Thursday, November 8, 2018

November - "Autumn" Movement Journey

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

I wrote a detailed post about how to incorporate the eurythmy gestures for this week's "Autumn" movement journey into the storytelling. There is also a link in that post to the FREE PDF version of this book! You can download it from the Online Waldorf Library. Because there were so many new movements to learn, I kept the verses portion of Circle Time quite short.

Circle Time

Monday, November 5

A lovely leafy day! Children brought in leaves they had collected from home and we looked at all of them and made crayon rubbings (this is easily done with a smooth surface such as a tabletop, sturdy leaves with good veination, clear contact paper, plain white paper, and block beeswax crayons). We read Leaf Man and made our own people from our leaves. We also enjoyed our movement adventure, with a bear, a turtle, and a porcupine coming to visit the cave and get tucked into their beds of cozy warm leaves. I sang "Round and Round" as the song the dwarves sing to the animals when they fall asleep at the end. This song is on the Seven Times the Sun CD (track 36).

Tuesday, November 6

A parent brought in The Leaves on the Trees to share and so I sang it to the class. We had on hand a lot of the leaves mentioned in the book including gingko, tulip poplar, maple, and sassafras. I actually had to send Becca outside to get another sassafras leaf because I had brought in the mitten one but the book talks about the dinosaur track one. Since I was a little girl I've always loved the beautiful variety of leaves on the sassafras tree!

Our options for morning play time included making more leaf rubbings with our newest leaves as well as making Shaving Cream Marbled Leaves and/or helping me punch out even more maple leaves from white cardstock for the Shaving Cream art project (yes I made my life easier by buying a punch). We ended up marblezing 20 beautiful leaves, enough for each child to take home five. They can go on your family's Nature Table or just be for play. Zac sent his to his sister Leah as a gift for her 15th birthday. We used extra wide craft sticks for both the stirring and the scraping. I had the shaving cream in sturdy plastic bins so you could scrape your stick clean on the side of the bin as needed. This craft requires a ton of newspaper and baby wipes and shaving cream and food coloring (and patience) but the results are stunning! And I promised the children we would also have some plain (no dye added) shaving cream available for sensory play on Thursday!

In our "Autumn" movement journey, the children suggested animals to visit the cave. We ended up with a bear, an elephant (who moves his trunk up and down as he snores), a cheetah (who snores with a grrrrr), and a porcupine. They told me how each animal should move and how it should snore (with expansion and contraction), and absolutely loved hammering out the stone walls of the cave to make it big enough to fit the elephant!

During snack I read them chapter 46 from The Lost Lagoon, which is the most beautiful description of the life cycle of a leaf I've ever heard. It also happens to be about a maple leaf, which was a great fit with our art project. I also set up the science experiment and we checked after a while to see if bubbles were forming on the leaf surface (they were). It was very cool and worth doing at home if you can still find some green leaves in your yard!

In outside play time the focus was still on raking leaves to form a huge gigantic pile for jumping in. I saw lots of problem solving and communication, with rakes in use but also a child-size snow shovel and child-size wheelbarrow, as well as the red wagon. They collaborated beautifully and the number one thing I heard outside was, "Do you need some help?" The For Small Hands catalogue is a wonderful source of well-made child-size tools. They even have separately sized leaf rakes for ages 3-5 and ages 6-9.

Thursday, November 8

Today the children used tiny leaf punches to punch colorful leaves out of strips of cardstock which we marbelized on Tuesday with the shaving cream. We also had bins of plain shaving cream available for sensory play! In our movement journey we had a bear, a cheetah, a dragon, and a giraffe visit the cave. It was fun to breathe dragon fire when we were snoring, and to stretch our necks up high as the dwarf greeted the giraffe and then bend our giraffe necks down when we went down into the cave to curl up and sleep.

We read Winter, Awake! during snack time. It is so exciting to wonder when the first snowflakes will fall...

And, of course, today was Stone Soup day. Here was our list of group contributions to the Stone Soup this week:

sweet potato
baby spinach
white potato

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Maths of Practical Life: Time

Here was our first "Maths of Practical Life" Measurement topic: Time. We spent Thursday and Friday on Clocks and Monday and Tuesday on Calendars.

