whereon great waves foam,
By nature bound, yet ever free,
I need no longer roam,
The path designed I follow
to the sea which is my home.
~ taken from The River by Molly DeHavas
This week, we began our first environmental studies block. As in just about every other subject matter, Waldorf science varies greatly from traditional educational methods. The focus is on the "phenomenological" approach to learning, which in short means bringing to the child what they experience through their senses. It is very different from the abstract science which many of us learned using textbooks, facts and regurgitation.
Again, I toot the horn of the wise master Waldorf teacher, Marsha Johnson of Shining Star, who has a wonderful yahoo group for homeschoolers (and anyone interested in waldorf education): Waldorf Home Educators. She has a fantastic 3.5 page document in her free files section that sums up beautifully the essence of teaching waldorf science in grades 1 and 2 and this is largely what our next block is inspired by. This and my other favorite: Eric Fairman. He has a by grade spiral bound book called Path of Discovery, which I've mentioned many times already. You can purchase each one by grade, which provides his notes from his journal on teaching that particular grade. He also offers a math only book which covers the grades 1-8.
Waldorf education places great importance on teaching from Whole to Parts. I wanted to bring this into this nature block. So, while Marsha Johnson encourages using what the child experiences near their home as the foundation, I also loved Fairman's idea of introducing the Four Elements to this block, as well: Earth, Water, Air and Fire...
Therefore, we began our three week nature block with an outing to Malibu's Zuma Beach in the late afternoon/evening when the tides pull back, exposing many beautiful rocks, shells, and lots of seagulls, sandpipers, and hopefully a harbor seal or two - the surfers sure showed up in waves (;P)...over the next few weeks, I will be sharing our first environmental studies block on the four elements in relation to our ocean studies...