Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shopping & Wish List

Here are the workshops which I will have notes from on the W.C. website when back up (available in advance -- FREE -- to my consulting clients):

"Integrating Brain, Body and Heart: Revelations from Recent Brain Research" by Tim Burns

"Hands-On Math for the Early Grades" by Barbara Dewey

"Educating Children for Peace and Philanthropy" by Joan Almon

"The Waldorf Curriculum through Eurythmy" by David-Michael Monasch

"Creating a Compassionate Family" by Jessica Hardoon Dancingheart

"Storytelling" by Barbara Dewey

"Teaching Reading and Writing" by Kelly Morrow

"Handwork: Developing Skills for Dealing with a Complex World" by Regina Mason

"Stress Management - Whole Person and Whole Family" by Susan Kaplan

Here is what I got while at the conference:
Waldorf Education: The Best Kept Secret in America DVD

hand-carved wooden bear for the nature table (shown with bald cypress knees for den) from Christl Schreier of The Puppenstube, Erie, CO

handmade Tomten for The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren tableau (I will needle felt the fox)
from Gabriella of Gabriella's Design, Swedish Artist, Boulder CO

hand-dyed pure wool felt from The Colors of Nature (Trisha Lambert)
also some naturally dyed mohair curls to be mermaid hair

Grade 4 eBook from A Little Garden Flower

beeswax birthday candles, beehives, and angel

Well, I Wonder - Childhood in the Modern World: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Carers by Sally Schweizer

Winter: Nature Activities for Children by Irmgard Kutsch and Brigitte Walden

The Tale of the Little Little Old Woman by Elsa Beskow

Garden of Light: A Collection of Therapeutic Stories by Susan Perrow

Gifts from the Sea: A Collection of Stories for Children by Susan Perrow, et al.

The Knocking-Door-Tree Forest and other Bangalow Tales by Susan Perrow

Why Children Don't Listen: A Guide for Parents And Teachers by Monika Kiel-Hinrichsen

Clare Beaton's Mother Goose Remembers by Clare Beaton
wonderful for inspiring Mother Goose wool felt pictures

Birthday by Norah Romer

Wishlist (Books I Have Yet to Buy):
Working with Anxious, Nervous, & Depressed Children by Henning Kohler

Prayers for Parents and Children by Rudolf Steiner

Autumn: Nature Activities for Children by Irmgard Kutsch and Brigitte Walden

A Pace of Grace: The Virtues of a Sustainable Life by Linda Popov

The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring out the Best in our Children and Ourselves by Linda Popov, et al.
from the website:
"This book is intended for parents and children to use together to nurture togetherness. The first section includes five simple strategies for raising children to live meaningful lives and to develop the virtues of their character. The second section contains 52 virtues, one for each week of the year, describing each virtue in simple terms, giving role play situations, how to practice it, and signs of success."

Websites to Check Out:
wonderful selection of cooperative games!

support books for parents seeking inner work

Projects to Make:
it is wonderful when I see something and realize that I don't have to buy it because I can make it myself :-)

needle felted playmat and little gnome
this had a large green field, a blue pond, a brown cave (which stood up from off the mat) and a tall pine tree next to the cave, as well as a small gnome to play on it

shoulder bag made of wool sweater felted densely in washing machine and then needle felted design on top

Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak:
We flew out of Colorado Springs so we were able to stop and do some sightseeing Monday morning before our flight left. Steve drove a ways up Pikes Peak and I wandered around the Garden of the Gods giftshop, having missed the 40 minute guided walk. I got two postcards, one of Pikes Peak at sunrise and one of buffalo grazing in front of the Buffalo Mountains, as well as The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola.

I was also thrilled to discover that they had lots of beautiful rocks for sale in the gift shop, all different kinds! You could fill a small velvet bag for about $4.00 so I got lovely rocks for the gnomes to leave for the children on our faerie path. They will also be good as our gems for Math Gnome stories later on...

Forming the Will

I paid special attention to all the stuff about developing the will in children (since this is my biggest concern about Natalie) and came home with one over-riding impression. My daughter will never have self-discipline if I don't. It is a strictly imitation-based kind of a thing. No dice with the "do as I say, not as I do" approach, not that that works for anything but it especially does not work when it comes to teaching responsibility and a work ethic. This means that I will be working harder than ever to do my housework on a regular basis (ie. daily) AND be with my kids when it is their time and save "work" for the 7 pm - 10 pm slot. Today I put this plan into action and didn't turn on my computer at all until they were tucked in. I also wrote down all my ideas on paper instead of actually doing them in the moment (like when I thought of something I wanted to do for the website I wrote it down instead of diving into darkness to get it done while they putter around, bored). We succeeded in planting the remainder of the autumn bulbs before they rot into oblivion, organizing the front yard into three gardens (one for each child) and rolling round stumps from the decaying log pile across the yard to form a climbing wall around the garden beds. This climbing wall idea is from Spring: Nature Activities to do with Children but I think it's great for any time of year! Plus it will keep the dog out of the garden, always a plus.

I was lucky enough to find the Winter book from this series at the conference, although waldorfbooks.com does not carry it yet (they are being slowly translated into English). In my opinion, these seasonal books are the perfect foundation of a Kindergarten curriculum and I plan to use them as such with Leah next year. I skipped developing Kindy, really, for Natalie since we popped her into a school but I am really looking forward to doing it with Leah.

Pumpkin Tableau

Well, Steve and I came home from the "Whole Parent, Whole Family" conference in Boulder this weekend (more on that later) to discover that the children had spontaneously set up a pumpkin centrepiece in the middle of the dining room table! It consisted of a carefully-folded red cloth with a small pumpkin on top surrounded by autumn leaves. This, apparently, was Natalie's contribution. Leah added two small dishes, one of the smaller acorns on our property and one of the larger. It was so sweet to see them celebrating the season in that way, and without any prompting from an adult. They had a wonderful time with my mom -- played outside, baked cookies, and so on and so forth. Mom reports that Rebecca has a new must-have bedtime story: The Sleep Ponies by Gudrun Ongman.

On Thursday I took the children down to the Calvert Marine Museum to see a pumpkinseed fish -- this was meant to be the culminating event for our P. week but I have new ideas from books that I got at the conference! (Again, more details to follow.) So this evening I am finishing up the hollow needle felted pumpkin for Peter Peter Pumpkin-Eater and we will do that tomorrow as well as a pumpkin game. We do not celebrate Halloween.

