Saturday, November 28, 2020

Many Things to Be Grateful For

Zac and I had a lovely and quiet Thanksgiving. And we have so many things to be grateful for! A friend brought us a complete Thanksgiving dinner -- generously sharing the food from her family's feast -- because, through a mix-up, the dinner I ordered didn't arrive. She brought smoked turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, decorated sugar cookies, and apple crisp. It was amazing!

Zac and I got a special Thanksgiving book to read this year. It is Apple Cake: A Gratitude and it is very sweet and simple. The illustrations tell most of the story. This is a book with a recipe in the back, so if you get it be sure to have almond flour on hand. Your child will immediately want to make the recipe!

We get our eggs from a friend's chickens, so we do know where one of the ingredients in our cake comes from. Zac has even helped collect some!

I'm also grateful that Zac (now 5 1/2) is old enough to be able to really think about what he is grateful for, and he made me a very lovely card with an oak leaf taped to it. We snuggled in bed for a long time on Thanksgiving morning and listed all the things we were blessed to have, like a big house with a huge yard and a climbing tree, lots of books, lots of food, each other, and friends and family who love us and who are healthy and safe.

I'm grateful that I saved up enough money to take December off work and that I can be a SAHM instead of a WAHM. Zac is very excited! During his naptime and in the evenings I'm going to be working on my teacher training. This month in "The World of Needlework and Embroidery" with Elizabeth Seward we are doing sashiko stitching from Japan. I am also continuing with my year-long puppetry certificate course with Suzanne Down, and there is a lot of needle felting and puppet making happening here! We are finishing up three months of table puppets and about to begin three months of making rod puppets. Here is my Farmer Seth for September. I performed four little vignettes with him (duck for Spring, cat for Summer, skunk for Autumn, bonfire for Winter).

I just finished placing an order with A Child's Dream today for more kinds and colors of wool fiber, since I've been making up care packages for the students in my homeschool co-op and that reduced what I have on hand. I got some English Leicester (Suzanne Down recommends this as her top pick for needle felting), Corriedale, Merino, and Romney. I also have some fibers in my Handwork room that I haven't used yet that I would like to incoporate into some puppet making projects, including camel and alpaca.

And I am very excited to bring my vintage steamer trunk (it looks exactly like the one Professor Lupin packs up at the end of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie) in from the shed where it has been stored for decades, and set it up in my living room to be my puppet storage trunk!

Plus, I just signed up for Suzanne Down's Christmas Stocking Workshop / Finger Puppet Crafting Mini Marathon which she just put on a great sale ($37 down from $97). I love the iea of putting some puppets in Zac's stocking, or spreading them out over the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I am really looking forward to spending December tidying my house, hanging out with Zac, and making beautiful projects.

I am grateful for everyone in my life, for the chance to work in a job that I love, for the home that my grandparents built and which I have turned into a wonderful school, and for the time in December to have a slower pace to my life and several quiet weeks to make my living space orderly and beautiful, which will make me happy.

I am grateful for tiny things, like that the broken window in the Science Room is repaired so that cold air is no longer blowing into the house. I am grateful for huge things, like the scientists who are working at a blistering pace to understand this new virus and give us multiple and safe vaccine options, and for all of the hard-working Americans involved in casting and counting votes and all of the judges who are standing up to pointless court challenges, following the law exactly as they should. My enduring belief in the goodness of mankind make me feel safe, even though it is a scary time.

Of course we are all worried about the day in December when daily COVID case numbers hit 450,000 in this country. And I am not trying in any way to make light of that. It is extremely serious, and we should all stay home as much as we possibly can. But instead of looking at my December in terms of what I don't have -- a chance to see my mother and my daughters -- I so much prefer to look at it in terms of what I DO have. Which is a lot!!!!

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Resources for Teaching Kids Philosophy

One of the things I had wanted to do this school year was to start Philosophy back up again as a special subject. I am now thinking maybe we should do a Zoom Philosophy Club starting in January? Love and miss teaching it!!!!

If we did this I would either give each family participating a copy of our book, Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids by Marietta McCarty, so that they could read some background and discuss some thinking questions about each topic and/or philosopher we were going to discuss, or I could simply send out provocative questions beforehand that kids could talk about with their families. Either way, I think is is really important that the children have enough "think time" before we gather to chat.

My students always loved Philosophy because one of our discussion rules was that you (adult or child) called on the next person when you were done speaking, so that no one would inadvertently interrupt you while you were still forming what you wanted to say. The kids liked that I had to raise my hand too, and that sometimes I wouldn't get called on right away!

Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids

by Marietta McCarty

Most of my blog posts from teaching Philosophy are from years ago at The Tidewater School. After I left I turned the classroom blog over to my co-teacher and, when my co-teacher retired, the school deleted our blog... which was heartbreaking for me! So now they are gone. But I do have a few notes on the Waldorf Curriculum website, where you can see all of the topics and all of the philosophers Marietta includes in her book. With the Waldorf curriculum, starting in 6th grade is a good option when you study the history of Ancient Greece and get to Plato and Socrates.

Interestingly, Gareth Matthews has noted that kids STOP doing Philosophy spontaneously after the nine-year change (although he doesn't call it that). Children have fully "landed" on the Earth and begin to be interested in more practical matters, perhaps. Like Housebuilding.

So I think it would be fun to do Philosophy and have Zac (age 5 1/2) in on the sessions too, to see his point of view. He's still young enough that he is fully tapped in to his curious self, and he doesn't think any of his questions or ideas are silly. He doesn't have that hesitation kids get later on. And he's full of questions about things like God and Death right now. He asked me just the other day what the difference was between your brain and your soul.

And for the older children I think it would be balancing if we bring Philosophy back to them, especially if they've stopped asking those tough questions, and let them rediscover the joy of childhood wondering! Part of me thinks there is no better time for Philosophy, and The New York Times agrees (What is Freedom? Teaching Kids Philosohpy in a Pandemic, 06/25/2020).

And then part of me thinks that there is enough hard stuff in the world so we all need something lighter! I mean, when The New Yorker writes a 100% serious article about how to form a peaceful protest if Trump stages a coup (What Can You Do If Trump Stages a Coup?, 10/24/2020), you know things are pretty out of whack.

So I am still pondering the question of Philosophy for this year.

I love Marietta's book and have taught with it the most, but if you're curious about teaching Philosophy to children, there are lots of other resources. When I was a Philosophy major at Smith and getting interested in teaching it to kids, there were only a few people I could find writing about the subject in 1999 (Gareth Matthews, Matthew Lipman, Vivian Gussin Paley). Now there are many more resources! Here are some books, and if you know of websites please share the links!

Thanks to the Philosopher professor parent in our homeschool co-op who turned me on to this great series: Plato & Co.!

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