Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inspired by Waldorf Schooling

A chalk drawing graces a Waldorf classroom.

Sabrina crafts a top. She's wearing a crown made of willows, ribbon and fresh flowers she made at the festival. This image is so her, from the focus on her activity, to the whimsical crown, to the practical little backpack in which she placed her creations throughout the day.

We recently went to a fundraising festival held at a local Waldorf school. The school opened its lovely classrooms to the public and organized traditional Waldorf activities for the families. It was a magical morning of simple pleasures for our family and wholesome inspiration for me. Just what I need as we enter a time of increasing influence from peers and school, as the colder days will keep us at home more, and as decisions about Christmas gifts begin to be made.

I do not know much about Waldorf education, though I have long admired its aesthetic on blogs such as Little Red Caboose and stores like Nova Naturals. A few observations, inspirations and confirmations I came home with from the festival:

--The beauty of and joy to be found in learning and knowing handcrafts.
--The pleasure of making your children's playthings
--The simplicity inherent in all the most beloved games and toys; they seem to have organically sprung from children's imaginations
--The peace to be found in doing fewer things, owning fewer things, making fewer things, but each of them being absolutely lovely and perfect.
--The beauty of natural materials and finding new ways to use them
--The comfort of traditional arts and crafts
--The pride children and families take in designing their spaces, caring for them, curating and then changing them
--The rightness of being guided by seasons, weather, nature, Earth in one's daily and yearly activities

This game entertained CC for a long time. It's just colored clothespins the children slide into narrow-necked jugs.

The jugs were decorated to look like harvest fruit.

Sabrina makes her own jumprope. Every child should have the opportunity to design and make their own playthings.

CC plays with real wood trunks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Treasure Basket for CC

I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Raising an Amazing Child the Montessori Way. It's a wonderful book that's been added to my small pile of favorite parenting guides. From the book I picked up lots of fresh inspiration for our home and activities. One idea I was immediately drawn to was the Treasure Basket for babies and toddlers.

The concept is to collect about 50 interesting items of different properties and appealing to different senses and to present these in a basket for the child to discover, explore, and enjoy. This seemed to make so much sense--more and more CC is happier with a new kitchen tool than with her bin of toys. She is forever in drawers and cabinets trying to find new "real" things to "use."

Also, the idea of curating a collection of things just for CC appealed to me. I love doing little behind the scenes things for my children. I love thinking about them even when I'm not with them, determining what their needs are, meditating on their interests, daydreaming about their reactions. There never seems to be enough time for this kind of daydreaming about the children, and especially about a second very easy-going child, so I welcomed the chance to devote some extra time to a project just for CC.

Over a week's time I collected items, both new and from around the house. Some of the items in the basket: an oval cardboard box, a short feather boa, a terracotta foot scrub, a pumice stone, a conch, a wicker ball, an oyster shell, a silk box with a mirror in it, a bell, a sushi rolling mat, a natural rubber dog toy, a doilie, a silky ribbon, a lemon, a pine cone, a lavender sachet, a strip of leather, a wooden spoon.

The Treasure Basket has quickly become a favorite activity for CC. Mostly she spends time quietly discovering its contents, each time seeming to learn new things about her goodies. She tastes them, smells them, puts them to her cheek to check for softness. She rolls, throws, shows, or hides the objects one inside or under the other. She dumps the basket's contents out then places the objects back in one by one.

We try to leave her to quietly work with her basket, but sometimes she's in the mood for showing and telling someone all about it and then we've gathered together to let her do just that. I've also found Sabrina and CC together digging in and Sabrina explaining the various properties of items to her sister.

It's been a lovely addition to our lives, something I am grateful for having learned about, and something I know will evolve with the seasons, the holidays, and CC's interests.

This series of pictures is from CC"s first time with her basket.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bobbing for Apples--A Story of Discovery

Hmm, what's this all about?

I'm going for it.

Oops, got my hair all wet.

This is harder than it looks.

I think I got it.
Check me out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Apple Stamping

Just one fun thing we did with all those apples we picked. I find that Sabrina loves using things in new ways, and this is the first time we've used food in art.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

For these small Jack o' Lanterns I carved out Sabrina's designs. Next time I'll remember not to give her a Sharpie marker, though once they are lit up you can't see the marks. As you see she couldn't resist assigning names to them, just so there's no confusion about which is whose!

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Hike

Our first official family hike, with the girls leading the way. I 'm only sorry I couldn't take better pictures. I was busy catching up with everyone else. Not needing a stroller opens up so many new possibilities for the season and my intention to spend loads of time outside in nature.

Friday, October 17, 2008

CC Loves Chalk

It's not been easy finding ways to engage CC in art activities. The child does not like to stop for long! But chalk and a little chalkboard intrigued her and the easy way chalk makes marks appealed to her too.

I also learned that CC enjoys standing to work on art. I have usually placed her in her highchair for it, thinking she'd focus if she couldn't get away, but here she stood for a good 10 minutes and liked being able to walk around her art station, pick up things after dropping them, and eventually walking away when she tired of the project.

It was so interesting watching her enjoy the entire expeirence, from touching the chalkboard to hearing the chalk drop into a tin. It made me think how art is about so much more than the visual. There is sound, touch, smell to experience if, like an 18-month-old, you're open to it all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


And though I did not get through my list, on this birthday I felt more complete, fulfilled, content, and at peace than ever. I am not one to sit back, but today I did and thought that if I stayed right where I am--in time, in growth, in space--it would be more than a wonderful life already.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Churros con Chocolate

My little chocolate mouths loved their first homemade churros con chocolate, something children in Spain enjoy for special breakfasts. Another amazing culinary feat by Daddy who is forever surprising us with yummy food.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Apple Picking

We couldn't have picked a lovlier day for apple picking. Sabrina has a huge interest in growing food, so picking apples straight from trees was dreamy for her. CC seemed to marvel at all the great apples right at her feet! We cam home with a bushel of 10 different varieties and are ready for some apple recipes to materialize in our kitchen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hoppy the Visiting Frog

Remember Jake from last year? Well, the Frog class has Hoppy, and he came to stay with us for the weekend. We're to take him everywhere and document his visit for Sabrina to share with her class. Things got off to a sweet start with Sabrina setting Hoppy up to color with her.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sorting Nature Treasure

We've been gathering all sorts of wonderful things outside, and Sabrina finds neat ways to use them indoors. Here she sorted her finds by color. It reminds me that I want to find a nice set of wooden bowls for her to use for this kind of activity.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pioneer Day

We spend a most inspiring afternoon at Pioneer Day last weekend. It was perfect autumn weather, and we got to participate in some of the activities that filled the days of this country's pioneer families. Pioneer children had lots of fun, was Sabrina's conclusion. They got to...
...make potpourri sachets.

...make and drink apple cider.

...relax on benches.

...write with quill pens.

... make corn husk dolls

...and dress them

...and play with them.

Then pioneer children would find a shady spot and rest.