Friday, September 28, 2007

C is for Cave

This one is pretty self-explanatory; actually, there is a picture of C is for Cave on the cover of another Waldorf book, Putting the Heart Back into Teaching.

Natalie is very pleased with The Wise Enchanter at bedtime and it is working out well.

Leah just began with The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly this evening. I know she will love it.

Rebecca has moved on from her bunny infatuation (alternating between Pat the Bunny and The Tale of Peter Rabbit) to new and fertile territory: frogs. The current must-have at bedtime is Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London.

Dragon Tire Swing

I am so grateful that all my Christmas shopping for the kids is done & my Magic Cabin order has already arrived! This is wonderful because I had bought the Dragon Tire Swing, which I have been drooling over for five years, and I can give it to the children as a Michaelmas surprise! Hurrah!
I was so hoping it would come in time. I can't wait to see their faces when they discover it in the yard.

Materials List

Today I am getting organized for our list of Saturday projects. I don't have a babysitter all weekend (Steve is away working) so I have to make sure I have everything lined up in advance. Nothing ruins the rhythm of an activity more than having to all get in the car and go to the store. For dyeing wool, I need red cabbage (makes a blue dye) but already have on hand beets and yellow onions. For our lanterns (Earthways, p.33) I need to buy votive candles/tea lights but already have on hand construction paper and tissue paper. For our Michaelmas Festival and Lantern Walk, I have to buy -- or make -- and decorate a large pillar candle (5 cm in diameter or more, autumn color or white preferred) with a dragon, as shown on page 143 of All Year Round. There is also a Michaelmas story for children over 5 years in the back of All Year Round which I will do with Natalie Saturday night. It is called "The Far Country," p. 296. I've already purchased the bulbs for Sunday and we have apples for the applesauce. Going to pick our own pumpkins and mums is part of the fun so I don't mind that shopping excursion. :-) The mum farm we go to is so wonderful; you get a handful of flags and walk around the rows and choose the plants you want. After you mark them they will dig them up for you and put them into bags for you to take home and plant. Happy Michaelmas, everybody!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

McGrane Family Harvest Arts Weekend

Well, we won't be going to Ohio tomorrow; Leah woke up at 4:30 this morning screaming and writhing in pain, saying that her stomach hurt. Then she developed a fever. The pediatrician and I were both concerned that it may be appendicitis but he examined her and said, no, it looks like it is a variation of the virus that just hit Natalie. So we are keeping her home under close surveillance for additional signs. I was very upset at first, on missing out on our Taproot experience, but then I realized that I could turn that frown upside down & make it into something positive. We can have our own family harvest arts weekend! Especially since we have had a hard time homeschooling lately with people being sick. So this is the plan, based loosely on what Barbara will be doing at hers:

Friday afternoon - Calvert County Fair
(Natalie gets a 1/2 day of school Friday because it is Family Day at the Fair and kids get in for free, plus we can see the project her class submitted)

Saturday morning - Dyeing wool with natural dyes
Making lanterns for evening festival

Saturday afternoon - Wool felting a ball
Making dinner from garden to table

Saturday evening - Harvest/Michaelmas Festival and Lantern Walk

Sunday morning - Decorating the yard with pumpkins and mums
Planting bulbs (tulip, daffodil, crocus, fritillaria)

Sunday afternoon - Making applesauce

I hope this is a lot of fun for the kids! I know that Natalie's class did Life on a Farm as their theme for this week, as part of getting ready for the Fair, and that next week they are all supposed to bring in apples on Monday.

I bought 48 bags of bulbs today (unfortunately they weren't yet on clearance, which I found out when I went up to the register, but I got them anyway. When we bought this house last April I assumed we had just missed the show but this Spring I discovered that there are no flowers at all in our yard! How can you know that Winter is over without the crocus?). What a show that will be!

No Wolves Allowed

When Natalie and I were at the police station a few days ago, getting the fingerprinting schedule, the funniest thing happened. Well, to back up, when we walked up the sidewalk into the building we passed a little garden out front with a tombstone for a deceased police dog, Miki, and some flowers around it. And I thought to myself, I hope she doesn't ask about that. She didn't. But when we were inside, she looked out the window and said to me, "Mom, there's a sign outside that says No Wolves Allowed."
It was the gravestone -- she saw that it had an engraved picture of a German Shepherd on it! :-)

So I did end up taking her outside and talking about how it was a grave and how many police officers have dogs that help them with their jobs and this dog died and so on and so forth. It is so cute to me how they "read" the signs in their environment to try to figure things out and sometimes they get it really wrong. It was a nice grave, though. The sign said Miki: gone but not forgotten. So we talked about how people like to remember the best things about a person who died and how they put the stones so that they don't ever forget the ones they love.