Thursday, November 1

  • begin the story of measuring time by discussing Early Humans and Hunters & Gatherers and the simplest rhythms of the sunrise and sunset, the phases of the moon, and the cycle of the seasons
  • consider the impacts of the later evolution of Agriculture and the need to be able to track and predict; look at calendar stick illustrations in The Story of Clocks and Calendars by Betsy Maestro, pages 10-11

  • explain that the Ancient Babylonians had a special interest in the number 60 and that this still shows up in the story of our modern day Clocks; factor 60 on the board (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60) and show that this number is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6; explain that it was the Babylonians who divided our day into 24 hours, our hour into 60 minutes, and our minute into 60 seconds
  • explain that seconds are now divided even further in some special situations and look at the Olympic athlete illustration on page 7 of The Story of Clocks and Calendars; notice that since we were the ones who divided the second instead of the Babylonians, and we use base 10, we divided it into hundredths
  • look at the evolution of the sundial, the water clock, the candle clock, and the sand timer (The Story of Clocks and Calendars pages 34-35)
  • discuss examples of hourglasses in movies (such as the Harry Potter movies and The Wizard of Oz); watch the sand slowly slip through a two minute sand timer... is this how long you brush your teeth?
  • review that other clocks were invented because of the limitations of the sundial (it doesn't work when the sun isn't shining) and read The Story of Clocks and Calendars pages 36-37 and look at illustration of modern clocks with pendulums and gears
  • review that the numbers on a clock go up to 12 but that the minute hand has to be able to count up to 60 and look back at our factors of 60; present the Montessori Teaching Clock for follow up work; notice that it combines the color coding of other Montessori Math materials such as the red Fraction Circles for the whole, half, and quarter hours and the light blue bead bars signaling skip counting by 5's as used in the Short Bead Chains, the Checker Board, and the Decanomial
  • present calendar making project and make art for front cover

Friday, November 2

  • review by reading The Sun's Day by Mordecai Gerstein
  • discuss Daylight Savings Time (which ends Sunday, November 4) and look at the "Does turning back the clock really save anything?" article on the front page of today's newspaper
  • discuss Time Zones and the International Date Line and look at the illustration in The Story of Clocks and Calendars by Betsy Maestro, pages 40-41
  • continue calendar making project and make art and write in numbers for December 2018

  • add Clocks to MLB (this is our first ever MLB where we are writing in Script and using our fountain pens so it is very exciting!!!!!!)

Monday, November 5

  • review that the Ancient Babylonians lived on the flat grasslands with an excellent view of the nighttime sky and that they became famous astronomers
  • look at illustration on page 18 of The Story of Clocks and Calendars to see the list of "wandering stars" (ie. planets) which can be seen with the naked eye

  • read the paragraph at the bottom of page 17 about the evolution of the names for the days of the week from the initial names given by the Ancient Babylonians; diagram the list of conquering civilazations one after the other on the board and diagram the tree of languages which evolved (today was the first time I realized < Roman > is the base of the term < Romance > for languages descended from Latin)
  • read aloud the list of Roman names of the days of the week and compare them to modern Spanish; read aloud the list of Anglo-Saxon names of the days of the week and compare them to modern English
  • return to page 18 and talk about the rare celestial event which made the Ancient Chinese start their calendar at year 1; discuss what major events made other groups start their calendar at year 1 (the Islamic calendar and the Christian calendar)
  • explain the cycle of the moon (page 12 of The Story of Clocks and Calendars) and why it was so logical for early peoples to use it as the measurement of their month; explain that a lunar calendar causes problems because it gets out of step with the seasons; use the finger knitted string and white buttons to demonstrate this *
  • review that a lunar calendar will ALWAYS need correcting to bring the buttons back where they should be after they get out of whack; read about the struggles people had with their lunar calendar and its constant need for correction:

      page 15 about the Ancient Egyptian lunar calendar

      page 16 about their subsequent solar calendar

      page 17 about the Ancient Babylonian lunar calendar

      page 19 about the Ancient Greek lunar calendar

      page 24 about the Ancient Roman lunar calendar

      page 25 about their subsequent solar calendar changeover in year 46, Annus Confusionus

  • examine the changes in the names of the months of the year (including the +2 month fix to the lunar calendar that made Oct become the tenth month even though Oct means eight, and the emperor-ego-centered changes which gave us Julius and Augustus in place of Quintilis and Sextilis)
  • use the "knuckles" trick to help students remember which months have 31 days and which ones have fewer
  • continue calendar making project and make art and write in numbers for January 2019

Tuesday, November 6

  • review yesterday's lesson; add Calendars to MLB
  • do second step in penguin artwork
  • continue calendar making project and make art and write in numbers for February 2019

* Below is an excerpt from a blog post in 2018 where I wrote up a description of the calendar lesson I've developed over many years of teaching it in Montessori schools as part of the Fifth Great Lesson:

