Wednesday, October 21, 2020

More Ideas for Saints and SWI

It is extremely important to attend at least one SWI workshop so that you understand the approach, but I am happy to share some notes. For initial training, I strongly recommend Pete Bowers, Rebecca Loveless, or Fiona Hamilton. For going deeper, study with Gina Cooke or Michel Mira-Rameau!
I have links to all of their sites on the homepage of

The Saints Block and SWI previous post

This is a fun thing to go into if you are homeschooling children of different ages. The younger child can simply hear the Saint story and the older child can do the deeper SWI explorations as part of his/her language arts lesson.

More possible connections between the Saints block and SWI investigations, with links to the Online Etymology Dictionary by Doug Harper, etymonline:

Cenydd (anglicized as Keneth)
story source: "The Story of Saint Keneth"
from Saints Among the Animals by Cynthia Zarin, page 46

SWI exploration of < nest >
consider nest, nests, nested, nesting, nestling, nestle, and nest egg

story source: "Odilia and Aldaric"
from The Giant at the Ford and Other Legends of the Saints by Ursula Synge, page 48 (this book is also available free to read at

SWI exploration of < blind >
in the family: blind, blinded, blindness, blinders, duck blind, deer blind
not in the family: night, see, darkness, Braille

story source: The Saint and His Bees by Dessi Jackson

SWI exploration of < bee >
find words in the < bee > family and write word sums for them, such as
bee + s
bee + keep + er
bee + keep + ing
honey + bee
sweat + bee
bumble + bee
bee + line
bee + hive
bee + s + wax
spell + ing + bee

Dorothea of Caesarea
story source: "The Roses from Paradise"
from The Book of Saints and Heroes by Mrs. Lang, page 4 (this book is also available free to read at The Baldwin Project / Gateway to the Classics)

SWI exploration of < governor >
consider govern, governess, governor, government, misgovern, ungoverned


story source: Saint Felix and the Spider by Dessi Jackson

SWI exploration of < web >
consider web, webs, webbed, webbing, website, web page, web-footed

this word is nice for introducing the three categories of compound words (website, web page, web-footed); also for introducing the consonant doubling convention with a vowel suffix; also for introducing etymological "cousins" such as weave, weaver, wove, woven, wave, wavy, waffle

story source: Saint Conrad and the Wildfire by Maura Roan McKeegan

SWI exploration of < fire >
how many words can you think of that are built on the base < fire >?
write word sums for them and play around with the Mini Matrix-Maker site

would the word < fiery > go in the matrix? it is clearly a relative!
no... since it is not built on the base < fire > we have to call it a cousin

morphological relatives share a base (a modern-day spelling pattern); etymological relatives share a root (a long-ago word from Greek, Latin, etc.)

Rose of Lima
story source: More Once-Upon-a-Time Saints by Ethel Marbach, page 44

SWI exploration of < glass >
consider glass; look at entry for its Proto-Indo-European root < *ghel- > (2) "to shine" and find etymological cousins such as < glisten > and < glow >

Moses the Black
story source: Abba Moses: Notorious Robber, Desert Father by Andrew Votipka

SWI exploration of < murder >
consider murder, murdered, murderer, mordant, mortal, mortify, mortgage

it is especially interesting in the context of this story that murder is related to remorse

maybe explore the "biting" of mordant by doing some Crockpot Dyed Wool (vinegar mordants wool) or Dyeing Fabric with Fruit (salt mordants cotton)

story source: The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi

SWI exploration of < miracle >

practice reading an entry, following a link, and searching in etymonline:
from what Old French word did < miracle > come?
from what Latin word did < miracle > come?
how is the word < miracle > related to < smile >?
what Old English word did < miracle > replace?
how did Miracle Whip get its name?

it is worth looking more deeply at Old English wundortacen and wundorweorc as compound words and looking up tacen and weorc to see what they mean

story source: The Queen and the Cross: The Story of Saint Helen by Cornelia Bilinsky

SWI exploration of < search >
consider search, research, circus, circle (which replaced Old English trendel and hring); do you think that the word < trundle > is related to trendel?

