Archive for the ‘Rhythm & Planning’ Category

A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers Continued

November 27, 2011

Have I mentioned I love unschooling ? I love that learning happens all the time. I love that friends , homeschooling or not, are on a “school break ” and we are not.

In previous years I have always stressed around the holidays. Right now we might have been in the middle of a block with me trying to hurry to finish it. Or I would be trying to figure out how in the world I was going to fit school in around the holidays. Well no more I tell you.

This year Thanksgiving came and our learning did not even skip a beat. This time while Mama was busy in the kitchen preparing for our mighty feast the girls kept busy playing at Animal Jam and Fantage. There was baby animal video searches on  youtube, Miss Sky is 65% into the video game Scooby Doo and the Night of 100 Frights with the help of youtube walkthroughs, and Little Sis has been playing around with Tux Paint .

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Being inspired by Monster High Little Sis made her own cell phone and laptop.

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Thanksgiving tradition in our family starts with homemade cinnamon rolls and watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade on television followed by The National Dog Show (sorry Papa you are outnumbered with females in this household, but he did get to catch the Cowboys game later on :)). This always leads to the girls having an “animal” show of their own.

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Black Friday was spent at the park bike riding while enjoying beautiful 60 degree weather and lots of sunshine. Small Business Saturday was spent in the garage filling a bulk order of our mangers, which we will have more listed in our Esty shop.

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I received a comment from Loralee at Candy explaining why she thinks Pez left a foamy residue during Miss Sky’s experiment. You must check out her website, Miss Sky has many future experiments planned.

Lets see we played Uno and Animal Rummy and there was homemade carmel corn.

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and last but not least let us not forget all the preparations for the next upcoming holiday.

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Oh yeah life sure is good!



Favorite Grade Two Resources

December 14, 2010

Alrighty I promise no rants with this post :).

Second grade is fables, saints and legends, and a continuation of nature stories.

I will say your choice to do saints and legends can be a bit flexible ,it is really about bringing balance to the “trickster” tales and the character you are trying to instill. This probably will be different for everybody depending on your religious beliefs. So if you are Buddhist or Hindu you might  pick stories from there . Just keep in mind the time period (like 300 -1200 A.D. and such) people like Gandhi or MLK are to recent.

I broke these blocks down by having 1  saints and 1 legends and American tall tales . We  studied Mu Lan and Annie Oakley during this time too.

I also broke the fables down in to 1 block of  Jataka tales , 1 African fables, and 1 Aesop fables. We also did Peter and the Wolf.

Favorite readers for Miss Sky:

I have been collecting Arnold Lobel’s books for a while now , he is one of my favorites. So we have all his readers and they are all favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of them but if I had to choose then it would be The Frog and Toad collection and his book Fables is a great read aloud for this year. Okay I am really having  a hard time just picking one, Miss Sky says Mouse Soup and Mouse Tales. Little Sis says “no-no- no” Small Pig .

Others are The Little Bear collection by Else Holmelund Minark

The Carrot Seed by Crockett Johnson

I want to point out 95% of our books are used from thrift shops or come from our Half Price book store. With that being said here is a list of our favorite read alouds from second grade.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

A Bear Called Paddinton by Michael Bond

The Winnie-The-Pooh collection by A.A. Milne (I still have mine from childhood)

The Original 4 Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Hello Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm.

Doctor Dolittle and The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack

And as for Miss Sky’s favorite author and most read story in our house, Mr Thornton W. Burgess and The Adventures of Reddy Fox. Oh yes Miss Sky has taken a liken to Mr. Sly and sneaky fox and she has been collecting all of the Old Mother West Wind tales. We love them here in our home.

As for me

I used this program along with Family Math for our math blocks and the resources I listed in the first grade post continue this year.

Updated : I forgot to mention School As A Journey by Torin Finser and Teaching As A Lively Art by Marjorie Spock. I love to read the chapter that has to do with the year I am preparing before I start my planning. These start with 1st grade and go all the way to 8th. Great resources.

Well that about sums up our second grade year hope this list comes in handy for anyone planning or doing second grade.

Wishing everyone a warm week !

First Grade Resources

December 10, 2010

I have been asked if I would mind putting together a list of my favorite resources from 1st and second grade since I didn’t start to blog about my homeschooling journey until third grade.

