The first week of school could not have been better. Admittedly we only had two and a half days of ‘real’ school work and I kept my expectations pretty low, but still, we had a great week.
We started the week and the year off with a trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It is set up like a village from the 1880’s which I thought was very nicely done and authentic feeling. The buildings are old buildings that have been transplanted from other sites. There is a potter’s studio, a blacksmith shop, a school-house, a church etc. A couple of times a year they hold a home school day and there are workshops for the kids to do. Ish did a workshop on textiles and one on herbal remedies. Ulka did cooking and farm life. They were pretty neat classes, at least the kids seemed to enjoy them. Andy generously offered to keep Ila and Kairav so that we could drive out with our friends Sarah, Jack and Lucy and have a day with the big kids.
On Tuesday we jumped right into our school routine. I was skeptical about circle time, but to my surprise everyone, including Ishaan, loves it. Kairav is hilarious to watch as he marches around trying to keep up with the finger plays and movements. Pretty cute.
Ishaan’s first big project is to make a clay oven that we will use to bake bread outside. I found the idea on this fantastic website called Pyrites.org. There are all kinds of super great ideas and some fascinating articles on the value of handwork and crafts in education. A few weeks ago Irene took down many trees in our neighborhood (including 5 on our property 2 of which landed on our house, but that’s another story). One of the trees that came down just down the street was a large willow. The kids and I collected lots of branches to make the basket which is to be the dome part of the oven. The basket will get covered in many layers of leaves and clay to make the clay oven. This week we got to work on the basket. Once we assembled the framework, which was very frustrating, the weaving went quickly and was rewarding. We used forsythia for the frame because it was straight and easier to work with and used willow for the weaving. The next step is to located some clay and to get some straw from a farmer we know.
As part of Ishaan’s math review I want him to master his times tables, so I had him make a multiplication wheel. It was a fun project for him, especially since he doesn’t love math. I think it is really pretty and we can hang it on the wall where it is easy for him to see all the multiplication tables.
We spent a lot of time coloring with block crayons and doing wet on wet water-color. I want to focus on art this year with the kids. I’ve always left this to Andy since he is an actual artist and I can barely draw a stick figure, but honestly after he is finished working all day he is not really up for an art class and I’m really bad about making that happen. So, I figured I would teach the kids and myself as well. It’s been neat experimenting with crayon drawing and am beginning to see how those beautiful waldorfy crayon drawings are done. We are still working on blending clouds of color, but it’s still pretty cool. I’m using a great book by Sieglinde De Francesca. It’s hard to believe that her pictures are done entirely with block crayons. Check them out at Coloring with Block Crayons if you get a chance.
We’ve been trying to get all the lessons done in the morning and saving the afternoons for art and handwork. So far it’s been working out. Our general schedule goes something like this:
9:00 circle time
9:30-12:00 main lessons, spelling, math, and music practice
12-1:30 lunch and outside time
1:30-2:30 art and handwork
2:30 day ends.
We don’t do school on Wednesday because Ishaan has his wilderness class and on Fridays we just do a half day and save the afternoon of outings and getting together with friends. This Friday was a perfect day for apple picking- the Honeycrisps are amazing!
As I said, this was a short week and everyone was fresh and excited but hopefully that excitement will carry us through for at least a few weeks while we get a rhythm.