Learning to Read from Life

Anusha has been really progressing with reading recently…..and most of this has been because of her own self motivation and readiness to learn.
She has known the alphabet for a couple of years. We did a Waldorf block together when she was seven and then revisited letters when she needed to, but since then any formal reading lessons have at best been minimal and sporadic.
I have also consistently offered help (with no pressure involved) and to read books and readers with her but she just wasn’t ready. And that for me was totally okay, I was happy to wait and knew that the time would come when it would all come together for her.
And it is.
The past few months, and in particular weeks, Anusha’s own desire to read and her readiness and willingness has motivated her to make reading happen!



At the end of last year I decided to get a Waldorf reading block from Earthschooling, something Anusha wanted too. It included the lower case letters, sight words and word families, and we worked on this most consistently when we were in Narrandera.
This hasn’t been something we’ve continued with though as Anusha was starting to find it too tedious. I’m happy to do more with her if that’s what she wants but honestly, I think she is learning better through life and with the guidance of her Dad, brother and I.


In early December Nush started a diary, which she was writing in every day until about a week ago. She would write the words she knew and ask me to spell out what she didn’t. I think she will write more occasionally now, as she was finding everyday too much, but she was very driven for those two months and I know this has helped with her word recognition.


Whilst in Adelaide during January she was asking for books to practice reading so we went op shopping and to the local book exchange and found early reading short novels. She’s recognising quite a lot of sight words and sounding out what she doesn’t. When there are words that she finds too hard we help her with them, and occasionally I gently tell and remind her of some of the common digraphs and word families, and of any English rules (that never work 100% of the time in our insane language!) that I think will help without being too overwhelming.


But I think Nush has made so much progress recently just through curiously engaging in life and all it’s learning opportunities…..


Writing birthday or Christmas cards and making gifts,


Interacting with friends and family through play and conversation, including on her tablet that we got her for our travelling journey,


reading books to her little brother; just the other day she was reading a Winnie the Pooh book to Zubin in the car but he fell asleep so she quietly kept reading it to herself and then happily told Scott and I that she’d read the whole book,


Writing lists of words she knows, and writing about her interests, such as recently she has been writing in her book about dreams.




Sounding out and reading labels, names and signs in shops, and as we are driving or walking along (I often here her little mumbles as she sounds out signs from the back seat of the car). I could go on for quite a while I think, life is so rich in opportunities to read; cooking with recipes, board games, listening to stories, going to the library, menus in cafe’s, using computers…….
It is naturally coming together and it is a wonder to witness ūüíĖ
We are also a book crazy family. We have always read to our children, I have read to both Anusha and Elki for hours on end, including many, many fairy tales, mythological stories, folk takes and fables, poems and songs, picture books, and chapter books. Scott and I are also BIG readers, and this has given Anusha a love and knowledge of our language formed over years, and provided her with an environment in which reading is cherished, enjoyed, and a huge part of our lives. I think this is very important, and hey, we get so much from what we read, it’s fun, incredibly informing, and as Elki says, ‘it transports us to other worlds!’
I am loving observing and being part of Nushi’s reading journey and know it will continue to be a wonder and joy. She has not needed any learning forced upon her, it has come from within, I am very proud of my girl.


Moments in Narrandera

Last week was spent on the river bank in Narrandera, NSW. Apart from the business of weekend water skiers we had a quiet, relaxing week and didn’t stray to far from our camp.


Whilst making up a batch of my toasted muesli I tried Zubi on my back in the Ergo for the first time.


Anusha thought this was too cute and had to have a turn too.


Zubin really found his love of water and when it wasn’t too cold for him we got much relief playing in the shallows. And testing how sand tastes…..


While watching his big bro and sis.


Anusha is slowly learning to swim doggy paddle and becoming more confident in the water. The children even shed their inhibitions and went skinny dipping, loving the freedom and feel of the water.


Elki completed The Lord of the Rings, which he’s been reading sporadically for a year or so. We also finished reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, with me reading about half of it to Elki and then he finishing the other half one night as he couldn’t wait to hear what happened (I was hoping this would happen!)


And I found the time to begin exploring native plant dyeing, which I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time.


The warm and longer evenings were perfect for evening strolls, an addition to some of our days to bring attention to our health and fitness. On our first wander Scott pulled up some bulrush for us to try……it’s really quite good, although Elki was not too impressed!


We were gifted with some beautiful sunsets which we have been loving, something we don’t get a good view of at our home in Tas.


I was very proud of Anusha for reading her very first book. My Dad is a board book that all of our children have loved and is the first book she has read by herself.


She has also been really engaged by the reading block we are currently doing. We worked on this several of the days at Narrandera, very much driven by Anusha’s enthusiasm, readiness, and eagerness to be reading.


And there was a lot of time spent in the water,


And on the shore.

