Monday, November 23, 2015

Grade 6 - Geometry - Week 1

Oh what a fun block this is! I could not squeeze it in 3 weeks, so decided to make it a 4 week block. We are working with great resources and are enjoying the blend of history, art and maths. Waldorf introduces geomety early on with form drawing (freehand geometry). Actually, in all Waldorf schools, the first day of first grade is about lines and curves. We go outside and try to find lines and curves in things we see... leaves, buildings, flowers, etc. It is truly a magical moment when the child realizes that everything is made of lines and curves! I still remember this very special day! And the second one! Through the grade, they's continued with running forms, symmetrical forms and Celtic knots. Sixth grade is really the introduction to formal geometry.

Steiner stressed the importance of teaching children how to use their imagination to see the form, or geometric shapes, not just the numbers and equations that many public schools focus on today.

I start each lesson by reading one or two chapters of the very interesting book on The Story of Geometry, which contains stories about geometers from ancient civilizations, some of whose only used strings, shadows and straightedges to lay the foundation of modern geometry. For instance, we studied Egypt and Mesopotamia last year and they learned how the rich land in the Fertile Crescent allowed people to begin agriculture, domesticating animals, and building cities. These things gave them more time for thinking, henceforth came some of the first geometric thought. The first calendars were believed to have 360 days, which lead to the circle being divided into 360 degrees. Finally, students look at, and work with, the division of circles into 360 degrees. Sixth grade geometry flows logically from this historical foundation as it builds and expands on these concepts.

I highly recommend that every homeschooling parent planning a homeschooling block on geometry watches this great talk by Jamie York, the author of Making Math Meaningful.

Other than these two books, I also used this Compass drawing book and the Key to Geometry workbooks 1 and 2.

So this week, we started with some basic geometrical constructions: line and angle bisection, right angles, parallel lines, the construction of triangles and quadrilaterals using a compass, copying an angle; construction of a parallel line and division of a line into equal parts.

Make sure to plan a lot of time for these main lessons (2 hours at least).

Day 1: I read p. 7 to 20 in String, Straight-edge and shadows, I gave each of the girls a geometric instrument kits and they played with them a bit (I showed them how each worked). We did about 10 pages in the Key to Geometry workbook 1, then did card 3 to 6 in Compass Drawing and finally draw this concentric circles (one inch appart) in their Main Lesson Book (make sure to buy a bigger MLB for this block with onion skins).

Day 2: I read chap. 3 and 4 in String, Straight-edge and shadows, We did  about 10 pages in the Key to Geometry workbook 1, we did the 3 exercises on p. 32 in Making Math Meaningful, then did cards 8-9-11 and 15 in Compass Drawing and finally reproduced and colored card 15 into our MLB .

Day 3:  I read chap. 5 in String, Straight-edge and shadows, We did  about 10 pages in the Key to Geometry workbook 1, we did the 3 exercises on p. 33 in Making Math Meaningful, then did cards 16-17 and 18 in Compass Drawing and finally reproduced and colored card 18 into our MLB .

Day 4:  I read chap. 6 and 7 in String, Straight-edge and shadows, We did about 10 pages in the Key to Geometry workbook 1, we did the 3 exercises on p. 34 in Making Math Meaningful, then did card 19 in Compass Drawing and reproduced and colored that card into our MLB .

And this is just the first week!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Towards more automony

As the girls get older - and I choose to take more translation contracts - our goal is for them to be more autonomous in their learning. We designed a schedule together, so I don’t have to remind them to take clean their beds, brush their teeth, walk the dog, etc. every morning and so they can go at their own rhythm. I am not usually ready to start our main lesson before nine, and Aïsha, for instance, doesn’t like to wait for me. This way, she can do a few things on her own in the meantime. We have created a schedule that they can check (it is in a plastic cover and they use a dry-erase marker).

We have been trying different online resources for the past year and I think we finally found something that we all like to complement our Waldorf-based homeschooling. We are currently using Time4learning, Reflex Math, Brain Pop in French (for Mathilde) and some other online French resources. They are also doing a typing program in French. It feels good to see them more in charge of their schedule. We were all ready for that. Ready to move to a “non-mamacentric” way of learning. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grade 6 - Physics - Week 2 (light)

For this block, I took a lot from this mama's planning.We had another 4 day week.

Day 1 - we played with primary colors and ghost colors. When you look at the red circle for 30 sec or so and then look at a white piece of paper, you see a light blue circle appear (for the yellow, you see a light purple one and for the blue, a light orange/yellow one). Quite fascinating!

Day 2 - We talked more about complementary colors more in depth.

 Day 3 - We did an awesome experiment to explain what happens at sunrise and sunset. We filled a fishbowl (well, it was a wine decanter in our case!) and put a white sheet of paper beside it (folded so it stood by itself), then we shone a light through the wine decanter and we could see the silvery light on the white sheet of paper. While the light was still shining, I slowly poured some milk in the water and the light turned yellow, then orange! It is a great visual explanation of how why the sun becomes orange at sunset when it passes through a thicker blanket of atmosphere. It was fascinating!

