Monday, February 8, 2016

I Am a Baby Porcupette

This week we are memorizing "I Am a Baby Porcupette," an adorable poem from the 2011 Newbery Honor book Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

It is so sweet but it also contains a lot of factual information about the baby porcupine. In fact, this book is so helpful! It is arranged wonderfully, and I love the illustrations. The poems are accompanied by sidebars of facts about each topic, and each poem celebrates the natural world. Just as a reminder, I made up an exhaustive list of books of poetry I own that would be useful in the grade 4/5 Man and Animal block: David Attenborough and Animal Poetry.

We are in Part II of this topic and I am following the standard second group: the bird, rodent, carnivore, ungulate/ruminant series of animals. Porcupine, obviously, is a rodent. I had so many beautiful chalkboard drawings and main lesson book pages saved on Pinterest that it was hard to choose and narrow down the final list of animals! However, we started with songbirds (birds in our backyard) and covered blue jay, red-headed woodpecker, and chickadee using Thornton Burgess's book The Burgess Bird Book for Children

Leah really wanted to also do the Osprey, her favorite bird, but we don't live in Southern Maryland anymore so I wasn't sure. If you live near this bird, though, I REALLY recommend a terrific book by a Southern MD author: Oscar and Olive Osprey: A Family Takes Flight

I met Janie Suss and she was lovely. She came to our school when the book first came out, and told the story of how she asked her husband to build the nesting platform at the end of her pier. He did, and the osprey family came! She observed them daily and gathered the notes and pictures, then wrote her narrative. The description of the birds learning to fly is one of my favorites.

Just a note: Several years later it was in our local paper that some young boys trespassed and casually shot Olive with a BB gun: Farewell Olive Osprey. The osprey is a federally protected bird and there should have been a $15,000 penalty. However, all charges were dropped. It was an outrage.

Back to life in Southern IL. After a week on backyard songbirds (which we will revisit this upcoming weekend when we participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb 12 - 15), we did a page on the golden eagle. And I would like to do the swan before we move on.

    "The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world."

I bought Charles Kovacs book and now I wish I hadn't but that's ok. I really don't like the way it is written -- frankly, the stories are redundant and a little babyish. I think Roy Wilkinson's book (which is much less expensive), the free PDF WRITTEN FOR THE EAST AFRICAN WALDORF TEACHER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM BY CATHERINE VAN ALPHEN, and resources from your local library are enough to do a great job with this block.

Wilfrid Swancourt Bronson wrote wonderful books, including the cat family, The Chisel-Tooth Tribe(best-ever resource for rodents) and Horns and Antlers(ruminants: whitetails, mule deer, wapiti, moose, reindeer and caribou, pronghorn antelope, and mountain "goat").

When you have books written this well, or Holling Clancy Holling's Minn of the Mississippi(snapping turtle) and Pagoo(hermit crab), both of which we covered in the first block of Man and Animal, you really don't need Kovacs.

I'm working on figuring out the difference between this blog and the Waldorf Curriculum website. Basically, the blog is arranged chronologically as we go through our daily life, whereas the site is arranged by age/grade/main lesson and has a summary of my suggestions and/or notes for each. I am planning on continuing to compile my thoughts in an organized pdf printable way as we go through the school year and hit our topics. I know from experience that it is far easier to criticize and mark up someone else's work than it is to start from scratch with your own research each time and I am happy to provide the initial groundwork for your criticism and red pen! :-)

Today's new webpage is my list of books for middle school math. Enjoy.

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