I want to start this post off first by saying when I started this journey into Waldorf education I did not accumulate all these resources overnight, in fact it wasn’t until last year I even had a chalkboard and we still do not have Stockmar watercolors yet.

I see many moms new to Waldorf education thinking they “have ” to get all this “stuff” before they can begin educating their children with this method (this is fine for those that can afford to, but a HUGE guilt trip to those of us that can’t). This “dogma” actually has sort of became a pet peeve of mine.

(*Warning mini rant ahead*)The “stuff” came after the education and in my honest “opinion” I think it is better for someone to start Waldorf education using crayola products or a “plastic” recorder than to not get started at all. After all we are talking about a child’s spiritual development here, getting them to properly “incarnate” into their bodies. In fact it was in lecture 7 (I do believe) of Child’s Changing Consciousness where Steiner talks about fanatics and having to compromise.

Now don’t get me wrong I love all the natural products that come along with this method, I just love the education more 🙂 (*end of rant* whew).

Now with all that being said, when putting a school year together I make an outline of topics studied each year, learn “why” they are studied (I am still learning )and find resources that work best for my family.

We are a literature loving family so I use books to help put my school year together. Some of these resources might not work for your family but here is a list of my favorites for first grade. In order to be on this list it must pass the test of being read more than once before it can be added to our personal library.

First grade is all about fairy tales and learning the letters and numbers through these stories. Most of Grimm’s fairy tales can be found on-line for free. Science for this grade is stories about nature and lots of outside play and exploration (see my link to free first and second grade nature stories listed under my Waldorf links over on the side).

There are not a lot of readers needed because the child is learning to read their own work they are copying into their main lesson book. We also have made a lot of handmade readers together. For example maybe we would make a reader using a particular word family like (at).  Miss Sky’s always started hers with “This is a cat”(even if we were not working on that word family). She was really into cats even though we have never owned one. Here is my post on how to make readers.

Here is a list of our favorite read alouds for first grade.

A Child’s Book Of Stories (or any other book that has all these tales)This book comes in the top five of most  read book in our house. It really has all the stories you really need for Kindergarten, first grade and even includes the fables for grade two.

Miss Sky’s favorites  Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots,Tom Thumb,Ugly Duckling (most read), Water Lily or The Gold Spinners, and The Princess on the Glass Hill.

Little Sis’s favorites Goldilocks or The Three Bears (by far most read story), The Gingerbread Man, Henny-Penny, and The Three Little Pigs.

The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde (use your own judgment but the title and The Selfish Giant are our favorites).

Three Tales Of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett  This story has been pulled off the shelf and read just as much as Little House In The Big Woods (lets just say I hope our copy of Little House holds up).

The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly by Reg Down and all the rest in this series.

Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem  If you are lucky to come across these do not hesitate to purchase. These books are also in top 5 most read stories in our home.

Romona series by Beverly Cleary (really anything by her )and if you have boys Henry Huggins though we are not gender specific.

My Very Own Fairy Stories by Johhny Gruelle and don’t forget about Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies by Jane Werner

The Wise Enchanter by Shelley Davidow

Last but not least The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter This is Miss Sky’s second favorite author (her first will come with my second grade list). Don’t stop with Peter Rabbit , Miss Sky’s favorite story is The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and Little Sis’s favorite is The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.

(Updated) I can  not believe I forgot to list the second most read book in our home. I know these stories by heart I have read them so much at bedtime. Ellen’s Lion by Crockett Johnson.

And don’t forget about Elsa Beskow , we are slowly collecting her books (in fact these are the books I give with each change of the season , this years winter solstices book will be Ollie’s Ski Trip).

Favorite resources for myself though I did not have these until the start of third grade but highly recommend them for first grade. So again purchase when able.

Coloring with Block Crayons DVD set by sieglinde de francesca

Living Music From The Heart This is how I learned to play the penny whistle and Miss Sky just took off with it. I owe it all to this program.

Form Drawing DVD set by Melisa Nielsen once you understand the “why” behind form drawing then it is easy to pick out your own forms to use.

For handwork and festivals I like the book All Year Round by Ann Druitt and others.

Well I hope this list helps anyone doing first grade and if I think of anything else I will update my list.

Norse Myths

July 26, 2010

Alright last lesson blocks to plan out :). This block has been VERY hard for me. I had never heard of Norse Myth until I started homeschooling with Waldorf. I had never heard of Thor or Odin (I went to a private school). Thank goodness I can pronounce those gods names, I am having trouble with others especially in the Kalevala. Why couldn’t the vikings have named their gods Sam or something but no we have Vainamoinen instead.

