Wednesday, 5 February 2014

January 2014: Strawberries, Handwork and Holidays!

Monday 27th January - Sunday 2nd February, 2014

Found a strawberry,
Ripe, red strawberry,
That was growing in the sun.
Then I washed it,
And I ate it,
And I picked another one!

This week has been topsy-turvy, but in the best way possible. We started off the week in our regular home rhythm, finishing up this month’s Waldorf Essentials stories and songs all about strawberries. Yum! 

We have been picking strawberries from our own garden since mid Spring. Each morning the boys race out to the garden to devour a new crop, ripe and warmed by the morning sun. This week as we weeded, watered and mulched the garden in preparation for leaving on our annual family holiday, we talked all about strawberries. 

As we nibbled ripe berries collected from the garden, we watched bees and all sorts of insects visit the pretty white flowers, pollinating them for the late season strawberries on their way soon. Mousey Brown is an avid seed collector, having collected, dried and stored seeds from many different heritage varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs this summer, so at his suggestion, we collected some of the tiny seeds from the fruit to save and try to germinate. We have around 5 different varieties of strawberry in the garden but I’ve no idea which is which, so we are just collecting seeds from the yummiest and healthiest looking fruit. 

We also divided and collected lots of new strawberry runners which we replanted around the base of the warm compost bin. I’m sure they will like their new home with its warm, rich, worm-wiggly soil.

Strawberry, strawberry, how do you grow?
With sun and water, don't you know.
First blooms a flower that smells so sweet.
Then grows a strawberry, a tasty treat!

Our activities this week have flown very naturally and, apart from morning circle-time, have not been structured as such. We’ve spent the last few days at home, learning together in the garden, doing crafts when we felt the urge, and experimenting in the kitchen. 

~ We mashed up ripe, warmed strawberries to make a sugar free strawberry “jam”;

~ We sat down together one afternoon during quiet time and sketched a strawberry still-life in our art journals; 

~ We cut strawberries in half and made “prints" on paper, which in all honesty were mostly just juicy red blobs on the paper due to a combination of over enthusiastic artists with heavy hands and over-ripe strawberries. But we had fun and being able to eat your paints after you’ve finished painting with them is always a win! :D 

{ In The Kitchen }

Making Play Dough 
In the kitchen, Mousey Brown has been busy experimenting and taking on more responsibility these last few weeks. He has been cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast each morning and has been learning so much – measurement, volume, weight, fine motor skills, safety, logic, how to follow instructions, or not :) And most importantly for him, confidence. He has been given the space to do this on his own, and has really felt a great sense of achievement preparing food for himself and the family. It’s lovely to see his face beaming with pride in his work.  

We have been inviting both boys to help set the table before meals and clear their plates afterwards. Mousey Brown in particular, takes great pride in being asked to do such important jobs. Ah, the age of imitation! I’m sure it won’t last forever! :D 

In clearing their plates and sorting out what is rubbish, garden compost, chicken scraps, dog scraps and recycling, they are learning how to care for our home, our environment, and the animals we keep. Mousey Brown has also been washing up dishes along side us after meals while we are on holiday, which is quite a novelty since we have a dishwasher to do that work at home.

This week in the kitchen, we also made play dough together using our all-time favourite play dough recipe. Stored in a ziplock bag, it lasts forever! Or very nearly...

 { Cooked Play Dough }

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup salt
4 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
A few drops of food colouring

Sift flour into a large cooking pot.
Add cream of tartar and salt and mix to combine.
Add oil and water to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Continue stirring mixture over medium heat until the mixture thickens.
Remove dough from saucepan, knead through food colouring and allow to cool before use.


{ Handwork }

In handwork this week, the boys decided they wanted to practise hammering nails into blocks of wood to make a loom of sorts. Both Mousey Brown (5) and Little Deer (3) are very experienced working with wood. They frequently use saws, screws, drills, sand-paper and nails during woodwork with Daddy. Being owner-builders and living on a building site certainly lends itself to lots of woodworking practise :) 

Once completed, they spent a long time weaving coloured yarn around the nails and practising tying knots and making “twisties". It was an enjoyable activity and they’ve played constantly with the finished products ever since, magicked into everything from "tug boats” to “guitars”. A win for handwork and self-initiated, imaginative play!

