Thursday, August 27, 2009

Second Week of Grade 1: Form Drawing

This week's Form Drawing lesson was on Standing Forms. Taking from Donna Simmons book, "Form Drawing for Beginners", we focused on six forms: square, triangle, circle, star, rectangle, and 4 leaf clover. I also ended up adding a very complicated form to fit the story I chose for this week's lesson and that is the crescent.

The story I chose was: "The Star Children" which is commonly told in Waldorf schools. It's a beautiful tale about Father Sun & Mother Moon and their star children who light the sky. One night, the star children are playing, not heeding their mother's calls. They hide behind a cloud and a gust of wind blows them to the ground and they are not allowed to return. Mother Moon sings, "Twinkle, twinkle, little I wonder where you are..." and Father Sun finds a way to have the stars ride up on the wings of the dandelion fluff to visit them again. It's very sweet and was the perfect story for the shapes we were drawing. Can you spot all 7 shapes in my chalk drawing?

We also are overjoyed at the arrival of our Auris glockenspiel, which is heavenly (another post on that next week). Our day now begins with a scale up and down the glockenspiel, followed by an upward sweep of the notes signifying our special time is about to begin. The girls come to the table and we light our candle, say a prayer, our verse and begin the day's activities.

I told the story to the girls and introduced the shapes as the tale progressed. We then broke the shapes down to three days.

Day 1: triangles and 4 leaf clovers
Day 2: circles, rectangles, and squares
Day 3: stars and crescents (saving the hardest forms for last)
Each day, we would walk the forms outside using our sidewalk chalks, and practice before taking up our MLB's and trying our hand at them. The girls love to shade borders around their MLB work and are getting good practice with the block crayons.

The girls love drawing on the white board and it's a great way to practice the forms without wasting paper.

Here they are walking two of the shapes outside, giggling all the while as they try not to run into each other on the star shape :)

Charley was very proud of her stars. I noticed they were frustrated the first time they tried to draw them, but after one day of practice, they got it! The crescents were very difficult, though.

Then today, Day 4 (we took Monday off due to a doctor's appt), they drew the story in their MLB's. They were quite frustrated with the crayons as I was encouraging them not to draw an outline and fill it in, but use the block crayons to shade around their objects. Elena got it!

When we are finished with our work for the day, I go up and down the scale on the glockenspiel in our pattern, and then sweep down the notes signifying the close of the day. The candle is extinguished and we go about the rest of our day.

We will now continue to do form drawing once a week, using these forms we've learned the past two weeks.

The resources I found most helpful for form drawing have been:
~Donna Simmons "Form Drawing for Beginners"
~Eric Fairman's "Path of Discovery Volume One: Grade One"
~Supplies: MLB's, block crayons, stick crayons, chalkboard with chalks and eraser (and/or a whiteboard with markers and eraser), sidewalk chalk, sandscape with sand and a stick, a jump rope or string; and your stories. Another idea to use in the future would be to make dough, shape it into the forms, bake it and eat it (yumm!)

I also just saw that Kristie Burns from Earthschooling is coming out with a form drawing section and I'm really excited to see it! I love her materials and will be using many of them in our schooling (posts on that soon)!

Having girls who like lots of colors, I allowed the girls the freedom to use whatever colors they wanted and to do the forms large or small with as many or as little of them on a page. I did emphasize quality over quantity, but do want to allow them to make the MLB their own. I do not want to create "school at home" so allowing them these freedoms will hopefully protect their individuality and creativity. I also ask them to draw the forms with both the block crayons and the sticks to get used to the difference. I have read conflicting information on which is better to use so we are learning to use both. They definitely feel the sticks are much easier to control.

Next week we will cover our first Language Arts blog! Can't wait! Thanks for reading about our second week of form drawing :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blessings from Above - Ernesto the Fig Tree...

This is Uncle Ern...Uncle Ernie...
Ernesto to be exact...
dancing at our wedding years ago...

Uncle Ern passed away a few years ago before his time. In his memory, we planted a tiny fig tree and named it after him; for Uncle Ern loved figs...

