Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grade 1: Environmental Studies/Nature Block Summary on the Four Elements in our Surroundings/Oceanlife

Mother Earth

Mother Earth, Mother Earth, take our seed and give it birth.
Sister Rain, Sister Rain, shed they tears to swell the grain.
Father Sun, Gleam and glow, until the roots begin to grow.
Brother Wind, Breathe and blow then the blade green will grow
Earth and Sun, And wind and rain, turn to gold the living grain.

~ Eileen Hutchins

We wrapped up our Grade 1 Nature Block/Environmental Studies block on the Four Elements in relation to the world around us, choosing the ocean as our theme. Over the past four weeks, we broke down the four elements (earth, water, air, and fire) into a story I made up about a tiny harbor seal pup and her adventures. After the story concluded, we reviewed the Four Elements and drew a picture in our Main Lesson Books to reflect this.

I found a wonderful little story to conclude our block in the Margaret Peckham book, "Fairy Tales", which is geared toward Grade 1. The story is called, "The Little Boy and the Four Elements" and is about a little boy who, normally good natured, becomes possessive over a delicious red apple, refusing to share with anyone else, including the woodland animals. As a result, the Sun Fire Fairies, the Water Undines,the Air Sylphs, and the Little Earth Gnomes abandon him. In despair, he runs into the forest and gets lost, only to be captured by a giant who takes him home for the cook to fatten up. Eventually, the elemental friends return to his aid and save him from the mouth of the giant and he returns to his family and lives happily ever after. While I haven't enjoyed all of Margaret Peckham's tales (in her Nature Tales book) due to some language issues, we really enjoyed this story. Charley even requested it a second time an hour later, so I know it was sitting in her subconscious.

As a review and summary, here are the books/articles that we used in this block:

- "A Path of Discovery Volume One: Grade One" by Eric Fairman
- "Grade One and Two "Science" Curriculum" from Marsha Johnson's Files Section
- "A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme" by Heather Thomas
- "Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell" by Dorothy Harrer
- "Fairy Tales" by Margaret Peckham
- Norse Fairytale "Why the Sea is Salt"
- "Jack and the Beanstalk" by Joseph Jacobs
- "Beyond the Beach Blanket: A Field Guide to Southern California Coastal Wildlife" by Marina Curtis Tidwell
- "The Return of the Sun King" by Christine Natale
- "Mia's Apple Tree" by Nancy Jewel Poer (see review for this book here)

Our four week science breakdown with my stories can be found here:

- Introduction to Environmental Studies block
- week 1: The Element of Earth
- week 2: The Element of Water
- week 3: The Element of Air
- week 4: The Element of Fire

Tomorrow for our Friday Book Review, I will review a book that goes along with the Four Elements! Until then, enjoy our Four Element layout (moss), water (water in a glass painting cup), air (feather in representation), and fire (candle)


  1. This is great Jen.. We are doing a Nature Study in late April, so I am sure I will refer back to your wonderful post and stories!

  2. This is so great! I will definitely be referring back to this your wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks so very much for taking the time and energy to share all this.
    It is all so very wonderful and inspiring.
    Beautifully presented, such richness.
    Thanks again.
    Love to you all.

  4. Thank you for sharing your lessons!

    This will inspire me when we start first grade!!

  5. Thanks for all the comments!

    Donna - I bet your nature block will be awesome - I look forward to seeing a glimpse of it :D

    Honey Pumpkin Mama - I love your blog name! So nice to *meet* you.

    Nocton4 - I am so glad this is helpful. There is so much put into homeschooling our children that it just seems befitting to share as we're all in such similar boats. And I know I've learned so much from other bloggers. I can't imagine homeschooling without the added inspiration and guidance.

    Sylvia - how fun that you have wee ones! It is wonderful that you are starting this journey while they are so very young! Best of luck to you!

    Hugs to you all!

  6. brilliant! I am planning 4 separate elements blocks for grade two - this will be perfect - thanks for sharing!

  7. So inspiring, might I ask which curriculum you used, if any...

  8. Thanks Christina! I don't use one set curriculum, but end up pulling from a bunch of different sources and inspiration. My two fav's to study before I decide what and how we're doing our next block are: Eric Fairman (Path of Discovery books geared toward each grade), Marsha Johnson's free files in her yahoo group (Waldorf Home Educators). I do also really like some Christopherus materials, though I don't use a lot of it. I do like her science book and we will be trying out her math for 2nd grade this year for some inspiration.

    A lot of people will do the 4 elements in Grade 2, but I chose to do it in Grade 1, like Fairman does and my girls were ready for it :D

    HTH and thank you for so many lovely comments!