These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: October

October is absolutely one of my favorite months – apples, pumpkins, crisp fall air, hiking, the promise of the holidays coming, fall clothes, leaves turning colors and crunching under my feet, days spent outside playing!  October is a wonderful month.

We are celebrating this month:

  • October 1- The Blessings of the Animals at our local parish. We get to bring our new puppy to meet our priests!
  • October 4- The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.  If you are looking for books about St. Francis, try this post by Elizabeth Foss.  There are so, so many St. Francis books listed there!
  • October 9 – Our littlest one’s birthday!
  • October 18- The Feast of St. Luke
  • October 31 – Halloween  – Halloween actually is not my favorite holiday, but we do usually go out in our neighborhood with our dog and go house to house.  Usually everyone is out in the street or in their driveways and it can be fun in a community sense. If you want some ideas about celebrating Halloween in a Waldorf home, try this back post.
  • Of course, we are also getting ready for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day as well.

Celebrating October with small children:

Celebrating October with grades-aged children:

  • Pumpkin Picking
  • Gathering acorns and leaves and making nature mandalas
  • Painting little rocks and leaving them as treasures to be found in the garden or park – so many resources for this!
  • Fall Handwork – knitting, crochet for those in third grade and up, cross stitch, embroidery
  • More fall crafts here
  • Work on making holiday gifts; more ideas here
  • Hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking

Celebrating October with teenagers:

  • Star-gazing – October is one of the most clear months to star watch in the Southeastern United States
  • Work on making holiday gifts
  • Hiking, camping, backpacking, rock climbing – adventures of the heart!
  • Celebrate National Teen Read Week

Homemaking:  I am very excited to be a part of Whole Foods Freezer Cooking , which starts October 17.  It always feels good to be re-vitalized in the kitchen.

I am in the midst of going through winter clothing and winter outerwear for the children to make sure we have what it needs, since I am the strange Southerner who is always wanting snow in the winter!  Come on snow!  This winter, we hope to take the children to a neighboring state and ski/snowboard a few times, and I am very excited about this!

We celebrated Michaelmas at home and then the next day with friends, and I am hoping we can do the same for Martinmas, so I have a little bit of time this month to work on that!

Homeschooling: Let’s see….  Most importantly, we have some field trips planned to our local museum to see a new exhibit, a trip planned to a neighboring state, some camping planned, and plans to be outside every day in the fall weather with a new puppy!

Other things in the works:  First Grade – we finished two blocks of first grade (Form Drawing and Qualities of Numbers), and we will be moving into our first letter block. In sixth grade, we completed astronomy and are in mineralogy right now.  I hope to move into a little introduction of European Geography by the end of this month and then into Rome.  In ninth grade, we are doing Algebra I, Spanish II,  Living Biology, and finishing a block on Native American/Colonial American history. Our next block will be Comedy and Tragedy, which will be fun.

Self-Care:  (No affiliation with any of the links below, they are just products and consultants that I use, and I love to support small mom-owned businesses.  Don’t you?)

  • One thing I like to think about with fall and winter coming is making my skin more radiant and nourished.  I am a big skin care fan.  What I like now includes Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cream Exfoliator – none of those little beads that are bad for wildlife down the road!  I like to moisturize, so have been playing with a number of body and facial moisturizers.  And, I like soothing charcoal/clay masks –  again, Beautycounter has one (no affiliation, I just like their products!  You can try this Facebook page for deals) and I have found clay masks from Earth Kiss at markets such as Sprouts.  I also have been looking at fall makeup.   I like the makeup from Beautycounter as well, and I also love the glam looks from Younique by Fallyn.
  • I am also looking forward to re-vamping my wardrobe.  Somehow, I have ended up with sweaters, a pair of jeans, a pair of pants….and not much else.  It is obviously past time to invest in some fall/winter clothes!   I am headed to my friend’s LuLaRoe business to pick up some leggings and dresses.  Their leggings are so soft, most of the people who have them seem to love them and live in them, so I am looking forward to trying on and finding some of my own!
  • And, with the colder weather, time to pick up hiking and even foray into more walking and running.  One thing I would love to do this year is backpacking on the trail (when I camp, I usually get a tent campsite), so backpacking would be a new adventure.  We also have some tent camping planned as well.
  • I have been also planning some time with the mom’s that I love – mom’s night out!🙂

Hope your October is full of magical surprises and fun!

