Thursday, August 30, 2007

Supporting Academic Work

So this is a new experience for me, supporting Natalie's academic work. She came home on the second day of school having practiced writing her name! I flipped out (silently and internally, of course). She also had made a "sound book" with her teacher for the letters N and M. I called the school first to see if I should be reinforcing this stuff at home or if I should stay out of it -- I've never had to coordinate with a school before -- and they said go ahead. So I got out our LMNOP wall cards (definitely worth buying, I can't emphasize this enough. In fact, skip the alphabet book and get the cards, they are more versatile) and put the ones for N and M up on her wall. For those of you working out your own alphabet, in their list N is Net and M is Mountain. On the cover of Putting the Heart Back into Teaching: A Manual for Junior Primary Teachers by Maher and Bleach, they show N as a needle, which I also really like.

I've recently begun reading Reading Children's Drawings: The Person, House and Tree Motifs by Audrey McAllen and found a new test for whether your child is ready for academic work. She goes into great detail about how physiological processes are revealed in children's drawings and paintings. A word of warning: in order to apply these "tests" to your child and try to analyze the results, you must also have The Extra Lesson: Movement, Drawing and Painting Exercises to Help Children with Difficulties in Writing, Reading and Arithmetic, also by McAllen, as a specific series of movements must be done before the child is asked to "Draw a person, a house, and a tree, adding anything else you'd like." This procedure is also done as a spot check later on when there are concerns that the child might need remedial work (the extra lesson) and, if so, where it should be focused.

The siblings are having a hard time adjusting to Natalie being gone. She was the Queen Bee, the center of their universe. Our family solar system is undergoing readjustment. :-) I know that it will all sort itself out however, and I'm really enjoying our time & getting to know them better.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Post #101

I can't believe I've done 101 posts since I started this blog at my 31st birthday!

Anyway, the "My Body" week is all planned out. We are doing school Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.

Complete booklist:
Seven Times the Sun
A Child's Seasonal Treasury
The Carrot Seed
Children, Clay, and Sculpture
From Head to Toe

Day One
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Movement Game, page 16
Ten Fingers, page 19
Can You?, page 15

introduce Miss Mousie
housework: clean up downstairs living room (school space)

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

hang up sunflower growth chart, mark heights

trace hands outside, play with sidewalk chalk

Day Two
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Can You?, page 15
I Have, page 15
Two Little Blackbirds, page 20
Do You?, page 15

walk on balance beam with beanbags (throwing, catching, balancing on head)

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

plant a carrot seed, place by growth chart
check - are you the same height that you were yesterday?

farm visit

Day Three
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Do You?, page 15
My Hands, page 19
If, page 16

go outside and play in the mud - make footprints, elbow prints, and so on
OR use clay (depending on how sick Leah is)

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

take a bath - bathtub finger paint

This recipe is from Family Fun magazine:
To make the paint, dissolve one envelope of unflavored instant gelatin in 1/4 cup hot water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 3/4 cups cold water in a saucepan, and stir until cloudy and smooth. Cook the cornstarch mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thick. Reduce heat, add the gelatin mixture and 1/4 cup mild, liquid dishwashing soap, and stir until smooth. Let cool.

Divide equal parts of the mixture into small bowls. Add several drops of different food coloring to each (light colors are easier to clean). Store the paints in airtight jars.

Entice your kids to take a bath by letting them finger paint the sides of the tub. The paint contains soap, so it dissolves in water. (Test first to be sure brighter paints won't leave a residue in the tub; most come clean with a powdered cleanser.)

Tiny Brooms

Found a source for tiny brooms. My mouse puppet is 4 inches tall. Google "dollhouse miniatures broom" and you should find 3 inch brooms. There's one on eBay right now.

Apple ideas for September, week 1

songs: "Old Roger Was Dead"

books: The Apple Cake by Nienke Van Hichtum (includes recipe)

projects: Drying Apples - Earthways, page 38
Gingered Applesauce - Nicole Routhier's Fruit Cookbook

verses/movement games from A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Apple Secrets, page 36
Old English Apple Picking, page 41
Golden Apple Tree, page 42
The Apple Tree, page 48

I'd like (not that I'm supposed to be getting so far ahead of myself) to do the 2nd week of September on fallen leaves. At that point we will set up our Nature table for Autumn (Tableau 8 in The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau).

Then maybe a week on chestnuts, acorns, hazelnuts, etc. That would be September, week 3. Also black walnuts. We can gather these from my Aunt Janet's property, just like we did last year.

I love Autumn!

Grains in week 4. Wheat, oats
(We are going to Barbara's Family Harvest Weekend September 28-30 if I can save up the money. It is $110 for adults and $70 for children.)

Corn maybe for October, week 1
Corn mazes. Corn husk dolls.

Root vegetables (I have a wonderful illustration for this from the back cover of a Cook's Illustrated and we can do turnip and rutabaga lanterns)
October, week 2

Gnomes (lovely to make some for the children to play with, also I can introduce the Tiptoes series to Leah) October, week 3

Pumpkins, naturally, for October, week 4

October, week 5 is Halloween

I know I'm getting ahead of myself but I just love the harvest season! It's so much more inspiring to me than Winter, which just drags on and on.

Autumn Arrives

Natalie remarked to me yesterday that Autumn was on its way. I didn't see any signs of it, just an unseasonably cool day, but this morning I'm looking out on the deck and, sure enough, trees are changing colors. I guess she was more in tune with it this year than I was.

N was diagnosed this morning with croup, so she can't go on her classroom visit tomorrow to see her new friends and check out the room now that it is all set up for back to school. Hopefully she won't have to miss the first day on Monday. I've got my fingers crossed!!!

Leah, as it turns out, has walking pneumonia. Her croup settled in and made itself comfortable I guess. We are watching Rebecca. This is why you don't plan for school too far in advance. :-) We'll keep our day one plan but it will be an easy-going week. My idea was to plant our carrot seeds Tuesday, do our farm visit to the CSA, pick something on the you-pick list (the most recent one we picked was Swiss chard). Do body parts -- how people grow. Then look at plants, how they grow. I had been thinking of doing some apple picking and drying the apples (Earthways page 38). We have crabapple trees near us. There are a lot of Waldorf apple ideas and it's a nice autumn connection.

Rebecca doesn't get as much mention in here, I'm realizing. Right now her favorite book is The Snowman. This is a beautiful wordless picture book. (There are other versions of it out there, a board book, an early reader. Get the original, the wordless one.) I had a newsletter for wordless picture books on my website -- I will find it and add it to the Group files.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What is the Easiest Thing in the World?

If the scale is set from 0 to 10,

And falling off a log is 0,

Then I think dry felting must be a 1.

I can't believe how simple it is to make this puppet! I am going to write it all out, so that I have it somewhere. But I can see that this must be the easiest way ever to make finger puppets for teacher use. I wouldn't give them to a child, however, since they are a little bit fragile.

