Wednesday, 7 September 2016

August 2016: Second Grade Language Arts Block 2: Aesop's Fables


The daffodils are out and the first silver wattles are filling the air with their sweetly scented, hay-fever inducing fairy blossoms! Spring is just around the corner, or as we learned in <last month's block on Time>, 'Early-Spring' has already arrived according to the Indigenous understanding of the seasons in Southern Australia. 

The sun has been shining and everything is budding and blossoming. Towards the end of this month we noticed the return of the Welcome Swallows and the bees back foraging in the garden. Even the chooks have started laying again, and possibly the duck too, although she keeps hiding her nests in the bush! We started this month by reading the month of August from our seasonal selection of books:

<A Bush Calendar>
<Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu>
<A Year On Our Farm>
Mr Grade 2's August calendar - His birthday month!

August is also the (eagerly awaited) month in which Mr Grade 2 turns 8, so many hours were spent deliberating over birthday cakes and speculating over birthday presents. 

In Circle Time this month Mr Grade 2 continued to practise his rhythmical skip counting by 2, 5, 10, 20, 100, and this month he added 3's. We also continued with our 3 day rotation of <large gross motor skills, beanbag games and fine motor activities> and chose one or two simple verses and songs from our <Winter Collection> .

Week 1

Snippets from our week...

Week 1 Form Drawing
We started this month using a new Form Drawing resource, <Creative Form Drawing>. I decided to start Mr Grade 2 on the first exercises at the start of the book, rather than skip forward to the Second Grade section. I am glad I did. I always underestimate how challenging even simple Form Drawing is for young children. We are looking forward to working our way through this beautiful book.

Curved line and straight line exercises.


Week 1 Main Lesson - Kindy
This week I recited the poem which we learned many years ago told many times at the local Steiner playgroup in the years we attended there. I'm not sure of its title or its author. It is fun to make a "giant" while the children watch by knotting a playsilk, with a knot in each corner for the arms and feet, and a knot for the giant's head. They then see it 'come alive' during the recitation. 

There was a giant big and bold
Whose feet were getting very cold.
He came along to our town
And walked the streets all up and down
Calling "Is no one hearing me?
My toes are freezing bitterly!
No single shop that I could tell
Has stocking giant-sized to sell."

A little gnome both old and wise.
He gave him very good advice.
He brought two pretty bits of stuff.
The giant thought them good enough.
He wrapped his feet, his pain was eased.
And home he walked content and pleased.

Mr Kindy's story using a blue playsilk knotted as the 'giant' and wool roving to wrap his feet.
Mr Kindy's crayon-resist watercolour painting from the story

Week 1 Main Lesson - Grade 2
Studying the trickster tales and animal fables are an important part of the Language Arts  program in Second Grade, providing a contrast to the inspiring stories of Saints and Heroes and illustrating the duality of human behaviour. Whilst fables are taught, the moral of the story is not explicitly told to the child, but rather is left to sit with the child and work in them. 

The Lion and The Mouse
This week we began our second Language Arts block, this one on Aesop's Fables. We began with the lovely, well known tale <The Lion and The Mouse>. Our poem this week:

The mighty lion was caught in a net
The mouse heard the roar, 
but his promise he kept
He gnawed through the rope 
and set the lion free
Even deeds from the smallest the greatest can be. 

The Lion and The Mouse chalkboard 
Mr Grade 2's MLB
Mr Grade 2's MLB Artwork - Moveable crayon-resist watercolour picture
Mr Grade 2's ML Handwork - Felt mouse finger-puppet

Week 1 Science & Social Studies
In my retelling of The Lion and The Mouse story for our main lesson, I described the hot, dry African Savannah. For Science this week, we started a gentle introduction project into different Habitats or Biomes around the world, using the <Oak Meadow> curriculum (Oak Meadow Grade 2, Lesson 21). We have been using the Waldof-inspired Oak Meadow curriculum mostly for the wonderful Science and Social Studies projects. So this week we looked a little more into the Savannah biome and the animals that live in this habitat, which of course includes both the lion and the mouse! We discovered there were two main types of Grasslands - Tropical and Temperate. 

I used these resources in my own planning:

During afternoon rest time one day this week, the boys watched an episode from the excellent BBC documentary series <Planet Earth> narrated by David Attenborough. The series focuses on a different habitat or biome each episode. This week we watched Episode 7: 'Great Plains' which is about Grassland Habitats.

The front panel of Mr Grade 2's 'Grassland Habitat' project
Grassland Habitats from around the world
African Grassland Savannah (with Lion and Mouse)
North American Grassland Prairie
Australian Grasslands
Week 1 Word Families/Phonics
Using the <Letterland Phonics program>, this week we introduced the phonics digraph 'th' with a story about Talking Tess and Harry Hat Man and the Thunderstorm. We discovered they something whisper their sound (think) and sometimes say their sound out loud (there).

