Back In The Saddle Again!

At this point, we are headed into Week Seven of our school year.  It has been a pretty decent year so far considering juggling three grades and three “levels” of school (elementary school, middle school, and high school!).  I felt like this week is a good time to see what is really working in our family and school rhythm.

Working Well:

  • The fact that I planned less weeks total for the entire school year, and added a week to almost every other block as a “catch-up” week (or a vacation coincides).  That has really helped (and really made it less stressful when we feel like we are “getting behind”). It also makes me wonder why I didn’t do this before (???)
  • Summer planning really helped.  Saves. me. every. year.  I can totally ditch the plan, but if I haven’t researched and know my subject beforehand, especially in these upper grades, I absolutely cannot apply it to the child in front of me.
  • Planning field trips for the semester/school year.  We are part of a 4,000 plus member homeschooling field trip group (Southeastern United States).  There are so many wonderful field trips to take!  This is especially important for the middle school and high school level – it is what makes all the subjects come alive to see them in action.  Experience at the hands and heart level before the head level is a golden rule.
  • Making the festivals a priority.  This is easy to lose as children grow older, and because we don’t really have a specific “Waldorf group.”  I am so glad we are still hanging on.  This is especially important to me for our little first grader, but really for all of us.  It nourishes the soul through the seasons of the year.
  • Keeping our outside the home schedule at the busy-ish, but not too full, level. My high schooler really needs things to do, and our first grader and I really need to be at home, so we have to choose a middle road. And I am always glad we do, because I like to have room for the last minute spontaneity , last minute camping trips, or just being home together.
  • Still prioritizing play.  Today my first and sixth grader were playing so nicely together and the weather was beautiful and the puppy was so happy….school could wait a few hours.

The Jury Is Still Out:

  • Having a class outside the home for our high schooler.  In one sense, the accountability to a really good  outside teacher has been super nice for our high schooler.  On the other hand, we are totally tied into a public school schedule due to activities (which totally could be canceled or moved for the most part) and this class (which can’t be moved or missed because it is a week’s worth of work condensed into one class).  It feels limiting in that sense.  Not sure if I will farm anything out next year or not.
  • The best way to organize/motivate our high schooler.  Still working on that one!  Organizing independent work has been the single most challenge of ninth grade, and I don’t think there is a good way to prepare for it really in seventh and eighth grade because we did a lot of the things I thought would help this transition.  The work just changes at the high school level, and that is that.  It is a learning curve.

Not Working and I Want To Change:

  • I wish we had more festival preparation and handwork time.    My children don’t really do these things naturally even though they love arts and crafts, so I have to plant the seeds.
  • Self-care is still hard to come by. I want to exercise, but I have been back to having a really hard time getting up early in the morning to do it….In this height of allergy season, sometimes I just feel worn out from a respiratory/asthma perspective.  And the heat, which I actually am sick of at this point. Where is autumn?!

How is homeschooling going for you?  What is working, not working, and where is the jury still out?

Blessings,
Carrie

 

How To Be A Waldorf Homeschooler

 

When families are searching for curriculum, what they are often asking, consciously or unconsciously, is how do I become a Waldorf homeschooling teacher?  How does this work?  I completed my Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts through Antioch University in 2013, and I can only relay to you a bit of my own experience in this area of becoming.  I am still becoming, so of course I do not profess to have complete answers regarding this subject, and I do think it differs from person to person. However, here are some thoughts and suggestions based upon a wonderful article Douglas Gerwin in the Center for Anthroposophy Autumn 2016 newsletter.  You can read the newsletter here as it will help you understand what I writing about in this blogpost.

One thing that is profoundly different about the development of Waldof teachers compared to traditional teachers is that the awakening of teaching is dependent upon practicing the arts, biography,  and the inner work and development of that teacher him or herself.  This is a very different approach than most traditional approaches to training teachers in the United States. The article I linked to above talks about this in the context of Waldorf teacher training, and I would like to add a few thoughts based upon being a Waldorf homeschooling parent who must wear both parenting and teaching hats.

