First and Second and Form Drawing – January 2015

We began the semester in a Form Drawing block. We completed three forms in the first week, all standing forms. The first was a straight lined spiral and the second two were forms inside of circles. These are more challenging than some we have done in the past, but everyone was ready for them. It’s great to begin the semester with form drawing, as it reminds everyone of our school routines and procedures. I was pleased that the students seemed to fall right back into these routines. We spent a little bit of time remembering to raise our hands and to listen without talking, but for the most part our days went by smoothly.

Straight lined spiral

Straight lined spiral

Circle form

Circle form

We painted a simple color wheel on Friday morning before we went out to Grindstone Park. The children were challenged to blend red into blue, blue into yellow, and yellow into red gradually. It takes control of the paint colors and brush to do this. We are all progressing in our painting skills. We talked about complementary colors and brother/sister colors – observing which colors were next to each other and which colors were opposite.

In reading time, our early readers group reviewed letters and their sounds, made three letter words with our letter cards, and then had a chance to review letters and simple words on their own. The other group began reading “The Secret Door” together. This coming week I will give everyone a First Reader that I’ve made, composed of many of our poems we’ve memorized so far this year. We will use them in school for awhile and then they will come home for you to read with your child as often as possible for those early readers.

We continued this Form Drawing block for a second week. First graders did a series of running forms (forms that repeat themselves in a straight line) that were quite challenging. Second graders did two mirror forms, a running form, and then a metamorphosis form (we talked about what metamorphosis means) where a straight line gradually turned into a strongly curving line.

All students had the experience of not being able to draw the form at first, so they would trace the form that I drew for them on the slate boards. Then they would erase the form and try it on their own – often not succeeding on the second attempt. So we spent the first part of our mornings practicing drawing the form. By Thursday, the students quietly practiced for 25 to 30 minutes – switching from slate boards, to the sand box, to play dough. I was very proud of the focus and determination I saw, and recognized that the students have built this capacity all year long. I walked around and helped, urging them onward but to their own standards.

We came back after snack and recess to draw the form on paper – getting only one try, though I would let students who were very unhappy with their work do it over on the back of their paper sometimes. Some days, I asked for volunteers to share their drawings and other students would politely comment. My goal here is to get students to use descriptive language, and to see the best form and how the students’ forms looked in comparison. Though form drawing is an artistic task in our curriculum, it needs a critical eye. Through our form drawings, the children are learning to see straight lines and curved lines, the roundness or flatness of the lines, symmetry, centering, and how all of this works together to make a whole. These thought processes require an artistic eye and an intellectual awakening.

Running form - waves

Running form – waves

Running form - upward and downward loops. This was very challenging.

Running form – upward and downward loops. This was very challenging.

Running form - First Grade challenge

Running form – First Grade challenge

Mirror form - Second grade

Mirror form – Second grade

Mirror form - Second grade

Mirror form – Second grade

Metamorphosis form - Second grade

Metamorphosis form – Second grade

In these two weeks, the children heard the stories of St. Werburgh and the troublesome geese, St. Kevin and the Cow, St. Francis and the Beast, St. Francis and St. Clare, St. Anthony and the Fish, Rumi and the Caged Bird, and St. Antony and St. Paul. The children loved these stories – loved the saints and the goodwill they brought and the striving for goodness and holiness. Through these stories we learned about monks and nuns and how they lived long ago and I watched the children’s wide eyes excited with new knowledge and story. These stories specifically speak to the 2nd grader, who at 8 years old experiments with behaving in saintly ways and then in naughty ways. We tell saint or hero legends to speak to their desire for moral uprightness and fairness, and then we tell fables later in the year. Fables show us the animal side of our humanity, and are wrought with naughty behavior. They awaken the intellect and can be dissatisfying. So is the developmental place of the 8 year old. They move in and out of dreaminess and consciousness, they want to be good but experiment a bit. They are emerging from the first 7 years of childhood and begin to play with their likes and dislikes, and so we feed them these stories that parallel their developmental place.

In reading time, I introduced the First Readers to my class. These are some of the poems we’ve memorized that I have written down. If these were sent home with your child, I encourage you to have your child read it to you. With the other children, I am using them in class still. They loved pointing to words and “reading” the poems, especially when I asked, “Well – this is amazing, how are you reading this?”

We’ve had math practice everyday. The children write numbers when I dictate them, practice counting in our bean bag work, answer oral math problems, and practice counting on their fingers.

In flutes we are learning a new song – Winter Wind. When we get it, we’ll play it for parents!

On Friday, we painted the beautiful golden light of St.Francis, and the orange glowing light surrounding him. Second grade got to paint a simple form of St. Francis within the gold. Then we made 6 sided snowflakes, remembering a story I told during our numbers block about the number 6, and we taped them to our glass doors. The children each brought one home as well. All were excited for the chance of snow this weekend.

In Circle the children really love the following poem – that simply calls to consciousness the way they act toward one another every day – where they pretend to be ducks and get to turn to a partner and recite with great dramatics and inflection:

Said the drake to his lady, one very wet day

As he and she waddled and splashed on their way,

“You really should know how absurd you appear,

If you could just see yourself from the rear.

You rock and you roll from left side to right,

You slap your feet down, Oh you are a sight!”

The drake walked ahead and the duck fell behind,

And watching him closely she said, “He is blind!

The way that he waddles he charges to me!

My dignified walk he simply can’t see.

But rocking and rolling in side to side sway,

He actually dreams that I walk that way!”

She paused for a moment to shake her tail dry

Then paddled along with a very deep sigh.

“No chance to correct him, I won’t try!”

Also our tongue twister:

Say, did you say, or did you not say

What I said you said?

For it is said that you said

That you did not say

What I said you said.

Now if you say that you did not say

What I said you said,

Then what do you say you did say instead

Of what I said you said?