Waldorf Curriculum Homeschool Blog
Having tried unsucessfully to get Blogger.com to work for me, I suddenly realized that I
can easily create journalling pages linked to my site without extra help. This is a very informal
page with my personal notes as to how homeschooling is going for my family. Please feel free to email me
with comments. Learn more about my preschool curriculum by visiting the Curriculum Packages page.
Other Waldorf-inspired homeschool blogs you may want to check out include:
Natalie is 4 years, 10 months
Leah is 3 years, 2 months
Rebecca is turning 2 years old
January 31 - I just placed an order for a dyed wool roving assortment from
I am almost completely out of colors from all these crafts lately -- the Nativity scene took a lot!
Now I have done seven little dwarves and tonight Snow White. A Child's Dream Come True
sells roving also but if you want a little bit of a lot of colors, Weir Dolls is the way to go.
A complete roving assortment (34 colors) is just $36.95. And comes in a storage box. A good investment if you
plan to make a lot of figures. I think batting is easier than plain white roving
for forming the bodies, and I got my batting from A Child's Dream and have been very
happy with it.
The Southern Corn Bread is out of the oven and the kids
are downstairs play happily waiting for snack time. The bread is cooling. It looks
yummy but very crumbly. It fell apart when I took it out of the pan. Didn't stick, though,
which is a good thing. N loved the dwarf story earlier and insisted that I tell it again.
I had set up the scene secretly with the dwarves and covered it all with a silver silk
(from Natural Earth Family Farm). When it came time to reveal the dwarves, I lifted
the silk and there they were! I'll try to take a picture; they came out so cute. You can
make them out of felt, too, of course but I happen to be a big fan of needle felting right
now and it is so quick and easy.
Tomorrow morning all three children are going to the dentist -- whee! -- and
then in the afternoon I'll do the story of Little Snow White (from Favourite Grimm's Tales)
for Natalie. Tonight I have to make little Snow White! Which is what got me thinking
I needed to buy some more colored roving which took me to the computer and here we are, full circle.
P.S. My little nephew Sammy was born yesterday morning by C-section. Mom and baby are both doing fine.
January 30 - Craft time this morning at the church went well and we were
invited back. Natalie wasn't interested at all in finger knitting -- maybe because
she thought it was pointless (that's a melancholic for you) -- so I'm going to
try to think of a project that will use cords and then she can help me make
them. The afternoon project went well. The hardest thing is getting the hole
in the bottom of your can small enough so that you get only a few drops
at a time and not a stream. Figuring out how to hang the can from the tree branch
was tricky too. We tied yarn around it but I'm sure there's a better way.
I was searching and searching for something to use as a bird bath but then I realized
that we had a lovely stump with an indentation in the middle several inches
deep. It makes a nice place for birds to come and wash themselves. So
we hung up the water can and we'll see if it attracts any birds. Natalie
loved her painting session, too. I have some photos of all blue watercolor
paintings from the workshop with Barbara Dewey and I will try to add them here, as
well as write up what I learned. Maybe tonight while the kids are sleeping.
AM - hang suet and suet feeder at bird feeding station
* * * * *
hang a bell around the neck of the cat; read "Belling the Cat" from The Fables of Aesop
PM - make Southern Corn Bread from The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book
while it's baking do the Dwarf Circle Play from Let Us Form a Ring by Nancy Foster.
For this I will need a group of dwarves to hide under a silk "mountain".
I'll make them tonight using the directions in Making Magical Fairy-Tale Puppets by Christel Dhom. also, I've packed the xylophone so I'll have to use some other kind of musical instrument - maybe the drum
Barbara Dewey just wrote to me to say she was reading my blog! So I hope I write down the notes from
our workshop correctly. :-) I promise promise to get to that tonight. Have to go make dinner now.
* * * * *
And here I am with all kids in bed and my plate of dinner. Opening my journal...
Family Arts Weekend
with Barbara Dewey
Friday night was our first gathering time. We began by singing songs together and then
introduced ourselves. Misty (the drama leader for the workshop -- the weekend
focused on improvisational theater) had us state our name in a unique way pair
it with a unique gesture or motion. Then after you introduced yourself, everyone
else in the circle had to say "Hi..." and repeat your name and do your gesture/motion.
This imitation forced us to listen more carefully to the names of the other people
and the gesture and tone of voice that people picked was a sneak peek into their personalities.
Everyone there attended as a family so there were adults of various ages and children
ranging from a 4 month old babe in arms to a cluster of thirteen kids aged 4 (Natalie) to 11. It
was a total of about 25 people plus the workshop leaders.
After another getting-to-know-you
activity we watched a shadow puppet play of Saint George and the Dragon. The set was
beautiful -- it was a carved wooden three-piece backdrop (like a science fair backboard)
with a cut out in the center large piece that was covered with sheer fabric or tissue
paper, I couldn't tell which. When the light came on we could see the silhouettes
through this cut out. Then we talked about the elements of a play -- who, what,
where/when. ie. character, plot and setting. Misty led us in a discussion of "What makes
a Who?" where we talked about all the things that make a good multi-faceted character.
Then we were told to pick who we wanted to be in our play, to be held Sunday afternoon.
Misty is a GREAT leader and the perfect person to teach this workshop. She knew how
to talk to the kids in a way they could relate to. She told them, now, between
tonight and tomorrow morning during breakfast, you can change your mind about what you want to be as many times
as you want... but after breakfast, you can't change your mind any more. So think
about all the wonderful amazing fantastic things you want to be and then pick one. And
we were told to "meet" our characters and carefully notice everything about them that
we could, what they look like, what their story is.
After gathering we headed off to bed. Natalie and I slept together on a futon mattress
on the floor of the farmhouse on the property. We had the Rumplestiltskin room and
got a copy of the story in our bedroom with us, as well as a castle setup with
characters so we could act it out!
In the morning, Natalie decided she wanted to be a baby elephant (having changed
her mind from the original idea of lion) and I planned to be a tree fairy. A dryad,
really. I didn't want a lot of lines. Normally I am the one who leaps in front
of the camera every chance I get, and you can't shut me up :-) but I thought
it would be better if Natalie had a steady place to go to if she got freaked out on stage.
Instead of having me exiting or something. I had packed my copy of The Breathing Circle
by Nell Smyth, my new favorite favorite book for preschool, and N and I did a nice morning
stretch, then headed out on a walk around the property of Barbara's farm. N pooped out before
we got to the top of the big hill but we still got a good walk and there was a nice view.
Later that day it started to snow which was even better! We'd only gotten a few flakes before
in MD and no accumulation, so the Ohio snow made her very happy.
After breakfast we headed to the barn for our morning gathering. Misty led
us in morning warm-ups. Every time before starting our drama work we warmed up four things: body, face,
voice, and imagination. The body warm up went in this order: L hand, R hand, L foot, R foot. We would
shake each 4 times, then 3 times, then 2 times, then once. Sounds simple but try it. It's very
invigorating. For face stretches, we pretended our face was melting and falling right off our face,
then lifted all of it up high. Then pretended the wind was blowing our face to the left, then the right.
For voice warmups, she would hold her hand in the air in front of her and we'd move our voices up
when she lifted in higher and down when she lowered it. We also practiced stopping all at the same
time when she made her hand into a fist.
The imagination warmups were my favorite. This was to drop down our barriers and get us into the spirit
of improv. Again, Misty did a fantastic job of getting us to relax. First, we had to go
all around the room calling things by any name except what they really were called.
