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 


  1. Hello Hedi, I would love to know what your daily and weekly rhythm looks like now that you are working on first grade, and soon to be second. We are also homeschooling our 7 year old son and feel so fortunate to have found your blog. Thank you!!

    1. I'll add some info in the next blog post which I'll post at the end of the month :)

  2. Hi Heidi I have been following you since I started first grade last year. I LOVE your work. Do you sell any of your planned curriculums for second grade ? I would love to teach second grade your way ❤️