The final trimester of Grade 1 Oak Meadow (2014 publication) suggests for the child to create their own first readers. The introductory information in this trimester talks about how the child will always be able to pick their own (as an example) written K out of a long line of hand written K’s that seemingly all look the same. The child has a connection with their own writing and can more easily read their own writing. Hence, the program suggests the child creating their own first readers by summarising stories read or told to them.
I thought deeply about exactly how we would approach this activity. There is no specific guidelines given in the OM program for this activity, just the suggestion of creating these self made books. I think it is a fantastic idea and really see the merit in them as well as the information as to the why behind them. When we worked with a traditional Waldorf block rotation program, I had always planned to finish Chilli’s first grade year with a block on fairytales. Obviously the first grade Waldorf year brings many fairytales into lessons throughout the entire grade 1 program, but I wanted to also just round off that year with some more of the tales that we didn’t get to, as a kind of ‘closing out’ on that year so enriched with the fairy tales. I hadn’t thought about the how and what we would do with this block, so this self made first reader activity seemed the perfect vehicle to do this fairytale final grade 1 ‘block’ through.
I got to thinking about what fairytales we would cover. I asked friends who are seasoned Waldorf parents and teachers and had a variety of responses come back. Some recommended fairytales they thought of as ‘must-studies’ for Grade 1 and others recommended more a collection of tales. I considered Russian fairytales as we have some beautiful vintage booklets of those tales that we picked up many years ago that I have amongst our school resources to be used in our schooling. Then as I discussed it with people further, I realised Russian fairytales are nice covered in Grade 2. I did look quite seriously as well at Scottish fairytales and thought about weaving in Scottish folk medicine studies which interest Chilli greatly into the block – but again, I felt this better done more thoroughly in Grade 2.
And then I saw Chilli immersed in one of her favourite books asking for another ‘Fairy’ to be read to her and it all just became obvious. The book ‘The Fairy Bible‘ is one of Chilli’s favourite books and she’s also started asking to have read to her the book about Reverend Robert Kirk’s Fairyland experiences. The Fairy Bible has a wealth of fairy information in the beginning of the book and then has stories following on many fairies, separated out into elemental sections. So then it just seemed obvious what we would use for our stories to create first readers from!
We will start week 1 of our term with a general introduction to the world of fairies. Chilli has then chosen from each realm in the book, a fairy to study each week following. Each of the fairies has a folk legend accompanying their description, with also a little paragraph about the meaning of the story which is handy for me when I am discussing the story with Chilli. We will work on our first readers each morning in our lessons and Chilli will draw a picture on the left hand side page of her main lesson book and then write a short, simple sentence that she creates about that picture on the right hand side page. I will tell the story each Sunday night before she goes to bed and then on the Monday morning we will recall/discuss the story. Chilli will then recall 5 main parts of the story and we will each morning draw a picture of that part and write a simple sentence, summarising that part of the story – over the week, creating a mini storybook of that folk legend.
I thought I’d share the introductory program I have put together from this reference book to use in this block of grade 1 study. Of course, you would need The Fairy Bible book to accompany the plan if you think it would be something your children may be interested in also doing in their final project of Oak Meadow Grade 1 Language Arts. What follows below is just a rough outline of my plan referencing what we will discuss each day and the page in the book where detailed information on this topic is.
- Watch ‘Fairy Tale – A true story‘
::Create a main lesson book titled ‘The World of Fairies’ for this introductory week that we work in each day however we feel inspired to::
- Introductory information on cities of the fairies etc, (page 11) – discussing the fairies.
- “What are the fairies and how/where do they exist?”(page 8-11)
- Encounters with fairies – ask Chilli about encounters she may have had. Talk about Cottingley, Rev. Robert Kirk, Findhorn. page 13 :: Read ‘The Secret Lives of Elves and Fairies’ each evening together.
- Where do you see fairies? Discuss; connection to nature (page 20), Honoring the Holy in Nature and tie back to study with Martin as well as discussing Machaelle Small Wright – Perelandra and her book ‘Behaving as if the God in all Life Mattered‘ (page 22) :: work with bead making kit to make beads to leave out as offerings as we ‘connect’ through the coming weeks.
- Discuss the quote on page 16 regarding woodsmen and farmers.
- Talk about ‘connecting’ with v’s ‘hunting’ for fairies. Where do you feel connected with the fairies the most? Go walking to connect.
- Discuss the ‘in between’ concept; locations, times, in the yearly rhythm (page 24-26) and The Fairy Festivals (page 62)
- Choose a notebook from our home collection to use as a ‘Fairy Journal’.
- Talk about meditating to connect and the essence of just ‘being’ – do meditation for connection (page 26/27 and 31)
- Discuss protection from bad fairies.
- Discuss attracting the fairies, ask Chilli what she thinks attracts fairies (page 29-30)
- Do the relaxation meditation on page 35 and talk about the meditation mind space – letting go of the ‘control’ over our minds and just ‘being’ – closest connection to the realms of the spiritual/fairies etc.
- Make our fairy altar and add to this space each week from the various element as recommended in the related section (page 36)
- Discuss the realms of the fairies and the four elements. Talk about the cities and draw a picture from what we discuss. Write down the names and the associated elements/directions (page 46)
- Talk about the various aspects of fairy life; food, clothing, music, language, trees, flowers/plants, animals, time, possessions, travel, transport, gifts, protocol (page 53-98)
In the weeks following, we will study the story related to the fairy Chilli has chosen from each of the sections and create our first readers from these stories. What stories did you use with your child in creating these self made first readers at the end of Oak Meadow grade 1 Language Arts?