And you can't spend a lot of time as you're walking up to something thinking about and planning
something clever to say, you just do it and move on to the next thing. Spontaneous. Next,
we had to continue calling things by the wrong name but pretending it's something incredibly
valuable and precious. That was a lot of fun and that was when the first snowflakes began to fall.
I could see them out the huge glass windows of the barn (converted into living quarters). The glass
windows ran the length of the building and overlooked a lake. So magical. I knew then at
that moment that this weekend was going to be amazing. After I dragged my eyes away from the fluttering
snowflakes, we were told to get in pairs. This was the exercise: first person mimes an activity.
Second person says, "What are you doing?" First person says anything except what
they are really doing. Then the second person begins to mime that new thing... the thing person A said
they were doing. Then person A watches them for a minute and asks, "What are you doing?" Person B
responds with something different then what they are doing and person A begins to act it out. And so on.
Finally, we created a story with our partner by taking turns saying a word. I say the first word,
you say the next word, and I have to keep going even though I had no idea what you were going to say and
may have been thrown off by it... but the story goes on. By only giving input of one word at a time
you are able to lend to the creation of the story but you cannot control its direction. So she
was teaching us how to first create and then give up creation and share it with the other person, an important
skill in improv. I found the skill building exercises very interesting. Natalie didn't understand
the concept of the one word at a time storybuilding so we paired up with another mom and her daughter. One
thing Misty spoke to the group about after this activity is learning when your story is done. It doesn't
just keep going and going, it has a natural end and feeling this end and respecting it is an important
part of story creation. She says when it comes to ending your story, usually sooner is better than later.
Someone should tell this to Stephen King.
After morning warm ups we headed off to our wet on wet watercolor painting session with Barbara Dewey.
I took some pictures of this. She called it "Experience with Blue." Blue is the most calming
of the primary colors (it is the color associated with the phlegmatic child) and children who paint
with blue will work longer on their paintings than either all red or all yellow work. This is even true
of adults. All of us wanted to keep on painting forever. Red is the
absolute fastest. So, these were the directions Barbara gave us. First, you soak your watercolor
paper in some water. She used a plastic bin, large enough to hold the paper with a several
inch margin around the edges.
The heavier the paper is, the longer you soak it. When getting a whole pile
of paper wet, add them to the bin one sheet at a time and take them out
starting with the bottommost one first.
Strathmore watercolor paper, cut off the spiral bound pad. Now, I never realized this before
but you don't tape your paper to your board. I always skipped the paper soaking and just
brushed my watercolor paper with a wet sponge before painting on it because I thought that counted.
When you soak your paper for a few minutes and then lay in on a piece of plexiglass as
your painting board, it sticks to the plexiglass so no need for tape. Then the sponge
is for drawing across your paper to remove visible standing water and to ensure your paper
is pressed smoothly against the board with no bubbles underneath. So there you go.
Then Barbara painted a dark blue strip at the top and bottom of her paper with a lighter blue
(simply dip your brush in water before you put it in the paint to thin the color) in the
middle. The entire page was blue. Then she made mountains, rising up from the bottom strip through the center
strip and touching the top strip. Two mountains. Then you dry your brush by rinsing
it in the water and then dragging it on the sponge, then pulling the bristles between
two fingers to get as much water out of it as possible. With the dry brush,
she removed paint from the tops of the mountains to create white snowy peaks.
Where one drop of water fell on her painting and created a small blur,
she used the dry brush technique again to pick up paint and made the shape of a crescent moon.
You can see this painting more up close on the Group page under Photos. Then she
left us with this example to create our own paintings from. For people who have
done a lot of wet on wet watercolor painting, she showed us the Bunnies in Winter
picture from the back of Waldorf-Inspired
Watercolor Painting with Children. It uses only blue but starts with a pure white
background and only the bunnies and shadows are added to create hills of snow. Barbara's
final tip was to use a grease pencil, which will write on wet paper, to write our names on our
work. Here is Natalie's painting, which I had her "sign" and then marked with a heart which is her symbol
in our family.
Following the painting session, we headed back to the barn for our play group meeting (the families
were divided up into two equal-sized groups and the plan was for each group to put on a play
Sunday while the other group acted as their audience).
In this meeting, which was like nothing I had ever experienced before, we went
around the circle and every person described the character they had in mind. Some even
had chosen a name for their character. Karen, Barbara's daughter and one of the workshop leaders,
was our scribe and faithfully recorded what everyone said in the computer. I was the last to speak.
I was Twyla, the tree fairy. I didn't move. I spoke very gently and loved flowing water
and animals. It was interesting because I listened to everyone else and I thought, should I really
say who I want to be? I mean, doesn't it make more sense for me to try to change into something
that would work better with one of the other characters? But Misty didn't have us do that, she didn't
have us change in any way. We all got to be who we wanted to be. In some cases we changed where
we had planned to live, simply so the play flowed better and had fewer location changes, but
we all got to keep the essence of our characters. So after the introduction of all the folks in our
play, we did some brainstorming about how the people might fit together, suggested some possible
scenes or, at least, some interactions between people, and then took a break for lunch.
For the remainder of the time, we alternated with the other group, except the evening timeslot.
While they worked on their script with Misty, we worked on creating our costumes. While we worked
on script, they worked on costumes. It was nice because after lunch we had some break time and
Natalie got a (small) nap and the other kids got out sketchpads and started drawing and the adults
sat around and chatted. Lots of the women brought their knitting. Anyway, I missed part
of the second barn meeting because I wanted to let N sleep a bit but then I got there for the
last warm up. It was the imagination one. For this, we had a large group audience and a part
of the room set aside as the stage. The person on "stage" was acting out an action continuously
while the group watched. When you thought you knew their location (not just what they
were doing, but where they were) you raised your hand and Misty ran over and you whispered it in
her ear. If you were right, you got to join the scene on stage. If not, she'd announce, no, they're
not in a candy store, or whatever it was not. After several people have joined the scene and another person
gets it right, Misty would annouce their location and then the last correct guesser begins the next round.
So after that whole group session we hashed out our plot, which took quite a lot of time (Karen was
the scribe again for this, our dialogue), and then
did some more costume design. I couldn't believe how quickly it was all coming together! Dinner,
then the second evening. For this one, Barbara did the puppet show The Frog Prince. Sunday we
had dress rehearsal, practiced our scripts (we had improv'd the scene the day before so it wasn't
a script set in stone or anything. But there were key things that had to be gotten across). After
lunch it was Show Time! The workshop leaders got the whole thing down on DVD and the movie will
be sent to our house in a week or so. I can't wait for everyone in my family to see Natalie's
on-screen debut as Girlie, the baby elephant.
During the final lunch, Misty came by to share ideas for integrating theater throughout the curriculum.
One of the things she talked about first was walking the number line. She says, for everything
you are teaching, see if it can be a character or a place. Anyway, they did
a gigantic number line, with the space between each number equal to her daughter's stride. From 0 to 100.
On zero the child is empty handed. When she steps to one, she stops and picks up a bean. She says
out loud, "I am 1". Next, step, I am 2. When she steps to ten, another child
is there. She stops and picks up a bean and a baggie
and says I am 10, transferring all the beans to a bag because her hands are getting full. The second child
is empty handed. At 11, child B picks up the bean and they say, I am 10. I am 1. 10 and 1 is 11.
