Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vamos a México

I'm feeling very international today. :-)

Leah has fallen in love with a CD we got from a friend, Magic Spanish for Kids. Natalie is learning Spanish as her foreign language in Kindergarten so I thought it would be fun to listen to in the car. There is no counting in this one but it does contain the alphabet song in Spanish. Overall we all enjoy the magical adventure in Mexico and I especially like how it contains a little history and geography of the Mayan people. The Magician's Pyramid in Uxmal receives a lot of attention in the CD story and they talk about how it supposedly took 400 years to build but some people say that a teeny tiny little man built in one night. I went looking for a copy of this legend to share with the children and found it in The Book of Little Folk: Faery Stories and Poems from Around the World by Lauren Mills. The chapter is called "The Dwarf of Uxmal." I really love the variety of legends in this book and the illustrations are wonderful. Leah is fascinated by Mexico... maybe a road trip is in our future! Right now she is in her room singing, "Let's learn Spanish today." :-)

Les Fleurs

Natalie and I have been working on the Rainbow Flower Felting Kit. To introduce this craft, I went searching for a nice flower poem. Happily, I found an entire flower and tree section in a large book of poetry: Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris. This book is a GREAT value and contains over 700 poems! Finding a flower poem was a snap (I picked Window Boxes by Eleanor Farjean). Categories of poems in this book are

  • Myself and I

  • My Family and I

  • My Almanac

  • It's Fun to Play

  • Little Things that Creep and Crawl and Swim and Sometimes Fly

  • Animal Pets and Otherwise

  • On the Way to Anywhere

  • From the Good Earth Growing

  • Roundabout the Country, Roundabout Town

  • My Brother the Sun, My Sister the Moon, the Stars, and Mother Earth

  • Bird-Watcher

  • People to Know, Friends to Make

  • Almost Any Time Is Laughing Time

  • My Fancy and I

  • Sign of My Nation, Great and Strong

  • From All the World to Me

  • Story Time is Special Time

  • From the Family Scrapbook

It is indexed by Title, by First Line, and by Author as well.

The Star

Today's Sunday School lesson focused on the Star of Bethlehem. We began with four stories from Irene Johanson's book, Stories for the Festivals of the Year:

The Three Kings and the Star
King Balthazar Sees the Star
King Melchior Sees the Star
What the Star Tells King Caspar

I really like this set of stories because it goes through the reason each king brings his gift (especially useful since kids don't know what frankincense and myrrh are). After the storytelling each student made a tissue paper star using the directions in Rose Windows and How to Make Them: Coloured Tissue Paper Crafts. I made the star in figure 21 to show them; they each cut their wedges to their own design. There were only three children in class today which was great because it is a finicky craft.

Materials List:

  • one manila file folder for each child

  • pencil

  • sharp craft scissors

  • two templates for tracing the inside and outside of the circle frames (I used the lids from my sugar and coffee kitchen canisters)

  • squares of art-quality tissue paper -- mine were 6¼" square, from Nova Natural

  • Elmer's glue

  • thread for hanging

I recommend cutting out the inner circle before the outer circle, to keep things from shifting around. If you keep the file folder closed when tracing and cutting you get two frames very easily. The stories and each child making one tissue paper craft took the full 45 minutes of class time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

When Someone Far Away Loves You

Natalie is missing her Papa so we read If You Listen by Charlotte Zolotow. The little girl is missing her father and she asks her mother, how do you know when someone far away loves you? And it goes through how to listen with your heart. It is a beautiful story and I think it was just what Natalie needed to hear.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top It All Off With a Bath

We spent the day at home enjoying new gifts. Reading new books... playing new games (Jenga, The Orchard Game)... cuddling with new friends (they each got a stuffed animal)... and more.

The children ended their day with an enjoyable bath using their new loofah scrub buddies, a gift from my mom. She found them at the Calvert Marine Museum gift shop. There was a fish, a turtle, and a ray. So cute!

A Dozen More

The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone

Seven Little Rabbits by John Becker

The Buffalo Nickel by Taylor Morrison

Children's Everyday Bible by Selina Hastings

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul Galdone

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Carnival of the Animals by Barrie Carson Turner

The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fish Wright

Frog Hunt by Sandra Jordan

Books Galore

We got so many books for Christmas!!! Today Natalie, Leah and I began to work our way through The Usborne Book of Things People Do. They are having fun learning about all the different professions, which are grouped by places in the town. For example, all the people who work together to build a house. I just opened up a set of 4 Dover stencils which were in my stocking: farm animals, zoo animals, sea life, and desert animals. I can't wait to stencil our downstairs steps! More book notes to come...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Animals of Christmas

My Sunday School lesson yesterday went beautifully. I began with reading The Little Troll by Thomas Berger (the children were so into this, they all clapped at the end). Then we made sheep for the classroom felted Nativity scene -- I'll post pictures of this if I can. It's breathtaking. Mary on her donkey on a little pebbled path leading to the stable, Joseph leading her, the ox waiting in the stable, two shepherds in the field outside with their sheep. I had the children card some raw wool (click on link for helpful videos of the process), then roll up the rolag and form it into a soft little ball "sheep". Next they rubbed some lanolin on their palms -- they all hated the smell and feel of the lanolin so they would wash their hands vigorously after finishing a sheep, but they all wanted to make more so they ended up putting it on their hands again :-) -- and pat the "sheep" gently to make it stick together. This worked much better than the sheep we tried to make last year with wool wrapped around a pipe cleaner frame. So that there were no parent complaints about the word "breast" in the classroom I squeezed some lanolin out of the tube and just had it in a plain cup, which they passed around and it worked well.

The children each made three rounds of sheep. During the last go round I read from Stories for the Festivals of the Year by Irene Johanson -- a book I highly recommend for children age 6-9 years. I wanted to focus on the animals of Christmas since that is what we were adding to our nativity scene, and this is the 3rd week of Advent which is the animal kingdom week anyway. It was a good review of the Christmas story from Annunciation to the Birth and they are very gentle stories. I read the following chapters while they quietly carded and formed their sheep:

  • The Donkey's Secret

  • Why the Sheep Looked Forward to Christmas

  • The Promise to the Little Ox

  • How the Angel's Message to the Ox and Ass Was Fulfilled

  • How the Angel's Message to the Sheep Was Fulfilled

Then it was time to go and we all wished each other a Merry Christmas and drove out of sight. :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Clementines and Dimes

It's the funniest thing... all of a sudden I am so excited about Christmas! I have been plodding along for nearly a month now, making lists and putting things off and not really feeling the Christmas spirit. But 5 minutes ago I just started thinking about how I have to go to the grocery store to buy clementines for the stockings and to see if I have four 2007 dimes (also for the toe of the stockings) and I began jumping up and down, so happy it is Christmas time!!! It will be a small Christmas for us, with each girl only getting one gift, but it will still be a very happy time. Monday morning we will do the final round of giftmaking and then at 2:30 when the children get up from their naps we will pack and head over to the Libertini's for an early Christmas Eve dinner, followed by the 5 pm children's service at Trinity, and then I get to try to get all those excited children to fall asleep in the same room. :-) After they go to bed we will put gifts under the tree and in stockings. Nancy is so excited about having the children open their gifts at her house and I am really happy too; I think it will be so much fun for everyone. The court has ordered that Steve gets the children Christmas Day at noon and I have been invited by another friend to spend Christmas dinner with them so I won't be on my own.

I'm so glad to be falling back in love with this holiday all over again, and I am really looking forward to a wonderful time with my children.

December 24

Christmas Eve is fast approaching and it's time to put my personal drama aside and focus on Christmas gifts because that's a deadline where I don't get any extensions! The countdown looks like this...

I still have, this weekend, to finish Leah's doorway puppet theater, make Rebecca's scarf, and wrap all their presents.

Monday we are making gifts for Grandpa, Toby our dog, and the Libertinis, the family with whom we will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. My dad loves maraschino cherries so I alternate each year between giving him chocolate covered cherries and making fudge. This is a fudge year. For Toby we always bake dog biscuits. The Libertinis are trickier because she has celiac disease and he is diabetic, so no food gifts. Instead we will get out our candlemaking kit and roll and decorate some beautiful candles for them.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hair Bows Galore

The girls are all playing at doing their hair -- I set up a drawer in the bathroom with all their hair brushes and our assortment of hair clips. The three little girls look so cute lined up on their stools, working hard at "being beautiful." I think it's adorable when they have bows all over their heads, beaming with delight; "Mama, look at me!"

For snack today we made Blueberry Banana Bread. Leah also helped me with a cooking project this morning, tearing up sourdough bread for a crockpot Irish Cheese Pudding (a savory bread pudding with sourdough bread, eggs, cheddar cheese, and chicken stock, plus half and half, a pinch of cayenne, and some sweet mustard). Today was a big Laundry Day, since the girls have to pack up for a weekend with their dad. We started by practicing sorting dirty laundry into dark and light. Then sorting clean clothes by size into four piles. Finally, putting away clothes in the proper drawers and choosing two outfits plus pajamas to pack in the blue suitcase. I know they are learning a lot of useful skills doing these jobs AND they love to help out around the house!

Today I vacuumed downstairs for the first time. Vacuuming was always my husband's job. So was taking out the trash... something I get to experience for the first time this weekend!

Rebecca requested a yellow scarf from Santa at the last minute... yikes! I don't have time to knit one (plus I have to finish Leah's doorway puppet theater this weekend) so it looks like it will be a fun and exciting wet felting project. I plan to use cheesecloth since I don't have any silk gauze.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Elephants and Kangaroos

Well, Natalie has pink eye so we weren't able to go to Potomac Crescent Waldorf School after all (actually, I am not allowed to take the children out of the state so we wouldn't have been able to go anyway) -- and so no wreath for our front door! We have a lot of Christmas decorating yet to do. Today we made our first batch of cookies. I had to take Natalie to the grocery store/pharmacy to get her pink eye medicine and so while we were waiting for the store to fill the prescription we walked around and I loaded up the cart with Christmas baking necessities. Our first choice was Cornmeal-Cherry Cookies, to use up some of the corn Natalie has been grinding so cheerfully. Those are cooling now.

At the beginning of the week, the children were using my foam pool noodles from FunFit to play kangaroo (we read a cute folktale called "How the Kangaroo Got Its Tail" from a bedtime storybook Sonlight sent us). Then they moved on to playing birdies on a nest, using huge sheets of butcher block paper to form a large "nest" and setting their wooden play kitchen eggs down in it. Horton Hatches the Egg came into play there too. :-) After reading Nell's Elf with Fran, the children moved on to coloring elves in their new art center that I set up downstairs. It has been a week full of doctor visits, errands, and appointments but we've still managed to stick some fun in there. :-) Tomorrow evening they head over to their dad's for his weekend time but I hope to make some more cookies with them before they go.

Today we also hung up a weather stick that Natalie brought home from school. It's out on our deck now, carefully pointing up to the sky to herald clear weather. Supposedly it takes a few days to get used to its new home but I think it has settled in quite nicely as part of the family. :-)

This weekend I will be plugging away wrapping gifts -- won't we all... Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

6th/7th/8th Grade Links

Of course, I can't resist making a set of links for the curriculum of grades 6 through 8. Here you go; these are from the East Bay Waldorf School:

Potomac Crescent School

I just found out about a new Waldorf school in my area: Potomac Crescent School in Arlington VA. My friend Gabrielle and I will be taking our children to their wreath-making workshop Monday from 9 am to noon. It will be nice to meet some other Waldorf families! I have heard through the grapevine that there is a cluster in Annapolis MD as well as several in Waldorf MD, so I am enthusiastic about having a local support system.

The Tidewater School, which Natalie attends, is going to be developing their middle school curriculum over the next few years and I am excited to be talking with the director about how Waldorf handles 6th through 8th grades and maybe having some influence in their curriculum development!

If anyone is teaching these grades and has books to recommend, please let me know.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Handmade Christmas Gifts

I haven't started our handmade Christmas gift list yet, but I did want to post this nifty set of links for making your own reusable grocery bags.

Happy crafting!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Breakfast for Dinner

Friday I took the two younger kids with me grocery shopping and we got a TON of food. When I got home I idly asked Rebecca, what do you think we should have for dinner tonight? I'm not sure why I asked... but I was so surprised by her answer. She immediately said "grapes, granola, chocolate syrup, and granola bars for dessert." I nixed the choc. syrup but was okay with the rest of it so we played "Breakfast for Dinner" and the kids loved it!

This week in school is "Say Good-bye to Autumn"; next week we begin with making Christmas presents. Tomorrow for Art day I'd like to make leaf prints (just beautiful leaves, tempera paint, and heavy paper). I looked in the Autumn volume of the the Wynstones Kindergarten series and there are so many verses to choose from!!! It's a little overwhelming, actually. I think I have settled on the Late Autumn Ring Game which we can work on in parts each morning at Circle Time. From pages 56-58, it includes verses, movements, and songs.

Songs are:

    Come little leaves - page 46

    My lantern, my lantern - page 29

    Glimmer, lantern, glimmer - page 30

Just an odd random link -- I found this haiku face-off online while looking for something else but found it very interesting. The judge analyzes all 8 poems and it is fun to read what she thinks are the strengths and weaknesses in each. Check it out!

By the way, if you're into haiku (or introducing it to your kids), I really recommend Basho and the River Stones by Tim Myers.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Be Kind

A quote that I heard many years ago keeps running through my mind so I thought I would share it:

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hat Making

Tomorrow is Friday, our Handwork day. My two younger children have informed me that neither of them have a winter hat (which I find hard to believe -- don't they get handed down? or do they just get lost?) so we are taking Natalie to her Eastern Woodland Indian Village field trip at Jefferson Patterson Park at 9:30 am and then getting our hands wet and soapy with Harrisville's Felted Hat Kit. I know the kids are going to love this & I am feeling more confident about wet felting after the success of our whale project. The only problem for me may be blowing up the ball...

Story to go with this: A Boy Had a Mother Who Bought Him a Hat by Karla Kuskin, one of my favorite authors.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Adding Brake Fluid

How to Check and Add Brake Fluid. I love :-)

After doing some routine maintenance on my car, I will settle down to planning these felt animal ornaments. Here are the notes I made last year (these are included on the website as part of the 2nd Grade Saints block):

Animal Ornament Suggestions:


9 total

Pattern notes:

Magic wool
Sheep from carded wool Toymaking with Children p.58
Pipecleaner sheep Crafts through the Year p.106
Pipecleaner sheep Toymaking with Children p.59
Goose Making Magical Fairy-Tale Puppets p.49
Honeybee All Year Round p.106
Pig Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals p.37
Cow The Nature Corner p.72
Cow Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals p.47

Pompom – wool yarn
Honeybee Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals p.74
Rabbit Crafts through the Year p.20
Hare The Nature Corner p.35
Chick Crafts through the Year p.19
Chick Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals p.66

Pinecones, paper, straw, etc.
Honeybee (pinecone) Crafts through the Year p.66
Honeybee (catkin) The Nature Corner p.49
Goat (straw) Crafts through the Year p.52
Chick (origami) Crafts through the Year p.35

Hand sewing – wool felt
Chicken Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.71
Hare All Year Round p.74
Hare All Year Round p.76
Hare The Nature Corner p.35
Sheep The Nature Corner p.37
Sheep Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.61
Rabbit Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.93
Cow Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals p.54
Cow Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.67
Bee Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.115
Pig Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.63
Duck Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.83
Goat Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.73
Goose (Swan) Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals p.85

Sheep from sheepskin Toymaking with Children p.57

The children in my class are also old enough to do cross-stitch (generally introduced in 4th grade in Waldorf classes, to complement work with fractions) so if we wanted to do a simple Tree ornament design, that would be a good way to go. Again, we don't have time this year -- but maybe next year!

The Advent Season

We won't have time to complete our knitted chicks for the Heifer International fundraiser, so I am going to have the children sew small animals from wool felt to be Christmas ornaments. December 2nd is ornament making day so that we can decorate the tree and have it up in the Fellowship Hall all month. In theory the members of the church purchase the ornaments and all the money goes to Heifer; in actual fact no one really buys them and we have dismal sales results. Next year I am resolved to spend all of November making these ornaments, instead of a last-minute hasty project, so that they are truly beautiful and sell well.

We'll move the knitted chicks to Easter. Maybe that will give us enough time. :-)

December 2nd we are also measuring the children for their pageant costumes.

My story for the first Sunday of Advent is The Little Troll by Thomas Berger, a truly wonderful story that brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it. A version of this story is also found in Christmas Roses: Legends for Each Day of Advent -- it is the first legend in the book. I think that's wonderful because I had picked it as our story before I knew it was an "official" Christmas legend. I know that you can use your own judgment when you're a teacher, and I try to listen to my heart when I'm deciding what stories my children need to hear, but it's also nice to have that affirmation.

December 9th is our first rehearsal for the Christmas pageant (an all choral pageant, so the children have no lines to learn, only blocking). Then one of the teachers wants to do a birthday party for Jesus, so that will take the remainder of the class period.

December 16th is our dress rehearsal with the choir and then the performance at 11 am. So another day of no lessons.

December 23rd is my only other Sunday School lesson before Christmas Day so I have to choose some kind of story that summarizes the entire series of events, instead of spreading it out like I did last year with a legend each week. I think that will be The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger. We'll also be having each child make a little wool sheep on the 23rd. I was asked by my superintendent to set up the nativity scene (with a wooden stable, silks, rocks and moss, and needle felted people and animals) for the entire Sunday School to enjoy so it will be out in the main room instead of just in my classroom. :-)

December 30 we will do Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella, illus. by Adrienne Adams, and talk about the lyrics of Christmas carols. I always love to do The Last Straw for Epiphany, so we will do that January 7.

Nativity Scene
Dec 2 - dark blue silk, pebble path, pregnant Mary on her donkey at far left, Joseph leading
Dec 9 - stable appears with moss on top, Mary and Joseph move closer
Dec 16 - ox in stable, straw, they move closer
Dec 23 - shepherds and sheep are added to the scene in the distance, Mary is nearly at the stable
Dec 30 - baby in walnut shell cradle, Mary resting under a blanket (which hides her bump, I don't remove the bump after she gives birth I just cover it up), shepherds have come to see the baby, Joseph is outside
Jan 7 - three Wise Men have arrived with gifts (Epiphany is Jan 6)

You can do so many things with this, many suggestions are found in All Year Round. One I love is to do a path of stars for Mary to follow and each day one star gets put up into the sky as she moves on to the next step. By the day Jesus is born the sky is filled with stars. I love this idea but it would work better with a homeschooling family, where you can actually move the stars daily, instead of a once-a-week class. Some people are pretty strict about the first week of Advent is the mineral world, second is the plant world, third is the animal world, fourth is the people. But I think it makes more sense to the children if they can see Mary heading down the path and getting closer each week. It's a personal choice.

Last year I also hung an angel above the stable and brought it closer each week but I can't do this with the table I've been asked to use this year. It looked beautiful, though.

The Tomten and the Fox

The Tomten and the Fox is about the porridge that the children leave out every night for the Tomten (who shares it with the fox so that the fox doesn't eat the hens in the henhouse). So follow ups for this could be having porridge for breakfast the next morning, or leaving out a treat for the Tomten in the evening.

Other porridge stories, of course, are "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Sweet Porridge." When I was at the storytelling workshop in CO, one of the Waldorf teachers there shared that for Sweet Porridge she would build a little village of small Lincoln Log houses and have a yellow silk for the porridge, flowing out of one house and down the street, filling up all the other houses. In the text of Sweet Porridge it mentions specifically millet porridge, but I usually make ours of the old fashioned steel cut oats. To save time, you can put the oats to soak overnight and then they require less cooking in the morning. I got the recipe from the March 2006 issue of Everyday Food.

Steel-Cut Oats
serves 2

prep time: 15 minutes
total time: 30 minutes

the night before - In a 2 quart saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add 2/3 cup steel-cut oats (not quick cooking). Stir, let cool to room temperature. Cover; refrigerate in pan overnight.

in the morning - Add 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until oats are tender but still chewy, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/3 cup milk and cook until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide between 2 bowls. Spoon on light-brown sugar and toppings (such as banana chips or sliced apricots) if desired. For a crunchy texture, add toasted nuts.

Footprints in the Snow

Yesterday we played "footprints in the snow." We read The Tomten, which really seemed to resonate with Natalie. It is a simple book, the only plot being that the tomten goes around the farm and checks on all the animals and people. But she was completely entranced and when it was done she leaned her head against me and said quietly, "I love that book." I set up our farm scene (from The Turnip) to a winter scene with a snowflake silk, the farmhouse, a pine cone "tree" and the little tomten outside. My follow-up idea to the story was to do our footprints, since all through the book she is saying that no one has ever seen the tomten, you only ever see his footprints. I laid out an old shower curtain liner that I was about to dispose of on the hallway floor outside the bathroom. I tore open a 5 lb. bag of flour ($1.64 on clearance at the grocery store) and spread it all around, then I let the children walk in it. They had an absolutely marvelous time! After doing footprints, they played a game where they took turns sitting cross legged (in underwear only -- clothes came off pretty quickly once they began digging in the flour pile) and filling each other's laps up with flour. I can only imagine how fantastic that felt. Flour is so incredibly soft. After playing and playing, I scooped them up and into the bathtub, then folded up the shower curtain liner with the flour inside and carried it to the trash. A little Swiffering on the wood floor and it was all cleaned up. Pretty easy, really, and super super fun.

Yesterday morning I also ended up taking Leah and Rebecca to FunFit with me, due to a babysitting problem, so that was part of their "school" as well.

Today Natalie stayed home from school because she threw up all over the car, repeatedly, on the drive in to kindergarten this morning. We'll be reading The Tomten and the Fox but probably not doing much with it. Monday's watercolor paintings turned out beautifully -- I had the girls paint a yellow moon and then fill the paper up with blue all around it. Rebecca followed the directions to a T and didn't mix her colors, but Leah sloshed her blue and yellow all around and made a green painting. They both loved the story.

Tomorrow is The Little Red Hen so I'll be making finger puppets (from Feltcraft) all evening, as well as sewing up the felt whale from S.S. Our lesson on Sunday was fantastic! I took in 11 books with whale pictures in them as well as a book for the lesson -- The Drop in My Drink: The Story of Water on our Planet by Meredith Hooper. You couldn't do this book with a bunch of Young Earth creationists BTW but it was okay for our church. It talks about how old the earth is (and that water is even older) and goes throughout time. The illustrations are amazing and show the earth being formed, cooling, the smallest organisms evolving, dinosaurs, and so on into present time. The idea is that all the water we have is all the water we've ever had and it follows one drop in your cup of water (we all had a cup of water to drink during the story) through the sky, down into a river, through the pipes, and into your tap. The drop in my drink, it goes on to say, has carved rocks, traveled around the world in the jet stream, been inside an Egyptian princess and Tyrannosaurus rex.... When I finished reading it my students, who had been restless at first because they already knew about the water cycle but then sat quietly and listened, said, "it really makes you think about water in a different way." Which it does. And then we talked about how the water in our glass might have actually been there when the whale swallowed Jonah... and then we created our whale shape using the flat pieces we felted the previous week and our collection of whale books to guide us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Watercolor Painting

Well, my personal life here is in the process of gelling into some semblance of a real solution... and I am excited to begin homeschooling again with focus. I picked 5 books which I want to do this week with the children and a weekly schedule. Monday is art day and we will be doing watercolor painting, the yellow moon with blue nightsky all around it. The book to inspire this is How the Rabbit Stole the Moon, one of my favorites.

Other books for this week are
The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren

The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren

The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone

The Good-Night Blessing Book by Nancy Willard

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


A neat book to introduce origami with your kids (or to give as a gift plus origami paper) is Lissy's Friends by Grace Lin. Natalie picked this one out of the library and we really liked it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wish List Addition

Here's a new book that I MUST HAVE: Spin to Knit: The Knitter's Guide to Making Yarn

There's a great interview with the author at this blog post: In Which Shannon Okey Gets a Toaster. Just the phrase "dishwasher dyeing" has me all in a tizzy. I simply have to know what it's all about!

One more random thought. The story of Jonah and the Whale which I used with my students was from Jakob Streit's book We Will Build a Temple.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roving Stash

I just received a wonderful box of roving from a friend -- this will really help me with my new needle felted figures store! (Opening soon, hopefully over Thanksgiving weekend. I will post the link when it happens.)

Itemized, for my own entertainment:

  • plain white roving

  • 3 oz white angora

  • sample Superwash 50/50 Merino/Tencel, color "Crayons" by Sandy Sitzman of Wool Gatherings

  • sample Blue Face Leicester, color "Spot" by ditto

  • three balls of black

  • a little bit of natural grey

  • dark purple

  • magenta

  • bright fire engine red

  • light brick red

  • three variegated cotton candy type colors: white/aqua/lavender, pink/aqua/lavender, yellow/spring green/blue

  • plum

  • eggplant

  • a HUGE ball of white mixed with natural grey (dark grey brown)

  • 3.7 oz bag of merino wool in various colors: light yellow, royal blue, teal, olive green, hot pink, soft pink, and a light pink/dark pink blend


Making Flat Felt Pieces

I'm much more of a dry felter than a wet felter nowadays; the quirkiness of wet felt doesn't really appeal to me. I like to have more control over the finished result. I don't like the mess, and I don't like how it seems to come together on me all at once with little tags and funny pieces sticking out, which I can't get to rejoin the greater mass, and holes and thin places all over. In short, not my thing!

But I had a very successful wet felting lesson on Sunday with my S.S. class so thought I would post notes on what we did. Followed the directions in Simply Felt, a wonderful book.

First step:
Cover the floor (tile is best, NOT carpet -- this project is messy) with a sheet, cover the table with an old shower curtain liner, cover the shower curtain liner with towels, lay a slatted bamboo placemat on each workstation/towel

Cut a piece of cheesecloth the size of your placemat and have it at the ready

Have nearby a bar of Kiss My Face pure olive oil soap (recommended by Regina Mason at the October conference as being nicest for felting and the most gentle on hands) and a cheese grater

As well as a large bowl

And, naturally, roving. I got ours from A Child's Dream Come True -- Ashford of New Zealand Corriedale Wool Roving - Single Natural Color: Dark Gray Brown

Second step:
Grate some soap into the bowl, add hot tap water

Lay your roving down in an area 1/2 times larger than you want your final piece of felt to be. Make sure all the strands of roving are going in the same direction (vertical)

Next lay down another layer of roving on top of your first layer, this time making sure all the strands are horizontal

You can do more layers but we found 2 to be fine

Third step:
Dip your hands into the hot soapy water and gently sprinkle your roving until damp all over. This takes a bit of time but it is important to be gentle or you'll dislodge the roving.

Next, lay your piece of cheesecloth out over the entire felt-to-be piece and rub the bar of soap all over the cheesecloth, making the roving soapier. Now begin to splash it with some of the water and get it thoroughly wet.

Next, working with small sections at a time, rub the roving (through the cheesecloth) more vigorously, until you see that it is beginning to come together into a sort of pre-felt

Your cheesecloth may seem to be becoming part of the felt but this is OK -- you can pull it off gently at the end

Final step:
Once you see that your roving is coming together all over, roll the bamboo placemat up with the entire thing still inside and roll the placemat vigorously all over the towel surface, just as if you were rolling out dough. Roll it and roll it as hard as you can. This helps put pressure on the wool evenly all over the project. 5 minutes or so and you can unroll the placemat and check your results. If there are still some loose fuzzy parts, wet them thoroughly, wrap it up, and roll again. Once the entire piece is evenly felted, pull the cheesecloth off gently, rinse your work under cold water, and lay flat to dry.

It will probably take 3 days to dry so be forewarned.

This technique of the bamboo placemat gives the most even results and is very easy and fun! My students had a great time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cardboard Loom

Humility Cooper (Natalie's Pilgrim name) was so enthralled by her weaving project on her cardboard loom that she didn't want to get in the car to come home from school today. :-) A cardboard loom from a box is fun and easy to make.

Today is Leah's birthday dinner so I'm off to tidy up the living room. As far as I know she is getting a tricycle from one grandma, silks from the other, and a board game and book of poetry from us. Happy Birthday, Leah! I dislike making the standard birthday cake each year (this is probably because my mother made us the same cake with the same frosting over and over) so I usually find alternative desserts. Her birthday party featured "cow pie" cookies and tonight we will be enjoying a pumpkin streusel pie with four candles in it. :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

$10.50 Worth of Pure Fun

Things here have been topsy-turvy since Leah got sick. Yesterday while I was teaching S.S. Steve was taking her to the Emergency Room for her croup attacks. My kids get croup all the time so usually I'm pretty relaxed, take them into the bathroom for a steam, and head on back to bed. But she had me really worried. So Sunday was E.R. day (she got a lovely quilt from Project Linus) and I was completely exhausted. So tired that last night when she had another attack I couldn't figure out how to turn on the shower. :-) Steve had to take over on kid duty for the night. On a more pleasant note, my lesson went well. I had no voice (I've been sick myself) so my students started on their knitting needles and then, while people were sharpening, sanding, and rubbing finish on their needles, each child took a turn reading a story of one of the miracles performed by the two prophets we were studying. Things like parting a river, bringing the dead back to life, and taking the poison out of food. We had a wonderful discussion about how the person himself is not the point, it is God who is working through them, all the power comes from God. And how even if what you are called on to do is something small and not something grand, listen, because you could be part of a miracle for someone. The final story was Naaman and his leprosy. He went to see Elisha who told him to wash himself in the river seven times and his leprosy would be healed. But Naaman was a king and expected something more... more respect, a long glorious ceremony, the prophet to bow down in front of him. Elisha actually didn't even deliver the message, he sent a servant. :-) And Naaman was really pissed off and was basically going to storm away and still have leprosy rather than be humble and do a simple task like dip in a river but the servant said to him, if the prophet had told you to do something glorious to be healed, wouldn't you have done it? And Naaman said yes. So, the servant said, why not do this little thing? What do you have to lose? And he did it and came out with clean skin.

Anyway, today I got up totally worn out but needing to do the lesson for Natalie's class on dipping candles. I took in a book (The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela by Cristina Kessler), a flat sheet of beeswax and a rolled candle, a candle mold and a poured candle, an earth candle (from All Year Round) in a flowerpot, as well as plenty of wick, cans of beeswax pellets, Earthways, and several dipped candles in different stages so they can see how it gets fatter as more layers are put on. The whole process went wonderfully well. The children dipped for an hour and a half! The teacher was amazed at how long they stuck with it, notably, the usually highly energetic, easily distracted, and restless boys. We followed Carol Petrash's directions to the letter and the candles came out beautifully!

Then filled Leah's prescriptions -- an antibiotic and a steroid. YUCK. But sometimes I turn to modern medicine and when my child can't breathe is definitely one of those times.

In the afternoon Leah stayed inside and steamed (vaporizer, small bedroom) and the other children helped spread mulch for the final time and distributed two bales of straw between the beds to form paths. This is where the $10.50 of fun comes in! I could NOT believe it. After they shredded the bales with their bare hands, tearing it, shaking it, tossing it up in the air, kicking it, and having a marvelous time... they began to run and slide on it, fall down in it, and roll all around on the ground. Natalie got permission to eat some straw (she was very adamant about wanting to try it) and decided that it was too scratchy and made her cough. She rolled and rolled and rolled all around. I was amazed at how much fun they had in the straw. I let them go for it because I figured this was the one time it would be quite clean and not damp.

In the evening I moved Natalie officially into Leah's room and Leah officially into Natalie's. N had a small room, easy to steam up, whereas Leah basically had a suite downstairs. I had to take some of Natalie's toys out during the temporary trade -- we wanted to be near Leah for her croup attacks -- because L was playing around and not resting, so I decided just to swap them for good. I set up the downstairs with some special things for Natalie and she was quite pleased. The easel and crayons, her Cinderella lentil work, her flower fairy house and fairies, and -- the best part -- I moved the bed into the blue room (Leah had it in the hallway so she could be near the night light) under the fairy canopy. Natalie absolutely loved being able to sleep under the canopy and went to sleep happy as a clam.

R was the story tonight, by the way. R is for Robber (the straight vertical line is his body, the loop is his bag of loot and the short spoke is one outstretched leg).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Elijah and Elisha

It always seems like no matter how slow I think I'm going, we run out of time to do our Bible stories properly. Maybe this is because I only get 45 minutes once a week. Anyway, in order to do our Jonah and the Whale wet felting project at the end of this month, I need to postpone the knitting lessons until December 2nd. I will simply tell the children that this is because I can't find any volunteers to come into the classroom and help me teach the knitting part, which is true. We will spend the rest of the month on Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah. December is knitting ornaments for Heifer, the prophet Isaiah, and putting together our classroom Nativity scene.

This means that instead of buying wooden doweling, I need to be buying dish drainer mats. :-)

November 11 - Review "The Kingdom is Divided" (900 years before Christ), p. 94 of Roy Wilkinson's Old Testament Stories, look at a map

storytelling: Elijah is taken to the heavens in a whirlwind, Elisha parting the river, the widow and the oil, bringing a child to life, pp.99-101 of Roy Wilkinson's book -- these are miracles we usually associate with Jesus Christ but he was not the only one who performed them, if it's not the exclusive power of the Son of God, what might be the purpose of these miracles? what was God trying to do here?

Naaman's leprosy -- what if what God asks of us is a small thing, not a grand thing, is there still glory in doing it?

November 18 - story of Jonah and the Whale, begin wet felting project
November 25 - finish wet felting project

For this I have loads of grey roving from A Child's Dream Come True. We will felt a large whale & I'll make a small figure to put inside his mouth, mount it on a large bulletin board covered with wavy blue recycled paper. If we had the time and the money to felt the ocean as well, I LOVE these colors from Marr Haven Wool Farm.

Making Cookies for Santa

We haven't begun this yet (although I have heard that some people make all their holiday cookies in advance and freeze them -- good for them!) but I was sent a batch of cookie recipes from a friend and wanted to save them here. Click on each name to be taken to the recipe.
1-2-3 Cookies 7 Layer Cookies Allie Nelson's Famous Snickerdoodle Cookies Almond Crescent Shortbread Amish Sugar Cookies Andies Candies Cookies Angel Crisps Angenets Applesauce Cookies Apricot Fold-Overs Aunt Edy's Molasses Crinkles Auntie Linda's Ginger Gems Bakeless Dream Cookies Banana Drop Cookies Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World Biscotti Biscotti Blueberry Cookies Boiled Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies Bronwnies Brown Sugar Shortbread Brownie Cookies Brownie Delight Brownies Buccaneer Snowballs Buried Cherry Cookies Butter Cookies Butter Nut Balls Butterballs Butterscotch Haystacks C.O.P. Cookies Candy Cane Cookies Candy Cookies Caramel Shortbread Cheesecake Brownies Cherry Buns Cherry Crowns Cherry Winks Chewies Chewy Noels Chinese Chews/Haystacks Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Meltaways Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel Bars Chocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough Recipe Christmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice Cookies Christmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Crème De Menthe Chocolate Squares Crème Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily's Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream Icing Gingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory's Golden Graham Squares Glory's Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman's chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie's Zimt (cinnamon) Cookies Grandma J's Butter Cookies Grandma Olson's Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop Cookies Gumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob's Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica's Famous Brownies Jessie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet's Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme's Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat Goodies Molasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom's Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom's Ginger Cookies Mom's Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom's Old Fashion "Puffy" Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana's Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon Cookies Persimmon Cookies Petey's Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen Biscuits Quick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese's Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian Teacakes Samantha & Kelsey's Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa's Butterscotch Melts Santa's Shorts Santa's Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos Scotcheroos Seven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies Snickerdoodles Snickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie's Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The World Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer Balls Walnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will's Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms