We had twelve school days before the kids left for Spring Break, so we spent three days on sketching, painting, poetry, and games for each season. Because we are in between Winter and Spring, I was able to have it feel like we were beginning and ending with the current season! This is a classic Waldorf first grade main lesson block, but of course all ages really enjoy it.
Naturally this topic can, and should, be a year-long study!
- Spring - Feb 3, 4, 6
Summer - Feb 7, 10, 11
Autumn - Feb 13, 14, 17
Winter - Feb 18, 20, 21
We continued with Farmer Boy as our read-aloud story this month; the older students used February to do their Farming & Gardening main lesson block.
Monday, February 3
- spend the entire morning playing outside
- begin our classroom Weather Chart
- read Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow
- discuss shearing & washing wool
- look at fleeces from Cocoa and Jack
Today was the perfect day to begin our Spring lessons! It was a balmy 63 degrees Fahrenheit! My suggestion that they start their Nature Study block by spending the entire morning outdoors was extremely well received. They had a blast. Everyone is eagerly looking forward to the wet felted slipper making project we will be doing all month (an idea that carrried over from our study of the Shoemaker). It makes good sense to begin with this now, since sheep shearing is a classic Spring activity. Tomorrow and Thursday we will wash our fleeces, one team washing Cocoa's wool and the other Jack's.
Tuesday, February 4
- wash raw wool from Jack (100% Clun Forest)
- watch TED talk - The Story of Life in Photographs by Franz Lanting
- look at his book of photography Life: A Journey Through Time
- read poem - "A Spike of Green" by Barbara Baker, page 61 of The Hutchinson Treasury of Children's Poetry
- Nature walk & sketching in the rain
- 4 Components of Productive Soil
Our Nature walk in the rain was completely lovely. Each child chose a green colored pencil in advance ("choose a colored pencil that you think is the color of a baby plant") and then they went outside and each found a brand-new tiny baby plant coming up out of the soil. It had to be so brand-new that they were the very first person in the world to stop and see it! It was a great poem and a great activity. Then they had to sketch it and notice if the green that they chose was the correct green for the color of their plant.
It is incredible to think that the Earth once was covered with nothing but fire and a barren wrinkled skin of cooled lava... and now it is covered in LIFE!
Thursday, February 6
- wash raw wool from Cocoa (75% Clun Forest / 25% Shetland)
- explore paint mixing - Nature's greens
- watch Newborn Baby Grey Kangaroo clip from David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals
- listen to "Kangaroos" from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns
- do "Kangaroos" activity from The Children's Music Studio: A Reggio-inspired Approach, page 135
There is something so miraculous about a newborn baby kangaroo! The BBC video footage is just unreal.
For our final dip into themes of Spring, of course we had to do something about baby animals. I had also wanted to be sure we played games for each season, so the "Kangaroos" game was just too fun to pass up. (If you are sitting in the dentist's waiting room, have insomnia, or just really really like cute baby pictures of animals from all around the world, check out Zooborns. It is absolutely adorable. You can sort by animal type or by zoo/aquarium.)
Today was also a washing wool day (we loved discovering that there was a layer of silver fleece underneath Cocoa's chocolate brown) and it just so happened that today's chapter in our Farmer Boy was "Sheep-Shearing"! The children, having done this wool work, had a much deeper appreciation for the chapter and its description of the entire process. They were fascinated to hear that Almanzo's family scrubbed their sheep down with homemade soft brown soap and washed them throughly in Trout River before shearing them. What a smart idea!
Washing Small Amounts of Raw Wool Fiber by hand is not difficult. It is, however, very time consuming! Especially if you are going to do eight washes, you would ideally do it outside on a warm day. You can also do it indoors using two basins (or a double sink, if you have one). Happily there is also an Easy Washing Machine Method for Large Amounts of Raw Wool Fiber. I let each child experience all of the steps of the process by hand, and then I will wash the rest of our wool using the washing machine over the weekend.
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