Monday, 14 March 2016

February 2016: Grade One Language (Letter A, Letter E, Letter I)

Mr 7's February calendar
February was a fabulous month transitioning back into our 'school' rhythm. Mr 7 was very ready to get back into a more regular routine after the long unstructured days of summer, and Mr 5 was super excited to begin his first year of "school". During Circle Time we have been enjoying some of <these> Summer verses and finger plays.

Week 1

Snippets from our week...

We started off this new year of learning with a little review of our Container Story journey from last year, and picked the story back up as Mike and Bill finally reached the very top of the mountain and discovered the magic cave where they would be given the Keys of Knowledge. 

Letter A
The first key opened the door to discover the Letter A. We explored the long and short sounds of the Letter A and were given the story of 'The Magic Pear Tree', a version of which can be found <here> (though I changed the 'pear' to an 'apple' to suit our letter :)

Story: ‘The Magic Apple (Pear) Tree'

TL: Backboard drawing
TC: MLB Picture Alphabet (A is for Apple Tree)
TR: Wax-resist Letter A

ML: Walking the Letter A
MC: Modelling the Letter A
MR: Needle-felting the Letter A

BL: Letter practise
BC: A in nature
BR: A tastes like... Apple sauce pikelets!
Word Families
The House of AD
Having fun with word families.

Form Drawing
We have added a weekly Form Drawing story into our rhythm as a way to start off our formal work week each Monday morning after Circle Time. I found a wonderfully sweet (and free!) online Form Drawing story <here> which introduces a new form with each story. In their MLBs the boys practise the forms on the LHS, and do a free drawing from the story on the RHS.

In Chapter 1, Straight and Curved Line forms are introduced.

LHS: Mr 5's Straight & Curved Lines
RHS: Free drawing from the story
LHS: Mr 7's Straight & Curved Lines
RHS: Free drawing from the story
Artwork & Handwork

Wet-on-wet watercolour painting
TL & TR: Mr 5 making paper
BL & BR: Mr 7 working with ceramic building blocks

Week 2

Snippets from our week...

Form Drawing
This week's Form Drawing story <here> had us practising zig-zag lines. 
LHS: Mr 5's Zig-Zag Forms
RHS: Free drawing from the story
LHS: Mr 7's Zig-Zag Forms
RHS: Free drawing from the story

Letter E
This week's golden Key of Knowledge was the Letter E. We explored the letter in the usual ways, discovering both the long and short sounds, and used the very short Grimm's story 'The Golden Key' which can be found <here>. I must admit I found the ending somewhat annoying but the boys both loved it and really enjoyed discussing what the boy might have found in the chest.

Story: ‘The Golden Key'

TL: Wax-resist watercolour
TC: MLB Picture Alphabet
TR: Letter practise

ML: Walking the Letter E
MC: Modelling the Letter E
MR: Needle-felting the Letter E

BL: Modelling and painting clay echidnas
BR: E tastes like... eggs! 

Creative Writing
This week we put aside time to write regularly in our creative writing journals. The boys dictate the stories to me, and then illustrate them. We do a little in our books every few days. I think this is a wonderful way for the boys to easily get their own ideas and creative thought process on paper while they are learning to read and write, without the added challenge of trying to write the words themselves. Creative writing is one of their favourite activities.
TL & TR: Mr 5's Creative Writing
BL & BR:  Mr 7's Creative Writing

Artwork & Handwork
This week Mr 7 finally began to learn to knit using knitting needles! We have been finger knitting and lucent fork knitting over the last couple of years and it's only been just recently that I've felt Mr 7 is gaining the dexterity required to knit with needles. 
Mr 7 begins knitting!
During quiet time, we listened to the sweet 3 part Martin & Sylvia audio book 'Knitting From The Beginning' which can found <here>.

I also told the story of 'Jeremy & The Magic Sticks' which is found on p.162 of Susan Perrow's book 'Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour', which is a book I'd highly recommend.  

During our afternoon handwork session, I told a version of the story 'The Harvest Mouse' which can be found on p.25 in the lovely book 'Tell Me A Story'. I altered the story a little to suit our purpose and added a little knitting rhyme for us to use as we knit:
Little Mouse pops out,
Wraps his tail around a reed.

Climbs in through the window
and off jumps he!
Our first few attempts at knitting were a little frustrating, but with patience, practise and 3 or 4 stitches here and there, he is finally getting the hang of where hands, fingers, yarn and needles go! It really helped to have me stand behind him and gently guide his hands through the movements initially. 

Other Happenings...
During this week we discovered a sleepy little (nocturnal) Tasmanian Pygmy Possum fast asleep in the bookcase! We popped him outside in a dark hollow log, and as soon as he was back in the dim light he scurried away happily! 

On the weekend, we went camping down at Finns Beach with another homeschooling family and the next morning joined the Huon Valley Landcare Roamers on a wonderful day on the Ida Bay Railway to learn about the native and endangered flora and fauna in the area. It was a great day in spite of the typically Tasmanian weather! 

