The Outdoor Learning Symposium

I am a member of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia  and recently went to a day of workshops during The Outdoor Learning Symposium.  The workshops I attended were very interesting.

I went to one session that was held by a geologist and a biogeologist and talked about how we can use plants to identify the rocks beneath our feet.  Our state is very wooded and covered in plants.  Our capital city has the highest density of tree canopy coverage in the nation, so plants are an important intersection with Earth Science teaching in our state.  We essentially looked at the most common types of rocks found in our state by geographic region (which is taught in our state in the third grade, in Waldorf Schools we tend to teach this in fourth grade) and  then  what plants grew there due to the soil conditions.  We went through the prehistoric epochs to see WHY we have the types of rocks here that can be found, why our state is low in fossil finds, how Africa merged with North America and essentially took the part of the state that is now Atlanta, which was off the coast of Cape Hatteras and shoved it into where it was today.  Some of the rocks we went through included quartz and the plants associated with quartz, granite, amphibilate,  and limestone (and why our state only has marble in a certain place).   The best resources for this type of work include using indicator plants, using geologic maps, the web soil survey of the USDA. I bought a great geologic game for children. I already had the roadside geology guide for my state, and many other states are available.  This is the site for the Georgia book and geologic game that I use.  Earth Science Literacy standards were also addressed.  We received free pamphletswith the “Big Ideas” of Earth Science literacy.  For more information on this, you can see Earth Science Literacy.

I also went to sessions about Project WET and Project Learning Tree.  Project WET focuses on action-oriented education that helps children understand the value of water in the world. In that session, we played a variety of games, even including magic tricks, that focused on water.  They have a great curriculum that can be obtained by  taking a certification course that runs about 10 hours, but there are also a variety of free resources available as well.  There are other “sister” organizations in my state that work together, including Project WILD (wildlife focus) and Project Learning Tree (forestry).  All of these have separate certifications to be able to use their curriculum, but from what I saw it would be easy to incorporate many of these ideas and concepts into Waldorf Education.

The last session I attended was a Project Learning Tree session where we discussed forestry,  the role of trees in our state, and made paper.  It was a fun session.  For those of you looking for ideas regarding paper making, this book was there and it was fun to look through:  300 Ideas for Papermaking.  We had a great time making paper with all kinds of add-ins.

Lots of fun, and looking forward to the Annual Southeastern Environmental Education Conference and Research Symposium  next year!





These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: August

August is here! For some parts of the United States, August is like the deep, long, and slow Sunday of the summer.  For some parts, like the Southeastern United States, public schools are already in session and summer is sort of over (although we still have hot, sweltering weekend days to celebrate!).

August is one of my favorite months.  It makes me think of shooting stars, starry nights and campfires, lake days, sunflowers, lavender, and bees and honey.  We have an abundance of dragonflies right now and all kinds of wildlife – especially the baby deer are out.

This month we are celebrating:

  • August 6th – The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Grow Christians has a blog post about this Feast; this Episcopalian blog is one I follow daily and I find it has many good posts about tackling the Five Marks of Mission of the Episcopalian Church within the home and celebrating Feast Days)
  • August 9th- The Feast Day of St. Herman of Alaska (this is one of my son’s favorite saints) (we love this book about St. Herman)
  • August 15th – The Dormition of St. Mary the Virgin
  • August 31st – The Feast Day of St. Aidan – you could tell the story of St. Aidan and his horse

Fun for the whole family:

  • If school hasn’t started, the last of beach holidays!
  • Physical fun – taking walks and hikes together; sometimes August is a great month for waterfall hikes
  • Watching the meteor shows peaking on August 11 in the lower 48 states
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Making lavender crafts and this has many craft links for lavender if you scroll down


I just came back last night from giving the first “Parenting Passageway” workshop ever…so I am contemplating more workshops, topics, and what that would look like.  Thank you to my first group of participants yesterday in North Carolina!

Please share with me your August plans!




Playing For The Same Team

I grew up in a sports-loving family (even though I was not a great athlete myself!).  Despite my immersion in the world of sports and “sports lingo”, it took me quite awhile to see how to see how building a family does have similarities to building a team.  Sometimes in a family, especially with juggling careers, financial concerns, everything being new and each phase of childhood development being new and different with no road map, it could just seem like putting out one fire after another or just reacting to one thing after another rather than having the skill to really build a vision, build a family, build a peaceable team.

We often hear a lot about being a mindful parent or being a “conscious” parent.  To me that means attempting to be proactive, not reactive.  However, I think there is more to family life than that.  Family life is about relationships.  It is about building something more wonderful than you could have on your own.  And yes, in a way, it is about succession of the team as your children grow up and go out into the world and make choices completely independently.

