Saturday, April 25, 2015

Evolution Board Game

You can decide for yourself how/where you might want to work this in to your homeschool curriculum; I am leaning towards 8th Grade Physiology.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. Very interesting site to browse! My mother discovered this game, which was fully funded, and it looks stunning.

    "Evolution is the first board game to mimic how evolution actually works, not as a proactive progression along a technology tree, but as a flux with ebbs and flows to which players must continually adapt. Each species' success depends on how its traits interact with the changing environment, but no trait is unconditionally better than the others. It was originally designed by a Russian biologist to demonstrate scientific principles and later developed by prominent game designers as a labor of love.

    "Evolution and the Flight expansion features original watercolors by Catherine Hamilton. Catherine graduated from the Department of Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1991 and taught as a RISD professor between 1997 and 2003. She was featured in the 2012 HBO documentary "Birders: the Central Park Effect" and has developed a body of work that crosses the boundaries between artistic and scientific investigation."

Picture books that would be a good fit for this topic are The Tree of Life: A Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin - Naturalist, Geologist & Thinkerby Peter Sis and Galapagos Georgeby Jean Craighead George.

Life here is in Getting Ready for Baby Honeydew Melon mode. Researching cloth diapers at Mom's Milk Boutique and gathering ingredients for lactation cookie recipes... joining baby wearing groups and attending our childbirth class... organizing the baby's side of our bedroom... and I just had my baby shower on Tuesday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Seventh Grade Page

Just a note that I updated the links on the Class Seven page on the website.

If you are planning for this grade, stop by and check it out! And please also share with me links or resources that have been helpful to you, and I will gladly add them.


I haven't yet found a Waldorf community here (either through word of mouth or by checking the Networking page at Christopherus Homeschool), although it wouldn't surprise me if there was one since this is a college town. But I did found out that there is a small Sufi school and homeschool co-op as well as a well-established Sufi biodynamic farm.

Steiner & Biodynamics:

Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method

What Is Biodynamics?
A Way to Heal and Revitalize the Earth


I would love to learn more about this farm and collect with the people there.

Sufi vision inspires southern Illinois farm: Dayempur Farm strives for economic, agricultural, social and energy sustainability article

Dayempur Farm: Center for Sustainable Living website

Organic Living at Dayempur Farm from Jamie Drendel on Vimeo.

Southern Illinois Food Adventures: Local Adventures: Sufi Park Community Garden blog post

I worry about my soon-to-be 8th grader and her disconnect from reality through books. Now that we are lucky enough to have a house where she can have her own room, she increasingly hides away. She reads to the exclusion of almost everything else, hundreds of pages a day. My goal next year is to have the curriculum be a really good fit for her interests and developmental stage, to encourage her intrinsic motivation (which she had once upon a time but then lost), and to have as much be hands-on as possible. I wonder if I can find a way for her to work at this farm?

Recently learned, through an article in Whole Living November 2012, that "many organic farms, in the United States and beyond, provide free lodging to guests willing to lend a hand." Visit World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) to find a directory of host farms. The Montessori middle school program, ideally, takes place on a working farm. REAL work for children this age is so so important!!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Plan for 6th and 8th Grade

My girls have been in other kinds of progressive schools for years, so if we want to do Waldorf-inspired homeschooling for 6th and 8th grades, we are going to have do do some blocks from previous years which they missed. I think I'm going to have to use Alan Whitehead's suggestion of three week blocks. Normally I recommend to clients that they think of each MLB as a month, but I have more content than that to fit in. I also am going to put most of the Science in "Hands" in order to get it in, and I think that this is fair, given that Science experiments are so hands-on.

This is a VERY Tentative Plan everybody, so don't hold me to it!

Especially since I'll have a thee month old infant when the school year starts!

School Year Times
I'm thinking Head (A block) from 8:30 am to 10 am. 1 1/2 hours.
This starts after we drop Becca off at school.

Heart (B block) from 10 am to 11 am. 1 hour.
Total morning span 2 1/2 hours.

Two hour block for lunch

Hands (C block) from 1 pm to 3 pm. 2 hours.
Total afternoon span 2 hours.
This ends when we go pick Becca up from school.

The color coding is from when I used to teach at the Montessori school. Kids would plan their own day and record what they did in each subject in a composition notebook. One page for each day, with the date at the top. They would record the tile of their lesson and put a colored dot in the margin to show what subject they were working in, to help them plan a balanced day. I like the idea of having a Plan Book for each child to write in. Even though I'm planning the day and not them, they need to have documentation of their homeschooling. I have my plan book; they should have theirs!

By the way, we made penmanship Gold, to along with Illuminated Manuscripts.

Marguerite Makes a Book

Hands - purple

I know that Sports needs to be weekly, maybe Fridays? That is when Alan Whitehead always had it. The weekend is an option too, of course, especially because then Adam will be able to work with them.

The other topics I'm going to list along with the MLB's they'll accompany, so that I can make sure the schedule looks balanced.

