Friday, June 22, 2007


In Waldorf schools they do this "movement thing" called Eurthymy. Have you ever wondered what it looked like?

Yeah, me too.

And then I found some Eurthymy videos over at YouTube. Hooray for YouTube! I feel like I've stepped into the light.

See also: Eurythmy over at Wikipedia.

Math - Odd and Even Gnomes

Oooh, that last math post inspired me. Of course we haven't even introduced ourselves. I'm Aleisha, mother to Nightowl (7) and Bearcub (2) for more about us check out our record at Leap of Faith. But onto math....

For our last math block of first grade we needed to cover odd and even as well as Roman Numerals. As luck would have it it Nightowl had absorbed Roman Numberals 1-20 via reading the Old Mother West Wind chapter books by Thornton Burgess (great Waldorfy books - btw). Scratch that off the list. We'll probably need to review next year but oh, how I love when the subjects overlap.

Now, whenever I mention math or anything math related Nightowl immediately begins chanting about Gnomes. She simply adores the little math Gnomes. So much that every math task needs to be Gnome related. I did no planning for this, but keeping the Gnome-love in mind started drawing a picture of the Gnome Divide on my large chalk board. Then I made up a story:

In the land of the Gnomes is a great jewelled forest - a dark and quiet place that has piles of jewels hidden everywhere. One day the king benevolent King Equals learned of this forest in a dream. Now King Equals just happened to be in need of jewels so that he could purchase supplies to build more houses for the creatures of his kingdom. He went to the forest to look at the jewels. Just as hew was about to gather a pile of jewels a great bird flew down.

"Be careful kind King," said the bird. "These jewels are enchanted. Only piles of even numbers of jewels can be taken from this place. If you take an odd numbered pile they will simply disappear."

So, King Equals headed home deep in thought. He needed a Gnome who could search the great jewelled forest and bring back "even" piles - whatever that meant. Back at the castle he called on Divide and explained the problem. "What does even and odd mean?" asked the King.

Divide explained to the King that "even" means the pile can be divided into two piles with the same(equal) number in them. He explained that "odd" means you cannot divided the piles equally.

The King was a little confused so he asked if Divide would please go to the forest and collect the even piles. Divide was more than happy to and so he did.*

*I though I had a photo of this drawing but I seem to have lost it. Sorry I can't share.

After illustrating this story on the chalkboard I went outside and hid several piles of "jewels" around the back yard. Then I sent Nightowl with her collecting basket to pretend to be Divide. Whenever she found a pile she sat down and attempted to divide up the piles. This was fun. We played this for a while and then began dividing other things into odds and even.

The next day we discussed the story again. Then I brought out the 100-Board, which is a Montessori manipulative that I like. We looked for number patterns of odd and even. Nightowl learned that evens end with 2,4,6,8,0 and odds end with 1,3,5,7,9. Then we had a little game of "Guess which number?" where I called out random numbers and she classified them according to odd or even.

Overall, it worked pretty well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mathmatics of Sharing

I wanted to post this before it sank into my mental oblivion. This was school, and we've been all about summer for almost 3 weeks, so it seems terribly old, but it was a "good idea," and worth sharing.

Like the Ark Family, our path to Waldorf-inspired learning has been full of detours. We too tried the Well Trained Mind approach for a time. Falcon loved the stories, and we read loads of myths and beautiful "living books," however, the bit about reading "early, fast and well" just wasn't happening for us. Glad we moved on. One of the few things that hasn't changed for us is our math curriculum. We started with RightStart, and we like it (for the approach, the manipulatives and the games - I'll post a review at some point). RightStart is different from the recommended Waldorf approach in quite a few ways, noteably in that the functions are introduced much more gradually. That is why, at the end of his 3rd grade year, Falcon had not yet been formally introduced to Division.

So we had a Sharing week.