And this continues until you get to 100, at which point, all the baggies of 10 go into a basket which
Misty also gave suggestions for geometry. She made a map of their house on graph paper and
began to hand her daughter pairs of numbers when she stood in certain places. After about two
weeks, said daughter realized that they were the coordinates on the map! And when Misty
gave her daughter three numbers, she said that after about a week her daughter realized that
she had to go upstairs to find the point being referenced. For this, of course, you'd have
to add an upstairs to your graph paper house as well.
Fractions was the best. The Land of Fractions. She told her daughter a story about the princess
one half and one third wanted to marry her but the King and Queen said NO because he was a pauper.
So he went off and put on a disguise and came back as two-sixths. See, he's still 1/3 but he
just looks different on the outside. Misty and her daughter actually made costumes and dressed
up as the characters! She also talked about multiplying by one, where the other characters
change costumes (1/3 multiplied by 2/2) to look the same but are really the same number.
It was funny, she actually said they run into each other. You put on the costume and run into
each other, bam! you are multiplied. :-)
Anyway, I had a great time and I hope some of my notes from this conference are helpful to people. You
can find Barbara's list of upcoming conferences and speaking engagements here
and also buy her books on her website. She also sends out a quarterly newsletter which you
can sign up for on the site.
January 29 - The Kids in Motion teacher turned out to be Natalie's previous Kids in the Kitchen
teacher so that was nice. She remembered the children. We had a busy morning! Steve's giving
the kids lunch now and then they will take their naps. I'm down in my office getting organized
for our afternoon activities. This morning I scrubbed out the oven with Arm & Hammer baking soda
since that's what the polymer clay woman told me to do. We baked the knitting needles yesterday
afternoon. I had the kitchen window open, the door to the deck open, and two fans on but I still
think we got fumed a bit. I had a terrific headache but it might have been psychological, you never
know. Anyway, I don't think I'll be using polymer clay again. It just made me uncomfortable.
We'll do acorn caps with my remaining students and maybe when Natalie and I make knitting
needles again in first grade we'll try painting some wooden balls or something. The needles
I got from Peace Fleece have hand-painted wooden balls on the ends.
So today we're doing pinch pots. I have some ideas for the rest of the week... we haven't done
most of our bird feeding activities. I also want to paint some dried gourds to make maracas. They
already have seeds inside so they make noise when you shake them. But I'd like us to decorate them
in some way. My skin crawls at the idea of a set of poster paints -- I'd rather do walnut dye or something --
but I'm not sure what we'll do to decorate them. Hubby is finishing up my new office so N can take
this room to be her bedrooom. So maybe I'll get some packing done this week as well! I'm toying with
the idea of two offices. Actually, an upstairs desk and a supply room basically. I always have my piles
of teaching books upstairs and they are usually on the floor somewhere. I need two designated spaces.
One for long-term lesson planning, books & materials storage for past and future units, and my
custom unit design work, etc. The other can be smaller and just hold what I'm using right now, what
I need to have at my fingertips for the week. So maybe a flat surface and a bookcase. Then the larger
office is a big desk and rows and rows of shelving. We'll see. I can't stand being so unorganized.
I thought moving into a bigger house would automatically give me more room but now I'm seeing
that it's very easy to make many rooms of the house into unorganized piles of garbage and just live primarily
in two or three. In other words, having more space means that you can just shove your piles
of unorganized stuff farther away from you and pretend they don't exist. I'm down here looking and I can't find
any of my clay books or my clay... so we may do some last minute activity changes this afternoon.
* * * * *
What did it end up being? Pine cones covered with peanut butter and thistle seed. All three children
participated. We went outside to hang them and I thought we'd follow with some outside play time
but no dice. Too cold. It's about 34 degrees today. Right now Steve took them off my hands so I could
make dinner and they are cleaning and vacuuming the playroom. I am briefly journaling about what
we did today. The goal is less time complaining and more time documenting. Steve moved a huge bookcase
into our bedroom so I could transfer my preschool teaching book collection and art and craft supplies
for the week's activities to it. When I have time I'll write down the list of books. I like having
every Waldorf book known to man (or, almost every) but sometimes it just gets to be so much and you
wonder if you are really using them to their full potential. I myself am working hard
to get more Waldorf-y. I hope to write a set of Kindergarten lesson plans that is really like a real
classroom, whereas my preschool units were my fumblings to learn how to apply Waldorf but I was
really still thinking more like a traditional preschool teacher. I don't know if I'll really
completely lose that, especially in the absence of some honest-to-goodness Waldorf training, but
I hope to get as Waldorf as I can before my kids get too much older. Oh, I'm back into complaining again. Whoops!
Plan for tomorrow:
AM - craft time at the church - 9:30 am
teach Natalie finger knitting
(see "What Is Finger Knitting and How Do I Do It?" article from Waldorf
PM - continue Caring for the Birds and Squirrels (from Earthways, pp.72-73)
they suggest punching a small hole in a large juice can and hanging it above a bird bath so the sound
of running water will attract the birds
Painting wet on wet with blue
Natalie and I did this last weekend with Barbara Dewey and I know
she'd like to do it more. Blue is very calming, also the perfect color for wintery weather
January 28 - Okay, here is how my Sunday School lesson went for today. This was the first
time I told the children directly that I would be teaching them to knit (I beat around
the bush for a while because I was afraid I'd be faced with objections from the boys). Red Berry Wool was the perfect
way to introduce it! and the kids are totally excited about this project. Here is what we did:
welcome students as they enter, take attendance
light candle, say prayer
- what is our service project? review
- read Red Berry Wool by Robyn Eversole
- show knitting needles - able to hold many loops of yarn at the same time
(as opposed to finger knitting, which we did in last week's class)
- show sweater - ribbing, cables are formed by different types of stitches, etc.
- look for other examples of knitted clothes children are wearing
- pass out dowels, parchment paper, polymer clay, hand wipes
- 2 colors per child - no duplicate color combination
- show sample knitting needles in Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick
- write down color choices of each child
- when finished set aside, CLEAN HANDS
- show raw wool, demonstrate carding
- show plain roving and colored roving (from Weir Dolls)
- show drop spindle, demonstrate spinning
- tell children about spinning wheel demonstrations at farmer's market
- I have instructions on making a drop spindle using old CD's in Spin It: Making Yarn from Scratch by Lee Raven -
children who want to look through the book can stay after class
storytelling (pp.79-82 of Old Testament Stories by Roy Wilkinson)
Saul and David
David Challenges Goliath
word search #37 from Bible Memory Word Searches for Kids by Richard & Ruth Spiering
(I was having a hard time getting kids to memorize their Bible passages so this is my new approach.
This Bible verse is Psalm 118:24.)
blow out candle, say blessing
So now I am sitting in my kitchen baking our polymer clay balls for the ends of
the knitting needles. For children who are not here today, and will need needles made
quickly at the beginning of next week's class, I will gather a collection of acorn
caps which they can glue on the end of their dowel rods (the other suggestion given
in Kids Knitting).
* * * * *
AM - Kids in Motion 10:30 am @ NECC
$5 per child
Music & Movement class
PM - working with clay,
building with blocks
check on ice cubes from Saturday, outside play time
RNM gather acorn caps for S.S. lesson
January 27 - Just recovering from the stomach flu. Leah got me sick, I guess.
All is well now however. Today I went to the farmer's market to meet up with some craft
people and learn more about my Sunday School lesson for tomorrow. We're making our own
knitting needles using polymer clay for the balls at the ends and I'm going to
demonstrate hand carding and using a drop spindle. I got business cards from the ladies
and hope to encourage my students to shop at the market for their yarn, if they get
into knitting and want to do more projects, and thereby support local businesses. The fiber guild does spinning
wheel demonstrations every Wednesday at the farmer's market. I hope some of the children
really get into the fiber arts (I'm a big fiber arts nut) and start to experience the joy
of making something with their hands. I know you get the same thing from woodworking
and various other activities but I'm not as close to those. Maybe in a few years the students
and I can do a large woodworking project. I'm going to have them do a "class play" at the end of
the year, in May. I found a play written by Michael Hedley-Burton called Saul and David
which will be perfect. We are beginning the story of Saul and David tomorrow in class. So we
can learn the story and then I'll introduce the play, assign parts, make costumes, etc. etc.
I think the best thing is for us to put on the play in the Fellowship Hall. It is the big
room people exit into after the service. If we can coordinate the schedule so that the play does
not happen on a day there's a fellowship meal, people can listen to the sermon (which I'll
see if the pastor can do on something relevant to our story, so that it works well together) and
then come through the double doors and sit down in the chairs and watch our show. There
are several exterior doors into the Hall so it works well for entrances and exits. Michael
Hedley-Burton even wrote two pieces of music to go with this play! David sings a song in it.
I'm not sure if we'd be able to do that or not. Anyway, something to work towards. There are ten parts
plus Chorus which uses everyone else who shows up that day. I definitely have enough students to do it.
And it works well as an end-of-the-year project, to highlight the students and how well they have
learned to work together.
Today is a nice day so the children are going to play outside with their Papa. I just did a bunch
of grocery shopping so the freezer is packed full and I had to take out the bin of ice cubes from
the ice cube maker in the freezer to make room. So I dumped the cubes into a large bin and the kids
can play with them while they are outside and watch them melt. I had a large bin of flour when Natalie
and I first started preschool and she loved it. I meant to change it every month to a new substance
but we only did two or three before the bin got called into service for something else. I don't know
if it's the New Year, or the Waldorf conference, or what but I feel very motivated to do more with
school and get back into scheduling fun projects for every day. I hope this motivation lasts!
I feel really badly that I've been away from the computer for so long. I always try to faithfully
journal what we are doing (or what we're not doing, for people who feel guilty that they're not
homeschooling "properly") and I have definitely lapsed in that. I always think when we do something
fun, I should put that in my blog, and then sometimes (especially if it's a really fun productive day)
I just don't get to the computer and I forget. When I'm feeling way behind and frantically trying
to get organized, spending a day or so making lists and charts and notes and plans... that's when
I tend to be on the computer and so my blog entries lately have been more complaining about getting
nothing done. That's not really the point of the blog so I need to get more on track. If we have
a great day and I'm doing stories with my kids and nature walks and cooking then I am -- by
definition -- not on the computer. So what to do? I guess the solution is to have the laptop in the kitchen
or living room instead of downstairs in a dark office so that I am more able to blog when I'm feeling
light and lively.
THE LIST has been part of that, since recording all the great preschool books that I own has
reminded me that I have tons of ideas just sitting on the shelf. Again, if I can find the books
and set aside some time each evening to plan for the next day, I'd be 90% of the way to homeschool perfection.
I really really really want to do a better job with my kids. I'd like an easier
planning and documentation strategy, something live on the website where I post plans for tomorrow
and then notes about how it went, so that I don't spend hours typing and creating pdf files. Candlemas
is coming up (Feb 2) and Valentines Day (Feb 14)... Gotta gotta gotta get on the ball.
Anyway, right now it's ice cube play time!
January 23 - I got as far yesterday as writing "How exhausted am I!" and then
had to turn off the computer... so now I'm finally back. Exhausted, yes. But I had
a great time. I have a lot to share from my workshop with Barbara Dewey. I'm not
sure how long it will take to get it all written down. Right now Leah is at the doctor
(Steve took her) because she's been throwing up since Thursday and we're worried about
dehydration. Everytime I give her Gatorade it just makes her throw up again. The cat
also went in to the vet for $2000 worth of emergency surgery. Poor cat. That happened
while I was in Ohio, so it was a shock to me when I got back. I'm not sure if I would
have paid for it, but what can you do. My husband already made the decision. I've never
put an animal down, so I don't know how gut-wrenching of a decision it is, but $2000 is
a lot of money. Anyway, what's done is done. Our dryer is broken and the repair guy
won't come until Thursday so I have no way to get through the pile of throw-uppy clothes
and things quickly. I guess we'll be using a clothesline.
So I'll get back online when things are quieter and write down my notes and share my pictures
from the Family Arts Workshop. Thanks, Barbara, for organizing it!
January 16 - This morning we are going to the nature center for a program
called "Tree Bark Posters" from 10 to 11:30 am.
"Winter is the best
time of year to make tree bark posters. We'll search for various trees and make rubbings
of their beautiful bark. Bring mom or dad, come dressed for the weather. Warm
drinks and cookies for all!"
After naps today I'd like to take the children to get haircuts.
Tomorrow another nature program, this one called "Animals
Some animals sleep through the winter and some do not. Find out from the puppets
who sleeps all winter long and sho you might find outside on a winter day. Wear your
pajamas and take a "nap." Then put on your coat and take a quick walk outside to find animals awake."
So that will be fun! Thursday is dance class for Natalie and gym class for Leah in the evening -- shopping
for supplies for our trip in the AM -- and then Friday Natalie
and I pack and leave for sunny Ohio.
* * * * *
This morning's program at the nature center went well. We took a long hike through the woods
to choose our trees so the kids came home really tired out. Right now they are having a big snack...
bread and meat and cheese. I set out cookie cutters for the cheese since making cheese stars was
such a big hit at the party. Since the program finished a bit early, Ranger Jackie decided
to read the children a story. She picked The Mitten by
Alvin Tresselt since it takes place in the winter in the middle of the woods. There's another version of this story, by Jan Brett, but it is not as good.
Try to find the Tresselt version if you can.
The kids loved
it and luckily we have that book at home, so I went downstairs to pull our copy and set it out
for naps and bedtime. It was a good incentive for me to change out the Christmas present books
for a new batch. And here are the 12 new picks:
January 15 - Sorry to be AWOL for so long. It's been rough, trying
to get this party going and then now I'm rushing around to get ready for the conference
on Friday. Today I did take the kids to the playground for a picnic snack though.
We packed bananas, crackers, roasted pistachio nuts, and the leftover chocolate cake. Yummy!
Yesterday I had a GREAT Sunday School lesson which I'll write about some other time. The
kids were so enthused about finger knitting, it got me really excited. It was
completely contagious! I heard one of the teachers from across the hall say, yes, you did
finger knitting, I know, I know, about 30 seconds after I dismissed. So news travels fast.
She'd actually heard it enough times to get bored with it. :-) I left sub plans for next
Sunday, which I hope goes well, and then on Feb. 4th we're doing David and Goliath, making the polymer
clay balls for the heads of our knitting needles, and I'm demonstrating carding and spinning.
Yesterday we had a babysitter come over for a big three hour block
so my husband and I could go out to a nice dinner. We walked along the boardwalk and watched
the sun set, then had a wonderful meal. It was terrific. Other than that, only gloomy
things have happened. Which I won't get into because who wants to listen to someone else complain? :-)
Hopefully tomorrow will be a great day and I'll have lots of really positive inspirational
things to write about what my children and I did together.