Take a kitchen sponge and cut along the short end a little ways in, making a form which is 1 x 3 1/4 inches. You only have to do this once.

Take your piece of roving and spread it out a little bit with your fingers so that it is the same width as your form. Wrap the piece of roving around the form 1 1/4 times, then secure by lightly needling it to itself.

Take a pipe cleaner and fold it with both ends towards the middle (they will overlap). Twist around itself to form a piece about 4 inches long and with curved folded ends. These will be hands and you don't want them to have sharp edges. This is why you fold the bare metal points towards the center. Take another wide piece of roving and this time tear off thin sections down the length of your roving. Wrap the arm piece firmly, being certain to cover the hands well. Needle to secure. Making the arms out of pipe cleaners means that they can bend and hold things. Suzanne has her own method of dealing with these tricky "hands" -- which are difficult to cover well -- otherwise you have pipe cleaner showing through. She suggests rubbing a tiny flat section of wool between your hands firmly to felt it, then placing it over the pipe cleaner end as a kind of "cap." Bend the ends of the cap down over the wrist area and wrap it with a thin strand of wool to hold it in place, then needle to secure. Some of the other books I have seen suggest wrapping the pipe cleaner with thin wool strands before bending it into the form of hands.

After you have your arms all sorted out, place them around the back of the body so that the hands extend forward. Hold this in place with one hand. Use a long piece of roving to secure -- lay the roving over the entire back of the mouse (at a 90 degree angle to the first piece of roving you placed around the sponge -- this one runs from the mouse's "butt" upwards) covering the pipe cleaner piece and extending way over the top of the head. Let it flop for a minute and needle up the back so your pipe cleaner is firmly in place and cannot move. Go around under and over the shoulders as well. Then roll the loose end of the roving into a head shape, lay it over the top of your form, and attach. Don't worry about the shape of the head for now. Just make sure the roving covers the formerly open top of the body and is secure all around the shoulders and neck.

After your head is roughly in place, do the work to form it according to the animal you wish to create. A mouse has a round head with a triangular snout protruding. There's a good picture of this forward view in the book. A little pink roving at the end of the nose, if you have it, creates a good effect. The shape of the head is the number one thing that makes your animal look realistic so refer to photographs in animal books if need be. The ears attached to the sides help the head look less boxy. Eyes can be beads or wool roving. In this case, the mouse has a tail also attached at the back.

Have fun!

Making a Mouse Puppet

Since my kids are still sound asleep (worn out from this morning's playdate), I am making the mouse finger puppet that I need for our housework verse. I was originally going to knit one but I think that will take more time than it needs to. Plus I don't have any grey yarn. I checked Around the World With Finger Puppet Animals but she didn't have a forward facing mouse pattern. I need a little grey mousie with a checkered apron and a small broom. So I've decided instead of knitting or cutting her out of wool felt, I will try dry felting. Inspired by the pictures in Making Fairy-Tale Wool Animals (although theirs are made with pompoms mine will not be because 1) pompoms take forever, and 2) I need a space for my finger to go), I have grey roving all set out and some grey felt for cutting the ears & tail. You also need small glass beads for the eyes. I have my felting needles I got at Suzanne's workshops (she lets you keep the needles), but you can also buy them online. Another source for needles is to buy a dry felting kit; they always come with one and then you can just keep it. In fact, if you are itching to try needle felting and are starting from scratch, I would recommend stopping by A Child's Dream Come True -- see the link on the left, under my favorite places to shop -- where you can buy all the main supplies (book, roving, felting needles, and wool felt) for this project. I don't know where to find the little broom. We went through this before, making Mrs. Thaw for the nature table, and I ended up using a little doll with a basket of fluffy wool which a friend had made for me. :-) I told Natalie she was carrying all the snow away in her basket.

One more tip: cut a strip off the short end of your sponge (a kitchen sponge is the easiest surface to felt on) and use this as the form around which you felt your puppet. This way you can be sure that you have left a large enough space for your finger.

Life Work

I've had a lot of interesting responses to my decision to take the website down and begin my life again in a different line of work, and then my (partly because I was sad about giving up something that I love, but largely because others were complaining) decision to not leave people hanging and offer myself as a consultant.

One woman wrote to me with the following quote & food for thought: "One person's need does not make another person's life work."

I've been reading a book on co-dependency that says the same thing. If you're the kind of person who defines yourself by what you do for others, and you structure your life so that people always need you, then you end up drained and resentful (even though you're the one who caused the whole thing in the first place), that's co-dependency.

I don't want to be that kind of person. I want to be a light and happy person. I want to be whole and complete within myself. I want to be a good person for my children to be around. I want to be confident and not insecure, so that if someone doesn't like a decision I made, I listen to what they have to say (I don't want to be self-centered or arrogant) but I don't obsess about it or change my mind about my decision so that they are not mad at me. I don't want to be defensive and writing to my Group to explain why my site is down. It's not really any of their business. I'm going through something hard in my life and I can't offer the website any more and it's a sad thing but it's just a thing. I could get killed in a car accident at any time and the website would have gone down and people wouldn't have said mean things about me then... only when they think I'm deliberately trying to screw them out of free resources they were depending on, then they say it. Which is actually kind of a nasty thing to think about me so, in theory, someone who would think that about me isn't a person that I need to be worried about.

Our play date went great. I'd love it if Holly and I could get together every week. She only works on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At first I was thinking there was no way we could get together during the week because Natalie is at school until 3 pm and will be tired afterwards, but I do have TWO other children!!! I don't know why I never think about them. Steve says that it's because I've been so focused on Natalie's school needs that I always plan activities with her in mind. Somehow our house got Natalie-centered. I think it will be really healthy for her to be in school and the spotlight to shine on the other two. Holly's kids are 1 and 4 so even though Natalie met her at summer camp, that doesn't mean her kids have to be exclusively Natalie's friends. We can do playdates with my 2 and 3 year old. Leah is actually closer to Sophia's age than Natalie is! So I will call Holly and see if we can do a regular Wednesday thing. Tuesday is storytime at the library and the farm pickup in the afternoon so that's already pretty full. I can't put the kids into a lot of other activities, like gym class or something because money will be tight. Anyway, I'm not perfect, but if you want to check in with my blog to see what I'm doing with my kids, feel free. And it looks like, at least for the short term, there will be a little ranting along with it. Sorry about that.

My work options right now look like consulting and freelance writing work during naptimes Monday through Friday; Taste of Home Entertaining parties in the evenings; and something for the weekend, I don't know what yet. Our arrangement is that I am moving out but I get to come back from 7 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday to take care of the kids (instead of putting the kids in day care) as long as I can afford to make that work, and make enough money in the remaining hours of the week to pay my bills. I'm really hoping that I don't have to work full-time and put my kids in day care! I have a lead on a cheap car (the MGB was meant to be a fun car and is not reliable enough for a job) and am now looking for a place to stay. But I'm really really grateful to be able to see my kids every day, even if it means that I'll be dirt poor in able to do it. I'd love to still homeschool Leah (I don't think she'll ever have the personality to survive in conventional school) and Rebecca, too, if I can. I'll just enjoy Preschool right now, not sell my Waldorf books unless I really have to, and see what happens.

