Year 5, Month 7 The Wonder of Greek Mythology
Here is a little snippet from the overview of the Daily Wonder Greek Mythology unit.
The Year 5, Month 7 unit, The Wonder of Greek Mythology, offers wonderful "soul food" for Grade 5 children. The myths of the Greek gods and goddesses offer rich characters and drama. Studying the Greek myths also allows children to see how deeply these myths are embedded in our culture and are often referenced in our arts and entertainment. It is deeply nourishing and educational when children understand the roots of Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology, and therefore have a deeper connection when references are made in modern comics, television and movie culture. This unit also provides an opportunity to learn about Greece's geography, the Greek alphabet, the Olympics, the Greek connection to the English language, poetic odes and hexameter, grammar and writing development, and artistic work.
The Grade Five student is considered at the "Golden Age" of childhood. They are balancing at this moment between childhood and puberty. There is grace, capability, and earnestness in this balance between two worlds. There was a time in Ancient Greece's history that was known as the "Golden Age'. Humanity was standing, poised and balanced between a dreamy child-like consciousness and a wakeful, intellectually capable consciousness. At this meeting point, the Greeks emerged as the ultimate example of grace, beauty, athletic ability, and intellectual and philosophical thought. The fact that the work produced thousands of years ago is still so highly esteemed is a tribute to the achieved greatness. Grade 5 children, standing in their Golden Age, must be inspired by greatness of such a high calibre. They must feel the call to their best work and their best effort. It will be through their artistic endeavours, their poetic writing and recitation, and their athletic efforts that they will feel their power, grace and inner beauty shining forward. This time in their life and the depth of their abilities provide them with a deep feeling of confidence and trust that will carry them into puberty and beyond.
Questions to ask before the unit begins: What is my connection to Greek Mythology? What do I hope to gain from bringing this unit to my child? What do I hope that my child gains?
Questions to ask at the end of the unit: What new connections did I make with this material? What wonder did I discover about Greek Mythology and its influence that still exists today? How did my child receive these lessons? What wonder was inspired?
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Some of the following was adjusted and reprinted with permission from the Nelson Waldorf School.
At Daily Wonder, learning to read evolves for each child in the same form as it evolved from the beginning of humanity: spoken language developed first, then people drew pictures to communicate their ideas, followed by symbols such as hieroglyphics and finally the abstract letters of our modern alphabets. Once there was a written language, people learned to read. This unfolding inspires the sequence of the literacy program laid out in Daily Wonder curriculum. For Daily Wonder, the central theme for all lessons, in every subject, is the human story. We use storytelling to shape and deliver the living pictures behind every lesson, including the literacy program.
In the Early Years, from birth to age seven, the focus is on the spoken word. When children are young, the emphasis is on spoken verses and stories: nature stories, folktales and fairy tales. Parents and teachers are ‘storytellers’ and are careful not to ‘dumb down’ or simplify the language of fairy tales. Parents and teachers are encouraged to be careful to use clear speech and enunciate well, as this immersion in literature is the basis of literacy. This immersion in the spoken word also supports children later when learning to write and spell.
Repetition supports retention. When the same sequence and stories are repeated daily for weeks, children learn these stories, songs and verses ‘by heart.’ Current brain research confirms that repetition aids a child’s brain development. The connections of billions of neural pathways in the brain are strengthened through repeated experiences.
Writing Begins Holistically. In Year 1 of the Daily Wonder curriculum, the alphabet is introduced in an imaginative, pictorial way. Each letter of the alphabet is presented as a picture representing an element from a story the children are told. For example, they might hear the story of a knight on a quest who had to cross mountains and a valley. The children will then draw a picture with the letter “M” forming the Mountains on either side of the “V” for Valley.
In this way, the child develops a living relationship with each letter rather than going straight to the abstraction of the alphabet letters themselves. These ‘pictures’ can be described as the bridge between the pictorial thinking of the child and the abstract thinking of the adult.