We recently bought some lovely rainbow-dyed yarn balls from Lyrebird and have started learning finger knitting, which Mousey Brown (5) picked up very easily. Little Deer (3) wants to join in too but doesn’t have the concentration span to knit more than one stitch, before tossing it aside to move on to something new. As we finger knitted, we made up a rhyme:

Here is the sheep
And here is the gate,
Watch him jump over,
and follow his mate.

It’s certainly not the most beautiful rhyme, but it’s easy to remember and tied in nicely with a sweet little finger knitting story I found online <here>. There is also a YouTube video <here>, which demonstrates how to do the finger knitting with a version of the story. 


The second half of the week was quite different. We travelled from Hobart to Melbourne on the ferry, but first, we started our adventure with a fully-packed car breakdown in Hobart and subsequent ride back home in a tow-truck. Oh the excitement! :D

After a smooth and uneventful day-crossing on the boat, we arrived into Melbourne hot and excited. The next day, we escaped the 42 degree summer heat and spent an entire day exploring the Melbourne Museum and its wonderful natural history and aboriginal culture exhibits. There is far too much to write about here, but suffice to say it was a very long and very enjoyable day.

The Melbourne Museum interactive natural history exhibit

Thankfully, the following day was cooler and we spent it wandering around The Melbourne Zoo.  Again, so much to see, to learn and to experience! 

Scrap booking our holiday adventures.
And while we love visiting Melbourne for the food, the culture and the tram rides (of course!), we are now very glad to be relaxing at the family beach house in Anglesea. A nurturing place to recover and unwind and enjoy spending time with each other. 

It is so lovely to finally unwind!


{ Summer Circle Time Verses }

Opening Verses
Good morning dear earth
Good morning dear sun
Good morning dear trees
and flowers, every one.
Good morning dear animals
and birds in the tree
Good morning to you
Good morning to me

* * * * * * * *

Come out, come out this sunny day 
The fields are sweet with new mown hay
The birds are singing loud and clear 
For summer time once more is here
So bring your rakes and come and play 
And toss and tumble in the hay 
The sweet wild roses softly blow 
All pink and white the roses grow 
The nodding daisies in the grass 
Lift up their heads to hear you pass
Upon this happy, sunny day 
When you come out to make the hay.

* * * * * * * *

If I were a Farmer (Action Song)
If I were a farmer, a farmer, a farmer.
If I were a farmer, what would I do?
I would feed the hungry chickens/milk the cows each morning… etc. 
That’s what I’d do!

* * * * * * * *

Long green snakes in the grass are we,
Our tail is far away,
We wriggle and wriggle and twist and turn
As in and out we sway.

* * * * * * * *

This is a house for a robin
(make a nest with hands)
This is a hive for a bee
(two fists together to make a hive)
This is a hole for a bunny
(thumbs and pointers on both hands to make hole)
And this is a house for me!
(Arms and hands form roof overhead) 

* * * * * * * *

Pygmy Possum:
Here is a tree-hole.
(Bend fingers on one hand) 
Inside is a Possum.
(Put thumb inside fingers.) 
See she comes out
(Pop out thumb)
When Banksia blossoms. 

She stays out all summer 
In sunshine and heat. 
She hunts in the bush 
(Mimic picking and eating berries)
For berries to eat. 

When snow starts to fall. 
(fingers fluttering moving side to side)
She hurries inside
(Bend fingers of one hand)
her warm little home
And there she will hide. 
(Put thumb inside fingers.)

Snow covers the ground 
(Place one hand over the other.)
Like a fluffy white rug. 
Inside Possum sleeps 
(pretend to be sleeping)
All cozy and snug.

* * * * * * * *

Strawberry Verse 
Found a strawberry,
Ripe, red strawberry,
That was growing in the sun.
Then I washed it,
And I ate it,
And I picked another one!

* * * * * * * *

Blueberry Verse 
Blueberry, blueberry, how do you grow?
With sun and water, don't you know.
First blooms a flower that looks so sweet,
then grows a blueberry, a tasty treat!

* * * * * * * *

The Cherry Tree (Fingerplay)
I found a little cherry stone,
(make a circle with the fingers of one hand)
I put it in the ground
(mime dropping a seed inside the circle).
And when I came to look at it,
A tiny shoot I found
(slowly push an index finger up through the circle)

The shoot grew up and up each day, and soon became a tree;
(bring hand and arm up through the circle and then splay fingers like branches)
I picked the rosy cherries then, and ate them for my tea!
(pretend to pick a cherry off each finger and pop cherries in mouth)

* * * * * * * *

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