I have to pass on a Halloween-related treat, though. While at the conference I spent quite a lot of time talking to Melisa Nielson (who is wonderful by the way, and incredibly supportive -- she's inspired me to move forward in several things that had been on my wish list) of the Little Garden Flower Waldorf curriculum series and was commenting on how much I loved her homeschool planner and wanted to buy it. She gave me a code good for 10% off on all orders through Halloween. It is sugar plum (for the sugar plum fairy). Happy to pass that one along! Her planner, by the way, is very very good. It covers all 7 days of the week, all 52 weeks of the year. Has a goal setting section in the beginning for the school year, inspirational quotes and an address book section in the back, as well as an appointment schedule AND a set of blank lines for your to-do list for each day and journaling space on the facing page. So you can put in the dentist appt. so you don't forget it, your list of things to do for school that day, and how it all went & see it all in one place! Marvelous. Here's the link to her shop as well as a sample page from the planner so you can see how it is set up. Melisa inspired me to listen to my heart and bring back my website (which will be subscription-based) as well as to open a store for my needle felted items. Check back for updates on these projects!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I haven't found any pumpkin books (with the exception of Cinderella) so we will focus our attentions on "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater." I am currently working on needle felting a HUGE hollow pumpkin made from a large piece of cream wool batting and covered with pumpkin colored roving (color #19 from Weir Dolls). The whole thing is about 6 inches wide and 9 inches high including the cap, complete with stem. Then I will make small figures of Peter and his wife. Some people get around the supposed misogynistic overtones of this rhyme by silently placing Peter in the pumpkin with his wife at the end. That was a suggestion given at one of my workshops with Suzanne Down and I thought it was a very good one.

If you're looking for a smaller project, there is a Felt Baby Pumpkin Kit at A Toy Garden.

Tomorrow morning all three girls and I will head to Hallowing Point Park at 9:30 am for the school's pumpkin festival. We've also changed our potty treats from cashews to organic pumpkin seeds, which the children think are delicious.

By the way, the cloaks left as gifts by the gnomes worked wonderfully and the girls all eagerly got up this morning and checked the fairy path to see if they had gotten more presents. Luckily for me it rained last night, so I suggested that maybe the gnomes didn't leave out any gifts, knowing that they would get wet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Natalie as Expert

Suzanne, Natalie's teacher, did a wonderful job of announcing to the class that they were going to dye wool. She somehow got Natalie to explain that she knew how to dye wool -- and had done it with red cabbage, beets, and onion skin -- acted surprised and happy, and asked Natalie if she would please teach the class. So Natalie is tickled pink and proud to be in charge of such an important project. They sent out an all-call to the moms to please send in their onion skins throughout the week.

Thursday is the beginning of our new "unit" which is Pumpkins. Thursday, also, happens to be the Tidewater School's Pumpkin Patch event which is held at Hallowing Point Park. It is a morning of family fun (all parents & sibs are invited) and pumpkins galore. I know my kids will be excited to bob for apples. Then Friday through Monday my mom will be here babysitting while Steve and I are gone, so that is the sum of all HS happenings. One pumpkin festival. That's OK, it will be exciting enough to have Gram here and she will certainly have enough on her hands without trying to juggle school stuff. N has been begging me constantly to read her pumpkin books. Does anybody know of some?

Gnome Songs

I spent the naptime clearing the path of large sticks which the children would trip over. Then I was going to make some little fairy dwellings for the children to discover but then I thought I would have them make the houses and then leave gifts for the gnomies, who could then leave gifts for them in return. And that is what I did. After snack we sat on a fallen tree and read Gnome Songs by Rien Poortvliet (an adorable little board book, so sad that it's out of print), then I took them along the path where the fairies live and had them make houses out of bark pieces which we found on the ground -- NOT taking the bark off a living tree -- and they found acorns and such to take to the gnomes as gifts. Acorn caps make lovely cups. Tomorrow I think the children will discover new play capes -- one at each house. I haven't seen any ticks lately so I think it's OK for them to go scrounging around in the woods.

Rien Poortvliet was one of Holland's most popular artists and some of his books you can still find on Amazon, such as A Gnome's Christmas.

Faerie Path


making a fairy path for the children to discover has been on my to-do list since I first found out about Waldorf. And today it has risen to the top of the list and I'll be setting it up while the children take their naps this afternoon! I am so excited!!!!

Will post details after the project is complete.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

N is for Nebula

So the newest drawing in the Magic Book is of a nebula in the sky in the shape of an N. LMNOP does something similar, using Stars for S.

In "school things the children have been doing with the babysitter" news, Steve took the girls to the Gray's Road Dog Park on Friday to walk the dog (something that had been on their wishlist for a while), to the corn maze at Forrest Hall Farm on Saturday (where they happily got lost), and then they divided up the Amish Friendship starter today and packed up Ziploc bags of the stuff for Natalie to give to PreK, K, and Elementary at her school. I'm online typing up the directions for the bread. I'm also lending her teacher the Gateways Kindergarten series -- I suggested Spindrift for verses to accompany the Colonial America unit and she asked to see all 6 books.

Haven't gotten to planning anything for next week yet -- can't believe it's Monday tomorrow!

Our Sunday School fundraiser was very successful. We raised $110.11. Today was a very math-heavy Sunday School lesson as the children counted the money, added up the receipts for COGS, subtracted, and determined that we had a profit of $61.71. We filled out the form to adopt a baby gorilla (hurrah!) and set aside the remaining $11.71 for Heifer International, our next fundraiser. Then I told the story of King Solomon and the Bee. Next week they have a sub, since I'll be in Boulder at Rahima's conference, and it will be their day to illustrate the story (two identical bouquets of flowers and a little bee flying to one) and retell it in their own words. November I begin with teaching the children to knit and we will make little animal ornaments to see to raise additional money for Heifer Int.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Marigolds in a Glass Jar

Today was a busy busy busy day. I started by taking Natalie to get her portrait taken (we had a free coupon) since her smile is so cute right now with the 2 front teeth missing! Then we headed to Next Step Produce to meet Gabrielle's husband and find out the possibility of moving to the farm to work/live. Things seem to be going well so next step (no pun intended) is for Steve to go tour the farm. He is the one who would be working there and Gabrielle and I would co-op teach the kids. They have 3 girls as well, each slightly younger than our three. And she is looking to do Waldorf. My problem was trying to juggle Natalie getting academic content with the other 2 kids -- do I send them out of the room and, if so, what do they do? do I keep them in the room and assume it will go over their heads? -- but if we have two teachers, problem solved! I really like Gabrielle too and her daughters are adorable. They are a total Waldorf family so it would be like, whew, a load off my shoulders. We did it, we're in, hurrah.

I am very excited about this possibility. Their farm is way off in the middle of nowhere, yet 5 minutes from a major highway and 10 minutes from town. It is so quiet there, and they have a long winding unpaved driveway through the woods. Magical. It's a completely organic fruit and vegetable farm and the lunch we had there was sooo good.