The first and primary rule in developing yourself as a Waldorf homeschooling parent is to develop your own inner life.  What does that really mean?  To me, this means a conscious awakening of an inner spiritual path that will lead you toward love for all of humanity.  Steiner’s lectures compiled in “Love and Its Meaning In The World” have always been most inspiring to me.   The traditional way to develop your own inner life in Waldorf teacher training usually refers to two things: one is to a central meditation practice and also to Steiner’s six supplementary exercises taken on as a practice, and the second thing is a devotion to and practice in the arts.  These things are new to many people, and I think especially new to busy homeschooling mothers who are pouring themselves into their families.  A few resources I can recommend regarding this endeavor:

  • Lighting Fires:  Deepening Education Through Meditation by Jorgen Smit
  • Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to A Creative Life  by Michael Lipson
  • Art As Spiritual Activity:  Rudolf Steiner’s Contribution to the Visual Arts Edited and Introduced by Michael Howard
  • There are many more titles by Rudolf Steiner that includes this work
  • There are some singulaiknowr titles regarding drawing, painting, modeling, speech, drama, and movement in the Waldorf School setting that can be helpful to parents striving to work with the arts.
  • If you are of a religious practice, you will find things that inspire you.  Since I am part of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, I am inspired by the Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy of each Mass throughout the liturgical year, the book “Welcome to Anglican Spiritual Traditions” by Vicki K. Black and the writings of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  I also am drawn to resources about Christian Contemplative Prayer, Christian Contemplative Reading, and “sitting with God.”

In the home environment, I would also like to add the path of the homemaker as a way of developing oneself. This has been written about rather extensively in:

  • Homemaking and Personal Development: Meditative Practice for Homemakers by Veronika Van Duin
  • The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker by Manfred Schmidt-Brabant

The second way to develop oneself as a Waldorf homeschooling parent is to understand and to be aware of the development of the human being.  Traditionally, in Waldorf teacher training courses this is usually undertaken by reading Steiner’s lectures, particularly The Foundations of Human Experience, and through the study of one’s own biography.  The resources I can recommend regarding this endeavor include:

  • The Foundations of Human Experience by Rudolf Steiner
  • Tapestries:  Weaving Life’s Journey by Betty Staley
  • The Human Life by George and Gisela O’Neil

In the home environment, I would also like to offer the path of being fully and wholly present  and attentive with our children, our elders, our neighbors, our community, nature around us.  Their stories are our story.    Their stories make up the stories of humanity, just as our story does.  To connect on this very level of humanity is humbling and enlightening.  To connect to nature and feel it flowing through us leads us to sharpen our powers of observation and to see development over time.  And for that matter, to be fully and present of our own emotions and to be able to sit with those emotions is a major part of attentiveness. Here are a few resources that talk about this from a Waldorf perspective include:

  • The Therapeutic Eye:  How Rudolf Steiner Observed Children by Peter Selg
  • Drawing From The Book of Nature by Dennis Klocek
  • Tools for emotional self-discovery and emotional awareness such as Nonviolent Communication.

Douglas Gerwin points out in his article that the third way of becoming a Waldorf teacher is to develop your craft through the actual doing .  For homeschooling parents, I think this doing means NOT searching endlessly for the perfect curriculum; it means you jump in and  you DO IT.  Some things may fall flat.  Some blocks may go better than others.  Some circles just don’t fly well.  You may not be able to bring some things that you wish you could.  Even some years may feel more fallow than other years if you are homeschooling very long-term.  This is part of the learning process in teaching your children and in teaching other children outside your family.  Just find your resources, make a plan from your heart, leave room to teach the child in front of you and what the angels bring that day ( in other words, you may ditch your plan!) and go with it.  That is the art of teaching. It is the welling up of what is inside you – your biography, your inner work, your knowledge of the subject and the child in front of you and the environment.  It all intersects, and it takes time to get there. However, the clock for the time to get there doesn’t start until you actually start the teaching and facilitating of the beautiful child or children in front of you!  Waiting on the sidelines doesn’t do it.   I don’t know as  there is any one resource for this doing, as it is doing and not just reading and waiting for the right thing to fall into one’s lap!  The experiences of other teachers, and in homeschooling, the experiences of other homeschooling mothers are very helpful and illuminating, so my suggestion for increasing your craft is to:

  • Meet with other homeschooling families in community.  A Waldorf community would be ideal in terms of talking about actual ways to approach different grades and blocks, but any homeschooling community will help you understand the highs and lows that come with being a homeschooling family. Just find the tribe that fits you!
  • Find and attend conferences.  The Center for Anthroposophy has courses every summer to prepare for grades (East Coast); I belive Rudolf Steiner College (West Coast) does the same.  Gather a group and put on a conference yourself and gather the Waldorf homeschooling parents flung far and wide in your state.  To come together for even one day is so powerful and uplifting!

Blessings,
Carrie

Two Resources for Gardening In The Classroom

I recently obtained two resources from my local library that I thought might be of interest to some of my readers.  The first resource book I picked up was “The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy & Art” by Cathy James.  This book is aimed at children ages 4-8.  This is a fairly substantial book at 221 pages. It has acid-free, recycled paper for the publishing and includes many photographs.  The sections include:

  • Welcome to the Garden Classroom
  • Introduction:  Nurturing Young Gardeners which points out that the environment is the third teacher (Reggio Emilia philosophy), that the garden provides an ever-changing and varied curriculum as it evolves through the season,  and that connection to nature is a gift.  It also includes a section about organizing a garden classroom that I think would be helpful to classroom and homeschool teachers alike. A glossary of key gardening vocabulary is included in this section.
  • Section One:  Let’s Grow! Garden Basics includes five favorite plants to grow, a word about bees, planting seeds with suggestions for all kinds of seed pots, a project of “egg heads & tin can hair salon” , ideas for quirky ecoplanters, painted plant pots, grow your own meadow, cultivating a snipping garden, making plant labels, making a DIY watering can, making garden potions to help feed your crops, harvesting your own seeds, and a word about strawberries.
  • Section Two:  Play & Imagination.  This section includes ideas about loose parts play and materials for your play space, how to build a fort,  making a pretend-play pottery shed, having a mud-pie tea party, making a fairy garden, making a dinosaur world, making miniature gardens, creating garden sensory tubs, having a sensory treasure hunt, playdough in the garden, and snail races.
  • Section Three:  Reading & Writing  brings ideas for the alphabet and words outside, using story tents and other literacy methods, writing a garden observation journal, creating a chalkboard observation station, creating a sensory word hunt, creating a nature treasure bag,  telling stories (example given is Jack and the Beanstalk, but there are many tales that would fit the bill), using story stones, creating a gnome or fairy mail box.
  • Section Four:  Science & Math.  Science in the garden can include soil testing, composting, use of magnifying glass or microscope, use of reference books (Note:  In Waldorf Education, some of these things would be held until much later grades. We always start with naked eye observation and nature observations.)  Ideas are given for math manipulatives from the garden, math games for the garden, a counting treasure hunt, addition and subtraction, and graphing.  There is a section on creating an  “investigation table”,  a growing seed experiment,  a minibeast bingo game,  creating a bird cafe, looking a small garden creatures close up, creating a bug hotel, making a ladybug number line, the use of measurement through a one-yard leaf race, hosting a plant olympics (counting, measuring, weighing), making a sunflower height chart, making a symmetry butterfly, making a tree-trunk geoboard.
  • Section Five:  Arts & Crafts.  This section includes making paint and paintbrushes from the garden, making natural plant dyes, making handprint sunflowers and cement-tile art, making garden buntings,  finger knitting flowers, making leaf collages, making a daffodil bunting, (which I am so going to tie into our Feast of St. David  of Wales in March!), making daffodil pinwheels, making large scale landscape art, making a spring flower bouquet. Other projects include making:  sticky pictures, caterpillars, clothespin butterflies, clay leaf impressions, clay faces and creatures, land-art wreaths, land-art mandalas, and scarecrows.
  • Section Six: Garden Recipes. This section includes notes on edible flowers, customized soup, basil pesto, and zucchini relish.  Other ending notes include a form to create a garden journal,  a list of blogs and websites, great books for children and adults.

I am happy to say that this book runs about eight to thirteen dollars, depending upon if you buy it used or new.  I am happy to recommend this book to you all.  Although this book is not aimed at Waldorf Education, I think it could be used for the Early Years, and grades one through three easily.

The next resource I had to order through inter-library loan and it came from another state.  This book I cannot find anywhere under  about  thirty-five dollars.  This book is “Math In The Garden”, but Jennifer White and published by the National Gardening Association.   This book is more of an oversized paperback, with pencil drawings throughout.  It is about 160 pages long.

This book includes an Introduction that explains how to look at each page of activities (for example, each activity denotes an age range, group size, what you need, getting ready .  A lightning bug “illuminates” math concepts and skills featured, a hummingbird icon to point out notes for success in conducting the activities, a section for a databoard and what to put on it, and ideas for more math in the garden).  Pages 9 and 10 denote activites by age (and for my Waldorf homeschoolers, these may or may not match what we do in Waldorf Education).  The activities span age ranges 5-13, so essentially grades K-8 in a public school system.   A section regarding making  a garden journal is also included.

  • Chapter One: Numbers, Operations, & Algebra.  The activities include estimation and counting and comparing in “How Many Seeds in A Tomato?”, number sense/tally and number sequence in “Everything Counts In The Garden” (which also includes movement ideas for walking a numberline), coordinate grids and using a x and y axis in “Locating Garden Treasures” and “Inside the Coordinate Grid”, number sense and estimation with nonstandard measuring tools in “Comparing the Area of Leaves”,   area and perimeter in “Area & Perimeter of Leaves”,  measurement/dividing by increments of one-half in “Half of a Half of My Garden Plot”,  ratios in “Ratios of Shoots and Roots”, fractional equivalents in “Soil Plus Water Profile”.
  • Chapter Two:   Measurement.  This includes using hand spans, metric unit measuring,  converting nonstandard units into standard units, measuring growth in the garden,  measuring with steps (nonstandard measurment), using consistent nonstandard units of measurement,  estimating and measuring volume,  weighing garden harvest (consistent nonstandard units), and making a balance scale.
  • Chapter Three: Geometry  & Pattern includes exploring attributes of geometric shapes, using craft stick caliphers to record and compare angles, using radius, diameter and circumference of circles, exploring patterns,  exploring symmetry and asymmetry,  exploring bilateral symmetry, rotational symmetry, and asymmetry, drawing trees to look at proportions and identification of shapes and patterns.
  • Chapter Four: Data Analysis.  This includes collection and interpretation of data, including the meaning of range, sorting and classifying data,  recording, organizing, and evaluating data, use of pattern recognition and proportional reasoning, using mathematical models to represent quantitative relationships (this one is found in the exercise “Self-Similarity”), linear measurements and graphing to compare changes over time.

I like this book as well. I think for Waldorf homeschoolers, we most likely would use this book most in third grade (measurement) and then onward.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Parenting From A Place Of Calm

Being calm and modeling that for our children will do more for them than any class at school or any extra-curricular activity.  Being calm shows children and teens a way to approach problems, a way to carry an inner confidence and the strength that we need to get through life. What a wonderful start to give children and teenagers!

Many parents ask me how can I parent from a place of calm?  And I ask them, what prevents you from doing that?  Sometimes the answer is MY CHILDREN! LOL. With that in mind, I would like to share with you some of the ways I help myself come from a calmer place.

  • Understand developmental stages – This might be the number one thing to help you realize that “this is a stage, this too shall pass” and “I can help guide, but it will most likely work out!”  Understanding developmental stages makes you feel less stressed, and more connected to your child.  It is much easier to connect and have empathy if you know this is a normal developmental stage.
  • Let logical consequences prevail.   I see too many parents bailing their children out of small things that really their older children need to fail and learn from that failure.  One prime example is homework and projects, where the child procrastinates and waits until the night before it is due and then is screaming for help to get it done.  Failure, and the ability to know that one can come back from failure and know one can triumph is a far bigger lesson than whatever the project was.  Let them fail!  Making restitution is an important part of logical consequences, no matter what the age of the child.
  • Get the energy out.  Many parents say their children prevent them from being calm and my guess is most of the time the children just have too much energy. Get the energy out!  Be active with them, and most of all, get rid of the screens.  The screens do nothing to get energy out and to help everyone be calm.  Which leads to…
  • Be outside. Most things are calmer outside.  Especially if you have children under the age of 14, you should be outside every afternoon in some form of unstructured play.    Teens need this too, but the reality is many teens do have commitments at that point and cannot be outside every afternoon like that.  However, do make it a priority for those under 14.  You will never, ever get those under 14 years back.
  • Limit activities outside the home and plan for rest and downtime. Do not go out every day, even if it is fun things!  Be home!  A child and teen needs to know that the home is more than a launching pad to get to a class or activity, and that being home can be fulfilling too.
  • Understand that energetic and calm are not contradictory.  You can have and be both.  This was important for me personally to understand when I looked at all those soft-spoken, quiet Waldorf teachers.  I am energetic and dynamic.  I like to work and play hard, and it was super important for me to understand being energetic wasn’t a minus and calm is carried in your heart.  Being a calm parent could mean you are quiet and soft-spoken but it could also mean you are energetic and fun.
  • Have a plan for inner growth and development.   This is another complete game-changer.  If you profess to follow a religious or spiritual path, and yet invest no time in that at all each day, then you aren’t growing toward compassion, calmness, and all the things you profess to be important.   The inner path sets the inner stage for calmness. It can take as little as ten minutes a day, but DO SOMETHING.
  • Have something outside of your children as they get older.  As children grow, you do hit a point where you have time for some of your own interests or pursuits or to have a date night out or whatever it is that it time without your children.  However, the caveat is that no matter how many children you have, they will fill your 100 percent UNLESS you really put the effort into saying, no, this is my time.  I find this is especially important to do this with the early teen group who want to be driven a lot of places.  I am here for more than just driving and sitting and waiting.  Please show your children there is more to the world than just them.  
  • Know your limits and what you need for self-care! This is the most important one. If you are absolutely empty, then you cannot fulfill being calm.  Self-care means different things to different people, so figure out what makes things nurturing for you.

How do you come from a place of calm?

Blessings,
Carrie

Needs of The Waldorf Homeschooler

I have been thinking  the “drop- off points”  in Waldorf homeschooling (if families get through the second and third grade then it seems many drop- offs occur between fourth and fifth grade, again around sixth grade, and then again before high school.  Lots of drop-off!).  I   find lack of curriculum and understanding how to develop academic skills a Waldorf way is a reason many  parents cite.

I don’t think this should be so; Waldorf Education is supposed to be a rigorous education.  However, skill development is often something that seems to be more of a subject of discussion in the “early grades” with Waldorf Education .  For example, for the early grades, many of those  “How Does Waldorf Education teach children to read?” or “What is the Waldorf approach to learning math?”  articles abound.  In general, I think we see less regarding academic skill development in the Waldorf community for grades 5 and up, and even less discussion for Waldorf homeschoolers regarding what needs to be done to prepare seventh and eighth graders for high school.

And yes, there are products on the market for some of these areas.  However, I do not consider having only ONE product  ( or even two!) that may or may not resonate with a Waldorf homeschooling family to be enough!  Waldorf homeschooling families  would also  like to hear a variety of experiences and “how we really did this” for the upper grades especially, because these upper grades can vary considerably in experiences and skill levels.  Waldorf homeschooling is not Waldorf School!

What I hear over and over from Waldorf  homeschooling mothers regarding what they want in ” subject-specific  ” curriculum is:

  • Something for spelling by grade and block .  Yes, the spelling words should be pulled out of the blocks, but I think homeschooling parents are searching for what spelling rules are taught when, how a spelling word is different than a vocabulary word,. and how spelling can be built upon year after year, block after block in a systematic way.
  • Something for grammar by grade and block.  This is a constant source of difficulty for most parents.
  • Something for math, that includes MANY creative practice problems for daily use .  Yes, there are guides, yes, there are Waldorf math books, but  I think a few more options on the market to help parents along would be well- appreciated for the upper grades and high school.  The amount of topics needing to be reviewed gets intense, and for those parents less well-versed in math, even something like mental math can be difficult to make up on one’s own. (For that matter, even parents with children in the early grades would like some more laid out mental math options.  If a homeschooling parent has a child in first through third grade, chances are he or she may also have a kindy aged child and maybe a baby.  We are sleep deprived!  It is hard to create number journeys about gnomes  and fairies for second graders when we are sleep deprived. :))
  • Something for  developing great writing skills for the middle school years.  This is particularly needed for grades seven and eight as students look to transitioning into high school subjects. Between the  idea of an “animal report” in fourth grade and a “state report” in fifth grade, and the standard “Wish, Wonder, Surprise” block in seventh grade (which sometimes works well in the home environment and sometimes not!),  I think parents are often left wondering what they should be doing step by step in writing instruction, especially if writing is not their forte.
  • Along this vein, more ideas for general preparation for high school.
  • For the upper grades, more ideas for blocks and how a block can look very different from homeschool to homeschool… More of the “how” to teach these blocks and the academic skills that should be intertwining in these blocks. Many of these subjects  in grades 6-8 are foreign to parents.  Some parents never had Roman History, for example, in high school or college. It is a lot to put together every block with no background, and it is a lot to learn about every subject from scratch well enough to teach it to your child (plus figuring out HOW to teach your students the academic skills using this subject as vehicle).  Parents get frustrated or simply are scared off because they think Waldorf homeschooling is no longer for them because they don’t know much about these subjects, let alone  how to teach these vast subjects in a “Waldorf Way”.  I personally want Waldorf homeschooling parents to feel very supported in these upper grades and high school so they don’t give up!
  • In that vein, we could use more high school products to choose from.

What products would YOU love to see on the Waldorf homeschooling market?

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Summer Reading: Set Free Childhood- Screens and Temperaments

This last post in this series talked about Chapter Three; today I wanted to finish up the last little bit of this chapter.  The very last section talks about screens and how children sometimes react based upon their temperament. (If you need more information about temperament, I suggest this back post.)

Choleric Children, also noted to be “active children” in this chapter:  they may soon tire of screens as it is not active enough for them, but they may be very attracted to computer games and such. It is noted that these types of children need very strong boundaries and structure so the child can feel safe and secure in these limits.

Melancholic, also noted as “sensitive children” in this chapter:  sensitive children need their parents to hear them, they need a lot of empathy and as they are often full of feeling and sometimes vulnerable, screens can increase their isolation. Not only that, program content can also be overwhelming for their level of sensitivity.  They often cannot just shrug off what they have seen on a TV show or what happened in social media.

Sanguine children, also called “responsive children” in this chapter:  these children usually like change, have many interests, and are outgoing and very social.  They are easily distracted and can “flit” around.  From page 47, “They enjoy reacting to life’s experience and need stimulation, but can throw tantrums if they don’t want to move on.  If left to the screen, they can be caught by the ever-changing images – and this can really over-stimulate them.”    These children need help turning the screens off – usually some sort of even better distraction will do the trick.  Since the early years are noted to be a time of sanguinity, I find this description applies to many small children.

Lastly, phlegmatic children, called “receptive children” in this chapter are the children who need a regular rhythm, who like repetition and routine and like to know what is coming up.  They often enjoy just sitting and being dreamy.  Since these children often enjoy comfort, they may get into a rhythmical habit of screen time that is difficult to change.  They need help from their parents as well – they need tasks to do, and they need help to develop their own interests.  They need a rhythm to the day and week that capitalizes on other things than screens!

Of course, every child is a UNIQUE individual.  However, the temperaments can be a helpful, loose guide of what some children need from their parents regarding screen time and what would be helpful in the pursuit of balance.

Many blessings and on to Chapter Four.  Who is reading along?

Carrie

 

 

 

A Month of Michaelmas

A beautiful month of Michaelmas is upon us!  Don’t you love the call of the spiritual path that this time of year brings forth?  Let us engage in this longing and searching for the good to triumph over evil, for our inner light to shine over our baser passions, for our love for the world to expand in our deeds and responsibility toward all of humanity?

