Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Ministry of Silly Walks

We've recently done some interesting things in Poetry, Pottery, Puppetry, and Photography.

Did you know about National Poem in Your Pocket Day? This year it was on Thursday, April 21st. You choose a favorite poem, write it down, put it in your pocket, and share it with everyone you meet on that day!

Of course, you can make your own P in Y Pocket Day whoever you want to. Maybe it would be fun to choose four days a year, one for each season.


We recently discovered the AMAZING Craft Shop in the basement of the Student Center at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. They have designated rooms full of materials and equipment to work with paint, fabric, clay, leather, wood, metal, glass, and more. Simply pay a small materials fee and get to work making what you'd like! They have workshops and private lessons if you want more direction. Natalie had already gone once with a friend to the pottery studio and made some pieces, which you set on a shelf and they fire for you. Then you go back within 30 days and glaze them as you wish, then set them on another shelf and they do the second firing for you once there are enough pieces to fill a kiln. The baby and I walked up and down the long corridor and he was just entranced by all the art around us!

If you're looking to get started with clay, I highly recommend

The Great Clay Adventure:
Creative Handbuilding Projects For Young Artists

by Ellen Kong


This year -- FINALLY -- we participated in the All-Species Puppet Parade. It was on Friday, Earth Day. Becca so wanted to do this because they had been talking about it at school. She brought "Bubbles," her Chesapeake Bay seahorse puppet made of recycled materials, which she created several years ago at a Earth Day puppetry workshop at her old Montessori school.

Recycled Puppetry - Animals of the Chesapeake Bay - Puppets on Parade

Becca loved her seahorse puppet so much that we still had it hanging up in her room.

It was an awesome experience, very cheery and family friendly, a short and safe parade route, and Zac's first parade!


Natalie made a mask (a cat with a unicorn horn) and Leah made a mask (a tiger) but neither of them ended up in the parade. Natalie wasn't happy enough with her mask to parade it around and Leah ended up taking a hike with a friend. They were, however, both really happy with the photography work they had done as part of Picturing Home, a multi-week art experience supported with funding from "Here We Live." The final event was a dinner, which the kids helped make, and a chance for them to show off all of their photography with a big display. Natalie and Leah were thrilled to have their artwork displayed at the Carbondale Community Arts building!

Before we enjoyed dinner, Sarah Lewison, one of the workshop leaders over the multi-week series, led us in an exercise to help us Find Our Unique Individual Walks. This was something she taught the kids to do and it is centering and great fun. Here are the steps:

    In silence and without touching anyone else, walk around. Fill the whole space. Do this for a minute.

    Make your walk larger. Continue for a minute.

    Make your walk sillier. Continue for a minute.

    Come up with a sound that accompanies your walk. Make the sound while you move around. Do this for a minute.

    Stand still and at the count of 3, throw both arms up over your head and loudly yell!!! 1 - 2 - 3 - AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

    Then immediately exhale and blow out through your mouth and bend down and touch your toes.

Sarah says, "If you don't look stupid, you're not doing it right." :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monkey Business at the Library

Zac is now 11 months old and we took him to Toddler Storytime at the library today!!! It was his very first time going to the library.

Of course he loved the songs and finger plays and completely ignored the books (because they were being held by the librarian and she wasn't very close to us), looked around at all the other babies and crawled and explored and threw his toys on the floor and lost a sandal and so on. It was fun!

They had a nice little opening and closing rhyme routine, and then I wrote down the books they read and we skipped the paper bag monkey puppet craft and just went outside to crawl in the grass and play with the dogwood blossoms which had fallen.

Opening Rhyme - Ten Little Fingers

I have ten little fingers.
And they all belong to me.
I can make them do things.
Do you want to see?

I can close them up tight.
I can open them wide.
I can put them together.
I can make them all hide.

I can put them up high.
I can put them down low.
I can put them in my lap,
And sit just so.

Closing Rhyme - Thank You

My hands say thank you with a
clap, clap, clap.
My feet say thank you with a
tap, tap, tap.
Clap, clap, clap.
Tap, tap, tap.
Turn yourself around
And take a big bow.

My two cents? I liked Monkey Do! and Good Night, Gorilla. I didn't care for the other two. (The librarian was telling the moms how much she loved Koko's Kitten so you could maybe swap that in for Little Beauty. And the Juliet Kepes version of Five Little Monkeys is greatly superior). Other thoughts are going through my mind of course. Personally, I would have put Caps for Sale in a booklist about Monkeys!!! And there's always Curious George...

It irked me that the librarian told the children that gorillas are "big monkeys" and I know Maria Montessori would have been NOT happy about that either. You can simplify things for young children but you should still try to be accurate. "There are both monkeys and apes" would have been a vast improvement, and is still not too hard for children to understand. Or "A gorilla is a cousin to a monkey" could perhaps be a way to explain it.

Monkey Do!

Good Night, Gorilla

Little Beauty

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Koko's Kitten

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

The Complete Adventures of Curious George

They did two songs. I didn't much like "The Monkeys in the Zoo" (tune of The Wheels on the Bus) but I thought the Itsy Bitsy Monkey was really cute. And I usually detest the word cute.