Then I rushed to Natalie's school conference with her teacher -- no good news there... long story... they are talking occupational therapy and all this stuff... it might be a good thing to move to another county and pull her out of school (wow, kindergarten was fun huh, that was nice but now it's time for first grade). Then came home, changed, packed the car, and headed out to do a TOHE party from 7 to 10 pm.

Tomorrow is our Sunday School fundraiser with our used book sale, hand-dipped pine cone fire starters, and organic lemonade. Goal is $100. We'll see how it goes!

While meeting with Natalie's teacher and volunteering to help with candle dipping, carding wool, and vermicomposting, she showed me a kit she bought at a Waldorf store in New York. It was a small amount of wool roving in a glass jar with some dried marigold flowers in it. You fill the jar with water, set it on the windowsill, and let the sun heat the water, making "sun tea" except it dyes the wool. She thought it was a cool idea. I looked at it and thought gift idea! We could easily make a ton of those for Christmas presents. So I wanted to pass it along.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Geese Flying South

So, yesterday we saw our first few V's of geese flying in formation, headed for warmer climes. I got a fit of Fall Cleaning in me and we moved the ficus tree inside to the living room from the deck, moved the play kitchen, moved the play store, outfitted both with new play kitchen foods (courtesy of Kelly O'Neill -- the slices of wedding cake and the sugar snap peas are especially cute), moved the train set into Leah's room, moved the two empty bookcases up into the living room and filled the bottom portion with books and laid down a long orange silk over the top portion, then set out some tree blocks on it and made homes for two little gnomes.

We did M in The Wise Enchanter which was Mountain. Again, pretty standard fare. It was an interesting twist, though, since the mountain talked to them.

Oh, I forgot L. L was Lila of the Lake, a mournful girl who almost persuaded one of our adventurers to stay under the lake with her forever. (The L shape is her kneeling in front of him, pleading.) They have been having a hard time staying focused on their quest of late. The Isles of Imagination and Jumping Jack led them astray.

The children will be doing Gnomes as their theme for this week so I will get to planning that shortly. N is still working on her Bridge form drawing. The first night she wanted to add the water, troll, and biggest billy goat gruff to her drawing and I let her and then decided that it completely overshadowed the form so we will do it again.

I had my first real Taste of Home Entertaining party on Sunday afternoon and it went great! I'm very tired, though. It takes a lot of energy to be upbeat and positive.

K is for King

This is a very traditional Waldorf letter. The King in this case is standing with one leg out in front of him, stepping onto a small bridge.

J is for Jumping Jack

The next character we meet in our quest is Jumping Jack. He has his arms outstretched and his feet kicked up behind him to form the curve of the J.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Hot Water

On the computer, off the computer. Just here to make some quick notes about what we are doing today.

Read The Story of the Root Children
Add crocheted Little Brown Bulb to Nature table, resting under brown wool (earth)
Plant bulbs
Finish with "Autumn" story from Eurythmy for the Young Child (plants go down under the earth to sleep through the winter just like animals do)

First Grade:
FD lesson 2 from Beginning with Form Drawing
Story - The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Wise Enchanter: A Journey through the Alphabet at bedtime (K)

Sunday School:
I love love the idea of doing Pine Cone Fire Starters (from Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children) but I am still worried about taking the kids into the church kitchen to work. They have a HUGE gas stove which scares me to death. And, if any of the melted beeswax drips down onto the burner while I am stirring it and lift my stirring stick out of the water, there will be a flash fire. So I am testing today whether you can melt beeswax in a large can set inside a crock pot of hot water. I prefer using the crock pot with my students and that is, in fact, how we dyed wool last year. I measured out the correct amount of water first (place the can of beeswax pellets in the empty crock pot and add water until the can begins to float slightly but remains level). Then I took out the beeswax can and have the lid on the crock pot and it is set to High. I started at 7:45 am. We will see how long it takes for the water to begin to boil, then take off the lid, put the can in and see how long the wax takes to melt. I'm sure it will be a LOT longer than doing it on the stove but it will be safer and I will be less stressed out on Sunday, so that's the important thing. I am petrified of fire. By the way, always have a large box of baking soda on hand in case of fire. Do Not Throw Water on a Wax Fire.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Melancholic

One of the qualities of the melancholic is a love of lists and charts.

Sound like anyone you know?

I've obviously spent the entire day worrying about this and the P word looms large (perfect). It's a work I'm trying to break my addiction to... unsuccessfully. In my case, having a vast number of curriculum resources works against me. Should I go with Live Ed? With Spiritual Syllabus? Oak Meadow is out, that's not even an option. I bought all three so I could look through them and compare each and I love different things about the 2. Alan Whitehead's diagrams of blocks (a school year made up of 12 3-week blocks, 3 subjects each block consisting of Head, Heart, and Hands) is so precise and orderly that it calls to me. Plus, I'm thinking I could run it as a 12 month school year, January through December. Do some form drawing now, since we began it, then move into making Christmas gifts and so on, and begin with Alan's set of blocks in January. Tell the school system that we're doing a calendar year plan. I'm tortured trying to figure out his 36 block system -- if anyone has La Pleroma please write to me and put me out of my misery! I began to play around with it, using the blocks I indicated before, but I want to "get it right." AARGH. Isn't putting Waldorf guilt behind me supposed to be one of the goals?

Going to sleep now and we'll do our next form tomorrow regardless.

The big problem is that I spend too much time reading about how to do this right and, by virtue of the fact that I'm off in a muddle and not spending time with my kids, I'm doing it wrong anyway! Gotta get off the computer and out of this head space (it was really fun and positive while I was brainstorming books for FD, just went south when I picked up the Spiritual Syllabus books and got perfectionism-oriented).

Hope some of this has been helpful to someone out there! Otherwise, I will just crawl into a hole by myself and implode. :-)

Spiritual Syllabus

Okay, prowling through books again. I'm not changing my plan, just doing more research. For those of you who aren't familiar with Alan Whitehead's Spiritual Syllabus series, it is a massive and very hard to follow set of curriculum guides for all aspects of Steiner education. Worth the money if you like his style; a complete waste of money if you don't. He's not one to hold your hand and walk you through it. His books are a set of articles and assorted musings on each topic. I have nearly all of them, and writing down his notes for all the extra subjects (like P.E. and Drama) will be another post -- but here are his Head and Heart lesson topics for First Grade. He loves to set up his school years as groups of 3 week units; I prefer to dedicate the month, as that seems easier to me. Anyway, that's why there is so much content:

Language Arts - Genii of Language
The Capital Alphabet
Writing of Nature
Letter Combinations
Foreign Language
Story Speech & News
Letter Structure & Spacing

Mathematics - Journey to Numeria
4 Operations
The Equation
Paper Folding & Cutting
Radial Form/Dynamic Drawing
Games with Counters

Social Studies - The People Pool
Local Geography
Four Temperaments
"Flood" Stories
Aboriginal Stories

Science - World Within, Child Without
Physics Games/Stories
Four Elementals
Four Elements
Rock Cycle Stories
Plant Stories

That's 21.

