Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tall Tales

The latest unit added to my website: a 31 page Fourth grade Grammar & Composition Language block featuring Tall Tales.

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Easter Mood

A newly acquired book: The Illustrated Calendar of the Soul: Meditations for the Yearly Cycleby Rudolf Steiner. The first verse in it is for Easter.

A note in the Introduction, regarding the Dates, states that

"The Calendar begins with Easter, and for the year 1912-1913, when it was first published, Easter Sunday fell on 7 April, so that the first week is dated 7-13 April. For this dating the other fixed festivals of the year, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas, fell within the appropriate weeks. Easter however is still variable, and to begin the Calendar every year with Easter Sunday would sometimes bring it badly out of step with the other fixed festivals. It is therefore probably best to begin each year with the Sunday nearest to the original dating, but to regard the first verse (Easter Mood) as informing the whole Easter month."

In this light, Steiner offers the following for April (trans. by John Thomson)

    When from the vastness of this world
    The sun speaks to the human mind
    And joy from the depths of soul
    In beholding joins with light;
    Then thoughts that burst from out the self
    Stream into distant space
    Unknowingly uniting
    The human being with the Spirit's life.

    Wenn aus den Weltenweiten
    Die Sonne spricht zum Menschensinn
    Und Freude aus den Seelentiefen
    Dem Licht sich eint im Schauen,
    Dann ziehen aus der Selbstheit Hülle
    Gedanken in die Raumesfernen
    Und binden dumpf
    Des Menschen Wesen an des Geistes Sein.


The common myth is that the Desiderata poem was found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and is centuries old, of unknown origin. "Desiderata" was in fact written around 1920 (although some say as early as 1906) and certainly copyrighted in 1927, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) based in Terra Haute, Indiana. The Desiderata myth began after Reverend Frederick Kates reproduced the Desiderata poem in a collection of inspirational works for his congregation in 1959 on church notepaper, headed: 'The Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, AD 1692' (the year the church was founded). Copies of the Desiderata page were circulated among friends and the myth grew, accelerated particularly when a copy of the erroneously attributed Desiderata was found at the bedside of the deceased Democratic politician Aidlai Stevenson in 1965.

Whatever the history of Desiderata, Ehrmann's prose is inspirational, and offers a simple positive credo for life.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Simple Seed Germination Experiment

This experiment is Growth 1 from the EnergyWorks Student Guide created by the NEED Project. We are doing it at home as a family, so that each of my daughters gets a chance to participate. However, in order to set up an experiment like this with many children (in the classroom or at home), you have to proceed in an organized fashion or you'll lose your mind!!

Here's how we did it. You need enough seeds for each child to have about 18. You also will probably want to make the stickers in advance (print on address labels if you have a classroom or write by hand if you are homeschooling). If you have an older child, have them make the stickers.

Step 1: Have one child divide the pea or bean seeds by taking little bowls (one for each person doing the experiment -- in our case, it was three) and setting them on the table. Then open the packet and dump it into a pile on the table. Continue by moving three (or however many bowls you have) seeds at a time out of the large pile and placing one in each dish - 1, 2, 3. Repeat until all the seeds are used up. This is called "sharing out" and is an early kind of division.

Step 2: Pass out the sandwich sized Ziploc bags -- 6 for each person. Have each child count their bags to be sure they have six.

Step 3: Pass out the paper towels -- 6 for each person. Demonstrate how to fold the paper towel in half and then in half again so that it forms a square. Let the children fold each paper towel and place one in each of their Ziploc bags. This may take longer than you expect but let them do it on their own.

Step 4: Have the children lay out their 6 bags in front of them and "share out" the seeds on their bowl by placing them under each bag, one at a time, until the seeds are used up. It does not matter how many seeds are in each, as long as there's at least one. Three per bag is preferable and gives you the best chances for germination.

Step 5: Working with one bag at a time, have the children carefully slide their beans into the bag on top of the paper towel.

Step 6: Read the Purpose of the experiment. Read the Materials. Read the Procedure and have each child make a Hypothesis.

Step 7: Have each child write his/her initials on each of the 6 bags that belong to them with a Sharpie. Place a sticker on each bag -- 6 total stickers, which have the following labels:

No Light
1 Hour
2 Hours
3 Hours
4 Hours
All Day

Step 8: Give each child a copy of the Growth 1 Data Sheet or make your own page in a Science Journal (one column for each baggie with space below it to record the day on which the seeds first germinated). Keep a blank copy of the Growth 1 sheet on the fridge. I find it is easiest to make this the Master and to record on it what time of day each baggie will go back into darkness. We are keeping all our baggies (except the All Day bag) in a bucket under the kitchen sink. At 7 am we get out all the baggies from the bucket (except the No Light bag) and place them on the kitchen table. At 8 am we put the 1 hour bag back in the bucket under the sink. At 9 am we put back the 2 hour bag. At 10 am we put back the 3 hour bag. At 11 am we put back the 4 hour bag. These times are written on the Master posted on the fridge. A timer set for one hour is also helpful.

