Sunday, February 28, 2016

"I Want to be a Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher..."

I was working on a series of pages for a new client, about setting up a Waldorf Kindergarten environment in your home, and my 12 year old was looking over my shoulder at pictures like these:

The Autumn Corner
blog post - A Small Tribe

Homemade Playstands
blog post - Growing Roots and Wings

Madison Waldorf School Kindergarten classroom

Wasatch Charter School Kindergarten classroom

Homeschooling with Waldorf
blog post - The Wonder of Childhood

Waldorf Play Rooms
blog post - Moon to Moon

And she says to me, "I want to be a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, Mom! Forget 7th grade... next year I want to go back to Kindergarten."

And I said, Leah, you ARE. Because we are going to be setting up our home like this and doing all these things for Zac!

I've recently changed out the pile of books in my bathroom, which used to be my anthroposophical reading, because I realized the girls were reading them also. So, since they are all interested in Early Childhood, I've given them a new stack to enjoy:

Well, I Wonder: Childhood in the Modern World
by Sally Schweizer

Natural Childhood: The First Practical and Holistic Guide for Parents of the Developing Child
by John Thomson

Please Touch: How to Stimulate Your Child's Creative Development through Movement, Music, Art, and Play
by Susan Striker

Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art
by Susan Striker

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Preschool / Kindergarten Waldorf Homeschool - Booklist

Not everyone who has kids at home for the Early Childhood years is prepared to enter into Waldorf homeschooling for 1st - 8th grades.

So I have several booklist projects:

One is for those families who plan to homeschool for the grades and want to spend money on Kindy books that also contain curriculum suggestions for Waldorf in later years (I'm creating lists of books for each year that build successively and, being usable for multiple years, save you a ton of money),


one is for people who are just focused on the early years. Their hearts are set on giving their young children beautiful developmentally-appropriate Preschool and Kindergarten years and want to buy a few books but get lots of concrete advice and detailed help with implementing the Waldorf method.

I've assembled a list of 12 GREAT books.

I have so many Waldorf books on my Early Childhood shelf but these are the ones I would get if I was doing it all over again. Which I am, with Zac! :-)

I know full well that Live Ed has the most Waldorf-y of curricula -- and I do recommend their work for the grades -- but, to be honest, for the money you could spend on their Kindy package you can get these books and have MUCH more content and help:

Approx. total cost $250.00
With additional savings if you buy titles used through

Compare to the Live Education! Kindergarten package - $420.00

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Giving Students the Answer Key... Why Not?

This morning I sat sorting through the piles of paper on my coffee table, when I came across a little scrap I wrote to myself a few weeks ago. I had jotted down my homeschool goals -- five adjectives which I think should describe this homeschool experience with my children:





So, now my question to myself is, am I meeting my goals? Is their experience all these things? Is mine?

One of the reasons I love homeschooling is for the intellectual stimulation. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom makes you feel like you are living in a vacuum. I don't go out much and I don't know many people here, since I just moved to Illinois a little while ago. But when I am writing about curriculum, my mind still feels sharp. I feel happier and more alive.

Here's a philosophical curriculum question for you. I went to a conference years ago where the speaker suggested giving kids the answer key to their math practice questions each night. Yes, giving the answers along with the questions. Why? This initially seems counter-intuitive (maybe because so much of our public education system operates with a "gotcha" mentality) but it makes sense upon further reflection. He argued that having the answer key there helps kids see if they are solving the problems correctly. Instead of "practicing" the wrong way to do long division, and having the repetition drill it into their minds -- where you then have to un-teach before re-teaching -- students can immediately tell if they are having problems.

If math practice is for proficiency and mastery, not for "gotcha" and penalties, then why not provide the solutions?

I tried this with a challenging algebra assignment for Natalie. It was something I found on TpT which I liked: Linear Equations Matching. It provides review of the distributive property and it's much more challenging than our previous algebra review work: Matching Tables, Graphs, Verbal Descriptions, and Equations (also on TpT).

One quick aside: I like getting their weekly emails with links to middle and high school freebies, but I've learned not to try to cram in every new idea to my weekly plan each Monday morning when the email arrives ON TOP OF the things already written into my plan book. I now know to pencil in any lessons I want to use (one or two a week seem usable) into NEXT week's plan.

Anyway, I went over the first two with her on the chalkboard and then taped up the answer key and went about my business. She was surprised at first that I was giving her the answers but it really helped her to stay focused and motivated. After completing one set of matches on her own without looking, then checking and seeing she got it right, she went into the entry way to spread out her work on the floor, complete it, and then check in again. She didn't sit by it and "copy" the right answers. She used the strategy well.

So I would definitely recommend this idea to others! If you use it, let me know how it goes.

One more Natalie note. When we did our recent Short Story block I had her do a creative writing piece where she tried writing like an ethnographer (following reading and discussion of "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and Horace Miner's Body Ritual Among the Nacirema). I loved her piece and wanted to publish it here:

    The Rituals that Occur While in the Sacred Moor Gninid

    In the moor gninid shrine there are two main wooden objects of focus. The first one is a slab of bark on top of four logs at each corner. There are many of the second object surrounding the first. These are logs missing a quarter of the wood. The missing segments have not been found.