Tekla of Ethiopia
story source: A Saint and His Lion: The Story of Tekla of Ethiopia by Elaine Murray Stone

SWI exploration of < strength >
consider Old English letters no longer in use (Old English streng├żu, streng├░) and spelling patterns which have stayed or become obsolete (strong/strength, long/length, strong/strenger/strengest, old/elder/eldest)

Martin de Porres
story source: Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt

SWI exploration of < lemon >
find a map or a globe and trace with your finger the physical places mentioned in the etymology of < lemon > (n.1) , all the way back to the Malay archipelago; compare with the journey for the word < lime > (n.2)

Hildegard of Bingen
story source: The Secret World of Hildegard by Jonah Winter

SWI exploration of < shine >
consider shine, shining, shiner, sunshine, moonshine, shoeshine, outshine

this word is nice for introducing the "replaceable e" with a vowel suffix

true or false: the word < shine > is related to the word < cheetah > ?

story source: Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan

SWI exploration of < cloak >
true or false: the word < cloak > is related to the word < clock > ?

story source: Saint Bernadette and the Miracles of Lourdes by Demi

SWI exploration of < grotto >
true or false: the word < grotto > is related to the word < grotesque > ?

Elizabeth of Hungary
story source: Roses in the Snow: A Tale of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

SWI exploration of < rose > (Old English rose, from Latin rosa)
which of these words does NOT belong?
rose, rosebud, rosary, melrose, rosemary, julep

Simeon the Stylite
story source: "The Saint on the Pillar"
from The Book of Saints and Heroes by Mrs. Lang, page 33 (this book is also available free to read at The Baldwin Project / Gateway to the Classics)

SWI exploration of < hut >
which of these words does NOT belong?
hut, hose, cuticle, curtain, sky, scum

Adam & Eve
story source: several early chapters from And There Was Light: From the Creation of the World to Noah's Ark by Jakob Streit (this book is also available free to download as a PDF at The Online Waldorf Library)

"The World's Beginning" on page 7
"The Creation of Man" on page 28
"In Paradise" on page 31
"The Fall" on page 32

SWI exploration of < garden >
which of these words does NOT belong?
garden, girdle, choir, curtsy, bow, Asgard / Midgard

story source: Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

SWI exploration of < island >
which of these words does NOT belong?
island, land, earth, aquamarine, sewer, gouache

story source: "St. Wulfric, the Boy and the Bread"
from The Giant at the Ford and Other Legends of the Saints by Ursula Synge, page 175 (this book is also available free to read at

SWI exploration of < bread >
which of these words does NOT belong?
bread, breakfast, brick, lord, lady, knight

I have taught this block before and not bought so many picture books! It doesn't have to be done this way and it doesn't have to be expensive.

I usually read chapters from one of my classic collections of Waldorf stories for the Saints; however, now that our homeschool co-op is doing distance learning I thought it would be nice if the children each had a few stories in their tote bags that were different, and then they could meet on Zoom and share the legends with one another. Thus this year's extra-long list!

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

Feast Days of Some Favorite Saints

Not everyone studies the Saint Legends as a block, of course. Another way to do it is to just learn their story on their Feast Day as they are sprinkled about through the year. A fun way to introduce the idea of a Feast Day is by reading Catherine, Called Birdy as a read-aloud story (although some people save that for the block on the Middle Ages), and if you have a children of several ages whom you are homeschooling, combining a 2nd grade Saints block with a 6th grade Middle Ages block is a really nice pairing.