By the way, two books recommended in the Waldorf world for people who are going through crises in their lives are Tapestries and Soul Weaving by Betty Staley. I have them but haven't yet read them. When I do I'll post a review. Note: If you're entering into biographical work, I recommend starting with this questionnaire which I found on a homeopathic practitioner's website.

Our first day of school Monday will look like this:

Circle Time:
from A Child's Seasonal Treasury
Movement Game, page 16
Ten Fingers, page 19
Can You?, page 15

introduce Miss Mousie finger puppet, housework

Story: The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

Activity: hang up sunflower growth chart, mark heights
trace hands outside, play with sidewalk chalk

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More Verses

I've decided to make a list in the Notes section of my planbook of the verses and songs that will consistent from day to day, throughout the week. This is my to-learn list when I'm prepping in advance, and it is something I can refer to each day during my lessons, as to how I had planned to do the transitions. We can work on learning the daily routine slowly. Then each week I will write in the Notes for that week what new verses and songs I'd like to introduce (like I said before, don't be too hard on yourself if you don't have a long list of transition stuff memorized. It's better to take it slowly, anyway, or you'll overload your kids instead of creating rhythm. It has to feel natural and "of the moment".)

As far as how I will set up the lesson planning part of the book, the top section for each day is for Circle Time (the fingerplays and so on) and the bottom section is where I will indicate our Story and our Activity for the day (baking, making a craft project, etc.)

From Seven Times the Sun, besides "Good Morning to You" (on the pentatonic xylophone), I am learning "The Cave of Mum" (on the drum).

From A Child's Seasonal Treasury, I will introduce the following next week

greeting (at circle time): Morning, page 13

verse for doing housework: Cleaning Up, page 9 (for this I need to make a mouse finger puppet)

verse for putting toys away: It's Time, page 9 (rhythm sticks)

verse for washing hands: Shimmering Sea, page 9

So that it my list of 6 things to memorize in preparation for next week. Hurrah!

As far as bedtime verses go, I recommend Eurythmy for the Young Child (this is also a great source for circle time stories & movement). When Natalie was doing Preschool I had her learn the following verse

Safe I am, safe I'll be
Protected by my angel

Baking Brownies

Sunday Steve took the children down to the sidewalk chalk-a-thon (we couldn't do it before because it was raining) where they had a blast; then after naps he and they made brownies from No Pudge Raspberry Fudge Brownie Mix. Just add vanilla yogurt. They're really dense but delicious. My MIL came over and visited with the children and I showed her the Nienhuis Montessori Classroom Materials catalogue so she could get an idea of what Natalie was going to be doing in school this year. She asked me if Natalie would be "behind" since she's never been to school before? If she would know less than the other children or if I had kept her up to date with what she should have been learning? That made me so angry. (And then, when she was watching the children shred cheese for the dinner recipe, she said to me approvingly "They really love this stuff." And I'm like, yeah, no kidding. This is what you do in preschool. Preschool at my house. Preschools all around the world.)

She always said before that she supported the Waldorf & homeschooling thing, even if she didn't understand it, but I think she was lying. Because she is all over this "real" school thing. She is buying things that the teacher needs for the classroom (having read the list on the fridge) even though I already bought them, and she asked if they need other things too that aren't on the list, like hand sanitizer and Kleenex. I suppose that people often go through this, fighting with their family to get them to support homeschooling, just to find that the support was only out of one side of their mouths. My mother and father too have leaped on me to say that "real" school is better and homeschooling is never a good idea. My mother because she says mothers need a break from their children (maybe she did) and my father because he says that homeschooled children are smart but odd and just don't fit in (of course, I was sent to school and I was always the poster child for smart and didn't fit in). Anyway, I am finding a lot of emotions surrounding school for N... I know her inside and out and I know that this year is the best possible thing for her. It meets her needs in a way I simply cannot right now. But the weird thing when people say stuff like that to me about HS is that I'm still homeschooling Leah and Rebecca! My table is covered with the books from the preschool booklist, and I'm learning songs on my xylophone, getting ready for school. So all these people tell me that homeschooling is awful, right to my face (which apparently they feel comfortable doing since I'm not doing it anymore), but don't they realize that I'm still homeschooling the other two? And so they are being extremely rude? I guess very few people believe that 2 and 3 year old children are better served by being in daycare and away from Mom, so maybe that's why they are saying what they're saying. That keeping L and B home is OK because it's not really valid to have them in school anyway, whereas N is eligible for school and they feel I would have been doing her a huge disservice by keeping her home.


Anyway, what I meant to put in this post is that Steve has been spending a tremendous amount of time with the kids lately and it has been going great. He has stopped coming to me when a kid misbehaves and saying, what do I do? I guess some time on the front lines has given him some confidence. And they are treating him better too. Yesterday and this morning while I was at PT, he played outside with them in the mud and puddles (my children love their rainboots!), showed them how to throw a Frisbee, and watched Natalie do endless loops around the concrete pad in front of our house with her new bicycle, always enthusiastic. Then inside they did a bunch of games (stringing beads, insect dominoes, pandabo, dwarves and dice), got out the balance beam, and cooked in the play kitchen.

Tomorrow we have a Play Date. I'm so excited! It has been a long time since I've met a mom and child at a community activity and we've actually arranged to get together. The last time was before I got pregnant with Rebecca, and I found a friend at Natalie's music class. The she and I both moved and we ended up too far apart to keep getting together. This time Natalie picked a little girl at her summer camp that she really liked and the mother and I talked and agreed to get together. So we are meeting at the park tomorrow morning and they are coming to our house for lunch.

Next Monday I am beginning school for the new year with Leah and Rebecca. I promise to post what we'll be doing. I am feeling guilty because I don't feel up to all the movement games recommended in The Breathing Circle for circle time (she recommends a really long series of verses) -- I really want to do something simple like a morning verse, blessing at breakfast, kids help clear the table and load the dishwasher, they play together for a bit, we do a small circle with some fingerplays and songs, then a story/puppetry, an activity, then wash hands, snack, and outside play time, then lunch. I guess that's an OK basic plan.

Our morning verse will be

Good morning, dear Earth
Good morning, dear Sun
Good morning, dear birds and beasts every one
Good morning, dear flowers
Good morning, dear trees
Good morning to you
And good morning to me!

There's also a song I really like in Seven Times the Sun called Good Morning to You which I've learned to play on the xylophone and thought we'd use it to start our circle time.

My favorite blessing is

Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth, Dear Sun, by you we live
All our thanks to you we give

I also really like the Johnny Appleseed blessing, which Barbara used to sing at our communal meals at the conferences.

Oh, the Lord's been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the apple seed;
Oh, the Lord's been good to me.

