Homeschooling

Block plan for fifth and first grades

Hello there!

We are really in the heart of summer now. My oldest daughter and I almost share a birthday, so when we celebrate the Fourth of July and then our 48-hour birthday, it always feels to me that we’re at the apex of that expansive, light-filled stretch of summer that I love so much.

It is also a time where I start thinking about next school year. That feeling was turbocharged this year by the fact that I had charter school funds to spend, starting this past Monday, so books and supplies are starting to roll in.

I am participating in Jean’s Plan It Out course for the second summer in a row, and I thought it would be fun to try to document my planning process. Jean’s course is wonderful and I highly recommend it!

The first step in Plan It Out is to start envisioning a block plan for the year. (Wondering what a main lesson block is? Click here.) I’m glad I went through this planning process last year when I was planning fourth grade and it was my only grade to worry about. It’s a bit more complicated this year, because I’m planning two grades for the first time.

Here is my sketch for the upcoming year:

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A couple of things to note:

This is in pencil! I have no idea what this coming year will look like. I mean, that’s always true, but especially true because of COVID-19. There’s a lot I don’t know about this coming year, including whether we may try to revisit our cancelled Europe trip next spring. If that does end up happening, things will have to shift and I will have to be flexible.

I am trying to match up language arts and math blocks as much as possible. Since this will be my first year teaching two separate blocks, I wanted to make it easy on myself by making sure we’re on generally the same subject. It’s hard to imagine we will do much actual combining of the fifth grade and first grade lessons, because my kids are in very different places academically, but at least my mom brain can just be either in language arts or math mode all month long.

I don’t like to plan much for December. Normally, I leave December completely blank and we use it for reading Christmas books and getting cozy on the couch by the fire. And in recent years I’ve stuck with that plan because my oldest has danced in The Nutcracker and trying to do the Nutcracker and school would be bonkers. But, it is very likely that the Nutcracker won’t happen this year and so I’ve kept the month open and relaxed for my first grader but have penciled in an online geometry course for my fifth grader. She is familiar with Waldorfish’s offerings because we do their form drawing courses, and I think a class with minimal mom involvement will be perfect for December.

I like to keep September and May as active and outdoors as possible. So this year it made perfect sense to put my fifth grader’s two botany blocks as the bookends to our year. We will be taking a pretty eclectic approach to botany after discovering last year that Waldorf science isn’t a great fit for our family. I’m excited about figuring this subject out and making it something all the kids can enjoy and participate in. My hope is that it will be a very outdoors-y subject for us.

My plan keeps in mind a child’s progression through the year. I was watching some planning videos from a Waldorf teacher recently and one thing that really stood out to me was the progression a child goes through in an academic year. Take fifth grade for example – at the beginning of the year you are really teaching a fourth grader. Then, she said, between winter solstice and spring equinox, the child is developmentally in the heart of fifth grade. And by springtime, you are really teaching a child with the awareness and capacities of a sixth grader. So I worked on choosing a progression of block topics that reflect this, and as I get into the nitty gritty of planning lessons I’ll be keeping in mind that my child’s capacities will have grown by spring.

Next week’s themes for Plan It Out are resources and rhythm so hopefully I’ll be back soon to chat with you about that! Hope you’re enjoying your summer, and if you’re in the midst of planning, I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

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