Mr 5 chose to write about the adventure on the Ida BayRailway

Week 3

Snippets from our week...

Form Drawing
The story from this week's form, the spiral, can be found <here>.

LHS: Mr 5's Spiral forms
RHS: Free drawing from the story
LHS: Mr 7's Spiral forms
RHS: Free drawing from the story

Letter I
This week's golden Key of Knowledge was the Letter I. We explored the letter in the usual ways, learning both the long and short sounds for I, and used the Ukrainian folktale 'The Mitten', a version of which can be found <here>. Both boys loved this story.

Story: ‘The Mitten'

TL: Story Puppetry
TC: MLB Picture Alphabet
TR: Letter Practise

ML: Wax-resist watercolour
MC: Modelling the Letter I 
MR: Waking the Letter I

BL: Needle-felting the Letter I
BC: I is for Insect

Other Happenings...
Earlier this week we attended our first Children of the Valley homeschool meet, which was held at a private house while the cottage was still unavailable. It was a lovely day of meeting and getting to know other Steiner inspired homeschoolers in our area, and discussion the finer details of how the homeschool group would run. The children enjoyed the day immensely and it was finished off with a magical story told by one of the very clever mamas in the group. We all are eagerly looking forward to the first 'official' meet in a few weeks time. 

Toward the end of this week, we all came down with the first cold and cough of the season, the first since Spring! We spent a few quiet days at home resting and recovering. The boys both spent a lot of time drawing in their free drawing books.

TL & TR: Mr 7's drawings of himself and his family
BL: Mr 7's plans for our farm and orchard
BR: Mr 5's plans for our farm and orchard

Week 4

This year we have planned for a new monthly rhythm of 3 weeks homeschool and 1 week rest. We heard about this idea from another family who have been homeschooling for many years and have found this rhythm works best for their 4 children. It is set aside as a week of rest, catch up on anything missed or haven't finished, and a time for self-directed projects. It's also an opportunity for  me to look ahead to the coming month and plan some of what we will cover. 

This month's week off just happened to fall perfectly during our week of illness and recovery. It was so nice to have that extra 'space' planned in the month. So this week's self directed activities mostly consisted of lots of drawing, painting, and writing in their Creative Writing Journals. As we began to feel better, we pottered around in the late-Summer garden, harvesting lots of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, potatoes, and the first of the corn! They also worked on some sweet little handwork projects.

Both boys are still fascinated by the restored 'working' waterwheel powered mining rock-crusher we saw at the Beaconsfield Mine Museum last year, and decided they wanted to learn more about how waterwheels work, so we found some books and videos on the topic. And, of course, there was more time spent on electronics and on Mr 7's fabulous little circuit board kit he received for Christmas. 

TL: Mr 5's Waterwheel diagram
TR: Mr 7's Waterwheel diagrams
BL & BR: Mr 7 & Electronics 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

January 2016: Summer Holidays; Rose Ceremony; Homeschool Planning & Circle Time

Summer Holidays

January was spent in a delightful summer haze of holidays, camping, get togethers with friends and family and continuing work building the house and pottering in the garden. Mr 5 even lost his very first tooth which was a much anticipated and longed for occasion! Here are a few snaps from our Summer...
January in the garden.
Camping Fortescue Bay 2016
Day walk to Duck Hole Lake, Australia Day 2016
The Tooth Fairy visits Mr 5 for the first time!
This night it is a special night:
Lithe fairies dance upon the roof;
All the prancers must alight,
For .......... has now lost a tooth!

The Fairy Queen gives her commands:
Twelve bright fairies must join hands
And together in the circle stand
To guard .......... while he sleeps.

The Tooth Fairy into the circle now leaps,
And the hidden tooth she takes;
Oh, she has so far to go,
Before sleepyhead .......... awakes.

Three times around the world she flies,
O'er valleys deep and mountains high;
She skirts the storm clouds thick with thunder,
And wings o'er waves all wild with wonder.

Deep within their earthly home
Finally she finds the gnomes,
Who upon the tooth must work,
And never once their duty shirk.

Some are hammering, hammering, hammering,
While some the bellows blow;
Others must sweat at the sweltering forge,
And then cry out, "Heigh-ho!"

The tooth has been turned into a crystal bright,
A glittering, glowing gem;
The Tooth Fairy takes the gnomes' gleaming gift
And bows to all of them.

Before the sun's first rays are shown,
She returns to .......... bed;
Places the gem beneath his head,
And then--away she's flown!
(32 lines = 32 teeth)

Planning the Homeschool Year

Over the last few weeks of January, I spent some time planning ahead for our homeschool year as Mr 7 finishes Grade 1 material and moves into Grade 2 material mid way through the year, and Mr 5 begins his 6 yo Kindergarten (or Prep as it is known here). 

For Mr 7, we will continue to use a number of curriculum resources, drawing from material from Earthschooling, Oak Meadow, Waldorf Essentials and free online sources. As he moves into Grade 2, we will draw on some of the Christopherus Grade 2 'Saints and Heros' material. A really good summary of resources can be found for Grade 1 <here> and Grade 2 <here>.

