Form Drawing Block – First, Second, and Third Grades

Three weeks of school have flown by. Here’s what we’ve been doing so far…

Each day begins with song as we come to our morning circle. I sing, “Good morning everyone, we’re glad you all have come, to school today to work and play to learn and have some fun.” The children now know that their backpacks should be stored in their cubbies, their shoes should be off, and they should come and take a seat when they hear this song.
Then I sing a roll call. I call each child by their full name and they have to sing back to me, “I am here.” I am calling them to the classroom, to awareness, to be ready to learn. At first the children were all scared to sing this on their own, but now they are full of confidence and smiles when their turn comes. It’s always fun to watch this transition. We then recite our morning verse – which stays the same all year…
The sun with loving light makes bright for us each day.
The soul and spirit power gives strength unto my limbs.
In sunlight shining clear, I reverence O God,
The strength of humankind, which thou hast so graciously planted within my soul,
That I with all my might, may love to work and learn.
From thee comes light and strength. To thee rise love and thanks.

From here we move onto Circle on Mondays and Wednesdays and Beanbag games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our circle involves singing, recitation, and movement. Beanbag games also involve singing and recitation, but all while moving our beanbags around. We also do some counting with the beanbags. Each child has their own beanbag that they are passing, catching, balancing, tossing – it’s quite a sight to see!
After we’re warmed up, we move onto Flute practice. We are practicing our flutes everyday and I’ve already seen great progress from the beginning of the year. Our flutes are tree branches and the holes are nests, and our fingers are birds! The first graders have learned to nest their left thumb (Eagle), left pointer finger (CooCoo), left middle finger (Dove), and have been introduced to their left ring finger (Lark). The rest of the class can do this as well as their right pointer finger (Cardinal). There is still confusion with which hand to use where and which finger goes where – but I’m beginning to see finger muscle memory help us!

After flute practice we move onto Main Lesson – which is the meat of our learning everyday. We’ve been in a Form Drawing block, which prepares the first graders for writing. With first grade, I’ve worked on our writing grip, working from left to right, and awareness of what we are drawing. I make the child look at his/her work to see if it was done correctly rather than tell them what I see. I’m observing to see which hand they use to write, how tight they grip the crayon, which direction they start drawing from, do they see the form and can they reproduce it. It gives me a very clear picture of what practice they all need.
Form drawing works in all the grades to teach focus, symmetry, balance, and is a grounding activity. Children must see the form clearly and practice it in order to get it on their paper correctly – and put it in the center of their page vertically and horizontally. This is no easy task. If the form has multiple parts, those must be considered when starting the form so that we have enough room to finish it. First grade has drawn straight lines and curved lines and then has put those together into running forms, which are multiple copies of the same form connected. Second and third grade reviewed straight and curved lines and then brought them into mirror image forms, where we draw a line down the center of our paper, draw a form on one side, and then draw its mirror image on the other side of the line. These are more challenging and also reflect the duality of the 8 year old.

A straight and curved line

A straight and curved line

Running Form - the same form repeating itself

Running Form – the same form repeating itself

Mirror form (Mirror image)

Mirror form (Mirror image)

Curved lines to make arches

Curved lines to make arches

We have also spent some time discovering our Materials. We’ve used our new crayons and talked about where they’ve come from and how wonderful it is the bees made wax that we can use! I have let the children free draw with them (free draw means to draw whatever they wish) and then asked each child to draw a house, person, and tree. I will save those and repeat the activity at the end of the year to see the difference! I also led all of the children in drawing a picture reflecting our outdoor day at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture’s Farm. The second and third grade then wrote a couple of sentences about the day into their main lesson books.

Snack and Recess come next and we’ve settled into a nice routine at Peace Park. With recess and play time on outdoor days, the children in 1st to 4th are beginning to bond as a group. It takes time, but Maeve and I are beginning to see it. There is much social learning happening at these times as well as throughout the day. The children are learning how to speak up for themselves, to let other children take care of themselves, to be patient with each other, to honor the traits and personalities of their classmates and much more. These are the daily, hourly lessons throughout school. Our stories help so much!

After snack and recess, we finish up our form drawing. Sometimes we share our forms with the class to get positive feedback, and then we hear a story. Each form drawing has come out of a fairy tale we’ve heard, so they are connected to the stories each day. We have been reviewing these stories as well, recalling details in chronological order with my prompting. We are learning not to call out, but to raise our hands and do so quietly, to refrain from speaking when others are talking, and to listen to our fellow classmates so we don’t repeat what they’ve just said.

On Monday and Wednesdays we have Handwork where the 4th graders join us. All of the children are working on knitting right now. The first graders began with finger knitting or rolling a ball of yarn. Once they can complete these tasks with ease, we will move them onto knitting needles. Many thanks to Julie Ferdman who has come in 3 times to help with handwork! It’s such a blessing to have extra hands as many children begin projects! Beginners are knitting a potholder. More advanced knitters will learn to change colors in knitting a flute case. The 4th graders are knitting in the round – pearling and knitting – a hat. Handwork begins with the verse, “May our fingers be nimble and our hearts be glad in every task we do!”

Lunch comes next in the big conference room. We’ve had many conversations about our summers, meals in our homes, and stories from the weekends. We also like to play games during lunch such as “Telephone” or “20 questions” – which turns into unlimited questions.

After lunch we have Reading Time where many things happen. Sometimes children just pick out a book to peruse. On many days I am assigning older children books to read to younger children. I’m working individually with children on letters, phonics, and reading. Readers are reading to me as well. Sometimes we haven’t had time to hear our story for the day, and so I tell the class our story. It’s a lovely calm time of the day.

We end our day with this verse:

Our work is done, our day is past, we’ll go our separate ways,

And I will hold so tight and fast to what I’ve learned today.

I’ve given with my heart and mind the effort that it needs,

And I will strive in me to find good thoughts, good words, good deeds.