Saturday, 23 July 2016

May 2016: Bits and Bobs, and a Beautiful New Baby!


Go Wind, Blow!
Go wind, blow!
Push wind, swish!
Shake things, take things,
Make things fly!
Ring things, swing things
Fling things high.

Go wind, blow.
Push wind, whee!
No wind, no
Don’t push me!

May, the last month of my favourite season Autumn, and the month that our baby is due! ❤️ May brought with it thunderstorms, wild winds, heavy rains and the first of the cooler season mountain snows. The earth soaked up the rains and everything started looking greener and fresher within days. Also within days, the Autumn fungi started popping up. What a late start to the fungi season we've had this year!
Our tanks are full, our preserves are mostly preserved, though the endless tomato season still continues to wind down, and the freezer is full of produce harvested in the last few months.

Mr 7's May calendar

The time spent planning the main First Grade topics and concepts we wanted to cover really paid off, as we finished up at the very end of April, and can now open a brand new chapter in our lives with the coming of May.

Instead of the rhythm we had adopted earlier this year (taking off every third/fourth week of the month to rest, relax and plan), we kept our regular home learning rhythm going in April, in anticipation for our May baby and a whole family baby-moon holiday.

So in these last weeks before baby arrives, we will tie up any First Grade loose ends, I will spend time fine tuning our Second Grade planning, and we will gently ease into some Second Grade work with Mr 7. For his Second Grade year, we are using a mix of curriculum material, drawing from Christopherus, Waldorf Essentials (Time block, Form Drawing) and Oak Meadow (mostly Science and Social Studies, but will use some math also). I also like to use a number of free online Waldorf education resources, including the very comprehensive, ACARA approved, Australian Steiner Curriculum for Second Grade, which can be found <here>.

I plan to continue Lavender's Blue work with Mr 6 year old Kindy. We plan to follow a fairly traditional Waldorf-Steiner Kinder/Prep curriculum with him (you can find the Australian Steiner Kindergarten (also called Prep or Foundation Year) curriculum <here>). In addition to Lavenders Blue, I have some Christopherus and Waldorf Essentials 6-year-old Kindergarten resources to draw from. His seasonally focussed year is still very movement based and hands-on. Any written work he does is completely voluntary and led by him. We focus on pre-writing skills and brain development activities as well as fostering a love for language, literature and stories.

It's amazing to see his progress over the last few months. Simply just being around his older brother, overhearing explanations and answers to questions, and voluntarily joining in with his older brother's Science and Social Studies projects means that he is well on his way to reading and writing much earlier than Mr 7 was.

Week 1

Snippets from our week...

Form Drawing
This week we completed the final story and form in the series we've been doing which can be found <here>. This week was "Owl Eyes" or the Figure 8.

Mr 7's Form Drawing on (L) & free drawing from the story (R)
Mr 6's Form Drawing on (L) & free drawing from the story (R)

Main Lesson - Kindergarten
For our Kindy main lesson, I told the classic harvest time tale of the Little Red Hen, a version of which can be found <here>.


Main Lesson - Grade One
This week was mostly spent tidying up loose ends and finishing off Grade One work with a bit of a review of the last math block concepts we'd covered. We also made this skip counting 'Magic 100' patterns chart which was both fun to use and a good exercise in both patience and in number practise. An example of how to use the 'Magic 100' chart can be found <here>. We used wooden counters to find the skip counting patterns on the chart.


Science & Social Studies
May saw the first mountain snowfalls of the season, and one morning we woke to see hundreds of swallows circling and diving in the air as they began a mass migration north for the Winter, so this week we looked closer at animal habitats, hibernation and migration as we move from Autumn into the cooler Winter months. The boys decided they would like to choose a few animals from each hemisphere to draw.

Mr 7's MLB drawing: Hibernation
Mr 6's MLB drawing: Hiberation
We read the Oak Meadow hibernation story 'Brown Bear Goes Fishing' and then compared Northern and Southern Hemisphere hibernation and migration. There are very few native Australian animals that enter a true hibernation - in Tasmania the Pygmy Possums enter torpor, a state of brief hibernation, for days at a time when the temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius. The echidna also spends a period in Autumn in a sort of hibernation, though it is unrelated to temperature. We then looked at reptiles, frogs and insects such as bees whose behaviour is seasonally affected. We found an excellent resource for Australian native animals hibernation behaviour <here> and Australia's sleepiest species <here>.

Mr 7's work on Hibernation and Habitat

Following on from the discussion about animal habitats, and his recent 'My Bedroom' mapping project, Mr 7 moved outward to look at his home, and completed a 'My House' drawing.

"My House" by Mr 7
Artwork & Handwork
Celebrating Autumn...




