Preparing Our Hearts for Lent

Are you starting to think about Lent?  Lent begins for the Western Church on Wednesday, March 1 and ends on Saturday, April 15.  I am starting to get some ideas in place for Lent for both myself and the children, and wanted to share in case any of my ideas would be helpful in your own family.

One of the major things we do in Lent is house cleaning and home making.  In fact, I have an entire series of posts regarding this under the Family Life header.

I have divided the list in my head into Prayer/Reflection, Gratitude and Kindness, Charity, and Nature.  Then I started breaking down activities and books into these areas, with the idea and hope that we will have a peaceful Lent.  We are Episcopalian, which is part of the Anglican Communion, so many of our family’s Lenten traditions and expectations reflect this spiritual path.

Prayer/Reflection:

For myself: The 5 Marks of Love by The Society of St. John the Evanagelist; there are also children’s guides for parishes on this material.  I also plan to look and investigate  the  Devotional Societies of the Anglican Communion.

For the children:

Books for Children About Prayer and Self-Reflection:

Actions:

  • Pray Morning and Evening Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer
  • Pray the Great Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim
  • Learn about the Saints who have Feast Days during Lent
  • Memorize the Beatitudes
  • Memorize the 5 Marks of Mission  of the Episcopal Church
  • Attend Mass
  • Confess to our priest

 

Gratitude and Kindness:

For myself:  I love the gratitude journaling prompts over at Orthodox Mom

Love people – spend time with those we love

For our family:

  • Ideas from our our positive family attitude Pinterest Board
  • Plan a special siblings’ day – gratitude for each other
  • No complaining
  • We will be looking for ways to spread the mission of The Episcopal Church in kindness: to commit to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to love our neighbor as ourselves; and to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

Charity:

For our entire family:

Nature for the entire family:

For myself:  Maintain an advocacy role in the arenas of climate change, clean water and clean air, and renewable energy sources

  • Hike several times a week.
  • Rest and observe quiet several times a day outside

My plan is to put together a Lenten book basket, to use a morning time to meet and tackle some of the things from the prayer/reflection section, to go over the Feast Days of different Saints during Lent and add icons or pictures of these Saints to an ever expanding list that we hang in our school room, and to put a chart up reminding ourselves ways we can celebrate Lent.

I would love to hear your plans for this Lent.

Blessings,
Carrie

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Sixth Grade Ancient Rome

I really enjoyed Ancient Rome when we went through it the first time.  You can see the back posts on Rome here for Part One and here for Part Two.  Here is a gallery of work from our first time through Ancient Rome.

This time, my second time through sixth grade,  I tried to keep things to a streamlined flow as much as possible.  There is much that could be included in a study of Roman History, and it is easy to get lost in it.  Here is my general outline, with some ideas for student responses using the Eight Arts of Waldorf Education (drama, speech, movement, handwork, singing and musical instruments, painting, drawing, and modeling):

1.An Introduction to Rome and the idea of Rome as a Kingdom, a Republic, an Empire

Possibilities:  Romulus and Remus (model a wolf’s head, drawing, painting); Numa Pompilius, Tarquinias Priscus and the first census; Roman life, review geography of Italy

Possible Student Responses: Modeling a wolf’s head for Romulus and Remus; Oral (Timeline could be a possibility, although I don’t see many Waldorf Schools making timelines until eighth grade – please do share if you have an experience surrounding this); create title page for Main Lesson Book if using one; painting or drawing seven hills of Rome; salt dough map of seven hills;

2. An Introduction to Roman Society – especially patricians and plebians, how the Romans ate, dressed, etc

Read Alouds:  “Our Little Roman Cousins of Long Ago”  free over at mainlesson.com

Possible Student Responses:  Oral Recall, (making togas or other Roman clothing, making Roman sandals, making Roman meals, playing Roman games), comparison chart of plebians versus patricians

3. The Roman Republic – roads, aquaducts, life of the Roman soldier

Read Aloud:  “A Roman Fort”, the book  “City” by Maccauley

Possible Student Responses:  (making a hodometer, diorama, drawings, making weaponry/masks/shields, making Roman road, making an aquaduct, )  first person account of Roman soldier training or building a fort; possible connection between Roman Republic and American government, values of the average Roman citizen

4. Hannibal and Scipio (possible student response:  drawing, modeling, drama)

5. Slavery – Roman Colosseum-Spartacus  (possible student response – writing, modeling the Colosseum, first person narrative of Spartacus)