This year Mr 5 turns 6, and so it marks the first year of registered homeschooling for him. Using the Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework, his Kindergarten year will still focus on oral and aural work, stories, movement, play based learning, handwork, artwork and the natural rhythms of the home, family, festivals and the seasons, rather than formal academic work. We will be using some material from the Lavenders Blue 6 year old Kindergarten Curriculum, as well as Waldorf Essentials and Earthschooling. As he is present for his older brother's lessons, I find he absorbs much of the work that way too. 

It will be interesting to accomodate 2 home-schoolers into our week in a more formal way, making time for Mr 5's 'work'. I'm certain our daily rhythm will need adjusting and tweaking here and there as we work out how our days run most smoothly. 

~ Main Lesson Books ~
A little seed was planted
Into a tree it grew
And from it came this special gift
From the tree to you!

My work is like a seedling,
I'll plant it here with care
So that it might become a gift
For all the world to share.


Weekly Rhythm

This year also marks a few more regular organised activities that we have made time for during of week:
~ Tuesday will be spent gathering with a lovely group of Steiner-inspired homeschoolers ranging from babies right up to the age of 9 in Cygnet, south of Hobart. We are really looking forward to participating in the Children Of The Valley Homeschool Group, sharing a day a week with other  like-minded families and forming a larger sense of community.
~ Wednesday mornings we begin yoga classes with a group of other homeschooled children
~ Thursday we have swimming lessons at a lovely local private pool.

Circle Time & Movement

We begin each day with either yoga or a morning walk, and then move into Circle Time which is a daily time of imitated songs, poems, movement, action rhymes and finger plays. This year we are introducing more focussed movement to our Circle Time.

~ Opening Verse ~
Through the night the angels kept
Watch beside me while I slept.
Now the night has passed away,
We are glad for this new day.

We say a few short seasonal <Summer>, <Autumn>, <Winter>, Spring songs, verses or finger plays and then move into our movement exercises. Each day we do circle time at home, I have allocated a focus for our movement activities. We have one day for Gross Motor Skills, one day for Beanbag Exercises, and a day for Fine Motor Skills

Gross Motor Skills

As well as somersaults, balance exercises and rolling, I try to incorporate a number of these into our Gross Motor exercises:

"Zoo Exercises - From The Extra Lesson by Audrey McAllen
The imagination of a "zoo” is suggested to enliven the exercises. Best results are obtained when the child exercises "the animals" 10 minutes daily, or even better, before breakfast and before dinner.

1. Fish: on the stomach, chin on the floor, arms beside the body, straight legs together; the child slowly bends sideways at the waist, lifting and turning the head to look at the feet which slide to the same side, first to one side, then to the other. Three times each side.

2. Seal: one or any combinations of the following:
rolling with a ball held by the hands above the head.
rolling with a ball held between the knees
rolling with a ball held between the ankles
rolling with a ball held between the feet.

3. Lizard: on the stomach, chest down, head up; move legs and arms to crawl forward, pushing off with the feet and pulling with the arms, eyes looking at the leading hand. Observe the child; it is done correctly when done cross-laterally with full involvement of hands and feet. Do not correct the child to begin with.

4. Caterpillar: on the back with arms across the chest, legs bent, feet on the floor; carefully "inchworm" your way forward, pulling with the heels against the floor and allowing the lower back to arch and flatten, then back, pushing with the heels.

5. Butterfly: tie a piece of red yarn in a bow knot on the right index finger and a blue one on the left. With the eyes carefully following the hand, bring the right hand slowly backwards, upwards in a high arc and far forward, placing the hand on the floor. Bring the right knee forward and place next to the hand. Repeat with the left hand and knee, keeping the hips centred (i.e. without sitting on opposite ankle).

6. Frog: on "3/4 stomach", head to the right, right arm and leg bent forward; very slowly, one movement at a time: turn the head to the left, straighten the right arm down along the side, straighten the right leg (now flat on the stomach), bend the left leg forward, bend the left arm forward (now mirror of original position). Slowly repeat the same sequence back to the other side. Three times to each side.

7. Dog: sitting on the heels, bent forward, head down, arms extended on the floor; slowly press forward onto the hands as the head lifts up; slowly push back onto the heels as the head lowers back down.

8. Cow: helping person gives adjusted resistance against the child's shoulders, then by holding the feet from behind; the child slowly creeps forward on hands and knees. The child then creeps backwards with adjusted resistance given to the buttocks, then to the feet.

9. Crab: sitting on the floor, place the hands on the floor behind the back; lift the hips up high and "walk" on hands and feet; forward, backward, side-to-side.

10. Tadpole: on the stomach, arms crossed behind the back; "wiggle" forward with the help of legs and feet. (Avoid for girls over 11 years old.)

11. Wheelbarrow walking: helping person (with back straight) lifts child's straight legs up; child "walks" on flat hands with fingers pointing straight forward and back straight.

