Tag Archives: Steiner homeschool

Seventh Grade: The Age of Exploration and Discovery

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Ocean Currents

Ocean Currents

Watercolor of Africa

Watercolor of Africa

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Routes of the Explorers

 

Teal did the cutest little gold blocks for Pizzaro and then we noticed she had spelled his name wrong! It was still a great effort.


Teal did the cutest little gold blocks for Pizarro.

I used Charles Kovacs’ book The Age of Discovery as the main text for our Age of Exploration and Discovery block. I also liberally used the internet to find background information, maps, etc.  The Kovacs books are excellent for short biographies. They really seem to capture the spirit of the historical figures, which is important because in the Waldorf pedagogy during grades 1-8 the teacher brings history to the child using biographies. In reality, for children aged 7-14 there is far too much to cover if you look at history as events only, but if you can capture the “feeling of the age” by studying a few notable people who lived during that time, you help your child develop a sense for how the human race is unfolding.

Here is a list of what we studied and did during this block;

  • Henry the Navigator with summary
  • Because Henry’s sailors were mapping the coast of Africa, we had a nice segue into a short study of Africa. Teal painted a watercolor of Africa as suggested in Creative Pathways by Auer and wrote a summary of some things we studied about Africa, including the geography of the land: deserts, jungle, mountains, etc. We also located places we had already studied in earlier history blocks.
  • This led to a discussion about why it was so darn difficult to sail down the west coast of Africa and northeast to India: ocean currents! This was a very fascinating part of our block and it was easy to see why it was so hard to sail from Portugal to India.
  • Vasco da Gama with summary
  • Amerigo Vespucci with summary
  • Christopher Columbus with summary
  • Pizarro with summary
  • Magellan with summary
  • Teal made another map of the world and mapped the routes of each of the explorers we talked about. We compared their travels to the ocean currents map, which was cool.
  • A title page drawing of a ship which was inspired by a main lesson book I saw at a workshop several years ago.
  • We made a little backtrack to talk about Marco Polo who was an explorer on land. Teal read a story about him from a book I found on mainlesson.com and wrote another summary.

Teal did a lot of summaries during this block! They were each fairly short, but our goal was to have beautiful main lesson book pages. We picked her favorite work to showcase in this post, and after all of her effort she was very pleased with how her main lesson book turned out saying she thinks it’s her best one yet. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

The Real Curriculum in a Waldorf Homeschool

It has been amazing to see the growing interest in Waldorf or Steiner homeschooling on Facebook over the past year. Parents are out there in droves wondering how to get started, how to implement the philosophies, and which is the best curriculum to use. There are truly so many wonderful resources that it is hard to pick with which ones to spend our time! I started with Waldorf a little over four years ago. I remember the excitement I felt in finding an educational philosophy that honored children as children. I wanted all the information right then, but, as with any skill, you learn and grow and arrive bit by bit. It is with that thought that I offer the following curriculum suggestion, a suggestion that I believe to be at the very root of your home school:

YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM in your Waldorf Homeschool!

And not just Waldorf homeschools, but in any type of homeschooling, or public schooling family; YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!

Those that have studied early childhood know that children learn by imitation. This is stressed in every single Waldorf early childhood book I have read. Your young child learns by watching you! And not just watching by you, they “feel” you. They pick up on your moods, your stress, and your joy. Then, after they watch and feel you, they begin to play it all out. I’m sure you’ve overheard your child practicing something you’ve said in a tone you’ve used! This is how they learn.

Well, guess what, that doesn’t end when they start in the grades. Your sixth grader is still learning by watching you! Don’t believe me? Just wait until the morning you are in your ratty pajamas, with your make-up smeared on your face because you didn’t wash it the night before, your hair unbrushed and you decide to get mad at your sixth grader because they didn’t hop up and get completely ready for homeschool to begin.  You just might hear something muttered under their breath along the lines of “Yeah, like you got ready for school today…” You see, although your child is growing and may be entering the phase of rational thought and truth, they still learn by watching you!

If the truth that YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM feels unsettling, I want to offer this quote found in  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:

The growing and developing in the child listens to the growing and developing in the teacher. Therefore, just as much as the teacher works on himself, so much can he work on his pupils and so he can teach them. Education and self-education are one and the same. This knowledge takes away the sense of inadequacy. The question is not how far I have come and how much I can accomplish, but rather that I must constantly struggle. I can give to the children to the same degree that I work on myself.

Your sense of inadequacy vanishes when you realize that you teach according to your own struggle and developing, NOT according to how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished!

So, allow yourself a deep breath. It really doesn’t matter which Waldorf curriculum you choose (if any!), there is good and bad in every curriculum. It really doesn’t matter how much knowledge or materials you have when you begin. What matters is how YOU are struggling, growing and developing. So just get busy doing with your children because  YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!