Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Grade: Language Arts Block

I'm back to blogging after a long hiatus due to computer repair and a 3 week trip to Chicago to visit family...

We have been taking our time with our first block, which is Language Arts. I am pulling from a variety of sources, including Kristie Burns' Earthschooling, Eric Fairman's Path of Discovery, Zonneveld and Schrager, and of course, the Brothers Grimm.

Before you purchase a Grimms book, though, you might want to look at this website where you can access the stories for FREE.

We usually begin our day by lighting a candle, playing our beginning song on our Auris glockenspiel, saying a verse and a prayer and then we begin.

I will go back and do a master list at the end of our Language Arts block, but for now, here is the order of our lessons. I will add the next four letters to the blog tomorrow.

We are only working on capital letters, consonants before vowels. We also decided to follow the order that Fairman suggested, with easiest letters first.

Here's a wonderful blurb about teaching Waldorf reading from Kristie Burns' earthschooling blog, which I found so poignant.

M - "Simeli Mountain" by the Bros. Grimm

We love Kristie Burns' "Sixth Sense Language" ebook and I usually begin by reading her verse and have the girls guess which letter we are doing. I then reveal my chalkboard drawing and share the story with them. They work on their whiteboards sometimes and we then look at the pictures from our two alphabet books "LMNOP" & "Living Alphabet". We talk about which words begin with that letter and I often write them down on a whiteboard.

Following "Sixth Sense Language", we also tie in the other senses to the letter and end with the three of us drawing in our MLB's together. Sometimes they copy mine. Other times they are inspired to draw something unique.

For the letter "M", we bought some marigolds to plant and enjoyed the fragrant smells.

Elena decided she wanted to form the letter "M" with some clay and even continued to make the scene from the story.

Charley finished her whiteboard drawing inspired by Simeli Mountain.

Drawing in our Main Lesson Books.

The finished products :D

Words that start with the letter "M"...

V - "Valley of the Violets" by me

For the letter "V", I just couldn't find a Grimm's story that I was happy with, so I decided to make up my own story, using inspiration from the Syrendell sprites and Mamma 4 Earth's "Norman the Storytelling Gnome".

I used a felted playscape I made, the three Syrendell sprites and a basic gnome my sister made for us to represent Norman. I set up wooden blocks in the shape of a "V" as the valley and draped it with silks hand-dyed by Syrendell.

The story was about Violet Sprite who had been captured by a mean giant who imprisoned her underground at the foot of a valley. Above her sprouted a large field of violets. Her sisters would watch her image in the mystical pond and long for her return. One day, Norman the Gnome heard their tears and came over to offer his help. He climbed the peach tree and found the golden peach and then traveled upstream to the Valley of the Violets, where he planted the golden peach. The ground magically opened and Violet was set free. The angry giant was so greedy that he leaped in after the golden peach and the earth promptly swallowed him whole. Thus, he forever remains. Norman brought Violet back to her sisters and they lived happily the rest of their days.

The girls worked on their MLB's...
And we ate some yummy vegetables for lunch!

S - "The White Snake" by the Bros. Grimm

We used wooden shapes and "dragon's tears" to make the shapes of the letters...
And had fun thinking of words that begin with the letter "s".

Worked in our MLB's...

And the girls had sushi for lunch!

T - "The Three Little Men in the Wood" by Bros. Grimm

Had tea during lunch and smelled some spices beginning with the letter "T", including thyme leaves & turmeric.

To be continued...


  1. Thank you for featuring the Syrendell Sprites in your story for V! How wonderful. Your chalk drawings, felted playscapes, silks and everything that you do is beautiful, meaningful and makes learning fun. Glad to see that you got the Auris glockenspiel. We love ours!

  2. I wish I could have been one of your children-I love the way you put these lessons together- we have the wise enchanter too- I found the older children liked it, but my 7 year old couln't follow it- how did you like it?

  3. Jen, where did you buy your chalkboard? Even Mercurius is not selling any! I can't find any and my Ikea one (that I painted) is driving me nuts! Thanks!

  4. I bought mine from Paper, Scissors, Stone (The Waldorf Store) here:

    I like that the edges are rounded. The prices are reasonable. But I am not all that pleased with it as it is very thin. I use the blackboard chalks pictured to the right of it and I have to wash the board down between uses to get rid of the left over colors. As a child, I had a professional one an - makes it hard when I want to have a separate drawing board and then one for word copywork. I don't remember it being quite this hard to get the chalk off my childhood boards, but could also be the chalk??? If you're going to purchase one, I'd recommend buying two of the largest sized ones and that way you don't have to erase in between.

    My plan is to make our own one of these days, but I likely won't get to it until next summer, but we'll see :) HTH!

  5. I saw those and thought they were pretty small... I use the same chalk on my Ikea one (that I painted with chalkboard paint) and it is really easy to clean with a chalkboard brush.. However, I really do not like the finish of it. It's very uneven because I used a paintbrush... Maybe if I make one without edges I could use a painting roll... I will look around in the office supply stores, maybe I will find professional ones... Thanks!

  6. Yes, they are very small :(

    But thanks for LMK that your Ikea one cleans off easily. It must be these boards. I know Our Little Nature Nest made her own and I'm sure there are tutorials out there so you can make them any size, etc. The professional ones are really expensive. LMK if you find one you like :)

  7. I will look around and let you know if I find something, but if it's too pricey, I'll try making my own too! I just feel like the paing washes off really easily. I tend to clean them with damp rugs because I like clean boards!