March in the preschool

  
The birds are returning with beautiful songs so loud we can hear them through our windows in the morning. We watch squirrels hurriedly carrying stacks of brush up to their nests in the bare trees. Ground bees wiz by our feet in the woods as the children run by in rain pants and boots. Each day we check for buds and shoots in the yard- who remembers what grows here? Let’s wait and see.   

Even though the trees are not green- yet- we can feel the earth stirring, and something inside of us stirs too! A beautiful season of rebirth, new growth, breathing out slowly, and waiting patiently. There are so many lessons we can learn and experience over and over again as we observe the natural cycles of the year.

   

   
    
    
  {{outside: raking, digging, carrying, scooping, mixing, running, balancing: tying and twisting leaves and twigs to make “wasp toys”: discovering some rocks will draw marks on other rocks: clearing the blanket of leaves from the garden beds to find plants returning: stopping our work and play to notice geese honking over head, flying in their tell-tale V formation~ “what a beautiful design they’re making!”, blue skies and bright sunshine}}

We have reached a nice rhythm with our circle songs. Each season I introduce a new circle slowly- one song to start, adding more rhymes and movement games as time passes until we have built up to about 7 or 8 parts by the end of the season. So far our Spring Circle  is shaping up very nicely!  I love the flexibility of being at home with a small group. We are able to tailor everything to fit our needs. Sometimes we do our circle outside in the grass. On Tuesday we sang our songs at the table while working on a craft (try to imagine a bunch of preschoolers singing in unison while wrist-deep in paper mache paste, arms reaching for strips of paper and working all the while). Here are the songs we are singing in March:

1. Look at the beauty, the spring time is coming, heya, heyo, heya, heyo, heya, heyo.

2. Early one morning, clearly I heard, out in my garden, songs of a bird 

(both hands facing outward rise up and out to make a sun rising, hand to ear to listen, one hand “growing” and wiggling fingers for “flowers” in the garden, hand turns into bird with beak opening and closing) repeat song 3-4 times 

3. Little hare so fast asleep, Little hare oh are you ill, that you lie so quiet and still? Hop little hare, hop little hare, hop anywhere! 

(All in a circle, one “sleeping” in the middle, wakes and hops to another friend, repeat until all have had a turn being the hare) 

 March snacks~ 

Tuesday: kale chips, strawberries, Cabot cheddar cheese

Thursday: Millet cakes, Apple/carrot salad with golden raisins and honey

 
We’ve been spending so much time outdoors that inside I’ve been limiting what toys are “open” for play (since we only have about 15 minutes!). It’s going very well so I’ll make a separate post about that soon. Here is some block building from this week: 

  
 I’ll also make a separate post about our recent arts and crafts which have been a lot of fun. Here is a link to the first two songs including audio: http://www.waldorfinspiredlearning.com/songs-for-spring-1/

  

Making Plans

  
We’ve been making a lot of plans around here lately and discussing how we envision Millie’s future education playing out. I want to make some changes to the way I record our “living and learning”, and I’m thinking this space needs to be used more! I’m hoping to keep up with it journal-style, making short posts more often.

We’ve just ended a busy few weeks around here with Brady working out of town for a weekend while my mom stayed with us to help out, then his parents visiting for a few days. We live far from all our family so it’s always a big event to have visitors! And right before that we said a sad goodbye to our oldest pet, a little gray cat named Shark. We miss her every day.

Now we’re looking forward to Spring and some exciting things on the horizon (no Mom, I’m not pregnant).

 

Valentine’s Day

  

 
    

We had a wonderful Friendship Party last week. For our craft in the days leading up we made paper heart pockets which we sewed together with yarn. At home everyone made valentines to put in each other’s heart pocket. There was quite a buzz of excitement all week in anticipation! 

  
 
On Thursday when the children arrived they placed their valentines in a basket. Normally we start the morning outside, but there was a strong wind chill that kept us in. Luckily we had some fun large motor games planned for indoors. I had hidden ten paper hearts around the play space, and in a flurry of running and jumping for joy, everyone searched for them. One was found in the wooden barn, one in the doll’s bed, one in a tin pot… Every so often we lined them all up to count how many we had, and figure out how many were still missing. Finally when all the hearts were found the children took them and settled into free play.  

For our snack we made pretzels (to go with some special fruit- strawberries cut into heart shapes, and pink lady apples). 

{recipe here: Vegan Soft Baked Pretzels}
As each child finished washing her hands I handed her an apron to signal the start of baking time. Millie loves to tie knots so she went around helping everyone with their apron strings. 