    Finger Knitted String

    The first material is something I invented after years of having students NOT understand why a lunar calendar isn't the same as a solar one, and why it gradually gets out of step. This is a finger knitted string consisting of 4 yards of yarn, in four different colors. Each color represents a season. A large green button is tied onto the string where the first day of Spring would be. Since the lunar calendar gradually gets out of step with the seasons, 11 days each year, I have a series of white buttons. These represent the lunar calendar and where it says the first day of Spring should be. We lay the buttons down, moving the lunar calendar's supposed "first day of Spring" further and further into Winter, showing how the calendars get out of whack a little bit at a time. This starts to make a big difference after a while! The cumulative effect of the 11 days adding up is clear to students because they can SEE it, and I leave this out in the middle of the floor and keep reading. Every time I get to a culture which had a lunar calendar and had to keep making adjustments to it (the Ancient Egyptians were the first to switch to a solar calendar), I point to the little white buttons. And it seems to work!

    Colored Index Cards

    In the middle of the yarn circle I placed my second demonstration. This is ten colored index cards with the original Roman months on them (Marius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December). I have already prepared four more index cards of a different color which will show the changes to the calendar (these are Januarius, Februaries, Julius, and Augustus). When I explain that the Roman calendar, which was originally a lunar calendar borrowed from the ancient Greeks, got more and more out of whack, and that they had to add two months to the beginning to bring it back in step with the seasons, I lay down Januarius and Februarius, and when I explain the egos of Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, I replace Quintilis and Sextilis with Julius and Augustus. This is very satisfying for me because I remember as a child being puzzled that October has a prefix which means 8 but it is month #10 and December means 10 but it is month #12! Knowing that they had to do a +2 and chuck two months on the beginning of the calendar at some point makes it so much more clear.

Please let me know if you have any questions at all. It's NOT hard one bit to make a calendar string. All you need is four colors of the same weight yarn (I used Paton's Classic Wool Roving), a floral or green button to be the first day of Spring, a bunch of white buttons to be the start of the lunar calendar, a yardstick, and an eager first grader who wants to help out by doing all the finger knitting. If you make each season's piece one yard long, your solar calendar will be perfectly to scale with one centimeter equalling one day.

cloverleaf - spring

yellow - summer

plum - autumn

pacific teal - winter

This lesson works! The combination of visual and hands-on really helps make the abstract difference between the solar and the lunar calendar year become concrete and clear.

in the beginning the solar and lunar calendar both have the start of spring at the same time but the lunar calendar slowly gets farther and farther behind

the original ten months of the Roman lunar year

the extra 1/4 day each year adds up to one whole day after four years and thus we have a leap day

the yellow cards represent months added in or changed in the Roman calendar

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November - Introduction to Eurythmy ECE

Our first story for November is "Autumn" by Estelle Breyer. This lively seasonal movement journey is included in her book Eurythmy for the Young Child: A Guide for Teachers and Parents.

This book was also revised and later re-published under the title Movement for the Young Child: A Handbook for Eurythmists and Kindergarten Teachers and is available free as a PDF for download from the Online Waldorf Library. The "Autumn" story is on pages 38-39 in both editions.

The story can be told as is without eurythmy movements. Eurythmy is the art of "speech made visible" and the gestures are meant to help enliven the story with deeper soul qualities. Small children can imitate the movements. This story calls for

    F (falling)
    R (raining)
    U (through)
    K (cold)
    W (wet)
    B (bear)
    K (knock)
    D (dwarf)
    d (down)
    s (snuggly)
    m (warm)
    V (covered)
    L (leaves)
    k (cold)
    w (wet)
    m (mouse)
    S (sweep)

Repeat the story structure with other animals who come to visit the cave.

If you don't know eurythmy there is some information about it online but not much. It's not an easy art to convey without proper training (it's not often you can find a quick how-to video for a letter because knowing all of the theory behind it is extremely important). Cynthia Hoven is working VERY hard to make eurythmy available to people who want to do it for their own personal private practice and her website is Eurythmy Online. You can buy several single video lessons from her that would help you with this story:

    Contraction and Expansion

    U (Oo): The Vowel of Roots and Grounding

    D: The Consonant of Grounding

    L: Life, Love, and Light

    M: The Movement through Stillness

    R: Rebirth and Rejuvenation

You can see one of Cynthia's videos here, where she shows the "I Think Speech" sequence. She describes it like this:

    This Eurythmy exercise is one of the basic eurythmy warm-up exercise, based on Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings that show the geometric proportions of the human body. Eurythmy is a meditative art of etheric mindful movement, sacred dance for body, soul and spirit, born out of the work of Rudolf Steiner, originator of Anthroposophy and founder of the Waldorf school movement.