B is for Boat

This is an easy one. The mast of the boat forms the back of the B and the two curved sails filled with air make the top and bottom curves of the B.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Safari Surprise

This morning I gave Natalie the new Magic Cabin catalogue to look through and she showed me, to my surprise, a new Jungle Safari Playset -- perfect for my classroom display. I am setting up my gorilla bulletin board this week. Now, the Magic Cabin people want $59.95 for two giraffes, two elephants, two zebras, two gorillas, and two felt plants. Silks are extra. I only need the gorillas so I checked out another company who had Holtziger gorilla figures ($12.00 for mama, $8.75 for baby). But by the time I added in the $4.85 shipping, I was halfway to the Magic Cabin price and wasn't getting nearly enough stuff for my money. I have a list of MC Christmas presents to give, so I switched back to shopping from them and added the Jungle Safari Play Set to my cart. The 2 gorillas, 2 plants, and some green silks will go in my classroom and the remaining three animal pairs will be stocking stuffers for my three girls. I also considered, just for a minute, needle felting a gorilla mama/baby pair (see these adorable pictures from the Dian Fossey website) but I gave that idea up on the basis of time. If anyone does make a wool gorilla, though, I'd love to see!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quiet Day, Resting Day

Today is a quiet day, a resting day. That is because Natalie suddenly sprung a high fever yesterday. I looked over at her in church and she was resting her head against the pew and she had tears rolling down her cheeks. I reached over and felt her forehead and she was burning up! At home we found her temperature was 102.6 and we got it down a bit for a while but then it went back up even higher. Last night at 8:30 it was 103.1. This morning she woke up normal but it headed north around 10:30 am and by 11 am when the doctor saw her it was 102.2. She has no other symptoms so we are watching her to see what develops. She has another appointment for tomorrow afternoon. Natalie's instructions are to stay in bed, drink plenty of cool (not cold) drinks, and rest. Here is the stash of 12 books I brought her to keep her occupied

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grain a Day

This week in Preschool we are "studying" grains. My original plan was to use the homeschool money this week to buy the grain mill from Nova Natural and have the children grind flour. But we spent all the money on Barbara Dewey's homeschool conference (which is fine) plus I spent most of my time last week running around doing training for various part-time jobs, so this week we will do some of the Nuts activities plus try to eat a different grain each day. Nuts and grains are related since they are each the seeds of their respective plant parents, so I think that's OK.

According to The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book:

"In the Waldorf kindergarten we, as teachers, are conscious of and celebrate many types of cosmic rhythms: day and night, the seasons, the days of the week. As part of this recognition of cosmic rhythms, quite a few teachers told me that they cook grains according to the rhythm of the days of the week."
page 25

The suggested weekly rhythm is:

Sunday - Sun - Wheat
Monday - Moon - Rice
Tuesday - Mars - Barley
Wednesday - Mercury - Millet
Thursday - Jupiter - Rye
Friday - Venus - Oats
Saturday - Saturn - Corn

Steiner never said anything about quinoa; I don't know if people in his time didn't know about it or he just disregarded it since it didn't match with his plan of 7. I have no recollection of him ever mentioning studying the cultures of South America so perhaps he was dismissive of that part of the world (this is just my observation and I may be completely wrong...)

A is for Ancestor

The drawing for A in The Wise Enchanter is an African warrior with arms held wide and pointing straight down and a spear held across his body. He is the ancestor of one of the four children who are searching for the magic 26 symbols that unlock wisdom.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fire Faery

I made Leah a fire faery figure out of magic wool to hang on the wall near her bed. I simply took a large handful of various shades of yellow, red, and a bit of purple roving, laid it flat on my hand, and shaped it into a rough form, then needled to secure. The head was golden, the form somewhat flame-shaped covered in a long cape. I gave the cape a high collar which framed the head. I made the head and the collar quite firm but the bottom of the figure is very loose. I wanted it to resemble a flame with the yellow in the center and the red on the outside (the brighter the color the hotter the flame is burning). There is one thin strand of purple which whisps up from the bottom and around the figure to the back. After I hung up the faery carefully, I read her "The Fire Faery" story from The Breathing Circle. It is about a little girl that dreads going to sleep because she is afraid of the dark. Leah is not afraid of the dark (I don't think) but she hates going to sleep and it is always a battle with her every night so I was looking for something to soothe her. After the story, she asked me "Why did Lucy not want to go to bed?" And I said, "What do you think?" And she said, "I think she just wanted to play and play all night" (which I know is the problem with Leah, she doesn't want to sleep because she's afraid she'll stop having fun or miss something). After the story she went right off to sleep, though, so I think it helped. We'll do it over and over.

At the end of the story, the little girl wakes up in the morning and the fire faery has left her a gift to remember her by, and to remember never to be afraid of the dark but to feel the light inside of herself. The gift is three feathers: one red, one orange, one yellow. I don't have feathers like that but I will try to find something around the house that I can leave on Leah's pillow for her present.

Natalie and I finished volume IV of the Tiptoes Lightly series and will start with The Wise Enchanter tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Sewing Project

Natalie brought home her first-ever sewing project today: a fleece Triceratops with button eyes! It is the most adorable thing I have ever seen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


In case you read this blog for the html tips (which isn't very likely), I have a new one to pass on. I'm preparing the password protected area of my site, where the client pages go, and found directions for Password Protecting a Directory from Web Display. I love the Internet. It is so nice to Google whatever you want and have it right there. When I was registering, I googled "Go Daddy coupons" and a whole page of them popped up. That's a trick my husband taught me.

