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

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