After learning all the letters, children experience copying mom or dad’s writing into their portfolio. The portfolio is an artistically created record of the learning that children using Daily Wonder curriculum create themselves. These first written sentences and stories come from the children’s own experience, and the children’s first practice of ‘reading’ is the reading of their own text.
Reading begins with decoding. It is important to know that reading requires decoding skills that develop in children at varying ages. At Daily Wonder we understand that learning to read will unfold naturally in its own time for the vast majority of children when given the proper support.
Just as a normal, healthy child will learn to walk without our teaching them, and just as a child miraculously learns to speak their native language by the age of three without lessons, worksheets or a dictionary, so will a child naturally learn to read when they have a positive relationship with the spoken and written word and have been provided with the necessary tools and skills.
At Daily Wonder we follow the well-researched three-year Literacy program set out by Janet Langley and Jennifer Militzer-Kopperl in their book “The Roadmap to Literacy.” Over the three years of the program (Years 1 through 3), Daily Wonder supports parents to bring the six layers of literacy to their children (phonemic awareness, phonics instruction, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing).
Once the child receives the alphabet letters and sounds pictorially and through verse and song, they begin to learn approximately 33 phonics rules over the three years. The rules support understanding and skill-building for future spelling and reading. Vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and writing are regular parts of the daily lesson plans and expand over time.
Classic books expand vocabulary. At Daily Wonder, we encourage parents to provide their child(ren) with age-appropriate, well-written literature to expand their vocabulary and keep their love for reading alive. We also love a good graphic novel for those who need shorter reading stints to maintain their enthusiasm for reading. Practice is key, and preference is personal.
There can be negative impacts of pushing reading too early. Research has shown the negative impacts of pushing academics, such as reading, at too early an age. Forcing children to read too early often hurts their self-confidence and general passion for books. This research indicates that kindergarten and preschool-aged children should focus on age-appropriate activities such as playing, exploring and socializing. Finland is an excellent example of this, given that its schools lead the world in education standards. Finnish children generally don’t start kindergarten until age 6. And kindergarten is focused mainly on play and socialization; there is no reading or writing. Additionally, their school days are not more than 4 hours long.
Daily Wonder’s teachers are saying that children who read when they are ready can maintain a passion for stories and a love of reading further into their older years. In our experience, when reading is not rushed before writing, students are typically reading at or above standardized government levels and with improved comprehension.
I think we can all agree that we want our kids to love reading and have the ability to express their heart's desires and gifts in writing and speaking.
In our first month of Grade 1, we form a foundation for academic learning and cover ideas around personal responsibility, harnessing creativity, and placing learning at the heart of the human experience. Grade 1 is the transition between learning through play (thinking through doing) and learning through imaginative academic activities (thinking through feeling, on the way to developing analytical thinking processes).
The Wonder of Patterns is a funny name, but quite literally means that parents and their children will be telling stories of and with patterns and forms. What are patterns and forms? Patterns exist in everything in nature, and forms make up all the letters and numbers we use today. There is the straight line and the curved line and all the ways that these two friends interact. By exploring patterns and forms through imaginative pictures, families have a place to focus on routines and rhythms for home learning, expectations for school time in the home, such as where, when, and how. By focusing deeply on the patterns and forms, they also focus on the ‘form’ of posture, pencil grip, quality of work, and habits.
Permission to slow down and enjoy the wonder…
To prepare to bring this unit, we ask parents to go out and get excited about the horizon! Have a look at what is around, notice landscape features, and the patterns and forms they create as they contrast with the sky. Imagine the line of the sun as it moves across the sky; see the shape of the wave as it meets the sand, the shape of the trees as they meet the sky, or reflect on the lake.
Remember that you are in no rush. Remember that you have all that it takes to provide an enriching, holistic, warm, and loving environment for your child to grow into an innovative and creative thinker, a compassionate community member, and a passionate steward of the earth. Take a deep breath in, think about the ‘form’ you want for your home learning journey. Think about the details of the routines and habits that will support the healthy functioning of your ‘school at home.’ Think about your needs now so that you can be fully present for 1-2 hours of orchestrated joy and learning for your child(ren) for this day, and breathe out. Repeat as needed over coffee/tea, then start your morning lesson with a song/verse.
