Friday, August 28, 2009

grade one maths block

"At the age of six or seven, a child is imaginative and active. We have to reach his understanding through imaginations, pictorial lessons, from one side, and from the other side through that activity which he most enjoys, the rhythmic activity. The imaginations awaken his thinking powers, the rhythmic activity strengthens his memory." Dorothy Harer

We have just completed the first language block, which was a great success! I will post pics later.

The maths block has been a labour of love for some time now, with every family member enjoying the creative process and building anticipation as the magical land of numeria and the mathematical fairy folk were created.

i found the magical picture on the web some time ago, and just modified it slightly. The border is decorated with home died silks, and I raided all my old costume jewelry to glue gem stones and crystals all over the land, and to hang from the tree branches. I felted the mushrooms to give them texture and depth.

The little math gnomes are a part of the family now, with their own unique personalities to match the tasks they are to perform. I made them out of wooden dowel, and wooden beads for heads. pipe cleaners for the arms, and then lovingly wrapped the skeletons in gauze. they are fun to play with, as the arms are quite easy to move. the outfits are made from cotton offcuts, and the bags are sheep wool offcuts. King equals I made proudly south African, and chose a traditional cotton cloth, and sewed beads all around his gown and hood.

the gem stones for the actual math lessons we have been collecting for a while, and found a wonderful lady at the organic market with a pick and mix selection. Tigers eyes are the current favourite stone, so we have plenty of those. for larger numbers, we have the little green box full of small white river stones.

I am very positive about this next part of our journey, as I am more at peace with Steiner's teachings about the seven year cycles and have been able to identify the temperaments after deep
study and careful observation.
I take my time with lesson preparation, and spend a few days preparing the lessons. i would rather only have 2 or 3 school days a week, and know that they are having a profound effect, than cram daily lessons that defeat the very purpose of Waldorf. it takes time to memorise the verses and stories(at least for me it does), but i have cheated slightly. when we water colour paint, i use my painting for the background for a few verses i need to memorise and stick them all over the house. after a few days, it sticks in your head.
I am so glad that we chose this path (or that it chose us), as I never expected it was going to be this much fun, or that I would learn so much about myself. I feel like I am unschooling myself as I school the children, and I love every minute of it!
blessings to you all! And happy spring Southern hemisphere!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Turning Seven

We celebrated a huge milestone in August. Turning seven years old, once you understand the anthroposophical view on the seven year cycles, is a major event. In the days leading up to his birthday, I could see the changes taking place. I could actually start pinpointing certain temperament characteristics, as he moved away from the Sanguine carefree child, to slightly more Melancholic. This has been of tremendous help in planning the curriculum, as Melissa Neilson gives a few tips ( As does Steiner, Dorothy Harrer and Eric Fairman among others) on teaching the Melancholic child. This has also been a big learning curve for me, to learn patience and understanding....... and knowing when to just let go.... "it is better to be kind, than it is to be right!".

I timed my language block around his birthday, as in Melissa Neilsons curriculum, the story that carries the child through all the letters of the alphabet, ends with the seventh birthday, when the child receives the "gift from the angels", the vowel sounds. I combined a few ideas, and used the arch angels to present the gifts, which were made from cotton and silk, and drawn on the blackboard, the actual vowels were stars that fell from the heavens.

One of the angels hanging from the ceiling on a pulley system that daddy made.

The letter U in his lesson book.

We all made the sounds aaah, or eeee or ooooh for each consecutive day, and it was a spiritual experience each time. the whole house just radiated warmth and calmness.

The "cave wall" with all the sacred writings. (the paper was dyed with tea bags and burnt around the edges)

On the day he received his gift, we woke very early to prepare his favourite breakfast of flapjacks and honey with fresh orange juice. we draped silks all over the chalk drawings and tables. we lit all the candles and strung streamers across his bedroom door for the veil he must pass through.

he received a golden cross on a chain that were gifts from both his Nanan and Ouma, which he wears with utmost pride.

The story, her Lady's child, was very appropriate, as I was having trouble recently from preventing him from sneaking out every night to peak at the next days chalkboard drawing. I was thrilled that he was eager and excited, but he was spoiling the surprises for himself. So the story taught him honesty,respect and patience, among others that he is still learning the longer he dwells on them.

It was a fabulous milestone to achieve as a family, and really was a group effort. Thank you to everyone who helped make this so memorable!

Waldorf inspired bears cave with crystals. Birthday gift from Nanan.