Catherine, Called Birdy

by Karen Cushman

Here are the Feast Days for 30 of the saints I've suggested stories for throughout the years of teaching this topic. Here I'm assuming that you are starting this block in the summer and continuing throughout the school year:

Kevin of Glendalough - Jun 3

Cenydd (anglicized as Keneth) - Jul 5

Christopher - Jul 25

Rose of Lima - Aug 23

Tekla of Ethiopia - Aug 17

Helen - Aug 18

Moses the Black - Aug 28 (Chalcedonian)

Hildegard of Bingen - Sep 17

Michael - Sep 29

Jerome - Sep 30

Francis of Assisi - Oct 4

Colman mac Duagh - Oct 29

Martin de Porres - Nov 3

Martin of Tours - Nov 11

Elizabeth of Hungary - Nov 17

Hilda of Whitby - Nov 17

Conrad - Nov 26

Felix - Nov 20

Nicholas - Dec 6

Odilia - Dec 13

Adam & Eve - Dec 24

Simeon the Stylite - Jan 5

Brigid - Feb 1

Werburgh - Feb 3

Dorothea of Caesarea - Feb 6

Modomnoc - Feb 13

Wulfric - Feb 20

Patrick - Mar 17

Bernadette - Apr 16

Joan of Arc - May 30

If you can't find the story source I used for one of these saints, just ask! Several of them are in a LOT of anthologies (and several of them are really hard to find), so I'm happy to share which story version is my favorite.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Resources with Photos of Main Lesson Book Pages

I have wanted for some time to go back and compile a list of the photo-heavy blog posts I've done that show pictures of all of the pages of a main lesson book. I know that it is always so fun to see what other people did! Here are some other great options:

Pinterest is a wonderful source of MLB page examples, and I've created an extensive set of boards showing chalkboard drawings and MLB pages for the Waldorf main lesson blocks in grades 1-8 (as well as Reggio & Montessori).

Jamie York also helpfully has a section of his website devoted just to MLB pages for math main lesson blocks.

Waldorf Teacher Resources is also an excellent resource and is really nicely organized!

Sady, the Gallery feature at Waldorf Today Newsletter is no longer working, but Eugene Schwartz (no relation) at Millenial Child has a gallery on main lesson book pages and student art at his website. He does videos and podcasts and virtual conferences, and I believe he's also created an app. I once co-hosted a roundtable at a Waldorf homeschool conference with him. He never homeschooled but was a Waldorf class teacher for a long time, and has really made it a top priority to support homeschoolers.

Grade One

Grade Two

Place Value: Ocean Zones
this is an example book which I made while working with a tutoring client

Stories of the Saints
Leah, who actually did this block in sixth grade as part of the Middle Ages

Grade Three

Baking: Time, Temperature, Weight & Volume

Farming & Gardening
Leah and Natalie

Grade Four

Man & Animal I and II

Norse Mythology I and II

Grade Five

Grade Six

String, Straight-Edge & Shadow

String, Straight-Edge & Shadow

Business Math
Leah and Natalie

Grade Seven

Age of Exploration, Renaissance & Reformation

Grade Eight

Human Anatomy & Physiology

Shakespearean Drama: Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing


World Geography & Economics

In putting this list together I am realizing that I have many main lesson books in Natalie, Leah, and Becca's Portfolio Bins which I have never photographed! I'll try to work on doing those over the Thanksgiving Break. Then I will post them in the blog, and I will keep this page updated as well.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ocean Zones MLB - Photos


Blog posts from when I was teaching this in 2017 (making calendars):

Updated Book List - July 6, 2020
Habitats: Mesopelagic, Bathypelagic, Abyssopelagic, Hadalpelagic Zones

Blog posts from when I was teaching this topic in 2020 (making MLBs):

It worked best for us to make our Ocean Zones book in this order:

1. do the calculations and label the depth in meters at the bottom of each page

2. add Table of Ocean Zones to the last page

3. read about people who have traveled to the bottom of the Challenger Deep; use the oil pastel transfer technique to add the map of where the Mariana Trench is located to the second to last page (where ocean ends)

4. do contour model kit; color and add the topo map of the Mariana Trench to the inside back cover

5. read the books on the booklist and make a list of interesting ocean animals which we might want to add to the MLB

6. do the Walking into the Deep sorting activity from the Georgia Aquarium

    this is worth printing in full color!

