our Celtic Studies nicely, and transitioning into Australian Indigenous stories of the stars, the sun and the moon. 

We began by hearing the Tasmanian Aboriginal Dreaming story of 'Luina' found in the lovely little book 'Taraba: Tasmanian Aboriginal Stories'. The story is a creation story about Romtena, the Evening Star, and how Luina, the once drab-coloured wren, was given the beautiful blue colouring of the blue wren as thanks for its bravery. A version of this story can be found <here>. 
Mr Grade 2's MLB entry
Mr Grade 2's crayon-resist watercolour moveable picture

This book 'Taraba: Tasmanian Aboriginal Stories' was gifted to us.
It is no longer in print, but the stories can be found online <here>.

Handwork & Artwork

Picking back up our <Social Studies mapping work> from May, before baby was born, we made salt dough maps of Tasmania, using a standard craft salt-dough recipe similar to <this>. I printed out maps of Tasmania and we cut and pasted them onto a cardboard base we'd painted blue. We looked at topographical maps to get an idea of the shape and location of the mountains. Once the salt dough had hardened, we used acrylics to paint our topographical maps. We added little handmade flags for the major cities and the state's tallest mountain. We discussed the alternate Indigenous names where known.

Mr Grade 2's topographical map of Tasmania.


Week 2

Snippets from our week...

This week as we continued to recover from our illness, our school rhythm began to return to normal. We started revisiting skip counting and times tables in our morning Circle Time, reviewing: x2, x5, x10, x20, x100 with movement, skip counting both forwards and backwards (tricky!). We continued with our gross and fine motor activities which can be found <here>, and chose one of two seasonal Winter verses found <here>. 

We also started reintroducing a weekly/fortnightly short verse or poem to learn, a short one for Mr Kindy and a longer one for Mr Grade 2. This fortnight Mr Grade 2 learnt 'Daisies' by Frank Dempster Sherman:

Daisies

At evening when I go to bed
I see the stars shine overhead.
They are the little daisies white
That dot the meadow of the night.

And often while I'm dreaming so,
Across the sky the moon will go.
It is a lady, sweet and fair,
Who comes to gather daisies there.

For, when at morning I arise,
There's not a star left in the skies,
She's picked them all
and dropped them down
Into the meadows of the town.

Week 2 Main Lesson

Indigenous Astronomy 
This week we continued with our Indigenous Studies, and read stories about the stars. We learnt just how important the stars are to Indigenous Peoples - they are not only their very important cultural Dreaming/origion stories, but these storylines also inform morals and codes of behaviour; they mark the seasons and passage of time, they are used navigate by, and the appearance or disappearance of various constellations in the night sky is used as a way to mark when to hunt or gather certain foods, and when to move across Country to different seasonal camping grounds. 

Using <Stories In The Stars –The night sky of the Boorong people>, the boys chose to observe the Southern Cross in the night skies and to paint the possum Bunya, the Southern Cross, in Aboriginal dot painting style in their Main Lesson Books. They both worked really hard on their paintings and were very pleased with the results. We used cotton buds for the dots, and acrylic paints on a watercolour background, using white paint to show the constellation we know as The Southern Cross.
Mr Grade 2's MLB
Mr Kindy's MLB
One clear evening that week, we ventured outdoors after dark to observe the stars in the Winter night sky. We had to bundle up well against the cold! We used the Sydney Observatory's Monthly Sky Guides which, when you click on the relevant month, will give you printable sky map. We also used the ABC Science site 'Beginners Guide To The Night Sky' which is a great resource. 

Again we used <Stories In The Stars –The night sky of the Boorong people> and put together the Planispheres included at the end of the resource. They show the constellations as the Booring People know them.

The next day we made our own 2D constellations from toothpicks and mini-marshmallows, which the boys though was the most wonderful thing ever! :D I did think later that the same project could have been done using modelling beeswax, which would work quite wonderfully, but the same level of enthusiasm for the project may not have been there :D
2D models of the constellations
Orion (Kulkunbulla), Scorpius (Tchingal), and the Southern Cross (Bunya)
We used Museum Victoria's <Constellation Activities> resource for both the 2D models and the 'Constellations in a Cup' activity, which was also lots of fun.