January 10 - What have I gotten done today? Not much. I had to finish
up some custom design work. I've already declared next year I will not do as much
custom unit design. I want to spend more time with my kids! Steve did some Helping
with them this morning. They sorted and put away the clean laundry while I was
at the physical therapist. Today was my last day of therapy. I've been directed to go join
a yoga class. My mom will do
some Nature with Natalie tomorrow morning. They are going to a program at the nature
center tomorrow while I take the other two to the pediatrician. L is getting her three year
check-up and B is getting her two year check-up. Rebecca's also getting her two year
portrait done. I got a free coupon for the Picture People when I was shopping at Gymboree.
We'll also hit Gymboree since I have $150 worth of Gymbucks and redemption starts tomorrow.
Time to get all three girls some raincoats and rainboots! They are only available in January,
go figure. So mom with have N all to herself for the morning and I'm glad they are
going to have some special time. Today I started a new knitting project -- a scarf -- so
check out my knitting blog
for the pattern. It's a free online one. Quite pretty. I also just popped dinner
in the oven (Soy-Glazed
Tofu and Carrots - yum!).
Yesterday I successfully finished the hot water bottle cover
for my husband, so that's done. I also dyed my remaining white wool yarn. I had
Steve stop and get some grape Kool-Aid on the way home from work (he was stopping
at the grocery store anyway and called to see if I needed anything) since I'm not
ready to try other dye ideas. I toyed with trying McCormick food dyes and/or turmeric
or something else from the pantry. But I'm still exploring the Kool-Aid thing
and having a great time! I did this yarn for 1 1/2 hours on Low with one packet
of Grape and it is the prettiest lilac color. I love it.
I have a lot of books to read and post reviews.
My husband got a book on dog training for me for Christmas. Think he's trying to tell me something??? :-)
So that's on my list. Also some bird activities, if we can ever get around to it. Becca's party is Saturday.
Her gifts arrived today from Nova Natural. I am not going to do a whole lot on her actual birthday since
she's too little to understand. The other children got special books and stories and verses. I think
for her we'll just save it for Saturday and focus on the party. She can blow out her candles, open gifts,
and eat cake and that will be fine. Then the pennies in the jar at Sunday School. I can't believe she's two!
* * * * *
Menu for Rebecca's Party
Spinach Salad with Dried Cherries
Double-Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Glaze
I am using some of the suggestions from "A Full-Moon Tea Party" from The Tea Party Book.
They recommend the Moon Scones and Apple Crescents. I'd like to buy some star-shaped ice cube
trays and serve fruit juice with frozen juice cubes (so they do not dilute the juice as they melt).
The tea party book suggests making placemats of black construction paper -- although we'll
use dark blue -- decorated with gold stars, so I'll look for some of those. I'll set
out sandwich fixings and large star shaped cookie cutters. Guests can cut their
bread, meat, and cheese pieces to make Star Sandwiches. The Spinach
Salad recipe rounds out the menu and the cake is actually a Bundt cake mix which
was a gift from my sister-in-law who will be attending, so I hope she sees that as a nice
gesture. I'll leave it unfrosted (less messy for the kids) with a Kahlua Glaze on the side
for the grown-ups. The party is from 4:30 to 7 pm, so after dinner and gifts we can go outside to stargaze.
It should be really low-key and I'm looking forward to it!
January 9 - Well, this day isn't going as I planned! I had wanted this
to be a project day. My projects were to pack some more book boxes, to make the felted
cover for my husband's hot water bottle which finally arrived, to pack up Christmas
decorations (I just took down the nativity scene from the Sunday School classroom and want
to box it up carefully. If I get really ambitious, I'll photograph each figure and put them
on a page on the website. I'd like to create a dry felting page with directions on making these figures --
it's incredibly easy -- and links to the best books) and to
dye some white wool yarn for our finger knitting next week. The children all chose
the colored balls of yearn they wanted to work with and I demonstrated Kool-Aid dyeing with the white
yarn. I tweaked some directions and came up with a method using
my crock pot. They were really into it! I gave away all my Kool-Aid at the end
to children who wanted to try it at home so I have to look around for a bit to
see what I should use to dye this final batch. We can't use any white yarn in our knitted
blankets because we are sending them to Africa and white there is the color of sadness and
mourning, like black is here. I also wanted
to research myrrh since it was one of the gifts of the wise men and I noticed
last night that it is one of the ingredients in my toothpaste.
I'd like to show it to the children and I know they will ask what the purpose is
of the myrrh. In our book of legends that I used to tell them the stories of the
three wise men (Stories for the Festivals
of the Year by Irene Johanson), myrrh is described as a short bushy plant which
has sap with healing powers. I wonder if this is true?
For activities for the children, I wanted to bell the cat and
hang pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed for our feathered friends. But
it looks like this afternoon will be devoted to the water testing kit our dentist gave
us! For this morning, as I was about to get dressed, Rebecca fell flat on her face and
when I picked her up and cuddled her I found her mouth was bleeding. Most kids when they fall
bite their lower lip with their teeth and that's the reason for the blood. But as I cleaned her
off I discovered that the blood was welling up from the gums around the edges of her front two
top teeth. So I called the dentist and they told us to come in. It's an hour away, our pediatric
dentist, so we all hopped in the car and spent the greater part of the morning going to the
dentist. Lunch has ended and the kids are down for naps now. I'm trying to figure out
what to plan for the afternoon. After he examined her, the dentist told me that at their next
checkup (which is scheduled for February 1st) they were going to talk to me about fluroide.
So he gave me a kit to test our well water and see what minerals it contains. Maybe we
could do that this afternoon. Maybe I could let the children sharpen their new pencils and
we could have a drawing day. Maybe I can find a book about teeth to read. I don't know...
Off now to have lunch and work on my hot water bottle cover. The directions in Simply Felt
luckily describe this as a perfect use for an old sweater. Most of her
projects talk about how to make things from wool roving but I always have a terrible time when I try to do wet felting.
My projects always end up with holes in them! So I felted a lovely thick red sweater in the dryer and am going to cut
out the shape and then either embroider or needle felt the details on it. In my new plan for our Sunday School year,
I see we'll be doing the story of Jonah and the whale. My superintendent gave me a pile of corrugated
cardboard trays in case I could use them for something. They are grey-blue and have a bumpy texture.
On one side it looks like large bumps and on the other side it looks like deep waves. So I was planning
on making some kind of display using a Bible scene with water. I think now that we'll cover
our bulletin board with these trays, making an ocean, and then the children can create the whale and I'll
make a little Jonah to stand inside his mouth. Wet felting would be wonderful for this! I can
buy a huge bag of natural grey roving and each child can felt a separate piece, then attach them together
and cut into a gigantic whale shape. A Child's Dream Come True offers three suitable natural roving colors: light grey, medium grey, and dark grey-brown.
Based on these pictures,
I think dark grey-brown would be best. I'm not sure about how to create the water coming out
of the spout, though. Maybe some white curly roving from
(also from A Child's Dream Come True). Anyway, if we do that, I'll have to practice my wet felting techinques
more to refine them. But for a hot water bottle cover, which I want to be sturdy and gap-free, I definitely agree
a recycled sweater is the better plan.
January 8 - Today our Helping task is to pack up and clean the little cabin which we
borrowed over the weekend. I'm going to pack some Swiffer cloths and other kid-safe cleaning
supplies and the kids can rock and roll with that while I clean out the fridge, strip the beds, and so
on. After all the communal dishes and linens are clean I'll go back over on my own to drop them off.