Note: He does begin the teaching of capital letters with the straight line and curve, but seems to have placed the rest of FD under mathmatics.

Supplementary volumes include:
sex education
nutrition/health education
tone & music
children's reader/story book
games & sport, dance
watercolour painting
3 on educational philosophy (primary, high school, homeschool)
language resource
mineral world

and more...

Some time when Leah is not asleep I will go downstairs and get the books for P.E., art, drama, music, and handwork to see what blocks he recommends. It is perhaps useful to know the titles of his blocks, even if you don't purchase the book to find out content, so I hope this is helpful.

We are, obviously, currently working on The Capital Alphabet.

La Pleroma, one of the ones I don't have (it's Science for class 7 & 8) supposedly contains "Complete Class 1 to 7 Primary Curriculum!" 250 units worth. I would like to see that. It makes me nuts to have to gather all these books in one place.

Anyway, Leah hasn't fallen asleep yet so I went downstairs and got The Golden Path, Choirs of Colours, Horns of Hermes, Touch the Earth Gently, and Dramatis Divine. Here is what I can find out about first grade.

Handwork - The Golden Path
Cubby Building
Seeds & Seedlings
Biscuit Baking
Learn to Swim

Art - Choirs of Colours
Wet-on-Wet Primary Colours
Beeswax Modeling
Block Crayon Drawing

Music - Horns of Hermes

Physical Education - Touch the Earth, Gently
Learn to Swim
Circular Ball Games
Chasing Games
Floor Games
Sliding and Swinging
Creative Games
Circle Dances

Drama - Dramatis Divine
The Class 1 Play (this may not apply to homeschoolers)

So there you have it! Add in another 21 blocks. Making a full set of 42, more than enough to carry us through the year and beyond. I can see his logic in the three week unit, since I can't see an entire month of candlemaking... I wish wish wish I had the entire grid all out in front of me to see. Can't justify buying another book, though, when I have all the bits and pieces here. And a lot of the handwork and P.E. and so on I won't be doing with Natalie right now since she is in school fulltime. My focus will be on reinforcing what she's doing in class and then next year we can get into the Waldorf thing full-on and complete the remainder of the first grade curriculum.

Not Feeling Guilty!

My new personal goal is avoiding Waldorf guilt. People joke about Waldorf guilt but it is real, let me assure you. Because W. is so tied up in the healthful development of the child, you believe that if you do it incorrectly you are actually injuring your child for life or, at the very least, keeping them from reaching their full potential. I believe that your best try at Waldorf is better for your children than the public schools so why beat yourself up? But it's easy to say that and hard to put it into practice. I decided at the 11th hour to begin FD with Natalie and my day has been a frantic rush to look through all my books, get organized, and begin. And, since Natalie has been doing her letters in school, she is saying things like, that makes an X and, hey, there are straight lines in my name. But she did have an excellent lesson and we went through all the things that hands do, like Live Ed suggests, as well as finding straight lines and curves all around us (which she really enjoyed) and practice in the air and with feet. Then we did some practice on paper and I could see her getting tired (her curves were starting to wiggle) and so we did the main lesson book page before she got too too tired and then she went downstairs to play with Leah. I told her that I was teaching her drawing as a special treat and she was happy with that. But the Guilt Monster definitely kicked in when she drew a curve and said, that's a letter! That's the letter C. Because in a perfect world she wouldn't know that yet. She does. And hey, that's OK. I was in such a rush to get her set up and organized at Tidewater I completely forgot about Form Drawing; otherwise, we would have done it in September.

Tomorrow is our first running form -- the "bridge". For this we will do The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Form Drawing Day by Day

I have many many FD books and I am finding that Beginning with Form Drawing by Live Education is perfect for this first block. It's an excellent book -- gives you the how-to, a little of the why (you can do a lot more reading on this if you get interested in it) and, best of all, a complete list with color illustrations of 24 forms to get you started, as well as story suggestions for each. Book titles below are my own brainstorm notes...

Here goes:
Day One - the straight line and curved line
Day Two - bridge (The Three Billy Goats Gruff)
Day Three - mountains (The Hermit and the Well)
Day Four - mountains with sky (How the Rabbit Stole the Moon)
Day Five - ripples in the water (Over in the Meadow)

Day Six - rainbows (The Rainbow Goblins)
Day Seven - hill and dale (Red Berry Wool)
Day Eight - string of pearls (Grandfather Twilight)
Day Nine - waves (The Fisherman and His Wife)
Day Ten - mushrooms in the forest (Children of the Forest)

Day Eleven - castle ramparts (Little Briar-Rose)
Day Twelve - teeth of a saw (The Giving Tree)
Day Thirteen - diamonds (The Talking Eggs)
Day Fourteen - doors and windows (The Duchess Bakes a Cake)
Day Fifteen - otters (A Lot of Otters)

Day Sixteen - bumblebee (The Wise King and the Little Bee)
Day Seventeen - fruit on a vine (The Fox and the Grapes)

There are more but we will probably stop at this point to go on to the next main lesson block.

Other things you need to teach form drawing: a blank main lesson book, a tin of Stockmar block beeswax crayons, practice paper, sidewalk chalk, a flat pan filled with rice, a silk streamer, a beach with wet sand.

My MIL is going to Colonial Williamsburg next week and I have a wishlist of things I want her to bring back for me... I thought when we went in April that it would be a while before I'd be doing school with N so I didn't buy a lot of things I had my eye on. But I'm going to ask her to get a slate and a slate pencil for practicing forms. :-)

Finding the Moral

The moral of the story is, of course, figure it all out before you begin. :-)

I started with the letters book, thinking it would be the perfect way to introduce the letters while she studies sounds in school, and it is. We love the book. Form Drawing is a kind of extra thing that I will do in the afternoons. We will use the purple MLB and practice forms, saying nothing about writing letters. The letters thing is a cool story and a sound game, which is how they are doing it in school as well, just finding words that have a sound in them. For math we will begin to draw the numbers and then I will do the alphabet with Natalie in December as a part of Around the World. We can switch the legends block with the learning about geography block and I'll do fairy tales and other stories to introduce the letters again, this time drawing them. So it leads naturally from the drawing the numbers. And I can reinforce the countries that Natalie is hearing about in school with the legends. That means that I will probably use LMNOP for the illustrations and then choose a story to accompany, one of my original ideas. I have other alphabet books (like Living Alphabet) but don't like them as much as these 2.