We will cover these myths over 3 blocks and I am So thankful for finding a copy of Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne because she has a pronunciation key in the back of her book. There are 14 stories in this book so I may have to double up on a few to stick with our 3 day rhythm.

Books I will be reading to go with this block are

Beorn The Proud by   Madeleine Polland

The Land of Heroes by   Ursula Synge (We will not be doing a separate block on the Kalevala but read it along with our block instead)

And after we have finished with our Norse blocks we will read The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum.

I really like the feel of Osborne’s book for memorizing stories and how each story starts with parts from the Poetic Edda (which can be found on-line )for copy work.

(Update) I forgot to list, helping me play the part of “viking” I will be using these  web sites I already posted about.

I like the fact that these sites will help me with upcoming years as well.

I have decided not to read Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff but to save it for when she is a little older. I think Beowulf is way over her head for now and think she will appreciate it much more if we wait.

There are other books I had on my “to find” list and couldn’t fit them into our budget but thought they could help someone else.

The Saga of Eric the Viking (Puffin Books) by Terry Jones

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow by Allen French (This can be found on for free)

The Story of Siegfried  by James Baldwin (Also on

Some other read alouds I have planned for this year are The Chronicles of Narnia By C.S. Lewis. I am SO excited to finally share this series with Miss Sky, it is one of my most favorites.

The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin

For Miss Sky’s readers:

Viking Ships at Sunrise by Mary Pope Osborne

The Unicorn’s Secret 1, 2, &3 by Kathleen Duey

We will be using to round out the rest of the year with titles from George MacDonald and other great classics.

We will continue with grammar were we left off and spelling and vocabulary. This year Miss Sky will look up the words all on her own and copy the definition.

For handwork I will teach Miss Sky to cross stitch and we will wood burn a set of runes. We will also be using more natural clay to learn to sculpt  this year and less beeswax. We will continue with form drawing learning more knotted forms. We will learn how to write letters and more reports on our own.I know this year teaching how to write book reports is recommended but I myself find this a waste of time I mean the whole purpose of a book report is to see if the children are really reading the book. This can be done orally when you homeschool. I rather spend my time teaching Miss Sky the skills needed to write reports.

There will also be more independent reading on Miss Sky’s part this year.

As I come up with other idea’s I will update my post but for now I do believe my planning is done. (YES)

4th Grade Math

July 20, 2010

I will say up front that we are behind in math. It is not one of Miss Sky’s strong points though I have seen a HUGE improvement this past year. So we will be playing catch up this year with our first block starting where we left off with square numbers , area, and finish memorizing those times tables.

That being said what is usually covered in 4th grade math is fractions, factoring, prime numbers, and long division.

I plan on 3 blocks, the first one starting after our human & animal block and if all goes well this will take us into our Christmas break.

I plan on starting our first Norse Myth block at the start of the new year and think that would be a good place to introduce fractions. Since working in the kitchen proved to be such a success for third grade I do plan on bringing our math work back into the kitchen maybe this time pretending we are vikings.

Well as for resources I am still sticking with Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark, Virginia Thompson, and Ruth Cossey. It is filled with tons of games and ideas to teach your child math.

I think this year I will start giving Miss Sky worksheets in a folder or have problems wrote on the board for her to copy throughout the year.

Here is a great refresh for myself on fractions

I will be honest here fractions were not my favorite subject and I do not know how I would have made it through without the help of my grandfather. I am hoping it will all come back to me you know” like riding a bike”. I guess all we can do is wait and see.

Well this leaves only 3 more language art blocks to plan out and I can enjoy the rest of “my”summer vacation.

What Do Animals Teach Us About Being Human?

July 14, 2010

After our geography block I thought we would have our first science block of the year entitled The Human Being and the Animal World. This will be taught in 2 blocks and I know this will be the biggest hit of the year. What Miss Sky lacks in math skills she makes up for in science and she LOVES animals.

We follow a 3 day rhythm which you can read about here . So this means we focus on 1 story a week. If our block lasts 4 weeks that is 4 stories. For this block I am using the reference The Human Being and the Animal World by Roy Wilkinson. In the first block we will discuss the threefold human being ( Head, Trunk, and Limbs) in relation to the animal kingdom.