Oh, and every seed I sow
Will grow into a tree.
And someday there'll be apples there
For everyone in the world to share.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.

When I taught in New Mexico, the Navajo children wrote this blessing, which is always the one I use when I'm asked to do grace at someone else's table, because it is so simple and lovely:

Thank you for my food. Amen.

As far as what to do on Day One, I found the Sunflower Growth Chart which a friend gave us several years ago (and never got opened), so I thought I'd do a growing story, hang up the chart in our downstairs living room where I want to do school (my job this week is to clean that room out and move stuff to storage), mark the heights of the children, and to plant some seeds in a pot next to the chart. We can see how the plant grows as opposed to how we grow. Rebecca's favorite book right now is The Carrot Seed so that's what made me think of it. Actually, my first-ever preschool unit, which I did at Smith College, was on how plants grow and my copy of this book was the one my teacher mentors gave me on my last day. :-) Then maybe we can move into doing some body part stuff. Like using our elbows to make marks in clay, tracing our feet, learning songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and so on. I'd like to keep it flexible and not plan more than 2 days out.

I know know know that the only "theme" Waldorf teachers do in "real" preschools is the seasons. And I love the rhythms of the seasons as much as the next person. But I want to do more than that! I had a woman write to me one time to say I should call my work "Rhodorf". :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Peach Festival

Yesterday was the Peach Festival at the church. I scored big at the yard sale tables! First I found a 18 x 24 inch Strathmore drawing pad, which I snagged for Natalie for 50 cents. She's REALLY into drawing right now and spends every naptime with her blank sketchpads and tin of colored pencils. Next I found a must-own book for every family: Juggling for the Complete Klutz. :-) I bartered that down to a nickel! Even though Natalie is going off to school, there are still a lot of things that I want her to be doing at this age which I'm not sure they are going to cover. Things like skipping rope and learning to ride a bike (more about that later), horseback riding lessons, watercolor painting, juggling, and so on.

And then we hit the mother lode. A bike for $2.00. Natalie, Leah, and Rebecca have never owned a bike or a trike. They've ridden on tricycles when visiting friends and it was on my wish list but not that high up... just an idle thought. However I had a friend insist to me that every kid should have a bike and so when I saw this one I called Steve over to it to see if it was the right size for her. It was. And we happened to have a box of child safety helmets at home (I didn't know this, Steve said it was left in the garage when we bought the house) as well as a set of training wheels. So two dollars later, and some air in the tires, Natalie was wheeling around on her new pink bike with a pink and purple helmet.

Add that to the library card from Friday and I can hardly believe it. She's not a baby anymore -- I knew that -- but she's not a little kid either. She's a big kid!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Doll Clothing Patterns

My mom just called me to say that the Magic Cabin doll patterns also include patterns for 5 pieces of clothing (doll and clothing patterns together cost about $8) and she's going to go ahead and order them and make Natalie's Christmas doll clothes. That means we will just be buying her a doll suitcase to store them in! Thanks, Mom. That saves us some money and the clothes will mean a lot more to Natalie if my mom makes them. She made all the clothes for my dolls when I was little and I still have a lot of them. Winter coats and hats, nightgowns, dresses, overalls and button front shirts, the whole lot. It's nice to pass traditions like that down. She made all my Halloween costumes, too. I remember being Ozma of Oz, Glenda the Good, the Tooth Fairy (with a little pink gingham bag with the word TEETH cross-stitched on the front -- and it really had my baby teeth in it too!), a Luna Moth the year my brother was a Monarch Butterfly...

4-Piece Nesting Suitcase Set

Preschool Booklist In Order

Here's the list again, in order, and with what I used each book for when I was getting organized. They are all wonderfully rich resources, and could be used in an infinite variety of ways, but here is how I progressed through them (and, bear in mind, I am using the books to refresh instead of to introduce concepts, otherwise Toymaking with Children -- how to set up the playroom and which toys are appropriate for which ages -- would be much higher).

1. Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children From Birth to Seven by Barbara J. Patterson & Pamela Bradley
Stages of child development

2. The Breathing Circle: Learning Through the Movement of the Natural Breath by Nell Smyth
School day schedule

3. A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones

4. Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day by Shea Darian

5. The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle by M v Leeuwen & J Moeskops
Setting up the nature table

6. Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller
Watercolor painting

7. Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash
Craft projects

8. All Year Round by Ann Druitt, et al.

9. Children at Play: Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development by Heidi Britz-Crecelius

10. Eurythmy for the Young Child: A Guide for Parents and Teachers by Estelle Bryer

11. Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke

12. Festivals Family and Food by Diana Carey & Judy Large

Finding Songs

Although there are songs in several of the books in the Preschool Booklist, my suggestion would be to start with Seven Times the Sun when planning your schooltime.

Chapters here include verses, songs, stories, and rituals for the following:

celebrating morning
celebrating mealtime
celebrating play
celebrating work
celebrating quiet
celebrating healing
celebrating bedtime
celebrating weekend and family time
celebrating personal renewal (for parents only)
celebrating peacemaking

I'm going back and updating the booklist with numbers indicating the order I've gone back and reread these, in preparation for this school year. I know it can be overwhelming to know where and how to begin.

Natalie's First Library Card!

We just reached a big milestone here -- Natalie got her very first library card! The woman at the front desk wasn't sure what to do with the request (a parent signs off on being responsible for the fines on any child under 16 but there was no minimum age requirement listed on the form) but I told her that Natalie's school requires her to have her own card. Which is true. So they set her up with one, and she "signed" the form with a scribble and got the talk about how she was responsible for the books, and they gave her a little purple wallet to keep it in. She was tickled pink and I was thrilled to see her so happy. Natalie's teacher requests that she check out three books per week and I let her pick her own. Here are the first three books she checked out on her new card:

Miss Mouse's Day by Jan Ormerod

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

Ponies (an All Aboard early reader book) by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso

I can't believe how big my kids are getting!!!!!!

What to Plan

Using the schedule I just laid out, that means that my daily planning each day would consist of learning/preparing for the following:

Song to introduce circle time
Movement Verses for circle time
Song for clean up time
Creative Activity
Song for handwashing before snack
Blessing for snack
Verse for closure
Goodbye song

Lots of these you only have to prep once. You don't start from scratch every morning. The songs, once you pick them, stay the same for months at a time. And the story is usually done over and over throughout the week. The Creative Activity is really the only thing that gets prepped each day (and what you'll have for snack).

As a really super-Waldorfy parent you also have a ton of verses up your sleeve for transitions all throughout other parts of the day: for waking up, for going to sleep, for when someone falls down and skins a knee, for when you are walking in the forest and see a little bird, etc. If you're new to Waldorf and despairing of ever memorizing all this stuff, don't be too hard on yourself. The task of memorizing everything can seem really intimidating but if you take it a little bit at a time you learn to memorize fairly quickly. Reading it right before you go to sleep really helps a lot.