'Constellations in a cup' Activity
'Constellations in a cup' Activity

Word Families/Phonics
Although we are technically on a math block, Mr Grade 2 was very keen to continue with his Letterland phonics work which he really enjoys. So this week we reviewed the sounds of 's', 'ss' and 'es' and introduced the story of the consonant digraph 'ck'.
Mr Grade 2's MLB - Consonant Diagraph 'ck'

Artwork & Handwork
Staring work on watercolour wheels for next week's lesson

Other Happenings...

We didn't attend our usual Homeschool Group this week as we were still in hospital, but by the weekend we were all feeling much better and decided to venture out to the local <Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival> to watch the Burning Man ceremony. The food and atmosphere were great and the night was lovely and clear, albeit cold!
The Burning Man about to be lit
A big crowd on the first night of the Mid-Winter festival
A beautiful woven sculptural structure 

Week 3

Snippets from our week...


We continued times tables in our morning Circle Time, reviewing: x2, x5, x10, x20, x100 with movement; skip counting both forwards and backwards. This week we added counting forwards 0-100 and backwards 100-0 which was a little more difficult than the boys first assumed! :D Mr Grade 2 moved beyond 100, whereas Mr Kindy went to 100. As usual we continued with our gross and fine motor activities which can be found <here>, and chose one of two seasonal Winter verses found <here>. 

We introduced a new poem for the fortnight, 'Time Rhyme' by Dorothy Harrer from the wonderful collections of poems <A Journey Through Time In Verse And Rhyme>. 



Time Rhyme

Sixty seconds make a minute

Put a lot of kindness in it.
Sixty minutes make an hour.
Work with all your might and power.
Twelve bright hours make a day,
Time enough for work and play.
Twelve dark hours through the night
Give us sleep till morning light.
Seven days a week will make.
This we'll learn if pains we take.
Four to five weeks make the months.
Remember this or be a dunce.
Twelve long months will make a year,
In one of them your birthday, dear.



Week 3 Main Lesson

Time: The Seasons 
This week we continued our block on Time by looking at the seasons. We briefly reviewed our <Celtic Wheel of the Year> from last month, and then continued our Indigenous Studies by looking at the Indigenous understanding of the seasons. Again, as I had been unable to find information about the Tasmanian Aboriginal People's understanding and language of the seasons, I looked to Victoria and to the Melbourne area and found this excellent resource: <Seasonal Calendars for the Melbourne Area>. It seems that most Indigenous groups in the Southern parts of Australia identify between 5 and 7 seasons, depending on their region and local culture. 

Some additional resources I found helpful:

So using the stories of the Wurundjeri people from the Melbourne area, and comparing it to our understanding and observation of Tasmanian seasonal changes, we came up with an Indigenous Calendar of the seasons, using 6 seasons - Early Spring, True Spring, High Summer, Late Summer, Early Winter and Deep Winter. 
We painted a watercolour wheel of the seasons and the boys filled each of the six wedges with pictures relating to the seasonal changes we might observe. 
Mr Grade 2's Indigenous Seasons Wheel on the left,
and the months they relate to on the right
Mr Kindy's Seasonal Wheels 
This was an excellent project and we all learnt a lot. It was wonderful to see the boys then notice the first of the silver wattles to begin flowering and relate that back to the Indigenous understanding of the time of Early Spring which begins in mid-July. We also noted with interest that the Indigenous understanding of the seasons was not fixed by a calendar date, but rather dependant on the changes happening in the natural world and which constellations were visible in the night sky. 

On the left: Mr Grade 2's European (Gregorian) Seasons Wheel
Mr Kindy's European Seasons Wheel (a joint project with me)
We made a 'European-derived' 4 seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and we talked about how that differed from the 6 seasons of the Indigenous wheel. Which was more appropriate for Australia? Which showed the subtle changes in the Tasmanian bush better? Which ties us to nature more? Interesting questions for the boys to consider. 

We also read a few excellent books this week:


<Walking With the Seasons in Kakadu> is a really interesting look at the seasonal changes in the top end of Australia over the course of a year. We read the pages for July and were very surprised at the differences between them and between our seasonal experience of July. We decided we will read this as a monthly book at the start of each new month. 


We read the July entry of <A Bush Calendar> by Amy Mack, a monthly nature journal observing the seasonal changes in the bush. 