I have noticed that the majority of  schools use the cuttlefish for the example of our head due to Steiner’s “suggestion” but like Roy Wilkinson explains it “there is no reason why the teacher should not deal with other related animals if he so wishes.”  Since Miss Sky more than likely will never see a cuttlefish I thought it would be better for us to use the octopus as an example.  They have some at our local zoo where Miss Sky can observe them up close. It is important that we describe these animals imaginatively and not scientifically. So poetry is good to use in this block.

For the trunk I will be using the mouse and dolphin for examples. We will learn that man is the only limb animal and that is one thing that sets us apart in the animal kingdom.

Block 2 (which we will pick up later in the year) describes the animal world. Examples I will be using for this block will be the cow, horse,lion, dog, then a week on birds and fishes.

I already listed the resource by Wilkinson, which I highly recommend, but other resources I thrifted for this year include:

Handbook of Nature Study by   Anna Botsford Comstock

Dolphins and Sharks   Mary Pope Osborne

Horses   Laura Driscoll

Read a louds:

Black Beauty   Anna Sewell

One hundred and One Dalmatians   Dodie Smith

Charlotte’s Web

Stuart Little  E.B. White

Justin Morgan Had A Horse

Misty of Chincoteague

Sea Star

Misty’s Twilight

King of the Wind   Marguerite Henry

I also struck gold and found the Miss Bianca series at Goodwill  by Margery Sharp

The Incredible Journey   Sheila Burnford (might save this one for next years geography of North America)

Miss Sky’s readers:

Owls In The Family   Farley Mowat

Lions at Lunchtime   Mary Pope Osborne

Nine True Dolphin Stories   Margaret Davidson

Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin Treasure

Dolphin Freedom   Wayne Grover

Dolphin Diaries    Ben M. Baglio (found a few of these)

Ralph S. Mouse   Beverly Cleary

A Mouse Called Wolf   Dick King-Smith

Along Came a Dog  Meindert  Dejong

That about sums it up I hope to visit our zoo at the end of the second block and have Miss Sky keep a nature journal.



July 9, 2010

All right, every spare minute I can find I have hid myself away in deep thought about fourth grade. I think I have wrapped my brain around the what’s and whys so now it’s time to get my outline down on paper. I already wrote a post of what is covered this year

After much meditation I am going to start  the year with geography as our first block. Something I noticed while teaching third grade is how much Miss Sky changed from the beginning of the year.  She seemed  more ready for the Old Testament stories as the year progressed, so I am thinking saving the Norse Myths till the end of the year would work better for her.

In fourth grade after going through the change , the child is starting to notice their surroundings. Geography is taught as one block and starts from their house working itself outward.

So we will spend the first week mapping out our surroundings and interviewing neighbors who built their house here when our neighborhood first started. I thought this would be a good time to introduce compositions. We live in a small town with lots of the original buildings all within walking distance. I am thinking lots of hikes with picnic lunches while learning about map making. Then branching out from our town to learn more about our state and what makes it so great that  pioneers wanted to settle here.

I think all the field trips would be a great way to ease ourselves into the new school year.

For this block I will be using the book Maps & Globes by Jack Knowlton and There is SO much history here and it is very important that this block does not become a history lesson, that will come in later down the road.

Another interesting fact about this block, I found a copy of The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (can be found on for free ) .We pass the blue river every time we go on our milk run. I thought it would be fun to trace the rivers path in our state.

(Update:) I thought it would be fun to read poetry from a local too

Supplies for this block, I bought each Little their own small backpack for our hikes. We can make our own nature notebooks and for a handwork project make a pencil roll . Also thought a compass would make a good birthday gift for this year.

I have to say I am really looking forward to this year maybe more than Miss Sky is.


Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.

Between Heaven And Earth

March 30, 2010

“We stand on the edge of the universe and our own creation” 

I can not believe it. It doesn’t even sound right to say fourth grader. No way how can that be possible. Well since there is no getting around it I thought I would post my findings on what I have learned so far about my soon to be fourth grader. I will start by saying this is all new territory for me. I went to a Catholic school as a child and they most certainly did not teach us about Norse Gods let alone the human and animal world. I have been enjoying my reasearch though and it most definitely looks to be another very exciting year.