To generate encrypted .htaccess passwords, visit the KxS website.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Clothing Swap

Today was a big day in our house, the annual "getting out the winter clothes from storage and packing up the summer clothes" routine. We also swapped out the two younger girls into the next larger size. So all of Leah's clothes become Rebecca's overnight. This makes it hard for a while when sorting laundry. :-) But Leah is moving up to 4T (her birthday is in November) so we got all of Natalie's clothes from the previous year out and she tried them on, plus a big bin of 4T winter stuff we got off Freecycle. Natalie still fits into her 5T stash from last year. Her birthday is in March so we usually end up getting her winter clothes in the next size around January or so, which works well because they are all on sale by then. It is a very exciting day for the girls to get new clothes, or to see old favorites again, and they are completely worn out. The shoe swap has to happen too, so I will try to head over to Stride Rite this afternoon and get everyone sized.

Noah's Ark

What a nice segue... from weaving the rainbow to painting the rainbow.

Last week in Sunday School we reviewed the story of Creation and I explained our 1st quarter service project. There was some confusion among the children as to whether adopting a baby gorilla meant that we were actually taking it away from its mother, so I will have to print some information from The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website to take in.

This next week we are reviewing the story of Noah's Ark. Last year, which focused on the first part of the OT, I spent 8 weeks painting Creation (see the watercolor painting DVD by Kelly Morrow for more help on this) and then we created our own Ark using the book Noah's Ark in Paper and Card by Charlotte Gerlings and the children made beeswax figures for it. This year I will have us paint the rainbow since, as the story goes, the first rainbow ever in existence appeared after the Flood had diminished, as God's sign that He would never again destroy the earth. It is a symbol of His love. I found wonderful step-by-step directions for painting the rainbow in a book distributed by Marsha Johnson of Shining Star Waldorf School. Contact her through her Yahoo Group to get a copy. (By the way, here is a wonderful "master list" of Waldorf-related Yahoo Groups, a brief explanation of the function of each, as well as how long ago they were started and approximately how many members belong. This is a great resource when you're trying to find the group that fits your needs.)
The painting book by Rauld Russell is called "How to Do Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting and Teach It to Children" and it is just that! An intense explanation of how to experience each of the colors individually, exercises in combining them, as well as the watercolor painting curriculum for grades preK through 8. Yellow is Lesson 1. The Rainbow is Lesson 2.

Yesterday in School

Yesterday in school Natalie learned paper weaving. She also made a chain of paper links that showed how tall she was (they are using the dinosaur unit to introduce measurement -- time, height, etc.) As far as letters, she has conquered N, M, and S; is still working on B and P; and was introduced to F and R.

Weaving is a large part of the 3rd grade handwork curriculum in Waldorf along with spinning. I have recently added a new page to my Switzerite Consulting site called Finding School Materials. Montana Looms, which makes spinning wheels and looms, is featured there. You can, of course, make your own drop spindle for this grade which is what people usually do (see Spin It: Making Yarn from Scratch for more help with spinning). There is also a wonderful book called Kids Weaving by Sarah Swett that tells you how to make your own functional, lightweight, and inexpensive loom out of plumbing parts (pipes and the appropriate joining pieces from the hardware store). For those who want a set of weaving projects that do not require a loom, there is Weaving Without a Loom by Veronica Burningham. These three books represent the booklist for the Waldorf Grade 3 Spinning & Weaving curriculum. There are several picture books which can go along with this theme; namely, The Goat in the Rug, Charlie Needs a Cloak, and Weaving the Rainbow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


"We Love One Another" is a verse to correspond with the eurythmy gestures I O A.

If you're new to eurythmy, here are some helpful resources:

Eurythmy category at Bob & Nancy's Bookshop

Eurythmy DVD: Balance of Body and Soul, includes

    Exercises for the Morning:
    I take the warmth of the sun
    Rod exercise

    Exercises for the Day:
    I think speech
    I A O
    Looking for love
    Five pointed star (A E I O U)
    I'm happy, I'm sad

    Exercises for the Night:

    Further Exercises:
    I A O with jump
    Second rod exercise
    Evolutionary sequence (B M D N R L G CH F S H T)
    Contraction and expansion

Autumn: Nuts

This week in preschool we are doing "Nuts."

Complete Booklist:
Eurythmy for the Young Child: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Years Cycle With a Seasonal Tableau
Painting with Children
Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children
The Breathing Circle: Learning Through the Movement of Natural Breath

Eurythmy for the Young Child -
    The Earth is Firm Beneath My Feet, page 91
    We Love One Another, page 91
    Autumn Leaves, page 43
    Jack Hall, page 95
    Birds in the Air, page 96
    Little Leaves Fall Gently Down, page 43
    Over Branches Without a Rest, page 43
    Whisky, Frisky, page 44
    What's Your Hurry, Mr. Squirrel?, page 44

set up Nature table (The Nature Corner tableau #8, "Autumn")

add items from Nature walk to Nature table display

"Colour" - Painting with Children, page 47

"Nature's People" activity - Earthways, page 31

"The Breathing Circle" story - The Fire Faery, page 132

"Lanterns" activity - Earthways, page 33

for me to do -
"The spider in her web"
Fire Faery from magic wool
order candle decorating wax

Ta Da!

A lot of exclamation points in my blog lately. :-) Someone wrote to me to say that it sounded like I was feeling better; I am. I have just put my new consulting website up ( so please check it out. All the curriculum materials I had posted on my old website will be available to my consulting clients so I hope this is a win-win for everyone.

Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free Logo Maker

Switzerite Consulting is nearly up and running -- I purchased 12 months of hosting this morning, added the content to the site, and have just finished making the logo. Steve found a FREE (ie. donation supported) logo maker site. Please make a donation if you find their services helpful!

I purchased a Live Education! first grade curriculum today so that I have it all lined up for Leah and Rebecca and so that I can support the content that Natalie is learning in school. She has been in school for two weeks and it is interesting to see what she is latching on to. She can point out letters that she sees in print that she knows are found in her name. But she doesn't understand that each letter goes with a corresponding sound and she is still mixing up B, P, M, N, and S. She remembers that M is mountain, though, and her teacher told me that she has most of her lessons at the easel because she enjoys art the most and it is a good way to work on content with her. :-) That made me happy. I'm looking forward to doing the content, instead of stressing out about whether she's old enough for it, and I hope the Live Ed curric. is inspirational.

Natalie started yoga in school on Wednesday and has been teaching Leah to do jumping jacks. (Be a pencil, Be a star.)

I Found a Friend!

I am sooo excited -- while at the spiders nature program this morning at BCNES, I met another Waldorf family! Well, she's not strictly Waldorf, per se... her oldest daughter is about to turn 5 and she's starting to look at kindergarten and review homeschool methods and Waldorf appeals to her the most. They are organic vegetable farmers (Next Step Produce) and live in neighboring Charles County. That's still 45 minutes but not too far in my mind, considering how desperate I am to meet some like-minded people. The internet is nice but it's not the same as face-to-face contact. :-) We talked for a long time after the class was over and I think we'll definitely get together to chat and so the kids can play. The best part is that they are looking for laborers on the farm. I wonder if that can be my next job?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Every Day In Every Way

My Taste of Home Entertaining starter kit arrived. (The link is to my sister-in-law's site; I'm too cheap to pay $7 a month for my own webpage. I think that's a ridiculous price for shared hosting. But if you want to browse through the catalogue online via her site, feel free. Of course, if you want to place an order contact me.) ;-) They have beautiful stuff! They also have great training materials. I ended up not taking the waitress job; instead I am going to try to do these direct sales parties in the evenings when I'm not watching the kids. It's the same dollar amount, roughly $100 a night, but for less hours. I also got hired yesterday as a FunFit instructor -- parent/child fitness classes for kids aged 1 to 4. Those classes have me working Tuesday morning and afternoons and Wednesday morning. So things are rolling along. The reason I mention TOHE is that their training materials include a great mantra for people who are struggling to be more outgoing, confident, and positive in their lives. They recommend that you write it down in your planner and post it all over your house. I think it's wonderful and wanted to pass it on:

Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pears in a Pear Tree?

Yesterday while we were having our star apple snack I asked the children, what would happen if we planted these seeds? And Leah said, I don't know. But Natalie said, apples would grow. And I said, no, an apple tree would grow and then it would have apples on it and we could pick them. So Natalie got really excited and hollered, "We should plant an apple tree." And then she caught her breath and gasped reverently, "Oh, a pear tree!" I think the idea of having pears actually growing in her yard was a magical moment for her. Pears are her favorite fruit, as was officially determined on the day she was asked to bring her fav. fruit to school for Show & Tell.

So today we stopped at the nursery right by her school and they were having a 25% off sale on their trees. We bought a dwarf Barlett pear and a bag of Leaf-Gro to go with it. I'm happy to support Leaf-Gro since it is organic compost made from the leaves that are collected curbside as part of the Montgomery County recycling program. They take your leaves away, wait a few years, and then sell them back to you! :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sharks and Minnows

We headed for the playground after "Apple Secrets" and star apple snacks (simply cut an apple around its equator instead of from the top down) but there were hardly any crabapples left on the trees! Another sign that Autumn is coming early this year. We have always gone apple picking this week, the week of my mom's birthday, but this year it was the wrong time to come. We were about 1 1/2 weeks late. The children had a good time, though, pointing to remaining apples up high in the branches and I shook them and shook them to see if they would fall down.

Then we played Sharks and Minnows at the playground. This is a game I fondly remember from my childhood summers at the pool. In this version, the playground structure was the boat, the wood chip mulch around it was the safe zone, and the green grass was the ocean where the sharks roamed. Rebecca and I were sharks and Leah and Natalie were minnows for the first round and then we switched. The we switched again and L and N made the tactical error of running across the field to the community house steps and declaring it a safe zone. Well, of course, Becca and I just prowled back and forth along the steps, waiting for them to come down. They had no other place to go. Lastly, we played an alternative version where I was the lone minnow and everyone else tried to catch me. That was fun! I'm usually not the fastest runner in a group so it was fun to be able to wheel and turn and loop back and tease them and then sprint away. We all ended up in a heap on the ground, laughing. It was a very nice afternoon.

Tomorrow Story Time at the library starts up. We have switched to a different library within the county since the branch closest to us had a terrible storytime program. Hopefully this southern branch, which is much smaller and not so stuck up in general, with be more friendly and kid centered.

Wind Energy

Along the lines of "every dollar is a decision," I'm making a list of companies which use 100% wind energy to make their products. I absolutely want to support that!!!! Those I have found so far are

Horizon Organic
Silk Soymilk and other White Wave products
Safeway gas stations

Five Is OneToo Many!

