Saturday, October 24, 2020

October - The Pumpkin House

You would think that as much time as I spend online tutoring on Zoom that I'd be able to keep up with all of my blogging. Not so! When I have time to step away from the computer I'm trying to hang out with Zac (or clean some part of my house). So I have fallen behind on my Kindergarten notes, and I'd like to bring that up to date. One, I think it's helpful for other people who have five year olds. And, two, now that I get to look back on my blog posts from when Natalie, Leah, and Beca were little and I was writing about their early childhood years, I think it's really nice to have those memories written down. Blogging for me is a combination of lesson planning and personal journaling. Since teaching is my life, I guess they are inextricably combined.

As I wrote before, I finally concluded that I wanted to keep the Waldorf seasonal storytelling and puppetry in our Kindergarten part of the day and move the "educational" content into picture books at naptime. At bedtime we are reading a chapter book (right now, Winnie-The-Poohby A.A. Milne).

For example, when Zac had all kinds of questions about birds because we had moved to doing school in an Outdoor Classroom, we read:

The week of Monday, October 12th we did a very sweet Autumn story & puppetry which is one of my favorites, and I'm really pleased to share it!


Monday, October 12

On Monday we did Leaf Sewing. I used metal tapestry needles and pearl cotton. These were really pretty hanging from trees. I got this idea from Victoria Hackett at Outdoor Classrooms, who shared it in a newsletter. It had also been one of my ideas for the Phoenix Tribe to leave as a nature surprise for the Magnolia Tribe to discover... but those pods weren't able to meet in person because the numbers in our county, and Illinois as a whole, keep going up.

Tuesday, October 13

We made Adventure Sticks. I got this idea from Suzanne down at Juniper Tree Puppets, who shared it in a blog post. You just take a stick and as you walk around on your nature walk you look for cool things and then tie them to your stick with a bit of yarn. Zac is really big into tying knots so he loved this activity.

Today was also really cool because my neighbor came over with a HUGE whale vertebra, which had been in her family for a long time, and showed it to us. I went to my Science Room (which is very handy) and brought out a deer vertebra so that we could hold it up in comparison. Amazing!

Wednesday, October 14

Zac has been craving working with yarn and string and tying knots, so I found a really cool branch and stuck it in the ground and let him create Spider Web Art in it with as many lengths and colors of yarn as he wanted. He loved it. At the end I tied a wool spider onto a loop of string, like a Christmas ornament, and let him hang it where he wanted on his design.

This black wool spider is the one I used to use for this week's story, until I realized that a cluster of little stems from our dogwood tree, after the berries fell off, made a much better little spider. So now I use the nature item as the spider and the wool one is for Zac to play with.

our "spider"


This story is actually not officially called "The Pumpkin House." It is an untitled Autumn poem that appears in Szanne Down's first book of Autumn Tales (the book is no longer in print and hard to find, so I'll share the words to the poem). It makes a lovely little puppetry. It was especially appropriate for us this year since Zac has now harvested his very first pumpkin of the year (on Friday, Oct 16). He is extremely proud of his little pumpkin. We actually didn't do much to grow it -- as this pumpkin was a cheery little volunteer from the compost patch -- except strenuously protect it from the deer. We stacked a huge pile of brush on one side of the compost path pile and stretched a very wide and tall net across on the other side. By undoing the twistie ties that attached the net to the fence on one side, and moving the net aside, we were able to slip in and check on the pumpkin.

Here is the poem of "The Pumpkin House" and some pictures of the telling of it. I used a pumpkin basket, orange wool for the soft interior of the pumpkin, a little grey felt mouse my mother made me years ago for our Nature table, our little dogwood berry stem-cluster "spider," and a white silk for the snow:

In my garden grows a pumpkin turning orangey gold.
Along came a little mouse, so the story's told.
Nibble nibble went the mouse
Till the pumpkin was a house,
With two big windows and a door,
And the softest feathers on the floor.
There the mouse lived well I know,
Even when it began to snow.

Spider trudged through the snow and ice,
Time to find a home that's nice.
Across the way he saw a glow,
'Twas mousiest house, Hello! Hello!
Just then the North Wind blew, and blew,
Oh please, may I move in with you?

Spider and Mouse lived all winter long
Cozy and warm, singing this song:

    In our little house so full of light
    We are safe and snug every night.
    Thank you dear pumpkin that grew on the vine,
    For our sweet home that is oh so fine!

-Suzanne Down

Circle Time

Lastly, some nice picture books to go with the changing of the seasons are

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