Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saying goodbye

This is our last official week in our apartment, and it's starting to feel a little sad to see it go. It's a nice place... not a good fit for a boisterous family of five, but it sure is pretty.

As you can see, we have a lot of wide open space in this apartment. The kitchen is small, but we have two toilets and laundry facilities inside the house, which is not common in apartments here. The large, sklylit loft makes a wonderful playroom for the kids. The only real drawback is that we have no yard, not even a balcony. And it's a walk-up, which is fine, but hauling groceries for a family of five up three flights of stairs is tiring. And the noise... the kids have to walk on eggshells when the downstairs neighbor is home.

We pick up the keys to our new house on Monday. That's right, I said house. We found a house with a yard... not exactly the easiest thing to do in Europe, so we feel extremely lucky. My first question to the landlord was, "Can I put in a large vegetable garden?" He replied, "Yes. If you need more room, just ask the farmer to move the fence." Move the fence?!! Talk about accommodating!

The rooms are smaller in this place, but we have a view of the countryside, a bit of mountain, and even a castle! The house backs up to farmland, bordered by forest. There are horses and highland cows... and did I mention? Another homeschooling family lives just down the street.

Life will never be what it was in the states, but I think ours will be returning back to a more normal, noisy state. The first thing I plan to do is make sidewalk chalk and entreat Moonshine to the same sorts of number games that Sunburst enjoyed on our big concrete patio. And there will be lots of mandatory running games INSIDE the house.

Here's just a peek of what awaits us.

ps. Yes, I do see that there appears to be a drain in the middle of the yard. I'm trying not to think about what that means.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grade Five Resources

As always, this is a work in progress. These are the resources available to me. We'll, see how many of these I actually use. It's in no way a complete list... but a good start nonetheless.
***Edit --I've updated the book list by putting the resources I loved in boldface. Hope that helps.***

Our Lessons



Eugene Schwartz (Millenial Child) Grade 5 files
Path of Discovery: Grade 5 - Eric Fairman
Spiritual Syllabus Grades 5-6 - Alan Whitehead
Waldorf Curriculum Overview - Christopherus
Grade Five files at waldorfhomeeducators - M. Johnson
Little Garden Flower publications

Math Lessons for Elementary Grades - Dorothy Harrer
The Man Who Counted - Tahan
String, Straightedge and Shadow
Beginner's Guide to Reconstructing the Universe
The Joy of Mathematics - Pappas
Ron Jarmon's math book

An English Manual - Dorothy Harrer
McGuffey's Fourth Reader
McGuffey's Speller
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Ancient Greece - Charles Kovacs
Ancient Mythologies - Charles Kovacs
Chapters from Ancient History - Dorothy Harrer (helpful)
Teaching History I - Roy Wilkinson (helpful)
Cradle Tales of Hinduism - Sister Nevedita
Ma'at's Feather (read alone)
Pyramid - David Macaulay (interesting)
The Living World of Plants
Botany - Charles Kovacs
Drawing from the Book of Nature
Handbook of Nature Study

Assorted picture books
Neue Fibel: Teil 3 -
Paul Dohrmann
Kinderlieder Kinderreime

Singing Every Day - Lila Belle Pitts
Various recorder books
Various piano books

The BOOKS are here!

I just received a new batch of homeschooling books in the mail today. I actually hooted when Einstein brought them in the door. I hadn't expected them for at least another week... even overseas, Bob and Nancy's bookshop ships FAST!

I've been pulling my hair out a bit about teaching fifth grade-- there is SO much to cover this year! India, Persia, Babylon (or is it Mesopotamia?), Egypt, Greece, Botany, Geometry... it makes my head spin! Living in a German-speaking region, we have zilch available locally. And as far as I know, I'm the only Waldorf-inspired homeschooler east of the English Channel, so I can't even have a peek before I buy... unless it's online somewhere.

Now that my first two shipments have arrived, I'm happy to report that I've made some very good, albeit blind, purchases:

Ancient Mythologies
by Charles Kovacs

I love the way Kovacs' books read. It's like you're listening in on lessons, and you are, essentially. He goes through various myths of India, Persia, Babylon, and Egypt in this conversational, talking to ten-year-olds way. The stories evolve fluidly in the conversation, and the conversation itself appears to be the red-line that ties everything together. The only downside is that you have to follow the conversation to really know where you are.... which the more I look at it, the less it seems like a bad thing. His stories really suck you in. I adored his Man and Animal book, so I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it.

Chapters in Ancient History (in a biographic vein)
compiled by Dorothy Harrer

To be honest, I'm not very fond of spiral-bound books. It's a pet-peeve, I know, but some of the ones out there are just hard to navigate through, and regardless of the content, harder still to find on the bookshelf. They just all look the same! However, I am so glad I purchased this! It contains stories from India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. It even contains biographical tales of the major figures in Ancient Greece, which means that I may not have to purchase any other texts... like a separate copy of Gilgamesh. I can just boot that sucker out of my Amazon wishlist (along with all those Ancient Greek biographies) and move on. The best part is that each section comes with a quote (presumably from an ancient text of that time) along with a summary of the relationship between the people of that time and the celestial sphere, or heaven and gods. I find that simple explanation priceless, because honestly, this is all new material to me.

The language of these stories is very different from the Kovacs book mentioned above. Harrer's stories have more of an ancient feel to them, which is sometimes great and sometimes just plain wordy. Her sections for each cultural epoch are fairly small, and with few exceptions, different stories than what is included in the Kovacs book. I think I'll have to pick and choose between them.

String, Straightedge, and Shadow: The Story of Geometry
by Julia E. Diggins

I took Geometry my sophomore year in high school, and I simply loathed it. It bored me to tears, and perhaps because of the way it was taught, has since been this abstract thing I've felt absolutely no kinship with or interest in. That said, I can tell you that this book looks fantastic! It tells the story of geometry, from the oldest times through its progression to Ancient Greece. It's packed with eye-candy drawings, both of geometrical relationships and the people who used them (guys in butt-flaps and togas) and how they used them. It looks so interesting, that I'm confident this book is going to change everything for me!

by Charles Kovacs

I haven't yet given this the attention it deserves. But from first glance it appears to be great, in Kovacs conversational-style, and packed with information. The text includes all the different plant families, plants used by people (grains, coffee, etc.), and a bit about bees. Unlike his Man and Animal book though, it doesn't have accompanying artwork, so I'm less apt to delve in immediately. I appreciate the simplicity of his writing-style though, so I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it... though honestly, at first glance I like the following book better.

The Living World of Plants
by Dr. Gerbert Grohmann

This book is talked up as THE book to use for teaching botany, and really, it is THE book. It's written for children, so the language is simplistic (but not stupid) and to the point. Better yet, there are pictures; throughout the book are simple line-drawings corresponding to the discussion at hand. I appreciate that. It looks excellent! Essentially, this book has the same textual feel as Kovacs book, only with pictures.

I'm planning to combine these botany books with the beautiful drawing help in Drawing from the Book of Nature.

. . . . .

Since I'm talking fifth grade, a review of this book already on my bookshelf seems necessary...

Teaching History I: The Ancient Civilizations and the Fourth Cultural Epoch
by Roy Wilkinson

I bought this for cheap a couple of years ago from a local homeschooler who was cleaning off her shelves. It's good, it's interesting, but it's not enough by itself. This is the "how-to" and "why" guide to teaching ancient history. It has the cliff-notes version of the stories and gives a lengthy summary of the places and times at hand. There's even very small biographical summaries of the major Greek folks. But I wouldn't call it enlivened. It's dry and informative in that Roy Wilkinson style, which, the more I look at it notice is the point. And that has it's place. It's the kind of reading for me that takes a bit of concentration and note-taking... the kind you can't do with kids jumping on the couch. If I get some quiet moments, maybe I'll read more of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Uh, what's my job??

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. I know, it has been awhile. I can't seem to find the time anymore. For months now... ever been there?

It occurred to me this morning as I discovered, yet again that we have no cereal in the house, that I'm really working more than three jobs here. Why is it that this has never crossed my mind before?

House-cleaner (working overtime now that we've advertised our apartment)
Personal chef and shopper (stores are NOT open late here)
Teacher - Grade 5
Teacher - Grade 2

I know there's some overlap there, but honestly, it's a lot of work. I need more hours in the day to get everything done. Is it a planning issue or just a really full plate? I don't even know anymore.

What I'd like to add to the above list is Writer. But despite my best intentions, it's not happening. This blog, obviously, has not been happening. And that novel I'm still editing, again, not happening so much. I haven't even managed to read blogs in the last few months. How sad is that!?! I'm just feeling so blah and ick that I don't even know where to start.

So... let me start with YOU. I'm going to try to eek out some time this week for blog reading. Please leave me your blog addy in the comments and I'll pop over for a visit.
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