Time of Lanterns

 

This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns.  There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:

“Two lantern festivals mark this time.  From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11.  Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground.  Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand.  As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns.  Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas.  The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”

This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder.  It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home.  I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes.

Outside, one can work in tidying the garden, caring for the birds and other small creatures, and planting flower bulbs for spring.

I would love to hear what you are planning for this time of year.

Blessings,

Carrie

Holiday Gifts To Make

 

Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day.  Uh, no stress there at all!  

That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home  here.  It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….

Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give.  I have some tried and true favorites, including:

  • Candle dipping
  • Dipping pinecones into beeswax as fire starters (you can see instructions in the book “Earthways”
  • Wet felted ornaments
  • Homemade bath salts, bath bombs, homemade soap
  • Peppermint bark
  • Homemade cookies

 

Here is a great list of 40 gifts children can make for the holidays:  at Happy Hooligans.

This was listed as a gift a teen could make – a fish clock!

 

And what about what to make for our children?

Here are  ideas for 70 toys to make for children.

For teen girls, I was thinking of a custom made rack with knobs to hold jewelry or belts,  or homemade hair accessories, knit or crocheted hats, scarves or mittens.

For teen boys, I was thinking of tie-dyed clothing, art that had on it custom quotes or sayings, knit scarves or hats.

 

Please share your holiday plans for crafting!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Wrap Up of Weeks Nine and Ten of Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week eight here and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Changes in the Air -I am getting ready to change our daily rhythm.  The nights are colder, the children are sleeping longer, and I think this is something natural and healthy for this time of year.  So, I am planning on starting later for the sake of reality.  The other change I want to make right now is to make sure we get to a daily walk.  We have been starting with movement, but not a walk because it is so hard to wrangle three bodies back in the house and not have to then use the bathroom, have a snack, etc. and have it add an hour to our already long day.  However, our dog was just diagnosed with some degenerative changes in her spine, and walking is important for her.  It is also important for me.  I feel as if I spend part of my day on my feet at the blackboard, but unlike a classroom situation where a teacher hardly sits down, I also spend a good amount of time sitting next to a child.  And if we go to an activity for the children in the afternoon, many times they are being active but I am watching a four year old and not active.  We are watching the older children or waiting.  It is not movement for me.  So, I also want to start scheduling “P.E’’ in our afternoon four days a week.  I will let you know how that goes.    Handwork is also taking a larger priority now that the weather is cold. 

Kindergarten:  We are in the lovely land of autumn circle, pumpkin and Halloween fingerplays that our five-year old loves to recall from memory, autumn crafts and the adorable story by Suzanne Down, “How Witchamaroo Became the Pocket Witch” from the Autumn Tales book.  Making bone broths has also been a priority as the weather has cooled and we have made several batches.  We are also working on making beds together and self-dressing. 

Fourth Grade:  Week Nine saw us finishing up our Man and Animal block.  We did some drawing and poetry for the seal, and modeling for the Eastern Harvest Mouse for trunk animals.  Modeling mice is a wonderful exercise in transitioning shapes.    We looked the the different limbs of different animals (mole’s paw for digging, bird wings for flying, seal flippers for swimming, bird’s feet for perching, and an extensive look at the elephant and his trunk), drew the elephant and practiced hatching, did a “list” of these limbs and finally looked at the only true limb animal- the human being.  Week Ten saw us moving into Local Geography.  We started with drawing ourselves, and thinking about our own bodily directions and place in the world (address, neighborhood, city, state, country, hemisphere, etc).  We looked at our place in the family, another “address”  and location of sorts.  Then we looked at our house.  I know many people start here with a “bird’s eye view” map of a bedroom or the schoolroom, but I decided to hold off on that for a bit and focus on flat maps.  (We will have the chance to do a three-dimensional map later in this block).  We walked the neighborhood and drew a large three-paged neighborhood map.  This week we will start with the greenway that is attached to our neighborhood and look at that familiar place and move into our county.  There are many interesting historical places to visit!

We finished “My Side of the Mountain” and I hunting for what we will read next week. 

Seventh Grade:  We finished up astronomy during Week Nine and began Colonial History.  Colonial History, like all major history blocks, has been an interesting one to try to put together.  The goal is to pick the things that are symptomatic of an era, the biographies that really sing.  I found this difficult because my approach often tended to get mired in the details.  So far we  have looked extensively at the First People of our Nation, drawn and summarized and looked at how those people may have gotten here in the very beginning; we talked about some of the earliest explorers and how America got its name, the earliest of trading posts that were here when the Pilgrims arrived and made a beautiful map to show how far these posts were apart from each other and which countries had started them, compared and contrasted the Puritans and Pilgrims and how life in New England Villages began and constructed a map of a typical village (a building diorama on a piece of plywood would have worked well too), compared and contrasted Roger Williams and George Calvert, and started a map of a typical plantation.  We are reading a biography of William Penn.    This week we will move into plantation colonies and talk about the colonial history of our own state, talk about the thirteen colonies as a whole and move into colonial life and the basis of the Revolutionary War.