We are only about 20 miles away from our old house and yet those 20 miles and the mountains in between make a world of difference in which trees, plants and flowers will grow here compared to all that we grew in our old house...we've tried many citrus trees & all of them died. It just gets too cold in the winter...we never dreamed that in a few short years, our tiny fig tree would not only survive, but would thrive and grow so tall and yield such delicious harvest. I can only think that it must be a blessing from above...

Thanks, Uncle Ern! XOXO

Monday, August 24, 2009

Two More Furry Babies Come Home

Baby Ratties

Where are the baby ratties hiding? In a nest...
One peeks out, where are all the rest?
One is sleepy, one is snappy,
One is crying, and the last one is happy.
(adapted from a poem @ mice)

We've been rat owners since June & have fallen head over heels with our little family members. Rudy & Chaulky (above) have brought us so much joy. They are sweet, cuddly, friendly, playful and gentle. They are wonderful for young children, especially the males who are larger and over time, get much more sedentary & lap-doggish.

Unfortunately, Chaulky came to us sick is still on antibiotics for a URI, which becomes dangerous because virtually all fancy rats (lab rats are excluded) carry mycoplasma (humans can't catch this from them)...and when they get stressed, their immune systems have a hard time fighting off things like a common cold. It's been almost 5 weeks and we've now had to add a second antibiotic for our poor Chaulky. He seems to be getting better, but if we left his URI untreated, it could turn into pneumonia and claim his life very quickly...

Here is Elena feeding Rudy some help Chaulky, we are trying to keep his stress level down. We're trying to give him more cage time and the girls aren't handling him as much.

So...unexpectedly, last Friday, I was looking online and spotted a beautiful black-eyed Siamese Rex rattie in need of a good home, so on Sat night, we hopped in the car and took a ride to Pasadena. We came home with two new babies, who are being quarantined, so the older boys haven't met them yet...Here is the Siamese Rex, named Luke (as in Luke Skywalker)...

Here he is: just 6 weeks old...little Lukie :)

And here is his twin brother, Ben (short for Ob-Wan Kenobi)...

Little Benny...he's a Black Burmese Rex (rex indicates that their fur is like a velveteen and their whiskers are actually curly)...

The rattie world is really amazing. Did you know there are rat shows (Best in Show type shows)...rat clubs & groups (yes, we joined a rattie forum :)...and there are many different types.

These babies are incredibly sweet - giving kisses non-stop. They were very well socialized, friendly and are bonding already with us. They are much more quiet than our first two and we can't wait to introduce them to their big brothers!

So from Ben & Luke..."May the Force Be with You!"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Cat House

While Little Chef was busy cooking, Daddy took our resident animal lover to The Cat House which houses 70+ endangered felines.

The above picture is Charley with a Canadian Lynx.
Below she poses with "KimLee", a Northern Chinese Leopard.

with "Shapur" - a Persian Leopard...

And her favorite, "Doc" the Jaguar...who was very friendly and came right over to her, purring that beautiful purrrrrrr....

And finally, here she is with "Teddy" the Cougar

More descriptions of the various cats they house can be found here.

Little Chef

I think a Little Chef has invaded my house...when Daddy took Charley to a large cat animal sanctuary this morning, my pixie, Laney, decided she wanted to make something special for Daddy, who eats cheese and meat and almost anything edible :)

Here is my Little Chef in the kitchen...

She made "Pizza Pasta", like a good Itralian girl...
- 12 oz cooked pasta
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 26 oz jar of pasta sauce
- 2.5 oz packaged sliced pepperoni (cut into small pieces)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. After the pasta is cooked, combine it with the bell pepper, pasta sauce and 3/4 of the pepperoni. Mix it in a large bowl and transfer it into a lightly oiled 2 quart baking dish or stone, top with cheese and remaining pepperoni. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

And voila! One happy Daddy and one happy Little Chef :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Week of Grade 1: Form Drawing

First Day of First Grade:
August 17th, 2009

O Golden Sun with Brilliant Light

Who makes the World so Warm and Bright,

Dear Sun, Good Friend, for this we pray

Lead us and Guide us, in this New Day. ~Marsha Johnson (Waldorf Teacher)

Monday (straight lines):

Armed with my Grimm's Fairy Tales book, along with some incredibly valued resources (another post on this soon!)...we decided to *ease* into our first formal school year with a two week block on Form Drawing in preparation for all the beautiful drawings and letters we will be writing this year.