At breakfast on the first day, I felt Falcon out by asking him a simple sharing question, "If you and The Skater were walking and you both saw a $5.00 bill at exactly the same time, how would you share it equally?" Falcon paused over his oatmeal and answered, "We'd take it up to Marcs, and get change and we'd both get $2.50. I'd spend the 50 cents on a Yu-Gi-Oh card from Marcs' vending machine"

I thought he would understand the concept without much difficulty. We proceeded by going out to our front walk to create a number line. Falcon has been working with his times tables, so we re-introduced math (we'd had a breather) by playing number line games. We spaced the number line so that a jump of ten was the maximum distance that Falcon could jump, and he went leaping all the way through his tables. Next I brought out a bean bag and threw it so that it landed on 15. I told Falcon and Charlotte that this was a new way of playing hopscotch, and that you had to jump on multiples that would get you to the bean bag, counting how many jumps you made. This went over pretty well, although I hadn't though out how to keep score, or what to do when the bean bag landed on a prime. Despite my lack of planning, we played until it started to rain (goodbye number line!). The rest of the day we took many opportunities to share - cookies, grapes, cherries, both within our family, and as fictional problems with lots of friend. Falcon noted that some things, like cookies, were easily split in half, whereas giving three kids 2 out of 3 pieces of a marble wasn't really a possibility. At the end of the day we read 17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Magaret Mahy. Falcon noticed right away that every elephant had a king on its back, and that there was no way that this could be the case. Charlotte loved the poetry of the book and immediately decided to create a Twinkling Tunester.

The next morning I asked Falcon what sort of a picture he wanted to make in his ML book for 17 Kings and 42 Elephants. He whined. This is not unusual for Falcon. He loves to be read to and the do fun things, but coloring and writing are not a strong point. However, this was an unusual whine. "I already know the answer, and I don't want to do a whole page for that baby book!" Fair point. This book was recomended in "Math and Literature (K-3)" by Marilyn Burns for a third grade lesson, but it was mostly just a bouncy poem. Charlotte asked me to read it again (and again), and then Falcon and I moved on. We visited several problems from the previous day (including 42 divided by 17), and I introduced the division symbol, and the concept of a remainder. Falcon wrote math problems on the chalkboard, and he discovered that he needed to think of the problems as "42 shared between 17" to get the numbers in the right order. He accidentaly reversed the order of one of the problems, and realized that this matters with division.

Latter I read from "The Man Who Counted" by Malba Tahan (Thanks Sara for this great idea - read her lesson here: Falcon was entirely entralled by the story in which a herd of 35 camels is divided between three brothers: the eldest was to receive 1/2 the herd, the middle 1/3 of the herd, and the youngest 1/9. When Beremiz (The Man who Counted) arrives and adds his camel to the herd, suddenly not one, but 2 extra camels are available. "How did he do that?" Falcon asked repeatedly. The ML page for the next day was Not Whined About.

Sharing Week was briefly interrupted at this point when Falcon got a nasty gash on his writing hand/wrist. He had to have 4 stitches and couldn't possibly write or draw or color for quite a while. But he still wanted to hear more from "The Man who Counted." Our last lesson was also a story of division. Beremiz and the Narrator find a man left for dead by bandits in the middle of the desert. The man is famished and asks to share whatever food Beremiz and the Narrator have, offering to pay a gold piece each for the 8 loaves that they have between them. Beremiz had 5 of these loaves and the Narrator had 3, so when the man was returned to his home, he offered Beremiz 5 gold pieces and the Narrator 3. Beremiz quietly tells the man that this division is incorrect; he should receive 7 pieces of gold and the Narrator only 1. Each loaf is shared between three men, so the narrator eats 8/9 of the bread that he provided, whereas Beremiz only eats 8/15 of what he originally had. In the end, however, Beremiz splits the money evenly, explaining that this is Divine Division.