12. Angels-in-the-snow: on the back, feet together, arms along the sides; slowly slide the straight legs apart as the arms slide along the floor straight out to the sides and up until the hands touch above the head. Slowly return to the original position; repeat two more times. (The legs move more slowly than the hands so the two end-positions are reached at the same time.)"

Beanbag Exercises

On "Beanbag day" we do the following exercises:

"When introducing this, first we practise saying "together, apart, together, apart..." with palms coming together (on "together"), then palms to neighbours (on "apart"). This gets everyone in the rhythm of always moving their hands. When everyone can do this much, I begin passing ONE bean bag. It goes from Left Hand to Right Hand (on "Together") and from Right Hand to the neighbour's left hand on "Apart". When the bean bag can go around the circle this way (at least for a few students), I change the verse to "Give and Take..." in the same rhythm.

1. Passing Out Beanbags:
Give and take,
Take and give
Each to the other
As long as we live

When collecting the beanbags, I place the bowl in the centre of the circle and each takes a turn tossing theirs toward the bowl, hoping to get it in. The last one collects all the missed tosses (no do-overs)

2. Around the waist clockwise
Note: Have hands always at waist level
Have the hand off from one hand to the other occur at specific words so all children are doing it together.

Mixing Batter, mixing batter
Mix it so it doesn’t splatter
Round about the bowl is right
White and gold and gold and white
Mixing batter makes the cake
That the baker’s man must bake.

3. From Chin to Open Palm at waist
Note: Dropping the bag from the hand at chin level to the hand waiting at waist level. It should not touch the chest on the way down. I do four drops per line (on "patch", "latch", "fire", "spin", "cup", "up", "let", "in") - say it slowly.

Cross patch draw the latch, sit by the fire and spin
Take a cup and drink it up,
And let your neighbour in.

4. Passing from one hand to the other above the head
Note: Arms are outstretched horizontally at heart level. Start bag in right hand. Bring up and hand to left hand. Bring both hands down to horizontal again. Repeat with pass from left to right hand. Allow a gentle toss from one hand to the other as they progress. Four tosses in all for the verse

Did you ever see a rainbow on a lovely summer’s day
After it’s been raining in the merry month of May,
Out of the clouds it comes
And then it’s gone.

5. Dropping from one hand (over shoulder) to the other (behind back at waist)
Note: Make sure the bag does not touch the back. One drop with each line, alternating which hand is dropping and catching.

Down you fall
Down you fall
Like a veil
Like a veil
Do you ever stop falling

6. Under Leg
Note: The bag goes in a figure eight. Tossed from the right hand, under knee of the raised left foot and caught by the left hand. Left foot is placed on ground and then left hand tosses under the knee of raised right foot. One complete figure eight (two tosses) per line.

Freckled fishes, flirting, flitting,
Flashing fast or floating free,
Flicking filmy fins like feathers,
Feeding from the flowing sea

7. Standing Figure Eight (Vertical)
1) Start with bean bag in the right hand, both hands held palms up in front of waist.
As arms curve out and up to above the head, rise on tippy-toes.
2) Pass bag above head to the left hand and return to original position with feet flat on the floor.
3) Pass bag to right hand and slowly squat down with straight back as hands move out and down in front of the ankles, below the knees.
4) Pass bag to the left hand and return to original position, standing straight again.

Note: The capitalised words are the points where the bag changes hands. Each set of two lines will take you back to starting position and doing this verse will be four complete cycles.

I HAD a little NUT-tree

BUT a silver NUTMEG
AND a golden PEAR

The KING of Spain's DAUGHTER
CAME to visit ME

ALL for the SAKE

8. Spiral
Note: The bag makes a continuous clockwise spiral from squatting at waist level to as high as the shoulders while standing and back down.
Start with
bean bag in the right hand
in front of waist
in a squatting position
with back straight.
1) Moving clockwise around the waist, pass bag to the left hand behind back while starting to rise.
2) Pass bag (in front) to the right hand At hip level (while continuing to rise).
3) Pass bag (behind back) to the left hand (while continuing to rise).
4) Now standing, pass bag (in front) to the right hand at shoulder level
(note: hands shift passing from under arm pits to passing above them).
5) Still standing, pass bag (behind back) to the left hand above waist level.
6) Begin to squat, pass bag (in front) to the right hand at hip level.
7) Squat down, pass bag (behind back) to the left hand.
8) Pass bag (in front) to the right hand at waist level (starting position).

~ Little Elf Man by J.K. Bangs ~
(B) = Pass behind back (F) = Pass in front

I met (B) a little Elf-man, once,(F)
Down where (B) the lilies blow.(F)
I asked (B) him why he was so small (F)
And why (B) he didn’t grow.(F)

He slightly (B) frowned, and with (F) his eye
He looked (B) me through and through. (F)
“I’m quite (B) as big for me,” (F) said he,
“As you (B) are big for you.” (F)"
Source: <here>.