Creative Writing
Mr 6's Creative Writing 
Mr 7's Creative Writing

Other Happenings
Our homeschool group was cancelled this week due to wild weather and whilst the weather was stormy and crazy and we got outside when we could, we also had lots of fun during <circle time> this week with lots of big gross movement activities to keep the boys energy channelled while stuck indoors.



We have enjoyed some of the Autumn songs and finger plays from <here>.

Week 2

Snippets from our week...

This week, at 38/39 weeks pregnant, I started to nest and wind down, spending time resting and enjoying time as a family of 4. We visited the library and found some resources on the Arctic and Antarctic. We watched a couple of wonderful documentaries in afternoon rest time including Human Planet - Arctic, Life in the Deep Freeze (which I highly recommend!), and David Attenborough's Frozen Planet.


While I spent a day in hospital for monitoring, the boys visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's impressive, interactive Antarctic exhibition with Dad. The highlight for Mr 7 was the Mawson's hut replica model.





They then went to visit their uncle's workplace down at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies IMAS centre. They looked at the huge Aurora Australis ice breaker ship which was in dock, and even got to look at a real drone that their uncle uses in his sea ice mapping research! Of course no trip to the Hobart docks would be complete without fish and chips for lunch from the fish punts :)



This week Mr 7 looked further outward from 'My Home' to 'My State', and we took a brief look at Tasmania. We will revisit this in greater depth later on.

Chalkboard drawing of 'My State'
Mr 7's MLB drawing 'My State'

Artwork & Handwork


Creative Wrting
Mr 7's Creative Writing

Other Happenings
The boys attended playgroup without me this week, as I had yet another midwife appointment. Despite the windy, rainy, wild weather, the group celebrated a warm and cosy Autumn Harvest Festival with their friends, making Autumn willow wreaths, carving a giant pumpkin and sharing a harvest meal of pumpkin soup and freshly baked bread.


This week was momentous for us at home too, as we finally finished installing the wood fired  hydronic heating system, and lit our very first fire as the stormy weather raged outside. Bliss!


Week 3

Snippets from our week...

As I reached the end of my pregnancy, I was so glad that I had earmarked this last week or so to spend with the boys and to rest and relax before the impending birth. It was so lovely to spend quiet home days pottering around the garden, playing games, doing puzzles and going for gentle walks. I also spent time planning out Mr 7's Second Grade year in much more detail, as I knew life would be so busy with a new baby in the house, and I wanted to feel as prepared as possible.

In previous pregnancies, instead of house "nesting", I get a surge of energy and an overwhelming urge to garden! This pregnancy was no different, and we spent a few days hauling. digging, mulching, sowing, composting, and harvesting, and generally doing things a full-term pregnant woman probably shouldn't be doing! :D I knew this meant the baby can't be far away!

I couldn't get into the poly-tunnel :D so the boys picked the last of the tomatoes.

The boys also spent lots of time outdoors bike riding, tinkering, and playing in the bush. I was able to rest in the afternoons and really enjoy the last week or so of pregnancy.

Creative Writing

Mr 7's Creative Writing 
Mr 6's Creative Writing

Other Happenings
We still made it along to our Steiner-inspired homeschool group, and the Autumn theme continued this week. The children made very sweet little watercolour leaf boats to float in the little stream that runs beside the cottage. The day was blissfuly warm and sunny, and the children had a wonderful time floating, sinking and rescuing their little boats on the stream, and getting stuck in the river mud.




Another magical story time <3

Week 4

Snippets from our week...


At the very beginning of the week, we spent a lovely day at the beach as a family. We went out for lunch, walked along the shore to look in the rock pools, climbed the sandstone cliffs to explore the caves (well I sat out this time! :D) and built sandcastles in the sand. We then had a very fun Sunday meal and family games evening with the whole family at my parents house. I laughed until my sides ached! 


I organised this special family day, knowing it may well be our last family day as a family of four, as I had an inkling that labour and birth were very imminent.




I was right! That very evening, the pre labour I had been experiencing for a few days started becoming much more intense, with regular contractions. It continued building in intensity for days until overnight on Wednesday/Thursday, when I went into proper labour. As I laboured at home and then in hospital, the boys spent a number of days and nights with their grandparents, camping out on cosy beds made up by the woodfire in the living room, and having a wonderful time being very well looked after. Finally, late on Thursday evening, we welcomed our precious newborn baby girl into the world, safe and sound <3 


We are all absolutely besotted with her and have been so blessed by the love and practical help offered by family and friends. And so, wrapped in the love and care of our community of family and friends, we begin our family baby-moon, spending time getting to know this new little person and welcoming her into our home <3