6.Julius Caesar 

Possible Student Responses: black and white drawing of Julius Caesar, learning lines from Shakespeare’s play, music was often played at funerals – could compose music for the funeral of Julius Caesar with lyre or singing

7.Augustus Caesar and the Golden Age of Rome (also Mark Antony and Cleopatra); Roman Calendar

Possible Student Responses:  (black and white drawings,  model of Cleopatra’s boat,  paper on Cleopatra, creating dialogue or dramatization between Antony and Cleopatra, paper of technology of Rome)

8. Life of Jesus – Parables, Miracles; The Ancient Church; Early Symbols of Christianity

Read Aloud:  “The Bronze Bow”

Possible Responses:  (drawings, modelings, dramatization, re-creating one of the parables in symbols, mosaic tiles of the early symbols of christianity, meal)

9. Emperor Nero

10. The Division of the Roman Empire; St. Constantine

11. Decline of Roman Empire -the  Huns, the first of the Desert Hermits, Life of St. Anthony

Read Aloud:  “The Dancing Bear”

Possible Student Responses: (drawing, dramatization of life of St. Anthony or Constantine’s vision; a large butcher block artistic response to the life of St. Anthony;  maps of the Roman Empire and the tribes moving in  on paper or in salt dough with little figures; paper on the Huns, sayings of the Desert Hermits)

12. Bridge between Rome History Block and Medieval Block:  Possibly reading a non-fiction source, writing three ideas from each chapter and creating a paper.  We are using a children’s nonfiction book, “Attila the Hun”  for this endeavor.  If one does a math block after this block, a paper could be worked on during the math block.

Would love to hear your plans surrounding Rome.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day In The Life of Messy Waldorf Homeschooling

The older my children get, the harder it is to write about homeschooling.  The Waldorf curriculum is a constant for us, but every child reacts so differently to it in the homeschool environment and it is hard for me to know if any of our experiences will translate.  Homeschoolers tend to paint this picture of things being lovely on blogs and Instagram.  Our days can be lovely too, but  some days are not, and I find with older children they look much different than when I had children all in 5th or 6th grade and younger.  It is not as beautiful as the early grades when all the children were more on the same page as far as the curriculum; it is more academic; it is more juggling for me because the children are so spread out in ages (if you are a first time reader, my children are 9th grade, 6th grade, 1st grade) and it is more focusing on areas that are difficult and time-consuming.

Today started with the usual – breakfast.  My children really want hot meals at most meal times.  My fifteen year old and twelve year old absolutely can cook and do, but I find if I do breakfast it is speedier and gets us off to a better start.  So today I threw oatmeal and flaxseeds in the crockpot with some cinnamon and cut up pears and sauteed some apples in cinnamon, butter, and a little coconut sugar.

We started with our littlest guy.  After his opening verses, he is doing a lovely circle regarding Pelle’s Suit from the book, “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” but I added in a number of Spring Wynstone verses about daffodils, violets,  gnomes and the Spring Queen.  In this way, we wake up our voices, our fingers and toes.  We woke up our minds with some movement math.  Then we reviewed.  We started with a little song he knows well.  It was written on the board – (“Spring is coming, Spring is coming, birdies build their nest, Weave together straw and feather, Doing each their best) and we hunted for all the S’s, all the c’s, found the letter that makes the “W” sound, etc.  We also practiced saying the words and clapping on the S’s and stomping on the b’s.  He still mixes up some of the letters and their sounds, so we played some games of putting little alphabet cards that he wrote in order and then I pick a sound and he finds the letter or vice versa (and then he quizzes me!).  We also took turns writing the capital letter on the board and writing the little letter friend that matches – big A, little a, for example.  He re-told the story of Snow White and Rose Red to me in exquisite detail, and we modeled a bear.  Then we painted not so much a bear, but the gesture of a bear in red, with yellow around it for the gold, and then a shy blue hiding in the corners.  The painting looks like the painting of any other first grade with a play of abstract color, but to us it represents the strong bear who could defeat a dwarf and the inner gold we all carry.  I put a sentence on the board from the story and we looked at it carefully, finding all the letters.  Tomorrow we will re-tell the story again, and draw and write from the story and have a new story.

During this, my sixth grader was bringing me her report on Attila the Hun.  She is using the book “Attila the Hun” from the Villians of History series and going through the chapters and writing down three things from each chapter that she learned.  On Friday, we will take all her notes and make it into a little report that will bridge our Rome History Block and our Medieval Block.  And my ninth grader was wandering in and out, muttering about writing up a lab and how the graph was weird (which I later figured out it was because I was having her plot the wrong thing. Oops!  We did fix it).

Next I worked with our ninth grader.  We started with biology.  We have been doing ecology and lately succession and biomes in particular (and catching up on labs since we switched programs in the fall semester and are still catching up). We looked at the lab she was having trouble with, and fixed that.  Then we forged ahead with using a microscope.  Oak Meadow Biology doesn’t require a microscope, but I wanted our ninth grader to have this experience, so today we were using the microscope to review mitosis and using some labs I pulled off the Internet.  We also looked back through our main lesson book at mitosis since this was something we did earlier this year. Then we moved into our more current topic and went through the biology chapter and I have had several main lesson book activities for this topic.  Lastly, we went through the book Kidnapped our ninth grader is reading for literature and went through comprehension questions and vocabulary.  During this, our first grader was playing, our sixth grader was practicing violin and reading the fiction book, “The Dancing Bear” for bridging our history blocks.

We had lunch, which I hurried along and brought a smoothie for myself to the school room.  It was time for our sixth grader  to get to  work.  We worked on spelling, math written and with movement and some grammar exercises regarding possessive pronouns. This all sounds simple, but it took over an hour and we didn’t have lots of time left. We reviewed her information about Attila the Hun and made plans for moving forward.  She has a few things to finish up in her Rome Main lesson book, and we hope to finish this week.  We are also working on business math.  We have gone through the history of math, and we are going over fractions, percentages, and decimals.   During this time, our ninth grader was re-writing her lab, and working on some questions surrounding her literature assignment.  Our first grader was playing in the school room and throughout all three lessons, our little puppy was being entertained by whatever child was available and sitting on my feet with toys.  After school, it  was time to get ready to go to the barn and have a horseback riding lesson.  The fresh air was welcome! We came home for a later dinner  and made dinner and everyone was ready to relax.

We had a slow start to this year and even in January, but things are finally falling into place (at least for now until it changes, LOL).  Hope you all are having some catch-up days to your school if you need it or settling into the groove of a new semester!

If you post a day in the life of your homeschool, please do link it here in the comment box!  I would love to hear from you!

Blessings,
Carrie

Vitality 5: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

It has been awhile since I have been on here. I was busy getting ready for yesterday’s workshop regarding first grade homeschool planning!  Yesterday I  had the great fortune to be part of a great group of women during the workshop.  One thing that came up was the plethora of  blogs and  Instagram accounts that show perfect homeschooling families doing perfect things.  We all know intellectually a photograph or even a video represents only one moment in time and that people put the best of their family life on the Internet.  We like to think other families have it all together, and somehow we don’t.

I talked about how I have resisted putting many photographs on this blog.  I know this is hard on the visual learners, but I NEVER want anyone to feel pressured or like they should be re-creating something that represents only one moment in time.  I think there is a lot of pressure for being handling every facet of personal, professional, and family life perfectly  for American women in particular, and I don’t want to see that here in this space.  In fact,  I feel like that would be almost untruthful to my more messy and imperfect life since I am just a normal wife and mother like so many of you!   No perfect over here!  I really don’t think perfect families exist.  Great families are NOT perfect families, and every family has the potential to be great!   I want mothers to walk away feeling as if they are enough, their family is enough, and that family and parenting is an amazing adventure.

What makes a family great is so much more than just a photo of a toy in the sunshine or a the back of a child as they run outside.    I am sure different people define it different ways, but I think a “great” or “strong” family might do at least  a few of the following things:

  • Own their mistakes and learn from them
  • Be loyal to each other; help each other
  • Love each other and take the other family member’s needs into account
  • Respect each other and each other’s quirks
  • Communicate their needs directly
  • Spend time together; enjoy being together and having fun; laughter!

I have heard it said that imperfect human beings are just “messy”.  I love being a messy human being, because my quirks make me who I am!  And, I feel like empowering other messy human adult beings to parent authentically and have children who  grow up and  not  be perfect might just be my secret superpower. Wink.

Hope you are having a terrific slow Sunday with your family!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Celebrating February

February brings to my mind hearts, flowers, reds and pinks, love and the respect that goes with loving someone or something fully, the beginnings and musings of spring coming.  It can also be a hard month. February is the month in which nearly every family I know wants to quit homeschooling, and it often is the month where I feel like we must just keep going.

