Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Starting (Pentatonic) Flutes!

FINALLY (only a month and a half behind schedule!) we started flutes today!

I have had such a mental block about the flutes because I don't know how to play (yet) and this is the first thing I've taught that I don't know, so I think I was/am nervous about keeping up with our schedule and staying ahead enough to actually properly teach.

I now finally understand all the comments about how can you teach things you don't know.  In the past, I've answered this with a confident, "You learn, or find someone who does know to teach it."  The you learn part seemed reasonable and easy enough, but now I'm outing myself as feeling anxious teaching things I don't know well :)

The good news is that the intro went really well and the kids loved the first day of flute!  Elie joined us today, but, for the most part, my husband will play with Elie while I do flute with Yoav.

The resources I'm using are:
*  "Teaching Yourself and Your Child the Pentatonic Flute" by Marsha Johnson
* "Playing and Teaching the Pentatonic Flute" by David Darcy
* "Playing with Choroi Flutes - an Introduction" by Thomas Pedroli and Dietmar Bloch
* "Pentatonic and Interval Flutes for Kindergarten and the Early Grades" by Par Ahlbom, Anne Widmark, and Maja Knierim
(the first two I recommend most)

and for music, I have several small books:
* "Pentatonic Songs" by Elisabeth Lebret
* "Quintenlieder" by Julius Knierim
* "There is a Path" by Channa Seidenberg
* "Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack" by Johanne Russ

This is a great Youtube video by David Darcy on how to hold and blow the flute with a suggested first song.

There is also a useful Master's thesis online by Linda Ann Ledbetter Eterman titled "An Approach to Music Education based on the Indications of Rudolf Steiner".

We are starting out with Interval Flutes, which only have one hole, so it's a good way to get kids comfortable with simply holding and blowing into the flute and learning pitch recognition (without concerning themselves with finger placement).  We'll play a few games with the flute:
1.  I will play a note on a pentatonic flute and Yoav will try to match the note by using the three interval flutes, with and without the hole open.
2.  He will play a note on his Interval Flute and then I will play notes on the pentatonic and he will tell me when we have a match.

There are a lot of games you can play with the interval flutes if you have six or more kids.  I only have one, so my games will be pretty simple ;)

Silliness with Interval Flutes

Monday, January 23, 2012

Failed Start to Vowels

I was planning to start a two week mini block of vowels today, but things don't always go as planned :)

I had a doctor's appointment in the morning and, though Yoav was relaxed and happy for the two hours out of the house (we went out for bagels before the appointment), the second we got home, the dog jumped up on him and got him (slightly!) wet and it was downhill from there.

Looking back and thinking about things, I'm wondering if I need to connect and collect as he's getting out of the car.  The car ride is certainly a mild separation.  I also needed to be more organized to get him transitioned faster to form drawing, which I wanted to do first, but he started drawing as soon as we got in and then got Elie drew on his drawing him while I was in the laundry room getting new clothes, and, well, it took a long time for us to recover :)

So I ended up just nixing the day and we had lunch and spent part of the afternoon outside and the rest drawing.

We're doing Marsha Johnson's drawing class together (me and Yoav).  Each week she announces (on the WaldorfHomeEducators Yahoo group) a new thing for us to draw.  We're a day behind on our week three drawing, but we did it today.

My bird for Marsha Johnson's drawing class
Yoav's bird for Marsha Johnson's drawing class

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Language Arts Block 2 / Week 3 - letters

This was our last week of consonants.  The story for the week was "The White Snake", a Grimm's tale.  Yoav really loved this story - the ability to hear what animals say - what could be better than that for a boy who loves animals :)

I shifted our schedule this week by a day so we could go up North on Monday to visit a homeschooling family I've known online for two years.  It was really fun.  They have a boy a bit older than Yoav and a girl Yoav's age and a girl Elie's age.  Elie really doesn't play together yet with other kids, but he had fun playing trains and being with me.  Yoav had a lot of fun (though he was asking me to leave for the first hour).  He brought his Stockmar crayons and ended up drawing for a good hour or more with the girl his age and then played a bit with balloons and random silly things with the older boy.  He says he wants to go back and he added them to our very short list of friends here.

So I told the story on Tuesday and revealed the drawing on Wednesday.  I was really tired on Tuesday night and very much NOT in the mood to do a chalkboard drawing, so this is the best I could muster :)

My chalkboard drawing for "The White Snake"

Yoav's drawing - he was also rushing a bit because it took him SO long (ie, much angst and frustration!) to draw the duck and then he had to rush to finish before leaving for his horseback class.  I told him he could finish later in the day, but he really wanted to finish.  He's very much a man of ritual and wouldn't want to do his Main Lesson drawing at a different time of day :)

Yoav's drawing for "The White Snake"
On Thursday, I revealed the letters.  At this point, Yoav understands well the game and he was guessing what the letters were before I revealed them.  He got the K and S.

