Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Prince of a Tale and Then Some

It might seem like with travel, work and holidays that "school" has gone by the wayside. Actually, we have been working on the more traditional stuff too - well traditional for us.

Our most recently completed "school" block was language arts. I had originally planned four weeks for a Waldorf type block but we got so involved and took so many exits into the land of unschooling that four weeks morphed into ten.

What have we done? In nutshell: We completed the first two language arts blocks as presented in the Christopherus Grade One Curriculum - with a little tweaking of our own in some places. These two blocks consist of creating a pictoral letter alphabet based on a continuing story infused with Grimm's Fairy Tales (re: a big story with little ones nestled inside). Our story went something like this:
There was Kind King and a Quiet Queen. They were parents to a Proud Prince. Because he was so proud he was not ready to lead the Kingdom. So, their cousin, the Wise Woman, took him on a journey. During this journey he learned many things and returned home much wiser and ready to lead the Kingdom.
Every week I told Nightowl a segment or two of the Prince's story - oftimes this segment included a tale from Grimm's. The story segment would emphasize a particular set of letters (ie: Proud Prince = P). She would illustrate the story segment including the actual letters within her drawings, on other days she would practice the letters she learned. By the end we have a complete alphabet and a completely illustrated tale. At the end of the tale she moved onto writing simple allitrative word phrases. We also brought this story into our craft time, creating hand puppets (pictured above) of the Prince and the Wise Woman. We have re-enacted the entire thing with said puppets.

This activity worked extremely well for Nightowl. We did a similar type of illustrated alphabet last year for Kindergarten - as per Oak Meadow instruction. It was good introduction for her but not nearly as cohesive. My decision to engage in a similar activity for First Grade came about primarily because she seemed ready for the archetypal stories in Grimm's (she loves them). I also sensed that a letter review would be well received. True on both accounts - this activity was a hit. Nearly every day she asked for a new episode of the Prince. I put pictures up on my larger chalkboard. She then copied the pictures and letters first on her own chalkboard then in her main lesson book.

Included here are a few of the drawings from the Prince's Tale that Nightowl wished to showcase on the blog.

Images: 1-Kind King, Quiet Queen, Proud Prince, Wise Woman; 2 - Lovely Lady, Holle House,;
3 - Ooohhh!; 4 - New Needle, Curled Cat;
5 - Rapunzel; 6 - Letter practice

So that was our Waldorf. Our other adventures in reading during this past ten weeks include: working through McGuffy's Eclectic Primer, Nightowl reading aloud chapters of Frog and Toad, delving into classic children's books (see our Grade One Reading List), and creating original books.

That last part is pure Nightowl. For fun during her free time, Nightowl has been book making. She has written and illustrated several small books (I am usually called upon to dictate spelling). But the main project has been the creation of her own Magic Schoolbus adventure. Entitled "The Magic Schoolbus Goes to the IU String Academy" this work has taken a life of its own.

I gave Nightowl a blank main lesson book and she started by laying out the story via pen and ink illustrations, coloring them in later with colored pencil. This is a work in progress and not yet finished (so no photos at this time), but progress is being made. She is writing many of the words herself and she knows the storyline. I suspect that I will be called in once again to dictate spelling and help her locate music and string facts - but then that's my role in this: purely support staff. This is her project, fueled by her own desire, her love of playing the violin, love of the program she is in and her love of the Magic Schoolbus books.

This type of free learning makes me giddy with delight. It's what I hoped for when we began this adventure. On many occassions the entire day has been spent at work on this project. It's incredible to watch and has proven what almost all of the homeschoolers I know have told me: Let them go and they will learn. Fabulous.


Sara said...

Nice puppets! Go team!

I can't wait to see the Magic Schoolbus book. It sounds amazing. I love hearing about these inspiring, unschooly moments.

Aleisha said...

You're so right. The unschooly moments are the best, aren't they. Takes my breath away and just seems so easy. Much more so than when I push. Hmmm..? A lesson here?