Other exercises

"Activities to Support Integration of the Vertical Midline
  • Finger knitting w/ thick yarn
  • Carding  w/ hand carders
  • Felting
  • Sewing, for younger children, large needle and thick thread
  • Beeswax modelling, warm beeswax between hands or, if needed, pre-warm slightly;
  • Woodworking, i.e., sawing, hammering while holding nail, using screwdriver while holding screw, sanding, rasping;
  • Whittling w/ supervision, e.g., find a sturdy stick with bark on it, about 10-12 inches long, whittle one end to taper it, carve bark out of a thin circle around one inch down from the other end, take a string (about 15 to 18 inches long) and tie it so it'll stay in the groove thus created, attach a key ring to the other end of the string --there's a great eye-hand coordination game as the child holds the stick and tosses the key ring up into the air to catch it onto the pointed end of the stick;
  • Winding wool into a ball (clockwise: with the non-dominant hand holding the ball, dominant hand winding the yarn from the bottom up nearest the body, out and away from the body, then down and around toward the body again);
  • Tying shoestrings (one loop method) and other knots--use variety of rope thicknesses;
  • Washing dishes, (doll's) clothing, and paint rags by hand, including scrubbing cloth with both hands onto a scrub board;
  • Wiping counter/table and dusting (use both hands or stand so wiping hand crosses midline, or pick up object with non-dominant hand to dust under it with dominant hand);
  • Wringing rag, sponge, or cloth to squeeze as much as water out as possible;
  • Scrubbing/wiping the floor with a scrub brush and rag (down on hands and knees);
  • Sweeping and raking (showing the older kindergartner how to do this properly, crossing the midline);
  • Digging and weeding;
  • Polishing shoes, silver, copper (using non-toxic substai1ces);
  • Folding cloths and/or clean laundry;
  • Stirring dough and beating batter (non-dominant hand holds bowl) -- note that a right-handed child will usually stir a heavy dough counter-clockwise to get more power into the stirring, while beating an egg or other light batter clockwise & opposite for left-handed child);
  • Kneading and shaping dough, clay/mud/sand;
  • Measuring a cup of this or that for cooking
  • Grating carrots, cheese, etc. on a grater (dominant hand grates as non-dominant hand holds grater);
  • Cutting bread, carrots, cucumbers, fruit for a fruit salad, etc. (non-dominant hand holds vegetable, bread, fruit still as dominant hand cuts);
  • Folding paper airplanes and origami figures;
  • Cutting with scissors (non-dominant hand holds object being cut);
  • Tearing and pasting (tissue) paper;
  • Threading large beads on leather thong or on finger-knitted strand to make necklaces, belts;
  • Swinging on a platter or rope swing (hands hold rope at the midline);
  • With a straight rope/chalk line on the ground/floor:
1. walk w/ each foot crossing over to other side;
2. jump forward with feet astride the rope;
3. feet together. jump from one side to the other;
4. jump astride for one jump alternating w/ feet crossing for one jump.

These activities are especially important for children in kindergarten and the early grades. Obviously there are many other activities which children engage in throughout the day which could have them using their hands and /feet at or across the midline. As teachers and parents, we can creatively support them in this integration process."

Movement Skills Grades 1-2

* Aiming games (balls into baskets, rings on sticks)
* Animal stunt zoo exercises
* Balance beam K wobbly beam tight wire rope coffee can stilts  
* Balance on beam and rope, 
* Balance on one leg while doing something else (balance)  
* Balance walking a line on floor with something on head (balance, posture)  
* Balance walking by stepping from one brick to another (combined with verse)  (balance, concentration)  
* Balance walking in a straight line with toes touching heels (balance)  
* Ball (circle ball bounce, circle ball throw, circle ball, human pinball, ball (passing, bouncing, rolling, throwing, catching under chin, between legs, below other arm) (coordination, giving and receiving)  
* Blind activities (throw one ball back and forth to self)
* Body control (automobiles, count 10 red light, etc.)
* Body geography (this is my trunk, sailor, shepherd's hey 
* Clap above, below, behind legs while walking, standing, and sitting.  
* Clap exact rhythm in front and behind body (rhythm)  
* Courage (run bunnies)  
* Dance and folk dance
* Flexibility (gymnastics, acrobatics, stunts, zoo animal play) frog, inchworm  
* Follow the leader, imitation play
* Free play apparatus 
* Gymnastic stunts (animal stunts, balance beam, pilot test, rub tummy pat head, waterfall)
* Handclapping (make new friends, sailor, woodcutter, peas porridge)  
* Hiding and seeking (what is moved? Who is gone?)  
* Hopscotch  
* Hula hoop (psi, personal space indicator) (big hairy spiders)  
* Initiative cooperation (coop musical chairs, island, all aboard)
* Intuition observation (magic ring, heads up 7 up
* Jump over rope at increasingly higher level (jump)
* Jump rope (stomp the snakers) fisherman
* Jump rope double skipping (jump)
* Jump rope elastic Chinese (jump)
* Jump rope, feet together 
* Line games 
* Listening (through the forest, hidden bell)
* Concentration Count 20, 7 up, Charlie cane
* Nature play
* Obstacle course
* Parachute
* Quietness in movement and stillness
* Restraint (impulse control)
* Rhythmic play
* Run (automobiles, cuckoo, cross brook, fire on the mountain) 
* Seasonal games 
* See saw (rhythm activities)
* Singing, action, rhythmic games and movements
* Stilts 
* Strength (jump, run, lift)
* String figures (owl, mouse, circus train, bananas, star, cup and saucer, magic knot, worms) (digit dexterity)
* Swimming games
* Tag (African game hunt, barnyard upset, big hairy spiders, brownies fairies, devil & frog, duck duck goose, farmer, finger, gallop, have sheep, hill dill, horse, hug, hunter, log roll, roly poly, shark minnows, shoe, skip, tunnel)
* Throwing balls up, down, to another person
* Toe pick up acorns, toe writing legibly (digit dexterity, concentration)
* Top spinning
* Water play games
* Wrestling (magic chair, bale pit, group thumb wrestling)"