“Revolutions” is usually fodder for eighth grade, but I really wanted the colonial history in seventh grade as background.  We will cover the Revolutionary War in sweeping strokes during the next two weeks and circle back around to it in our “Revolutions” block next year.  Some Waldorf curriculums on the market start in the 18th century, but I think it is a shame for Americans to miss out on the earliest foundings of our country.  If you are homeschooling these upper grades, I urge you to give thought to how you want to put American history into the curriculum.  I have heard of some Waldorf Schools in eighth grade who did as many as three blocks of American history in that grade, and some who had a block planned but then it didn’t happen and the children got no official American history for all eight grades, which seems absolutely appalling to me for American schools.  So please do plan.  Smile

I am gathering a list of supplies for chemistry and looking forward to that block.

I would love to hear what you are working on in your homeschool!  You can drop a comment in the comment box or if you are blogging about your days, please leave a link!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Monthly Anchor Points: October

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Ah, month of October, I love you so!  I love fall and October is so lovely here in the Deep South.  Apples and pumpkins are in full swing, the leaves are finally starting to turn yellow and red, the temperatures are still warm during the day (around 70 degrees Farenheit) but the nights are cool enough for an extra blanket on the bed.

These are the festivals that are my anchors this month:

October 4th- Blessing of the Animals and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

October 18 – St. Luke the Evangelist  (I feel especially close to St. Luke).

October 31 – Halloween is my least-favorite holiday of the entire year (Ba! Humbug! LOL), but I love All Saints Day and All Souls Day and those are very important feast days in the liturgical year, so I am looking forward to those days and preparing for those days at the end of this month.  I don’t really decorate for Halloween, but the children do go trick or treating.

 

Ideas for Celebration:

Much of our celebrating is tied up with our parish this year from the Blessing of the Animals for the Feast Day of St. Francis to our children singing in two Divine Liturgies on All Saints Day to remembering our loved ones on All Souls Day.  A month of doing in community!

For ideas about a fall October circle and stories for the little ones, please see the post in last October’s Monthly Anchor Points  here.

If you need a post about celebrating Halloween in the Waldorf home, try this back post.

If you need a post about All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations, look here.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins

Homemade applesauce

Homemade bone broths with nutritive herbs

Taking care of the birds

Fall hiking

Gathering photographs of loved ones in preparation for All Saints Day/All Souls Day

Buying bulbs to plant in the ground for spring

 

The Domestic Life:

This is the time where I really start making more bone broths and infuse it with herbs – dandelion root, burdock, astragalus.  A suggestion was made today to add echinacea to it as well, so I am going to try that!

Changing bed linens to flannel sheets and adding blankets and thicker comforters

Stocking up on birdseed

Making sure we all have hats, gloves, snow gear  and boots for winter

Gathering the books for this month’s Saints

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Advent

 

What are you working on this month as your anchor points?

Many blessings,
Carrie

Guest Post: One Mother’s Experience Homeschooling Seventh Grade Chemistry

 

Our guest post today is by my dear friend Tanya.  She just finished her seventh grade chemistry block with her seventh grader and was kind enough to write about it for us today.

 

Seventh Grade Chemistry Block in the Waldorf- Inspired Homeschool

chemistry title pagechemistry table of contents

After beginning our year with a two week review, we jumped right in to Chemistry.  It took me a while to plan out this block during summer as there aren’t a whole lot of resources for the homeschooling parent to choose from.  What resources I did find though helped tremendously and we were able to execute most of the demonstrations laying a solid foundation for 8th grade and high school Chemistry.

My main resource was a great manual titled:  “ A Demonstration Manual for Use in the Waldorf School Seventh Grade Main Lesson” by Mikko Bojarksy.  This book not only lists in detail materials needed for each demonstration, but it also gives clear instruction on how to perform each demonstration as well as what conclusions can be drawn by observation.  Other resources I found helpful were the two sites:  Waldorf Inspirations  and  Waldorf Teacher Resources  (this one you need to register for a full access, but it is free).

For materials, I bought all equipment and chemicals from  Home Science Tools.  My son is very interested in chemistry so I went ahead and invested in their basic lab equipment kit which included various sizes of beakers and graduated cylinders, funnels, tubing and stoppers, along with an alcohol burner and stand.  I also purchased five or so powdered chemicals and their Spectroscope Analysis Kit (for the colored flames demonstration).  Most of the demonstrations can be performed with various everyday items found in your home and you certainly can use glass/mason jars versus beakers.  You do need a safe flame source-either an alcohol lamp, Bunsen burner or we have used those chaffing burners used to keep food hot at buffet dinners.