My chalkboard drawing for "The White Snake" with letters revealed - King, Queen, Snake, Duck, Horse
And then he drew his letters.  He was very excited to do five letters again and made a list of all the letters he knows so far to show Aba (who was traveling) on video phone at the end of the day.

Yoav's letters

For craft, we made calendula salve.  I based our method on these instructions.  We used two little glass painting jars, which are the perfect size.  We skipped a step by using calendula oil that we had made a few months ago with the instructions in Aviva Romm's "Naturally Healthy Babies and Children".  We set up a pan for boiling water (to make a double-boiler) with two stainless steel measuring cups inside - one for beeswax and one for oil.  In the bigger one, we put olive oil, lanolin and lavender essential oil.  When the beeswax was fully melted, we just poured it into the oil, mixed and then poured into our glass containers to harden.  The salve came out really well, though we should have put in more EO as the lavender scent is too faint.  Yoav put his little bottle by the bed and used it on his eczema before we went to sleep.

Making salve with a double-boiler set-up - oil in the larger measuring cup, beeswax in the smaller one.

Finished salves

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dyeing Playsilks with Vinegar (stovetop method)

Today for our craft, we dyed playsilks.  This has been on my to-do list since this summer when I got the playsilks from Dharma Trading.

Last time we did this, I didn't post about it and didn't write down what I did.  I remember thinking it was really easy (particularly since before that we dyed a few with natural plant dyes) and I found the directions easily online, so there was no need to bother.

But I've had these silks waiting to get dyed, and several of our current ones are torn, and I wasn't sure which tutorial to follow.  I remembered doing something on the stove, but couldn't remember what.

I found this tutorial which has most of what I needed.  I still don't remember exactly what we did last time, but this time, I pretty much followed the directions in the linked tutorial.  The only significant difference is that I brought the colored water to an almost boil in an old pot on the stove before adding the silks and then we swished it around until we liked the color.  I used about 15 drops of color for each bath and used the least amount of water necessary to fully cover the playsilk and have a little room for swishing (we're super water conscious over here!!)  To save water, I also dyed purple after blue using the blue water bath as a start and dyed the orange after red using the red water bath as a start.

We used the 30"x30" Habotai silks from Dharma.  I like that size the best - the kids greatly prefer them to the 22" square ones.

My red isn't so red - I guess I needed more dye for that one, or more time in the bath.  If there are any complaints, we can always put it back in for more dye later...

Yoav dyeing playsilk

Food dye colored playsilks

Language Arts Block 2 / Week 2 - letters

The rest of the week went smoothly.  We're mostly back into our rhythm, although twice this week (including today) my husband took Elie during part of the morning, which helped immensely :)

Yesterday we revealed the letters:

Letters for The Princess in the Tower - Light, Cat, Princess, Ziz, oX
At the last minute, I added the X for oX.  It's not an ideal method, since I'm not using the first letter, but it bothered me that I we had all the letters except X and I thought it would be better this way than for Yoav to just "take it on authority" as Eric Fairman of "Path of Discovery" says to do with remaining letters (it's the standard, I'm just quoting him because I like his terminology).

And Yoav drew the letters:

Yoav's letters for The Princess in the Tower - Light, Cat, Princess, oX, Ziz (N was from previous week)

Yoav was beyond excited to do five letters.  After drawing these letters, he wanted to find out how many letters he has left, so we made a list (from memory) of all the letters we've done so far and discovered that there are nine left.  Yoav was oddly giddy to find out that we would be doing the remainder of the letters in the next two weeks and that in two weeks he would know all the letters.  He was literally shaking with excitement.  Gotta love homeschooled kids!  :)

We did a drawing activity yesterday - we're participating in Marsha Johnson's drawing class (via her Yahoo group, waldorfhomeeducators).  The class is intended for parents, but I thought it would be fun to do it with Yoav (and it is!)  Each week, for a total of eight weeks, Mrs. M will tell us what to draw and we then send in the drawings to her to be uploaded to the Yahoo group so we can see them all and discuss and get pointers from her.  This week the subject is "moon".  And here are our drawings:

My drawing of a moon for Marsha Johnson's drawing class

Yoav's drawing of a moon for Marsha Johnson's drawing class

Today was Watercolor Day.  We did an exercise from Live Ed (borrowed from a friend).  I told a story about how Blue was playing in the forest (painted around the edges) and then Yellow came to play (painted in middle).  Blue and Yellow don't know eachother, so they don't want to play together.  But they were both happy to play by themselves for a while...  (continued to add paint)  Said that as they got closer to eachother, they'd feel a little scared (so that's why the paint is darker further away).  Then Red came to play.  Red is good friends with both Yellow and Blue, so she played a little with Blue (painted between the yellow and blue and then mixed a bit with Blue) and then Purple joined in the play!  Red also played with Yellow and as she was playing with Yellow, Orange came to play!!!  Such a fun exercise, and they came out beautifully:

Yoav's watercolor painting

We made muffins this morning and then in the afternoon, we dyed a rainbow of playsilks (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) with food coloring.  I'll post that separately with the method we used once they fully dry and I take photos.