Shared values lead to two things:  a shared vision and also boundaries that support your values.  What does a “X” family member embrace?  What are the values of the family?   For example, if the value is to stay home and be home more as a family, then the boundary might be a child can play one season of sports per school year (ie, just fall sports; not fall, winter, and spring!) Or that might mean summers are slow, and not full of camps because you value being a family together.  I have written before about the power of a family mission statement.  I urge you, and all the adults in your house (especially if that includes extended generations) to talk about what that means.  What are the values and the vision?  Some families are lucky enough to really have a clear sense of this without a lot of discernment or fuss, but other families  are starting at ground zero and really have to work at it as a process.  The process is so valuable!

We all protect each other.  We calm each other with love, we encourage each other, we play for the same team so it is never parent against child or child pitting parent against parent.  We are kind, we protect each other in that our home is a haven, we use kind and gentle words and most of all, when mistakes happen, we forgive each other AND we make restitution.  We are all learning and not one of us is perfect.

We trust each other.  In small children, this idea of trust begins with the fundamentals of attachment – emotional attachment, physical attachment.   You can see organizations such as La Leche League League or Attachment Parenting  International for more information about how to do this with infants and beyond.  Boundaries, limits with love,  are also a form of attachment because they provide respect for a child’s developmental age and they give security and confidence to a child.  People often wonder about attachment in teenagers.  For teenagers, attachment means being available and present, and trusting and knowing when to push and not push, and how to embrace differences in a livable way .  It also means still setting appropriate boundaries and making sure you know the differences between why a 14 year old is different than a 17 year old. It also means letting older children and teens make mistakes and not rescuing, not hovering.

Finally, embracing our differences as people makes a family successful. In my family, there are introverts and extroverts. There are huge age differences as well.  There are common points we all share, and sometimes there are viewpoints we don’t share.  Family meetings can be a great place to bring some of that out.

Share with me how you build your family as a team.

Many blessings,

Weeks 31-33 Waldorf Homeschooling

Some weeks have gone by since last posting in this series.  It has been a busy time of year with our children’s dear grandfather celebrating his 80th birthday, our middle child fracturing her arm, and end of the year performances and banquets. In the midst we have celebrated the Feast of Ascension, Ascensiontide, May Day, Mother’s Day,  and today is Whitsun, the Feast of Pentecost.

Kindergarten:  During these past weeks, we have been living life together making bone broth, baking, walking and hiking, wet on wet painting, modeling,  and preparing little things for the festivals.  Our circle time included an adventure circle modeled after Peter Rabbit’s garden adventures, finger plays about birds and bunnies,  and this week included songs and finger plays about doves for Whitsun.  We were immersed in the story of “Forgetful Sammy” from the book “All Year Round” but we have now moved into a story from the Summer Wynstones book simply titled, “Whitsun Story”.  Our major project this week was a garland of doves made from watercolor paper and singing!    I also made a tiny jar of woolen white birds on little sticks to decorate our nature table.

Fifth Grade:  We finished our Canada/Metric System block and moved into the totality of North American geography.  Before this, our read alouds involved  books about Canada and also Hawaii, but now we are moving into a different part of North American geography with a little book called, “Salsa Stories”.  I began this block with an expansive look at North America and the  United States, all the major mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, and lakes.  Then we went to Alaska, and from there we jumped across the continent to the Northeastern United States and spent time there on the land, on logging and whaling and the Erie Canal.  So, we have done mainly singing, painting,  and drawing this time around. I had plans for modeling but that is difficult with one arm casted, so I am saving those ideas for now.  We have discussed the District of Columbia, and Washington DC, which we have visited, talked about George Washington and Mount Vernon and tied the flora of the region in the early days of Colonial America to the early Presidents and their role in a primarily agrarian country that was different than England.  We looked briefly at the Appalachian Mountains through literature and now are looking at life in a southern plantation, the life of Sequoyah, and then into the Mississippi River and the wonderful Western United States.

Every day we are reviewing provinces, capitols, and geographic features from our Canada block, reviewing the states and capitols, the mountain ranges and deserts, etc, locating things on a map and making all of this as physically active as possible.  We have been using extra books for reading aloud and also the “Stories Where We Live” series.  For skill development, we are working on a state report, which I modified from A Waldorf Journey’s ebook about this block, which was my biggest inspiration for this block.  Author  Meredith is a wonderful,  actively teaching Waldorf teacher, and I love all her little guides.  I also garnered inspiration from a book of poetry called, “My America:  A Poetry Atlas of the United States.”

We are also continuing to work on math and spelling daily.

Eighth Grade: We finished up our American History block, including the War on Terror, the Age of Digitality, and the challenges we face ahead as one humanity.  Our daughter drew a very gorgeous title page and everything is done! Yay!