Since I spent the better part of the morning railing against everyone else not being environmental enough, I thought I'd better put my money where my mouth is. :-)

And I officially switched my grocery shopping allegiance from Safeway to Giant.

Giant is a little more expensive but a better grocery store on the whole. For one thing, when you walk in the front door there is a display of reusable shopping bags. You purchase a bag for 99 cents and every time you give it to the cashier at checkout to be filled with your groceries, they give you a 3 cent credit. I always thought, just as I was leaving the store, I should buy some of those bags. Never mind that they pay for themselves over time, I can have them in the car and take them with me into other retailers, thereby saving more plastic bags when I shop. Not to mention having them for my farm pickup. Giant gives you a 3 cent credit for bringing back paper bags, too, but paper bags are not nearly as sturdy. So the children and I stopped right inside the doorway and purchased 5 reusable shopping bags. I thought that I would get a few each time I came until I had enough. Imagine my surprise when all my weekly shopping fit into just four bags! So if you are putting off buying these because you think you'll have to get a ton, reconsider. They can fit a lot more into a bag with structured sides, not to mention that it can bear more weight.

Giant and Safeway both have house organic brands but Giant has a lot more in their line, including natural meats. So I appreciate that. They also have more local produce. My favorite thing, though, is that they have bins of reduced price merchandise. I've never seen those at Safeway. I stopped today at the scratch and dent (perfectly safe for boxed stuff but never buy a dented can) and got some products which weren't selling well so they reduced the prices. Banana nectar, for one. The kids were excited to try that. A lot of the "strange" foods that stores can't sell work out perfectly for me because they are the weird things I wanted to try anyway. I got two new spices: wasabi powder and lemongrass. Whole wheat pasta. All kinds of good things. They also have a section of old-ish bakery products which is where we always get our raisin bread. Right now the kids are enjoying raisin bread and banana nectar for their lunch.

I still can't believe that all the reusable bags I needed today cost just $4! And the kids got a thrill out of carrying them around the store and handing them to the cashier when she asked for one. It's a thrill for the ego, too, as people stopped me to say, that is such a good idea, I should do that. One woman told me that she was shopping at Ikea and they counted up the plastic bags she used for her purchases, then charged her a nickel each. I had heard they were going to do that. I'm so glad that I live in an era where you actually see people changing the world for the better.


Thanks to everyone who writes to me. It's really fun to be part of an online community. :-) I tracked down the Solid Waste Divisions Chief of my county to inquire whether recycling was mandatory for businesses in this county (as it is for a neighboring county, I found out) and if not, why not and what can be done about it. There's a meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners tomorrow morning at 10 am at the courthouse so if he says I have to go complain to them, I will do it. According to the county website, a landfill lasts 30 to 50 percent longer (before being used up and a new one must be built, costing millions of dollars) when people recycle, so it saves the county money in the long run. Not to mention creating more jobs and encouraging the development of businesses which use recycled materials. So we'll see what comes of that.

I went through my blog and realized that some people had written in with comments! I don't get an email or anything when this happens so I don't know it. So I want to thank Rebecca for posting the permalink to her directions on mixing watercolor paints, as well as all the other folks who wrote in with comments. Our chicken pox run is finished (still itchy, not contagious) so we are going to pick apples today. And I had someone write back in June about further reading on the Waldorf method and I don't think if I add a comment to her comment she will see it... so if she's still reading, here's what I recommend:

What is Waldorf? Waldorf 101 by the Waldorf Family Network

The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy by Rudolf Steiner

Notes on the Temperaments from my blog

Waldorf School FAQ answered by the River Song Waldorf School

Curriculum Overview from Marin Waldorf School

The Main Lesson Book sample page from Live Education! 2nd grade curriculum

If you read through all the articles and still want to learn more, I recommend going with

Ruth Pusch's books, either Waldorf Schools: Kindergarten and Early Grades or Waldorf Schools: Upper Grades and High School (both now happily back in print! pick the one that matches the age of your child)
if you're interested in curriculum


How to Know Higher Worlds by Rudolf Steiner if you're interested in inner work

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Falling Leaves

We aren't going to be able to do as much for falling leaves as I had hoped, since we have to finish up with our apples lesson plans from last week. Having chicken pox really put us behind. (Not that you can be "behind" when it comes to moving with the rhythms of the seasons, but sometimes it feels that way.)

Complete booklist:
A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones
Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

    Nature walk to look for trees changing colors

    "Wind Song" verse - A Child's Seasonal Treasury, page 38

    "Milkweed Pods" activity - Earthways, page 37 (with butterfly weed)

    read Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

    "Autumn Leaves" fingerplay - A Child's Seasonal Treasury, page 48

    "Leaf Banners" activity - Earthways, page 26

    read Leaf Man, make a leaf man

    "Five Little Leaves" fingerplay - A Child's Seasonal Treasury, page 48

    "Leaf Crowns" activity - Earthways, page 30

AWSNA Bookstore

I love Bob & Nancy's Bookshop ( and support them whenever I can but sometimes books are only available through AWSNA. I just ordered two more books for Sunday School (Saints, Old Testament Stories): Let's Do a Play by Colin Price and Five Plays for Waldorf Festivals by Richard Moore. One thing I do really like about AWSNA is that you can click to be notified if changes are made to a book that you purchase, like a new edition comes out. I hope these play books are a rich source of inspiration!