We spent about three and a half  weeks covering the various chemistry topics.  For Week One we began with Combustion! This was really fun for my seventh  grader.  The first day we talked about what chemistry is and how every substance has a physical and chemical property. Then we performed demonstration number one from the Mikko book.  After each demonstration was performed, we would put away the materials and recap what we did and what we observed.  The next day, we would review again and then draw conclusions based on our observations.  I tried to let my seventh  grader come up with most of the conclusions, which for the most part he did, but there were a few times throughout the block where he needed a bit more guidance.  So we spent the rest of the first week burning various materials and observing what happened when they burned. We ended the week discussing the properties of the candle and observing several demonstrations that involved burning a candle. 

 

combustion

 

During Week Two we covered salts and crystal formations.  We discussed the concepts of solubility, precipitation, and saturated solutions.  We also created crystals from epsom salt, table salt, and borax.  As in Week One, we would perform the demonstration on one day and draw conclusions from our observations on the next day. 

week two chemistry

 

 Week three was Acids and Bases!  My seventh grader found these demonstrations to be the most fun out of the whole block.  We created a pH indicator using red cabbage and then tested several common household chemicals to discover whether they were acidic or basic.  We ended the week by  briefly discussing the Lime Cycle.  This was the one topic I found the most difficult to recreate in a homeschool rather than classroom setting.  However, my son had received a chemistry kit as a gift and spent the summer performing the various experiments. Luckily for me, two of the experiments involved making lime milk and lime water so he was already somewhat familiar with the Lime Cycle.  Another option is to watch the demonstrations on You Tube (not very Waldorfy perhaps, but sometimes you have to adapt!).

week three chemistryweek three part two chemistry

In addition to performing various demonstrations, my son was given a weekly vocabulary list that included terms like combustion,solvent, effervescence, etc.  I also gave him a chemistry test at the end of the block (found on the Waldorf Inspirations website).  This was just to see if our bases were covered and it was not graded.  He did fairly well and I felt good knowing he had a solid foundation laid. Overall, I would say this block was a big success and my seventh  grader learned quite a bit.  It was great witnessing him come to conclusions simply based on what he observed and therefore learning more about our world.

 

Thank you so much Tanya for sharing your experiences with us!  If you have done seventh grade chemistry at home, I would love to hear from you!

Blessings,
Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

 

We are up to Chapter Six in Kim John Payne’s “Simplicity Parenting” entitled, “Filtering Out the Adult World”. This is my favorite chapter in this book for so many reasons.  It really sums up to me the difficulties with parenting in this day and age and gives some great concrete suggestions for parenting.  The chapter begins with the story of a mother and how she said her feelings toward motherhood could be summed up with the word, “worry”.  The author goes on to detail stories of parents where the parents are wondering if their children are being tended to enough by coaches or teachers.  He doesn’t address homeschooling families, but I think worry can be doubled in homeschooling families where parenting and teaching hats are shared!

 

“Worry and concern are sewn into the cloth of parenting; they’re integral parts of the experience…..Worry may be an aspect of parenthood, but it shouldn’t define it.  When it rises to the top of our emotions, coloring the waters of our relationship with our children, something is not right.”

 

Simplifying the daily life of both you and your child often helps in decreasing worry and anxiety.  However, another place to simplify may be just how involved we are with our children.  Societal pressure has turned some parents into helicopter parents; and it is not just in the United States but all over the world.  Here is an interesting article from the NY Times about the “the cure for hyper-parenting” and how “hyper-parenting” is occurring all over the world.

 

Kim John Payne’s suggestions include: Continue reading

Girls On the Cusp of Puberty

 

With two girls in our house, I have spent a bit of time thinking about girls on the cusp of puberty. It also is a pretty hot topic amongst my parent friends who have girls this age, and is getting quite a bit of attention in even the mainstream media.  Here is one article from the NY Times called, Puberty Before Age  10:  A New Normal?  I believe the study of over 1200 girls mentioned in this article is this one in the medical journal “Pediatrics”.

We can argue all day long about the causation of early puberty.  Is it the estrogens, phytoestrogens, and other hormone disrupters in our food, water and environment?  Is it the levels  of different things within our own bodies at the time we got pregnant with the children who are now growing up to be girls on the cusp of puberty?  Is it something we just haven’t figured out yet?

WebMD details a few of the possible medical causes and signs of puberty and notes that the difference between early puberty and “regular” puberty is not in the signs , but in the timing.  I find it interesting that in this article the signs of puberty for girls is detailed solely as breast development and the onset of menstruation, but when I talk to parents about the signs of puberty they are worried about it can be about breast budding as well, but many times it is more about the moodiness/fluctuating emotions, talking back to parents that may be presumed due to hormonal change,  pubic hair developing or body odor or even just their daughter wanting to wear a bra.

Here is what I am finding most of my parents friends and readers to be doing: Continue reading