For Oceanography and Meteorology, we moved from the very first marine scientists, who were explorers.  We looked at the explorers of Easter Island,  and the development of civilization on that island and then the life of Captain James Cook.  From there, we moved into the science of the oceans – what is an ocean?  what is oceanography?  how do our oceans change?  We looked at the biographies of Alfred Wegener and Hess, and the Theory of Plate Tectonics and the layers of the Earth.    We went through all the landforms of the ocean floor and what ocean life is like in different zones of the ocean and around different landforms.  We also looked at the biography of oceanography Sylvia Earle and looked closely at the Marine Sanctuary off the coast of our state – Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. From the hydrosphere,  we moved into the Atmosphere.  We discovered the layers of the atmosphere and their characteristics, what clouds are, the types of clouds, winds and then we moved into extreme weather – thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.  We spent one whole morning drawing clouds with pastels and our eighth grader created a very beautiful main lesson book for this block.

This week we have moved into our “Peacemakers Block”.  My main inspiration for this can be found over at Waldorf Inspirations’ website.  We have so far looked back at Harriet Tubman and Sojurner Truth (and their meeting!), the women’s suffrage movement in the United States and around the world, and Gandhi.  This week we will be moving into more in-depth about the Civil Rights Movement, which we have studied quite a bit both in our American History block and also just in our local field trips as we live near Atlanta.  I would like to compare Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (I read his book this past summer!) and look at our local leaders – John Lewis and Andrew Jackson Young.

We have also been working on math almost daily, brushing up on geometry, algebra basics, and some business math.  Next year we will be tackling Algebra I, so it is coming together!  In World Geography, we will be taking the next three weeks or so to finish up Europe and then that is done as well.  Yay!

Our eighth grader is working on finishing a Waldorf doll she is making, and our fifth grader will be working on finishing her set of fingerless gloves she is knitting in the round once her cast comes off.  Our little guy is not in first grade but he tries to knit and has been working on what he calls a scarf, but what i think we will try to encourage to be a block we can turn into a pouch or little animal over the summer and the first part of first grade in the fall.

Homeschool Planning:  I am ready to start again.  I have most of sixth grade planned, but with some (many? LOL) presentations to write and also quite a bit about skill development to consider since our soon to be sixth grader needs quite a bit of  repetition to remember foundational things.  I have planned out a lot of high school biology and have really mixed in a good deal of Goethean science to it, so I am quite happy with how that is shaping up.  I have a few blocks of ninth grade planned, and then I have the rest of ninth and first to plan.

One of my considerations is time for planning.  As my children have gotten older, they are ready to go and do more and are not as content to just be home running around in the sprinklers or something while I plan.  Nor is my husband content to lose me every night to planning after they go to bed.  I think my solution is going to be to plan every morning for an hour and  a half as part of our rhythm to summer (early), to plan at night when my husband is traveling, and then to plan several “Saturdays at the library” where I just go and leave the house and plan .  That is harder because it is hard to drag stuff for three grades for planning, but I think so long as it is all on the schedule for the summer, it will happen.

Self-care:  I have been working out most days.  I get up at 5:40 and go to the gym or use workout videos.  I also have been walking at night if my husband is home and not traveling.  This has been wonderful for me.  I also have joined the “KonMari in the Waldorf Home” Facebook group and have going through the house.  This is something I do every summer to get us ready for the new school year, but this year I have gotten a  jump on it and even started the school room switch of books by grade.

I would absolutely love to hear what you are finishing up, what grades you are preparing for next school year, and what you are working on in your home.  Please share!

Lots of sunshine love,




These Are A Few of My Favorite Things: May

Here’s a branch of snowy May,

A branch the fairies gave me.

Who would like to dance today, 

With a branch the fairies gave me?

Dance away, dance away,

Holding high the branch of May.

-from Spring: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for young children by Wynstones Press

I love May, in all her green and blooming glory.  Down here in the South, the weather can be quite warm and the pools are opening for the season.  It is the end of the school year, and everything is bursting with vitality!

This month we are celebrating:

May 1 – May Day; also the Feast of St. Philip and St. James

May 2, 3, and 4 – Rogation Days

May 5 – The Feast of Ascension

May 8- Mother’s Day

May 15 – Whitsun; The Feast of Pentecost

May 19 – The Feast of St. Dunstan

May 20 – The Feast of St. Alcuin

May 30- Memorial Day (and our wedding anniversary!)

May 31- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, Memorial Day parades
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes! Have your own Memorial Day parade

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • All of the above, plus
  • Following Screen Free Week May 2-8
  • Swimming and miniature golf
  • Playing in the water and sand
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • All of the above, including screen free week
  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out.
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Going through the “You Are Loved” Bible Study by Sally Clarkson and Angela Perritt.  I am really enjoying it.

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I haven’t planned too much yet and am finding it hard to get back on track. My plan right now is to spend several afternoons this month at the library and see if I can write up some of the missing presentations for sixth grade and then that grade will be done, along with finishing up soe plans for ninth grade biology.  Then I will start to start write for first grade. I have an idea for a quality of number/first math processes block and am still searching for just the right idea for presenting the letters.