We mix the dough

We knead the dough

We let it rise…

We punch the dough

And pat the dough

It grows before our eyes…

Hot, brown loaf

From a little ball

It rises up

to feed us all.   

  
   

   Once the dough was made we covered it with a cloth to rest and rise in the sunshine. 

Then we played our Valentine’s game that we have been learning at circle time. This is how the song and movements go:

*****

“I sent a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it.”

(All sit in a circle. One child skips around the circle with a small silk and then drops it behind another child)

“A little puppy picked it up and put it in her pocket.”

(Second child picks up the silk and stands up)

“Round and around and around they go, round and around and around they go, (first child) may sit down now.”

Both skip around the circle together then the first child sits down. The game begins again with the second child skipping around.

*****   

  I napped baby Arlo in the ergo carrier as I washed the dishes from baking. Everyone popped in and out of the kitchen to help shape the dough and then watch when I dropped them into the boiling water. After getting a sprinkle of salt from little hands, the pretzels were popped into the oven. We gathered on the rug for Circle while they baked.

Follow, follow, follow

Follow, follow, me

Let’s gather for our circle

And hold hands merrily.

As soon as we had sung our last song the timer dinged. Magic! I took the pretzels out to cool as the children set the table for snack.  

          

 We had such a long snack time that I decided to tell our February story of The Root Babies at the table while they finished eating. After that we gathered on the rug to pass out the Valentines.   What a special morning we had! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Winter Chalkboard  Drawing

  
We rearranged some areas this past weekend and I’m loving the new space! The play kitchen is now under the chalkboard. Last night I worked on a winter drawing of bunnies to surprise Millie when she woke up. I’m still having trouble with the board itself- I’ve tried two different brands of chalk and also pastels and it’s still very difficult to get the color to stick. I think when I erase this I’ll paint a few new layers of chalkboard paint on top and see if that helps.

  
Back to the bunnies… We were looking through the January pages of Edith Holden’s book “The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady” and Millie really liked the watercolor painting of the bunnies. I decided to use the page as inspiration for my chalk drawing. 

  
  
   
 

Homemade Play Dough

image

Ingredients:

1 C flour

1/2 C salt

2 T cream of tarter

1 T vegetable oil

1 C water

(Optional: food coloring or liquid watercolors)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot*. Heat over med/low until everything is combined, stirring constantly. When the mixture forms a dough and begins pulling away from the sides of the pot it is done. The trick to getting soft dough is to take it out of the pot when it still looks a little sticky- past this point it will start to get crumbly. Let it cool a few minutes on the table, then knead together and play!

*If you want one color you can add it to the pot before heating. If you want more than one color then divide into balls after it has cooked. Press a hole with your finger and add a few drops of color, then knead until you get a uniform color.

We made the three primary colors- blue, yellow, and red- then mixed them by hand in small amounts to make our rainbow. After it was done the children added clouds and birds to the scene.

image

Goodbye Autumn

We’ve decked out the (tiny) tree, started listening to Christmas music, and I can’t stop thinking about hot chocolate… so I think it’s time to say farewell to the glorious Autumn we have had. Here are some pictures I’ve been meaning to get up, both from our preschool group and some regular days.

Our story for November was “The Autumn Blanket” from the book Autumn by Wynstones Press. You can find the whole story written out here, along with images of beautiful storytelling props: Bending Birches ~ The Autumn Blanket

November/December Late Autumn Circle:
{opening song}
Good morning dear earth, good morning dear sun, good morning dear stones, and the flowers every one. Good morning dear animals, and birds in the trees, good morning to you, and good morning to me. ::::::::::::::::::::
{verse: say and stand up}
Little leaves, feel the breeze, like butterflies, we fly and rise ::::::::::::::::::::

{song: sing and dance with fall colored silks}
Come little leaves, said the wind one day, Come over the meadow  with me to play, Put on your dresses of red and gold, For Summer is gone and the days grow cold.
Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call, Down they came fluttering, one and all; Over the fields they danced and flew, Singing the soft little songs they knew.
Dancing and whirling the little leaves went Winter had called them, and they were content, Soon, fast asleep on their earthy bed, The snow laid a coverlet over their head. (last line x2) :::::::::::::::::::::

{finger play}
These are the pretty leaves Fluttering down, And this is the tall tree Bare and brown. This is the squirrel With eyes so bright; Hunting for nuts
With all his might. This is the hole Where day by day, Nut after nut He stores away. When winter comes With its cold and storm, He’ll sleep curled up All snug and warm. ::::::::::::::::::::

