We are making Waldorf main lesson books about engaging Science and History topics, which they aren't getting in these public schools that only stress Math and Language Arts. Montessori's Five Great Lessons (and some people see The Story of the Great River as the Sixth) are the perfect choice.
With Waldorf you write first and then you learn to read by reading what you yourself have written (thus the book making). Writing had to exist before reading, so this approach follows the natural progression of human history.
The Great Lessons are so-called because they cover broad spans of history and science, sparking a child's interest in lots of different directions of potential follow up work. We have the luxury of time so we can go into any direction we wish, and we have the additional luxury of working one-on-one, so the activities can be perfectly tailored to the child. I'm very excited!
These are my notes for myself -- and they are a bit brief because I've been teaching these lessons for so long -- but I'm happy to share them and if you have any questions please ask and I'd be quite willing to explain more.
NAMC binder with demonstrations
- The Formation of the Universe - large black balloon filled with air and a handful of silver confetti stars, pin
- Light Comes to the Universe - candle, candleholder, match
- Galaxies Form in the Universe - pie pan of water
- The Size of the Sun and Earth - golden bead, red yoga ball
- The Different Weights of Liquids - large straight sided canning jar, three smaller jars, honey, vegetable oil, water, blue food coloring
- Solid, Liquid & Gas - three bowls, ice cubes, water
it is nice to put some water in a tea kettle and watch it turn to steam
it is also nice to put some water in a bowl and put it in the freezer; when it freezes a bit and there's a thin crust of ice but the inside is still liquid take it out and notice that the surface of that ice is wrinkly; this is just like the texture of the Earth's crust when it first cooled
- The Earth's Surface - cast iron panini press, stove, spray bottle of water, hot pad spraying the hot pan with water and watching it sizzle and evaporate up is very effective; after you take it off the burner, spray it and watch the water stand and fill in the low parts of the panini press texture; this is just like the endless rains forming the Earth's oceans
read Older Than the Stars by Karen Fox
add to MLB or start calendar project artwork
- front cover - single Sharpie dot on white 12 x 12 paper
the Universe before the Big Bang
"Everything... before it was anything"
- January - toothbrush and splatter white paint on black 12 x 12 paper
read How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty
do the The Rock Cycle Mat from Waseca Biomes; look at the pieces of pumice which I picked up on my hike up Mt. Vesuvius in Italy (in 1993)
add to MLB or continue calendar project artwork
- February - water soluble oil pastel on dark grey 12 x 12 paper
the swirling colors of the still-molten Earth
- March - blue paint cloud stencil on textured red 12 x 12 paper
the endless rains
continue calendar project artwork
- introduction - toothbrush and splatter white paint on black 12 x 12 paper,
accented with dimensional glow in the dark paint dots and stenciled stars and galaxy swirls around cutout of the child's hand
"I love you more than all the stars in the sky"
- April - torn paper collage and cork pieces on orange 12 x 12 paper
the Earth with green oceans, brown land, and an orange sky
- May - misc. paper squares on green textured 12 x 12 paper
the building blocks of life
- June - an empty piece of 12 x 12 paper
the still-empty ocean
In the Timeline of Life calendar, which we begin during the First Great lesson and finish in the next Great Lesson, each day in the calendar represents 13 million years in the life of our Earth. The child creates artwork showing what the planet looked like each month as time slowly passes. Ours was an empty planet until July 4th! My information on what evolved when according to this scale is from Early Humans by Michelle Breyer, and will definitely become out of date as scientists learn more about early Earth. However, it is still a valuable project for helping make the abstract more concrete to students.
Here are some pictures of sample artwork; click on any photo to enlarge it:
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