The kids have been happily playing in the playroom for an hour and a half.  I'm embarrassed to say that it's already 8:30pm.  Usually we go upstairs for bed no later than 7pm, but my husband is working late and this is the most fun the kids have had together in a few days, so it's hard for me to end the fun...  But now I must...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Language Arts Block 2 / Week 2

We're in Day 2 of Week 2 of Block 2 :)

This week I'm using a Jewish version of Rapunzel called "The Princess in the Tower" in the book "Leaves from the Garden of Eden" by Howard Schwartz.

Monday I actually forgot to do Form Drawing :(  Too bad, because it usually goes well.  I told the story and then we did candlemaking in place of beeswax modeling.  Yoav has had a hard time with the past few attempts with modeling wax.  Part of it is that it's cooler, so the wax really has to be held longer in our "ovens" (armpits - I forget where I learned this, but it works well and it's fun to talk about what temperature we put our ovens to while we're waiting); part of it is just that it's difficult and has always been frustrating for him.  Once in a while, he makes something that he loves (like the acorns we made recently, which he really enjoyed), but mostly it's an experience in extreme frustration :(

Today we made our weekly Shabbat candles in place of the modeling wax time (the Morning Activity).  I thought it was a fairly good substitute, especially because he made little wax shapes to attach to the candles after they were completed, which gave him the desired experience of shaping the wax.

Yoav's beeswax candles

Today (Tuesday), Yoav and I together told the story to Elie (this works well as a recall method for us, since Yoav is much more excited to tell the story to DH or Elie than to me, since with me he prefers for me to tell the story LOL).  Then I revealed my drawing and Yoav worked on his.

My chalkboard drawing for "The Princess in the Tower"
Yoav and Elie drawing

As you might have noticed, I've temporarily moved us into the living room for our school time.  We started in the sewing room, then I moved us to the playroom when Elie got fidgety and bothersome in the small-ish sewing room, and finally now, I'm finding it difficult to move the kids down to the playroom in the basement (particularly Elie), so we've been doing our Main Lesson in the living room for the past few days.  If we stay in the living room, I'l get some pillows together so we can use the coffee table the way Waldorf bench desks are used.

Yoav got stuck on the bird (a fictional Ziz, which I'm using for Z) and is now taking a break from his drawing.  I'll ask him if he wants to try again later, but I won't push.  

Yoav's unfinished drawing for "The Princess in the Tower"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Language Arts Block 2 / Week 1

So, we're somewhat back in the swing of things after two weeks off.  We started off very easy this week as it's always hard for me to get back into our rhythm.  I think (know) that it's more me who has trouble adjusting than anyone else.  Yoav does not do well with breaks and he is more than ready to start again after a two week break.

We're on our second Language Arts block, which I'm happy about.  Yoav loved the first LArts block and the format of it suits me well - the fact that each day builds on the previous day helps force me to stick to the schedule.  I tell the story on Monday; re-tell on Tuesday with a drawing; re-tell on Wednesday with the letters revealed and then we do watercolor painting on Thursday and work more with alliterative verses and games based on the letters of the week.

This week our story is the Grimm's "Nixie of the Mill Pond".  This was a great story for me to do after the break because it's fairly short and was very easy for me to memorize.

My chalkboard drawing

I found this drawing online to help me draw the rabbit.

Yoav's drawing

Yoav had a lot of difficulty drawing the rabbit. He's never drawn a rabbit before and he is a perfectionist when it comes to drawing, so he was fairly overwhelmed by the prospect of drawing a rabbit (when he saw my drawing). He drew the rest of the drawing and then used scrap paper to practice his rabbit. After a long 45 minutes of tear-filled practice, he finally managed to draw one he liked. I pulled out my "Coloring with Block Crayons" book and saw their suggestion to draw a rabbit as two ovals, so I drew one in that format on scrap paper with the block crayons for him to use as a model.

The letters revealed

His letters

"Walking the Forms"

On Wednesday, after we drew the letters, we did some alliterative verses with the letters and played a few letter games - one was to take turns saying a word that starts with said letter; the next was to tell a story in which we take turns adding a sentence to the story and each addition must have at least one word that starts with the new letter - ex (this is similar to our story - far from creative genius, but the point is to get the letters in LOL) - "I Ran outside and saw a Rabbit. The Rabbit was Red. He saw a River and Ran to the River. He heard a frog say Ribbet."

Tomorrow we'll do watercolor painting and we'll do some more games with the letters and alliterative verses (from Eric Fairman's "Path of Discovery").