Making an Autumn Wreath

 Making an Autumn wreath is a wonderful way to notice what is happening in the garden (or forest, or neighborhood…) when the Earth is preparing for sleep.

We found some plants already dried and “poky”, ready to spread their seeds, while others were still alive and soft. When we twisted them onto our base form, some plants dropped or flung their seeds onto the table! What fun that was.

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To start, we cut down a piece of wisteria  bush that had a few vines twisted together. We carefully manipulated it into a wreath form and twisted the ends around. Then we searched the garden for beautiful things to add. Once inside, we spread everything out on the table and sorted big, medium, small, to add in that order. The children instinctually knew what to do (after seeing me twist the base form together) and began poking stems in and twisting them to secure it.


I think it turned out beautifully! A lovely way to celebrate the season. We can’t wait to see how it changes as the weeks pass. Maybe we’ll find more treasures to add.

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September~October 2015 Preschool Newsletter

Little Bird Learning Newsletter

September ~ October

In Waldorf early childhood settings, LIFE is the curriculum. The children learn through play and imitation~ daily self-care, baking and cooking, keeping house and spending time outdoors, playing with open-ended materials and building magical worlds where fantasy blends with reality.

Here in our nature-based preschool environment, I want to further enrich this lifestyle by offering fun and engaging activities that draw attention to the season we are experiencing. While planning for this first year of preschool, the most important thing to me was to make sure the ideas I present are concepts that the children can directly observe and participate in.

In Autumn we think of harvesting and preserving; of nature slowly preparing to sleep, yet going out in a blaze of warm color and beauty. It is a season to breath in and prepare for the darker, colder days ahead. I started thinking of how we can connect the Elements to the Seasons and allow them to guide us in our living and learning. For Autumn I have chosen “Earth” as our driving force. Hopefully you will see this reflected in the four categories of planning I have written down: Arts/Crafts, Gardening/Nature, Circle Time, and Storytelling.

A few notes about each category: The arts and crafts will happen each day (T/Th) at the big table in the play space. The children are free to come and go from the table, but trust me they always come over! Some projects will be individual that they will either take home or I will save in their blank work books to go home in June. Some bigger projects we will work on as a group (such as dying or weaving). I have them written down as a brainstorm list (as opposed to assigned days) because many projects depend on the weather and what’s happening outside in nature. I also want to keep it flexible in case the children are loving it and could use some more days to work on something. For gardening and nature I have a list of what needs to get done outdoors (with everyone’s help!), what we can expect the season to bring for us to observe, and some play ideas. Storytelling is pretty straight forward~ I have written down the titles of the stories I will tell (these are orally told with props and not read from books, more on that later). As the days go on the children will participate in the storytelling in different ways. Circle Time may include any combination of the following early literacy and gross motor activities: songs, fingerplays, nursery rhymes, poems/verses, whole body movement, stretches/yoga. I will do my best to keep the blog updated with details of everything that we are doing!

*Note: the arts/crafts and gardening/nature listed below are for the whole Autumn season, but the storytelling and songs are for Sept/Oct and will change for Nov/Dec.

Autumn :: Earth

Arts/Crafts

*Wet on wet watercolor painting: red, orange, purple

*Leaf rubbings w/ block crayons, mixing watercolors on top

*Drawing with beeswax crayons

*Collage/building with nature:

animals, insects… make into puppets?

*Natural dying: yarn for weaving, silks for dollmaking

marigolds, goldenrod, onion skins, pokeweed, beets, cabbage, black beans?