2 Sample Schedules

Preschool Booklist:

Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day by Shea Darian (4)

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children From Birth to Seven by Barbara J. Patterson & Pamela Bradley (1)

Eurythmy for the Young Child: A Guide for Parents and Teachers by Estelle Bryer (10)

The Breathing Circle: Learning Through the Movement of the Natural Breath by Nell Smyth (2)

Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller (6)

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle by M v Leeuwen & J Moeskops (5)

Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash (7)

Festivals Family and Food by Diana Carey & Judy Large (12)

Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke (11)

Children at Play: Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development by Heidi Britz-Crecelius (9)

All Year Round by Ann Druitt, et al. (8)

A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones (3)

This is the list of 12 essential books I had posted on my site as my recommendations for the preschool homeschool family. And that is me! So in getting ready for the upcoming year I pulled it back out and I'd like to restrict myself as much as possible to the books on this list. In my experience, if you have too many books you end up using none of them and you are actually completely adrift. I think a dozen is a good number.

Turning to the first point, which is the daily rhythm, we will have time to ourselves from 7:30 am (when the children get up) to 2:30 pm (when we leave to pick up Natalie from kindergarten). Steve is taking Natalie to school in the mornings for their special time. I had just Leah and Rebecca in the mornings all week but didn't really do a lot with them -- I kept waiting for the afternoons to do family things. I guess I felt like it wasn't fair to Natalie to leave her out. This morning I realized that Natalie is off at camp having a grand time and it's actually not fair to the other two to have us sit at home all morning. So we headed off to Jug Bay and walked through the marshlands. It was really really nice. And for the first time I got a sense of how wonderful it is to just focus on the two of them and get to know their personalities better. Leah is really surprising me right now. She's asking a lot of probing questions about things like what happens to animals after they die and how babies get out of their mommies. Today she sprang "Where do camels live?" on me; she also remarked that if you have only one foot you have to hop everywhere. The book on her bedside table is Poems and Prayers for the Very Young and her favorite album right now is Masterpieces by Ellington!

Anyway, back to the question of schedules. I have two samples in this Booklist (both from parent-child classes, which is what is done with children the age I have). The first is from Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, "Parent-Child Classes with Barbara" chapter, pages 135-139).

9:45 am - morning circle
10 am - creative play for children
(activities for parents might include snack preparation, crafts and work projects as well as periodically baking and painting with the children)
10:30 am - snack
11 am - clean up
11:15 am - puppet show
11:30 am - goodbye circle

work projects: mending cloths, sanding, repairing toys, washing placemats, sweeping, dusting, polishing tables, and ironing

Turning to The Breathing Circle, we find a chapter called "Creating the Space", pages 30-40.

20-30 minutes of free play
a song or simple melody played on a flute or lyre - gather at center of room
movement verses
quiet reflection
circle story verse
clean up song - clean up toys, place in baskets at side of room
a new song indicates that the story is soon to follow and that the space for that story is to be established - a few very simple props indicate the scene, a candle is lit, and the mood is set
children help to blow out candle, move to creative activity
(this could be a drawing activity, painting, working with felt, baking, candle decorating, making lavender bags or any other seasonal activities with a thematic link to the story you told)
after cleaning up the previous activity, the children may very well be hungry - a song for washing hands and preparing to eat
a simple circle verse to bring gentle closure
goodbye song

You can see that The Breathing Circle is much more detailed (and FULL of movement verses that you can use in your circles) in its description of how to create a good flow of activities with the children. So between the two we will veer towards that one. Assuming that breakfast is at 7:30, we have from 8 am to 11 am for "school" time, then lunch at 11 am and naps from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. I'd like certain days of the week to be for certain things, such as painting on Monday, farm visit on Tuesday, playground or park on Wednesday, eurythmy on Thursday, and baking on Friday.

School being three hours from 8 am to 11 am, that gives us (roughly)

    8 am 20-30 minutes of free play (inside)

    8:25 am a song or simple melody played on a flute or lyre - gather at center of room
    movement verses
    quiet reflection
    circle story verse

    8:50 am clean up song - clean up toys, place in baskets at side of room

    9 am a new song indicates that the story is soon to follow and that the space for that story is to be established - a few very simple props indicate the scene, a candle is lit, and the mood is set

    9:20 am children help to blow out candle, move to creative activity
    (this could be a drawing activity, painting, working with felt, baking, candle decorating, making lavender bags or any other seasonal activities with a thematic link to the story you told)

    9:50 am clean up time

    10 am after cleaning up the previous activity, the children may very well be hungry - a song for washing hands and preparing to eat

    10:20 am outside play time

    11 am a simple circle verse to bring gentle closure
    goodbye song

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heart Disease

Note: Don't read this if you're also having a bad day and don't want to listen to someone else ranting. I'm not a wellspring of positive energy at the moment.

Studies show that holding on to stress, anger, and depression, instead of having the skills to self-soothe and let things go, leads to higher rates of heart disease. In other words, I'm killing myself by being nasty and negative. Great. Something else to feel guilty about -- that it's not healthy to feel guilty all the time! Something else to not let go off -- the fact that I have a hard time letting go of things! Am I the only one who is wondering why nothing in the world makes sense???

I don't know if blogging makes stress worse or better. On the one hand, if you write it down you've taken it out of your mind and put it on paper. This is why journaling is supposed to be healthy according to therapists. On the other hand, people like me who revisit their blog posts are, I'm guessing, continually reliving the feelings each time and therefore not letting them go.

I don't have very good self-soothing skills. In fact I'm currently an emotional wreck. So if you don't have anything nice to say to me, please don't write to me at all. It is not my responsibility to provide the world with free advice. If you would like to help me stay home with my kids by hiring me as a consultant, I am happy to share all the resources in my computer, in my library, and in my heart and mind.

And to those of you who have taken the time to write to me personally with your support -- THANK YOU.

By the way, I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who is struggling with stress, so here is a wonderful book:

I also try taking walks (being out of the house does wonders for me), dancing, singing, even doing housework (especially repetitive things like scrubbing the floor and folding laundry) for combating stress.

I cheerfully recommend the Yoga Booty Ballet workouts but I realize that buying DVDs to work out with isn't for everyone. However, I feel much less stressed on days when I take the time to exercise with these tapes.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my personal little dark corner of the world.

I'm going outside to color with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk Chalk-a-Thon

This afternoon I am taking the children to the Sidewalk Chalk-a-Thon at Annmarie Garden. That should be so much fun!

Tomorrow our afternoon activities will be getting Natalie her own library card (required for school) and visiting the local dog park. We keep driving past the dog park on our way to Natalie's camp, and she has asked over and over if we can take Toby there. So tomorrow is the day for that.

