by Miss Halla, Miss Amy, Ms. Kristin, Miss Ilian, & Frau Ilian
Every day after morning verse First and Second Graders come together as a
combined class for Circle. Through song, movement, and rhythmic activities we
wake up our bodies for learning. One of our favorite verses, “I wake myself to
greet the day, to see, to hear, to work, to play” can be rhythmically moved in
endless variations. We use this time to practice for our class plays, learn seasonal
songs, work on beanbag, clapping games, and other rhythmic movement—all
building a well-integrated body that is ready to learn. Singing games are also
great fun too: “Wind up the Apple Tree,” “Old Roger is Dead,” and “Ginger Snap”
have been enjoyed by all the children.
And then on to the rest of Main Lesson…
Both First and Second Grade started the year with two weeks of form drawing
and then began a Language Arts block, followed by Math.
In our Form Drawing blocks we are focusing on the straight line and curved line.
We use each one in different ways to form different shapes. This is to help the
children when writing their letters.
In Language Arts we started our letters. Each letter from this block comes with a
story and a picture before the letter is introduced. We are working on the verse,
“Kind hearts are gardens, Kind thoughts are roots, Kind words are blossoms,
Kind deeds are fruits.” My hope is to use this verse in the second grade to begin
In our Math block we are focusing on the qualities of numbers 1-12. The children
are hearing a long running story about a brother and sister who must answer the
question “What is #?” for each number. The children listen as the brother and
sister discuss different answers for each number. For example, number four is
the four seasons, or the four elements. If the siblings answer the question
correctly, they are given the day’s new symbols, which are always the Roman
numeral and the Arabic number. In our main lesson books we draw a picture for
each number (one is the sun, two is day and night, three is a triangle with stones,
beasts, and plants, four is the seasons, five is the five pointed star and pentagon,
and six is the six pointed star, an insect, and an hexagon…). Once we finish the
quality of numbers I will introduce the children to the four processes (addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division) through a story. Each process is
associated with a character in the story, and that character’s job will show what
the process does. This will take us through Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving for the time before our winter break we will work on
vowels. The sounds of the vowels will be our focus, and we will use songs, poems,
and stories to hear, practice, and feel these sounds.
In From Drawing we are currently focusing on mirroring forms, developing a
sense of balance and an eye for symmetry.
In our Language Arts block, after reviewing our good writing habits, Second
Graders launched into the phonetic elements of reading and writing, including
short vowel sounds and word families, as we continued to add more sight words
to repertoire. The lower case alphabet was introduced. Saint George, St. Jerome
and St. Ambrose were the focus of our stories, as well as some fables from native
culture, including Anansi the Spider, Coyote Trickster tales, and of course a few
multicultural tortoise fables in honor of our new class pets.
In the first Math block of the year we’ve been reviewing the four processes,
introducing place value, and working on our multiplication tables. Saint stories,
including St. Martin, and some fables are included in this block, but Great Basin
nature stories are the focus of the daily math lessons.
After main lesson, the First and Second Grade are reunited for a variety of subject
lessons, such as music, games, nature walks, Spanish and German. We’ll
highlight a couple of these classes each newsletter.
We started the year with raw, unwashed wool and spent time soaking, washing,
rinsing and drying the wool, before learning to prepare the cleaned wool for
spinning. The children learned to card the wool with full-sized carders and create
“rolags,” rolls of carded wool ready to spin.
Each of the First Graders was gifted a handmade spindle and the children learned
to create yarn from wool using this drop-spindle. We first spun with our cleaned,
carded white wool, as well as some brown wool; what a delight to finally spin
As the First Graders have moved on making their knitting needles from birch
dowel, Second graders have begun to learn to ply yarn, taking two strands of spun
wool and twisting them together using their spindles. We’ll be on to knitting just
in time for the holidays.
In German, the children have been learning basic vocabulary having to do with
greetings, body geography, counting, family relationships, things visible in
nature, and things having to do with holiday celebrations. These things are
learned and practiced primarily through games, songs and poems, as well as
pictures, and viewing actual objects. German class is total immersion, so there is
sometimes a bit of frustration among the children as they struggle to understand
what Frau Ilian is showing or telling them. But when understanding has been
achieved, there is an abundance of pride and enthusiasm. There is, in addition, a
certain mystery about the German class and Frau Ilian who speaks only German,
and understands a limited amount of English. She is too shy to make a public
appearance, generally delegating her bilingual twin sister, Ms. Ilian to attend
events on both of their behalf. This situation is the subject of much speculation
among the children.