We're also headed to the bank and post office. So basically an errand day. I'm hoping to do some
bird feeding things in the next few days. I'd like to try something new -- instead of a newsletter,
just a page for that topic and list my teaching ideas and others can write in with their
own suggestions. That way the links are live, and there can be room at the bottom for journaling.
I am always trying to figure out how to make the site more communal and not just me being stuffy
and full of myself. :-) So we'll try it: Wild
Birds Etc. I do like the idea of posting my teaching ideas and journaling
notes by theme on the site so that people can find the info they need (or I can refer back to it
later) without endlessly having to search through the blog. The blog has been fun but I need
a way to make it a more accessible resource. Maybe summarize things into a series of articles?
Like "Discipline" with a Two Year Old. HA.
January 5 - Rainy day. Yesterday morning we did gifts with the children at 7 am, before
Steve went to work, and having them get up so early really threw off our entire daily schedule!
Everyone was exhausted so we did a morning nap and then lunch was late and then I couldn't put them
right back down so we went to the playground instead for an hour and then drove up to Leah's gym
class to sign her up starting next week. When we got back the children were all tired
so, even though it was 4:30, I put them down to rest and then of course we didn't have dinner
until late and at 9:30 pm they were still awake! Absolute disaster. It just goes
to show that you should always be consistent with your schedule.
Then I realized that I really didn't want to
repeat this off-schedule for another day, but Steve insisted on being around when kids opened gifts
so we gave N and L their final gifts last night before bed. Natalie got a ballerina dress-up costume
and Leah got the walking blocks from Nova Natural. I hope today I can get us back on schedule (even
I was off, it was like my internal body rhythms weren't working -- really intense) because
Saturday and Sunday I'm taking N and L to our little beach cabin and Steve is staying here with
Becca. He's working all weekend to finish the schoolroom. Easier for him with fewer kids around.
I can't take all three since there are only two bedrooms in the little cabin and my kids don't
sleep in the same room with one another well AT ALL. So I was dreading bedtime and naps. But
since we have one crib upstairs and one crib downstairs Steve can move Becca around if he needs
to, and can do drywall mudding when she's sleeping and noisy things like hanging doors when she's
awake. I have lined up a babysitter for Sunday morning so I can teach Sunday School. It'll
be a bit hectic but should be worth it, doing one final push to get that room done. Steve's
even taking off a week later in January (some use-it-or-lose-it leave that has to be taken) just
to make sure he has plenty of time to get the room done in case this weekend isn't enough. My goal
had been to have Natalie and Becca each in new bedrooms for Rebecca's birthday January 11th. Last night Steve
brought home a dresser from Freecycle for Becca's new room so we're getting there slowly but surely.
I just can't wait to have all my books and craft supplies and teaching things unpacked and organized
all in one space so that I can start doing a better job with school. N will be five in March so if the
county starts coming around to evaluate our homeschooling, I need to have better organization and
documentation for them to see. One messy office and an overflowing closet of supplies is not
going to be acceptable. I'd also like to add some display space in our living room and hallways for
Natalie's "work", including photographs from Nature walks, craft projects, artwork, transcripts
of circle time, and so on.
This morning Natalie and Leah got up and started to play their new game. Stomping in the Mud. This
is a game inspired by the Farmer Will book
we gave Becca yesterday. In this book Little Will's farm animal toys all come alive and he plays with them
all afternoon. Since I took all the children's clothing down off of coat hangers (which they weren't able to reach,
so not able to pick out their own clothes -- and we constantly had problems with them climbing on furniture to try
to reach their clothes. Duh. Move the clothing down to their level) and put into their laundry baskets for
storage, things have been going well. It's easy to put the children's clothes away once laundry is done. They
all look through the clean bin for their own things and then go put their items in the basket in their closets.
This morning I realized that the new game, Stomping in the Mud, entails people climbing into their laundry
baskets and jumping up and down on their clean clothes. Well, I thought about it. My new life mantra, suggested
by my marriage counselor (who says that my standards for myself, as well as everyone around me, are impossibly high and I need
to relax more) is What's the harm? The kids are stomping on clean clothes. What's the harm? Really, nothing.
I don't care if my children wear wrinkled clothing. And they're not causing any permanent damage. So I just let it go.
Better at this stage to encourage fertile imaginations.
Tea party was cancelled this morning because Grammy has a sore throat and is going to the doctor. So I came
up with a substitute plan last night and - lo and behold - today it is raining which is perfect. I'm going
to read them Nell's Elf
(the final Christmas gift) and we'll have our own elf party! In the book, little Nell is bored on a rainy
day. She has no siblings and no pets. But she had drawn a picture of a little elf and he comes alive. He
tells her to go get the bag of chocolate chips out of the kitchen and they draw lots of other little
elves and fairies who all leap off the page and everyone plays together. The highlight of the elf party
is eating chocolate chips right out of the bag! Normally something I wouldn't condone but I happen
to have a partial bag (about 1/3 cup left) from a recipe I just made. So our school activites for this afternoon
are going to be reading this book, drawing elves and fairies and eating chocolate chips as our party food/snack.
In the morning we are going to head down to the community center and sign N up for dance class. Then everyone will
be registered and
paid for! I just need to buy her some ballet and tap shoes and a new leotard and tights and we'll be ready.
Tomorrow is Epiphany so I need to choose some stories or projects for this (see All Year Round
Festivals Family and Food for
suggestions) and then we'll take down our Christmas decorations. I'd like to cut off the fronts of all
our Christmas cards -- we got 19 this year -- and use a hole punch to make them into sewing cards.
Then N and L can pack this new toy and we can head off to the cabin for the weekend. I have
a set of very sturdy Wooden
Sewing Needles from A Child's Dream Come True that will be perfect for this. We also will
be just a few yards up the street from the playground, tennis court, basketball court, and ball field in one direction
and the sandy beach of the Chesapeake Bay in the other direction. So lots to do! This little cabin
is right next door to my parents house where I grew up. It belongs to Grammy and Papa. My mom and dad
lived there right after I was born and wanted to buy it from them but they said no... so they bought
the house next door. :-) I know that area like the back of my hand and always love going back there
to stay, even though the cabin is quite small. Call it rustic. But beautiful! You can see the Bay from the large window in
the living room.
Today I have to get organized for my Sunday School lesson by dry felting the three wise men (using Making Magical
Fairy-Tale Puppets by Christel Dhom for directions) and finding out if I have permission to dye wool with
my students by holding class in the kitchen. If not, we can try the sun method described
in Kids Knitting
but I'm not sure how well it will work in the winter. That would definitely be a last resort. I also
need to choose what Epiphany story I want to tell to my students. I am having a hard time
covering the ongoing events of the Christmas story, our service project, and the Bible reading, all in 40 minutes.
I feel like I'm covering the material too quickly. I might rethink my S.S. curriculum, perhaps
to cover only the OT over the course of three years. I've read nothing in Waldorf books
about the proper age for students to study the stories of Jesus, and that material is generally
what is covered in their other classes, so perhaps we should just focus on OT as being
more age-appropriate. As well as less studied than the other section. Plus, I'm having
a hard time figuring out how we would study the many epistles of Paul, not to mention Revelation. Seems
a bit dry. If I rewrite the three year program I will update the site, obviously. There
are 39 books in the Protestant Old Testament
which would work out to 13 studied per year. The only real benefit to studying the NT is that
we can get into Roman History (learnt in 5th grade in Waldorf). I don't know... I liked
the idea of covering the entire Bible and I think it's appropriate. But I'm rushing rushing. I want
the kids to have enough time that we are telling and retelling, as in the Waldorf way, acting out
and illustrating and summarizing, and so on. But I REALLY REALLY felt good about having them
read the entire Bible. You know what, though? It's not about me going all O.C.D. and perfectionistic
about how good the plan looked on paper, or felt in my mind. It's about what works for the kids.