Saturday our church is having a Peach Festival; it is also the day of a local book sale so of course I have to hit that! This weekend Steve is getting a new car. He was approached by someone who wants to swap his 1966 Mustang for Steve's whatever-year-it-is old BMW. I am really excited to have the Mustang at our house. It would be really cool if we could have all our cars be from the same year! Except they didn't make minivans in 1966. So they are trading cars sometime soon, I think it is this weekend. Then Monday I have an interview to be on the admissions desk at a local museum. This would be a weekend position, something I can do and still take care of the kids during the week. We have a storm kicking up here so I have to turn off the computer. Leah is unloading the dishwasher, after having spent all morning playing in a huge box with her silks. Rebecca is taking a nap. Natalie is at camp. I am making peppers stuffed with bulgur, tomatoes, and pine nuts for lunch. Just another day...

I hope that I'm able to do preschool with L and B this year. I'd love to be able to post actual teaching ideas here instead of just random musings. :-) No matter what happens, I will be able to write about Old Testament Stories throughout this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I just posted this to my Group but I'll put it here as well:

Where to find resources

As many of you know, the website is up for sale. This is due to an unpleasant personal situation. I know that we are nearing the beginning of a new school year, so for people who were planning on using the site to prep for the next year and are feeling a bit adrift, I would like to once again offer a Consulting Service ($25 initial consultation, then $20 a month if you would like it to be ongoing). Please contact me personally, ie. off list, if this is something you're interested in.

There's also Barbara Dewey and some other folks who do consulting. Maybe we can compile a list if people have recommendations.

You can also, of course, use the Group for free advice. :-)

Remember that Kelly has just started up a Group to exchange Waldorf teaching tidbits, so that's also a new resource on the horizon.


Sigg Water Bottles


I am spending a lot of time online today. What with updating my resume and puttering around waiting for the school to call me back, I am pretty much an unstoppable blogging force right now. :-) Of course, this will all come to an abrupt halt when my kids get up from their naps.

My current "oh that's right, I was going to look for that next time I was online" thing is stainless steel water bottles. You probably all know that you aren't supposed to drink from plastic bottles that have been out in the hot sun. And I finally, reluctantly, converted to drinking tap water out of a Brita pitcher instead of buying Deer Park bottled water because of the environmental reasons (trucking water all around the country is a huge waste of fossil fuels) but I really missed having the bottles around, simply for the convenience. I hate having an open mug of water in my car; it always seems to get little bugs in it. Enter the stainless steel water bottle. I'm about to buy myself a 1 liter and each child a 0.6 liter. Sigg makes the best quality, and they're available in so many designs that each member of the family can easily have a unique bottle. They also sell a bottle cleaning brush (some designs can't go in the dishwasher -- the kid ones can). The best price is on Amazon but if you want to see a complete list of the designs and what they look like, the Sigg website is your best bet.

Natalie is required to bring a water bottle to school so I guess it's time for me to start ordering them. She has a looong list of stuff... cloth napkins for snack time, a 4 x 6 baby photo and a 4 x 6 family photo for her personal album plus four rolls of film, a houseplant for the classroom, and so on. We'll be spending a fortune!

UPS and Fed-Ex

Two men just came to my house, one after the other. The first brought my new Year Round Preschool Lesson Planner for Leah and Rebecca and the second brought gifts from Aunt Jenn for Natalie -- a new backpack and lunchbox!

I love this Teacher Created Resources lesson planner for preschool because, first of all, it's huge. It has space for an entire 12 month year, which is a boon for homeschoolers. And it has only two sections in each daily column, with a line in between which can be for before nap and after nap, or before snack and after snack, or however you end up dividing up your day. Or it can be child A and child B. There are columns for Monday through Friday and then one for Notes which can either be for notes or for writing down your weekend stuff. We have decided (assuming I'm doing school for the two younger kids this year and not getting a full-time job, which is up in the air) that the younger children will use the same school schedule as Natalie. Before we took holidays whenever we felt like it but I've heard that some homeschool families use the county school calendar as their school calendar, and that made sense to me. So we will all follow along with Natalie. That means the first day of Preschool for my two littlies this year is August 27th.

Natalie is pleased as punch about her new pink backpack with Natalie embroidered on it. I had her call Jenn to say thank you. And, Jenn, if you're reading this, I say Thank You too! :-)

"Cows and Maybe One Pig"

This is what Leah told me when I asked what she wanted the theme of her birthday party to be this year. Luckily for me (who is absolutely obsessed about finding birthday ring ornaments which match the theme of the party), Nova Natural has a pig ornament.

Pin the tail on the cow, for sure.

What else?

I posted to Sunshower Kisses (a Yahoo group which specializes in party ideas and non-disposable party goods) so we'll see what those creative gals have to say. Then I'll come back and put all the ideas in here so that they are all in one place.

Upcoming Birthdays

I discovered a new toy store in the area when I was on my way home from the physical therapist. I quickly got two Curious George birthday cards (happy 3 for my nephew Tommy and happy 4 for Leah) as well as Leah's birthday presents for this year: the Goodnight Moon board game (essentially Lotto, there's no reading or counting) and a wonderful new collection of children's poetry illustrated by Polly Dunbar (of Dog Blue fame): Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry.

For Tommy I just ordered the Cookie Paint Box kit (Bright). He already has a TON of toys, books, and clothes, so I thought one-on-one time with Mom doing something special would be the perfect present. Especially since he is the middle child. Hopefully they will really enjoy baking and decorating cookies together! The kit is on sale for $11.99 so that plus shipping is still below the $20 limit Steve set me for this gift.

I'm really on a roll this year!

Now, watch, I'll do something stupid like forget to plan Leah's party this year because I have it in my head as being all taken care of in advance. :-)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Useful Links

The doll mending project of yesterday went beautifully, so now I am looking around for the next thing to fix. :-) Rebecca, by the way, did fracture her collarbone. We have had a hard time keeping her sisters from hurting her (just by hugging her, pulling on her arm, or climbing on her) because they forget that she's hurt. Apparently these things heal pretty quickly however.

I found a great page of useful links put together by the folks at Kinder Dolls. Many of the businesses I had never heard of before. Check them out -- maybe you'll find some new favorites!

I've got my Christmas list going for the kids. Because of the Divorce I think money will be tight and probably all the grown-ups I know will be getting food gifts. But I made up the Christmas list for the kids early so that I can take the next few months to save up. I'm putting it here so I don't forget:

for each child - Tambourine

for Natalie - Dolly Wardrobe in a Suitcase Extravaganza, size large

for Leah - Doorway Theater and Animal Puppets set

for Rebecca - Sweet Dreams Pillow (light blue), plus

My list of Summertime Treats I was hoping to get the kids this year includes the Dragon Tire Swing, the Sack Race game, and the Mermaid Kits... but I guess that stuff will have to wait. That's OK -- it won't kill me (or them) to wait. Builds character. :-)

Actually, if you look at the Christmas gift list, I can make most of it by hand if I get organized in advance and have enough time. We'll make that a goal! Maybe instead of mending things I will switch gears and start working on Christmas presents.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Next Up: Mon Ange Dolls

The next thing on my mending pile is a beautiful doll made by Sharon Jennings of Mon Ange Dolls. She used to sell her dolls on eBay in addition to locally (in California) but now I believe she is only local. She also does dollmaking sessions at Rahima's conferences in California. (By the way, we have Waldorf dolls from three makers: Mon Ange, Over the Rainbow, and Bamboletta. Our Bamboletta doll has not needed any mending except sewing back on some hair -- where it was pulled out by my daughter. All three makers have excellent quality.) Our first three Waldorf dolls were from Sharon. I got them off of eBay. I was so excited to have real Waldorf dolls in my house! They've fared extremely well over the past three years. The only reason I have to do a repair on one doll is that Sharon felted a cashmere sweater to make her clothing and the cashmere is not holding up to wear and tear during playtime as well as pure wool felt does. So I looked through my stash of wool sweaters (gathered from the Salvation Army last winter) and found one with matching colors to the existing dress piece and it is currently in the washing machine on Hot, being felted, and I will cut out a new pair of pants and a new hat from it.