Blessings and love,

Motherhood and Michaelmas Bravery

Brave and true will I be.

Each good deed sets me free.

Each kind word makes me strong.

I will fight for the right.

I will conquer the wrong.

Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels in the Western Church; more commonly referred to as Michaelmas.  I love this day because not only does it shine like a beacon for me to look ahead to the coming months of winter and how I can fortify myself for this seasonal change, it powerfully reminds me of the choices I have to be brave and good.

Motherhood in and of itself is often an act of bravery.  The responsibility of having a beautiful newborn and introducing them to a beautiful world is an act of bravery, and especially if we don’t feel the world is beautiful.  When we, as adults, can see it marred by racism, oppression, injustice, it can be an extreme act to show our children through the only eyes they know that the world can be a good and beautiful world and there are good and beautiful people.

Motherhood can be physical acts of bravery.  From sleep deprivation to dealing with bodies that feel different after giving birth or having multiple children, it can take courage, bravery and persistence to nudge ourselves back to health and not give up.  Fight to treat yourselves right by taking care of yourselves!  Be brave, mothers!

Motherhood  can be brave when we choose to forge ahead on paths that are different than the norm, knowing that this path is right for our children and our family.  It is courageous to make rhythms to our world in a time and place where chaotic busyness is the treasured theme of the media and everyone.  “How are you?”  “I am just SO BUSY!” says nearly everyone you meet.  Why?  Why is this treasured like a badge of honor?  I think the real badge of courage is to stay home more, relax and laugh more, teach our children that they don’t need pages of acheivements in order to be human.  Instead, teach them about forming relationships.  Teach them about how people treat each other.  Treat them to be upstanding human beings who do the right thing.  Teach them to do the things that matter, and that our energy is finite.  There are only so many things we can juggle at one time and be sane and healthy.  That is bravery.

Motherhood can be brave when we are raising teenagers on the verge of driving, preparing for college, preparing for their own intimate relationships. We can be brave and true and wise in helping to guide our teenagers whilst also preparing them to make choices that nourish themselves and also set the tone for a different world. Help our teenager to change the world by being different, by being brave and true – by being beautiful.

Motherhood can be brave when all the children are gone and the house is empty.  That transition of being older and all that experience of being brave brings something to the world!

Happy Michaelmas!

Blessings and love,


Homeschooling Ninth Grade Biology: Part One

If you are interested in homeschooling high school biology, particularly if you are arriving here as a Waldorf homeschooling parent,  I would ask myself several questions:

  1. Do you want to run this as a “track” class (all year, the way it is run in public schools in the United States?) or do you want to continue to run the sciences in blocks such as done in the middle school grades?

2. Is ninth grade the right grade for this subject to run as a track class?

3. If it is, and we look at living biology in topics or units, what sense do the order of topics make coming from doing the middle school science grades from a Waldorf perspective?

4. What resources – non-Waldorf and Waldorf – are available to help me teach?

5. What experiential things are available to really make this subject come alive? How can we touch the heart and hands before jumping into the heady portion?

I am eight weeks into high school biology with our high schooler, and I think I would answer these questions the following way –

  1. Yes, I would run this as a track class.  I don’t think there is any way to run this in blocks throughout high school and garner enough hours (180 hours) to count as a high school science on a transcript as a homeschooler.
  2. Is ninth grade the right grade for this subject? The ninth grade year is the year of “what” so in one sense I think this is well for “what” since it is  life all around us – but some of the “why” I think gets a little lost on the ninth grader as well and will need to be re-visited in other grades.
  3. If we look at biology in units or topics, now that we are into it, I think it makes more sense to actually start with ecology and evolution and then move into the level of the cell and molecular biology.  I didn’t do it this way this year, and most traditional textbooks and high school biology courses start where we started with the cell,  but I want to try a different order next time.  It seems like a much more familiar place to start if one begins with ecology as opposed to the cellular level.
  4. What resources are available?  I will post a list by unit of what we used and liked (and didn’t like).  Part One is below.
  5. What experiential things are available?  We used 4H experiences and field trips, along with classes at our local zoo.  Depending upon where you live, I think this is an easy subject to find experiences that match with topics.   I think in high school we take the Waldorf method of presentation-artistic method-academic piece with revisiting and nuances on the new material to be inciting the hands and heart (so could be experiements, field trip with hands-on component, etc) with hands-on piece and academic piece with lots and lots and lots of review and at the school level, the student has to be able to take notes, read follow up materials,etc. in the homeschooling environment.

