Monday, 24 February 2014

February 2014: The Lost Tooth!

Monday 17th February to Sunday 23rd February 

It’s been lovely to settle back home and into our daily rhythm. I’ve always thought that one of the loveliest things about going on holiday is getting home again. We have been welcomed home with misty, soft weather interspersed with thundery showers, and a distinct cooler change in the air.


It really feels as though Autumn is already creeping up on us, and the subtle changes of season in the bush are already becoming evident. This is my favourite time of year. There are still plenty of warm, sunny days to come, but there is a crispness that returns to the air of an evening, a welcome relief from the hot, dry summer wind.


In-between dashing inside from thundery showers, we have been in the garden quite a bit this week. Planting; weeding; harvesting. Our circle-time songs and verses this week have reflected this: 




{ Summer Circle Time }

Opening Verse
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

* * * * * * * *

Summer’s Warm Showers (verse)
Summer’s warm shower are falling like mist.
My face and my hands by their soft touch are kissed.
The dry thirsty ground becomes fragrant and cool.
On every green leaf lies a small shinning pool.

* * * * * * * *


Summer Showers (Action Song)
Summer shower, summer rain
Wash the earth all clean again
Wash the earth all clean again

* * * * * * * *

Incy, Wincy Spider (Fingerplay Song)
Incy, wincy spider
Climbed up the waterspout 
Down came the rain and washed the spider out!
Our came the sunshine to dry up all the rain,
So, Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.


* * * * * * * *

I Hear Thunder (Action Song)
I hear thunder (x2)
Hark don’t you? (x2)
Pitter patter raindrops (x2)
I’m wet through, so are you!


* * * * * * * *

Weather (Action Song)
It’s raining.
It’s pouring.
It’s thundering.
It’s lightning.
It’s snowing.


* * * * * * * *

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!

* * * * * * * *

One Potato, Two Potato (Counting Song)

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four
Five Potato, Six Potato, Seven Potato, More! 


* * * * * * * *

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)

* * * * * * * *

Little Boy Blue (Closing Song)
Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow,
The cow's in the corn;
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haystack,
Fast asleep.
~

We are harvesting from the garden in earnest - the last of the strawberries, the tomatoes coming on, pumpkin, zucchini by the barrow full, potatoes, beans, chilli, eggplant, apricots, pears, plums and the first apples, to name a few. 


Herbs that bolted to flower in mid-summer heat are now seeding. The garden is alive with insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, and the odd tiger snake! Plenty of bees buzzing between flowering natives, herbs, vegetables and marigolds. Native spider-paralysing wasps busy building their mud nests and filling them with spiders. And, the return of the European wasp; probably the only thing I don’t love about harvest season! 

So many opportunities for learning about the natural world, about ecosystems, seasons, and we have bellies filled with home-grown produce to boot! 




~

Mousey Brown just couldn’t get enough of handwork this week. When he’s not busy crafting, he’s dreaming of future crafts! On Monday morning, we found an old, unopened letter from Mousey Brown’s uncle and auntie in Japan, which we read with delight. It was written around Christmas time, when the snows were falling and the northern hemisphere was in the middle of Winter. This letter led to some great discussions about time, seasons and, of course, volcanos. Doesn’t every discussion about Japan somehow lead back to volcanos? ;)

We decided to make our own 'volcano' from clay collected from our garden. This project was relished by both boys, and a bulk order of vinegar and bicarb is written on the top of next week’s shopping list.

Shaping clay to make a ‘volcano'
Pouring vinegar with red dye (for effect) into our ‘volcano'
Eruption!


Some other crafts and activities we’ve done this week…


An “abstract pop-up book” (in his own words!) 


Counting stones collected on our holiday are being used frequently to add and subtract numbers


Crayon-resist watercolour paintings 


Building cubbies and making 'pumpkin soup’ and cups of tea


Mousey Brown “reading” to his younger brother during Quiet Time

We had a very social end to the week, with a bike ride and play-date with friends on Thursday, and then spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday camping at a weekend long wedding at a Buddhist Retreat in North-Western Tasmania. A fabulous weekend filled with gorgeous food, fun, and friends, old and new! I was particularly pleased to see both my boys leave our sides for most of the day to play with other children.


~

But, the most important event in Mousey Brown’s week was the much anticipated loss of his first tooth! This tooth was discovered wobbly a few weeks ago while we were on holidays, and it has been checked daily, sometimes hourly, ever since. In the end, it was biting into a nectarine that did it! :)

My husband and I had discussed what the Tooth Fairy might bring, and we felt that giving money isn’t really a tooth fairy tradition we’d like to adopt for our family. We liked the idea of something special and unique; something to treasure. 

Mousey Brown and I spent time together selecting just the right felt and a special button. He needle felted some decoration on the felt pieces and I stitched the pouch together. It was a lovely project to share. 


The big night arrived, and Mousey Brown carefully set out a little glass jar with lid on the bedside table, filling the jar with water and dropping the little lone baby tooth inside. 

Sleep took a long time coming that night, but eventually he succumbed. He awoke early, to find the tooth was gone! The water in the jar had magically turned a watery blue, and best of all, hidden inside the pouch was a beautiful quartz crystal! 