Getting Corporations to Recycle

I wonder if there's some way to get big corporations to recycle? In Maryland there's no bottle deposit, although they are considering doing it. Financial incentives are probably the only way. I'm getting a waitressing job at Red, Hot & Blue and Steve already warned me in advance that they do not recycle. HOW can anyone not recycle???? Anyway, if anybody out there has some great ideas about how to get a company on board with environmental efforts, please let me know.

In other news, I just found a great new WAHM company which puts together Waldorf craft kits. They are called Naturally Creative -- she has a small but nice selection of items, including kettle-dyed and handpainted yarn made from banana fibers!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cutting the Window

This afternoon I finished sewing the last of the puppet storage pockets on the back of the puppet theater. Then it was time to cut out the window for the "stage." I was really nervous... if I sew a crooked seam or make a wonky fabric choice, those are things that are easily fixable. But once you take your scissors and cut a hole in something you can never put it back the way it was. I ended up using a rotary cutting grid (18 x 24 inches) as my template, laid the theater down flat and with the edges all lined up, put the grid where I wanted the hole to be, and cut around it. This way I hope the edges are relatively straight. I am absolutely terrible at sewing in a straight line with nice even stitches (I always remember Laura Ingalls complaining about how jealous she was that Mary could sew in such a nice straight line and her seams went all over the place). Then I found some beautiful claret-colored pure silk binding in my stash of vintage sewing notions so I am putting that on the raw edge all around the window. Next it will be time to figure out the logistics of the stage curtains and if I want to do a backdrop. I put a line of 7 huge vintage coat buttons (also from my stash from Aunty) along the bottom of the theater. It is looking so cute.

Doorway Puppet Theater

I am making Leah's doorway puppet theater out of an old double bed flat sheet but you can, in fact, buy a nice McCall's pattern -- M4796 -- for this. You can buy it new or check on eBay, which is where I got mine. In addition to details on how to make the theater, it also includes patterns for five hand puppets: king, queen, princess, jester, and frog prince. My own "pattern" consists so far of hemming the bottom of the sheet so that the theater will be the right height, folding over the top edge and sewing to make a track for the curtain rod to go through (I'm going to hang it across a hallway), and making it the proper width by folding the right and left edges of the sheet towards the middle until they meet. The back side of the puppet theater is the side where the right and left edges meet, and I just finished making six puppet storage pockets, three down the righthand side of the theater back and three down the lefthand side. I purchased fat quarters from the fabric store in 6 assorted bright and cheerful patterns. The Magic Cabin hand puppets which we'll be buying are approximately 10 inches tall so I made the pockets large enough to hold them. Next I need to come up with a way to cut out the hole in the front, stabilize the bottom of it with a dowel rod sewn into a pocket, and make curtains and a backdrop for the "stage". Then it's on to embellishments. I'm thinking ric-rac for the borders of the puppet storage pockets and some kind of star embellishment for above the stage... I want it to be cheery, vintage-y and childlike. I had so much fun picking out the fabrics for this project. I hope Leah loves it!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Some Strange Things

I've heard of people doing some strange things while driving but today beat them all. I actually watched a man shuck an ear of corn in his car! Amazing.

School has ground to a halt for my preschool kiddos. No apple picking, no activities at the community center, we are just staying home and trying not to spread the chicken pox around. Lots of playing outside in the morning, lunch, naps, picking up Natalie from school, and playing inside in the afternoon. I found out today while talking to Natalie's teacher that they are talking about dinosaurs in school. Apparently, they even did a fossil dig in their sandbox. So when I got home I dug out a Giant Golden Book (from 1979) about dinosaurs and gave it to N to look at. She was thrilled! At snacktime she confided, shyly, drawing a circle on the table with one fingertip -- "Mommy, I think... [hesitating]... I am an expert at finding dinosaur bones." I thought that was so cute. :-)

Of course I'm thinking about field trips to go along with this theme. Mostly, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Yes, Folks

Leah and Rebecca DO have chicken pox and so do I!

So... no attending the birthday party for Tommy on Saturday.

No attending Family Day at the Bay on Sunday.

No attending/teaching Sunday School on Sunday (the first day of class). I'm now going to have to write sub plans and drop them off at the church this evening & straighten up my classroom. Poor Leah has had a tough time of it lately. Getting croup which developed into pneumonia, then a very severe food allergy reaction, and now chicken pox. She uses terms like my old rash and my new rash. :-( I hope we can hunker down these next few days, relax, and heal completely. I had the school check Natalie once I knew the chicken pox had made its way into our family but she doesn't have it. She brought it home and shared it with her sisters, though, which was nice of her. They warned me that once the first kid goes to school, watch out!

