Sunday, November 1, 2020

Care Packages for the Fables Block

Like the Saints block, the Fables block is thought to help children with that inner push/pull that they so strongly experience at around age 8. These stories are brief but I find they're actually harder to summarize for the MLB because children attempt to completely retell them. Get to the heart of the thing by acting the stories out! Since they usually have only two characters, they are a perfect fit for short and simple drama or puppetry experiences.

The numbers in Illinois, and across the country, are continuing to get worse so I'm preparing to support parents in our homeschool co-op who'll be doing this block completely at home. If we are able to meet in person, great! But just in case we are not I have typed up a little "Fables Anthology" of nine favorites. Along with the stories themselves I'm sharing some simple activity suggestions that were popular from previous times I've taught this block, and I am giving parents a few of the needed supplies in their care package:

two long-handled wooden spoons

two pieces of natural colored modeling beewax

one pair of chopsticks

one natural sea sponge

The two books that I think are best for this block, and highly recommend, are Aesop's Fables by Ann McGoven and Teaching with the Fables, A Holistic Approach: Teaching with the Fables as Extended Tale, Poem, Illustration, Play, Puppet Show & Natural Science Lesson by Sieglinde de Francesca.

Here are the Fables we will be doing in November plus some activity ideas (and if the story or an idea for it is included in a Waldorf teacher resource, I've included that link as well). I'll put some photos in the next post. I have LOTS of pictures!

1. "The North Wind and the Sun"
retold by Freire Wright and Michael Foreman
in Borrowed Feathers and Other Fables

    we act this out using a warm cloak, but a play silk works too

    retelling in poem form: "The Wind and the Sun" by Walter Crane, page 118 of The Waldorf Book of Poetry

2. "The Milkmaid and Her Pail"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 53

    act out by walking carefully with a basket balanced on your head

3. "The Fox and the Grapes"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 5

4. "The Fox and the Stork"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 51

    two plates, two tall thin vases, and a pair of chopsticks (to act it out, one person puts the chopsticks to their mouth to be the stork's beak)

    retelling in poem form: "The Fox and the Stork" by Jean de la Fontaine, page 118 of The Waldorf Book of Poetry

5. "The Crow and the Pitcher"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 22

    I find this works well as a shadow puppetry, for which you need a white sheet and something to hang the sheet from and a lamp from which the lampshade has been removed so that the bulb is naked

    the child who is acting out the story sits behind the sheet with the lamp positioned behind their hand (this will cast a shadow)

    it is normal for it to take a while to figure out how to position the sheet, the child, and the lamp so that the shadow is crisp and it is easy for the audience to follow what is happening

    use your vase from "The Fox and the Stork" and put some water in it (the water level should show in the shadow cast on the sheet)

    then have the child pinch fingers and thumb together like a "beak" and drop pebbles (or use your flattened glass gems) one at a time into the vase to raise the water level until it is high enough, then mime drinking

    retelling and extensive teaching suggestions in Teaching with the Fables, A Holistic Approach, page 47

6. "City Mouse - Country Mouse"
retold by Marian Parry
in City Mouse - Country Mouse and Two More Mouse Tales from Aesop

    for this I like to decorate two wooden spoons as the mice, by drawing faces on them with colored pencil and adding construction paper ears and clothing (of course, the city mouse has fancier garb)

    it is much easier for the puppeteer if you write City Mouse and Country Mouse on the curved side of the spoons, which is the side that is facing the child teling the story

    you don't need a backdrop to tell this story, but the students in the past have made elaborate drawings on the chalkboard of the simple mouse hole versus the mansion; at your home, you could draw the two houses on drawing paper and tape them up on the wall and the child and the spoon mice could "travel" from one to the other

    watercolor painting suggestion in Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1 to 8 by Thomas Wildgruber, page 145

    retelling in poem form: "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse" by Richard Schrafton Sharpe, page 116 of The Waldorf Book of Poetry

7. "The Hare and the Tortoise"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 60

    I like to do this story with an illustration with movable figures (the tortoise and the hare on little paper handles) as explained in Making Picture Books with Movable Figures by Brunhild Müller

    you can use the moving illustration to tell the story and then you can add the illustration to the MLB itself as your artwork (I suggest taping an envelope into the MLB to safely store the animal figures)

    retelling in poem form: "The Hare and the Tortoise," page 113 of The Waldorf Book of Poetry

8. "The Lion and the Mouse"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 32

9. "The Salt Peddler and the Donkey"
retold by Ann McGovern
in Aesop's Fables, page 59

    if you have a kitchen scale, use this story to inspire a science & math (measurement) investigation

    weigh the dry sponge in grams... how heavy is it?

    predict how much you think the sponge will weigh when wet

    saturate the sponge with water and then weigh it again

    children are always shocked at the results!

    this story works really well as a graphic-novel style illustration in the MLB, since there are different panels of action... Natalie, in fact, included it in her Story of Geometry main lesson book for Thales

    as this tale is about the famous mathematician, Thales of Miletus, if you have an older child in grade 6 or 7 you may also want to read the Thales chapter, "Pyramids, Olives, and Donkeys" in Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer, page 1

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