Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book Share Notes

So fun to hop on Zoom and see the kids and hear about what everyone is reading! Here are some recent book recommendations from our group:

Wednesday, October 21

Dog Man and Cat Kid (book #4)

by Dav Pilkey


by Lynne Cox

The Big Book of Birds

by Yuval Zommer

My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord

by David Solomons


Wednesday, October 28

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas (book #5)

by Dav Pilkey

Warriors: Fire and Ice (book #2)

by Erin Hunter

The Big Book of the Blue

Yuval Zommer

Class Dismissed

by Allan Woodrow

The Witches

by Roald Dahl

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

by Kate DiCamillo

The Big Orange Splot

by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Some Kindergarten Ideas for Color Explorations

I am really feeling drawn to the idea of spending some time on Colors. Of course, Zac already knows the names of all of the colors. But the world is so bright and beautiful outside right now, before November brings all of its grey and dreariness, and I keep thinking of Color books and Color activities. So I'm organizing what is on my mind right now. And, yes, we would still do a Halloween story on October 31st. My favorite is Suzanne Down's story "How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch." Here's the blog post from October 2018 with some photos plus our Circle Time and activities for that week.

I had actually made this needle felted hollow pumpkin for the story with the mouse and the spider, and then lost it (!), so I started using a pumpkin basket for "The Pumpkin House." Then when I found my original pumpkin I used it for Witchamaroo, so that she had something special for her story.

I remember when I was new to Waldorf in 2004 and I would see these pictures of beautiful wood and wool and silk toys and Nature table setups and it drove me absolutely crazy. Because it was all so expensive and/or time consuming! But I now know that you build up a collection like that over time and there's no rush. You can get a book or two and a toy or two each month, and it will slowly accumulate. Now, because my oldest child is 18, I have 16 years worth of Waldorf stuff. And Zac is fortunate to be the youngest, because he is surrounded by lovely things. I found Witchamaroo at the Magic Cabin website as part of a collection of Halloween Half-Penny Dolls. She just happened to fit into a little heart-shaped pocket necklace someone made for me years ago with a little peg doll in it (and which just happened to have a purple ribbon). So between the witch doll, the hollow pumpkin, and the pocket necklace, it all worked out. I think the key to teaching is to keep everything that everyone ever gives you because you will need it at some point. You just need to have a place to keep it all organized... that's the trick. But I have so often kept something for over a decade and then used it in a craft project or a story idea. It really does work.

Thoughts About Celebrating Colors


Pink is for Boys

by Robb Pearlman

this is a really important book and I think it should be read on the first day of Kindergarten and First Grade in classrooms across the country

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color

by Julia Denos

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors

by Joyce Sidman

Red Berry Wool

by Robyn Eversole


I think that Red Berry Wool lends itself well to crockpot dyeing wool yarn and also finger knitting. If you haven't started finger knitting yet, Kindergarten is the perfect time! And this story is always the one that I use to introduce it.

I think that Red Sings from Treetops is ideal for painting nature poetry. Waldorf early childhood often does wet-on-wet watercolor painting with just one color, and as the color dances across the paper the child gets to experience that color all on its own. Does it have a personality? Does it want to move in a certain way? How is painting blue different from painting red (hint: a red painting is over VERY quickly) and how is painting yellow different from them both? A nice Autumn poem for painting might be Autumn Fires by Robert Louis Stevenson.

On a rainy day, try painting There Are Holes in the Sky by Spike Milligan with a little tiny brush, blue watercolor paint, and dry paper.

(You can also do a movement experience with an Autumn poem. Pleasant Sounds by John Clare would be simply wonderful to play with that way.)

Anything with Autumn leaves would go well here too. I really want to do leaves dipped in beeswax!

I think that Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color would inspire color mixing (and naming) play. It is so fun to look at paint chips and see what the colors are called. I also love the idea of giving a child some paint chips and asking them to find those colors on a Nature walk. Or, mix your own color and paint it onto a slip of paper, and then go for a walk and see if you can find it!

And I think that Pink is for Boys is perfect for dyeing multi-colored rice.

And for making wet felted acorns (keep an eye out for acorn caps on those Nature walks). These are easy and fun. They're perfect for the Nature table and also make great gifts, especially if you make a whole rainbow of them.

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

October - The Gigantic Turnip

The week of Monday, October 19th we did another long-time favorite, "The Gigantic Turnip," and some activities around the idea of the Harvest.

Harvest here has been minimal, since I didn't keep up with my vegetable garden and most things either got covered by weeds or died from lack of watering. I'm quite a forgetful gardener. We do have lovely basil still growing in the Pollinator Garden, though! So we have eaten some of that. And we have steadily been picking cherry tomatoes from our collection of heirloom plants. When the radio said that a frost was expected, Zac harvested all of the remaining green cherry tomatoes. Of course, we also harvested our volunteer pumpkin (which Zac used as his entry for the Book Character Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the library).