The Wise Enchanter

As some of you know, Natalie is being taught the alphabet by someone else and I'm trying to figure out how to reinforce it at home & make it compatible somewhat with the Waldorf method. Originally I was going to use the LMNOP wall cards with stories alongside that corresponded with each illustration (and had been planning on doing an exhaustive reading of The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales to find stories) but I'm having a hard time taping the wall cards to her bedroom wall. They are laminated, so it's not a question of the tape ruining the card, but they aren't level and they aren't spaced evenly and that makes me crazy. I was okay getting M and N close to each other but once it got to putting B all the way across the room and guessing where it ought to go once the whole alphabet was up, I just got twitchy. My perfectionism rearing its ugly head I guess. My recommendation to people planning to make a border of alphabet cards around a classroom is that you put up a piece of molding and simply lean them up there. That way they can be taken down to spell words or so your child can look at them more closely or to be used as "flashcards" with no hassles.

We are, instead, going to read Shelley Davidow's wonderful book The Wise Enchanter: A Journey through the Alphabet. This is the book I have traditionally recommended for people whose children learned the alphabet already in a conventional kindergarten and when the family switches to Waldorf they want to introduce the letters again in a more holistic way. Funny that I forgot to apply that advice to myself! I had forgotten completely that I owned the book, actually, until I saw a posting on the waldorfcurriculum-supplies Yahoo group. So if you're looking for a used copy, check there right away. I needed a new bedtime story option, in fact, since I had just bought a copy of Uncle Wiggly's Story Book to be Natalie's next read-aloud and then found out that her kindergarten teacher is using it as their naptime chapter book! Oops. :-) I am excited to share The Wise Enchanter with Natalie and I think it'll work out really well for us.

P.S. If you are interested in my previous project of assigning Grimm's fairy tales to the complementary illustrations in LMNOP (he doesn't have a story to go with each letter, just an alliterative verse), please contact me and we can work on it together. I am working on my new consulting website and will post the link here as soon as it is up.


I have been looking for books of poetry about plants for the 5th grade Botany block (why is it you can find so many books of poetry devoted to animals but nothing for plants)? While at the Watkins Regional Park Nature Center, I saw a book called Alphabetical Botanicals in Color by Lawrence Hohman (the third in a series - number 1 being Alphabetical Birds in Color and number 2 being Alphabetical Beasts in Color). I really like his illustrations but the rhymes are atrocious so save your $8.50. I will pass on his list though:

A - Aster
B - Buttercup
C - Crocus
D - Daisy
E - Echinops (Globe Thistle)
F - Forget-Me-Not
G - Goldenrod
H - Hollyhock
I - Iris
J - Jack-in-the-Pulpit
K - Kale (Ornamental)
L - Lily-of-the-Valley
M - Morning Glory
N - Narcissus
O - Orchid
P - Pansy
Q - Queen Anne's Lace
R - Rose
S - Snapdragon
T - Tulip
U - Uniola (Sea Oats)
V - Violet
W - Weigela
X - Xeranthenum
Y - Yucca
Z - Zinnia

Then when I got it home it struck me like a bolt of lightning. DUH! Cecily Mary Barker wrote TONS of plant poetry (her flower fairy verses describe not only the look of the plant but also something of its character). So that is what I will pass on as the best collection for the Botany block. She did an alphabet version as well. I recommend buying the set of little books instead of the The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies for Botany study, so you can have the different seasons side by side.

Speaking of Botanicals...
yesterday Leah and Rebecca broke all out in an itchy rash and I assumed it was Poison Ivy from our "Last Day of Summer" hike all through Kings Landing Park Tuesday. Then Natalie came home with a letter last night saying that one of the children in her kindergarten class has chicken pox. The children have all had their shots, but I do not create chicken pox antibodies -- I have had it four times. And it is possible that Leah and Rebecca are the same way... so we are watching them closely and I will have to wait and see. It has been 10 days since the first day of school, when N would have brought it home.

You can also buy a collection of flower fairy postcards for your Nature table or these beautiful color plates from old editions of the book!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

B and S

Natalie is learning the letters/sounds B and S in school. With LMNOP, B is Bear and S is Stars.

Some book ideas for this:
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
All I See Is Part of Me by Chara M. Curtis

We have always used a capital S to mark Steve's water bottles and told the children it was a snake, so you can do Snake -- some people also use Stream but then I don't know what you would do for R (usually River).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Watkins Regional Park

The children and I spent three lovely hours this morning at Watkins Regional Park. I'm so glad I found out about this park -- it is right by Claggett Farm, our CSA. We first went to the Old Maryland Farm which, unfortunately, was closed. We did get to see the peacocks through the fence though. We bypassed the carousel and train ride and went next to the playground. Then a picnic lunch and a trip to the nature center. It's a huge park with a lot to do and I hope we go back soon.

I met another Waldorf mom, which was really nice, and she gave me some info from the Bringing Waldorf Home Waldorf conference I had missed. :-( Maybe next year. She also gave me some red wiggler worms! (THANKS!) I am so excited about this and am logging off right now to go set up their bin and feed them a piece of banana.

Vermi-Composting information at (includes video).

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bottle Brigade

So, the worm poop thing didn't pan out. The company is called TerraCycle and they use recycled 20 oz soda containers to package their all-natural and organic plant foods made from liquified worm poop. Their plant food products can be bought at Target, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart. The recycling/fundraising program is called Bottle Brigade and they send you four prepaid cardboard containers, which you fill with used 20 oz bottles and mail back, and 5 cents per bottle gets donated to the organization of your choice (6 cents per bottle if you wash them and remove the label). It's a very good cause but I had wanted the children to actually earn cash, which we can save up to adopt a gorilla, so we will have to save this idea for next year (one company you can support is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a definite for our area). But I don't have time to switch gears from gorillas to submerged aquatic vegetation, with the school year starting next week. Besides, they have NO slots available right now. It's a very popular program!

