How Does Daily Wonder Approach History and Geography?
We get asked this important question often, as we are a Canadian-based company with members worldwide. So, how exactly do we approach subjects that are location specific?
We Follow the Waldorf Developmental Approach
Waldorf pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) informs us that a child is developmentally ready to sink into the lessons of history and geography around the age of nine or ten. Around this time, your child gets a sense of time. Before that, there was much dreaminess in how they saw the world. Once they can understand the past, present, and future, they're ready to grasp history.
At the same time, around the age of nine or ten, they develop the ability to have a 'bird's eye' view, which means that they can now have an inner picture, an imagining, that they're above, looking down on a landscape. This new ability allows them to draw maps and be ready for geography lessons.
Delivering curriculum content at an age-appropriate time gives the child the best opportunity to receive lessons deeply and appreciate and be excited about what they are learning.
In Grade Four, we start with very local geography, beginning with the geography right in and around your home. We then slowly and methodically expand outwards, and your child will start by drawing maps, such as the familiar route to their friend's house or favourite park. After that, the unit will continue to expand from your neighbourhood to your city, into your province or state. Each monthly unit will guide parents to integrate Indigenous values and knowledge about the land they live on.
As mentioned, Daily Wonder has students all around the world, so when it comes to learning about your specific province/state in Grade 4, and country, in Grade 5, we provide step-by-step guidance as to what aspects of history and geography you'll bring to your child each week of the unit. You, the parent, or teacher, will then research and gather the information necessary to share with your child or learning pod students. And with Daily Wonder, each week is laid out so you can prepare with ease.
Regarding teaching about the continents, Grade 6 covers North America and Europe, and Grade 7 covers Africa and Asia. If you live on a continent not covered in the Daily Wonder curriculum, you can take ideas from any of the continental studies and adapt them to your needs.
So, you can see, Daily Wonder begins formal history and geography studies in Grade 4, with mapmaking skills starting in your child's bedroom, and slowly and steadily expands outward over the grades to cover continental geography in Grades 6 and 7. Parents are held with a lot of care and support and guided as to how, what, and when to research.
Since Daily Wonder typically does all the planning for you, in these three units (local, provincial/state and country geography units), we've included a comprehensive breakdown of topics to cover along with website links to help you find suitable material. In the preceding units there are reminders about these upcoming history/geography units and what work needs to be done. It may take 1-2 weeks to prepare for a history/geography unit, and we suggest using the built-in flex week to finish much of this work.
Always know that Daily Wonder is here for you! Our teachers are available to answer questions and offer reassurance when needed. Teaching history and geography is so rewarding; as adults, we often learn new things about the land we live on. Researching and preparing for these three units will be enriching and often a re-education for ourselves!
Trust the Wonder.
Curious about what Parent Preparation entails? Check out this sample from our Grade 5, The Wonder of My Country unit.
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 most children 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 most children 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 early 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 (grades 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. Asking 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.
We at Daily Wonder believe that children who read when they are ready maintain a passion for stories and a love of reading long term. In our experience, when reading is not rushed before writing, students are typically reading at or above standardized government levels and with improved comprehension.
We 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.
Kindness Quilt Project
Each Daily Wonder unit comes complete with three weeks of guided daily curriculum and a 4th week called a Flex Week. Parents can rest assured that the curriculum is covered as planned for each unit during the first three weeks. If parents choose to continue the daily routine with Flex Week, they will continue to cover the curriculum and expand on that with design thinking as well.
The Flex Week project for the Grade 2, Month 7, The Wonder of Reading unit is the completion of a Kindness Quilt. The theme of kindness runs through the stories told during this unit. Stories of kindness are a perfect backdrop for the level of reflection appropriate for the 7 or 8-year-old. It is more developmentally appropriate for a child this age to feel how they feel rather than to think about how they feel. This means it is easier for them to read about kindness and feel how that care feels than for them to bring this into their thinking for analysis.
What is a Kindness Quilt?
The Kindness Quilt is a celebration of kindness. It is a nine-panel mini quilt about 12” square. You could encourage your child to think of a different person in their life that they would like to share kindness with as they work on each square. When completed, you can use it as a table centrepiece, a doll blanket, a resting place for special things, or a seat cover. Materials are listed below. Skills required are the ability to thread a needle, sew a decent running stitch, tie off, and cut with scissors. In addition, doing a blanket stitch would offer a good option for finishing off.
Here is a YouTube video on hand sewing the squares together. It will show you how to pin the edges together which can be tricky. Here is another video on how to make a quilt that will show you the entire process but using a sewing machine. The second video will show you how to fold over the backing edge to finish the quilt. We simplified by skipping the binding edge but the hemming and folding still applies.
Day 1: Gather materials, decide on the layout of quilt squares, pin edges together by laying them face to face, then pinning the edge with one or two pins. Pin in rows of three squares to end up with three pinned and separate rows of squares.
Day 2: Thread your needle with embroidery thread. Knot the thread at the beginning and end of the sewn section and sew all six lines of joined edges.
Day 3: Finish any sewing of edges. Pin two rows together by laying them face to face and pinning edges with 3-5 pins. Begin sewing this long edge.
Day 4: Add the final row to the sewn double row. Lay face to face with row, pin, sew. You should have the quilt side complete; hurray! Lay this on the backing fabric. Create hem on backing fabric by folding over about ½ cm/quarter inch. Fold the edge of backing fabric over the edge of the quilt, being sure to maintain the hem fold. Pin as needed.
Day 5: Sew backing fabric to the four sides of your quilt side. Use blanket stitch if desired. Place a French Knot in the centre of each square on the quilt side to finish off.
We hope you enjoy this Flex Week project and if you feel like sharing pictures of your kindness quilt, we'd love to see!
Kind Hearts (A poem to match the unit theme of kindness)
To do to others as I should
That they would do to me.
To make me good, and kind, and strong
As children ought to be.
Kind hearts they are the garden.
Kind thoughts they are the roots.
Kind words they are the blossom,
Kind deeds they are the fruit.
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?
Planning Got You Down?
New to home schooling? No problem. Daily Wonder can help you get started. You can trust that the planning is tried and true and will save your time to use for assembling materials instead of using your weekend to plan.
Not new to home schooling? Welcome. Daily Wonder offers organized, easy to use daily lesson plans when you are re-thinking your current routine.
Not sure? No problem, you can sign up for monthly membership and cancel anytime. Try it for a month and see if it is a fit. One of the many gifts of home schooling is that you can change and transform your curriculum, routine and schedule as you wish. With DW you are not locked in, we offer you the freedom to try it when, and for how long, it fits your goals.
Here are five reasons parents are choosing Daily Wonder:
We know planning can take the joy out of home schooling. We have your back. We have been panning for 20 years and feel like it is high time we share. What is your favourite part about preparing for a year, unit, or day of home schooling?
The Wonder of Patterns
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.
Earth's Layers Scaled Drawing
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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