~ Closing Verse ~

Angel of God, please watch over me.
Shine like a star there above me.
Lay a smooth path before me.
Protect like a shepherd behind me.

Today as the sun climbs oh, so high,
Tonight as the stars sequin the sky,
Be with me always, show me the way.
Bless my home, Bless this day.

Rose Ceremony 2016

At the end of January, we met with our friends to share another Rose Ceremony to honour a new year of learning beginning. The children were all very excited and it was another very special celebration which will live in their memories <3

Summer Circle Time Collection

{ Summer Circle-Time Collection }

~ Opening Verse ~
Good morning dear earth
Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear trees
and flowers, every one.

Good morning dear animals
and birds in the tree
Good morning to you
Good morning to me

* * * * * * * *

Strawberry Verse 
I found a strawberry,
A ripe, red strawberry,
That was growing in the sun.

Then I washed it,
And I ate it,
And I picked another one!

* * * * * * * *

Blueberry Verse 
Blueberry, blueberry, how do you grow?
With sun and water, don't you know.
First blooms a flower that looks so sweet,
then grows a blueberry, a tasty treat!

* * * * * * * *

The Cherry Tree (Fingerplay)
I found a little cherry stone,
(make a circle with the fingers of one hand)
I put it in the ground
(mime dropping a seed inside the circle).
And when I came to look at it,
A tiny shoot I found
(slowly push an index finger up through the circle)

The shoot grew up and up each day, and soon became a tree;
(bring hand and arm up through the circle and then splay fingers like branches)
I picked the rosy cherries then, and ate them for my tea!
(pretend to pick a cherry off each finger and pop cherries in mouth)

* * * * * * * *

Summer (Verse)
Come out, come out this sunny day
The fields are sweet with new mown hay
The birds are singing loud and clear
For summer time once more is here

So bring your rakes and come and play
And toss and tumble in the hay
The sweet wild roses softly blow
All pink and white the roses grow

The nodding daisies in the grass
Lift up their heads to hear you pass
Upon this happy, sunny day
When you come out to make the hay.

* * * * * * * *

If I were a Farmer (Action Song)
If I were a farmer, a farmer, a farmer.
If I were a farmer, what would I do?
I would feed the hungry chickens/milk the cows each morning… etc.
That’s what I’d do!

* * * * * * * *

Long green snakes in the grass are we,
Our tail is far away,
We wriggle and wriggle and twist and turn
As in and out we sway.

* * * * * * * *

This is a house for a robin
(make a nest with hands)

This is a hive for a bee
(two fists together to make a hive)

This is a hole for a bunny
(thumbs and pointers on both hands to make hole)

And this is a house for me!
(Arms and hands form roof overhead)

* * * * * * * *

Pygmy Possum (finger play)
Here is a tree-hole.
(Bend fingers on one hand)
Inside is a Possum.
(Put thumb inside fingers.)
See she comes out
(Pop out thumb)
When Banksia blossoms.

She stays out all summer
In sunshine and heat.
She hunts in the bush
(Mimic picking and eating berries)
For berries to eat.

When snow starts to fall.
(fingers fluttering moving side to side)
She hurries inside
(Bend fingers of one hand)
her warm little home
And there she will hide.
(Put thumb inside fingers.)

Snow covers the ground
(Place one hand over the other.)
Like a fluffy white rug.
Inside Possum sleeps
(pretend to be sleeping)
All cozy and snug.

* * * * * * * *

O Dandelion (song)
O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?
“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”

O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?
“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”

And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?
“They take me in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away!”

* * * * * * * *

Butterfly Song
Flutter, flutter butterfly
Floating high up in the sky
Floating by for all to see
Floating by so merrily
Bye, Bye, butterfly!

* * * * * * * *

Butterfly Game
Dancing among the flowers with dainty painted wings
Flits the golden butterfly, joy to my heart she brings
Stopping only for a rest to sip the morning dew
Then flits and flutters off again
Butterfly, I can't catch you!

(Children sit in a circle with hands held up and cupped on top of head acting as flowers. Butterfly dances inside the circle, flitting in and out of the space between seated children. Butterfly stops behind one child in circle for a rest, bends, and sips dew by tickling a flower in the child's palms. Flower child jumps up and chases butterfly back to his place, then becomes the next butterfly. Repeat game with new butterfly.)

* * * * * * * *

Here is a beehive (action rhyme)
Here is a beehive
But where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees!
See them come crawling out of their hive:

* * * * * * * *

What do you suppose? (action rhyme)
What do you suppose?
A bee sat on my nose!
Then what do you think?
He gave a little wink and said:
“I beg your pardon,
I thought you were the garden!”

* * * * * * * *

Little Bees
Little bees work very hard,
making golden honey.
Taking nectar from the flowers,
when the days are sunny.

* * * * * * * *

Two Little Chicks
Two little beaks went tap, tap, tap!
Two little shells went crack, crack, crack!
Two fluffy chicks peeped out, and oh,
they like the looks of the big world so.
They left their houses without a fret,
and two little shells are now to let!

* * * * * * * *

I love Summer (poem)
I love summer!
Summer is hot.

It's sun and shade.
It's water to wade.

It's frogs and bugs.
It's grass for rugs.

It's eating outside.
It's a tree-swing ride.

It's tomatoes and corn.
It's dew in the morn.

It's dogs and boys
And lots of noise.

It's a hot sunny sky.
It's summer. That's why.....
I love summer!

* * * * * * * *

Friday, 11 March 2016

December 2015: Grade One: Math (Number 7; 4 Processes) & The Christmas Advent Season

Above the manger stood a star
A star all wondrous white
And all about His lowly bed
There welled a flood of light

It bathed the stable in its glow
It shone round Mary's head
And on the kneeling shepherds cloaks
It's radiant beams were shed

Star of the world, through time and space
It flames in glory bright
To make man's pilgrimage through the year
A pathway of light

Week 1

Snippets from our week...

We started December by finishing off a few projects, but then soon moved into the Advent celebrations and gift making ready for Christmas. Mr 7 worked really hard on his December calendar and was very pleased with the result.

Number 7
In the first week of December, we spent time exploring the Number 7 by using the Aboriginal dreamtime story of the Rainbow Serpent. We also studied rainbows and leaned how to make our own using a glass of water, a piece of white paper and light from the sun. 

Story: The Rainbow Serpent

TL: A white lipped snake we found in the garden this week!
TC: MLB Number 7 page
TR: MLB Skip Counting by 7

ML: Ways to make the Number 7
MC: Modelling the Number 7
MR: Walking the Number 7

BL: Skip Counting by 7 using the multiplication wheel
BC: 7 concentric circles can be arranged in this pattern with sides touching
BR: Making rainbows using the sun

4 Processes - Division

We did further work on the 4 processes, this time learning about division. We are using the stories from 'The Gnomes Gemstones' booklet (found <here>).

Mr 7 learns about division using gemstones as math maniuplatives

Week 2, 3, & 4

Snippets from our week...

Festivals & Celebrations
The rest of December was spent in preparation for Christmas. December, Summer and the celebration of Advent always seem to take on a whole life of their own, and the days leading up to Christmas are full and brimming with fun. I must remember this and plan to set aside this time next year. 

Our Advent calendar pockets were filled, as usual, with the little wooden nativity characters that are added each day to make our nativity scene, but this year I also added a little written note for each day focussing on gratitude and gifts of kindness we can give to others. I also included an Advent activity for each day based these around the four Waldorf themes of the week:

The first light of Advent is the light of stones. 
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones. 

The second light of Advent is the light of plants. 
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow. 

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts. 
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea. 
All await the birth in greatest and in least. 

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind. 
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.

We got some inspiration for Advent activities from <here> and from another site which unfortunately I can seem to find again. If anyone knows, please post the link in the comments and I will post in here.  Our random acts of kindness Advent Calendar was a huge success and worked so beautifully to take the focus off the 'presents for me' attitude that seems to be the focus of the Christmas season, and shifted it instead on what we can do for others. We can't wait to do this again next Advent.


Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar 2015

Week 1: Stones/Crystals/Shells/Bones

Day One 
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller

Today, give the gift of Affection; offer someone a hug.
Family Activity:  Set up stones on the Advent table & paint some Story Stones

Day Two 
One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better that any possession ~ Sophocles

Today, give the gift of Acceptance; tell a friend what you like about them.
Family Activity: Make clay ornaments for the Christmas Tree

Day Three 
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.
 ~ Henri M. Nouwen

Today, give the gift of Laughter; share a joke with someone.
Family Activity: Make star lanterns

Day Four
Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around ~ Leo Buscaglia

Today, give the gift of Empathy; offer your full attention and listen to someone who is having a difficult time.
Family Activity: Star gazing in the backyard

Day Five 
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world ~ Anne Frank

Today, give the gift of Surprise; leave a surprise gift for someone to find.
Family Activity: Gemstone/fossil fossicking

Day Six (St Nicholas Day)
Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of loving-kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in you smile. ~ Mother Teresa

Today, give the gift of Happiness; smile at three people.
Family Activity: Open

Week 2: Plants/Roots/Stem/Leaf/Flower/Fruit

Day Seven  
No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. ~ Amelia Earhart

Today, give the gift of Helpfulness; offer a helping hand to someone.
Family Activity: Make evergreen wreath for the door and for the advent ring

Day Eight 
A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles. ~ Washington Irving

Today, give the gift of Self-love; say something loving to yourself.
Family Activity: Fruit picking/Jam making

Day Nine 
Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; ‘Twas not given for thee alone, Pass it on; Let it travel down the years, Let it wipe another’s tears, ‘Til in Heaven the deed appears – Pass it on ~ Henry Burton

Today, give the gift of Kindness; in your words and your deeds.
Family Activity: Orange & clove pomanders

Day Ten 
The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humour and style and generosity and kindness. ~ Maya Angelou

Today, give the gift of Joy; sing with family and friends
Family Activity: Plant a tree or bush/Tend the garden

Day Eleven
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstandings, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Today, give the gift of Forgiveness; for yourself and others.
Family Activity: Bush walk/clearing weeds/planting natives

Day Twelve 
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. ~ Helen James

Today, give the gift of Hospitality; introduce yourself to someone.
Family Activity: Open

Day Thirteen 
A single act to kindness throws out roots on all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. ~ Amelia Earhart

Today, give the gift of Honesty; offer someone a sincere compliment.
Family Activity: Christmas Tree!

Week 3: Animals

Day Fourteen 
Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. ~ Frank A. Clark

Today, give the gift of Generosity; give a secret Christmas gift to a neighbour.
Family Activity: Make/decorate beeswax Christmas candles

Day Fifteen 
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Theresa

Today, give the gift of Caring; pick up rubbish.
Family Activity: Treat dog and bunny rabbit

Day Sixteen 
Imagine what a harmonious world it could be it every single person, both young and old shared a little of what he is good at doing. ~ Quincy Jones

Today, give the gift of Purpose; share one of your talents with someone.
Family Activity: Treat cats

Day Seventeen 
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, give the gift of Inner Joy; smile to yourself.
Family Activity: Treat ducks & chooks

Day Eighteen 
When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ~ William Arthur Ward

Today, give the gift of Appreciation; let someone know how they have helped you.
Family Activity: Donate supplies to animal shelter or carer

Day Nineteen 
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

Today, give the gift of Thoughtfulness; hold open a door, return a cart, or pick something up for someone.
Family Activity: Open

Week 4: Humans

Day Twenty
If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought in the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angles give. ~ George MacDonald

Today, give the gift of Intention; think kind-loving thoughts about someone.
Family Activity: Christmas Lights!

Day Twenty-One 
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one. ~ Mother Teresa

Today, give the gift of Abundance; give the gift of food to a person in need.
Family Activity: Give gifts/food to the Giving Tree

Day Twenty-Two 
Good words bring good feelings to the heart. Speak with kindness, always. ~ Robin Williams

Today, give the gift of Love; tell someone why you love them.
Family Activity: Make gifts/cards for family

Day Twenty-Three 
Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognise how good things really are. ~ Marianne Williamson

Today, give the gift of Contentment; count your blessing.
Family Activity: Make gifts/cards for friends

Day Twenty-Four - Christmas Eve
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~ Dalai Lama

Today, give the gift of Gratitude; write a thank you note or draw a picture for someone.
Family Activity: Gingerbread House & cookies as gifts for neighbours


So for the rest of the month leading up to Christmas we spent many happy hours in the garden, bottling, preserving and jamming fruit and making homemade Christmas presents. We made paper crafts, did clay work and baked cookies. We spent time with friends and family. Here are some pics from the period leading up to Christmas and beyond.

Picking berries from the garden and making jams and preserves as presents for their Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.
Making Waldorf star lanterns as presents for family and friends (using this tutorial <here>)
complete with handmade beeswax tea lights candles.
TL: Our beautiful Christmas Tree
TC: Christmas window star (using this tutorial <here>)
TR: Our 2015 Christmas tree ornament 

ML: Making clay ornaments for the tree
MC: Our advent calendar
MR: Making gingerbread Christmas cookies for gifts

BL: Christmas presents wrapping in silks under the watchful eyes of the Nutcracker guards!
BC: Christmas star lanterns
BR: Advent ring
December fun with friends!

TL: Patting sharks at Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre's last open day for 2015
TC: Bush walks and a "real" troll bridge!
TR: Decorating rolled beeswax Christmas candles

Middle: A beautiful drawing of our special friends, by their dear friend April <3

BL: Blueberry picking (eating) :D
BC: Cooling off in hot weather
BR: Watching NYE fireworks with friends
December in the garden <3