    On the slab of bark is placed a big piece of fabric, traditionally used to cover piles of feathers which are used to sleep upon. The purpose of this has not been identified. The pattern and colors, size and shapes are different in each hut, depending on the size and shape of the slab of bark.

    The shrine walls never look the same from hut to hut. They can be made of stone or wood which has been left in a natural state or covered with pretty paper or a thick colorful moving liquid called tniap. In the more wealthy huts the walls are then further covered with more pieces of paper spread at different intervals and heights, or pieces of wood with the middle section cut out and tniap put in in colorful designs to match or look like anything. Some huts even have srorrim in which magical gestures are done to see other natives.

    Once a year the moor gninid is used in a sacred ritual for a certain native. They have special charms used in these sacred rituals that they light on fire. The native then must put the fire out without harming the charm. The charm is then divided and everyone present must eat it. The natives present for this ritual are always different and the ritual is always slightly different. Sometimes these rituals are not always performed in the moor gninid. A sacred headpiece is most commonly seen during this ritual, although not all natives include it. All natives perform this ritual differently.

    Many different vessels are put on the fabric, depending on the time and the reason. Some are quite hot and cannot be touched with the hands.

    When the sun has risen the natives visit the moor gninid. They visit multiple times each day. If they do not, it is believed they will cause a great deal of harm to their health. They must bathe their hands and face in holy water, then bend in half on the logs in the prescribed position, do a series of prescribed gestures, and then take potions and charms from the vessels. These are then inhaled through the nose before they are put into the mouth on magical wands. There are three main types of wands. Each has a different purpose and is believed to help the natives take the charms and potions. The natives must be of certain age to use the magical wands. Before this age they smear the potions and charms on their skin. They also commonly put many charms into their noses. Occasionally they may use their hands to put the charms into their mouths or have natives who are of age put the magic wands into their mouths for them. Underaged natives then bathe themselves in the moorhtab to clean off the powders and potions that they applied earlier in the moor gninid.

    Sometimes the natives wear highly decorated outfits in the moor gninid during the evening ritual before going to the moorhtab and then to their piles of feathers.

Natalie will be 14 in a few weeks. Is she finding school rich, educational, varied, stimulating, and fun? I hope so!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Favorite Board Books - 9 Months Old

My little sweet pea, born May 23 of last year, is amazingly already nine months old!!!

From Pea to Pumpkin: A Pregnancy Journal

From Pea to Pumpkin: A Baby Journal
This journal is FANTASTIC; I like it a lot! Wish I had had the pregnancy one!

Favorite Board Books

illus. by Salley Mavor

The Carrot Seed
by Ruth Krauss

From Head to Toe
by Eric Carle

I Love You As Much...
by Laura Krauss Melmed

But Not the Hippopotamus
by Sandra Boynton

Guess How Much I Love You
by Sam McBratney

Is Your Mama a Llama?
by Deborah Guarino

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book
by Rod Campbell

Time for Bed
by Mem Fox
I met Jane Dyer in my Children's Literature class at Mt. Holyoke; she's lovely.

Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown

The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats

Orange Pear Apple Bear
by Emily Gravett

I Am a Bunny
by Ole Risom

Wordless Picture Books

Baby Animals Black and White
adorable illustrations by Phyllis Limbacher Tides
Research has shown that infants best perceive high-contrast black and white.

Make up the story for your child; let your child make up the story for you! Wordless picture books are one of my favorite concepts. This is the book my husband is comfortable reading to our son... as a reluctant reader himself.

by Gerda Muller

Let me know if I missed one of your favorites! We all have well-loved books around our homes. Personally, I do NOT like a few of what we own. For one: The Very Hungry Caterpillarbecause a butterfly does not make a cocoon. It makes a chrysalis. Moths make cocoons. Seems like a silly little thing, maybe, but it really bugs me. And it would make Marie Montessori nuts.

I didn't like Tana Hoban's black & white book as much, but it would definitely make a great baby shower gift. The folding accordion panels are cool.

Leah is doing the cat family and ruminants this week, while Natalie starts her 13 Supreme Court Justices romp through U.S. History and Government. For dinner tonight, Baked Pork Chops and Apples, Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Pistachios, and Natalie's jell-o salad Edible Model of the Animal Cell (her final activity for the human body). This consisted of two boxes of lemon jell-o and the following poked in at the halfway to jelling point:

    nucleus - whole cherry
    nucleolus - cherry pit
    centrioles - raisins
    mitochondria - pecan halves
    Golgi bodies - dried plums sliced in thirds with scissors
    lysosomes - cake sprinkles (round, colorful, flat disks)
    ribosomes - cake sprinkles (tiny, spherical, colorful balls)
    small vacuole - golden raisins
    large vacuole - piece of apple
    smooth & rough ER - dried dates cut into slivers