And I simply cannot deny that we are moving through the material too fast.
* * * * *
Okay, I'm looking at Roy Wilkinson's Old
Testament Stories, which comes with a companion volume of commentary for teachers,
and I think I may use that as my curriculum guide instead of trying to cover the books of the Bible
in order. He moves the stories around from the order they are in the Bible to a more logical
chronological order and has them broken up into lots of small sections which, ideally, I should read
in advance and memorize. I'd like that -- more of a storytelling atmosphere. Let's see how many
sections he has in his book. Fourteen sections. 127 pages. I know it's a little anal retentive
to try to divide it up into three years and plan in advance which stories we'll do when... but
I'm afraid without some kind of master plan I'll go too slowly and we won't finish the entire
cycle of stories. I don't know if this would affect their spiritual nourishment negatively somehow.
Like studying the Norse stories and stopping short of Ragnarok. 127 pages means roughly 42 pages
of content per year, about 38 weeks. With the telling/retelling cycle, that's 2.2 pages of material
every 2 weeks. I like the idea of relying upon Wilkinson since he is a master Waldorf teacher
and would have chosen the stories of the Bible which are most relevant to the children's developmental
stage. This is something I've been unsure about. He also provides the teacher guide in the
Commentary on Old Testament Stories which I'm sure to find invaluable. So, it looks like I'll be re-writing my
program! I can't do it all today, of course, but I do need to make some major decisions before classtime Sunday.
Note: Wilkinson also says that the children should first be told the stories by the teacher, then
read the stories themselves. So I was doing that completely backwards. Gotta fix that pronto! I'm actually
really glad to be making these changes, because the quality of my class has been going down since I started
the second quarter. Too rushed, basically no Waldorf influence at all (whereas I had us painting the
Days of Creation in the first quarter, a standard Waldorf idea, and it was going great -- kids loved it, I felt
terrific). We rushed through making our sheep for the nativity because I didn't have time to teach the kids
how to use felting needles and they got really depressed because their work didn't look as good as mine. :-(
And I heard a girl say that she wanted to stop coming to church, which is something I had NEVER had happen in
my class before. The kids hated writing their passages in their MLBs, there were no illustrations or decorations
at all, even though I bought all these crayons, because we didn't have time to review the stories from the previous
week, uggh. I'm more and more sad the more I think back on it, honestly. But change is in the air! So let's
turn our chins forward and press on. I am feeling really inspired again and I think if we slow down and
get more into a Waldorf groove, it will all work out. I have been dreading, actually, trying to dye wool, tell
the story of Epiphany, and rush through the stories of King David (in 40 minutes). Now I don't have to! I can rethink it
and make it better.
* * * * *
I'll just be frank with the children and tell them that I feel we have started to go through the stories too fast
and that we're not spending enough time talking about them and understanding them so we're going to
make some changes. It's a new year so hey, why not? (Which I'm not going to say to the children,
just thinking it in my mind.)
I'm going to go back a bit since our last successful lesson was the book of Judges and begin
Wilkinson's book with "The Birth and Childhood of Samuel" p.74, which will put me right on track with
the parts we had started to rush through. I feel good about this! Beginning to illustrate the stories will
be better, and fun, and hopefully kids will start to remember their workbooks. Most kids are leaving
their workbooks at home, probably because they are incredibly boring. I can't wait to start teaching
lessons in crayon drawing. Form drawing comes into play here, too, since the three archetypal forms (link
is to this exact page -- it's an online sample lesson from Live Education!) behind
animal shapes are the circle, triangle, and square. I like the Live Education! book Drawing Simple Animal
Forms for this (here's their online sample page on drawing an owl) and I plan to use it a lot in my teaching.
Drawing with Your Four to Eleven Year Old and Drawing
from the Book of Nature are also good for this. I find that the more Waldorf-y I am in my teaching, the more
my students enjoy the lessons and the more they get out of them. Ditto for the positive response from the community.
I leant some Waldorf creative writing resources to a friend who is a teacher and she said the exact same thing. She
loved that class more than her others and you somehow constitutionally feel better teaching this way. You feel more positive...
* * * * *
Okay, I know I'm not supposed to be putting all my energy into this now, but I'm thinking
The First Year - Genesis through Deuteronomy (Creation through the Death of Moses)
that's pages 1 through 65 of Wilkinson's book
The Second Year - Joshua through Malachi (Joshua through Minor Prophets)
page 65 to the end of Wilkinson's book
The Third Year - Psalms, The Four Gospels
And if I find something that says definitely not to study the NT in these years, I will change
the plan for the third year. But it seems so logical since a lot is written towards the end of
Wilkinson's book about prophets foretelling the coming of Christ. And the church will be celebrating
Christmas and Easter and so on during the first two years anyway. I was wrong about Roman History -- it's
part of sixth grade. Which is what makes me think NT is not considered developmentally appropriate. But
I'm not sure because I know the children learn stories about Christ during the festivals
we celebrate during the year. My Waldorf books are full of references to the Christ Child. Is this different
from learning about his teachings? I'm definitely not going to do Revelation and the Apocalypse -- too scary.
Ancient History is fifth grade which is Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and so on
and we can definitely do that. My class is mixed 3rd/4th/5th so I'm not sure how, in an ideal world, a Waldorf
teacher would handle that. I can't do three mini classes within my room. I don't know how harmful it is to a third
grader to hear about Ancient Egypt -- is it? Anyone have ideas about this?
We can study Proverbs when we learn about King Solomon -- that will be cool. Anyway, according to this new
timetable, I rushed through the first five books of the Bible too quickly and am now into Year Two content.
Which means that if next year we do the Psalms and the Four Gospels I'll have another year of having to find
something to do before I start the cycle again (I have several 3rd graders this year who won't be happy if they
have to paint the days of creation and make beeswax figures for Noah's ark again, too boring). That would be a great
opportunity for me to do the Bible Alphabet. It's a little juvenile, maybe, but lighthearted and we'll travel all
throughout the Bible. Then I can pass those completed plans down to the 1st/2nd grade teacher if the community
liked them and go back to OT with my next cycle of kids. I would like to work more on the Bible Alphabet ideas.
But I should probably have lunch first!
January 3 - For our felted soaps, only the rectangle stayed in place within the wool. I had
been thinking to have the children stand at the sink and felt but then I thought, why not just take a bath?
Playing in the water and scrubbing should help felt the soaps. It was a lot of fun and the felt is surprisingly
soft and gentle on the skin. Less abrasive than a sea sponge or a washcloth for sure. So I'm still tweaking
the actual instructions but when I have success I'll post them to the site.
This morning we had a wonderful time. I took the kids to the nature center to sign them up for programs and
they spent about 20 minutes exploring all the hands-on exhibits while I stood at the desk and got our names
put in the book about a gazillion times. They don't have a computer, it's all done by hand. The center
has a honeybee hive on display, a giant snapping turtle (enclosed), different stuffed animals in dioramas, fish tanks,
and a wonderful bird garden. You can sit on a bench in front of a huge picture window and watch hundreds of song
birds flutter around. They set out a large tray feeder of seeds, there is a pond and a running stream, lots of bushes
for protective cover, and berrying things... it's a bird paradise. Then the children and I went outside
to see their resident owl (it lives in a cage, having been struck by a car. Owls' eyes take up a tremendous amount
of room in their skull so when their heads are injured it almost always makes them blind) and walked
through the bald cyprus swamp. The boardwalk is nearly a mile long I believe. It really wore the kids
out. We had a wonderful time, though, it was so peaceful and quiet. Just a flooded forest in winter.