Oh how Falcon loves this story! Beremiz is So Cool! He has been practicing telling it (often it's a Star Wars version, with Yoda for Beremiz), using props. When he gets it perfect, he'll tell the story to his Grandpa, who loves tricks and subtlety.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

How we came to Waldorf!

Very exciting to have this opportunity to bring many voices together, ( I think that's a theme here now!?!), from all different 'tastes' of Waldorf.

We are a family of six. Mummy, Daddy, Tiger, Frog, Bird and Panther.
Children currently 7,6,4,2.
Hmn, let's call us the Ark Family!

For the most part we have unschooled. However, I had quite a panic when Tiger was well into his first officially homeschooled year. Many of his peers were reading, doing workbooks and having fixed sit down times with an academic focus. I got 'The Well Trained Mind' and flirted with that for a bit, looked at workbooks and reading schemes. Taught some letters and read 'Bob books'.

I suppose ultimately we are eclectic, as I liked some ideas I came across, but the emphasis on reading was something that would not sit with me, ( or Tiger!!!).

Then I asked on a home ed group if there was anyone doing 'Waldorf', and I was given links to a number of different sites. Christopherus was the one which resonated with me.


I was so relieved to find a whole crew of people just 'being' and learning with their children around family life, rather than stressing to fit family life around education.

Sounds like unschooling a little!?!
Well, yes and no.

Waldorf - with the Christopherus angle - fit my picture of flexible, but with parental support and gentle boundaries. The parent led rhythm, the crafts and creativity were just what I wanted to work with in our lives. Donna doesn't have the Waldorf police syndrome.
Not that I agree with anyone 100% ,) or that I necessarily represent Donna fairly here! You can see her in action here and here to make up your own mind!

In truth, I see it as an aim, a flight path to our educational outlook. There is more of the unschooling in our daily lives, but our educational milestones are plotted against a Waldorf timetable. We do blocks, just not with a three day rhythm, eeek! but yes, I'm stating it publicly for all to condemn,)

It works! I feel excited to be homeschooling again, not under pressure to perform.


Home schooling is such a privilege, and finding our personal family balance with Waldorf, or any other approach, is what makes it a success.

As a footnote, I'm also a wahm for where we sell some Christopherus materials.
I say this not to promote my buisness, ( I'm terrible at promoting anything. I just feel embarassed! and I love the resources that much that I want to give them to everyone), but really for integrity. If you happen to be in the UK then it is nice to know that they are available here too. Though Donna sends worldwide herself. and btw Ekernel is shut for a couple of days atm anyway!!! so if you *are* intrigued, (I'll make a business lady yet!?), do look in next week to see what else we offer...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

this is us

we are z ( girl child, 3 years,8 months) and t (mama) we live rurally in western mass. (for more on our day to day you can read my blog theherbalway

i am an herbalist by profession and am presently completing my Lifeways Waldorf Training up at the Merriconeag School in Freeport ME. i am mainly focussing on the Anthroposophic approach to treating/healing children.

z is a healthy, energetic, and creative kid, loves dancing, singing, sand, mud and water. one morning a week we have been The Children's Art Museum hosting a simple a home schooling co-op, next week we will add a second day. i have the Enki kg curriculum and plan on working with that beginning next year when z is 4 1/2. until then i am working with the materials!

i am looking forward to creating a great resource for us all here and getting to know the group.

here is a question I'd like to put out. are there any other single parent/single child families out there homeschooling? i am especially interested in different ways of creating a "circle time"......that work with the one on one energy so it can still be fun but seem less "formal" though that may not be the right word.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An Introduction

I'm excited!

For the past two weeks, as I've nursed my busy, busy toddler to sleep, I've enjoyed a bit of private time to think; and mostly I've been thinking about "A Taste of Waldorf." Do I want to share? What can I share? And I've realized, as I've enjoyed my moments of uninterupted thought, that I do want to share.

Thanks Sara, for giving me this opportunity. It's a bit like renting. I don't have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, or worry about replacing the roof. It's easy.

