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!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easter is Coming!

Easter is coming!  Are you ready?  Time to start growing that Easter grass for your baskets, if you haven't already.  It's a great eco-friendly alternative to that awful plastic traditional "grass."  Plus, it's fun to watch it grow, and it only takes two weeks for a nice full basket!

Here's how we did ours:

Get yourself some baskets, potting soil, wheat berries,
plastic (we used garbage bags), and some kids who
like to get dirty.  Line the baskets with plastic so
you don't ruin the baskets and so they won't leak
when you water them.  Fill with soil and sprinkle a generous
amount of wheat berries in a nice layer on top.

Cover with about 1/4"  or 1 cm soil and pat done lightly. Water until soil is damp.

Trim plastic liner to about 1/2" above soil line.  You won't even
see it once the grass starts growing.

Spray with water twice a day until seeds sprout.
Here they are just four days after we planted them.
Once they've sprouted just water them enough
to keep the soil moist.

It grows fast!  Here it is at only six days!

And here we have our baskets at two weeks.  I actually had
to give the grass a trim by then!  In the bigger basket, I
stuck in some twigs from the yard to hang our egg

If I had had some foresight, I would have popped in a few flower seeds or crocus bulbs, too.  Maybe next year...

If growing your own grass isn't an option for whatever reason, here are still some great alternatives for filling your baskets:
-green cotton or wool yarn
-green or natural wool roving or fairy wool
-shredded green or multi-colored paper (run some construction paper through a shredder!)

Does the Easter Bunny hide eggs at your house?  He does at ours, but they're not filled with candy (who needs a sugar rush/crash at 7am?).  This year he'll be hiding eggs filled with polished crystals and stones.  And they won't be plastic eggs either.  This year they'll be in real eggs, which have been blown out, dyed, had a hole trimmed in them, filled with treats and sealed back up with tissue paper.  This is a bit of an experiment on my part, so I'll let you know how it goes.  If it goes well, I'll post a how-to.  

We have added some bunny stories to the kids' bookshelf in addition to the other spring books.  Marshmallow, The Easter Egg, and The Golden Egg are some of our favorites, and are not all specifically Easter books.  I heard a rumor that the Easter bunny will also be dropping off Reg Down's new Tiptoes book, The Starry Bird, which is an Easter story.

Have a warm, renewing, and fun Easter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Nature Table

We change our Nature Table pretty frequently, but not as often as I'd like during each season.  So to keep it fresh and interesting, I've decided to become a little more diligent about changing it at the beginning of every month.  This has become part of our Circle Time on the first day of each month. 

We use the circular Grimm's calendar (really the best calendar for kids, such a great visual of the circle of days/weeks/months) and light a candle on the first day of the month while we recite a little poem about that particular month.

So for April, I took a poem from a book I've had since I was a little girl, Holly Hobbie's Through the Year Book.  Here is the poem:

April is a rainbow month
of sudden springtime showers,
Bright with golden daffodils
and lots of pretty flowers,

Our Nature Table reflects the feeling of that poem, but was also influenced by actual events in nature, of course, like the emergence of flowering bulbs and spring grass.  We have only three little flower children right now, but we'll be adding to them over the course of the month.  The following is a picture of the table thus far.  Enjoy, and I hope this inspires you with some ideas for your own Nature Table!

Our April Nature Table
with King Sun up on his cloud up top,
rainbow and sheep in the middle with
modelling wax swans in the stream,
and flower children sprouting from the soil below.
The postcard is from a set, one for each month.