What I have learned is that the Vikings and zoology do not play a role in next years studies. It is all about the stories of the Gods (and their mischief) and the human being and the animal world is much more about us, our capacities and the three and fourfold human being (Head, Trunk, and Limbs). “We introduce the animals so that students can recognize that each animal is a reflection of one aspect of the human being” Roberto Trostli. I really love this as it counters out Darwinism. I am reading a very interesting book called The Human Being and the Animal World by Roy Wilkinson. In it  explains Steiner’s ideas on evolution and the threefold human being, I really recommend it. Steiner also talks about this in his Kingdom of Childhood lecture number 3. Other books I am using in my research are The Rhythms of Learning by Roberto Trostli,some parts of this book can be found on-line at google books, and I love School As A Journey by Torin M Finser. Mr. Finser has recommended the reading of chapter 10 from Steiner’s Study of Man lecture.  Of course there are Mrs. Johnson’s files from Waldorf  Home Educators yahoo group as well.

Other things taught in fourth grade are geography, fractions, decimals, long division, composition, spelling, the 9 parts of speech, and string instruments. Handwork is counted cross stitch, penmanship , the diatonic flute, and clay sculpture. Something else geared towards the end of this year , on a more personal female note, is the moon cycle ceremony.

As far as Beowulf I found the Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff at my Goodwill sale but am having second thoughts. I have always stood behind if a child is not ready for the original script then it is better to wait. I do not believe in watered down or abridged versions of anything so I will just have to listen to my heart on this one when the time comes.

I have also learned that geography starts from the schoolroom and works its way out from the front door. Neighborhood, town, city, state.

I am still in the learning process of all this and don’t plan to make my outline until this summer but do plan to update my notes as I gather more information.

Other than that I am really enjoying my spring break and have been keeping myself very busy. 🙂


Making Main Lesson Books

August 24, 2009

I thought I would post a tutorial for making MLB. Papa supplies us with all the white paper we want so we work with what we have.  I first take a piece of poster board.childrens museum 223This will make two 12×9 MLB’s . This size has always worked best for us.  I fold this in half.childrens museum 226Then fold in half again childrens museum 227

Then cut right down the middle where the last fold was.childrens museum 228Then take about 30 sheets of 11×8.5 inch paper and center it up with the poster board you just cut. I use multipurpose paper and have never had any problems with beeswax crayons.childrens museum 229I like to take two clothes pins and clip the open sides to hold the pages together while I hammer about 10 holes down the closed side.childrens museum 213Now it’s time to stitch the holes up with some yarn and a needle to bind the pages together.childrens museum 225Knot off both ends and your MLB is done.childrens museum 219These are fun to make in all different sizes for made up stories, notebooks, journals etc. Our Little Nature Nest has two great tutorials on her blog for MLB’s as well.

Preparing for Storytelling

August 19, 2009

The days of starting school are closing in.  It’s time for me to start focusing on Miss Sky’s Old Testament stories.  This block I think will be easier then others being I am pretty familiar with these stories.  It’s telling them while I “eliminate as far as possible my personal self”. Trying not to persuade with my feelings toward the subject. I think sometimes we spend so much time trying to prove “truth” when we forget truth comes from within each individual. We need to evaluate where our children are at in their spiritual evolution in order to reach their soul.My temperament makes this hard. My mom always said I should go into law school because I could persuade her into what my punishments should be. That’s how I met papa , debating him on a topic on my second day of work. Things haven’t changed in that department we just agree to disagree on somethings. I wonder where Miss Sky gets her spunk? Anyway this means deeper Inner work on my part. I really have to focus on Sky’s temperament and bring the story from her angle. Miss Sky is a very saguine child so I have to put myself in her shoes, hard for a choleric to do. So what are some things we can do to better prepare ourselves?  Well three day rhythm doesn’t just work on children it can be good for us as well. You can start reading the story three days prior to telling the story. This works out well because I tell a new story on Monday with Friday as a catch up day. So I can put the present story to rest and start on a new one.  Reading a story first can help us work out any conflicts we may have and find out why. Stories work on our subconscious as well as our child’s. There has been a lot of parents having conflicts recently on the e- list about fairy tales. Something I have found out on my journey is Waldorf is just as much for me as my child and to really meditate on why a story is bugging me.  Once we can get past the barrier it’s much easier to bring a story to our children.  It’s also important not to give away the moral of a story but to let their subconscious work it out. Even if you are reading a story instead of telling one it’s good to familiarize yourself  before hand so no surprises arise. I know from here the stories will get more intense so I am just trying to prepare myself for when it does.