Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grade 2: LA Block with Fables - The Fox & the Grapes

October brings us a slight chill and a bit of rain (how welcomed!) and it also brings us back to Language Arts lessons. This month, our vehicle is Aesop's fables and here are some pictures to share...

First of all, I decided to start off with one of my favorites as a child, "The Fox & the Grapes". Attitude is everything in life and learning to be gracious, honest and humble just can't be underestimated, especially in today's world.

I started a new tradition this year (and will photograph it next week) - but I have decided to add the magic of a *storyteller's chair*, along with a *storyteller's shawl*. When the girls see me putting it on, they know a tale is about to begin :)

I hid my chalkboard drawing under a silk, and we followed the three day rhythm. I introduced the story on the first day, we retold it together the second day, and the third day, the girls each got to retell it. I pulled out my trusty playscape and a needle felted fox. We pretended the tree was really a vine and I quickly stuck a blob of purple on there to represent our grapes...

When it was the girls turn to retell the story, they took turns, and put on the storyteller's cape. They also wanted to wear a storyteller's babushka (we are part Polish, after all :)! The girls had so much fun - boy did that fox go flying all over the place trying to get those juicy grapes!

After the story was told, on Day 2, I revealed the chalkboard drawing and we began to copy it into our MLB's. This year, I find that they have more control and more patience over their fingers and drawing, so while last year, I allowed them to use various colors for their drawings, this year, we are focusing on using just the three primary colors and blending. While it may be ideal to start with just the primary's in Grade 1, as homeschoolers, I found I had to do more coaxing than I would have if the girls were under a teacher they didn't really know. They are ready for this challenge and I was very pleased with how their drawings turned out.

We also wrote a summary together to copy down onto another blank page in our MLB's.

Both of the girls need work trying to stay in a line and sometimes the letters still get away from us. Using the stick crayons to write words is harder than using a pencil, so I am taking that into account, as well. And perfectionism isn't pushed - just doing the very best you can do at this moment is what I usually stress. And I often point out errors I make (my fox's head is too small - oh look, I will try to make it a little bigger)!

And, of course, in the style of Earthschooling, who could forget to bring the grapes - for multisensory fun! They look a little mealy here, but they tasted good - lol! I stood on a chair and held the sprig up high while the girls jumped for them like the fox and giggled all the while!

We took the time to think of words that rhyme with *fox* and they saw how "ox" and "ocks" makes the same sound!

And another fun way to encourage writing, spelling, and reading, is to have the kids create their own mail boxes out of old cereal boxes or shoe boxes. They cut up paper bags and we taped them on and then they painted designs, and we even made little flags for them, so they know when they have mail!

My hubby works late, so this has been a fun way for them to connect with him during the day. They receive and leave messages for him and get all excited to see when the flag is raised!

We actually did this exercise when they were very little and they would draw things for him, but now it's so fun that they can write little notes. I even got a few lovely ones, myself - and some fun Michaelmas and Halloween drawings!

We went on a bunch of field trips over the last two weeks, so I'll share a few shots from them in my next post - some really fun local places to see!


  1. Jen, I know you've been really busy, so thank you for making the time to post your lessons on the blog. It is great to see what you are doing, full of inspiration!

    The girls look like they are having a ball. Can't wait to see which fable comes next....

    Blessings, Cathy

  2. This is wonderful Jen, thank you so much for shring your homeschooling days. I love that you wear a shawl when you read and have a story tellers chair:)

  3. What a cute needle felted fox! I have yet to try it out. We made a play scape using wool but my kids are not into it, probably because they don't have not many wool creatures. We made our scene mostly with beeswax. The fox is still there and that gets played a lot.

  4. Hey Jen, I have a tip in regards to the writing. My son learned from his former waldorf teacher to use a block crayon to create thick lines on the page where he does his summary. Then he writes inside those lines. There are some examples on my blog.

  5. Thanks for the suggestion, Little House on Wheels! We have done that in the past and it defintiely helps. I recently read something from another waldorf perspective saying that no lines is best??? that they need to learn to control it on their own, yadda yadda - so I am not sure what we'll do. You always seem to hear different opinions from different teachers. I think it looks much better with the block lines, I admit and probably most of us learned on the typical ruled lines. It's probably much like form drawing where the child has to really focus to keep running forms nicely spaced, even, and straight. We'll use the block lines next lesson and see how it goes :)

    BTW - your blog looks great! So I'm gonna have to go through it soon :) Happy travels!

  6. Wow! What a beautiful story! So Jen, do you really learn all the stories by heart and retell them? Did you do this in first grade too? I just can't do it... and also, I feel like I am losing a lot of the beauty of the writing... I tell them stories after their quiet time, but it's mostly the seasonal stories and festivals stories that I already know by heart from kindergarden...

  7. Thanks! I know what you mean about the lines vs. no lines. I would actually like him to get away from using them. I tried once this year but he was really obstinate about it so I just let it go. He is one of those really self critical kids so if it looks all crooked he will freak out and cry about it...better to stick with the lines, lol.

  8. Little House on Wheels - I do think you need to work around your kids. After all, that's one of the many benefits of homeschooling. Charley got hypercritical of her drawings last year and she's much more accepting of them now, but it took a lot of patience and reinforcement from me to get her to this point (plus her maturity now that she's a year older). But I hear you - your son will eventually perfect them and you can slowly take away the lines. I think kids should feel great about what they are doing and if they need a little crutch until they develop further, then it will reinforce their love of learning :)

    Catherine - I wish I could learn all the stories by heart. The Grimm's from Grade 1 can be really l-o-n-g so for the ones I didn't know well, I read from the book. Some of them, I did tell from heart, but I used cheat sheets! Plus, if you are doing two a week, it can get overwheling for mom, who has so much else to do during a day.

    In Grade 2 with the fables, they are so short and you create a whole backstory, so it's much, much easier (phew)! I'm liking the fables a lot!

    There is a lot of beauty in engaging your children by storytelling, but there is also a lot to be said about hearing beautiful, rhythmic language, so I think a mix is ideal and it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job! :)

  9. Hi there,

    You gave me a wonderful idea. And I had been reading the book storytelling with children, and have already incorporated a few of those ideas by Nancy Mellon. The girls look like gitanas (gypsies) - oh how cute! and that fits with our cultural background. I am going to develop a story to introduce the 'storyteller's apparel'. ;-) I have tried a few different things so far, but that is really simple, quick and easy. Mellon has a wonderful setup for storytelling in her book, but I don't find it possible in our little space. This would work well!

  10. Love, love, love that playscape! It makes the story come alive!

  11. Mama - the girls and I actually do carry gypsy blood through my dad's side, so they're actually authentic :) When my dad was young and told about it, he was told to NOT tell anyone because nobody likes gypsies. Sigh...I'm excited to hear about your storytelling and happy the post generated an idea for you!

    And thanks Moogie! Playscapes are fun!

    Hugs to you all,

  12. This is such a wonderfully helpful post. I have been wanting to do storytelling with my kids for some time but just didn't know how. I like how you expand the story into an art and language lesson. And the mailboxes are a wonderful idea. My husband works late too. I think the kids would really like this. I see I'm going to have to take some time to look through all your homeschool posts.

  13. Wonderful! I love to get inspired by seeing how other families do the lesson blocks. I love the little wool scene, it is so sweet!

  14. WOW! I love all your progressive follow-up activities! Very creative!

  15. Jen, what beautiful ML books!
    I really like your idea for post boxes. What a great way to connect & to encourage writing.