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.



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,

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,

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. 




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!


A Special Offer for Parenting Passageway Readers!


Although it is only September, we  have already endured bouts of cold weather around the United States and  The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter, especially for the eastern part of the United States.  Warmth is so important for our children.  Warmth allows our children to settle in, to not be restless, to rest and sleep and grow better, and to reach their fullest potential as human beings.

We see this in many cultures all around the world in the  dressing of babies warmly, even in subtropical and tropical climates.  When our children are warm enough, then energy will not be diverted from the growth and maturity of the nervous system  in order to just keep warm. 

As a rule, three layers on the top with one layer tucked in, and two layers on the bottom is recommended.  Here in Georgia I like two layers on the top and two layers on the bottom, just depending upon how cold and windy it is.  Contrary to popular belief, the Deep South does see snow and we do get freezing temperatures.   My favorite article about warmth by Mary Sutton, MD, appears in this back post  as reprinted with permission. 

Because of the importance warmth plays in the health and well-being of our children, I am excited to announce Green Mountain Organics (my favorite place to get woolens)  is offering the readers of The Parenting Passageway 20 percent off woolens for winter through next weekend with the code pp20.

Many blessings, happy woolens,


Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting


We are up to my favorite chapter!  Chapter Five, entitled “Schedules” is well-worth reading for yourself.  I don’t believe parents in the United States intend to overschedule their children, yet that is where so many families are in reality, and this chapter offers a hard look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we could do differently.

This issue is not a new one.  Kim John Payne points out that David Elkind’s book “The Hurried Child” first asked the question as to whether children were being pushed toward adulthood in the form of “super-competency” because parents lacked the time or interest for parenting.  This was in the early 1980s.  The latter half of the 1980’s saw a real focus on the child’s accomplishments and achievements.  These trends are not new. 

How do children spend their time?  According to this chapter:

  • Children ages 6 to 11 spend many hours in front of a television screen and a computer screen
  • School takes 8 more hours than it did in 1981
  • The amount of time in structured activities has doubled
  • Time spent doing homework has also doubled – with the implementation of No Child Left Behind, students are averaging an hour and twenty minutes a night of homework.
  • Children have 12 hours less free a week than they did – about 25 percent of a child’s day is “free” on average; in 1981 the average child had about 40 percent of his or her day free.


Kim John Payne points out that, “And it is really so bad to be busy?  Why aren’t their busy kids seen as fulfilled rather than frantic?  What is wrong with wanting your children to have as many opportunities as possible?  I don’t think the central issue of “overscheduled” kids is motivation – either the parents’ or the kids’.  Most parents are driven by good intentions…In wanting to provide for their children, here again parents act with generous motivations.  But just as too many toys stifle creativity, too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to direct themselves, fill up their own time, to find and follow their own path.”


Some children really do not know what to do with even moments of spare time because they are used to having every minute structured.  Kim John Payne points out that interest in an activity can be real and sustained over time for children but that time, leisure and other interests often help a main interest to  grow.   Children need unstructured time.  This is coming out in more and more studies and childhood psychology literature  regarding the development of executive function in children – things such as working memory, mental flexibility, reasoning, judgment – are enhanced by non structured activities, not by structured ones. 


Awareness is the first step in stepping off the overscheduled  burden.  Play happens in unstructured time and opening up schedules lends itself to spontaneous moments .  If a child has fewer activities, then a parent’s schedule (who is often a driver) will also open up as well.  This can impact the entire family  in a positive way.


How do you simplify your outside activities?  Does your family need help in this area or is the balance easy?


Multicultural Reading Lists



These are a few of the reading lists I have for multicultural children’s literature for the English speaking reader:


Children’s literature by Native American authors – from preschool through high school/adult reading: http://www.slj.com/2013/11/collection-development/focus-on-collection-development/resources-and-kid-lit-about-american-indians-focus-on/#_


One of the best sites I have found for African American children’s literature:  http://www.best-childrens-books.com/african-american-childrens-books.html (by grade and also award winners by year).


For Asian/Pacific Rim children’s  literature:  http://childrensbooks.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=childrensbooks&cdn=parenting&tm=103&f=20&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=3&bt=5&bts=75&zu=http%3A//www.nea.org/grants/29506.htm  and here:  http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/diversity/asian_am/asian_am.html (if you look on the sidebar there are links to books of Chinese heritage, Japanese heritage and Korean heritage).  There are also literature  awards focused on Asia/Pacific Rim Children’s Literature.  The award winners for 2013 are here:  http://www.apalaweb.org/2013-asianpacific-american-award-for-literature-winners/


For children’s literature by Latino authors, by grade level:  http://ccb.lis.illinois.edu/Projects/Additions%20on%209-20-07/CCB/CCB/mhommel2/Booklists.htm


For children’s literature regarding the Middle East:  http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2011/08/top-10-arabic-american-childrens-books/  and an extensive list here:  http://bernadettesimpson.com/Childrens-YA-Books-MiddleEast.pdf


If you have a list on your blog of your favorite children’s literature as related to your religion or your cultural heritage, please leave a link in the comment box so my readers can find it!

Thank you,