On to another way to earn cash...

In Praise of Diversity

Well, this has been a great diversity awareness week for Natalie. One of the children in her class at school has two mommies... yesterday at the birthday party there was a woman in a wheelchair... and today the neighboring African-American church shared our church service with us. Back before the Civil War, someone in our community gave land to the slaves to have their own church (previously they had been worshiping in the balcony of our building). After the Civil War the two groups continued to stay in their own churches and to this day you have two Methodist churches side by side -- a stone's throw from each other -- and ne'er the two shall meet. Unfortunately, they have been having problems with the roof on their building falling in and have been forbidden to enter it until it is repaired, so we have offered to share our building in the interim. It has been the best community building thing for the two churches and I'm glad that we attended the joint service today. It was a very good experience for Natalie.

I went back this afternoon to start setting up my classroom. Found out that they are expecting me to have 15 students (instead of the 12 I had previously been told) and so I don't have enough main lesson books. I made an emergency purchase at A Child's Dream Come True for ten more books. I hope they come by the end of the week! Usually she is very good about shipping.

I will post the Sunday School curriculum for this year later on, in case people are interested in the stories I'm picking. Day One will be a review of Creation (we'll read The Dreamer by Cynthia Rylant) and the introduction of our service project for first quarter -- earning enough money to adopt a gorilla. Last year we did an aluminum can collection for our fundraiser and, although the children gathered over 1500 cans, we only earned a measly one cent per can. This year I found out about a potentially much better project, involving worm poop, and I will research it and then post more details.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ooh, Apples!

Today Leah and Rebecca went to Jefferson Patterson Park for their annual "Pinch Pot Workshop" -- a nice culminating project to our week of body part study.

Like every other teacher, we will be doing apples this upcoming week. :-) Here is my particular version (Tuesday through Friday).

Complete booklist:
A Child's Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones
Christopher's Harvest Time by Elsa Beskow
Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller
Festivals Family and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large
Around the Year by Elsa Beskow
Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children by Carol Petrash
The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hichtum

Day One
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Movement Game - page 16
I Have - page 15
Stepping Stones - page 44
Two Little Blackbirds - page 20

read Christopher's Harvest Time

King's Landing Park program
"The Last Hike of Summer", 10 - 11:30 am

Day Two
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
Two Little Blackbirds - page 20
Can You? - page 15

"Red in Autumn" from Painting with Children, page 47
wet-on-wet watercolor painting: RED

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp program
"Apples", 10 - 10:30 am

Day Three
Festivals Family and Food:
"Old Roger is Dead" ring game

A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
"Yellow the Bracken" song on dulcimer, page 37
Apple Secrets - page 36
cut apple

read "September" poem in Around the Year

apple picking at Community House

"Drying Apples" activity from Earthways, page 38
save some apples for Granny's Apple Cake tomorrow

Day Four
A Child's Seasonal Treasury:
"Yellow the Bracken" song on dulcimer, page 37
Golden Apple Tree - page 42

read The Apple Cake
begin Granny's Apple Cake (this recipe takes a long time and will be returned to throughout the day)

beeswax crayons

Southern Community Center program
"Nibble, Nibble, Nibble", 10-10:30 am

I titled this post "Ooh, Apples!" because that's from our version of Old Roger Was Dead (101 Toddler Favorites by Music For Little People). You hear the old lady in the background saying delightedly, ooh, APPLES!

New verses to be introduced this week are "Rainbow Fairy Ring" for watercolor painting and "Colorful Journeying" for beeswax crayons; both may be found in A Child's Seasonal Treasury.

Pirate Party

More changes in the air...

Natalie got invited to her classmate's Pirate Party today. The invitations had gone out a while ago but since Natalie joined the class late, Bryce's mom didn't know she was part of the group. So we got a last-minute phone call yesterday saying I didn't know she was in the class, I'm so sorry for the late notice but we'd like her to come. I freaked out thinking where am I going to find a pirate gift at this hour? I turned to New Knits on the Block which has a nice pirate bathtime set, thinking I could whip up an eyepatch, but Natalie said that her friend wouldn't like that. Next I called my mother, who always gives us gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins in our Christmas stocking, to see if she already had some on hand but no reply. While I was racing around like the proverbial headless chicken, N was sitting calmly on the sofa and remarked to me, "I think Bryce would like some clay." Clay! We have that! So I went down to my homeschool supply room, found a 5 lb block of clay that hadn't yet been opened, and this morning we are going to wrap it up. We also plan to paint his birthday card. I bought a bunch of boxes of Strathmore Watercolor Greeting Cards for just this sort of occasion. I hope he likes it!

To get Natalie in a pirate-y sort of mood this morning (she didn't know what a pirate was) I read her The Horrendous Hullabaloo by Margaret Mahy. What a fun way to start the day.

P.S. If you are developing an alphabet to teach your children this year, I highly recommend this book. She uses "P" alliteration throughout, not to mention the fact that a parrot can be drawn in the shape of the P (see front cover, just tuck the wings in a bit).