It was a great camp and a lovely week. The only criticism we had is Narrandera’s town water, it is terrible! We would gladly camp here again but next time we’d definitely bring spring water to drink!

Aesop’s Fables Main Lesson


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The last main lesson block I completed with Anusha last year was a grade 2 block on Aesop’s Fables.
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I used the book The Fables of Aesop by Joseph Jacobs. We read five fables, following the three day rhythm of reading a fable the first day, drawing a picture and writing a summary the second day, and doing an activity related to the story as well as reading the next fable the third day.

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My drawing for The Crow and the Pitcher

The first fable we read was The Crow and the Pitcher. Anusha and I drew our pictures together, sometimes with Anusha waiting to follow my drawing if she needed some guidance. I then wrote the summary on the board, Anusha helping me to compose it, and she copied it into her main lesson book.

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Anusha’s drawing and summary

Anusha is not using the golden path or stars with her writing anymore, finding them tedious, but I do still need to gently remind her about her spacing at times.

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Anusha’s¬†crayon resist painting for The Crow and the Pitcher

The activity we completed for The Crow and the Pitcher kind of had nothing to do with crows! But I wanted Anusha to have a lot of say in the activities we did and she really wanted to do this one,¬†one of the lessons on the website Art projects for kids¬†that involved a¬†bird! Art projects for kids has lots of easy to follow lessons that both the children enjoy doing, I haven’t visited it for years but it’s a great site to head to when in need of a¬†fun art lesson that teaches different techniques.

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Anusha’s drawing activity for The Dog and His Shadow (another lesson from Art projects for kids).

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My picture for The Fox and the Grapes

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Anusha’s picture and summary

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My painting for The Fox and the Grapes

The activity I chose for The Fox and the Grapes was a grade 2 wet-on-wet watercolour painting lesson¬†from Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools. We did this together as I told the ‘colour story’ outlined in the lesson.

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Anusha’s painting

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My picture for The Town Mouse and Country Mouse

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Anusha’s picture and summary (we both really loved Anusha’s picture for this one).

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Anusha and my matchbox country mouse pets

I found this cute activity for The Town Mouse and Country Mouse on Red Ted Art.

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Elki even joined in for this one and created a rock mountain dragon matchbox pet ūüôā

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My painting for The Town Mouse and Country Mouse

We also did a wet-on-wet watercolour colour story painting lesson for this fable, contrasting the light country and dark city homes of the mice.

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Anusha’s painting

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My picture for The Lion and the Mouse

The last fable was The Lion and the Mouse.

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Anusha’s picture and summary

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Anusha’s crayon drawing activity for The Lion and the Mouse (another lesson from art projects for kids).

We finished up there, not a huge block but I didn’t want it to become tiresome or too much of the same thing. Over the summer we’ll casually do some¬†more second grade maths and gradually get ready for our new little family member!

Anusha’s King of Ireland’s Son Main Lesson

For a second grade fairy tale/language and arts block I read Anusha The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum, as I also did for Elki when he was younger. It was nice to revisit this story with Anusha, and Elki also enjoyed listening to it for a second time.
Each day we read between 10 and 20 pages, depending on Anusha’s interest. The next day Anusha would draw a picture to illustrate what we had read the day before in her main lesson book. Mostly I had drawings pre-prepared for her to copy but occasionally Anusha preferred to draw together. At the start we were drawing with crayon, which I actually really enjoyed. I find crayon gives a simplicity to the drawing and the forms arise more easily but Anusha became frustrated with not being able add enough fine detail, so after a few drawings we changed to using pencil.
At the beginning we also started writing short summaries about what we had read. It became obvious very quickly that Anusha was not enjoying this and finding it laborious, and at this stage I did not feel it was important to push, and was happy for her to recall and record what we’d read through her artwork.
Below is how we recorded the story. My drawings are above, with Anusha’s below.
The King of Ireland’s Son riding his horse, with his hound at his heel, and his hawk on his wrist.

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The King of Ireland’s son places the Ring of Youth over Fedelma’s heart and life came back to her.

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The King of the Land of Mist plucks a branch of Hawthorne to place Fedelma into a slumber.

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Curoi, the King of the Munster Fairies, turned the King of the Cats and the Eagle Emporer into stone.

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On the shore of the lake The King of Ireland’s Son met the little Swallow people.

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The King of Ireland’s Son came to the Old Woman of Beare’s house.

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Rory the Fox brought the crystal egg to Old Mother Hatchie. (I misplaced my drawing for this)

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Sheen followed the corpse of the Hunter King through the Burning Forest

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Gilly of the Goatskin listened to the Swan of Endless Tales.

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The King’s daughter, Flame-of-Wine brought coals from one of the great fires.

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Flann brought the Rose of Everlasting Smells to Flame-of-Wine.

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The King of Ireland’s Son battled the King of the Land of Mist with the Sword of Light.

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Fedelma lay in a mesh net with tresses of her hair fastened to the wall and the Hawthorne fresh beside her.

