Friday, 27 June 2014

June 2014: Beginning Form Drawing

Monday 1st June - Sunday 22nd June



This is a bit of a catchup up blog from the past 3 weeks. We were all hit with a nasty virus and various secondary infections, and while we have kept up with home learning and activities, blogging dropped off my priority list. So this will be an overview of what we’ve been up to, and hopefully now that we are mended, I’ll be able to keep up with blogging again.


So the last 3 weeks have been weeks of highs and lows! The days seemed long and the nights much too short. Thankfully, while we tried to keep a good balance between resting and activity, we did find the energy to get out and about a few times. At home, our days were fairly quiet and filled with play.



I won’t pretend it hasn’t had its tough moments. Sometimes it’s really hard to parent, and in particular homeschool, when you’re not well and your children aren’t either. Sometimes it feels as though it would be so much easier to just throw in the towel and send them off to school, and the thought sometimes crosses my mind on those days that seem to drag on forever. But then, those moments pass and I realise just how fortunate we are to be living this life and how truly kind, loving and great these two boys are, most of the time ;) And all in all, we’ve weathered the ups and downs pretty well.

100 Ways To Be Kind To Your Child is a beautiful and timely post that came up in my Facebook newsfeed and so I have been trying to make more of a concerted effort to act on some of these suggestions.

We’ve scheduled some 1:1 time with each child this last week, which both boys absolutely delighted in.


{ Festivals & Celebrations }


On Friday 6th June, we celebrated our local Steiner school lantern festival, marking the beginning of Winter. The children had been preparing lanterns at school over the last few weeks, the songs were practised, the pumpkins (or in our case, turnips) carved, and the bonfire lit. A puppet story was put on for the children by the Early Childhood teachers and then we all wound our way down to the central fire, to sing together. The evening was all hushed quiet, reverent wonder, and joyful singing. Magic!




We celebrated our friend Coen’s 6th birthday with a space party, bonfire and fireworks, and another friend, Aria’s, 3rd birthday with an afternoon tea at her house. We even celebrated a birthday party for all of the teddies: Cuddle Bear, Beach Bear, Ralphie, Boris, Tenderfoot et al, who happened to all be turning 1 on the same day! :) We dined with friends, and met others for playmates. Lots of opportunity for socialising and play.



On Friday 20th, we joined a large group of our homeschooling friends for the Channel Homeschool Collective lantern festival, for an evening of pizza making, bonfire, sparklers, and stumbling around in the dark as our children ran off ahead with the lanterns! The weather was clear and crisp, the pizza delicious, and the evening lots of fun. CHC is a new group of families meeting in the Channel/Huon area, and we are really excited to be able to occasionally attend. The wonderful thing is that it is a large, vibrant group of children right in the right age group of our boys. We are really looking forward to being able to establish ourselves within this group.





And of course, the Winter Solstice itself on Saturday 21st June, we celebrated with friends at the Dark MOFO festival feast down in Salamanca, Hobart. The children stayed up late, eating wintery foods, dancing to music and playing with friends, but I think the highlight of their evening was their first ride on a Ferris wheel!





So much happening, even in the middle of Winter! 


{ Language, Literature, & Literacy }



As Mr 5 continues to show an interest in learning to write and asking to form letters, we have started on a few colourful form drawing exercises. In Waldorf-Steiner education, form drawings, composed of straight and curved lines, form the basis of all the drawing and writing. “Form drawing is an excellent preliminary exercise for writing, and it is particularly useful in preparation for cursive in second grade. Fine motor skills, hand‐eye coordination, and spatial orientation are supported by regular form drawing exercises.” Form Drawing, San Francisco Waldorf Grade School.

A form is first introduced to children with a story. During the telling of the story, Mr 5  imagines the images in his own mind. This exercising of imagination is an active participation in the storytelling and a good exercise in forming mental pictures.

We then follow with a number of form drawing exercises - making the shapes with our whole body by walking the form and by using large movements of the arms and hands to draw the form in the air. We can look for where to find these forms around us or in nature. We then practise the form in sand trays.

Sand tray form drawing
Finally, we bring the movement to paper, drawing with crayons or pencils, developing the skills necessary for reading and writing: hand-eye coordination, up/down and left/right orientation in space, and the ability to mirror. 


"Through form drawing activities, the child feels the balance, proportion, symmetry, and shape of the forms and their inherent dynamic movements." Form Drawing, Waldorf Teacher Resources.


Form drawing is continued throughout the Steiner curriculum. "Lessons in the second and third grades encompass vertical and horizontal symmetry, forms that metamorphose through four quadrants in sequence, and inward and outward spirals. Fourth grade continues with braidedand knotted forms, and the free hand geometric forms in fifth grade, the last year of form-drawing, serve as a transition to the use of compass and straight edge in sixth grade geometry." Form Drawing, San Francisco Waldorf Grade School.

