Monday, 31 March 2014

March 2014: Scrumping and Preserving Season

Monday 24th March - Sunday 30th March

We are back to full health this week and settling back into our daily and weekly rhythm, thank goodness. We had some really lovely days spent with family, friends and meeting new friends and neighbours.

Early in the week, we ventured to the bottom of our road to pick quinces. I had been eyeing off three huge, old quince trees bursting with heavy fruit. In fact, I had noticed that quite a lot had fallen to the ground during the windy days we’ve had of late. 

So we bravely knocked on a stranger’s door at 9:30am to ask if we might help ourselves to some fallen fruit. It turns out the loveliest elderly lady lives there and sells her own quinces and apples at a roadside stall outside her house. She hadn’t been able to pick the quinces after the windy days as she’d been unwell. We spent a long time talking and enjoying her company. The boys warmed to her quickly and chatted away unselfconsciously. I absolutely relish these unexpected moments. What a wonderful opportunity to meet a ‘neighbour’, hear her history, and discover the stories of the local area. We had a ball!

We wandered down to her quince trees and in no time at all had a basket filled with quinces, and tummies filled with blackberries. We returned to her door to drop off some fruit to her, but she wouldn’t hear of it! Such a generous lady. So instead, we are planing to pop down again for a chat and drop her in some fresh, homemade quince jelly. 


The rest of the week flowed as smoothly. We’ve enjoyed the settled, warm weather that Autumn is renown for. Mousey Brown (5) is enjoying his Wednesday morning at school and comes home tired, but happy. Little Deer’s (3) energy levels are still a little low, so we have spent a lot of time cuddled up in the beanbag reading books, or playing games on the lounge room floor.

We’ve played endless games of dominoes, Jenga, word games, memory and count-a-colour! All great ways to practise numeracy, memory, sequencing/logic, literacy, and fine motor skills, but most importantly to have fun together. 

We have been playing word games a lot lately. 'I Spy' is a favourite travel game and a great way to practise early literary and sound isolation. Even Little Deer at 3 years old plays well, although to be honest it did take us some time to guess that his 'I Spy something beginning with B’ (“it’s round; grows in the garden; and it’s brown") was actually a “Botato” :D 

Both boys are at that age where they love to rhyme and play with word sounds. They are always making up silly rhymes and songs, fun ways children naturally practise phonemic awareness and letter substitution. Mousey Brown (5) is also experimenting with more complex language skills in his word playing, with deleting and adding letters Eg: Play/pay. We sometimes play ‘I Spy with my little eye, something that rhymes with…’ and this adds a much more complex element to the game. 

Mousey Brown (5) has also started asking me to write words down for him to practise. I am following his lead on this. While we are doing no formal academic work this year, as is usual in Waldorf Kinder/Prep, I’m also conscious that if he shows an interest and desire to learn certain things, I will honour that. It was our Golden Retriever Rosie’s birthday this week.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Rosiebelle! :)


On Saturday afternoon, we went fishing in the Huon River and apple and pear scrumping in an old, disused orchard. Isn’t scrumping the best word? This overgrown old orchard has sheep running on it and the fruit trees are heavy with many varieties of apple and pear. There is something extra satisfying in being able to use fruit that will otherwise spoil. We have another preserving day planned with a few mamas and between us we even managed to pick enough blackberries for jam, I think.

Sunday was spent Spring cleaning the house, in Autumn. We are owner-builders, living on-site in about a third of the one-day house, so this means space is at a premium.  Every so often I have a huge de-clutter and re-organise. I brought in a tall chest of drawers which have now become our homeschooling storage area. All of the handwork supplies, art supplies, resources and books and various other bits and pieces have their own home now, and it freed up other space around our little house. It felt quite cathartic and almost like making a conscious statement of commitment to our new journey of home learning, if that makes sense. We finally sent off our THEAC homeschool registration papers a few days ago too, so now it feels like we can relax into this new phase. Joy!

Sunday afternoon we spent with dear friends, helping them dent, I mean move, their new water tank to the top of their property. They are just beginning their own owner-builder journey on a lovely bush block on the other side of ‘our’ mountain. Eating a camp-oven cooked curry together around the fire was a wonderful way to end the week, and they had the best apple-crate cubby house ! :)

{ Circle Time & Story Time }

Story time and circle time continue to be the main way in which we are fostering a love for language and learning early literacy. As we have one main story a week, embellished and extended each day, the boys become very familiar with the characters, events and sequence of the story, which a way of developing good comprehension. Once a week, Mousey Brown (5), Little Deer (3) and I draw a scene from the main story, which exercises memory, retelling and summarising skills. We don’t use a story book for our Story Time, so I really enjoy seeing their interpretation of the characters and events from their own imagination.

{ Autumn Circle Time }

Opening (Action Song)
Good morning to the sun up in the sky,
Good morning to the birds as they fly on by.
Good mrning to the tree so straight and tall,
Good morning to the nest where the possum rests
Good morning everyone.

* * * * * * * *

O Dandelion (Verse)
O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?
“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”
O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?
“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”
And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?
“They take me in their little hands, and blow my hair away!”