Hope you are doing some celebrating this month.  Please share your May plans!

Many blessings,

Weeks 29 and 30: Homeschooling Eighth, Fifth, and Kindy

We took a lovely week to be at the sea and had a little holiday.  I spent a little time thinking about our rhythm, which has withstood quite a number of disruptions this year.  We need a strong ending to the school year, so I think I pretty much came upon refining our rhythm to be: me working out early/breakfast; going over our Anglican Spiritual Studies; time for our kindergartener; recess; Main Lesson for our fifth grader; Main lesson for our eighth grader and then a late lunch and more recess.  Several days a week we may have to come back to finish up main lesson kinds of projects and such.  So, it feels comfortable and do-able for the rest of the school year to me at this point and I am hoping to have a great ending to the school year.

Kindergarten:  We have had a grand time with our Spring Circle.  Our story has been Suzanne Down’s “Spring Kite Music” from her book, “Spring Tales”.  Our general rhythm has been baking on Mondays, crafting on Wednesdays, and painting on Fridays with Tuesdays and Thursdays being our days out at Forest Kindergarten.  We have also been making and playing little homemade games – things such as a variation of a homemade Candyland – and other games.  We have been singing and doing a lot of little finger plays for Spring as well.  Such a sweet time.

Fifth Grade – Our fifth grader is finishing up a block that combined Canadian Geography with the Metric System.  Our main project for Canada has been a giant salt dough map where we have been painting provinces, rivers, and marking towns.  We have been using the metric system to go over the height of landmarks, distances between towns, what we would eat in our meals in Canada in grams and liters.  We have been reviewing and practicing a lot with the four math processes, and fractions.  We finished reading the book “Seabird” by Holling C. Holling and have now moved into reading about Hawaii in preparation for our North American Geography block.  We are also working diligently on spelling as well.

Eighth Grade – We finished tracing the events of the Cold War through four decades, mainly through the biographies of Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, and Reagan.  This included the arms race and the Space Race, the benefits of space exploration and where space exploration is today (and a lovely tie in was seeing the rocket launch on the Florida coast whilst on vacation), the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the differences between a president such as Nixon and detente and Reagan’s policies.  Then we moved into the War on Terror and all the different groups and players involved from the Persian Gulf War right up to today.  Our last foray this week is into the Age of Digitality – the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web and challenges of this century.  Our Main Lesson book pages have included amazing writing and art work for this block.  We are looking forward to starting Oceanography tomorrow.  We are starting the first few days by tying in to some of the peoples who traveled the oceans in different watercrafts, and then a little about plate tectonics and a beautiful look at the all the wonders of the ocean floor.  I am very excited about this block!

In World Geography, we finished up Africa and also Russia.  We have reviewed all the geography of Russia, the different ethnic groups within Russia, Russia’s history, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The only place we have left to study is Europe, so it feels good we are coming to the end of our year-long geography course.

I am ready to keep forging ahead with our homeschooling year, and also looking forward to get back on planning for first, sixth, and ninth grade. I have actually felt more stumped by first grade lately in planning, but recently came up with some creative ideas that I think will lead to a fun first grade for our littlest.

I would love to hear what you are working on!



Finding Peace: Nourish

We want to nurture the highest levels of empathy and compassion in our children and yet we so often fail to model this in our attitudes toward ourselves and our own health.

If we think about it, we often perceive we have no time to spend on our own health.

We do not move our bodies as often as they should be moved and we eat things that do not make us feel well.

We often don’t say positive things about our own body.

Time flies by, and we are so good at getting the children into their doctor, dentist and other health care professional appointments; yet we haven’t been to a doctor or dentist in years.

We are so good at making sure our children relax and rest and go to bed, yet we consistently de-value our own need for rest and relaxation.

Time flies by, and we fail to re-connect with friends or give ourselves time and space for building community.

We fail to let people in on our deepest emotions and trials, for fear of being vulnerable or that no one will really listen or care.

So, in this glorious Eastertide,  I ask that you consider nourishing yourself in whatever form that looks like for you.  The simple act of putting your own needs for health and whatever that may look like to you may be the single most radical  thing you can do to hold a steady home and steady parenting this year.

Nothing will happen without a plan and without wanting this transformation.  It takes courage to say that you need to exercise each day for your own health, to have a night out with friends, or to make all those health care appointments that need to happen.  Yet,  what a positive thing we can show our children:   that parents taking care of themselves and being human beings and adults is also of value and that these things can be balanced with being a wonderful and connected, mindful parent.  So, if only in baby steps, I encourage you to nourish yourself.  Let this be your legacy for this year and here to finding yourself on this same date next year in a better and more wonderful place.