So, I've learned to use my camera (but I make no claims to the quality of the photos!), and I'm using my nursing moments to think, and....Here we go....

I'm Kirsten. I've got three fantastic, crazy kids, and I'm relatively new to Waldorf-inspired home-schooling. Here we are:

This is Falcon. He got to choose his own name, and he really wants to BE Falcon. He is patient and empathetic - two things that I have not yet learned to be. He has a habit of saving any treats until the rest of us are finished, then guzzling in front of us. He is nine this year and has just finished 3rd grade.

This is Charlotte. After the Arabel's spider. Like her name-sake Charlotte is a lover of beauty and words. She dreams and colors and picks flowers, and will sit for as much poetry as I will read. She also has a oddly dark sense of humor. She just turned 4 on May 31st (The Blue Moon). My husband thinks she may be a witch (A good witch).

This is Nazzy! After Tolkien's Nazghul - She's That Loud. Loud enough to silence a room full of adults. Loud enough that passers-by mumble about "that poor child..." Nazzy's just excited, and excited means full volume shrieks. Currently, things that get her to shriek are water, her scooter, cats, dogs, spiders, and worms. She shows the same level of excitement about a puppy and a worm. Nazzy's 15 months old. Guess that's what the world is like when it's new.

Behind the scenes there's my wonderful husband. He has asked to be called "The Nepheloid." The Nepheloid is a musician who works as a scientist. Before becoming a scientist he studied philosophy. He's the well-rounded part of our partnership.

So... For anyone out there who is considering posting - This was Easy. Piece of Cake. You do have a voice, and you have plenty of ideas. Give it a try, and make this a community effort.

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge

As I was digging through my email today I saw that Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschooling materials recently gave a review of Beyond the Rainbow Bridge on her blog. It's one of my favorite early-years Waldorf books, and so I excitedly clicked over to read her review expecting her to gush about Barbara Patterson and her fine book. But she didn't so much. She called it useful, sure, even valuable, but she set up the review with such a negative initial tone that you're bound to not even bother to look it up at all. Not even a glance.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

I loved this book! This book is what sold me on Waldorf Education! The first time I read it, I cried. Maybe this is not the normal response, but this was mine. It was like a healing experience. I found it lovely, gentle and wise, and yes, extremely useful.

The aim of this book is for parents raising children from 0-7 years. It was written by Patterson, a Waldorf teacher, and Pamela Bradley, a parent of a young child-- and the voice of the book, which Donna Simmons negatively refers to as "twee," really brings the reader down into the world of a small child so that they can begin to think from THAT perspective. Not from an adult perspective, but from that of a small child who need us to see things with new eyes. Smaller eyes.

The book goes on to discuss all the important topics: rhythm and play, homelife, creative discipline, the senses, what early Waldorf-classes look like, and a few examples of songs, and THE magical birthday story that you can share with your kids. There are also patterns for simple dolls and table puppets, instructions on finger knitting, an extensive resource section, and a list of fairytales with appropriate ages and sources.

I consider this book to be THE early-years Waldorf primer. It explains things very simply and fluidly without going on and on as some books tend to do. There is also a parent question and answer session, something akin to what you'll find on Waldorf e-lists, only trickled through the pages of a lovely book.

But don't take my word for it. There are oodles of fine reviews over at Amazon!

Also, be sure to check out the multitude of information over at Michaelmas Press:
Book stats.
Table of contents.
Read an EXCERPT.
Review by Joan Almon.

***What did you think of this book? Did you like it or not? Leave a COMMENT and let your voice be heard!***

Friday, June 1, 2007

Teaching the Alphabet

The following is an excerpt from an older post on my blog, Schooling from the Heart:

In Waldorf education, the capital alphabet is taught one letter at a time using the medium of story and art to really bring the letters alive for each child in a memorable, meaningful way. The letters emerge out of the story, usually a Grimm’s Fairytale (but it doesn’t have to be,) and come to life on the chalkboard and page. For example, to introduce the letter M many people tell Simeli Mountain and draw a mountain that resembles an M.