Step 9: Pour a little water (and Plant Food- optional) into each bag so that the paper towel is wet but there is no standing water. Let the children zip each bag shut. Have them place the All Day bag on the windowsill in a room that gets plenty of sunlight.

Step 10: Using the schedule posted on the fridge, give each baggie the required amount of sunlight and observe what happens to your seeds!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Etsy Shop: Rjabinnik


I have to pass this one along. Okay, so the story goes like this. I want to get my girls something for their Easter baskets. Money is tight, so I want to use my $25.00 PayPal gift certificate. It can't be used for shipping, so I google "Waldorf store PayPal free shipping" because I have to pay with PayPal and I can't afford the shipping, just $25.00 worth of goods. And guess what I found? A darling little Etsy shop: Rjabinnik. This one is specializing in hand-made (hand-carved, sanded, painted, finished with beeswax, rubbed with felt) wooden figures designed by his wife and carved in his woodshop in the Czech Republic -- and he offers FREE SHIPPING worldwide! I was drooling over this stuff. He gives lots of photos, the measurements of each item, and they are very reasonably priced. The Plantain Fairy, the Wild Thyme fairy, and the Calendula fairy will shortly be living in our home. $9.00 apiece and that's $27.00 minus $25.00 which leaves $2.00 and my PayPal balance was $2.21 so it is perfect. And I will be back for sure to shop some more. His wife has her own Etsy store and is apparently a big felter but I didn't look for fear I would be tempted into dipping into my rent money. :-) Another time...

Art Journals for Children

So here we are enjoying our Spring Break. The girls have made a Wishlist and we hung it on the fridge; we are going to try to get as many things done on it as we can. The playground at Cove Point Park was yesterday. Today was a playdate and a visit to the Calvert Marine Museum. We also got new pajamas which wasn't exactly on the list, but it needed to be done. Amazingly, I found organic 100% cotton pajamas at Walmart for five bucks a pair!

While we were at the CMM gift shop, we did a little stationery shopping. I got a little "scratch pad" notepad for Rebecca made by PooPooPaper (recycled paper made from elephant dung). Rebecca is five and finds all things that have to do with body parts or bodily functions absolutely hilarious. The scratch pad has a lovely seahorse cover (very tasteful) and a picture of a pooping elephant on the packaging (not so much). It says "Made by Elephants in the Kingdom of Thailand" on it, which is super-cool. Also, a percentage of profits from the sale of their products is contributed towards the conservation of elephants. The scratch pad is small and chunky and blank inside, so it is perfect for her little drawings.

This company also sells notecard/envelope sets and other items:

Natalie and Leah are a bit older and got very nice little blank journals featuring beautiful illustrations of songbirds on the cover, with info about each bird on the back, including its scientific name and region. These are made by Two's Company. Both girls are planning on making storybooks -- with writing on one page and an illustration on the facing page. Time to get out the colored pencils!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maths of Practical Life: Bartering

In Waldorf Third Grade Math, the focus is on "Maths of Practical Life." This means time, temperature, weight, volume, linear measurement, and so on. One of these is Money. This unit is called "Bartering: Trade Goods & The Development of Currency." It focuses on HOW money came about. Like the other materials I'm adding to my website in this recent flurry of activity, it can only be downloaded by those who have a waldorfcurriculum.com subscription. A subscription is $30.00 (of which I get $28.53) for six months and includes every single tiny little bit of curriculum on the website.

Overview of the Bartering unit

Animal Architects

Yes, I am spending my Spring Break looking through my computer for partially completed projects I want to finish, or units I've written but hadn't yet converted into pdfs and put on the website. Partly because I have time, partly because my free trial of Adobe 9 is about to expire. :-)

Here's one:
Animal Architects (click to download - subscription required)

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This is an interesting unit. Its a kind of a variation on the 4th grade Zoology block with a Physics twist. I originally got the idea when a friend needed to include some Physics for the Canadian requirement for her child's grade level. It might be helpful to someone else as well!

By the way, while looking for the Encyclopedia Britannica book/tape set Prairie Dog Town (I didn't find it), I found a book by L. Frank Baum (creator of the Wizard of Oz) called Prairie-Dog Town Languishing in obscurity for many years, it is now back in print thanks to Addison Press. Fascinating! I'd love to read it.

Seed Books for Primary

Two excellent Seed books have newly come to my attention; both are for young children. Seed Leaf Flower Fruit (Maryjo Koch Series)is still my pick for Elementary age, for information and detail of drawings, although it could be enjoyed by any age as a picture book.

The first is A Fruit Is a Suitcase for Seeds

The second is A Seed Is Sleepy

By the way, author Dianna Hutts Aston also wrote An Egg Is Quiet

Farming & Gardening / Introduction to Fractions

I've written a unit to be a Bridge between 3rd and 4th grade. It combines 3rd grade Farming & Gardening with 4th grade Introduction to Fractions. I've also included some introduction to decimals ideas (using money to purchase supplies for the garden) for folks who need to do both fractions and decimals for their state requirements. I think it's appropriate for 3rd graders to learn about money as one of the maths of practical life.

Download this unit from my website (subscription required)

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This block can also be used by folks who are bringing Waldorf to their child later and they want to do Fractions in a more holistic way.