October - Purple - Form Drawing (continues through the year)

November - Blue - Numbers 1 to 12 (learn to knit)

December - Yellow - Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

January - Green - Four Seasons

February - Red - Poetry (introduce recitation)

March - Blue - Four Processes

April - Yellow - World Geography

May - Green - Four Elements

I have decided that it's OK to combine form drawing with language arts instruction since FD is Heart and not Head. I'll post the forms we do and the stories, etc. as we go.

Natalie gets Spanish, Yoga, and Music in school.

I have yet to decide about the recorder thing. I think we will probably start an instrument when she turns 6.

First Grade Weirdness

Today's preschool lesson went really well -- the children made nice dipped candles although they were small and took forever so then I tried the pine cone fire starters to see if those were quicker and turned out a nicer product. They aren't as beautiful as the candles but definitely faster, as well as using less wax, so that makes them a better candidate for a fundraiser. I don't think there's any way we could make a substantial number of candles in 45 minutes on Sunday. So firestarters it is.

The "Autumn" story was wonderful. The children absolutely loved it and I think it will definitely be done again and again, both with me and in free play.

Moving on to the Natalie question. It has been a weird year for me so far. I definitely have no problem with her learning the content she's doing in the private school kindergarten (since I know from evaluating her that she's ready) but there are 2 problems still. First one is that I want to be more involved -- and I really love the Waldorf way of doing things and I don't want her to miss out on some of the cool learning strategies. So I'm trying to figure out a way to complement her content in a Waldorf way at home. Second is, if I go ahead and do Waldorf 1st grade stuff now, what will I do next year? Next year the state is going to come and say, this child needs to move up from K to 1st and I can't really say, well she's done with 1st. It's strange to think that's she actually ahead of the standard ages, since Waldorf evaluations so often have kids "behind". What I am thinking is to do her school year with her age, ie. she is in Kindy now but the entire year she is 6 we will do first grade. Then when she turns 7, half way through her official first grade year, we begin with 2nd grade work. The state won't know the difference anyway, since the curriculum doesn't match the standard plan, and one of the advantages of homeschooling is that you don't always have to move your kid up in September, you can do it whenever it seems warranted. However, if I have to register my curriculum in advance, I will have a hard time doing that and then switching. Right now, I am using Live Ed's first grade and I really like their work. But I will, of course, supplement with all the other stuff I have.

So the current plan for N is that we will move into main lesson books. She has her hands on lessons and so on during the day, so I will just do a little bit with her at night before bed. That's our special time anyway. I chose 4 main lesson books: red, blue, yellow and green. Red is Language Arts. Blue is Mathematics. Yellow is Social Studies. Green is Science. Now, I'm not sure what to do about form drawing -- if that is its own book or if it goes into one of the subjects. Alan Whitehead has only 4 each year and travels in rotation, doing each one three times. I have never seen him mention FD. I know that it can go either in LA or in Math -- I guess we will put it in Language.

The first four blocks will go like this:
October - Red - learning the capital letters
bedtime story: The Wise Enchanter
begin in main lesson book with form drawing

November - Blue - numbers 1 to 12

December - Yellow - around the world
Natalie's school does a World Tour at this time of year so I will go along with that. I don't know if they focus on the cultures or geography; we'll have to wait and see. And whatever part of the world Natalie is presenting on will of course go in her book.

January - Green - four seasons

Then we'll see how it's going and begin again. Short poems in the LA, 4 processes and math gnomes in the Math, 4 elements in Science, and I'm not sure about S.S. I am not really clear on S.S. for this age, but I like Whitehead's organizational system and I see no reason to ignore it. That way the main lesson book colors can stay consistent from year to year and make a nice collection. Let's see what he has for S.S. in the first year: local geography, four temperaments, flood stories, aboriginal stories. So I guess that would be stories and legends from around the world.

September was socialization and a brief introduction to the four subjects she'll be learning this year. Now in October we begin. The problem, of course, is that the school will run the 4 subjects concurrently and I want to focus on one at a time, but I still think that will be OK reinforcement wise and next year I am pulling her out of the school, if our lessons go well and there's no personality conflict, and continuing at home. It has been dreadful having 2 kids at home, so I can't work full time, but needing to come up with $10,000. Either all in school or all at home seems a better plan.

I'm wandering -- you can see that I'm figuring this out as I'm writing -- and I can't decide whether to stretch first grade out over a year and a half, make second grade a year and a half, make third grade a year and a half, or just not worry about it. I guess what any homeschooler does is just graduate their child to the next grade when they have mastered the previous content, and it doesn't matter. It will all fall into place when we do it...

The other thing I'm going back and forth on is the form drawing. I completely forgot about it before doing the letters, and you are always supposed to start the school year with forms. We have never drawn any of the letters, so there's still time. I guess we will do the language lessons, through story, at night and draw forms in the afternoon, and then in November or December, when we begin to compose things for the MLB, we will get into the part where she dictates, I write, and she copies. I know that we are supposed to take the time to draw each letter in the MLB with full illustration. I don't know where we will find time for that! I really think that FD is its own subject aside from the others and should have its own book and be its own block. Or, you can put it in with Math... dunno. If we do it with Math, we would have to push back the numbers, which I don't want to do. AARGH! I wish I had never put her in school -- no, that's me being selfish. It's what she needs right now. Just because it makes it harder for me to come up with a "perfect" plan doesn't mean it is a mistake for HER and she is what matters most! I will continue with The Wise Enchanter at bedtime --- no wait. The forms are supposed to be done with accompanying stories. Like so and so went up a mountain. Does that mean that I can't do it at the same time? Because it is just one story per day? Do I wait to get through the rest of the book, then do FD, then do the alphabet, then do the numbers? I do have one purple book. I'm confused because you do forms all year long. So that means it has to be its own book. There's also orange but I don't have any left, all my students grabbed them. OK

Let's think here.

Candle Dipping

Today our school plan is Candle Dipping (Earthways page 98) using the Dip-a-Candle Kit from Magic Cabin. I am going to time how long it takes to dip a decent sized candle... if it takes too long we will make Pine Cone Fire Starters (Earthways page 100) instead. So that's my back up plan. It is interesting that Earthways and the people at Magic Cabin give different instructions for melting the wax. MC says to put the beeswax pellets IN a can of water IN a pot of water and that the wax will melt and spread over the surface of the water. Can number 2 (use cleaned Juicy Juice cans for this) holds plain cool water for dipping the candles before the next dip, so they cool faster and are ready for another layer of wax. Carol Petrash also recommends two cans... in hers BOTH have chunks of beeswax and are set side by side in a pan of simmering water to melt. One is removed from the heat and used for the dipping -- when it gets too cool, place it back in the pan of hot water and use the other for dipping. The interesting thing about the MC directions is that when the wax level gets too low to make a candle the height you desire, you add more hot water (to raise the level of the melted wax) instead of adding more wax. I would think that this helps stretch your wax and help it go farther. So I haven't decided which set of directions I will choose.