There are occasionally videos on Youtube which can show you how to do some eurythmy movements. The one I found most helpful when I was preparing for this "Autumn" story was this one on the evolution sequence of consonants. It goes through all of the houses of the Zodiac and tells you the consonant and the gesture for each constellation. Then he shows how to do the eurythmy movement for that sound (in arms and in legs). The recording is very quiet so turn the sound all the way up.

The Zodiac sequence he goes through is this:

    B: Virgo (1:20)
    M: Aquarius (2:27)
    D: Leo (4:00)
    N: Pisces (5:10)
    R: Taurus (6:17)
    L: Capricorn (7:20)
    G: Sagittarius (8:38)
    CH: Libra (10:06)
    F: Cancer (12:08)
    S: Scorpio (13:58)
    H: Gemini (14:52)
    T: Leo (16:09)

I had to go look it up because my sign wasn't in there! Turns out that Aries is W, which is not in this sequence. And it isn't even a consonant actually...

Krzysztof Bieda also made a more detailed video for B with a eurythmy veil.

In searching for the remaining letters I need to know for this story, I found Cynthia Hoven has a Youtube channel where she has a video for Aries and the W and V sounds. She also did Scorpio (S), Libra (C or CH or TS), Virgo (B and P), Leo (T and D), Cancer (F), Gemini (H), and Taurus (R), as well as some assorted other videos and some poems.

I also needed K and the only quick mention I found of it was in this tiny Eurythmy Alphabet video.

I actually do rather like the idea of doing the clapping for the knocking (instead of the K gesture) because I like the idea of just tapping fingertips together when the mouse comes, for his tiny knocks on the door.

If you're interested in the vowels, I liked this video from Prairie Moon Waldorf School with Therapeutic Eurythmist Rachel Ross, M.Ed. It only shows the first vowel, Ah, but it's lovely and they've put together a series of nine video files of her eurythmy exercises from the Summer 2013 Waldorf Teacher Preparation Course for sale in their training videos collection.

So, now I feel prepared to tell this "Autumn" story and I hope these notes and links are helpful to others as well!

Assorted Miscellaneous Eurythmy Notes:

When my now 16-year old daughter Natalie was three I bought her special eurythmy shoes. I just found them and Zac's feet are already too big! So if anyone is interested in buying them, please let me know.

Eurythmy is a movement art and there is no question that it really needs to be shared in person or by video. There are, however, plenty of books on it. Reg Down wrote Leaving Room for the Angels: Eurythmy and the Art of Teaching as well as Color and Gesture: The Inner Life of Color (which I just purchased). I also have The Healing Art of Eurythmy by Truus Geraets as well as Come Unto These Yellow Sands: Eurythmy, Movement, Observation, and Classroom Experience by Molly von Heider and Allegro! Music for the Eurythmy Curriculum by Elisabeth Lebret. Many of the exercises in Mary Nash-Wortham and Jean Hunt's wonderful Take Time: Movement Exercises for Parents, Teachers and Therapists of Children With Difficulties in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Spelling are also based on curative eurythmy.

The following are available for download FREE as a PDF from the Online Waldorf Library:

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Science Club: Henri Matisse

Our Bird Art Display will be Friday, November 16th at 5 pm. We are busy learning, planning, creating, and preparing for this wonderful evening!

Friday, October 19

  • brainstorm session to help plan our Bird Art Display
  • read bird poetry from Douglas Florian

    • The Rhea - page 18
    • The Pigeon - page 24
    • The Kiwi - page 46

    • The Egret - page 6
    • The Green Catbird - page 8
    • The Dippers - page 10
    • The Magnificent Frigate Birds - page 12
    • The Hummingbird - page 14
    • The Vulture - page 16
    • The Whooping Crane - page 18
    • The Roadrunner - page 20
    • The Quetzal - page 22
    • The Hill Mynah - page 24
    • The Royal Spoonbill - page 26
    • The Rhinoceros Hornbill - page 28
    • The White-Tailed Kite - page 30
    • The Emperor Penguins - page 32
    • The Hawk - page 34
    • The Woodpeckers - page 36
    • The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock - page 38
    • The Weavers - page 40
    • The Stork - page 42
    • The Common Crow - page 44
    • The Nightjar - page 46

  • perform "The Phoenix" from I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

  • have independent work time to work on solo and team projects

  • begin Cardinals in Winter art project from Deep Space Sparkle

Friday, October 26

Friday, November 2

Friday, November 9

Projects will continue, but I can't give away more details or there won't be any surprises at the Exhibit! I hope all our Science Club families can attend!

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!