Here is a link to the coin stamps mentioned in the unit:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Native American Legends

NEW on my website is a 51 page Native American Legends 3rd grade Social Studies block. Subscription required. Click here to subscribe.

Lovely Wall Map of Native American Heritage, by National Geographic Magazine:

The Joys of a Smart Phone aka Flags of the World

Well, if a Luddite like myself has a Smart Phone, I guess they've really caught on!!!

I downloaded my first mp3 a few days ago.

And, I have to say, I've actually put my Data Contract and Mobile Web Browser to good use. Friday we had a feast as the culmination of the preK/K World Tour and the staff was setting up the tables for the foods from around the world, labeling all the dishes, and setting out flowers and little flags and things and the question came up, what does the flag of Morocco look like? We had a basket of flags but couldn't agree on which one was the Moroccan flag. And so I went online via my phone and looked it up! Groo-oo-vy. Then we had a mystery flag which I identified (it was the Republic of Congo) and I helped someone label the name of her Swedish dish with its correct spelling.

So, amazingly, I saved the day!

Flags of the World website (in alphabetical order, with thumbnails)

Here's a nice Flags of the World Montessori material:

Poetry: Rhyme Scheme

I just found the little index card with my notes to myself when teaching Rhyme Scheme in Poetry, so I thought I would share. This is where the ending sound of each line is assigned a letter, starting with a. If the next line has the same ending sound as the first, it is also an a. If its ending sound is different, that line is tagged b. And so on, to the end, and the poem's rhyme scheme/pattern has been recorded. Some examples might be abab or aabb. Shakespeare favored abab cdcd efef gg in his sonnets. This is easy to teach if you've already studied Patterns in Math (in Waldorf, this is introduced in Grade 2).

I find an anthology of VERY simple children's poetry makes teaching this lesson easier.

It's actually an awesome anthology and one of my favorite suggestions for a New Baby gift. I love Polly Dunbar's illustrations!

Here were the poems I used in my lesson.

"August Ice Cream Cone"


(to introduce the concept -- this poem is aa)

Then I modeled on the board, talking out loud as I worked my way through identifying and writing the rhyme scheme of each poem:
"Piggy Back"
"Paper Songs"

And, finally, I read aloud "The Early Morning" twice slowly for their first attempt to write the rhyme scheme on their own. They listened and wrote what they thought the rhyme scheme was and then I explained the answer so they could check their work.

My lesson plans for the entire Poetry unit are available at my website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Caldecott Medal

The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

The award is named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott, and was originally created as sort of the flip side of the Newbery Medal. While the Newbery is awarded to the "most distinguished American children's book" of the previous year, the Caldecott is awarded specifically to illustrators.

2010 The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

2009 The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes

2008 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

2007 Flotsam by David Wiesner

2006 The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka

2005 Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

2004 The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

2003 My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

2002 The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

2001 So You Want To Be President? by Judith St. George

2000 Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback

1999 Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

1998 Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky

1997 Golem by David Wisniewski

1996 Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

1995 Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

1994 Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

1992 Tuesday by David Wiesner

1991 Black and White by David Macaulay

1990 Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young

1989 Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman

1988 Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

1987 Hey, Al by Arthur Yorinks

1986 The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

1985 Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges

1984 The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel With Louis Bleriot, July 25, 1909 by Alice Provensen

1983 Shadow by Blaise Cendrars

1982 Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

1981 Fables by Arnold Lobel

1980 Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall

1979 The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

1978 Noah's Ark by Peter Spier

1977 Ashanti To Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret W. Musgrove

1976 Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema

1975 Arrow To the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale by Gerald Mcdermott

1974 Duffy and the Devil by Harve Zemach

1973 The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel

1972 One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian

1971 A Story, a Story: An African Tale by Gail E. Haley

1970 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

1969 The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: Arthur Ransome by Arthur Ransome

1968 Drummer Hoff by Barbara Emberley

1967 Sam Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness

1966 Always Room for One More by Sorche Nic Leodhas

1965 May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers

1964 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

1963 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

1962 Once a Mouse... by Marcia Brown

1961 Baboushka and the Three Kings: Ruth Robbins by Ruth Robbins

1960 Nine Days To Christmas by Marie Hall Ets

1959 Chanticleer and the Fox by Geoffrey Chaucer

1958 Time of Wonder by Robert Mccloskey

1957 A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry

1956 Frog Went A-Courtin'by John Langstaff

1955 Cinderella by Charles Perrault

1954 Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans

1953 The Biggest Bear by Lynn K. Ward

1952 Finders Keepers by Nicolas Will

1951 The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous

1950 Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi

1949 The Big Snow by Berta Hader

1948 White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt

1947 The Little Island by Golden MacDonald

1946 The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles by Maud Petersham

1945 Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

1944 Many Moons by James Thurber

1943 The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

1942 Make Way for Ducklings by Robert Mccloskey

1941 They Were Strong and Good by Robert Lawson

1940 Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D'aulaire

1939 Mei Liby Thomas Handforth

1938 Animals of the Bible: A Picture Book by Dorothy P. Lathrop