Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Scribes and Ships

Sometimes a section of a story really catches Natalie's fancy, such as Joan of Arc (her favorite character from the Hundred Years War). We went looking through our Saints section of the library from 2nd grade and found five books that included Saint Joan d'Arc.

This was for the chapter "Thelon Gest Wart Hate Verwas" (The Longest War That Ever Was) and she really liked the joke in the chapter title and Hillyer's writing style overall. I used the Stanford History Education Group lesson plans "Understanding the Black Death" and "The Black Death in Florence" to supplement the chapter, and I thought they were very interesting but they didn't seem to strike her as such. There are more SHEG lessons which suit our topic and I'm going to keep using them since I think that reading primary sources and being able to interpret them is important.

As you would expect from a 13 year old child, she likes the parts that strike the Heart the best. In fact, Sieglinde de Francesca writes in the back of her book Teaching with the Fablesthe following very good advice for all elementary and middle school ages:

"You will find, no matter what subject you are teaching, that there are basic elements to creating a truly holistic lesson plan for the whole child. These include:

  • Teaching to the head, heart, and hand
  • Creating an organic rhythm in the lesson
  • Conveying a sense of reverence for the material
  • Including some form of ritual in the lesson
  • Reviewing work from the previous lesson
  • Introducing at least one new thing with each lesson
  • Rendering the material in an artistic medium
Discover ways to apply these elements to the lessons you teach and you will see how alive they become, making teaching and learning a joy. Do be creative and above all, have fun!"

Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach
Teaching with the Fables as: Extended Tale, Poem, Illustration, Play, Puppet Show & Natural Science Lesson

Natalie loved the assignment of writing -- by hand, in her neatest print, in pen -- a passage of the Bible (we did Genesis 5:25-32) and starting all over again every time she made a mistake. You would think that this would be frustrating but actually she loved the challenge. After half an hour she had not gotten past the third line, but she wasn't at all upset. She thought it was fun. I had her record her start and end time. We followed this activity with Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press

I didn't have time to get it out from the library but I would have like to preface the invention of the printing press with the beautifully written and illustrated Marguerite Makes a Book

The invention of the printing press chronologically follows the event that marks the real end of the Middle Ages (and the fall of Rome for good); this is the conquering of Constantinople by the Turks in 1435. Wars have been fought with ammunition ever since. I remember a song from when I was in high school about how Constantinople is now called Istanbul, and no one really knows why, so I played it for her. She thought it was hilarious and it made searching all our encyclopedias for WHY Constantinople was renamed Istanbul a much more lively activity. (Not a particularly Waldorf idea but she loved it so I am passing it along... FREE if you have Amazon Prime.)

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Album: Flood
Song Title: Istanbul

When Natalie created her main lesson book page for the invention of the printing press yesterday she wanted to do some real printing, so she spent two hours carving letters out of potatoes. Then she decided that she wanted to do a moving picture for her main lesson book illustration like Leah did (for the Hare and the Tortoise), so today's illustration for Christopher Columbus will be a moving picture. She is watching Leah's lessons. Leah, for her part, is watching her big sister and wants to include potato printing in her next illustration. They are so grown up but so young too in many ways. Natalie, for example, just finished building a fort out of a card table and several quilts, and it is all set up in the living room. She is sitting in it happily playing Colorku

Play is still so much of how she likes to learn! She loved setting up the orienteering course in the yard when we learned about Marco Polo bringing the compass back from China.

Natalie has been looking enviously at Leah's wet-on-wet watercolor painting lessons so I am glad that she will be painting tomorrow when she learns about Ferdinand Magellan and lands newly discovered. This idea comes from Painting in Waldorf Education

We are having so much fun and I am taking so many photos! I'm really finding homeschooling middle school to be an enjoyable experience, even with a three month old who is cutting his first tooth!

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