I started our year in the very traditional way of sort of an introduction to biology, the basic chemistry of biology, the working cell, cellular respiration and photosynthesis.  I wish I had started with ecology and then moved into evolution and form and function for my Waldorf-based student, as I mentioned above.   I would put the unit we started with more in the January time frame instead of the beginning of the year.  That is my plan when I teach it the second time!

Also, you may move much faster than me, but i think this material (Introduction, The Cell, Cellular Respiration/Photosynthesis) takes about eight weeks to cover.  If you have less children to homeschool or your student is super motivated and flies through materials and main lesson book pages and lab write-ups and reading, then it could take less time.

Our main resource materials for Introduction to Biology/The Cell/The Cell At Work for our discussions, my presentations:

    • The Way Life Works, Hoagland and Dodson, Chapters 1 and 2
    • Campbell Biology Concepts and Connections , Eighth Edition,  Chapters 1-7
    • PBS Evolution, Handouts, Leaf Cutter Ant story illustrating scientific method
    • Article by Graham Kennish, “Teaching Ninth Grade Biology In A Human Context” – Steiner Education, Volume 22, No. 1)
    • Article by Craig Holdrege “Learning to See Life – Developing the Goethean Approach To Science”
    • Article by Craig Holdrege “Metamorphosis and Metamorphic Thinking” – Waldorf School Life Science/Environmental Studies Colloquium
    • Chapter 5 “Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems”  from “Hard To Teach Biology Concepts” Revised 2nd Edition.  Available online through National Science Teachers Association, NSTA.
    • Articles about homology
    • Teachers Pay Teachers Nitty Gritty Science Photosynthesis, Cell Process & Energy (more generalized)
    • Teacher Pay Teachers  Science with Mrs. Lau: Biochemistry Activity with Four Macromolecules;  Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration Coloring Bundle (very detailed)
    • Teacher Reference:  Environmental Educators Alliance Workshops in my state – my first workshop is in just a few weeks!

Labs: (Teacher Reference:   Biology Inquiries by Shields;  Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments by Thompson, Online Resources)  We did a lot of work with acids, bases, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, enyzmes, in our seventh and eighth grade chemistry so that was a good basis for this, so we didn’t do as many labs with this.  There were also hands-on components to the Teachers Pay Teachers materials mentioned above – not artistic and beautiful, but still with ideas for coloring, sequencing, using the hands for concepts that are not always easy for students to really “get” deeply.

  • 3 Labs on “What Is Life?” (a harder question than one might think!)
  • Introduction to Enzymes
  • Exploration of Enzyme Activity
  • Osmosis Lab
  • Onion and Cheek Cell Lab
  • Observation of Carbon Dioxide Uptake, Determining Effect of Light Intensity on Photosynthesis


Well, this fall coincided with our Forestry Judging for 4H which included identifying 79 types of trees, insect and tree diseases, estimation of sawtimber, and compass and pacing so that to me totally counts as a biology experience!

We also will have/ have had field trips this semester to a class on native fish of our state and fish adaptations;  our local museum involving presentations on weather and a new dinosaur exhibit; an aquarium behind-the -scenes visit and  three high school homeschooling classes at our local zoo that involved neuroscience of the mammalian brain, neuroscience of the bird brain, neuroscience of the reptile/amphibian brain and two of those three classes involved dissection.

Main Lesson Pages Required:

  • Beautiful Title Page
  • Milestones in Biology 4 Billion BCE – 200,000 BCE (Anatomically modern humans)
  • The Sixteen Patterns of Life
  • A Generalized Animal Cell
  • A Generalized Plant Cell
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • Comparision Page of the Holistic Cellular Respiration/Photosynthesis relationship

Other Artwork/Projects:

  • Gestural Drawing of Animals and Plants at zoo
  • Cell Model





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?



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!


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.



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?