 Day 4 - We experimented with the classical dispersion of light by a prism. Always beautiful to watch!

We changed our daily schedule quite a bit. I will post about this soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grade 6 - Roman History - Week 4 and 5

All the ressources I am using for this block are listed here, under Roman History. It will be a five week block lesson. Week one is here.

I can't say that I am super happy of the last few weeks of this block. I didn't plan it as well as the first few weeksn since I didn't have all the books on hands when I did the planning. Also, we had a lot going on: eye doctor visits in Vancouver, fun hikes, two birtdays and great rock climbing in Washington. I am OK with that, but if you are thinking of following my planning, you might want to rethink those last few weeks. We were also short of about 4-5 pages in the Main Lesson Book, so you might want to condense the drawing + text on some pages earlier in the block.

During Week 4, we finished reading City and read parts of Augustus Caesar's World.

Day 1 - We read about the interesting love story between Marc Antony and Cleopatra in Augustus Caesar's World book (p.84 to 90) and the last few paragraphs of chapter 37 in Kovacs' book. 

Day 2 - I read about Augustus Caesar in Augustus Caesar's World bookp. 133 à 136, and added more to his story with this article from

Day 3 - I read about Nero from

Day 4 - I read about Marcus Aurelius from

Day 5 - I read about the Roman Gods in Augustus Caesar's World (p.159 à 165) and we draw a map of the Roman Empire.

On week 5, since our MLB was full, we simply snuggled and read the story of Daniel in the great book:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Grade 6 - Roman History - Week 3

All the ressources I am using for this block are listed here, under Roman History. It will be a five week block lesson. Week one is here.

This week we talked about life in the time of the Romans (the roman home, the roman architecture and aqueducs), as well as slavery and we started talking about Julius Caesar.

Day 1 - I read chapter 11 and 16 (NOT 11 to 16) in Kovacs' book and from the book City by David Macaulay. Here's what the girls put in their MLB:


Day 2 - I read chapter 17 to 21 in Kovacs' book and kept reading from the book City by David Macaulay. Here's what the girls put in their MLB:

Day 3 - I read Chap. 22 to 27 in Kovacs' book and from the book City by David Macaulay. Here's what the girls put in their MLB:

Day 4 - I read Chap. 28 and 29 in Kovacs' book and from the book City by David Macaulay. Here's what the girls put in their MLB:

Day 5 - I read Chap. 30 to 35 in Kovacs' book. Here's what the girls put in their MLB:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Attention seeking behavior

In most families, there is at least one child that demands more than the others. And it can be pretty hard when one is homeschooling different grades. 

I get it. It’s easy to get so caught up with work, chores, activities, and responsibilities that we don’t spend enough time specifically interacting with our children. The important thing is to see it and not blame our children for "misbehaving" when in fact, all they need is our time and attention. And when I say attention, I mean, full-on, completely focused on them attention. Not just distractedly listening to their explanation about their Lego construction or complex drawing while thinking about a meeting or eyeing our phone. Kids are smart. They know we are not fully present. And they feel like we do not care.

Still, some children get LOTS of parent's attention and still behave as if they needed more. What I notice most times with these children is that they have somehow misunderstood what they need to do to engage others. And it's our job as parents to teach them these skills (why will some of our children "get it" without us specifically guiding them through this, I have no idea, but that's often the case that 2 out of 3 children will do great with a regular dose of attention and one will require A LOT more).

When I asked for support on an online group about Mathilde a few years ago, here's what someone wrote to me, as if she was talking from the child's point of view:

Because I wanted your attention. Because I want you to see me. Because I want to know I’m important to you. Because I want to feel like I belong to you. Because you are my mom and my dad and that makes you the two most important people in my world, and I want to feel like I matter as much to you as you matter to me. And I will do anything—anything—to find a way into the center of your world.

I can't tell you how many time I reread that (and still do at times). It really speaks to me. I hope it does resonate with some of you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Grade 6 - Roman History - Week 2 (The Kings of Rome)

All the ressources I am using for this block are listed here, under Roman History. It will be a five week block lesson. Week one is here.

Day 1 - We recited O Roma again (and did every day this week a the beginning of our lesson). The girls know it by heart now. I read chap. 5 and 6 from Charles Kovacs' Ancient Rome book, the story of Numa Pompilius (here)  and the story of The Horatii and the Curiatii (here). They girls draw and wrote this in their MLB: 

Day 2 - I read the story of the Tarquins (here). They girls draw Lucius Tarquinius and wrote about the Seven Kings of Rome in their MLB: 

Day 3 - I read chap. 8, 9 and 10 from Charles Kovacs' Ancient Rome book. They girls draw Horatius on the bridge and wrote about the beggining of the Republic in their MLB: 

Day 4 - I read the beginning of the story of Hannibal that is in the Christopherus' Roman History bundle.They girls draw Hannibal and wrote about him in their MLB:

Day 5 - I finished reading the story of Hannibal that is in the Christopherus' Roman History bundleThey girls draw Hannibal crossing the Alps and wrote about him and Scipio Africanus in their MLB (The top drawing is Mara and the bottom one, Aisha's):

Math : we finished Key to Decimals 2.