To be honest, I probably should have waited another week since we were coming off of a very busy summer with tons of fun times with visiting families and festive evenings with friends. The night before, we went to Tony's boss' house for an evening party and swim. Needless to say, we didn't get home until around 11pm and the girls were shot the next and learn!

We gathered in the morning, which was a switch from our previous years when it worked best to let them free play all morning and do some activities in the afternoon when they were more settled and introspective.

We brought to the table Charley's beloved oak tree clipping with a flower on it, that has lasted forever (and no sign of fizzling out yet)! She was eager and ready, while her sister was tired and in no mood for structured activities...we lit a candle, said a prayer, said our verse, and I put some soft music on. The girls actually asked if they could get their backpacks, then ran upstairs and filled them with stuffed animals and miscellaneous items while I gently tried to bring them back to focus on our mission.

There has been so much talk between them and their friends & cousins who go to traditional schools about what happens in school that Charley proceeded to ask me if I could "pretend" to be the teacher, so when she continued to ask me another question, I made her raise her hand and wait to be called on! LOL! She then proceeded to ask me if we could get Elena & her each a cubby to put their backpacks in! They really have no idea what it would be like to go away to school, but I think in their minds, it must have some pretty awesome bonuses, like a *real* teacher, having to raise your hand and getting your own special cubby to store your stuff in! ;-P

Our first lesson in Form Drawing consisted of the straight line. Elena was hiding under the table at this point (don't ask...) but Charley and I stood as tall and as straight as we could. It's really harder than it looks to stand even with your elbows not the slightest bit bent. We then proceeded to go outside to find straight shapes in nature...

When we came back inside, Charley & I walked the straight line of a jump rope. After exclaiming this was "way too easy"...I jazzed it up and had her close her eyes and walk it forward...then close her eyes and walk it backwards. THAT was really difficult. I could hardly do it myself, but we had fun! Following that, we got out our sandscapes and she drew straight lines with her stick and on her own, lined up some new acorns we had collected over the weekend to form a straight line in her sand.

She really felt the I proceeded to read the girls "The Water Nixie" by the Brother's Grimm. In the story, two children fall down a well and are captured by a Water Nixie who holds them captive and has them do all sorts of ill-fated chores for her (chopping down a tree with a blunt axe, filling a bucket that has a hole in it, etc)...when the Nixie is off at church, the children escape and she pursues them. They drop a comb and a brush, which springs forth thorns for her to climb over and they eventually get away. There are many opportunities in this story to practice straight (and curved) lines...(we used a white board while waiting for our chalk board to arrive...)

After the girls practiced the forms on the whiteboard, they wrote them in their Main Lesson Books, first with block crayons and then with stick crayons. I allowed them the freedom of expression to design it as they wished, with the only rule being that they avoid using the black and white crayons (white because it won't show on this paper).

Tuesday (curved lines):

Tuesday proceeded much like Monday did, with the exception being that we focused on curved lines instead of straight. Luckily, Elena was in a much better mood and participated in the form.

We photographed one of our roses to represent the curved lines in nature, but also noticed them in rocks and pebbles and the man-made curve of our concrete patio, a hummingbird's nest, and the outer shapes of the leaves.

One fun activity we tried was having the girls attempt to draw curved lines with their toes! It was very hard, but we had quite a few laughs :)

They then moved onto their MLB's to record their curved forms.

Wednesday (both straight and curved lines):

Wednesday went much more smoothly as we got into the routine of what we were doing and the girls had fun combining the straight and curved lines. They really enjoy the whiteboard & got into the Water Nixie story.

And at last! Our blackboard arrived (Paper Scissors Stone) for $18.50 (plus shipping)! And I tried my hand at capturing "The Water-Nixie" story in chalk. The girls LOVED it :)

This was our first three days of form drawing with "The Water-Nixie" story by the Brother's Grimm. Can you spot the many straight and curved lines in the chalkboard drawing?