Mr Grade 2's MLB

Week 1 Other Happenings...
This week at our Steiner Homeschool group, we celebrated Candlemas with a sweet seasonal story and candle dipping with the children.


Week 2

Snippets from our week...

Week 2 Form Drawing
Straight line forms from <Creative Form Drawing>.

Mr Grade 2's straight line exercises

Week 2 Main Lesson - Kindy
This week's early childhood story was the Ukrainian folktale <The Mitten>. This has always been a favourite tale of ours.

Kindy story - 'The Mitten'.
Mr Kindy's crayon-resist watercolour painting from the story
Mr Kindy's handwork - sewing his own polar fleece mittens

Week 2 Main Lesson - Grade 2

The Tortoise & The Hare
This week we enjoyed the much loved Aesop's Fable <The Tortoise and The Hare>. We memorised the funny limerick during Circle Time:

The Tortoise and The Hare

Said the Tortoise one day to the Hare:
"I'll run you a race if you dare!"
"I'll bet you cannot
Arrive at the spot
As quickly as I can get there!"

Mr Grade 2's MLB
Mr Grade 2's MLB Artwork - Moveable crayon-resist watercolour picture
Mr Grade 2's beeswax modelling from the story. 

Week 2 Science & Social Studies
Continuing our introduction to Habitats study (Oak Meadow Grade 2, Lesson 21), and using the same Biomes resources listed earlier, Mr Grade 2 chose a cold desert and a hot desert to draw - the Gobi and the Sonoran, in which is found the <Desert Tortoise> and the <Hare> (Jack Rabbit). 

We read the story from Oak Meadow 2 Lesson 30 'Life In The Sahara', and during afternoon rest time one day this week, the boys watched another episode from the excellent BBC documentary series <Planet Earth> narrated by David Attenborough. The series focuses on a different habitat or biome each episode. This week we watched Episode 5: 'Deserts'.

The front panel of Mr Grade 2's 'Desert Habitat' project
(L) Cold Desert Habitat - Gobi Desert
(R) Hot Desert Habitat (with Tortoise and Hare) - Sonoran Desert

Week 2 Word Families/Phonics
Using the <Letterland Phonics program>, this week we met two 'best friends on the end', 'll' and 'ff'. 


Week 2 Other Happenings...

Steiner Homeschool Group: Circle Time
Steiner Homeschool Group: A story before a nature walk

Week 3

Snippets from our week...

Week 3 Form Drawing
This week Mr Grade 2 practised the cups form from <Creative Form Drawing>.

Mr Grade 2's MLB - Cups

Week 3 Main Lesson - Kindy

This week I told a story based on the Chinese fable <Fish For The Moon In The Well>.

Kindy story - "Fish For The Moon In The Well"
Mr Kindy's wet-on-wet watercolour painting from the story.
We used the technique of taking paint off the page to make the moon and its reflection.
Mr Kindy's baking - Moon cookies.

Week 3 Main Lesson - Grade 2

The Ant & The Grasshopper
This week we did Aesop's <The Ant and The Grasshopper> fable. Mr Grade 2 came up with a more complex moveable picture this week. It was really exciting to see him formulate the ideas and work out how to carry it out. For handwork this week, we used the ideas from Oak Meadow Grade 2, Lesson 16 to build a salt dough ant nest and sew a Weaver Ant nest from leaves. We memorised this short poem excerpt during Circle Time this week: 

The Grasshopper and the Ant (excerpt)
by Jean De La Fontaine

A Grasshopper gay
Sang the summer away,
And found herself poor
By the winter's first roar.

Of meat or of bread,
Not a morsel she had!
So a-begging she went,
To her neighbour the ant.

Mr Grade 2's MLB
Mr Grade 2's MLB Artwork - Moveable crayon-resist watercolour picture
Mr Grade 2's MLB Artwork - Moveable crayon-resist watercolour picture
Mr Grade 2's Handwork - Salt dough ants nests
(L) Mr Grade 2's salt-dough ant nest painted
(R) Mr Kindy's salt-dough ant nest painted
Mr Grade 2's Handwork - Sewing weaver ant nests from gum leaves
Handwork - Salt-dough ant nests and weaver ant nest

Week 3 Science & Social Science
Using Oak Meadow Grade 2, Lesson 2 suggestion, this week we observed ants around our home on our nature walk. We discovered that the <Jack Jumper ants> are just beginning to wake up after their Winter rest. We also noticed with great interest that the ants cover their nests in charcoal and dark gravel in winter to maximise the warmth of the sun, acting as a solar energy trap. We will be following up these nests in Summer, when the ants are most active, to see if they decorate the nests with light gravel and white quartz stones to minimise the heat from the sun. 

Observing ants in nature.
We watched a fascinating documentary on ant behaviour, <National Geographic Wild City Of Ants>, during rest time this week.

