Ideas for Easter Baskets

I know many parents who are starting to gather together some small treats for Easter baskets.  I wanted to share with you some ideas I have collected over the years for baskets, including ideas for older children.

First of all, if you are looking for organic, fair trade or allergen free candy, you can try some of the suggestions listed here: here

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to those marshmallow Peeps, try this recipe

Ideas for baskets:

  • Bubbles/cool bubble wands
  • Small balls with different textures
  • Seed packets/gardening tools
  • Jump ropes
  • Pool or sandbox toys
  • Wooden animals or gasp, plastic animals if they are going to go live in the sandbox or a pond of water
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Kites (older children love these as well!)
  • Pinwheels
  • Supplies to build a fairy house
  • Accessories for bicycles  like a bell for the bike or a bike basket
  • Pool goggles, swim shoes, snorkles (older children as well!)
  • Play silks
  • Clothespins and braided yarn ropes –they can be so many things!
  • Stuffed animals – homemade felt or knitted animals – or Waldorf dolls
  • Clothing for dolls, yarn “leashes” for stuffed dogs
  • Playmats that roll up for small animals, figures or tiny cars.  Many of the playmats are easy to sew.

For older children:

  • Books
  • Craft kits
  • Paper dolls to cut out
  • Small model sets that will fit in basket
  • Woodworking or leather working tools
  • Yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks or supplies for cross stitching
  • For older teen sewers, the book “Sew Fab” might be nice.  (My teen has been eyeing it.  It is geared towards teen girl clothing). 
  • Card games
  • Watches
  • Art supplies
  • Gift cards (sorry, but older teens love gift cards)

For religious items, you could think about icons (there are even small laminated print icons), Bibles or other religious books, necklaces or bracelets with crosses.

What are your favorite things to put in an Easter basket?  Please leave the age of your children with your item in the comment box! 

Blessings,
Carrie

Creating An Advent Spiral For The Waldorf Home

I recently participated in my eighth year of preparing an Advent Spiral with community.  Walking an Advent Spiral is often traditional for children in the older kindergarten and  early grades within the Waldorf School.   The spiral is not a religious ritual  and it is also not explained to the children.  Instead, walking the spiral is an experiential spiritual act to commemorate the lighting of our own inner light to carry us through the dark months of winter, and letting this let shine out through the darkness of humanity as well.

Within the Waldorf School environment, the Advent Spiral is set up already and magically appears before the children. Sometimes there is an Angel Guide to guide the children through the spiral to the center candle.  The children usually hold an apple that has a beeswax candle in it, and then after their candle is lit they set it down on a spot within the spiral as they walk out.

In the home environment, there is a bit more to it since the spiral often needs to be assembled on the spot whilst families are present, especially because often families inspired by this type of festival are spread out throughout a geographic area and coming together from far distances. There are many ways to construct a festival for community; below follows just one way I have seen work well  in the past.

So, before the spiral: Continue reading

A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving

“For most American households the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original significance.  We can remediate the consumer holiday it has become by creating a Thanksgiving gathering and feast in kindergarten for the children and their families, where we give a living example of gratitude and joy for what we have and what we can share together.” – “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke

We begin sowing the seeds for Thanksgiving celebration by the observation of all the reverent moments that make up our very ordinary days throughout the entire year.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest being in, and this has been done in different varying festivals since ancient times.  The American Thanksgiving is just one festival of many that exemplifies the manifestation of the harvest as a culmination of the gratitude and reverence we share throughout the year with our children.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the Boston Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in the month of November in 1863.   You can read Lincoln’s proclamation here.   It actually took until 1941, when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by the United States Congress, to arrive at its current date of the fourth Thursday of each November.

Simple tasks that we can undertake for this festival with small children  include Continue reading

Time of Lanterns

 

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

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

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

Holiday Gifts To Make

 

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

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

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

Inspiration and Gratitude for Mother’s Day

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

My own mother died after a very a long illness  when I had just turned eight, and I was raised by my paternal grandmother.  She had three sisters,and the four of them were very, very close.  I also had an amazing maternal grandmother.  I was very fortunate to have all of them speaking into my life.

 

The grandmother who raised me wrote this in honor of mothers everywhere for a mother-daughter banquet at her church long, long  before I was born and I share it here with you today: Continue reading

May: Time To Plan

 

Usually one of three things happens during the homeschooling year:

Life intervenes and the entire year is rather chaotic.  Yep, that happens.

The school year starts off strong, and then life intervenes and is rather chaotic.  Yep, that happens too.

Everything goes as perfectly planned.  Nope, that really doesn’t happen too often.

 

Homeschooling calls for flexibility, an ability to work with life throws at you, often an ability to juggle different roles of being a parent/spouse/homemaker and to juggle children of a wide spread of ages and stages and temperaments.  All of this really requires an ability to get organized and work with planning as a tool.  This is important especially for Waldorf homeschooling.  Planning is everything in Waldorf homeschooling, and it really can help save you when life intervenes.

 

So, how is it coming with planning?  The last posts in this series were in February and March (you can see March’s post here:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/03/27/march-time-to-plan/)

 

This is where I am so far in planning a five year old kindergarten year, fourth grade and seventh grade:

I planned my start and finish dates and vacation dates based off of the two counties where my children have friends on different school schedules.  I didn’t do that this year and ended up regretting it.

I marked out “teacher time”.  Plans made over the summer often need adjustment, and at any rate, one needs to look things over and live into the material before the block begins.

I went through all the months of this past year and wrote down any details I wanted to remember – which months did life hit us hardest, how I felt inside, how the children seemed to feel, seasonal details about each month or details related to feasts of the church.

I thought very seriously about extra-curricular activities and how many days we can really be out of the home each week – and what time we will finish school each day and really can realistically make it out to something.  The out of the house rhythm I have discussed with my husband, because whereas I am a “yes” kind of girl, “yes, let’s do that!” he is much more practical in terms of looking at how much time we can sustain outside our home.

I made out a sample daily rhythm for all three children.  That, to me, is the hardest part, as I often don’t feel as if there are enough hours in the day to meet everyone’s needs with three separate ages of children – early years, mid grades and late grades.

I created my “wheel” of the year – you can see details about that in the March back post.  I go mainly around the calendar of the Anglican Communion and have to plan in our feast and fast dates and dates where we will be out of the home due to church.  Remember, the cycle of the year is what holds all of your different ages and stages together for your homeschooling adventure!

I sketched out what blocks I think will go where in the year and how long those blocks most likely will be.  Subject to change!

I ordered most of my resources and started gathering various titles to get at the library.

I put together notes for two blocks for my seventh grader by day (but have not done any of the artistic work for those blocks ahead of time yet, which is often that part that takes me the longest after I read the resources and get an idea for the order of what to present when in the flow of a block).

I put together some general ideas about work each day of the week for my kindergartner, and ideas about stories for each month, crafts and handwork for festivals.

 

That is a start, but there is certainly a lot, a lot more to do!  I have to start now to really plan it all and fit it all in.  Most of this work is being created by me from scratch using different resources, as I am certain it is for you as well.

What are you planning?  I would love to hear!

 

Blessings,
Carrie