    I wrote the name of each animal on the back of its picture and then cut the fact cards apart so that she had to match the info with the picture of each animal before sorting them into what zone they live in

7. revisit the list of interesting ocean animals which we want in our book; research and add the depth of each animal beside its name on the list

8. draw faint lines across the MLB where each new ocean zone begins

9. use stickie notes to mark the MLB pages where each proposed animal will go, and see if there are too many or too few animals for each zone

10. make decisions about art projects for chosen animals

11. do the art and add it to the book!

    I also added my little foam penguin from the Penguin Camo activity

    to do this activity you'll need 2 mm thick craft foam in white and black, glue, bowl of water, flashlight, piece of black paper, scissors, and a penguin pattern (which I printed at 60%)

    I fastened my little penguin in with a loop of tape, so that I can remove it for future demonstrations of penguin camo

12. add name, age, and year the book was made to the back cover

Here are my photos of this really fun MLB:

front cover
watercolor painting
painting a seal by painting the watery environment around it...
based on the seal painting I did with Leah
inspired by this painting (which was inspired by this Live Ed! lesson)

page 1
craft foam penguin from Penguin Camo activity

page 2 - 27 m
colored pencil coral reef
based on One Night in the Coral Sea

page 4 - 1000 m
colored pencil helmet jellyfish
based on Walking into the Deep (PDF)

page 5 - 1175 m
lift-the-flap 10 inch diameter paper circle for giant squid eye
based on Actual Size

page 5 - 1200 m
colored pencil blobfish
based on Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals

page 7 - 2200 m
colored pencil yeti crab
based on Weird Sea Creatures

page 8 - 2400 m
glass squid collage with tracing paper and self-adhesive gems
based on this picture

page 9 - 2700 m
ping pong tree sponge stamped with wine corks
based on this picture

page 9 - 3000 m
colored pencil vampire squid with spots of glow in the dark paint
based on Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea

page 11 - 3500 m
krill stamped with pinkie finger
based on the Krill Swarm project I did with Natalie

page 12 - trash
this was a piece of trash we actually collected from the ground outside

page 15 - 5000 m
Enypniastes (sea cucumber) collage with tracing paper and colored pencil
based on this picture

this is the one piece of art I'm most frustrated with

the clear tracing paper works so well to show that the creature is completely see-through, and it is so fun to see all of its organs! it's quite adorable

but I have never found an adhesive that doesn't show through

in the calendar I used glue dots and this time I used Elmer's liquid glue and for both of them the glue shows and quite ruins the translucent effect

page 16 - marine snow
old toothbrush & screen speckled white paint on black paper
based on Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea

page 17 - 6000 m
pencil drawing of a sea pig
based on Walking into the Deep (PDF)

page 23 - 8145 m
white chalk pencil drawing of Mariana snailfish on black paper
based on this picture

page 25 - 9000 m
tissue paper dancing violet deep-sea Holothurian (sea cucumber)
attached only at the top so that it can flutter and move
based on this video

Violet sea cucumber swims above sea floor near Mariana trench (0:36)

page 29 - bacteria
monoprinted with acrylic paint, cotton swabs, and 8-inch round Gelli plate

page 30 - 10,900 m
colored pencil worms
based on Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea

page 31 - oil pastel transfer map of Mariana Trench location

page 32 - five zones of the ocean

inside back cover - topographic map of the Mariana Trench

We actually did this as a Math block, so the emphasis was on the place value, math calculations, scale, measurement, estimation, etc. Doing the art for the animals was an awesome bonus! It's great when you can take take the skills you want to teach and fold them into the topic that the child has chosen and is truly interested in.

When I taught this in Science Club as an Ecology block, we went much deeper into different aspects of the ocean. You could, however, incorporate a little bit of a conservation slant by adding a piece of trash that you find on the ground, like a candy wrapper, to one of the pages of the MLB. We did this! I think it is important to talk with kids about trash going into the ocean.

One of the nice things about doing the calendar is that every month has its piece of art. It's tidy and complete. The nice thing about doing it as a book is that you have room to add new animals that you learn about. There is plenty of space left! I did have several empty pages, but I think that just serves as a reminder of how vast and unknown the depths of the ocean are...

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