Instead of doing a circle time story, I'd like to do our story at naptime -- same story for both children. I have been experimenting with moving components of the schoolday around. For example, Natalie gets her letter lessons at bedtime; then she can sleep on it. Today I will grab a main lesson book for her from the church so she can do some drawings the following day. The story for the preschool children is "Autumn" from Eurythmy for the Young Child page 38. Today the weather changed and it is finally cold! So we will begin talking about animals going to sleep for the winter. Yesterday there was an epidemic of box turtles crossing the road. I guess they felt that the nip was coming in the air and it was time to get on with the business of burying themselves.

Morning glories are valiantly trying to open this morning but seem a bit shocked by the temp.

Natalie left this morning with our coffee grinder and a bowl of corn so she'll be sharing that at school.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Corn Grinding

I am happy to say that we successfully ground some cornmeal today! At first the grind was set to be too fine and the children could hardly turn the handle it was so tough but we adjusted it to be a bit coarser and all went well. Natalie is taking the mill in tomorrow to share with her friends at show and tell.

One of the ladies on the waldorfcurriculum-supplies Yahoo group posted ISO This is the Way We Wash-a-Day by Mary Thienes-Schunemann and I went downstairs to grab my copy, thinking we could sell it. (I have SO many Waldorf books in my library that I have been selling a few here and there, mainly if people post on the group that they are searching high and low for it.) As I was flipping through to see if there were any pencil marks, I started noticing what a great collection of songs it is, and made the decision to hold onto it. There are so many resources that I have that are wonderful if used to their fullest potential (like Seven Times the Sun) and the fact that I haven't used them is not their fault. It is torture for me to sell any of my books anyway, since I look at them and I see not paper and ink, but a whole host of potential family memories and a happy rich childhood for my children. Anyway, amazing to discover that there is a Corn Grinding Song (#13) in this collection! Here is the complete list of 59.

Mary's book does come with accompanying CD so I urge you to spring for this one if you are starting out with Waldorf preschool/kindy and you need a book giving you a variety of songs to sing with your children throughout the day & helping you establish rhythms in your family AND you can't read music. I feel this is the most versatile and useful of her song collections. It's also nice to have the CD so you don't have to be able to read music to learn the songs, as is the case with most Waldorf resources (like the Wynstones Kindergarten series). If you can read music, I would recommend Seven Times the Sun over this one -- for a new family -- since it includes a lot of the philosophy and how-to behind establishing rhythms & I think it is a wonderful book for parent inner work when you're starting out.

Traditional Work Songs
    She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
    Erie Canal
    Whoo-Pee Ti Yi Yo
    The Blacksmith
    Pick a Bale of Cotton
    The Carpenter
    Mother's A-Weaving
    Cobbler, Cobbler
    Pat on the Railway
    Haul Away, Joe
    Land of the Silver Birch
    Corn Grinding Song
    Have You Ever Seen a Farmer?
    'Round the Mulberry Bush

Household Songs
    This is the Way We Wash-a-Day
    Dusty the Gnome
    Working Day
    Washin' Woolies
    Sweeping Song
    My Castle
    Let's Tidy Up!

In the Garden
    Oh, When I Go a-Ploughing
    Growing Song
    It's Fun to Dig Potatoes
    Little Watering Can
    Little Red Wagon
    The Farmer in the Dell
    Fairies of Water, Fire, Air & Earth

In the Kitchen
    Vegetable Soup
    Shortnin' Bread
    Chop, Chop, Chippety Chop
    Sweet Potato Pie
    Muffin Man
    Kitchen Cries
    Let's Set the Table

Taking Care of Yourself
    Warm Water
    Warm Hands, Warm
    Better Out Than In
    Brush Your Teeth
    You Wake Up in the Morning
    Little Piggies in the Barn
    Uh Oh!
    Button Up!
    Mouse Nests
    Golden Starlight

Activity Songs
    A Painting Song
    Help Me Wind My Ball of Wool
    Folding Song
    The Thread Follows the Needle

Special Times
    Good Morning Glory!
    Lovely Sunshine
    Sana, Sana
    Peace Blessing
    We Are Hungry
    Johnny Appleseed
    Hebridian Lullaby
    Tessa's Lullaby
    Angel of Mine

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I is for Island

After leaving the Hermit, the children walked on and on through the forest until they decided to camp for the night. In the morning they found that they were completely on the other side of the island and facing a large blue sea! While standing on the shore, the children had to choose between two paths (the hermit had told them one would be right and one would be wrong) and they went Right. (The dormouse told them to go Left, but they ignored him.) Suddenly, tall thin Islands started popping up out of the water. These islands promised them that they would grant any wish, without the children having to do any work at all, just say "I want it" and they are excessively tempted by this and have temporarily forgotten about their quest...

I've never seen I for Island but it's working for Natalie. She absolutely loves hearing the next segment of the story and once she finds out what letter we are doing she practices the sound over and over. For H we spent about 20 minutes thinking of words that started with 'huh'. I was coming up with honey, hand, hug, happy. She was actually beating me! She contributed hullaballoo & hippopotamus! The girl is really good at this. :-)

H is for House

There is an illustration of H is for House on the front cover of Putting the Heart Back into Teaching -- a little square box with a door, windows, and two chimneys, one on either side -- but this was a treehouse. There were two tall tree trunks going up and up and a platform in the middle adjoining them. This is where the Hermit lived. We did this letter yesterday.

Feeding the Chickens

Today Natalie's grandma picked her up after school for a "something special" and I kept Leah and Rebecca and took them up to Clagett Farm for our farm share pickup. This week was amazing!!!! We were offered turnips, radishes, swiss chard, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, green beans, wax beans, bok choy, and more! I have never seen such an abundant week. I guess with the drought things are just coming in slowly and it all matured at the same time. We came home with bags groaning (the bags were groaning due to the weight, not me! I was thrilled with such a fine haul). Rebecca's favorite thing about the farm is eating still warm sun-ripened tomatoes and she was eating and eating out of the trays... when I asked her to stop she said, but I'm still hungry, and one of the farm workers overheard her and brought her a huge chunk of watermelon that they had in the back for the staff. She and I and Leah chowed down and then the children went to ask where the compost pile was for the rinds and the lady said, let's go feed them to the chickens. I never knew that chickens like watermelon rinds. We walked over to the chicken tractor, cut up the rinds into little pieces, and dropped them in through the wire, then lifted up the panel covering the nesting area and the children found an egg! They were sooo excited. It was a really nice outing.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Morning Glories

Our morning glory covered tipi is so beautiful... it is going strong and has more blooms on it than ever. I am amazed at how this plant keeps going even into the autumn. It gets a late start in the summer so I guess that is why. I will miss these flowers when they are finished, but it is nice to know that we are keeping the bamboo poles up so that maybe it will reseed and even more vines will grow next year.