Continuing our introduction to Habitats study (Oak Meadow Grade 2, Lesson 21), and using the same Biomes resources listed earlier, we chose to study the Forest Biome over the next few weeks. We discovered there are 3 main types of forest - Tropical Rainforest, Coniferous (also called Boreal or Taiga) Forest, and Temperate Forests. This week we focussed on the Rainforest Biome in which both the weaver ant and many kinds of grasshopper may be found. 

During afternoon rest time one day this week, the boys watched another episode from the excellent BBC documentary series <Planet Earth> narrated by David Attenborough. The series focuses on a different habitat or biome each episode. This week we watched Episode 8: 'Jungles', which is about the Tropical Rainforest Biome.

The front panel of Mr Grade 2's 'Forest Habitat' project
Mr Grade 2's MLB - Tropical Rainforest (with Ant and Grasshopper) - Amazon

Week 3 Word Families/Phonics
Using the <Letterland Phonics program> this week we introduced Giant All who is so tALL we can only see his long legs, and we added a butterfly to our "Sounds Garden".

Mr Grade 2's MLB

Week 4

Snippets from our week...

Week 4 Form Drawing
Using the <Creative Form Drawing> resource, the cups became more complex in repeating forms. I decided to use different colours on the blackboard for the different sizes. This turned out to be a really effective technique and Mr Grade 2's form work improved dramatically.

Chalkboard - cups continued.
Mr Grade 2's work practised and steadily improving.
Week 4 Main Lesson - Kindy
This week I told the classic tale 'The Gingerbread Man' which is always a favourite. A version of this story can be found <here>. We modelled gingerbread men from modelling beeswax and baked gingerbread men cookies, which of course were all gobbled by the hungry foxes who live around here before I could take a photo! 

Mr Kindy's story - 'The Gingerbread Man'
Mr Kindy's MLB drawing
We made Gingerbread Men from modelling beeswax 

Week 4 Word Families/Phonics
Using the <Letterland Phonics program> this week introduced a story on why 'u' always follows 'q'. Mr Grade 2 was particularly happy with how his drawing of Quarrelsome Queen turned out. She certainly does look quarrelsome! :D Mr Grade 2 added a butterfly to his phonics 'garden'. 



Week 4 Science & Social Studies
We had lots of fun with this lesson (Oak Meadow 2 Lesson 1). Wearing blindfolds or earmuffs, we focused on different experiences of our senses. The boys both had so much fun with this and giving  the boys fish sauce to taste was a highlight, for me anyway! :D

We then discussed animal senses and forms of communication from Oak Meadow 2 Lesson 28. 

Taste
Touch
Mr Grade 2's MLB


Week 4 Artwork & Handwork
First Grade wet-on-wet watercolour exercises from the wonderful book < Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1 to 8>. We are starting at the very beginning of this book, back at Grade One.

Mr Grade 2's Painting Exercises 
Mr Grade 2's Painting Exercises
Week 4 Other Happenings... 


Although we try to do a nature walk every day, even in the middle of Winter, sometimes it does take some effort to get out in the cold and wet. However as the days warm up we are finding ourselves spending many sunny afternoons in the kitchen garden, repairing, spreading compost, spreading bark chips on the pathways, planting the earliest of the peas, brassicas and potatoes, and noticing the changes of the turing season. It won't be long before the baby fruit trees planted last year burst into blossom. The first foraging bees are back, heading straight for the flowering Borage. We've had some big frosts in the last few weeks though, so we might have to nurture our little babies along a bit until the risk of frost is completely over. Mr Grade 2 has been outside daily tending to his little fairy garden. He had a special little visitor to his garden this week, a sleepy little <Tasmanian Pygmy Possum>, a sign that the Winter season is drawing to and end <3

Mr Grade 2's lovingly tended fairy garden
Observed through the glass window, a Little Pygmy Possum

The most momentous occasion this week (and the reason we didn't do a Main Lesson Block this week!) was that Mr Grade 2 finally turned 8 years old! We had a lovely birthday celebration with family, the first in many years that no one had colds or coughs!

We also had a lovely birthday party celebration with a small group of close friends the following day and he finally had the fervently desired 'Number 8 racing car track cake' from the old classic Australian Women's Weekly Birthday Cake cookbook. He informs me that the next time he can use that cake will be when he turns 18, and he is DEFINITELY going to have another race car track cake then too! :D We shall see :) Also, when did my baby get so big? 8 years old!

Mr Grade 2's Birthday Ring


“When I have said my evening prayer,
And my clothes are folded on my chair,
And mother switches off the light,
I'll still be seven years old tonight.

But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I'll be eight years old.

Eight kisses when I wake!
Eight candles on my cake!

A goodnight kiss for the seven year old
to send him to sleep and to dreaming,
And blessings on the eight year old
who'll jump out of bed in the morning!”