Having festivals to celebrate and be positive about can often be a lovely break to the somewhat dreary weather. I often find the rhythms of the day and the week to be grounding, but the calendar of festivals throughout the year is what brings diversity and love.

So, this month, in our family,  we are celebrating:

Candlemas – February 2

Valentine’s Day – February 14

And really not much else.  I always feel a little depleted this time of year, so I have decided to focus on self-care this month and not so many outside things to prepare for!

In school and circle time with our littlest guy, we are looking at candles and light and love, gnomes,  and snowdrops (the flowers).

 

Things to love this month:

Hospitality

Love For Your Partner

 

Fun things to do with children:

Make Valentine’s Day cards; plan little treats and crafts for Valentine’s Day; make window transparencies; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

Get Your Homeschooling Together:

The February Homeschool Rhythm Re-Check

Find out information about Waldorf homeschooling

After I  present at a first grade workshop on the 18th, I will be full of homeschool planning for my own children.  Hard to believe they will be in 10th, 7th, and 2nd next year!

Get Your Self-Care Together:

My self-care this past month included spending time with friends whom I love (and tea; tea is lovely).  This month will include some couple dates out with my husband and friends, more friend dates, bubble baths, exercising, saying no to things that are draining my thoughts or energy, and clean eating.  And probably more tea.

I hope you are having a cozy February full of love and possibilities,

Carrie

Vitality 4: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

During these tumultuous political times, I have felt lately that my energy is dissipating in directions far and wide from my home and my family.   In order to balance this,  I have needed a serious dose of self-care.

I think everyone’s self-care list may look a little different since different things nurture different people.  However, I made myself a list and am happy to share it with you in hope that you will create your own list of things that are nurturing to you!

My weekly list includes:

  • Exercise (which is a daily task, but I strive toward a weekly goal)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Walking/Hiking
  • Going out for tea with friends without children
  • Spending time with my husband alone
  • Doing things I enjoy including drawing and painting, looking at art

My daily lists include:

  • Sitting with a good cup of tea
  • Writing
  • Praying, reading Scripture
  • Being in nature
  • Spending fun time with my family members – playing games, reading together, laughing
  • Reading  fiction (not just things around development or Waldorf Education!)
  • Getting support when I need it from my spouse and from friends
  • If I have screen time for myself – to watch things that are funny and light-hearted
  • Getting enough sleep and rest

The other things that  I have done that have helped enormously is to pare down my personal Facebook page to limit political conversations; to pick the three things that I feel are most urgently politically for our family’s values and focus on those issues, and to limit computer time in general.

It is hard to be a sensitive person in these times, and self-care makes all the difference in the world.  I would love to hear what your favorite self-care tricks are.

Blessings and love, and may you have a wonderful week ahead,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

Calm Candlemas

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

-Traditional Verse

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the  year.  It is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ to Anna and Simeon, where Christ is seen as the Light.  The light of spring with its new dawning is awakening, and the new meets the old on both physical and spiritual planes.  This is a calming reassurance of the continuity of life and of the potential we have to be a light ourselves.

This day is also marked in the United States as “Groundhog Day.”  The  old belief was that all the hibernating animals would wake up on this day and come out to see if it was still winter or not.  Interestingly, if it is cloudy and the groundhog sees no shadow, there will be an early spring.  However, sunny weather causes a shadow, and the groundhog will predict 40 more days of winter.

The way to mark this day, is to of course, eat the traditional foods of Candlemas, which usually include crepes and pancakes. It is a day for agricultural sowing of the fields, or at least making a furrow, and it could be a day for spring cleaning and beginning new projects.  What new things have you wanted to do and need courage to begin?

And, this is of course a day of candle making. Old candles can be melted down into new dipped or walnut shell candle boats.  Other types of floating candles can be made from  wax poured into little cookie cutters that have been oiled and allowed to set with a wick.  Candles for tiny hands can be rolled; and candles can be dipped.  I keep separate pots for candle making endeavors on a shelf in my laundry room.  There are instructions for “sand candles” in the book “All Year Round”; you will need  a tennis ball to press into the sand and then to poke three holes into this shape so the finished candle will have three legs upon which to stand.  Earth candles are also lovely and can be dug into the yard to welcome all the little flowering bulbs just beginning to make an appearance.

Inside, a traditional nature table for this time of year may include little spring flowers from bulbs, and a pale green cloth.

I hope you found a calming, bright peace on this Candlemas Day.  May our inner light glow out into the world to shine for all to see.

Many blessings,

Carrie