A couple of months ago Sunburst went through this science-hungry phase of checking out nonfiction animal books from our tiny library. After reading three or four of them she asked me if she could write animal reports as part of her homeschooling.
I about fell over. How did Steiner know? It's times like this, when the Waldorf grades curriculum he designed meets up exactly with my daughter's interests and needs, that I have to sit back and truly acknowledge the genius of Rudolf Steiner.
So last week we began our fourth grade zoology block. I'm using Charles Kovacs's book, The Human Being and the Animal World, because I love the way he explains things. I also have a copy of Drawing from the Book of Nature, by Dennis Klocek, which is also superb. Both books start in different places though-- Kovacs starts with cuttlefish while Klocek starts with worms. It would probably have been smarter of me to follow Klocek and start with the easier drawings, but I got so excited about Kovacs's book that I jumped right in with cuttlefish.
Because Sunburst wanted to actually write her own report, we talked about outlines as being a list of things she might want to know the answer to. We took the list, arranged it in groupings, and then I sent her off to find the answers. It turns out we have ZERO English-language books about cuttlefish at our library, so thank goodness for the internet! I set her up with the wikipedia page and let her go to town, and it felt like a good, safe compromise. She came back with answers and wrote a pretty decent report.
The drawing is another thing altogether. While Sunburst is happy with her drawings, and that should really be the goal here, I still feel I need to spend more time working on Klocek's idea of this "breathing tone," or shaping without any noticeable edge. We do it with crayons, but I find the sharpness of pencils lend themselves toward lines much too easily. Also, it would be fantastic to observe these creatures in real life... but we live in a city. The reality is that if we want to observe anything we'll have to go to the zoo or watch videos. Between you and me, when the windchill is 21 degrees, I'd rather preview some Youtube videos than drag kids to the zoo.
I know. Waldorf purists are shaking in their shoes; I'm breaking all the rules.
I do that sometimes.
We drew our interpretations of the cuttlefish from Kovacs's book, and then made some sketches while we watched some Youtube. The colored drawing is what we came up with from watching the videos. I don't know what kind of cuttlefish it was, but it sure had longer tentacles than the one in the book. It was easy to become enamored of these little guys-- we were especially fond of the video that showed what appeared to be a mom and dad protecting a baby from the scary camera crew. It could have been a menage a tois for all I know, but it sure looked like a family to us.
Anyway, here's Sunburst's MLB entry. The drawings are pasted in from her sketchbook.
And here are my versions of the same drawings: