Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spending Time With Mom

My mother covered the school shift this morning while I took Leah and Rebecca for their physicals. It was so great to come home and see Natalie happy and excited about special time spent with her Gram. They played outside making mud pies, then came in and read Moonsnail Song and looked at an ark shell with a hole from a moonsnail in it (we found this down at the beach). Then my mom got out all the shells which I had set up for this lesson and Natalie matched them into pairs. We had 21 pairs. (You can find wonderful exotic shells at A.C. Moore, WalMart, etc. Be prepared to buy two bags if you want a lot of matches, since some large or fragile shells are usually represented only once in a prepackaged collection). After that Natalie drew an ocean and they pasted on her shell tracing and coloring work from an earlier day. Mom said that she talked with her a little bit about how some animals live in two shells which fit together (and I had some which were still attached -- I had saved them from a trip to a seafood restaurant where we got a large assorted platter of steamed shellfish) and some animals, like snails, just live inside one shell. I'm glad they had a really good time together.

I found a better penguin book for my Oceans III list, so if you'd already printed it out, go back and check for the updated version.

I'm leaving soon for my vacation; I'll be back in August, full of notes and inspiration to share from Barbara Dewey's conference!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oceans Part III

Booklist for the Week:

What's Under the Sea? by Sophy Tahta
Sharks by Ann McGovern
Eric Carle's Animals Animals edited by Laura Whipple and illustrated by Eric Carle
The Whale's Song by Dyan Sheldon
Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises edited by Harrison and Bryden
A Lot of Otters by Barbara Helen Berger
Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
Baby Noah World Animals by Julie Aigner-Clark
Animal Quiz by Millicent E. Selsam and Joyce Hunt
Wild Animal Baby magazine back issues:

    Feb 2004
    Aug/Sep 2003
    Dec/Jan 2005
    May 2003
    Aug/Sep 2004
    Nov 2004
    Jun 2004
    Oct 2003
    Feb 2005
    May 2005
    Jul 2003
    Dec 2004

Additional Materials:
fossilized shark tooth
CD of whale sounds
"Dolphin Dreams" cassette tape
abalone shell
piece of fossilized coral

This week we are doing Animals That Live In the Ocean. It was a lot of fun to write up the sub plans for Jenn and I hope she has a great time hanging out with the children!

Monday, July 23, 2007

All That Brass

To assemble your moving picture, you will also need a piece of blue construction paper, scissors, glue, two wooden craft sticks, and a brass paper fastener. Now, the brass paper fastener thing can be a real problem. Although they used to be common, they are now exceedingly hard to find. I know this because I went out last night to look for some. My solution? Get a three prong paper folder and cut out the fastener. I got mine from Wal-Mart for ten cents. That means I have three fasteners for various craft projects at 3 cents each, which I think is a pretty good price. These folders are everywhere for Back to School so it might be a good idea to stock up now. The only case where they won't substitute for the proper type of fastener is if you wanted a pretty brass stud showing as part of the project. But in this case, where it is hidden behind the river, it doesn't really matter.


Good old-fashioned family fun. That's what playing Duck, Duck, Goose was. I don't think we've EVER had so much fun together as a family! I felt like I was six years old again, that tensing and listening ever so closely as the person gets to you, seeing if you're going to be the Goose... The children all had a blast. I highly recommend it!

Today we decided to spend an extra day on rivers and do the fish and duck moving picture from The Children's Year. It was nice to get back to basics Waldorf-wise and do a simple watercolor painting day. I really enjoyed it. I liked our very Montessori-ish Saturday lesson of making sea water, but Natalie seemed to be more tired than usual after school that day. I don't know if it was co-incidence or if doing something more structured and academic truly did wear her out.

Back to Basics

We established an Opening Verse for school, something that had fallen away with just doing it casually in the living room.

In the morning at the sunrise
When the light of day doth break,
Children’s souls, by angels guided,
Sleep from rested body shake,
Ready now for work and learning,
Happy, steady, and awake.

A painting verse:
Now I take the brush so gently
In my hand with loving care
Watch the color flow so softly
On the paper clean and clear.

What you'll need:
three colors of Stockmar watercolor paint (red, yellow, blue)
a jelly jar for each plus one extra for clean water (I like jelly jars because I have a terrible time getting the lids off baby food jars)
a 1/2 inch paintbrush
a large kitchen sponge for drying the brush after it is rinsed
two pieces of smallish watercolor paper
two pieces of Plexiglass, slightly larger than your watercolor paper

We painted the duck yellow and the river around him blue. On the second paper Natalie painted a second yellow duck and two red fishes.

Notes on preparing watercolor paints from faeriedust2001

After it's mixed, KEEP IT IN THE FRIDGE.

HTH! I'll add more verses to my official homeschool binder as I scrounge them back up (I hadn't realized how far from Waldorf we had drifted) and will share them here as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Invent Your Own

Probably a better thing to do for H, K, X, and Y would be to get a pasta maker and invent your own shapes. I bet kids would really dig that. (And I was totally kidding about the poster by the way).

Alphabet Pasta

I was thinking to myself the other day, I wonder if you can make an alphabet completely consisting of pasta shapes? A for Angel Hair all the way to Z for Ziti? And you could do a collage for every one, making the shape of that letter out of the relevant pasta... This might be a fun thing to do for a summer school project... come up with a new pasta dish every few days using fresh seasonal produce and the shape/letter you're studying. Create three dimensional sculptures even? This could be a fun thing to do in between 1st and 2nd grade, as a kind of review without it being stodgy. Let's see how far I can get. Feel free to write in with suggestions!

A - angel hair
B -
C - cannelloni
D -
E - elbow macaroni
F - fusilli
G -
H -
I -
J -
K -
L - linguini
M - manicotti
N -
O - orzo
P -
Q -
R - rigatoni
S - spaghetti
T - tubetti
U -
V -
W -
X -
Y -
Z - ziti

There's a great pasta video you could use to introduce this (if you're into that kind of thing) from the Sesame Street video Let's Eat! Funny Food Songs (pre-Elmo, thankfully).

Maybe we'll do this next summer. That would be fun. How many days of summer do you get? I count 65 days, Monday through Friday, June through August. Take out a week or two for vacations and summer camps and you probably got yourself a program! 26 letters of the alphabet x 2 days for each = 52 days.

AHA! Goldmine. Here's the WORLD DIRECTORY OF PASTA SHAPES AND NAMES, listed in alphabetical order, no less. :-) 22 pages!

Apparently, the following do not exist: H, K, X, Y.

Maybe you could write a cutesy little poem and make a poster, like "How Kould they Xclude these letters? Y? Y? Y?"

Maybe not...

Duck Day

Moving on to Duck Day (we're running behind because of having our accident -- which shook me -- plus having to clean the house for a big party we had here Thursday). Today I read Natalie "The Prayer of the Little Ducks" poem at naptime. Timely, since we had just come from church. The kids are having dinner tonight and then we're going to take them outside and have a rousing family day of Duck, Duck, Goose!


P.S. Since we're so behind I am going to ditch my previous plans for Part II of Oceans and just spend this week on shells (which I think is something I had secretly been hoping to do). We're taking Natalie every evening this week to VBS from 6:30 to 8:30 pm with communal dinnertime beforehand at 5:30, so some leisurely shell activities and beach walks will be perfect. The only other thing I have to do for Oceans is write up my sub plans for when Steve takes the kids to the Connecticut. And then the second week in August is another summer camp, this one at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp entitled "Stories from Nature". The final two weeks of the month we are doing Famous Artists. Should be fun!

P.P.S. New furniture going into the schoolroom. First thing we discovered we needed was a trash can! After that, I added two end tables, a bookcase, the angel candleholder from Nova Natural, and my dulcimer. It's getting very cozy in there. I'm thinking that all we need now is some hanging plants and a class pet. Maybe a hermit crab... would go well with our theme and the door stays closed all the time so there is no fear that he/she would be eaten by a cat.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Today is River Day. We drove down to the Patuxent. The other river relatively close to us is the Potomac but is more of a drive.

If your child is wondering where rivers come from (since they aren't attached to an ocean, how did they get all that water?) I recommend Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker. You and your child might even be able to try a hiking or camping trip to find the source of a nearby river.

If you have an older child who is following along with the water discussions, I highly recommend The Drop in My Drink by Meredith Hooper.

That's all for now. Tonight we're taking the kids square dancing!

Friday, July 20, 2007

MD Law

We have decided to exempt Natalie from compulsory school attendance at the age of 5 (in Maryland you can request an extra year). I don't mind doing homeschool with her with the state "watching" but I'd rather have it be first grade, when we are actually doing letters and numbers and I can explain the methods used, than have it be kindy when I have to fight to keep it non-academic. (I know there's a perpetual fight among Waldorfers as to what exactly non-academic does entail, and that I am still doing more content than most approve of... so anyone who's following me thinking that it's pure Waldorf PLEASE do remember that I'm only documenting my journey and not passing out a prescription. I struggle all the time with what exactly non-academic kindergarten looks like in real life. There's a fight about this all the way up to the highest levels of Waldorf. Alan Whitehead wrote in one of his books that some lazy teachers (his term, not mine) use Steiner's ideas about what an under-7 child needs as an excuse to do nothing at all in kindergarten. If I can find the exact quote I'll put it here.)

MD Homeschool Laws -- Summary from HSLDA

If you join HSLDA you get a lot of support for the legal side of your journey (if you face a battle). According to the website, "After a family joins HSLDA, there are no further charges of any kind for defending them in court. HSLDA pays in full all attorney fees, expert witness fees, court transcript cost, travel expenses, and all other court costs permissible by state law for us to pay." They will give you a sample letter to use for this exemption I am trying for, but I don't know if it's worth ninety-five dollars to me just to have to not research what data needs to be in the letter...

Here's some more information from the Anne Arundel County school website:

What must a parent/guardian do to defer kindergarten attendance for one year?

"If a parent wishes that kindergarten attendance be deferred for one year due to the child's level of maturity, the parent must do the following:
a. File a written request with the local Superintendent of Schools before the opening of the school year in which the child becomes five years old, asking that the child's attendance be delayed due to the child's level of maturity. Be sure to include child's name, address and date of birth.
b. Register that child in kindergarten the following school year."

The problem with this is that I do want her in kindergarten -- it's not a maturity issue -- I just don't want her in public kindergarten. I want to start first grade with her when she turns 6 (or slightly before, depending on her milestones). So maybe I'm wrong to do the exemption, although I'll probably need it for Leah, and I should just go ahead and register her as a homeschooler. Aaack! One more thing to research.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Salt Projects

Tomorrow it's our new school room! I hung a sign on the door that says Welcome to Kindergarten (mainly for the benefit of people who visit our house and want to see what we're up to). There's not much in the room... a science corner with our jar of salty water from the Bay taking its own sweet time to evaporate, a nature corner with some wasps building a nest right outside the window (in our bird nest box, which no birds took a fancy to unfortunately -- it's neat to watch the wasps at work, though), a loveseat, and a coffee table. Other than that the room is empty. I'm still sorting out how I want things to work and where I want them to go, so we are beginning empty-ish and will fill it up as time goes by. On the coffee table I have set up a project from the Montessori curriculum (the first time I will have given her Mont. "work" -- we'll see how that goes. Steve pointed out that Mont. is actually completely opposite from Waldorf, which I know, but I'm curious to see how she responds to it and what my comfort level is with an "assignment", so to speak). This is called Making Sea Water. It's very very specific. We'll see how it goes!

The other salt project we'll do tomorrow is Sparkle Paint, which I've tried before without much success (we mixed the paint too thickly). But I like the idea so we'll try it again. Here's the recipe: You combine equal parts flour, water, and salt and then add some powdered tempera paint to each small dish to create your colors. When the paint dries, the salt in it is supposed to make it sparkle in the sunlight.

These projects are just for Natalie and myself. I'll work out how to also do special things with Leah and Rebecca once we get the new set up rolling. Always before they were kind of glommed in with N, which I didn't really like but couldn't see a way to avoid. It'll be interesting to see if I end up teaching three grade levels simultaneously or only two. L is pretty free wheeling and loose, which I love but she is definitely on the ditzy side, and Rebecca is turning out to be quite perceptive and bright (and advanced for her age, at least language-wise) so in the back of my mind I have an idea that we'll probably run school for the two of them together. I believe that it will take Leah quite a while to be ready for academic work and Rebecca will be ready more quickly and they will end up matching! (They're only 14 months apart). Two grade levels will definitely be easier to juggle than three, so I hope it works out that way.

Schoolroom... Again

I am planning our schoolroom again! :-) My house seems to constantly be in flux. This is mainly because we are finding out where the kids sleep best at each age, and Leah is currently in the downstairs hallway. She doesn't like to be in the blue room. The hallway is plenty wide enough for her mattress, and it is too small for any toys other than a few dolls and a pile of books which is the perfect amount for her. With a full bedroom of toys and furniture she gets really overstimulated. So she has settled into the hallway quite comfortably which leaves us with a completely empty blue room. And this is making me nuts!!! I can't stand unused space. After walking around the downstairs and evaluating (should I make the downstairs living room the school room or use the little blue bedroom) for what seemed like hours, I came up with a plan. I will use the blue room. We can put a locking doorknob on it so that Leah can't get in when she's supposed to be napping. It has a door, which the bigger room doesn't, so the pets can't get into projects with wet paint, etc. It is smaller and will be easier to keep tidy (a big draw). There's a baby gate across the hallway leading to it (which also contains a bathroom) so we can set ourselves away from the rest of the house to concentrate on our lessons, and still be able to get to a sink. But the main reason -- the clincher -- is that it is completely private. And I've heard of many families where the younger kids inadvertently picked up on their letters and math because of seeing and being around "school." I don't want that for my kids. When we are in first grade, and the LMNOP alphabet cards are decorating the schoolroom walls, I don't want Leah and Becca to see that. The room is blue, which is not ideal Waldorf-wise (see below), but it's clean and empty and ready to go, which gives it a lot of bonus points! And it will be easy to have set up before the "inspector" comes, if he does come, as opposed to the downstairs LR which is a big mess!

Official Waldorf Room Colors

I have Steve on Freecycle looking for coffee tables and low bookcases. If I ever get a schoolroom completely done, I promise to post pictures! :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


After naps the children spent a good deal of time outside -- over an hour -- making mud pies (I don't understand how they can sit right down in a mud puddle and not even notice but, hey, I guess that's one of the things you lose when you become an adult). When Steve came home he helped me bathe them and then we had dinner. (And while eating her focaccia bread, BOTH of Natalie's loose teeth came out! One got swallowed by mistake but we have one to put in her tooth fairy pillow, and we'll leave a note telling her about the other tooth.)

After dinner I loaded N and L up in the car and we headed to the Bay with a jar in hand. I forgot to get our salty water sample yesterday. We did a little discussion (I don't know how Waldorf it was, but we did it anyway). First I asked them each if the Bay was salty or fresh. They both knew it was salty from tasting some by mistake. I told them that the Bay was salty because way down at one end, farther than we could see, it was connected to an ocean and oceans have salty water in them. Then we talked about how, when you leave a puddle in the sun, sometimes you come back the next day and it is gone. (For more on puddles, read The Puddle Pail by Elisa Kleven.) The water goes up into the sky to make clouds. We are going to put some salty water from the Bay into this jar and put it on the kitchen table and watch it. The water from the jar is going to go up into the air but the salt will stay behind and we can look at it. So we went down to the water's edge and put a little bit in our jar.

Then I drove the children to a nearby lake and asked them, is the water of the lake salty or fresh? Natalie said, fresh. That's right, I said, because the lake is not connected to an ocean. It gets its water from a stream. Is the water in our sink salty or fresh? Fresh. Because it comes from a river. Is the water in our water bottles salty or fresh? Fresh. It also comes from a river. We don't drink salt water.

And then we headed home.

Lesson done for the day.

Signs of First Grade Readiness

Signs of First Grade Readiness:
Physical Development

There are more signs of First Grade readiness than just losing your first tooth! (If that were the case then my daughter, who knocked out one of her front baby teeth by falling against a bookcase at the age of three years and one month, would be extremely precocious indeed!)

Waldorf teachers look for a variety of symptoms of physical development to determine whether a child is ready for First Grade:

the change of teeth
ratio of head to body
visible joints
an observable arch in the foot
individualized facial features
S-curve in spine
consistent heartbeat of 60 beats/minute
respiration once every four heartbeats

The change of teeth:
In Steiner’s time, this traditionally happened around age 7; however, it seems to be occurring earlier in modern children, so this is not necessarily as good a guide as it used to be. Look for your child to have at least seven of the eight physical characteristics described above for deciding he is ready for First Grade.

Ratio of head to body:
Your child’s limbs begin to lengthen and his head becomes smaller in relation to the rest of the body. An infant has a ratio of 1:4 between head and body. In a First Grade child this ratio is 1:6. As a sign of this change, the child becomes able to reach his arm over his head and completely cover his ear with his hand.

Visible joints:
Check to see if your child has visible knuckles and kneecaps instead of dimples.

Individualized facial features:
Your child should have an enlarged and clearly defined chin and nose and a loss of fat on his cheeks.

Signs of First Grade Readiness:
Skill Development

Consider whether your child can do the following things before entering him in a Waldorf First Grade program:

walk forward on a balance beam, maintaining balance
catch and throw a large ball
climb stairs, alternating feet with each step
tie knots and bows
zip and button clothing
hop, on either foot
hop, with both feet together
habitually walk by swinging opposite arm when stepping out with one foot
shake hands by offering hand with thumb outstretched
finger knit
play finger games
have established dominance (left-handed or right-handed)
have a conscious goal in drawing or painting a picture

When in doubt, do your child a favor and wait.


Yesterday it was blazing hot in the morning so we decided to save the beach for the early evening, when the sun was going down behind the cliffs. After naps, and then waiting out a brief thundershower, we hopped in the car and went down to the bay. The rain had left little marks all over the sand, and erased any footprints, so we went down the beach -- making lots of footprints on our own -- and walked quite a ways. The children had never done a beach walk before; we just always set out a blanket and explored the area around it. We walked for a long time and then turned and walked back. We did see one bird footprint, from a bird which we watched land on the sand and walk around a bit. So we knew right where to look! We also saw many jellyfish in the water, some dead crabs and a dead luna moth (very beautiful) on the beach, and a seagull flying. On the way home from the beach we were in a small car accident so no more school for that day! The children weren't hurt, just shaken.

This morning we played catch-up, doing the footprints art scheduled for yesterday. Here is how we did it:

I mixed up some powdered tempera paint (more economical than the regular kind and lasts longer on the shelf) somewhat thinly, in a large shallow pan. I set the pan in a large plastic storage bin. One at a time, each child sat on a low stool, held her foot up in the air over the paint bin, and her two sisters painted her foot. Painting the foot works better than standing in a tray of paint (makes a less gloppy print and is less wasteful) and is fun for the other two who aren't being printed. It gives them something to do. We used 1/2 inch brushes. After the foot was thoroughly painted, I set the piece of paper down next to the paint (still within the bin, though) and helped the child to stand, press down firmly, and then lift the foot. The child being printed then sat back down on the stool with the painted foot held in the air over the bin, I whisked away the wet print, and we cleaned off the foot with baby wipes. Then child number 2 walked around to sit on the stool and child number 1 took her place on the floor near the bin with paintbrush in hand. It all went very very smoothly. The only problem was that Leah stumbled when she first tried to stand up on her paper, so her print is smudgy.

Natalie, by the way, has quite a high foot arch. I need to start looking at her 1st grade milestones... she is heading in that direction quite quickly. Even if you ignore the teeth falling out early, she has quite a few of the other physical and developmental qualities needed to start first grade. I'm not ready to do this so soon!!!!!!!!!! But the hallmark idea behind waiting is that, when they do start academic work, they are so ready that it actually harms them to be held back. So if she meets all the signs, I will have to have a consult with Barbara Dewey to see what I should do. I am not going to just force her to wait until she's 6 if that's not right for her.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fish Printing

Fish printing is a little bit gross but the results are very beautiful. If you have an older child who you are also homeschooling, you might want to get into the history of fish printing with these very nice lesson plans from the Kennedy Center. For example, I didn't know until I went to search for it, that Gyotaku (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing) was invented in the early 1800's in Japan by the fishermen to record their catch. They could document the size and type of fish caught and still take it back to be sold or eaten.

I also found, while searching, that the Printmaking Council of New Jersey will come to your house and help you throw a Japanese fish printing-themed birthday party. They also offer papermaking and soapmaking (melt and pour). So, if you live in New Jersey, I guess you lucked out!!!

Oceans Part II

We are covering Boats and Divers, Marine Invertebrates, and Fish this week.

Booklist for the Week:

The Seashore Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown
Like a Fish in Water: Yoga for Children by Isabelle Koch
A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty M. Jones
Row Row Row Your Boat by Iza Trapani
Fly Like a Butterfly: Yoga for Children by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
Why the Tides Ebb and Flow by Joan Chase Bowden
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Kermit the Hermit by Bill Peet
Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric A. Kimmel
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni

Day One: Read The Seashore Noisy Book, visit Calvert Marine Museum to look at boats on display as well as diving suit, talk about scuba divers we saw at National Aquarium, "The Boat" yoga pose from Like a Fish in Water - page 33, "The Golden Boat" fingerplay from A Child's Seasonal Treasury - page 123

Day Two: Read and sing Row Row Row Your Boat, "Row Your Boat" yoga pose from Fly Like a Butterfly - page 79, read Why the Tides Ebb and Flow, visit beach to observe the tides, visit swimming pool and teach older children the jellyfish float

Day Three: Discuss camouflage, read Mister Seahorse, paint seahorse or other marine animal on regular watercolor paper then create a coordinating tissue paper collage overlay on clear overhead transparency sheets to mimic Eric Carle's work, "Swimming" pose from Fly Like a Butterfly - page 65, read A House for Hermit Crab

Day Four: Read Kermit the Hermit, "Crab Walk" pose from Fly Like a Butterfly - page 32, show sand dollar, starfish, and shells from oysters, mussels, anemone, etc., visit beach and try to catch crabs in a crab net OR visit seafood restaurant for dinner

Day Five: Read Anansi Goes Fishing, "Fisherman" movement verse from A Child's Seasonal Treasury - page 118, go outside to look at a spider web, "Fish Pose" from Fly Like a Butterfly - page 41, visit pet store to look at fish, make fish print, read Fish is Fish

Duck, Duck, Puffin (Puffin?)

I think it would have been nice to spend a whole week on Birds That Live In The Water and Salt vs. Fresh, and then spend a whole week to do shells unto themselves... but, unfortunately, we didn't have time in this unit. But here are some extra duck ideas I wanted to pass along (and a puffin book, thrown in for good measure).

Favorite Duck Books:
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
Nora's Duck by Satomi Ichikawa
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter
The Adventures of Poor Mrs. Quack by Thornton W. Burgess
Duckat by Gaelyn Gordon

And A Puffin Book:
There Once Was a Puffin by Florence Page Jacques

A nice handwork project to go along with this could be the moving picture of ducks and fishes on page 21 of The Children's Year.

For songs, of course, you have "Six Little Ducks" and "Five Little Ducks". These can be found in standard collections of children's music. I like 101 Toddler Favorites by Music for Little People -- it has a LOT of music on a 4 CD set, including both these songs, and they worked hard to include many different musical genres. It is a lot of fun to listen to.

Six Little Ducks

Six little ducks
That I once knew
Fat ones, skinny ones,
Fair ones, too
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack
Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack.

Down to the river
They would go
Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble,
To and fro
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack
Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack.

Back from the river
They would come
Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble,
Ho, hum, hum
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack
Quack, quack, quack,
Quack, quack, quack
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack.

Into the water they would dive
Over and under the other five
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack.

Home from the river they would go
Wibble wobble, wibble wobble,
Ho hum hum
But the one little duck
With the feather on his back
He led the others
With a quack, quack, quack.

Five Little Ducks

Five little ducks went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack!"
But only four little ducks came back.

Four little ducks went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack!"
But only three little ducks came back.

Three little ducks went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack!"
But only two little ducks came back.

Two little ducks went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack!"
But only one little duck came back.

One little duck went out one day,
Over the hills and far away.
Mother duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack!"
And none of the five little ducks came back.

Tooth Fairy

Natalie has two more adult teeth pushing to come in. She is planning on waiting until both baby teeth, which are still in place but wiggly, fall out to put them under her pillow and, as she explained to me, she will get two presents from the tooth fairy that way. :-) I've learned from past last-minute dashes to look for gifts in advance (although the peacock feather worked out great and is still my favorite present so far) and I have a little pile stashed away. Raspberry hot chocolate in a Little Miss Muffet tin... yummy. I just discovered today that Really Good Stuff has I Lost a Tooth pencils (set of 12) so I've ordered those and they will go in the TF drawer. Natalie loves her Tooth Fairy Pillow (which we got from Bella Luna Toys). It looks like it will be making another appearance soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Roasted Pineapple

Kids are all still sleeping, with the exception of Natalie, so we made Roasted Pineapple instead. We'll do the zucchini cake on another day. I recently discovered this recipe and love it so much I've made it twice this week. It's a great way to use a pineapple, should you happen to buy one at the store as a spontaneous purchase (which happens to me all the time, I just love how they look in my cart) and it is wonderful served warm with vanilla ice cream! I adapted it from an Everyday Food recipe.

Roasted Pineapple

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in upper third. Slice off top and bottom ends of a fresh pineapple (about 3 pounds). Following the fruit's natural shape and working from top to bottom, slice off skin in strips. Cut away any "eyes" still remaining. Quarter lengthwise. Remove tough core. Cut each quarter into 4 pieces lengthwise.

Place 3 T unsalted butter in an 8 inch square baking dish and melt in oven, 6 minutes.

Arrange pineapple in the dish. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 T honey, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 T cherry brandy. Spoon mixture over pineapple in dish. Bake until tender and bubbly, about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream if desired.


Oceans Part I

We are covering Marine Birds, Salt Water vs. Fresh Water, and Shells this week.

Booklist for the Week:

Poetry of Earth edited and illustrated by Adrienne Adams
The Pelican Chorus by Edward Lear, illustrated by Harold Berson
Pond Lake River Sea by MaryJo Koch
Knitted Animals by Anne-Dorthe Grigaff
Houses from the Sea by Alice E. Goudey
A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty M. Jones
Moonsnail Song by Sheryl McFarlane
On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles by Leo Lionni

Day One: Read "The Sandhill Crane" poem from Poetry of Earth, find bird footprints in the sand at the beach, observe birds in the sky (hawk, seagull, blue heron), footprints art

Day Two: Read The Pelican Chorus, read "Look, the Sea!" poem from Poetry of Earth, sea salt crystal painting, ocean water experiment (with water from the Chesapeake Bay gathered yesterday), making sea water activity from Montessori curriculum

Day Three: Look at Pond Lake River Sea, field trip to Patuxent River (fresh water), read "The Prayer of the Little Ducks" from Poetry of Earth, teach game "Duck, Duck, Goose", give children knitted ducks and goose to play with from Knitted Animals

Day Four: Read Houses from the Sea, visit beach and gather shells, glue shells onto beach tote bag, shell tracing and cutting work from Montessori curriculum, "Seashell Song" fingerplay from A Child's Seasonal Treasury - page 124

Day Five: Read Moonsnail Song, make clear glycerin soaps with some of the shells gathered yesterday inside, make collage with shell cutouts from yesterday, seashell postcard matching, matching seashells and small/medium/large work from Montessori curriculum, "The Sea" fingerplay from A Child's Seasonal Treasury - page 123

Day Six: Read On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles, field trip to Annmarie Garden, sand sculpture on the beach, "At the Beach" fingerplay from A Child's Seasonal Treasury - page 123

Vegetarians In the Making?

Today at lunch, while chewing on her drumstick, Leah said to me, "I want to grow chicken in the ground."

Whereupon I said, "Chicken doesn't grow in the ground."

"Where does chicken come from?"

"From an animal."

"Which animal?"


Loooong pause.

"How does a chicken make chicken?" Natalie piped up.

"Chickens don't make chicken; chickens are chicken. We eat the body of a chicken. The part you're eating is the leg of the chicken. It has bones in it just like your leg."

So we'll let that simmer and see what comes of it. I don't have a problem with vegetarianism, mostly because I think it's more healthful and it's cheaper. But my husband likes meat, so if I end up with three diehard non-meat eaters, it will be two separate entrees every night for a while, I guess. At least until they're old enough to make their own food (which is what my mom had me do when I wanted to be a vegetarian). Alternatively, I guess, he could make his own dinner each night, since he'd be the odd man out!


Today's plan starts with some unusual events -- Natalie piled a bin full of wet soapy stuffed animals (they got a bath last night, unknown to Steve and I) and is scrubbing her bathroom floor and sink with a spray bottle of white vinegar/water mixture and some cloth diapers. After our cleaning session, and hanging the animals out to dry on the clothesline, we'll head out to the beach. The sea nettles haven't quite taken over the water yet, so I think we have a bit more time to enjoy it. Then it's home for Baked Chicken and Rice (which I made last night), naps, and then we'll be making two 9 x 13 pans of Cinnamon Zucchini Cake, one for home and one for Steve and I to take to Dessert Nite and Bingo. We're getting a babysitter and going out!

I'm planning our two weeks of Oceans and will post it soon. It looks like the children and Steve will be going up to CT at just the right time to be the culminating field trip for that unit and Jenn will take them to their family beach cabin on the Atlantic. They can see an ocean for the first time! This actually works out really well for me, since we've done all the local aquariums on field trips for other units, and I was scratching my head a bit for this one. But a Real Ocean is just the ticket.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Honk Campaign

Today is Friday the 13th so watch out for cats and ladders. :-)

Leah is finishing her camp today. She had a grand time; they did a Dirt Exploration Day, a Swamp Romp, and today was Beach and Bay day. They did a ton of nature walks, seining the river, art every day (her teacher for this camp was one of my favorite naturalists) -- and her fish print came out really well! I was totally impressed. Mine are always smudgy. I haven't done a lick of school with the other two children, frankly. We've just been running errands and playing outside, going to the beach and the playground, making recipes, coloring and so on. Nothing theme-y. I talked to Steve about not really wanting to do school during the summer, since the weather just calls you to be outside hanging out and he said, I thought just being kids was what a Waldorf preschool was and I said yes, but I thought you wanted me doing projects every day so you had something to look at when you came home... so we got that sorted out and I have more freedom than I thought I did (which is good) and we can continue to bum around and pick vegetables and enjoy the great outdoors. However, I will write up some Oceans "plans" for the next few weeks just for fun and see if we can get some of it done.

The Bay Weekly (a regional publication with a very environmental bent) did a very good article about the litter problem around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Basically, the idea is that we should stop putting so much money into funding clean-up efforts and tackle the prevention end instead (which, according to the Smith Alumnae Quarterly, is also the direction people are heading in re. breast cancer, which makes me very happy). To that end, they are considering bottle deposits, which are very successful in other states, banning plastic bags (which, I understand, Ireland did cold turkey and it's been a great success AND, co-oincidentally, brought back their handmade basket trade), and other measures. Personally, I believe we need a honk campaign. If every time you saw someone chuck a piece of trash out of their car, you honked at them, that might add up to something. It's cheap and easy, and gets folks where it hurts ("What will other people say?"). Right now it's basically, no one will even notice if I throw this out the window. But a chorus of HONKs might change that. Anything to make people think twice before they litter is a good thing. At first I was worried that maybe it's against the law to honk at someone, but then I remembered all the bumper stickers that say things like "honk if you love jogging" so perhaps it is not illegal to promote honking for political reasons. And I think it would work!!!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

We Are the Champions

Last Thursday my good friend Jenn arrived. This was also the day I did the title transfer and registration for my new car, and had the dryer man in for an appointment. Our dryer has been causing us beacoup trouble since it first was purchased last May, so if you're considering one be wary. Jenn got here about 5:30 pm after being stuck in traffic in both New York and New Jersey. We had an early dinner and headed out for my hair appointment, then watched Ratatouille, which was, surprisingly, good and -- very surprisingly -- original. We enjoyed it very much. Friday was our field trip to the Aquarium in Balto. which was WONDERFUL. The highlight for the children was watching the scuba divers feeding the animals in the large central tank (rays, skates, sharks, and a turtle). We also saw their dolphin show which was good but I thought the sea lion show at the Mystic Aquarium in CT was better. That evening Jenn and I took a long walk down on the beach. Saturday was a family birthday party (my grandfather), after which we dropped the kids off for naps and headed up to the farm to get our vegetables. When the kids woke up we took them down to the beach. That night we watched Singing in the Rain (Jenn had never seen it!) and ate ice cream. :-) Sunday we made our fabric crayon-decorated tee shirts. Jenn got one with drawings from all three children, as a momento of her trip, and each girl also made one for herself. This was a fun and really easy project. You have to buy the crayons (which were $2.59 at Educate & Celebrate) and a white shirt for each girl. You need to also have on hand an iron, an ironing board, newspaper, and plain white paper for the original drawing. Jenn took me out to lunch before she left and then her little beetle headed off into the horizon line for Connecticut. It was a good trip but, sadly, too short. :-( Steve will take the children up to the dairy farm to visit her on her home turf at the end of this month while I am at my Waldorf teacher training.

Leah started her summer camp this morning with a creek wade-in. Janet took her (it's a hand in hand camp). From what I could gather, they read stories, painted bandannas, made homemade ice cream, waded in the mud at the creek bottom, and caught a fish. A good time was had by all. We didn't do as much of our Australia stuff as I had thought we would last week so I am going to continue that with Natalie this week in the mornings while Leah is gone. Then we'll begin with Oceans.

Yesterday I went downstairs to put in some laundry and the dryer was flashing error codes again (we got ONE load out of the last tech visit) and I hopped on the phone immediately with Sears to complain. And, finally, we are getting a replacement dryer! I am so excited! I was, in fact, so excited that I ran around the house singing "We Are the Champions" and lost my voice for nearly a day (I guess that is someone up in heaven subtly advising me not to sing). But it was worth it to croak for a day to have that moment of glory...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Singing Snake

Today we began Australia-proper by reading The Singing Snake. This book is well worth tracking down. It's a great story & a good intro to the country/continent. The story is a legend about how the dirigidoo (traditional Australian instrument) came about, the illustrations are in the Aboriginal X-ray style and include many different animals which live in Australia, and the idea that it's an island in the middle of the ocean with many interesting animals and a rich cultural heritage comes across effortlessly. Plus, it's a good story. A dirigidoo is made from a hollowed eucalyptus log and emits a low mournful sound. I didn't have one to show the kids but we did measure out 15 feet to see how long they can be.

We postponed the T-shirt art project until this weekend when Jenn can do it with us. I think she'll have a lot of fun, and a shirt decorated with art done by each girl will be a nice momento of her visit.

Tonight they're having a bonfire down at South Beach which we will go to. Tomorrow is the sand sculpting contest and boat races (which we will watch but not enter) and then in the evening we'll do a picnic dinner and see some fireworks. Happy 4th of July to everybody!

Monday, July 2, 2007


Here are the plans for Australia. This is the theme suggested by Gini Newcomb for this week & it actually works out really well for us, since Jenn and I had already decided we wanted to take the children to the National Aquarium in Baltimore when she came down. We'll do that Friday. They have a NEW Australia exhibit which is supposed to be awesome! They also have a rain forest exhibit which I think the kids will really like, and it ties in with this theme as well. Because of Jenn's schedule, and the fact that Leah's summer camp next week runs Monday to Friday, we've had to switch to a more traditional M-F school week. So our field trip will be Friday instead of Saturday, which is actually better in terms of avoiding the crowds. You can also buy tickets online, which means no standing in lines.

Booklist for the Week:

Fire Flower Flamers and the Earthy Men by Susan Whitehead (part of Spiritual Syllabus early childhood curriculum)
The Singing Snake by Stefan Czernecki and Timothy Rhodes
Global Art: Activities, Projects and Inventions from Around the World by MaryAnn Kohl
Good Earth Art: Environmental Art for Kids by MaryAnn Kohl
Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle
Wallaby Creek by Joyce Ann Powzyk
Rain Forest by Helen Cowcher
At Home in the Rain Forest by Diane Willow and Laura Jacques

Day One: Begin day with “Morning Song” from Fire Flower Flamers and the Earthy Men (pages 9-10), introduce dulcimer with verse “Magic Music Mystery Maker” (page 11), tell story (pages 12-28), dressing up with silks (see notes below from pages 35-37)

Fire-Flamer – Red – Salamander – circle form
Sunny-Sun – Yellow – Sylph – triangle form
Sister-Rain – Blue – Undine – crescent form
Earthy Men – Violet – Gnome – square form

Day Two: Read The Singing Snake, measure off 15 feet, Yumbulul Story Design art project from Global Art - page 139 OR Mimi Rug handwork project - page 140

Day Three: Sand sculpture contest at South Beach 9:30 am, fingerpaint monoprint using Easy Finger Paint recipe from Good Earth Art – page 189, read Katy No-Pocket and Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?

Day Four: Introduce Kangaroo Pose (yoga) from Montessori curriculum, read Wallaby Creek, Dreamtime Painting from Global Art – page 141, Koala Treats snack – page 142

Day Five: Field trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, read Rain Forest and At Home in the Rain Forest, smell eucalyptus essential oil (one drop on cotton ball)

Tuning the Dulcimer

Yesterday was an exciting day. First and foremost, I took my car for a test drive (yes, I bought it without driving it first; as anyone who knows me will testify this is one of my personal peculiarities) and nearly ran it into my house! The brakes locked up on me. I skidded across the driveway and threw up a lot of gravel. I forgot to adjust for the era of the car and pump the brakes (which is how I was taught to drive, by my mother, but my husband had told me not to do that anymore with modern cars). After that we decided to try to fix why it was running so rough (racing, then stumbling nearly to the point of stalling, then racing again) by removing the air filter cans and taking everything out, checking the air filters, and putting them back on. The car was much happier without the cans but you can't leave them off, so when we put them back on it went back to being fussy. So Steve says the next thing to do is to test the fuel line.

After all that excitement, Steve took Natalie to the old fashioned sing-along and ice cream social at the Community House, where they had a great time. I stayed home and watched The African Queen and then tried to teach myself how to play the dulcimer, since it's part of the lesson plans for this week. At Artsfest two years ago, I had decided that it was to be Natalie's first musical instrument (she was fascinated by the display tent and we spent the better part of an hour there) and wrote it as part of her Bridge curriculum when she turns 6. I also recently got a lead on a good horseback riding teacher for children and she lives just up the road from us! But, aside from putting the dulcimer in my bedroom so I would remember to play it, I hadn't done anything with it since I bought it. Last night I got it out for the first time. I tried to tune it on my own, using the music for Hush Little Baby (included in the how-to book) to check and see if it sounded right. I don't know how good of a job I did. It was fun, though. I guess I need to find someone to teach me more about music. My friend Jenn is coming down this week, and bringing her violin so the kids can see her play it up close. I think they will really like that!

Anyway, the plan this week is to study Australia and so we are starting with Susan Whitehead's summer curriculum (from Spiritual Syllabus) called Fire Flower Flamers and the Earthy Men. There is a Morning Song in there that I tried to play for the children this morning. After letting them fool around on the dulcimer for a while, they headed outside to play and I am making lunch. After naps it will be time for the story included in her book, and dress up time. She focuses on dressing up in this book. I'd like to use this week to get out of storage (and mend) our fairy costumes and set up a mirror in their play space and some pegs to hang them.

P.S. You can find video directions on how to tune a dulcimer online. And, if you'd like to buy one, I recommend visiting my friends at Hand Crafted Dulcimers.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


So, the 4th of July celebrations have officially started around here. Friday Steve brought home a box turtle which he found trying to cross the road and we set him up in a bin with some brown paper in the bottom, a dish of water, and a selection of treats which we thought would tempt him. Some black raspberries, some red raspberries, a few cherry tomatoes, and a handful of Swiss chard. He trampled everything and spent all his time trying to climb out of the "cage". I've kept turtles all my life because every 4th of July my community has a box turtle race. Put the turtles in the center of the ring facing outward, let them all go at the same time, and see who crosses the outside line first. Then you take the turtle back to the place where you found him and let him go. "Clipper" was overwhelmed by the noise of the cheering crowd and didn't take more than a few steps. We took him back to where he was found shortly afterwards. It's a nice annual memory for me, keeping a turtle, but Rebecca was scared to death of him and kept trying to climb up my leg every time he moved.

After the community stuff in the morning we came home for lunch and naps, then headed back for the first-ever Concert on the Green. They set up the band on the basketball court (running electricity down from the poolhouse) and we all sat on the hills by the ballfield with picnic dinners and grooved out. There were almost 200 people there! Everyone was saying how great it was and how we should do this more often. The Old Guard like me (having grown up in the community, I'm always saying "we used to do it this way, why don't we do things like that anymore") is usually not in favor of modern new ideas for community events (what ever happened to potlucks, bingo, and square dancing?) but we ALL loved this concert. It was supposed to go on from 5 pm to 7 pm but the crowds were still there talking at 9 o'clock, saying things like, give me your number and I'll call you, we should get together some time. It was a nice way for neighbors to meet neighbors. The band was Alligator Zydeco. Natalie especially loved the woman playing a washboard with spoons. She was itching to get down front and dance and finally found a group of other little kids and ran around and played with them for a long while. Rebecca and I hung out on our picnic blanket and ate food and talked with all the folks that came by to visit. Since I grew up there, people are always coming round to say, are these your kids? I can't believe you have kids. I remember when you were yay-high. And so on. Leah was home sick with a mystery rash that could be 1) an allergic reaction, or 2) Fifth's disease. Take your pick. The doctor said that until we knew which one it was we should keep her home, out of the sunlight, and away from other children. So Steve and Leah stayed home and missed the concert.

In other news, I bought a car. I got the title signed over to me this morning, O historic day! I've always wanted a little vintage car (my only vehicle so far has been a pickup truck, which I bought when I moved to New Mexico) and now I have one. A 1966 MGB convertible. Green with a white top. I'm so excited!!! The first order of business is to have a set of spare keys made (Ilco 62FS key blank) because I'm not the kind of person who can own a car which doesn't have duplicate keys...