We have hit the middle part of our school year, what I like to call “the heart.”
I wrote about my plans for this term here.
Here is my intention for these next three months: the arts, math, poetry, creating writing, and story with a focus on Classical Greece and the Renaissance.
Why? Because it is this time of year that I struggle. I lose steam. All the excitement of the fall is gone and I always wonder how to keep motivated. I am presenting what sparks me joy. I am not only presenting but I will be creating alongside them. I will be writing, drawing, painting, singing (God help us), dancing, and telling stories.
These next three months are all about feeling.
In the Waldorf pedagogy, there is a creative writing block named “Wish, Wonder, and Surprise.” To sum up, it’s a block to balance the opposing forces occurring within the seventh grader. Their critical thinking skills are developing and are seeing the world fresh but sometimes with skeptical eyes. This block is a way to connect to what is beautiful and to preserve the inner light of innocence that represents childhood that they are slowly moving away from.
As I do this writing block for the next three weeks with my seventh grader, I am also incorporating this theme into what we are doing as a family. Similar to the fall, we are continuing to do family lessons while each child has an off-shoot topic of the main theme.
This week is all about wonder.
We began the week talking about shapes. We wondered about the things we see – the shapes they are made of. My seventh grader picked one of her crystals and wrote a vivid description using her senses, trying to tell a story about it and then she drew it and then I started teaching my “Perspective Drawing” block to her and my seventeen year old. My fifth grader began a geometry unit. We played around with more complex form drawings.
I told the youngest two a seasonal story about a mama bear cub and they tried to figure out how to draw a bear on the chalkboard with shapes and then they began memorizing a poem about bears. We wondered about bears in a den, sleeping the winter away. #4 and #5 decided to build a bear den in the living room, a cozy fort-like structure. They have been sleeping in it for the last two days, pretending to be bears.
As we begin delving into art of all kinds, I asked the question to my two eldest children:
Why is art important?
I want them to keep this in the back of their minds. (Actually, I want this to be in the forefront.) As I devote three months to celebrating art and all its forms, being open to where it will lead us and where it will lead them, I will model the importance of the arts in our lives. I will teach math alongside it. We will explore the patterns of geometry in relation to art and to nature. We will look at the golden ratio and the fibonacci sequence in works of art and create art based on algorithms. We look at the mathematical patterns in music and in the musicality of dance.
For the next few weeks, before lesson work, I will present a famous painting. Together as a family, we will talk about it and create a piece using it as inspiration. I am using these library books as inspiration:
Today’s painting was Van Gogh’s “A Starry Night.”
We talked about the artist, the technique, and the content. But what interested me most was learning about how it makes them feel. Did it evoke feeling? Did it evoke wonder? Were they curious at all about the painting?
I set up a large painting station on the floor and the kids wandered in and out of the station when they had time to create. Some used similar techniques as Van Gogh to create their own landscapes – sunny and bright. Others were inspired to create a nighttime landscape with the same hues. Another child decided to paint sunflowers because she wanted to see more of his work. I re-created it with chalk pastel in my Book of Hours.
February and March will bring more Renaissance biographies and Ancient Greek myths and hero stories. We will also look at the philosophers, poets, dramatists, and scientists of the time. And on the side, to fill our rain afternoons in the jungles of Costa Rica, we will be starting our Hip Hop studies. I bought the curriculum which spans kindergarten to Gr 12. Hip hop culture was a huge part of my husband’s childhood, as well as my own, and a huge part of our extended family. It’s also a way to introduce social justice issues and the power of art as social change.
Costa Rican culture, specifically the arts culture of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, will also factor into our studies by simply enjoying it. I hope to seek out local artisans, musicians, and artists to help fill any gaps.
I have to say that the kids are loving this plan for the next few months.
There is one message that I want to convey to them through this block. This is guiding me through my planning and what I want to give to them.
This one message is inspiring me to create each and every day.
Tomorrow, I will do a whole blog post on it…