I have a wonderful new plant to add to my garden this fall. At PRAD (a local festival) I was given a local magnolia tree seeding -- the Sweetbay Magnolia or Magnolia virginiana. I went down to the Calvert Marine Museum Saturday morning to work on the admissions desk and so many people came in with plants that I inquired and found out that one of the tables outside was giving them away! I was lucky because, by the time I got out there, there were only 3 plants remaining. I can't wait to see how this tree does in my garden, and I am very grateful to have it. Magnolias are one of my absolute favorite trees and I have always wanted one.

Freebie Day

I got up this morning and started working on my preschool planbook for this week (Root Vegetables) and suddenly realized it was making me very depressed to cross out Tuesday and Wednesday and write in "Funfit" and leave my children with a babysitter and an activity and miss out on the homeschooling experience. And my first thought was, I should quit this job. But then I thought, there's no reason why I should quit a 2x week 3 hour each morning job... there's no way that is too much for my schedule! What's the real problem here? And I decided to solve the problem by shifting our homeschool "week" to Thursday through Monday. This kills two birds with one stone, since I can never figure out where to write our weekend activities (usually field trips and other homeschool-y things) in my planbook. And if we do HS on the weekends, then when is anyone getting a break??? So the Thursday through Monday thing seems like the way to go, and it is a more positive approach than dreading going to work.

That means that today, Columbus Day, will be a holiday for us! With our freebie day I think we will do housecleaning (laundry specifically) and I'd like to get out a new game in the afternoon and introduce it to the children. I purchased the Pillow Pincher game from Magic Cabin -- on sale for $19.99 -- and I think the children will really enjoy it. Plus, it kind of ties in with the laundry theme. :-)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday School Fundraiser

This has been a very interesting Sunday School year. Our 1st quarter service project has pretty much taken over all of our classtime and we haven't yet gotten into our content for this year, beginning with King Solomon. That's okay, though, because the children are really excited about adopting a gorilla and it is all coming together. The church is having a turkey dinner (put on by the United Methodist Men) on Saturday October 20th and we have been given permission (after the children gave a presentation today to the S.S. Superintendent) to have a few tables outside with our fundraiser items for sale.

We are collecting used book donations to sell at one table, will be making hand-dipped candles to sell at another table, and I just found some organic lemonade mix so that we can sell lemonade at table #3. We have a large mobile bulletin board which the children will decorate with signs saying what we are selling and what we intend to do with the money that we raise. Someone from the church has offered a tent for us to stand under. Our goal is $100 but I have gotten so many people saying they will donate books that I think we may be able to raise more than that!

Today's S.S. lesson was final decision making from our brainstorm list, presentation to the folks in charge, and permission being granted. It took our whole 45 minutes. Next week we will make the candles and our posters for the sale tables. The event is on the 20th... then on the 21st we can get together and count our money! If we make more than our goal but not enough to fully adopt another gorilla the children plan to take up a special collection at the church to make up the difference. The costs are $50 for a baby, $100 for a mother/baby pair, and $300 for an adult male.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Garden Papers

The nice folks at Kashi sent me some coupons in the mail, along with a really cool project that would make a wonderful homeschool/gift giving idea. They included a piece of paper with basil and thyme seeds made right into it. The directions are

Tear up this card

Plant it under a very thin layer of soil in a sunny area

Water it thoroughly and daily

And soon you'll be growing basil and thyme!

And then you grow your own garden! Isn't that cool? I've often heard of people putting dried flower petals and so on in paper but I've never seen it done with viable plant seeds before. I think it's a lovely idea.

Elephant, Fish, Goose

I see I have not reported on the last few chapters of The Wise Enchanter. E is for Elephant. This was very funny because they brought in the silent E this way. :-) The picture is somewhat strange though (it came to one of the children in a dream) -- an elephant is shown from the side climbing up a tree. His body forms the main upward thrust and the three spokes are, respectively, the trunk, the front leg, and the back leg.

F is a Flying Fish. He is leaping out of the water with his fin making the little spoke. I believe that F is Fish in The Waldorf Alphabet Book as well.

G is for Goose. In this case, the Goose does not make the G with his entire body; the G is the upper curve of the goose (neck and upper body) and the inward spoke is the goose holding his front leg out in front of him, like a hand, and he is holding a gemstone on it. G is for Goose is one of the most common Waldorfisms (unlike some letters, where you see a lot of variety in how it is interpreted) and if you are doing Grimms' Fairy Tales, you almost always do "The Goose-Girl" for this one.

"Sweet Yummy" Reprise

Well, I got the parent letter that goes home every Friday and it turns out that what Natalie was talking about was a new variety of apple called Honeycrisp. Live and learn.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Exciting News

Well, I have a lot of news to share. First up, I got food poisoning! This was my own stupid fault, for walking past a plate of pork BBQ that had been sitting out on the counter for several hours and thinking, I shouldn't let that go to waste. I spent from 2:30 Wednesday afternoon to 6 am Thursday morning throwing up. Yesterday I was flat on my back sipping liquids. Steve and a variety of different babysitters have ended up doing almost all of the children's school this week, what with the FunFit classes and then me being sick. The corn necklace activity from Earthways was a huge hit with Leah. She was so proud of herself and they really are so beautiful! The sack race was fun for Leah and Natalie but too hard for Rebecca. We have postponed corn husk dolls until I am 100% up and running.

For those who have been searching high and low for The Yoga Garden Game, I finally found a company who is still selling it! Natalie came home from school with a Montessori catalogue (For Small Hands) and there it was on page 34. They also sell a lot of cooperative games, like the Orchard Game, Granny's House, and Princess. These are standard Waldorf catalogue offerings. I would recommend this catalogue to any family with young children, whether you consider yourself Montessori or not, because they have a wonderful collection of child-sized cooking tools, gardening tools, and housecleaning tools, as well as wooden knives, forks, and spoons, craft kits (like rolling beeswax candles) and other cool stuff. We placed a BIG order, since 15% of our order is given back to the school in the form of a gift certificate so they can buy classroom supplies. And I now have a stash for upcoming birthdays for a year or two. I especially loved the Fish Bank. Natalie actually needs a place to keep her money, now, since she won a dollar at the County Fair for her 4-H project! It was a glass stone with a picture of a pelican glued to the bottom. I am not sure why, but they gave her a ribbon and a prize. She was pleased as punch.