As well as reading teacher resource material and bogs, I downloaded a free e-book resource, which contains a section on form drawing. 'One, Two, Three! A collection of songs, verses, riddles and stories for children of grades 1-3’ by David Adams and read through the short book Form Drawing for the Homeschooling Parent by Barbara Dewey.


~


I thought I’d share one of our favourite Winter stories this week. I picked up this story from the boys’ local Steiner school, so I apologise for not being able to attribute the source correctly. 

[When telling the sorry, you can use a silk tied as a giant puppet - one knot for the head and 4 knots in the corners for hands and feet. Allow the children to see you forming the giant from a square of silk or cotton. I also use a little gnome and fabric scraps to wrap the giant's feet.]

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,
Had stockings 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.


~

We have been reading lots of seasonal picture books, and have been making a weekly trip to the local library. We’ve also began reading Enid Blyton’s classics The Enchanted Wood and The Magic Faraway Tree, with a little editing here are there. We have been listening to Kate Winslet’s audio books of the same titles in the car, and both boys just love it! I do find a few characters or chapters need skimming over as they are a little too intense for this young age.

We are reading: ‘The Story of the Snow Children’ Sibylle von Olfers
I am reading...
~

We have begun our Winter Circle Time songs, finger plays and verses. < Here > is a link to an overgrowing list of seasonal songs we are singing.


{ Numeracy & Mathematic Concepts }


Both boys continue to be fascinated by numbers and in particular, mental maths. They are adding, subtracting, and skip counting forwards (and backwards!) all the time. Mr 5 practises skip counting backwards from 12, which does take quite some concentration! The abacus comes out regularly when the sums are tricky. 

Both boys have been practising counting up to 100 and need little prompting now. Most of the math they do is either mental or has practical application, so there are never many photos to demonstrate their math learning. We started writing numbers on paper when we made our own board game together, based on a story by Mr 5, introducing written numbers. Most of our math is still hands-on, bookwork and written sums will come in time. 

We have been introducing lines, shapes and the basics of geometry in our form drawing. 

Making our own board game: Counting, dice and introducing written numbers
Button play: sorting and comparing size, shape, colour and number 


{ Science & Nature }


Our outdoor science area, filled with treasures they’ve collected
Watching gum nut seed pods exploding as they dry out
Drying camomile flowers for tea
Moss Watching
Moth Watching: a moth lay eggs on our window
Feeding ‘Archimedes’ our resident Alpha Female Brush-tail Possum
In bloom
~
{ Marine Discovery Centre, Woodbridge }


We spent one delightful Wednesday afternoon at the Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre with Poppy, exploring the wonderful touch tanks, marine science displays and petting and feeding the sharks, rays and fish. We spent hours of wonderful hands-on science learning and will most definitely visit again soon.


 

Watching the baby shark wriggle inside the egg sacs
Touch tank!

Petting a Port Jackson Shark

Magnified Sea Urchin
~

{ Exploring the Inter-Tidal Zone, Blackmans Bay Beach }

We spent an entire day at the beach, exploring rock pools, catching shrimp, finding treasures and playing in the sand. We soaked up the delightful warm Winter sun as we walked out to the point at Blackmans Bay Beach, south of Hobart. Unfortunately the low tide was 6 am, so by the time we arrived and walked out to the point at 10m, the tide had already come in a long way, preventing us from safely crossing to the farthest reef. Still, there was plenty to see and explore. It was great visiting the rock pools so soon after visiting the Marine Discovery Centre, as the boys were able to recognise a number of species they had seen in the touch tanks the week before.















{ Local History & Geography }

On one weekend, we went on a day trip with another family, down to Lune River and the Ida Bay Railway. Ida Bay Railway is Australia’s oldest surviving bush railway. Once used as a timber tramway, it was also used to transport limestone. The line passes through the site of the original town of Ida Bay past the wharf and small, historic graveyard that is all that remains of a once thriving area. The tramline then runs along to Deep Hole Bay. We stopped there for a BBQ and a play on the beach, before making the return journey a few hours later. 



The train driver tour guide gave us an animated talk about the history and colourful characters of the local area, and the children spent quite some time exploring the rusting remains of the tramway lines and finding lime stone rocks to take home.


Artwork & Handwork }

We have been exploring colour and colour blending with primary coloured block crayons ,using the DVD 'Colouring with Block Crayons' by Sieglinde de Francesca. It has been a good introduction to block crayon technique and the boys have enjoyed learning different strokes and techniques to lay down and layer colour.

 

 


Mr 4 starts drawing (almost!) anatomically correct people 
Various handwork projects have been picked up over the last few weeks...

Learning to use the Lucet knitting fork
Adding “dragon scales” to the cushion

Beeswax candle rolling and decorating

Experimenting with food colouring tie dye
My handwork… Knitting socks on a sock loom

{ In The Kitchen }

Sugar free apple muffins...

Chocolate birthday cake...

Homemade Pizzas...

Salads grown, picked, washed and eaten...

Warming Winter Soups...


Sugar free apple and cinnamon muffins 
Unconventional elbow kneading by Mr 4

{ In The Garden }