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Flann came to the house of Crom Duv and met Morag the byre maid. All around were yellow cats guarding the Fairy Rowan tree, cattle and Morag’s little red hen.

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The Pooka, a timid little fellow, came riding by with his big black horse.19th October 2014 033 19th October 2014 034

Caintigern the queen gave each of her seven brothers a bit of bread with a piece of the handkerchief in it that contained Morag’s seven drops of heart’s blood, and they were restored to their human forms.

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Fedelma and the King of Ireland’s Son, and Flann and Morag were married and they feasted for six days.

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And that was the end of the tale! Alongside this main lesson we also continued with form drawing, revising the letters of the alphabet, and Anusha intermittently worked on her poetry book.

Introducing the Four Processes

A few weeks ago I finished doing a maths block with Anusha on the four processes. We had touched on it at the end of last year when we did some very introductory work with maths gnomes, but as we moved on this year I wanted to use some ideas out of the Christopherus 2nd grade maths book that I previously used with Elki, so we met some friends of the maths gnomes that live in the forest, the Sugar gliders.
In the Christopherus guide the four animals are squirrels but I wanted to change the story to incorporate a Tasmanian animal. I chose Sugar gliders as they still live in trees and are extremely cute (!), and kept the wise old owl as their mentor. I then altered the story to suit Sugar gliders, and as they don’t store nuts like squirrels, used leaves as the manipulatives.
Before we started this though, I began the maths block by teaching Anusha the Roman numerals up to twelve, using a simple story about a sheep herder and some sticks from Christopherus. She then wrote them in her main lesson book.



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I also read ‘The family that became one person’, a story for number 8, and completed the lesson ‘The Richest Number’, from the second grade chapter of Dorothy Harrer’s Maths Lessons for Elementary Grades.

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Anusha copied this off the blackboard into her main lesson book, the richest number being 12 as it has the most divisors.

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She then wrote and drew this for the second part of the lesson The Richest Number. We used shells as the manipulatives to represent the different ways of making 12.
Then I introduced the Sugar Gliders. My story went something like this,

Once upon a time there were four Sugar Gliders who lived in the Tasmanian forest. They were very busy as they had just left home and their mother, and were embarking on their own journeys into the big wide world. The Sugar Gliders had a mentor, the wise old owl to help them with their tasks until they were able to live all by themselves. One of their first tasks was to collect leaves to make their nests from. The wise old owl gave each of the four Sugar Gliders a name and a symbol; Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division, and showed them each her special skill and how it would help them to count and collect leaves.
The Sugar Gliders were to make their nests in the hollows of four old Gum trees in the middle of an ancient forest. They set about collecting leaves, gliding from tree to tree, using the spcial skills the owl had bestowed upon them.’

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I drew the Sugar Gliders and the wise old owl on the blackboard,

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and Anusha copied it into her main lesson book. She really enjoyed drawing the Sugar Gliders and giving them their own personalities.
Following this Anusha worked on simple maths problems that I wrote on the board and she solved using gum leaves. She then wrote a couple examples for each process onto her picture next to the appropriate Sugar Glider.

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We continued to work with the gum leaves in lessons that followed whilst also completing other lessons from Dorothy Harrer’s book, including Big Smoke and Little Flame and The Giant Who Counted with His Feet.

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Anusha enjoyed the lesson of Big smoke and little flame (we used walnuts as the manipulatives for this lesson) but was not keen at all on the giant who counted with his feet, which involved answering the math problems by stepping out the answer. She still wanted to draw a picture though, and asked me to get out an encyclopedia so she could better draw the squirrel and chipmunk from big smoke and little flame.
We also spent some time using number ladders with addition. At first Anusha balked at this, not expecting to be able to do it, but once I showed her how and encouraged her, she had a go and found it easy, figuring out the pattern.

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Each day we began the lessons with verses and movement. I used bean bag games and verses from Christopherus, and I introduced Anusha to the 2x tables, and later the 10x tables. We practised these with movement incorporating clapping, tiptoeing and stamping, and throwing a beanie bear whilst calling out the tables.
And that’s about where we left it, Anusha having had enough and very ready to move on to a more artistic block. Next maths block we’ll continue with the four processes and the next story of our little friends the Sugar Gliders.

King of Ireland’s Son – Elki’s work from 2012

Anusha has just started a Language/Arts block based on The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum. I’ve been looking back at Elki’s work from when he did the same main lesson in early 2012, and decided to gather all his work together in one post. I originally posted these photos in my old blog but they were scattered over several different posts.

I still have the original pictures that I drew for Elki to copy but will be drawing new ones for Anusha. She is really looking forward to the first picture and summary which we will be working on tomorrow. It will be interesting to see the difference in my little one’s work. It’s lovely and a bit strange to now be at the stage where I am covering some of the same blocks with Anusha that I did with Elki a couple of years ago.