Heart - red

I like the idea of doing a daily rotation for these topics, and so I am thinking

  • Monday - Form Drawing and Cursive Handwriting
  • Tuesday - Singing and Orchestra
  • Wednesday - Beeswax and Clay Modeling
  • Thursday - Drawing and Painting
  • Friday - Foreign Language (Spanish and Latin)

We also need to remember that daily Yoga and Meditation go in Heart.

Head - Main Lesson Block Rotation
Cultural - orange
Language Arts - yellow
Science - green
Mathematics - blue

Week 1, 2, 3

6th - Aesop's fables, puppetry
8th - Renaissance & Reformation
Handwork - knitting & crochet

Week 4, 5, 6

6th - time, temperature, weight and volume: baking
8th - geometry: surfaces and volumes
Handwork - spinning & weaving

Week 7, 8, 9
Language Arts

6th - tall tales, personal narratives
8th - ballads, drama, tragedy
Handwork - wet & dry felting

Week 10, 11, 12

6th - zoology, man & animal block
8th - physiology & organic chemistry
Science - nature study, Thornton Burgess

Week 13, 14, 15

6th & 8th - saints and virtuous people, world geography
Handwork - dyeing & batik

Week 16, 17, 18

6th - fractions
8th - practical applications of arithmetic, graphing
Handwork - embroidery & cross stitch, Celtic knots

Week 19, 20, 21
Language Arts

6th - Norse mythology
8th - short stories and letters, creative writing
Science - physics: mechanics

Week 22, 23, 24

6th & 8th - physics: acoustics, optics
Handwork - artistic hand sewing projects

Week 25, 26, 27

6th - Native American legends, housebuilding, U.S. geography, biomes
8th - world economics
Handwork - inorganic chemistry

Week 28, 29, 30

6th - currency & decimals, percentage & ratio
8th - algebra, negative numbers, square and cube roots
Science - physics: thermodynamics, hydraulics, aerodynamics

Week 31, 32, 33
Language Arts

6th - Old Testament stories and grammar
8th - poems with contrasting moods, Shakespeare
Handwork - woodworking & carpentry

Week 34, 35, 36

6th & 8th - farming & gardening, botany
Handwork - soapstone carving

Week 37, 38, 39

6th - rise and fall of Rome, European civilization through the Middle Ages
8th - Industrial Rev to present day, machine sewing, electricity & magnetism
Science - ecology

There are so many resources, given that I'm doing so many topics! Happily several Waldorf books focus exclusively on, and thoroughly cover, the middle school (6th through 8th grade) curriculum. Two of these are

Making Math Meaningful:
A Middle School Math Curriculum for Teachers and Parents
by Jamie York

Physics Is Fun!
A Sourcebook for Teachers
by Roberto Trostli

I'm working on updating my page on 8th grade resources, so please check it out and let me know if you have any other suggestions!

On a completely unrelated note, Baby Pineapple has had the hiccups off and on all day. :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Painting Pallets

This weekend was jam-packed with family time! Saturday was drier so we got out 8 pallets and the four little containers of "Oops" paint which we bought (total cost for four tomato/cucumber/squash trellises/cages was $24.41) and spread out the trusty camo tarp and had a painting party.

We moved more straw to add to our lasagna layers (Leah and Becca loved the pitchforks, which was a new tool to them, and moved garden cart after garden cart load), in addition to continuing to empty out compost and spread layers of it, and we've also lined up bags and bags of leaves from the neighbors. We will need to plant more... but Natalie and I did plant spinach, beet, carrot, and radish seeds as well as our seed potatoes.

Now I need to remember to water!

We can't wait to see how these things grow. As we add more bird feeders, we've observed more wildlife in our yard, including a little chipmunk who visits very day. So there are plants and animals both to watch! This is not only Farming & Gardening but it's botany and zoology and geology. I recently heard about Foldscopes... have you SEEN this? A 50 cent paper microscope that folds like origami!!!

This is from "a research team at PrakashLab at Stanford University, focused on democratizing science by developing scientific tools that can scale up to match problems in global health and science education.... Foldscope, a new approach for mass manufacturing of optical microscopes that are printed-and-folded from a single flat sheet of paper, akin to Origami."

Simply unbelievable. Imagine, all over the world, a microscope in every kid's pocket. My colleage in Maryland is part of the Beta program but they have now closed it. However, you can still see the TED talk. And a great tie-in to this concept, and to teaching about microscopes in general, is

Newbery honor book
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

I have done this as a read-aloud, as has Denise, and it has been a favorite!

One of the things I'm really excited about for homeschooling 6th and 8th grade next year is the ability to do a lot of Science, integrate it into our daily lives, and not have to stop exploring a concept when a "unit" is over. Even if we do Main Lesson Blocks, and let something rest and then return to it, if I keep the curiosity, creativity and exploration aspect open throughout the year, they can continue to engage in observation and scientific inquiry.