Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Now I Know My ABCs

As some of you may know, I teach my 5 1/2 year old with a mix of kindergarten and first grade curriculum.  At age four, she was an early reader and writer, and I didn't really see any point in holding her back until she was seven before introducing letter instruction.  While this goes against the typical Waldorf timeline, I made a judgement call and decided she was ready.  We took a gentle approach though, and she enjoyed her work immensely.

We began instruction after our Christmas break.  A few days before we started work in her Main Lesson Book, we started reading The Wise Enchanter: A Journey Through the Alphabet.  Here's a brief description of the book from Amazon.

  "Words are disappearing from the world. Something is lurking in the deepest waters, devouring all the words that are no longer used. No one has noticed, but the world is slowly growing darker. For many years no children have come to the Enchanted Islands in search of Wisdom, and the Wise Enchanter is growing old. Four children from the corners of the earth have been sent on a quest to rediscover each letter, unlock the treasure of language, and thereby grow wise. Time is running out; if the children do not reach the castle of the Wise Enchanter in time, Wisdom and light may vanish from the world altogether."

I should also mention that during the story, as the children rediscover each letter, they make a visual record of it in their "magic book."  These drawings are living images of the letters found in their surroundings over the course of their journey.  I'm sure you can see how this would fit in so well with creating our own "magic book" as our Main Lesson Book.  This proved to be such a great way to introduce this six week lesson block.  We read one chapter each day during story time, after lunch.  Each chapter is based around a letter of the alphabet.  Even though our lessons didn't always match up with the letter of the day in the story, it didn't seem to cause any kind of confusion at all. 

Our first lesson went as follows:

-During circle time, introduce a letter (for example here we'll say "B"; vowels come much later)
-Recite a tongue twister to go with the letter [e.g. "A big, black bee bit a big, brown bear.  The big, brown bear bled blood"]
-Read a story, usually one of Grimm's, containing an image to go with the letter [We read Snow White and Rose Red, which has a bear in it]

Day two and the following days would proceed as follows:

-During circle, review previous day's tongue twister and story.
-Introduce a new letter and corresponding tongue twister.
-Read story to go with the new letter.
-In main lesson book draw a picture for the previous day's (in this case, the letter "B" story.  We drew a big, brown bear inside a letter "B.")
-I also integrated some handwriting practice into this since S was already writing.  We also included lowercase letters, which are normally introduced much later in a true Waldorf setting.

When the book was complete, we hand bound it together.  Fortunately, I had taken a book making class in college, and was able to bind it in a reasonably proficient manner.  S was very excited to go to the art store to pick out some beautiful handmade paper for the cover and end papers.  It really made her feel so proud of her six weeks of hard work to see the book beautifully bound.  She sat in her rocking chair for quite a while reading through it and reciting all the tongue twisters again.

And here's how it turned out!

The front cover of the book.  S wanted her book to
look magical too, so she just had to go for some paper
with a little gold on it!  The end papers inside are
plain metallic gold as well.  Magical, indeed!

A big, black bee bit a big, brown bear.
The big, brown bear bled blood.
The image is also suitable for the story we
read for the letter "B", which was Snow White
and Rose Red.
This was the first picture she drew for her book.

This is the handwriting practice page which follows the picture
in the book.

Here is the "U" page.  I had a hard time coming up
with a fairy tale for this one so I told
The Pied Piper of Hamlin.  I was surprised that
I remembered the story from my own childhood!
Both kids had fun following me around the house
as I told the story and pretended to play my flute
to the children who follow him at the end of the story.

You're right, "flute" doesn't begin with "U."  But the (oo)
sound conveys the feeling and mood of the letter, as well
as capturing the musical quality of it when spoken or heard.
Like when someone plays the flute, for example.

We are currently in the midst of our introduction to numbers as a quality, and are creating a similar, although somewhat smaller, Main Lesson Book.  I'll post the results of that endeavor when it has been completed!

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