Last week it was huge armfuls of lambs ear in the sensory table and then paints at the easel, with the children using the lambs ear leaves as their brushes.
This week I brought four different kinds of flour for the sensory table. You can also just use any large bin or container, of course. And, if I were doing this activity again, I would do it with four small bins and then also have one large one. I had visions of the children feeling the four kinds of flour and comparing their textures. White all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, and soy flour. But my preschool crowd had so much more fun pouring the flour out of the bags! They LOVED the pouring process, then joyfully mixed all the flours together, then carried handfuls of it to the mud puddles on the playground and stirred it in with sticks, then brought the mud puddle water TO the sensory table and created an enormous batch of PASTE. Then they continued to mix more and more water in to see how the paste texture changed. Then we hosed them all down and made a big river running through the playground which all the parents stepped in unexpectedly when they came to pick up their little ones. Oh well. It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E fun. And that's what Extra Clothing bags are for, right?
Window Crayons are expensive but they last and last. I have three sets and they are still going strong... and this has been ten years now.
In other news, Natalie and I are heading to the hardware store to get pulleys and weights for her Simple Machines portion of the Physics block... this is our last section... and we are buying the ingredients for Zac's birthday party menu. I looked up baby sign language for rabbit and horse because I'm getting more and more curious about animal signs. We took Zac someplace recently and he saw his first fish tank and I'm thinking, I should find out the sign for fish so I can sign it while I'm showing the baby this new animal. Then when we went to my therapeutic riding, I am thinking, oh, I must learn "horse." So we are adding new words to his vocabulary all the time.
Zac had his InfantSEE exam on Friday. This is a free nationwide developmental screening exam for babies ages 6-12 months that helps catch early problems. Then I taught my first Handwork for Homeschoolers session; so fun! I'm planning a story and three activities each time. We did
Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow
This first session was a lesson on natural fibers (particularly silk and wool), dyeing a silk (which will serve as an ocean setting later for fish puppets), and wet felting a bar of soap.
Handwork supplies can be so expensive, particularly if you're using the Waldorf method and focusing on natural materials, but it is an investment that is worth it. When you're just starting with felting (either wet or dry) I think that the NZ Corriedale Wool Roving -- 44 Colors in Box assortment from Weir Crafts is a great way to go and it comes in a nice storage box with a color key inside the lid. I relied on this for years, while augmenting it with several bins of wool which I bought on a Waldorf Supplies Yahoo group from a mama who needed to pare down her stash. So, if you want lots of wool, it doesn't hurt to just ask if anyone is willing to sell some!
The Ashford Child-Sized Hand Carders from A Child's Dream Come True are also something you'll use for years to come. You only need to buy them once. Every time you tell a story which involves shearing, carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving or knitting, you'll want to set out a basket of wool and the carders and just let the children sit in a quiet spot and card wool for hours. This is marvelous early childhood work and big kids love it too! If you want a gift idea for a kindergarten teacher in your life, this is a good one.
It's also good to stock up on rolled beeswax candle making kits every now and again.
I love to make rolled candles on the first day of first grade, when we introduce Form Drawing and the straight line and curve. You make the straight flat piece of beeswax into a cylinder candle. What could be more perfect than that? And then when each child in your classroom makes one, you then have a collection of candles to use all year when you read stories. Candle kits are also helpful to have when you get invited to a party and realize you don't have a gift to bring -- quick, make & decorate a candle! -- and for years we had the birthday children in our house roll little tiny birthday cake candles for their special day.
When I look at it now, it is with fond memories. I had a mom over to my house yesterday who was asking me how I learned all these crafts. I did NOT learn them growing up. I decided I wanted to do Waldorf with Natalie when she was three and I didn't know anything and was so intimidated! But I bought lots of craft kits from places like Hearthsong and Magic Cabin and Weir Crafts and A Child's Dream Come True and learned candle making and wet felting and so on that way, drove to the nearby Waldorf schools for workshops, spent a week in tears trying to teach myself to knit from a page of printed directions, and just did it a little bit at a time! I joined Waldorf groups and bought tons of handwork supplies and home items and curriculum books used from people. I read all I could. I know that my first early months and years weren't very Waldorf-y. But it takes time, right? So I've left my early lesson plans from that transition on the website for years because someone out there is going through the same thing and I think that honesty is encouraging and important. You don't have to be perfect. You just need to decide what you want to do and get started!