* * * * * * * *

Wood Chopping (Standing Action Rhyme)
We are working, working hard!
Chopping firewood in the yard.
(Stomping feet moving around in a circle)

Hold the axe, grip it tight,
(Hold clenched hands togehter in front as if holding an axe)
Lift it up with all your might…
(lift “axe” above head)

Chopping, chopping, chop, chop, chop!
(Bring clenched hands down on each “chop”)
Merrily the pieces drop.
(Clench both fists and roly-poly them round each other)

Now a bundle we shall tie
and stack it in the shed to dry.

* * * * * * * *

If I were a Farmer (Standing 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/pick the ripe red apples… etc.
That’s what I’d do!

* * * * * * * *

Scarecrow (Action Song)
When all the cows were sleeping

And the sun had gone to bed

Up jumped the scarecrow

And this is what he said!

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

With a flippy floppy hat

I can shake my hands like this

And shake my feet like that.

When all the hens were roosting

And the moon behind the cloud

Up jumped the scarecrow

And shouted very loud.

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

When the dogs were in the kennels

And the doves were in the loft

Up jumped the scarecrow

And whispered very soft.

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

* * * * * * * *

Windy (Standing Action Song)
Like a leaf or a feather,
in the windy, windy, weather
We will whirl around and twirl around,
And all fall down together.

* * * * * * * *

The Appleseeds (Verse)
My nice red rosy apple has a secret midst unseen;
You'd see if you could slip inside,
five rooms so neat and clean.
In each room there are hiding
two seeds so shining bright;
Asleep they are and dreaming
of  lovely warm sunlight.
And sometimes they are dreaming
of many things to be
How some day they'll be hanging
upon an apple tree!

* * * * * * * *

Two little apples (Action Song - Tune: This old man)
Way up high, in a tree,

Two red apples smiled at me.

So I shook that tree as hard as i could.

Down came the apples.
Mmmmm, were they good!

* * * * * * * *

Pumpkin Seeds (Verse) 
One day I found two pumpkin seeds.

I planted one and pulled the weeds.

It sprouted roots and a big, long vine.

A pumpkin grew; I called it mine.

The pumpkin was quite round and fat.

(I really am quite proud of that.)

But there is something I'll admit

That has me worried just a bit.

I ate the other seed, you see.

Now will it grow inside of me?
(I'm so relieved since I have found

That pumpkins only grow in the ground!)

* * * * * * * *

Up The Tall White Candlestick 

(Action Rhyme)

Up the tall white candlestick 

(Make left arm into candlestick)

Crept little Mousie Brown

(Two fingers of fight hand run up the candlestick)

Right up to the top but he couldn't get down!
(Fingers wiggle at top)

So he called to his Grandma

(Call through cupped hands)

Grandma! Grandma!

But Grandma was in town

So he curled himself into a ball

(curl right hand into a fist)
And rolled himself right down

(Clench both fists and roly-poly them round each other)

* * * * * * *

Pygmy Possum (Fingerplay)
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 Teatree 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.

* * * * * * * *

 Autumn (Closing Verse)
Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves.
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves.
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white.
Autumn, good morning!
Summer good night!

* * * * * * *

{ Handwork & Artwork }

Our nature table is definitely looking more Autumny these days. We spent an afternoon painting with Autumn colours and then cutting little leaves to stick on our tree. Mousey Brown (5) is still getting used to using his left handed scissors.

Sewing and finger knitting are picked up and laid aside as the mood takes us. Mousey Brown has become quite speedy at finger knitting now, and once he’s really mastered the movement and his stitches are even and neat, we’ll start on the knitting fork as a different fine motor activity. 

Spinning tops are a new way for the boys to practise fine motor skill, balance, concentration and perseverance. Mousey Brown finally mastered it to his delight and Little Deer was happy to achieve a kind of wobbly spin. 

We’ve done plenty of clay work and beeswax modelling, as usual. Beeswax modelling is an important part of Waldorf education, <this> article explains why and is a great resource for tips and ideas on using beeswax. 

I also found <this> great blog post written by a fellow homeschooler, who has been using clay to explore literacy. I’m certain we’ll use this as Mousey Brown becomes more interested in letter forming and recognition.

We also did a couple of a epsom salt wash, crayon relief pictures which turned our beautifully. Art + Science!

{ In the Kitchen }

{ Quince Jelly }
Adapted from ‘A Year In A Bottle’ by Sally Wise

Quinces (approx 1.5kg)
Juice of one lemon

Wash quinces to remove fuzzy surface and remove any blemishes. 
Place whole quinces into a large saucepan and barely cover with water. 
Bring to the boil and simmer until quinces are tender.
Strain through a colander, then strain juice through a sieve lined with muslin, into a clean saucepan.
For each cup of quince juice, add 1 cup of sugar. 
Bring to boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar, and continue to boil until setting point is reached.

Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately. 
Jelly can be used immediately.
Use as a topping on toast, scones or steamed pudding, 
or small amounts as an addition to gravy, jus or casserole.  

*Note: I found this recipe to be very sweet and will try reducing sugar next time.

{ In the Garden & Nature Walks  }

1 comment:

  1. A lovely roundup.
    Loved reading some of your Autumn Circle time too. I like some so much I might add them to ours.
    WE owner built our house too (the one we are trying to sell in Tassie) and I know what you mean. I miss the weather there still
    Thanks for the insight into your days