And Zac has been collecting persimmons every single day since October 8th from under the persimmon tree. The very first day the Magnolia Tribe students were here we found a persimmon! The kids were very intrigued. And the tree is still loaded with them. Happily, they drop right into our new Peace Garden where they are actually easy to find because I cut down all of the overgrown weeds and spread a layer of mulch (so that the Dragon Eye Mandala could be made in a safe little spot). This clearing-out has made finding persimmsons super-easy! It was harder when it was a Rose Garden. One day Zac was really excited because he found nine persimmons!

You never pick persimmons from the tree. They aren't ripe then (and you will get a really uncomfortable feeling in your throat if you eat an unripe persimmon). You have to pick them up from the ground. They are sweeter after a frost, so we always collect them from the ground and put them whole in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. Then when we have enough, we thaw them and push them through a mesh strainer (so the skin and seeds, which are very large, stay behind) and then use the pulp in recipes.


Monday, October 19

Today was the deadline for the Book Character Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the library, so we did that as our "Harvest" activity. Zac wanted to do Jimmy Skunk, the main character from our last bedtime read-aloud story, The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk by Thornton Burgess. (Zac was on a Thornton Burgess kick for a year! Last year his entry into the contest was Reddy Fox.) We also read The Secret Life of the Skunk by Laurence Pringle to learn more about the skunk, and so we could see some more pictures.

Tuesday, October 20

Halloween is, of course, on the way. Tinkergarten has a great idea for a Witches Brew which you make in a hollowed-out pumpkin. So today we did that. Hollowing out a pumpkin is a LOT easier to do outside than inside on the kitchen floor. You don't even have to spread out any newspaper!

Zac wanted all the seeds and "pumpkin guts" for his mud kitchen play, so we just scooped everything out into one of his old pots. Then you fill the hollow pumpkin with water, let them collect Nature items for the brew ingredients, and add "magic ingredients" at the end so that it bubbles. Those magic ingredients are baking soda and vinegar. Clever! And it was a nice use for the cute little bottles of vinegar which I keep getting from Hello Fresh.

This twist on mud kitchen play kept him occupied for a long time.

Wednesday, October 21

Zac's request today was to rake leaves! So I set aside what I had been thinking of (which was making Crockpot Applesauce as our Harvest activity) and we just did that. I have really nice child-sized leaf rakes from For Small Hands, which is a Montessori catalogue. We have both the yellow metal leaf rakes for ages 3-5 and the bamboo ones for ages 6-9. He raked a big pile and jumped in it quite happily.

The 1 1/2 dump truck loads of mulch is still a pretty high mulch mountain in the yard, so he jumped in that too. I got all of that mulch for the school kids to climb on. I had a half dump truck load delivered for myself, so that I could mulch the paths in the yard and the gardens, but they were so thrilled with climbing on it that I had some more delivered. I will have to do a post of photos soon, because I haven't in a while. Seeing twelve year olds jumping happily in mulch alongside five year olds is a great thing!

It does seem that our Outdoor Classroom won't be used for the next few months, sadly, if the COVID situation is going to be as bad as is predicted. In that case I will mulch the paths and gardens as planned and then get a new delivery for playing on when the weather warms up and things resume in person. I took down our pop up tents and moved the straw bales into the garden to be for planting in in the spring. I can always get new straw bale seating again. It is nice to have open-ended things in the yard, that can be play things and also used in other ways as well. I would love to get a huge pile of rocks too! Kids seem to love transporting and building with rocks. And then, again, when the play phase has finished I can use them in landscaping.

Zac also had fun on Wednesday using some of the smooshed persmimmons that fell in his mud kitchen, and opening them up to see the large flat seeds. I am still planning on some Harvest recipes, besides whatever we do with the persimmons in the freezer. Crockpot Applesauce and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are what I'm thinking of right now, as well as some bread recipes that I wanted to make but haven't gotten to (Icelandic Thunder Bread and Michaelmas Dragon Bread). I do think we might have missed the boat for Zucchini Cake with Sour Cream Frosting. Oh well...


This is a classic Russian folktale. There is a simple retelling of it in the Autumn book by Wynstones. I used a wooden "stable" which I got from Nova Natural many years ago, a green embroidered flower silk which my mom brought back from Vietnam, a set of wooden figures for this story carved by Anne Moze, and a needle felted gigantic turnip which I made myself. I also needle felted a little mouse since Zac accidentally pulled the tail off the one Anne made and it's now in my mending pile.

The plot of this story is so simple for kids to learn that they really gravitate towards using the figures themselves afterwards to practice telling it.

Circle Time

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!