In Waldorf theory, losing the milk-teeth signals a significant development change. Along with other physical changes, it signals that a child is thought to be ready for intellectual learning. Readiness for First Grade learning in Waldorf theory is outlined <here>. The Magic Onions writes about losing the first tooth <here>.

Mousey Brown is incredibly excited to be a “big boy” now that he has lost that first tooth. For me, it is a strange mix of pride and a little sentimental sadness. My little boy is growing up, and it all happens so quickly. It’s a reminder to me to cherish these precious moments with our young children because, speak to anyone whose children have grown and flown the nest, the days are long and the years are short. 

And again, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to have him at home with us for another year. 

 ~



Sunday, 16 February 2014

February 2014: Holidays & Gratitude



Monday 3rd - Sunday 16th February, 2014





2 weeks of family holiday bliss!


No electronic media. No computers. No smart phones… well, mostly! ;)


Just simple days, spent together.







Observing our tide and shadow marker over the course of the day.





Bliss.

We didn’t do circle-time as such these last two weeks, and our days have had the relaxed sort of holiday rhythm which you fall in to, when the days are long and the sun is warm, and building sandcastles, somehow seems like all there is in the world.

And it’s just so lovely to holiday with young children!

Their boundless energy and their sheer delight discovering the world around them, and the wonderful thing about natural learning is that, well, it happens. The “best” thing we bought on holiday? A $2 “magma-flying” glass, as our 3 year old calls it! :) It was brought along on all of our adventures.




We also carried with us our dog-eared copy of 'Australian Marine Life', which we used to identify crabs and critters and different sorts of seaweeds. We learned how to tell the difference between regular crabs and swimmer crabs. We nibbled the common seaweed Neptune’s Necklace, once given to Tasmanian school children: “A bead a day, to keep goitre away.” And we found all sorts of interesting jellyfish, pufferfish and shell fish in the wonderful tidal rock pools that surround the area.



~

{ Handwork }

Handwork this week has mostly consisted of crafts made from treasures from our adventures. We’ve experimented with weaving driftwood and bull kelp and made “nests” from she oak needles. We’ve found shells and rocks suitable for beading and carefully brought those home to make window hangings. We’ve continued our holiday scrapbooking and drawing in our journals.

Weaving with bull kelp, driftwood, leaves and coastal grasses.

Making She-Oak and moss “nests"
Collecting, washing, dying and sorting treasures.
Our nature basket.
~

As we’ve relaxed, unwound and soaked up family time (and even some couple time!), we’ve been reminded once again of all we have to be grateful for in our lives. We feel incredibly blessed to be able to use this Beach House every summer, but we’ve thought beyond that. Gratitude for family and friends, for health at this present time; and for the generous spirit of others. Gratitude too for this homeschooling journey we have begun and for the support, advice and help of others in this area.


Impromptu maths fun in an organic cafe in Anglesea, on our first “official” day of home learning.
We have begun practising gratitude as a family - every night before we go to sleep we each take in turns recalling the events of the day. We recall the wonderful things, the mundane and sometimes the disappointing things. We restore relationships and reconnect with each other. We finish with gratitude. What were you most grateful for today? It is a practise which brings love, peace and contentment into our lives, and especially happiness. 

We have also decided that we will start a 'Gratitude Jar' which we will add to once a week, and then read through together at the end of the year, wrapping ourselves in the warm, happy memories from the past 12 months. I hope this will become one of our New Year celebrations.


~

{ Summer Circle Time }


Opening Verse
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!

* * * * * * * *

Snakes!
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.

* * * * * * * *

Seashell Song
Can you hear the sea’s song in this little shell?
(Cup hands and place in lap.)

Hold it up to your ear and listen, listen well.
(Put cupped hands to ear; listen.)
Shish-shoo-ooh.

The seashell’s song is from the silvery sea,
(Lower cupped hands, sway them side to side.)

Where the waves roll in, wild and free.
(Make rolling wave motion with hands, moving in, then out.)
Shish-shoo-ooh!

There upon the sand, the lovely seashell lies,
(Cup hands and place in lap.)

Until a little child finds this seaside prize.
(Cup hands to heart.)
Shish-shoo-ooh!

So guard this shell, its life-long song,
(Cross hands at heart.)

And remember the home where it belongs
(Cup hands around mouth and voice loudly:)
Shish-shoo-ooh!

* * * * * * * *
Here is the Sea (action song)
Here is the sea,
The wavy sea.
Here is a boat.
And here is me.

And little fishes, 
way down below,
Wiggle their tails,
And away they go!

* * * * * * * *

At the Beach (action rhyme)
Build a sand castle to the sky, 
(Pat air; move hands upward.)

Make a moat so when the waves roll by 
(Make a big circle with arms in front of body.)

The castle will stand with its sandy wall 
(Hold arms upright with fingertips touching.)

‘Til high tide comes and then it will fall. 
(Hands crash down)

* * * * * * * *

1,2,3,4,5 (action rhyme)
1,2,3,4,5 
Once a caught a fish alive.
6,7,8,9,10
Then I let it go again!

Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so!
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on my right.

* * * * * * * *

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!

* * * * * * * *

Snakes!
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.

* * * * * * * *

Fingerplay:
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)

* * * * * * * *