We read one of our favourite picture books <A Year On Our Farm> which is a beautifully illustrated story about life on the farm over the months of the year, and wonderfully relatable for Southern Australian country children. 

Time: The Months of the Year
These discussions led to learning a little more about the months of the calendar year. For about a year now, at the beginning of each month, Mr Grade 2 has been illustrating his own calendar, so he has been gradually gaining an understanding of the length of the months and of where the months fit into the seasons. To accompany our more formal learning of the months of the year, we learnt the old Mother Goose rhyme: 
Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February alone,
Which hath but twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.
On the right: Mr Grade 2's added the length of the months

Main Lesson - Kindy
This week I told the fun Yiddish story from Poland, 'The Man With The Too Full House' which is also known as 'It Could Always Be Worse'. A version of this story can be found <here>. 

Word Families/Phonics
This week Mr Grade 2 covered the phoneme 'ng'. 
Mr Grade 2's MLB

Creative Writing



Other Happenings...
This week our Steiner homeschool group moved from the little cottage into a lovely, large, light new hall. The move went really well and the children enjoyed the freedom to move about in a larger space. There was a weaving theme this week and the children heard a sweet story about weaving and were invited to use a large loom one of the mums had made.


This weekend brought another big low pressure system and another snowfall. It was beautiful to wake to a lovely light snowfall in the morning and then enjoy the snow continuing to fall all day. The boys spent the best part of the day outdoors sledding, making snowmen, jumping on the snowy trampoline and having snowball fights. 





Week 4

Snippets from our week...

Main Lesson - Kindy


<The Snow Children>
To celebrate the snowy weather this week we read the sweet story <The Snow Children> by Sibylle von Offers; and in handwork, the boys used modelling clay to make little snowy Winter scenes inside glittery snow domes. In Circle Time this week, Mr Kindy learned the well known Mother Goose poem 'The North Wind':

The North Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then,
poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the bee do then,
poor thing?
In his hive he will stay,
Till the cold’s passed away,
And then he’ll come out in the spring,
poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the dormouse do then,
poor thing?
Rolled up in a ball,
In his nest snug and small,
He’ll sleep til warm weather comes in,
poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow, 
And what will the daisies do then?
Poor things.
They'll stay in the grass, 
'Til winter has passed, 
And wait for the coming of spring,
Poor things.

The north wind doth blow, 
And we shall have snow, 
And what will the swallows do then?
Poor things. 
Oh say, don't you know?
They were gone long ago, 
To a country much warmer than ours!

Mr Kindy's crayon-resist watercolour painting of a robin redbreast.
He sprinkled salt on the watercolour paints for a snow-like effect.
We baked snowflake cookies

Glittery "snow" domes 

Week 4 Main Lesson

Time: Days of the Week
This week we moved from seasons and months, to weekly and daily time. We read the funny Irish folktale 'Lusmore and the Fairies', also known as 'The Legend of Knockgrafton', from the gorgeously illustrated <Tales from Old Ireland> to begin learning the days of the week - both in Irish Gaelic and in English. A version of this story can be found <here>. 
Mr Grade 2 made and illustrated his own Weekly Wheel
Mr Grade 2 made his own weekly wheel which he illustrated with little drawings of activities we do each week. His weekly wheel is pinned next to his work area.

Time: Hours, Minutes, & Seconds



We then began to explore the passage of daily time. We spoke about ancient ways of measuring time, including sundials and water clocks, and we made our own little handheld sundial from clay and spent a few days tracking the shadow and marking the hours as the sun moved across the sky. It was a good chance to review the Roman Numerals we learnt in First Grade.

Observing the shadow and marking the hours
Mr Grade Two reviews Roman Numeral and makes a floor clock
Mr Grade 2 made his own clock
Mr Grade 2's exploration of his daily time.
Our wonderful 'Learning to Tell The Time' wall clock
We read just a little from this book, <The Story Of Clocks and Calendars>.
It is really aimed at older grades and I can see it will be a useful book for future studies.

Handwork & Artwork
The boys decided they would both like to make horse reins out of some lovely hand-dyed felt I bought recently. The stitched pockets on the the breast pieces and lucet knitted the reigns. A tutorial for a similar project can be found <here>.




Mr Grade 2's hand-stitched pocket