I am also thrilled to report that Steve and I will be going to the Whole Parent, Whole Family conference in Boulder CO later this month. We have never been able to afford to go to Rahima's conferences before, but we got a "scholarship" since Steve is doing some of the audio recordings for her. He is free, I am half-price, and we also get a full set of the recordings made at this conference! We made our flight and car rental reservations online yesterday (we are flying into Colorado Springs Airport instead of Denver because Steve has some weird thing about the Denver runway) and will be staying at the Boulder International Hostel. I am super super excited about this. It will be a good hands-on look at compassionate parenting skills (something we both need to work on) and I am trying to divide my workshop choices between homeschool skills and parenting skills. Keynotes are "Integrating Brain, Body and Heart: Revelations from Recent Brain Research" by Tim Burns, "Fostering and Preserving Your Child's Creative Spirit" by Regina Mason, and "The Rebirth of Play" by Joan Almon. I also signed up for

    "Hands-On Math for the Early Grades" with Barbara Dewey
    "Handwriting as a Transformative Tool" with Jennifer Crebbin
    "Creativity and Discipline: Discussion Session" with Regina Mason
    "Storytelling" with Barbara Dewey
    "Passionate Parenting" with Lori MacKinder

I initially wanted to take "Knit a Unicorn" (see VIDEO!) with Kristi Karima Burns, but Steve kept pointing out that I can knit at any time and if we're spending hundreds of dollars to go to this conference (courtesy of him doing some weekend side work, a major computer cabling job that took days and days -- thanks Steve!) I should get something out of it that I can't get at home. But the unicorns will be on sale at the vendor tables and I'd like to get three, one for each girl. I'd also like to get a copy of Kristie's book My First Herbal: Learning Herbs through Fairy Tales at the vendor tables, if available. She has a workshop to go with this one but, again, if I can get the gist of it by buying the book, I would rather just buy the book and do a different session. I chose the Vimala Alphabet for session B. I am very excited to learn about this -- I have been considering changing my handwriting for a while now (Steiner recommends this to help with personal growth) and learning about a new alphabet should be really inspirational. Jennifer Crebbin, who teaches that session, also has a book out (in this case I will buy the book and attend the workshop; in the case of handwriting, I think I would gain a lot out of seeing it in practice). If you are interested, it will be carried shortly by Steiner Books and is called Supporting Soul Development Through Handwriting: The Waldorf Approach to the Vimala Alphabet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Sweet Yummy"

Natalie was naming all the different kinds of apples which children in her class brought into school today and I stopped short when she said "Sweet Yummy." After thinking about it for a while, I asked, "You mean, Golden Delicious?" And she said, yes. But I'm here thinking, wouldn't Sweet Yummy be a wonderful name for an apple?

Leah and Rebecca stayed home with their father today while I went and taught my Funfit class. Who would think I'd end up as a child fitness instructor???? They did the first activity on our list: removing kernels of Indian corn from their cobs. Now we have a small bowl of kernels soaking in water overnight so that they can try stringing them to make a necklace tomorrow.

I bought a hand coffee mill on eBay so I'm excited for that to arrive.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Book & Activity List:
Add Felt Baby Corn to Nature table (needle felting kit at A Toy Garden)

Earthways -
"Removing Kernels from the Cob," page 56

"The Forgotten Ear of Corn" story from Fun with Fall Fruit and Foods by Tonya Lemos of Blazing Star Herbal School

Earthways -
"Stringing Necklaces," page 57
"Grating the Cobs," page 63

The Mouse and the Mill by Alma Coon (A Colonial Williamsburg Tale)

A Child's Seasonal Treasury -
"Corncakes," page 60
"Corn Husk Dolls," page 59

make cornmeal (Carol Petrash recommends buying a hand coffee mill as an inexpensive alternative to a grain mill -- there are LOTS used on eBay. Coffee Grinders is an actual category, or you can search under Antiques)

Earthways - "Grinding Corn," page 59

compare blue cornmeal, yellow cornmeal, white cornmeal

Natalie unexpectedly chose a library book this week that goes well with this theme -- The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story by Rudolfo Anaya

Field Trips:
Eastern Woodland Indian Village Day @ JPP
Saturday 11 am - 3 pm

Corn Maze @ Forrest Hall Farm & Orchard
Sunday 11 am - dusk
Location on Rt. 5 (Point Lookout Road) in Mechanicsville, MD
Approximately 9 miles north of Leonardtown or 1.5 miles from the intersection of Rts. 5 and 235 (Three Notch Rd)

D is for Dwarf

In the book, the short stocky dwarf is standing with his hand on his hip and the line of his body makes the upward thrust of the D and the curve of his elbow is the curve of the D. A lot of people also do D is for Door and you can draw a cute little dwarf house with a D-shaped door.

Our Harvest activities went well overall. The paper lanterns weren't a hit, since I dropped a lit tealight candle trying to get it into the lantern and all the children thought it was going to catch the house on fire. As did I. Having a lantern made of a flammable material just doesn't make sense to me and, besides, I was uncertain that the paper bottom was sturdy enough. We decided instead to put our tealights (lit on the counter and then lowered in with tongs -- I didn't have any kitchen matches) in the bottom of old glass jars (honey or jam jars). This worked out much better and you can glue tissue paper shapes to the outside and give it a wire or string handle for holding.

Our wool dyeing went extremely well. We used beets (from a can), papery yellow onion skins, and chopped red cabbage. The beets gave us a pinkish tan. The onion skins yielded a beautiful honey golden brown, perfect for a doll hair color. Our red cabbage (we used over half the head) produced a light lavender-gray, a nice hair and beard color for an old man. Maybe Old Man Winter?

Some tips:
If you've never done this before it is quite easy. Just don't use a pan you were planning on using to cook dinner, since they simmer away all day long. First, chop up your dye agent and put it in a cheesecloth bag. Place the bag at the bottom of your pot. Tie the bag well because otherwise you'll spend forever picking tiny bits of onion skin out of your skein of wool. Next, place the wool (loose unspun wool, roving, or yarn) on top of the bag. Pour a semi-generous amount of white vinegar in the pot and then fill with cool water. A soup pot works better than a saucepan. You want there to be plenty of water for your wool to float in. Don't use hot water or your wool will felt on you. Start with cool. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a simmer over very low heat. This takes a while. Then let it simmer for most of the day. The wool will be paler after it is dry so don't take it out too soon. When you like the color you're getting, you can take it off the heat, remove the dye sack and then let the pot sit until the wool has absorbed all the color in the water OR until you love the color just as it is OR until you get bored. Rinse the wool thoroughly in cool water until no more color runs out of it. Lie flat to dry.

My three dye stuffs were pretty kid friendly. Rebecca, who is 2, chopped cooked beets into little pieces with a butter knife. Raw beets are a pain in the neck to work with but would obviously give a richer color. Leah, 3, removed the papery onion skins. Natalie, 5, tore apart a head of red cabbage. Of the three, I loved the onion color the best and this is easy to do -- just save your onion skins each week and over time you'll have a nice big pile.