An exert from the Day 1 Daily Lesson: Ask your child to sit quietly and imagine a butterfly (any flying insect could work) resting on a branch. Describe the wings' color, the shape of the wings, the antenna, the shiny black body, etc. Tell a very short imaginative story of the butterfly’s journey to go and visit a friend – describe in detail the pattern of the flying in your telling; feel free to use your finger to show the pattern and orient it from your child’s left, horizontally, to their right. The pattern can have loops, points, or both – make it horizontal and a consistent pattern.
Sing your transition song or recite your verse and head outside. Once outside, show your child any pattern you see, such as the trees’ pattern against the sky, the pattern of the edge of a leaf, the pattern of the top of the fence, the pattern of the edge of the apartment block, etc. Take turns finding and sharing patterns you notice, discuss patterns in detail, notice any similarities between patterns you find.
Return to your book-work space with the support of your transition song or verse. Turn to the first page in the book, show your child how to create a beautiful border around the outside edges of the page, about an inch thick. Have them copy the word PATTERNS at the top of the page as a title, make sure the work is done mindfully as a set up for the quality you want to see moving forward. Under the title word, show your child how to lightly color in the sky with the side of a crayon (use golden yellow or blue), then bring in a brown tree branch from the side of the page, then build the shape of the butterfly wings and body. Your child can bring details to the wings as they wish. Finally, they can add some green to the branch around the butterfly.
Transition out of book-work with your song or verse and include an out-breath activity such as putting away materials and stretching the limbs. If your child needs more movement, take two minutes to do jumping jacks or something active, then come back to quiet for the ending story.
Children experience a sense of oneness or unity with the world around them. They experience life through their feelings, soak up all of the sensations in their environment, and are united with everything.
Daily Wonder is supporting parents to bring their children capacities and flexibility through balanced, integrated education. By empowering parents to educate their children to enter the world with excitement and boldness, and by observing how things work, children naturally fall in love with the world, and it is through their love that they will want to change the world.
This month Oliver and I are studying Geology with Daily Wonder Home Learning. This week we’ve been learning about the earth’s layers and decided to do a scaled drawing. We had fun (I think) figuring out the math to scale the earth down to fit on our page. This is how we did it.
To calculate what each section of our drawing of the earth’s layers would be, we first needed to create a scale to figure out what 1km would be equivalent to.
For example, our paper size in our Learning Portfolio is 300mm (30cm) high and we knew we would need to leave about 30mm for a title. So we wanted to draw a scaled drawing that was 270mm high.
We used these measurements for each layer of the earth:
Inner Core: 1,250km
Outer Core: 2,200 km
Continental Crust: 45km
Oceanic Crust: 10km
We added all these up and got 6,405km
Then we divided the total km by the total mm of space we had on our page: 270/6405 and got a measurement of 0.042mm
So our scale became:
1km : 0.042mm
And then to calculate each layer we took the actual km of each layer and multiplied by 0.042
Inner Core: 1,250 x 0.042 = 52.5mm
Outer Core: 2,200 x 0.042 = 92.4mm
Mantle: 2,900 x 0.042 = 121.8mm
Continental Crust: 45 x 0.042 = 1.89mm
Oceanic Crust: 10 x 0.042 = 0.42mm
And then we drew it. We really liked this exercise, not only because it provided an amazing math lesson, but also because it put into perspective just how little of the earth we live on and how much earth is beneath our street.
9:00am - Be the Pied Piper--play a song, sing a song... find your beautiful way to begin the morning lesson together
9:00am - 11am - Daily Wonder Morning Lesson
11 - 11:30am - Snack time/fresh air/free play
11:30am - 12:30pm - Options to rotate through on a weekly schedule and based on your home life and needs:
12:30pm - 1:30pm - Lunch time/ outdoor time
1:30pm - Options to rotate through on a weekly schedule and based on your home life and needs
2:30pm - Chores/clean-up time
3pm - Free play
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