Itsy Bitsy Monkey (tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider)

The itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree
(have hands climb)

Down came a coconut that bopped him on the knee
(drop fist from overhead to hit yourself on the knee)

Along came his Mama, who kissed away the pain
(kiss your fist -- I kissed Zac's fist)

Then the itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the tree again
(climb hands again, having kids stretch up as high as they can reach)

Zac's grandma met us there. She also babysits his little cousin several days a week, and was saying she wished she had a collection of rhymes and finger plays and songs, so I am lending her the following:

Plus There's a Hole in the Bucket by Nadine Bernard Westcott and Baa Baa Black Sheep by Iza Trapani, just for fun.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Tell Me a Story" Book Review

I just purchased the sensational book Tell Me a Story: Stories from the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.

This is a lovely early childhood book for Waldorf families... I absolutely suggest adding it to your collection if you are looking for stories to read or tell your child! Unlike some other Waldorf storytelling books there aren't puppetry ideas or directions for circle time movement games or sheet music for singing or other musical accompaniment to the tale. It is simply a beautiful age-appropriate compilation of gentle nature-oriented stories for little ones.

This is the kind of book you give to a new mother and father! And then you get a copy for yourself too and you end up lending that one to a friend and never getting it back... so maybe you should just go ahead and get three!

Here is the Table of Contents, which is what I always want to know when I'm considering buying a book:

    Simple Stories to Start With

    Good Morning, Mr. Jay
    Rimple and Dimple
    The Hungry Bunny
    Mister Grieder's Farm
    And the Little One Said...
    The Lost Jewel
    Good Night, Baby Bear

    Nature Tales

    The Harvest Mouse
    Autumn Bear
    The Snowflake and the Leaf
    The Snowdrop
    The Oriole's Journey
    Small Cloud
    The Story of a Butterfly
    Mother Spider

    Stories for Seasons and Festivals

    Michael and the Dragon
    The Boy Who Spoke the Truth
    The Golden Star Flowers
    Mother Earth and the Leaves
    The Old Owl on the Farm
    Winifred Witch and Her Golden Cat
    The Big Red Apple
    The Harvest Gift
    Squirrel Nutkin's Thanksgiving
    Hugin and the Shooting Stars
    Fiochetto Bianco
    The Golden Lantern
    Hugin's Lantern
    Mother Earth's Children
    Silvercap, King of the Frost Fairies
    The Crystal Cave
    The Child of Light
    Holy Nights
    The Polar Bear
    A Million Valentines
    Leprechaun's Gold
    Lady Spring Arrives
    The Mud Muffins
    The Little Pine Tree
    The Old Woman and the Tulips
    Grandfather Tomten and the Easter Surprise
    Golden Rabbit and the Rainbow Eggs
    The Caterpillar's Journey
    Corn Child and the Queen of Night
    Jimmy Acorn Stories

    Working and Helping

    The Little Girl Who Would Not Work
    The Legend of the Woodpecker
    Little Squirrel and the Mysterious Knocking
    The New Red Dress
    The Sheep and the Pig
    The Silent Maiden
    The Farmer Prince
    The Shining Loaf
    The Dragonfly's Tale
    The Fisherman and the Quiltmaker
    Do What You Can

    Journeys and Wonders

    The Story of the Mountain Pears
    The Sun's Sisters
    The Golden Pine Cones
    Peter, Paul, and Espen
    The Magic Lake at the End of the World
    The Dragon's Gate
    Hans and the Wonderful Flower
    Hidden Waters
    The Sword of a True Knight
    Wild Goose Lake

    Healing Stories for Special Situations

    The Little Seed's Journey
    Two Friends
    Knock, Knock
    Mouse Goes Looking for a House
    For Anastasia and Her Dear Grandmother
    Shuna, Teller of Tales
    The Wise Woman and the Magical Garden
    The Golden Fish
    Little Birds and Big Bugs

    Ending With Laughter

    The Travels of a Fox
    Little Half-Chick
    The Boy Who Tried to Fool His Father
    The Red Sheep
    Gecko's Complaint
    How to Break a Bad Habit

This collection of stories takes a spot on your shelf for sure, probably beside the Tiptoes Lightly series by Reg Down:

And Healing Stories for Challenging Behavior, Garden of Light: A Collection of Therapeutic Children's Stories, and The Knocking-Door-Tree Forest and Other Bangalow Tales: A Collection of Stories for Children, all by Susan Perrow, and Gifts from the Sea: A Collection of Stories for Children from Byron Bay, Australia, by Susan Perrow et. al. (These last three titles I got at one of Rahima's Waldorf conferences years ago and they are just lovely.)

My last recommendation in this category -- and it is one of the BEST books for Early Childhood if you can only afford one or two but you want to be Waldorf-inspired in your home and your parenting with toddlers -- is The Breathing Circle: Learning through the Movement of the Natural Breath by Nell Smyth. This is also THE book if you are trying to start a parenting or Waldorf homeschooling group for preschool and doing circle time, play time, snack, and stories. It walks you through all the HOW and WHY and is so inspirational. You just feel so all over warm and peaceful after you read it!!