Here are some ways to prepare. If you have older children and ESPECIALLY teenagers, they should be part of preparing these things for younger children and I have included some suggestions for older children and teens directly.

1-   Make a little dragon for your nature table or place to display in the house.  My favorite little dragon pattern/kit is here at Mama Jude’s Etsy shop.  It is called Little Dragon Friend.

2 – Create shooting stars for Michaelmas.  Rhythmic Silence blog has suggestions as to how to dye and wet felt some beautiful balls for this (and add a tail!).  Perhaps you could make them and then hand them out on the day of the special festival celebration.

3 – Learn Michaelmas verses.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Michael the Victorious

Thou Michael the Victorious,

I make my circuit under thy shield

Thou Michael of the white steed

And of the bright, brillant blade!

Conqueror of the dragon,

Be thou at my back.

Thou ranger of the heavens!

Thou warrior of the King of all!

Thou Michael the victorious

My pride and my guide!

Thou Michael the victorious

The glory of mine eye.

And:

I rise through the strength of Mi-cha-el

Light of Sun

Radiance of Moon

Splendor of Fire

Swiftness of Wind

Depth of Sea

Stability of Earth

Firmness of Rock.

Mi-cha-el!

4- Find depictions of St. Michael the Archangel in art to display.  Some show St. Michael as a dragon-fighter or holding a  balance scale.  Different works of art show different aspects of St. Michael.

5- Stress doing good for others during this four-week period.  In the book, “Festivals With Children,” Brigitte Barz talks about bringing a balancing scale into the children’s space with dark stones on one side and helping the child choose a task each day to  help the archangel.  In this way, different stones can be added to the other side of the balance and hopefully by Michaelmas, the scale will be in complete balance.

7 – Make kites to fly.  This has been associated with Michaelmas for some time.

8 –  Make a dragon out of clay or modeling beeswax

9 – Decorate a candle with a Michaelmas theme with the thin modeling candle wax.

10- Tell fairy tales to the grades-aged children that fit into Michaelmas:  The Devil With The Three Golden Hairs, The Drummer, The Crystal Ball, The Two Brothers, Sleeping Beauty are all suggested.

11 – For children ages 9 and up, find Christine Natale’s story “The Golden Soldier”.  You can find Christine’s work here.

12 – For even older children, Parsifal is read in eleventh grade, so those 16 or so may enjoy this tale.

13 – Tell stories about St. George, a brave knight, who is a human symbol of this conflict of slaying and taming dragons; the personification of carrying inner light at a time when the outward light is diminishing

14 – For tiny children, try Suzanne Down’s story “The Brave Little Knight” or  the story “The Far Country” in the back of the book “All Year Round” for those five and up.

15 – Make plans to make “dragon bread” or a Michaelmas Harvest Loaf.  There is a story to go with this in the book “All Year Long”

16 – Learn Michaelmas songs.    There are some good ones in the Wynstones Autumn Book and yes, also on You Tube!

17 – Gather Michaelmas daisies.

18- Build an obstacle course that requires courage and bravery.

19 – Make a Calendula Courage Salve.

20 – Gather flowers to dye silk capes yellow for the big day.

21 – Make wooden shields or swords; have a knighting ceremony.

22 – Create a community gathering.

23 – Meditate on how we bring imagination, creativity, and fearlessness to the colder months ahead.  How do we overcome anxiety or fear? How do we bring more love into the world and how do we help others?

24 – Angels can be a lovely theme for this month.  I like the Paraclete Treasury of Angel Stories for reading aloud.

25 –  Make a Michaelmas drawing for your chalkboard

26- Learn a Michaelmas fingerplay for the littles.  See this post over at Little Acorn Learning

27  – Make a window transparency.  You can see an example on my Michaelmas Pinterest board.

28 – Make shadow puppets of St. George or the archangel and the dragon.

29  Michaelmas Day – shape your celebration in the way that feels most fitting to you and your family or community.  Over the years we have done simple soup and bread sharing; puppet shows; obstacle courses that involve courage, bonfires and singing.  I think it just depends who you have with you and what wonderful gifts you can share with each other.

Many blessings on this time.

Carrie