Waldorf Alphabet Style
In teaching the alphabet to my children I have found a beautiful and effective method that really resonates with my children and me.I have found an educational Style that I am mostly in love with! I can’t say absolutely as there are parts that I cannot embrace, but for the most part, I am in Love! If I take the parts of Waldorf education that I love, and blend them with Charlotte Mason ideas and philosophies I will have the perfect educational method for my family! What a beautiful gentle way to educate. I researched this method for three years before I even began to use it, and there is so much more to learn! But the beauty of it is, that’s ok:) I don’t have to know it all to bring it to my children. I also don’t have to bring it all at once. This method gives us permission to grow as educators alongside our little ones, (and not so little ones). I am by no means an expert but educating my children in a way that engages their whole person really resonates with me! Here is just a sampling of some of our alphabet Waldorf style chalkboard drawings:
C is For Cat
We used the fairytale from Brothers Grimm, The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat. The basic format of an alphabet lesson goes something like this:
Tell the Story:
I really do try to tell and not just read it. Sometimes I do read it if I feel valuable language and vocab will be lost. I am not striving for perfection here, just connection. I want my child to connect with the story and picture. When she connects with the Story and the chalkboard drawing I offer( however meager my offering may be) she retains so much! Yes, she retains the letter sound and shape but she connects it with a story told in rich language! I don’t want to dumb down the language for my kids, even when teaching the alphabet! There is so much richness here!
Draw the picture together:
We use a combination of stockmar block crayons and stick crayons. We do a practice picture first on a large sheet of newsprint. She works on hers while I work on mine. Young children learn by imitation and this facilitates that. When she’s done I proudly hang her newsprint version on the wall of our schoolroom.
Draw the letter picture
The one that we just practiced in her main lesson book. That pretty much comprises Day 1 of the alphabet lesson. We continue the next day.
Encourage your child to retell what she remembers of the story.
Practice Letter Formation:
Practice the formation of the letter on the chalkboard. Your child may benefit from forming the letters with bread dough or modeling clay as well. I also introduce the “baby” letter at this time. This is not traditionally Waldorf but we homeschoolers are free to take a method and adapt it to work for our family as we see fit. I am by no means a Waldorf purist, despite the fact that we use a lot of Waldorf material.
Draw the letter in the Main Lesson book:
I use the block crayons to set up her page like this:
The blue represents the sky, the green is the grass and below that is the earth or dirt. All the letters have a specific place to be or live. Some live in the sky and the grass, some only in the grass and some of the letters love to stick thier toes in the dirt and they happily live in the grass and the dirt:)
Think of words that start with our letter sound:
We pick a few favorites which I write on the board and she copies into her main lesson book. I really sound these words out so she gets the connection of how groups of letters blend together. This is a very natural way to teach letter blending instead of the more traditional flashcards and worksheets.
Do an extra letter activity:
This only happens occasionally though I would love for it to happen regularly. Activities may include clay or beeswax modeling of the letters, or how about modeling with bread dough? Then you get to bake and eat it! Maybe a nature walk would be nice and again the letters could be made outside with sticks and stones!
Hannah comes back to me all day and for several days after that with words, she’s thought of that start with the letter sound! Her retention is amazing! You could extend this lesson over three days if you like, depending on what your extra letter activity is. I would not recommend doing this in one day, however. Your child needs time to thoroughly absorb the lesson. Don’t rush them:)
We used the story of The Six Swans for letter “S”. Feel free to change aspects of any story you are not entirely comfortable with. I know I have on numerous occasions:)
We used the Brother’s Grim version of Rapunzel. All of these stories are available here for free!The Baldwin Project! You can go to this site and search for lots of different stories, all public domain.
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