1 Cashew, 2 Cashew

Rebecca is such an amazing little girl. She's 2 1/2 and I sent her to Connecticut having not even begun potty training... and she came back from Connecticut completely potty trained! I don't know how Steve and Jenn did it. And in just a few days, too, to hear them tell it. Apparently it was a one cookie for pee, two cookie for poop method with no yelling, just positive reinforcement (I had asked Steve to take over this one since I had a terrible time potty training the other two and it was a bad experience for all involved). They said that on day one she had accidents all day long, decided she didn't like having accidents, and from then on she was 100% dry including at nighttime! With the exception of one time when she was scared by a dog, which I can understand. I have never seen a 2 year old who can stay dry at night. We switched from cookies to cashews when the cookies ran out (and she was getting tired of them) so this morning I have an adorable chubby little girl on the potty saying, very determinedly, "I get two cashews for pooping in the potty." And she did! What a good girl. I just can't get over it.

Today I am starting to get some stuff done around the house and I decided first to tackle the mending pile. One thing I have to say for natural toys is that you can actually mend them yourself instead of throwing them away, which is basically what you have to do for plastic. Today I mended one of our felt crowns which had been torn. It was one Kelly O'Neil made for me. :-) She put a cute little felt heart embellishment on it and the heart got a hole in it but the crown was fine. So I searched in my felt box, found a scrap, cut out a new heart shape (luckily I have a ton of heart stencils in all different sizes from Valentine's Day) and sewed it on. One of my favorite possessions is a collection of vintage Belding Corticelli thread which I inherited from my Aunty when she died. I have them all arranged by number and they are so pretty to look at. It always makes me happy when I can use some of her thread for a project. It's like I make a little connection with her -- really heart warming. Next I will mend a Waldorf doll which we got from Australia (from Over the Rainbow Waldorf Toys). It is a beautiful small Honey Bun doll with thread joints and my kids are always breaking the joints. I would say, from my own experience, that these dolls are best for ages 5 and up. There are directions for this type of doll in Making Waldorf Dolls if you need to mend one (or make your own!) I am using Barbour's 3 cord 100% linen thread (also vintage -- it's very thick & strong) and a 5 inch dollmaking needle from Magic Cabin.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cooking Up a Storm

So I've been flat on my back with disk problems and after Wednesday (which I tried to handle by myself, very unsuccessfully) I've had help in to assist me with the kids. They have mostly read stories, colored, played outside, played inside, and cooked. Sutton came on Thursday and the children and he made a Sesame Carrot Salad. When Steve came home that night the children helped him make dinner -- baked chicken breasts with Orange Avocado Salsa. They are getting to bed noticeably later in the evenings, helping out with so much cooking. It pushes the meals back about 2 hours. They really enjoy it though. Friday Steve took off from work the whole day and they made Broccoli Calzones for lunch. For dinner they made roasted chicken and mashed potatoes with goat cheese (using the blue potatoes we got in our farm share, which have a unique flavor that blended really well with the cheese) along with carrots and peas. Today they whipped up a Florentine Dip for Raw Vegetables, cut up some yellow squash into spears and are out the door and headed to an End of the Summer Luau at the Pool. My whole family will be there and I am here -- at home -- about to dive into a 24 hour Doris Day marathon on TCM.

My website is offline and the domain name is for sale. For those who are interested in my units please contact me directly. Otherwise, the Yahoo Group is still up and running and able to share ideas. I found one today, actually, in the back of the new Tiptoes book that arrived. Reg Down's site contains a play for 5th grade called "King Sangara's Horse" (ancient India). He also has several short stories for different ages. If you love Tiptoes, check it out! All are set up to download as a pdf straight to your computer.

Next week Natalie is in her final summer camp of the year (Stories from Nature) and the younger children and I will have a taste of what it will be like to hang out in the mornings and do stuff just the 3 of us. I'm looking forward to spending more one on one time with each. I hadn't realized how much time I had spent stressing about meeting Natalie's needs until we took it off my plate and handed it to Miss Suzanne. I'm very grateful that we found out about the school and that they had an opening so close to the beginning of the school year. Now, if I could only get that RV... while laying in bed with my head spinning round and round, I've gotten my heart set on a vintage diesel bus --> RV conversion. There are some really nice ones out there and one I loved just slipped by me on eBay. It was an old Greyhound bus from the fifties. So cool! (I think there's a hippie streak in me somewhere. I was definitely born in the wrong decade.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

24 Little Hours

What a difference a day makes...

Yesterday my kids had yet to come home from Connecticut, I was super-excited to see them and completely high on the possibilities of next school year.

Today (prepare yourself...) Natalie is signed up for kindergarten at a nearby private school! She wasn't thriving at home and it's my job to make sure that she gets what she needs (in this case, an introduction to academic work, more structure in the daily routine, and more social time with kids her own age) and not to stick to my pride and insist "We will homeschool no matter what." Natalie matters a lot more than I do. It's a very good Montessori-based school which we absolutely loved when we visited -- and they are no strangers to Waldorf either. The teacher was telling me that she read Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children over the summer so we were able to chat a bit about the similarities and differences between the two philosophies. And they are not pure Montessori, they wrote their own curriculum, drawing from a variety of sources.

After the visit to the school, Steve and the kids dropped me off at the physical therapist where I found out that my (I thought minor) injury from the long car trip back from Ohio is, in fact, another disk bulge! This one between C6 and C7. So my back appears to be degenerating faster than I had thought. This means more weeks of physical therapy and it will make it hard for me to be on the computer as much as I wanted to -- and I can't drive at all, so no errands, no working, no nuthin'. Actually, people who visit my website know that I was in the process of moving the curriculum units to a subscription-locked part of the site because operating it by donations only was not working out. It will be hard to be on the computer working on that transition but it's imperative.