{action poem: whole body movement}
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail. Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail. Wrinkle up your little nose, hold a nut between your toes. Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail. ::::::::::::::::::::

{song: holding hands in a circle, alternating feet tapping to the center of the circle for first two and last two lines, walking in a circle holding hands for middle verse}
Boom de a dah, boom de a dah, boom de a dah Boom. Boom boom boom boom. I like the flowers I like the daffodils I like the mountains I like the rolling hills I like the fireside… When… the lights are low. Boom de a dah, boom de a dah, boom de a dah Boom. Boom boom boom boom. ::::::::::::::::::::

{song}
I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me. Above the stars are shining bright, down here on Earth shine we. The cock does crow, the cat meows, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom. ::::::::::::::::::::

{song}
Glimmer, lantern, glimmer Little stars a-shimmer Over meadow, moor and dale Flitter, flutter, elfin veil Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik Rucoo, rucoo.
Glimmer, lantern, glimmer Little stars a-shimmer Over rock and stock and stone Wandering, skipping, little gnome Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik Rucoo, rucoo. ::::::::::::::::::::

{goodbye song}
Merry have we met, merry have we been, merry shall we part, and merry meet again. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
::::::::::::::::::::
Lantern songs on youtube (so you can learn the tune, slightly different lyrics in some parts): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3zRxjBIaqo
Come Little Leaves on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-T0eocxFos

Waldorf Window Transparency Tutorial :: Lantern Walk

Here is a quick guide to tell you how to make this fun craft for your window. I have included a pattern of my above design at the bottom of this page, but you could most certainly make up your own as well. Unfortunately my scanner cut off part of the outside of the frame, but you can get the idea and trim as necessary by looking at the photo above. You may have to mess around with your printer settings to make sure it’s as close to a full sheet of paper that you can get, and remember to set it for landscape.

  
{You can find some information about the Lantern Walk and Martinmas here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/10/a-waldorf-view-of-martinmas/}

So there are a few ways you can begin: print the pattern in black (8.5×11) onto thick paper (coverstock, cardstock, or matte photo paper would all work). Or you could draw/copy the design (or do your own) onto black construction paper or thick black craft paper using a pencil. Once you have your pattern, you then turn it into a frame by cutting out the white areas. You may use a very sharp exacto knife, but I just used the smallest scissors I had and it worked out fine.

After you have your black frame cut out, you will begin adding colored paper that light can shine through. I used regular tissue paper from the craft store, but you can also use “kite paper” (colored wax paper) sold by most Waldorf stores (Bella Luna Toys, Nova Naturals, etc). I used a combination of a glue stick and elmer’s glue to attach my tissue paper. You just need to work carefully so it doesn’t rip, and make sure you are only gluing to the back of the frame on the black part so that it doesn’t show on the front. You will be working with the frame’s back facing upwards the whole time, only flipping it over to hold it up to the light to see how it looks. Does that make sense?

The technique is simple once you get the hang of it. For the lanterns, start with your darkest shade of orange closest to the lantern, then work outwards cutting and glueing bigger circles in lighter shades of yellow. So mine went like this: cut 3 small orange circles, dab tiny amount of glue on the backs of the 3 lanterns, position orange circles. Next cut 3 light orange circles, dab of glue in same place, position circles. Repeat with one or two shades of yellow (darkest yellow first, lightest yellow will be the last/biggest circle).

For the night sky you will need a medium blue. Cut it to fit the whole top half of the frame. Then carefully lay the whole thing on top of the blue piece and trace the outline of the yellow lantern lights with pencil onto the blue. Cut that away so that the blue barely overlaps the yellow. As you can see I also cut 5 stars out of my blue. Then glue the blue to the back of your frame. To make the layering effect you see near the trees, simply use more blue (same shade or darker) and cut small pieces to create shadows criss-crossing each other.

Next you will make the grass. For this you want to work light to dark to give the illusion of the lanterns lighting up the ground closest to the little elf children. Start with your lightest green and cut/glue to fit the bottom half of the frame. Then cut a medium green into a rolling/bumpy hill shape, glueing it behind the light green. Next use a dark green (or the same medium green if you only have two shades) to create a third layer at the bottom.

I added a few little dark green leaves to the tree branches and small white circles behind the star cutouts.

That’s it! When it’s dry you can hang it flat against the window by putting tape or putty on the back of the black frame. It is magical to watch the picture change as the sun moves past the window.

I hope this was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions!

LanternWalkHelenSansone