*Weaving:

yarn and nature items

*Corn husk dolls

*Lanterns: tissue paper

*Spiced playdough

*Potato printing

*Mixing paint: shades of brown

*Claywork:

free form, texture/pattern printing, pinch pots

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Garden/Nature

*Harvest vegetables and herbs

*Preparing the beds for winter

*Raking leaves

*Saving seeds (flowers)

*Planting kitchen scraps indoors

*Composting, turning out into beds

*Herb drying

*Mud kitchen

*Making plant dye

*Fall Planting: cabbage, broccoli, blueberry bushes, spinach, kale

*Prune bushes/ trees

*Picking at the farm: apples, pears, plums, pumpkins

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Storytelling

September (3 weeks) :: The Apple Stars

October (3 weeks) :: Hedgy Hedgehog and Squirrel Nutkin

Halloween (1 week) :: The Pumpkin Mouse

Circle Time

(opening song : same all year)

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

(action song)

Way up high in the apple tree

Two little apples smiled at me

I climbed that tree as high as I could

I picked both the apples

Crunch crunch!

Mmm they were good!

(fingerplay/poem)
5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate

the first one said “oh my it’s getting late”

the second one said “there are witches in the air”

the third one said “but we don’t care”

the fourth one said “let’s run and run and run”

the fifth one said “I’m ready for some fun”

Then whooooo went the wind

and OUT went the light

and the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight

(poem)
I am a pumpkin big and round

Once upon a time I grew on the ground

Now I have a mouth, two eyes and a nose

What are they for, do you suppose?

With a candle inside, shining bright

I’ll be a jack-o-lantern on halloween night.

(movement)
Leaves are falling, falling down,

Falling, falling to the ground.

(repeat in different ways; slow, fast, whisper, shout, standing up and acting out)

(song)
Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves

Rosy the apples, crimson the leaves,

Mist on the hillside

Clouds gray and white

Autumn good morning

Summer goodnight!

(closing song : same all year)

Merry have we met

merry have we been

merry shall we part and

merry meet again

goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!

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Strawberry Time

Last Saturday we visited our favorite farm for the first weekend of strawberry picking. On Friday night I made a little strawberry gnome to surprise Millie in the morning. I’ve been learning all I can about the Waldorf inspired nature table and it’s role in signalling seasonal changes to young children. One idea I just love is to make little nature dolls that come and go as the real thing appears outside. At the end of last week we started to find little juicy strawberries in our garden, hidden under their big umbrella leaves. I remember last year when Millie had just turned two she simply couldn’t wait for them to turn red- she would turn over every leaf until she found a fresh green strawberry, then pop it into her little mouth! It’s fun to see the change in her now as she leaves the green ones and only picks the red, first bringing it to show me. Such restraint!

With this symbol of June and the signal of Summertime ripening in our garden and at the farm, so appeared a little gnome doll on the breakfast table:

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The weather was just perfect at the farm- sunny with a little breeze and deliciously warm. I had to sit this one out as the baby was pushing on my leg nerves, so Millie and Daddy went off to the fields as I sat at the picnic tables with my watercolors.

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Last week we also painted some butterflies to decorate for Summer. Our dining table is looking very cheery at the moment!

imageimageHappy June!

Bubble Wands and Goodbye Toddlergarten!

IMG_8662 Today was our last day of Toddlergarten! We colored with crayons, played, ate fruit slushies, and made bubble wands. I invited the parents to join us in the yard at the end, and we had a nice relaxing time together. Next September we will start up again, but this time as “preschoolers” with our new name~ Little Bird Learning. Millie has been playing school lately and taking her baby dolls to “Tom Tom Little Mouse Learning School”. I wonder where she got that idea… IMG_8666 IMG_8671

To make our bubble solution we mixed water, dish soap, and sugar. I can’t really tell you the ratios as my little experimenters took matters into their own hands and were mixing up a storm, but it worked! We tested it out inside, then brought everything outside to include the parents in the craft. The children threaded beads onto jewelry wire, then we twisted it around sticks to add decoration to our wands. The rounded bubble-making tops are pieces of colored wire also twisted around the sticks.

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Our final circle time~

“Where are the frogs when the north wind blows? We cannot see them in the ice and snow! Deep deep down in the mud they lie…. Froggies sleeping with tight closed eyes.”

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“But when the warm Spring sun comes out, frogs wake up and jump about, jump about, jump about. Frogs wake up and jump about. Oh how happy they will be, a Springtime world they will see!”

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Goodbye toddlers!!!

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