We heard birds but no sign of other animals, although a posted sign said that turtles, frogs, insects,
and raccoons also make the swamp their home. After this walk the kids were really tired out.
Last night DH and I went out on a date. One of our traditions is to purchase our yearly calendars in January
when they are 50% off. This stems from our first Christmas when he got me several calendars and I requested
to go back to the store and exchange them for others -- when we got to the store he realized he could get
me twice as many calendars for the money. :-) So I got five calendars and a new planner last night. Natalie's comes
with four fairy magnets, which I know she'll like. It is for her bedroom. I also like
to have one designated calendar for each child hanging in the hallway so I can make notes about milestones, funny sayings, etc. If
I try to keep a journal for each kid I just end up searching for the journal. But I can't lose a wall! I also
like a family calendar. He also very kindly stopped on the way home from work to get Natalie a bed for
her new bedroom. Becca will be moving up to a twin size bed with a railing soon so that means
we were short a bed. Thank heavens for Freecycle! We got a sturdy pine bed with a built-in bookshelf in
the headboard. N will be thrilled to have a new room. Me too -- I can't wait. After Becca wakes up we'll do
gifts for today (then it's only two days of Christmas left) and then I need to head to my office to pack
up some boxes of books. Tonight for dinner it's Tandoori
Chicken with Yogurt Sauce. Yum!
January 2 - Happy New Year!
Sunday Steve and I took the children to Stride Rite to check all their shoe sizes. And -- surprise! --
everyone needed new shoes. So, five pairs of shoes later, we left. It was actually some nice
family time. No presents that day. We told the children that their new shoes were their Christmas
presents, in part because we got home late in the day and only had time for dinner and bedtime. The next
day we had two days worth of gifts to give so we did Jenn and Glen's box in the morning (snow fairy
costumes, rainbow silk streamer rings for wrists, and a pull-along purple hippo that opens and closes its
mouth, plus lovely framed photos of the kids for Steve and me) and after naps we hit the road to
go do gifts with Jay and Kate. We got to their house 1 1/2 hours late, something that never
happens to me. I wouldn't say I'm punctual per se, but usually not more than half an hour late
to something. But yesterday we left our house at the exact time we were supposed to arrive at theirs.
For an hour and a half drive, that means we were running an hour and a half late. So we ended up treating
them to dinner to make up for it. I had planned the gift exchange time exceedingly carefully so that my
kids would get an afternoon nap but we wouldn't end up at Jay & Kate's too late in the day, ie. near
dinnertime and therefore impose on them for an extra meal. In order to do this, I cut my children's
nap short by an hour and a half. But we ended up being late first by half an hour because I had
to run out to the grocery store to find plastic containers to put each color of bathtub finger paint in for
gift presentation & storage (we don't have any plastic containers on hand and glass jars of paint in the bathroom
just seems like a really bad idea) and so I wasn't able to divvy the paint up into separate containers
and mix the colors until after I got back from the grocery store. It all looked like it was going to work out, though,
as Steve had Natalie mix two colors and Leah mix two colors and I wrote out the card to include in the gift
bag with the recipe in case they want to make more. And then we chucked all the kids in the car and headed
out the door, having considerately called first to say we were running half an hour late. And then 1/3 of the way
there I suddenly realized I had forgotten our other gift for their boys. If it had been a grown-up gift then
no big deal because grown-ups don't really care all that much that they get their presents in a big
glut of gift-opening, and we could have simply mailed the gift that was forgotten, but since we were talking
about two little boys here (2 and 4) it seemed only fair to come with all gifts in hand. So I had my husband
turn back. And, lo and behold, we ended up leaving the house at 2:30 pm -- the EXACT time my children get
up from their naps. So I think it was karma telling me not to mess with the nap schedule. If I had let my
children sleep their entire nap time, we would 1) have had more time to prepare the gifts and pack the car, and 2)
arrived at 4 pm on purpose instead of by accident and it would have been much less rude.
This was a big sign for me -- don't mess with naps, the schedule is working just fine! -- because I've recently changed my children over to a new daily schedule
and I am still evaluating it. But now I think I'm going to go with it all hands on deck and full throttle. In this plan everyone
gets one long afternoon nap (including me if I need it). It allows me housework, handwork, and rest time (and exercise, if
I ever get organized and start to exercise. My physical therapist is adament that it will help my back)
and the kids then get to do the "school" things together instead of it being only N now that they
are all older. So this is what we're currently trying
8 am - 11 am
2:30 pm - 6:30 pm
I have it written down on the back of an envelope. Notice a distinct difference between this schedule and all previous ones? This one is a LOT less detailed.
I find that when my schedule is really detailed I almost immediately feel behind. So I'm trying this new plan
on for size. Meal times are 8 am - breakfast. 11 am - lunch. 2:30 pm - snack. 6:30 pm - dinner.
From after breakfast until lunch we have a planned activity and free play time. From after lunch until snack
is naps. From after snack until dinner time is whatever else we want to do (an activity, some chores, playtime, etc.)
and then after dinner is bedtime. It's really nice! I love it. The way it came about was that I was thinking
to myself, I don't spend enough time with my kids. They always seem to be down for naps, or I'm always shoving them
downstairs to the playroom and staying upstairs to do my own thing. So I asked myself, "In an ideal world, how much time
would I like to spend with my kids during the day and how much playtime should they have?" I decided
on 7 hours. Three in the morning and four in the afternoon. I know that I want them to go
to bed at 7 pm and get up at 8 am, and that I usually get cranky and need some personal space from around noon
to 2:30. So that's what I wrote down and there it was. I never would have
thought of a schedule that was just two large blocks and four set meal times but there it was, staring
me in the face. Easy as pie! This morning I would like to make some felted
soaps. I tried this for Steve's stocking but it didn't work out. I don't think I wrapped the wool firmly around the soap
properly. It kept slipping out of place and so I am trying a shortcut. Last night I wrapped three bars of soap with
wool (red, green, blue) and needle felted the overlaps so that it was completely encased in dry wool and
there was no way the bar could slip out. Now today I'd like to let the children do the wet felting part. I'll
let you know how this hybrid approach works out. In the PM I'd like to have us make some muffins. We're a little
short on breakfast food, waiting for the first round of cereal from Amazon to show up, and so muffins
for tomorrow seem the way to go. I found a nice recipe using all ingredients I have on hand: Maple Pumpkin Muffins.
And we'll do a lot of whatever we want. I try to think total immersion kids from 8 am to 11 am and 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
The part during naps is my own personal time. Otherwise, if they're up, I'm with them. In fact, I shouldn't be on the
computer now but I wanted to update my blog. Gotta go downstairs and play!
* * * * *
Book Boxes from Office
- 1 - Native Americans, Housebuilding
- 2 - Oak Meadow, Spiritual Syllabus kindy, Storytelling, CDs/DVDs
- 3 - Handwork (A), HCA fairy tales
- 4 - Handwork (B), Festivals, Movement
- 5 - PE/Games, Math manip (math gnomes, clock), Xylophone, Music (A)