While it’s not the quickest way to teach the alphabet, I found it to be the most rewarding. Not just for Sunburst, but for myself, as well. Every bit of it seemed important. The stories engaged our hearts. The artwork (drawing a story picture and letter) engaged our hands, and the learning of each letter awakened her thinking. That’s what the lesson is designed to do, but really it did even more than that. It awakened my creativity and belief in my ability to teach my own children. It deepened her respect for me as teacher and storyteller, and it awakened this magic world between us, steeped in goodness, beauty, and adventure.

There are many ways to go about this lesson. Some people just tell each letter story as a separate piece, and others weave a larger story that incorporates smaller stories for the letters. The idea of a larger story really appealed to me, but in my searching none of the complete stories I found really seemed to fit Sunburst’s needs and my own. If I was going to make a story come to life, it needed to work for my child and had to be engaging for me as well. In the end, I made one up.

I combined ideas from Path of Discovery Grade 1, Genii of Language by Alan Whitehead, Christopherus First Grade Syllabus, postings on various Waldorf e-groups by other homeschoolers, and mixed them with my own thoughts and what we were emoting based on our own personalities and the season (we started the lesson in late Fall.) It turned out to be a huge success in my house.

Seeing how others go about a lesson always helps kick my own creative gears into motion. It’s my hope that a glimpse into our story will do the same for others.

Here is the list of letters and the corresponding stories/images or feelings I used to teach them.
We covered one to three letters a week.

J=Jug (Water of Life -Grimms)
~ O ~ (surprise)
T=(Three Little Men in the Wood - Grimms)
M=Mountain (Simeli Mountain - Grimms)
D=Door in the mountain
~ E ~ (fear)
H=House (Mother Holle - Grimms)
N=Needle (The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle - Grimms)
Q=(The Jolly Queen – own)
G=(The Golden Goose - Grimms)
C=Cave of Mysteries
----> Intro to Numbers ---->
Z=Zigzag of lightning
R=(Rapunzel - Grimms)
B=Bear (Masha and the Bear – Spindrift)
~ U ~ (concern)
S=Swan (Six Swans - Grimms)
~ A ~ (wonder)
X=X on treasure map (Pirate John - own)
F=(Fisherman and His Wife - Grimms)
Y=Yew tree (Birth of Christ)
~ I ~ (understanding of one's place in the world)

For the vowels I used the magical idea from Christopherus First Grade Syllabus of writing the letters on golden star paper from an art store. The vowels represented different feelings, and the Prince represented the kingdom. So when the Prince felt the fullness of these feelings along the way, in our story the stars fell from the sky. Each time a star fell, the light in the lantern would grow stronger. The Wiseman told the Prince to put the stars next to his heart, but at the end, when he reached into his pocket for the stars they weren’t physically there. There was only a happy warm feeling –they had become a part of him.

Here's letter G, The Golden Goose:

***The original blog post this entry was taken from is pretty lengthy. If you're interested in reading the story I told or seeing more images, you can find the original posting Here.

Also, for a great online list of Grimm’s Fairytales worth considering for your own First Grade lessons, check out David Darcy’s blog.

Let's start sharing!

The main purpose of this blog was to have a place to archive some lesson ideas. If everyone contributes, we can build up a fine treasure chest here that we can return back to, again and again for inspiration. I think the easiest way to make these ideas and lessons sortable and searchable is to label them appropriately. Grade One, Grade Two, Language Arts, Math, Handwork... and so forth.

Once we get a few posts going, I'll put up a "Label list" in the sidebar.

Feel free to copy entire posts from your blogs or partial posts that link to your personal blog entries. Whatever is easiest or makes you happy.

Let's start sharing!

I'll take the initiative and get the proverbial ball rolling...
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