So continues my experimental journey combining Botany and Ancient Mythology while at the same time block combining both for my 1st Grader and 5th Grader! But what do these subjects have in common? Apparently, more and more as we dive deeper into them. Especially the esoteric connections! The children will only get the esoteric part from the way we are breathing it into them. . . my mannerisms, the way I speak to them, the way I answer their questions, and even in the little moments of wonder and laughter we have while painting. These are all things that would be impossible to fully convey in a blog post or show in mere pictures, but these things matter so much more than what we are actually doing in the classroom!
So what am I breathing out of my soul and into theirs? The plant kingdom brings us from babyhood (mushrooms) to a bit more awake toddlerhood (seaweed and lichen and moss) to adulthood (the full flowering plants with roots) and the ancient civilization studies bring us from that sleepy human babyhood (Atlantis) to a bit more awake (India) to even more awake as we progress further. . . because humanity has had a gradual awakening over time, just like our children progress through. . . and much like the plants do. It may not all line up perfectly in our progression these next few weeks, with each plant lining up with a corresponding civilization. . . but in their souls they will feel the overall gradual awakening and the unfolding of becoming more and more in the physical world. My 5th grader especially needs this overview at this time. My 1st Grader will mainly absorb ancient civilization fairy tales and stories I am making up for her to explore letters and writing! She will then absorb it much differently when I revisit this again in 4 years. It is my job to be ever aware of not awakening things too early for her, yet giving each child what they need at this time. To do this, I have been doing a lot of listening. . . to how they respond to things. . . and where they are.
When homeschooling, block combining (as opposed to teaching multiple main lessons all in one day) can be a way for a family to simplify. Sometimes also having longer blocks, or combining two block subjects can work towards this endeavor as well. As long as it works. . . for everyone. . . and brings each person what they need at their stage, that is what matters. We are not trying to be a Waldorf school or any other school. We are working with what we have, and the inner consciousness of the children combined with our own unique family dynamics determines how to work.
Our next Botany plant was seaweed/algae, and we began with discussion (in the classroom) and hiking to find what algae we could find to just experience. . . it gave us an up close look at them, and also magical spaces to fill our souls with to inspire our art. Of course observation and art have their place, but the esoteric aspects of Botany are extremely important. Kovacs fills that need wonderfully!
We are about 2 hours from the ocean, but we chose to paint the oceanic type of algae, seaweed, to tie it in with Atlantis. We began with wet on wet watercolor, my 1st Grader doing the simplest forms and my 5th Grader experimenting with reds and yellows ad well as greens, blues, and yellows.
To begin Atlantis, as well as the progression of the civilizations from an anthroposophical perspective, I read Steiner's lectures on them (I have posted these in the 5th Grade Ancient Civ section of the forum for reference) and also read through much of Steiner's book Atlantis: The Fate of a Lost Land and It's Secret Knowledge (Esoteric)
Our use of Charles Kovacs continues, and I found this really beautiful picture book (many Waldorf schools have inspiring picture books in each classroom and I like them to supplement the lectures and tuck away for my future grandkids) which would also engage my 1st Grader, it is called Atlantis, Legend of a Lost City by Christina Balit
It has a lot of great details of what life might have been like. . . however, it is different from Kovacs and Steiner and a bit less "misty" and esoteric. Still very fun though!
Manu and the Fish brings us truly from the not-so-physical to much more physical India with sunshine and rainbows! We absorbed the story one day, and then returned to draw it another day after it seeped in. There was a lot of awe and wonder at needing to bring seeds from every plant (so much like the 2 of each animal of Noah's Flood) and that tied in with Botany as well! Also, my girls really liked that it went from having these special powers that were misused to losing those powers. . . so sometimes we may lose an ability and evolve for the good of humanity. We were more spiritual in Atlantis, and are gradually becoming less so. But it is necessary! This sets us with an amazingly strong will attitude for the future and is a huge gift to the children.
In my previous post, I had shared that my 5th Grader and I did a guided drawing, and so for our next lesson I decided to have her do more of a free drawing to take a break. She wanted to express this story in her own way, and yet still branch off a bit from what I was doing. So, we both had our own unique expressions of Manu and the Fish traveling during the flood to India towards a less misty and more sunny life! We had already talked much about seaweed, and how it has no roots, flowers, or stems and so it needs the support of the water around it to stand up, much like babies do when they are beginning to stand. Humans going from Atlantis to India are also beginning to wake up. The seaweed washes up on shore limp without the support, and yet takes over the city of Atlantis after it sinks. Seaweed are forever leaves, reaching up for more and needing support. This is the soul milk we bring in Botany and Ancient Myths, in the feeling stage of life. If Botany and Ancient Civilizations are taught too physically or dryly, we are drying up this soul milk with too much intellectualism. Experiencing them through feeling lives within them for a long time, and later in life, they will have the will to dig deeper and search with their heads!
My 1st Grader's consonant alphabet letter for the week was Letter "S" for Seaweed and Seahorse (her favorite sea creature!) and I have permission to share her writing today. She is quite the writer already, even though I have not officially taught her to write yet. She just loves to write her own stories in her free time, and wants to write like big sister does! So I offer her these simple sentences.
All in all, incorporating an Atlantis, Seaweed/Botany, 5th and 1st Grade lesson was a huge success both physically and spiritually for them. . . each getting a bit of what they needed with outdoor time, free expression, learning just enough information without being bombarded by facts, and really getting a FEELING for these things. In our next lessons, we move on to Lichen and Moss and Indian Fairy Tales and Myths!