However, good news in the "Back to Waldorf - How Did We Ever Get So Far Away?" department, which is that now I can focus all my attention schoolwise on Leah and Rebecca (2 and 3 years old) with whom we will definitely be Waldorfing it up. And that means more Waldorf-specific content in the blog. Also I'm doing the Sunday School thing which is very Waldorf, so no more Montessori curriculum comments -- which should make some readers happy. :-)

Last but not least, at this very moment Rebecca and Steve are on their way to Urgent Care After Hours because we suspect she may have fractured her collarbone when she fell out of the high chair. So my idyllic moments of sitting around bored waiting for my family to come home have all been shattered, and now it's back into full-time parenting mode. All in 24 little hours...

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Mouths of Babes

You know that saying, out of the mouths of babes? Natalie was coloring in her blank notebook the other day with a set of colored pencils and she tried to make a mark with a white pencil (she's been trying this a lot lately, seeing what the white ones will make a mark on, making patches of dark colors first with another pencil and then trying to layer the white on top). Suddenly she holds the white pencil up in the air, looks at it, and remarks thoughtfully: "They should stop making the white ones."

And I thought to myself, you know... she's right. :-) Who ever uses the white pencils?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Great Artists

What to study here??? I knew when I began this unit that I was going to rely heavily on MaryAnn Kohl's Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters, but I wasn't sure if I should also include storybook artists in our discussion. I decided against it but if you're looking for a resource for that I highly recommend her book Storybook Art: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of 100 Great Picture Book Illustrators. They are both excellent but I decided to stick with only one instead of going back and forth.

My field trip for this unit is on Day One instead of being cumulative since I think Natalie will benefit from seeing an art gallery with real art in it before she begins to learn about these artists from reproductions of their work. I want her to understand that the books and notecards we have are NOT the real original work. After giving it much thought, here is the list of artists we'll be doing:

Week One
Introductory Field Trip
Mary Cassatt
Claude Monet
Georges-Pierre Seurat
Vincent Van Gogh
Edgar Degas

Week Two
Wassily Kandinsky
Alexander Calder
Diego Rivera
Marcel Duchamp
Jackson Pollock

Week One is Impressionists and Post-Impressionists and Week Two is Modern Art.

Reg Down

Reg Down is a real sweetheart (he contacted me after publishing Big-Stamp Two-Toes the Barefoot Giant because he found I had recommended it on my blog and wanted to thank me) so I am happy to say that he has a new book in the Tiptoes series out. My daughter LOVES these books and they are suitable for children in kindy and grade 1. This newest book, the 4th in the series, is called The Magic Knot & Other Tangles! and my respect for his work allows me to recommend it completely without hesitation, sight unseen. Enjoy!

He also has a wonderful eurythymy book (the Tiptoes stories arose from his eurythmy work in the classroom) called Leaving Room for the Angels: Eurythmy and the Art of Teaching.

School Year Planning

I just found a great website of selected -- not comprehensive -- religious holidays from around the world & throughout history, organized by each month; it is called School of the Seasons (they also have a seasonal living blog which you can sign up for). The pages I've linked to below are a few years old but are still very helpful. Our S.S. year will run from September 9th to May 25th and I am making notes of the holidays before I plan the lesson content. For example, the first day of school is also Grandparents Day, which gives me ideas for our first project and a way to break the ice. Here are the monthly holiday links (look at the bottom of each page for a link to page 2):


This information is helpful if you are doing a year-round study of the Saints in Grade 2 and, since things on the internet often disappear, I would recommend printing the pages out even if your child is far away from second grade.

Another helpful link I want to remember is for free sitecrawler software (which looks for spelling errors and broken links) so I am also putting it here: Inspyder InSite 1.4.1.

After I make a list of holidays I am working content around, I'll plan a draft of the school year, eat lunch, stretch, and it's on to planning Great Artists for Natalie!

Old Testament Studies

A standard 3rd grade block in Waldorf, there is a ton of material for this out there. I eagerly took on a Sunday School class last year in order to spend some time getting to know the stories and how to teach them in a Waldorf way, to prep for my own kids. I wasn't sure if I'd be asked back... I was the only one at the church who wrote my own curriculum. We kept it pretty Waldorf-y so, needless to say, my teaching stood out from the crowd. I didn't know if it was different in a good way or different in a bad way and I was afraid to ask. :-) But I was approached by the Superindendent to come back so it looks like we are heading into Year Two! Next thing for me to do is to start buying school supplies.

First up is main lesson books. I still have a handful left over from last year but I don't know yet how many students I am likely to have (last year I had 12). Looking for high or wide bound books with onion skin between the papers.

Pricing comparisons (as of today) are:
Treasure Box Toys - $3.49

A Child's Dream Come True - offers the same as above for $2.85, also other sizes and types

Oak Meadow - three for $9.00, the shipping is very high and they don't specify what kind of MLBs you get

Between the three, I would go with A Child's Dream Come True.

I also need to buy some books. First up is 25 Plays by David Mitchell (see entry below). This book has a lot of Old Testament Plays in it and I can't wait to use it as a resource! We'll be doing "Daniel, Servant of the Lord" at the end of this school year. The general overall plan, begun last year, is that we have a Service Project each quarter as well as a Study component (made up of hearing stories, writing and illustrating them in a main lesson book, and handwork projects). Last year we went through the first part of the Bible from Creation to David and Goliath. First quarter service project is a fundraiser for a charity (this year I think it will be adopting a gorilla) plus a large display piece for the church of one legend -- last year was an ark with beeswax figures, this year it will be a wet felted sculpture of Jonah and the Whale. Second quarter we do a lot of handwork making animal ornaments for the church to sell supporting Heifer International and I teach the children to knit. We also assemble a nativity scene. Third quarter is our Class Play and we learn our lines for that, make costumes, etc.

This year I am beginning our storytelling with a review of some of the first part of the Bible, since the play does this and includes some songs for the children to sing. Then we will get into our main content for the school year, which is King Solomon through Daniel in the Lion's Den.

I will need to buy 25 Plays, get the list of songs that they sing and find copies of them, plus the other two of Jakob Streit's books for this block. I already own And There Was Light (From the Creation of the World to Noah's Ark) and need to buy Journey to the Promised Land (The Path of the People of Israel from Abraham's Calling to David's Dream) and We Will Build a Temple (The Path of Israel from King Solomon to John the Baptist). Last year I based my curriculum on Roy Wilkinson's books (which are excellent by the way): Old Testament Stories and Commentary on Old Testament Stories. I thought Jakob Streit's books were out of print. But I guess they just came back into print and I'm excited to use them this year and see how I like them. We traveled much too fast through the stories last year so we will basically be doing book 3 of Streit's series. My class is 3rd/4th/5th graders so I need three separate years of lessons in order to spread out the material so it does not repeat; I like the idea of using his set of three and doing one each year. I have considered next year doing New Testament Stories and the Saints (a chance to practice the saints block, yippee!) to get back on track. That is, of course, if they ask me back. :-) This will be a busy year for me personally. Barbara recommended that I wait to begin first grade with Natalie until after we relocate again, which is a good idea, so I have put off worrying about her milestones and am instead focusing on Kindergarten right now with her.