A Waldorf Homeschool Coop End of Year Celebration

Last Friday, I mentioned in my last post, was the year’s final meeting for our Waldorf Homeschooling group.  Each Friday morning, we’ve shared songs, verses, stories, snacks, crafts, and outdoor adventures.  The group has grown to a total of 10 children, ages 2 – 6, and we’ve held the space as a mixed-ages kindergarten.

In celebration of the children’s growth and efforts this year, we held a small, but lovely ceremony at the close of Friday’s school.  Actually, I should mention Friday’s school adventure, because it is very unique. Our good friend Ethan, a parent of one of the students, has led occasional “Adventure Days” throughout the winter and spring.  A former outdoor educator, he dresses himself in full costume, and leads the kids on forest walks, pond explorations, and, this week, baby goat cuddles.  Outfitted in hand-made leather pants and vest, with a fuzzy goatee, painted eyebrows, and a French-style hat, he embodied a French half goat-half human named “Monsieur Jean Paul le Chevre.”  The kids learned a few facts about goats, listened to a story about goats, played two games to test their agility and speed, and then visited a few day-old baby goat in its pen.

As the children played with goats, another mama and I readied a ceremonial space by placing one strawbale on top of another, with one placed behind as step.  The bales were decorated in flowers and a few benches were arranged in a circle.  When the children returned, we sang a few songs together, and then began the short ceremony.

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One at a time, each child was called to climb the strawbales and stand on the top as they received words of love and admiration that we parents had together written for each student.  What struck me was how beautiful and open these children are – their shoulders held back and heads held high, receiving the messages of love that we shared with each of them.  After sharing a few words, we thanked them for being a part of school this year, cheered for them, and then invited them to leap off the strawbale into the next year.  Simple, but so sweet.

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Afterwards, we enjoyed watermelon and cookies to conclude our final school session until the fall.  While I look forward to the more unstructured play that will happen this summer – blueberry picking, pond swims – the Friday morning gatherings have been something that I have looked forward to as much as Ella, as an opportunity to engage with other parents, share beautiful music and movement, and celebrate the changing seasons together.

 

A Late Spring Waldorf Circle

Friday was our homeschool coop’s final meeting for the school year.  It has been such a wonderful experience for the adults, as well as for the children. There is so much I want to say about how we structure our group, how our school-creating process is evolving, and what we’re visioning for the coming year, but I will get to each of those topics in turn.  Today I would like to share the Circle that we have used this spring, and this week I will share our end of year ceremony.

Each Friday morning, I led the ten children in song, movement, and verse for about 30 minutes.  I gather my songs from the following sources: the wonderful CD “Come Follow Me,” various Waldorf curricula such as Donna Simmon’s Kindergarten With Your Three to Six Year Old, and the Enki Kindergarten package, the Wynstones series, and of course, from many, many generous bloggers who share their own circles online.  I have tried to give credit for each song/verse as best as I am able, but many have been passed on to me orally, and I do not know their original source.

If you have Circles of your own that you would like to share, I would love to learn from them!

Opening Song:

Good morning dear Earth  (pat ground)

Good morning dear Sun (arms up)

Good morning dear Stones, and the plants every one.  (fists walk for stones, plants grow)

Good morning dear animals, and the birds in the trees. (stroke “fur”, flutter hands)

Good morning to you, and good morning to me!  (extend hands out, then to heart)

 

In the Springtime

In the springtime, little bunnies go hop hop (use two fingers to indicate hopping)

In the sunshine, little birdies go chirp chirp (sun arms, then birdie fingers)

Daisies talk to daffodils (make hands talk to each other)

Little children run up hills (run fingers up child’s body to head)

And roll down (roll arms and body down)

 Sprout our Roots (“Flowers Growing” by Jean Warren) sung to melody of “Here we go round the mulberry bush”
This is the way we sprout our roots,  (reach one limb at a time out, slowly)
Sprout our roots, sprout our roots.
This is the way we sprout our roots,
When spring time is here.

This is the way we stretch and grow. [etc]  (reach each arm up to the sky)
This is the way we open our buds. [etc]  (curl and unfurl)
This is the way we bend in the breeze. [etc]  (sway back and forth with upper body)
This is the way we smile at the sun. [etc] -)  (lean face up to the sun and smile)


Tirra-lirra-lirra (Traditional German)

Tirra-lirra-lirra in the spring.   (skip in a circle, clockwise)

Orioles and robins sweetly sing

From the leafy branches we can hear  (skip in a circle counterclockwise)

Tirra-lirra-lirra ringing clear!

I Know a Little Pussy (P. Patterson)

I know a little pussy, her coat is furry grey.   (have kids mime cat movements)

She lives down in a meadow, not very far away.

She’ll always be a pussy, she’ll never be a cat.

She is a pussy willow, now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow SCAT!   (Lower body on each meow, and then jump up and out on scat!)

 

Dig and Hoe (Unknown)

We dig and we hoe (gesture digging with a shovel or trowel and swinging a hoe)

We dig and we hoe

To help our little gardens grow!  (sub out the word gardens for different flowers)

Grow, grow, grow gardens! (start low and grow taller, end with a big jump!)

 

 Pony Song (Unknown)

The little grey ponies they play in the barn (parents make a corral with their joined hands, and ponies play in the circle)

They play in the barn, they play in the barn

The little grey ponies they play in the barn

They come to the barn to play

The little grey ponies jump over the fence (parents lower their hands/arms so ponies can jump over the fence and gallop outside of the circle)

Jump over the fence, jump over the fence

The little grey ponies jump over the fence

They gallop they gallop away

The little grey ponies come back to the barn  (ponies come back to the circle, jumping over parents arms)

Come back to the barn, come back to the barn

The little grey ponies come back to the barn

They’re hungry, so hungry for hay (parents make feeding troughs with their cupped hands and ponies eat.  Then ponies take a nap until the rooster crows, then start again!)

 

Oats and Beans and Barley (Circle game from Christopherus’ Joyful Movement)

Oats and beans and barley grow.   (join hands in a circle, walk around)
Oats and beans and barley grow,

You or I or anyone know how oats and beans and barley grow.

(One child moves to center to be the farmer)

First the farmer plants the seeds,  (open arms as if scattering seeds)

Stands up tall and takes his ease, (fold arms and stick out one heel)

Stamps his feet and claps his hands,   (stomp feet, clap hands)

And turns around to view his lands.   (turn in a circle)

(Repeat chorus)

 

 Closing Verse:

There’s a heart in my hands (hands together)

I hold it very near (bring to chest)

I share it with my family, and all my friends right here (gesture open)

Today our hands were busy (hands turn over)

Tonight we all shall rest (hands to face, as in sleep)

And every day I strive (one hand up, other hand across body)

To do our very best (slowly lower raised hand)


Closing Song
(Mary had a little lamb tune):

Now it’s time to say goodbye, say goodbye, say goodbye

Now it’s time to say goodbye,

Circle time is over.

 

Week Two

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Two whole weeks on the land, and I feel like it’s been months.  There is something about this rustic camping situation that really slows down time, in a good way.  There are no phones to answer, no computer with high speed internet beckoning me away from the present moment.  Bed time is with the sunset (thankfully quite late these days!) and wake up time is whenever Everett decides it’s time for his morning nursing.

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The days have been spent building, growing, preserving, and figuring out how to remain comfortable, clean, and relatively chigger and tick-free.  For me, it’s a particular challenge, as I have to interact with the outside world on a daily basis.  A few weeks ago I auditioned for, and was cast in the musical Once on this Island.  Going to rehearsal every night, I feel a strong need to be clean and laundered.  Right now I’m bathing in big black tubs full of water, washing my hair with a hose over the head, and taking daily pond dips.  It’s all so reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie, which we’ve been reading throughout this whole Missouri adventure.

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The kids seem to be adjusting well to living on the land.  They play outdoors all day long, eat heartily, and sleep soundly in the tent trailer,.  Everett follows along beside me in the garden, carefully pulling weeds and watering young plants.  Ella nurtures the chickens, and begs to be taken to the pond to practice swimming.

We have been blessed with a long, beautiful spring.  Unlike last year’s drought, this summer’s rain has been bountiful, and our rain water catchment is thankfully full.  We experienced a particularly torrential downpour Saturday night, and within a few minutes time, our outdoor kitchen had  2 inches of standing water, a driving rain was soaking everything under the house roof, and the tent trailer’s tiny holes were dripping onto our bed.  We realized the only dry space was the tent trailer’s “dining table,” and we managed to host 7 people for dinner, each of us dripping wet.  It was quite laughable after the fact, but a bit scary in the moment!  The kind of experience that I will certainly remember for months to come.

All in all, each day, this land feels more and more like home.
Wishing you a wonderful day!
Teri

 

Out the Front Door: Chicken Love

Snapshots of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.  If you’d like to share some of your own photos, please leave a link in the comments! 

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After months of living a small cardboard box and chicken tractor, our chickens are finally free ranging.  It is so nice to have their presence on the land and to benefit from their tick-eating!  The kids are completely enthralled, watching “chicken TV” for hours, holding them gently in their laps, and feeding them from their hands. Our little piece of land is slowly becoming a homestead.

Setting Up: An Outdoor Kitchen

Week One of living on the land. It has been so wonderful.  Truly, just so lovely to fall asleep here each night, listening to the sounds of owls, crickets, frogs, and birds.  So nice to stay late after dinner without worrying about rushing back to town to get the kids fed and put to bed.  So easy to wake up in the morning and jump right into the tasks at hand.

The biggest task this week has been setting up our outdoor kitchen. Imagine trying to fit the contents of your home kitchen into an outdoor space, in a neat, organized, weather-proof, and critter-proof way. Imagine cooking all your meals almost entirely from scratch without hot running water, refrigeration, or the type of cook stove or oven you’re used to.  This is what some of our neighbors have been doing for years, and this is our new reality.

Brian and I love cooking.  We love spending time in the kitchen.  So creating an outdoor kitchen that is truly functional and also beautiful was a high priority.  And let me state from the start that I can claim absolutely no credit for the wonder you are about to see.  It is the result of the talent and hard work of my husband Brian, an artist, blacksmith and builder, who loves nothing more than to spend hours creating incredible structures from materials we have at hand.

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The Outdoor Kitchen is tucked just to the west of our blue roofed house, and nestled underneath an oak tree.

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The most amazing feature: running water!  We have four 50 gallon barrels set up to catch rain water from our roof.  Brian piped it under the house and up to this sink.  Instant cold water!  (We filter the drinking water through a Berkey filter.)

Kitchen3

Where we do our cooking!  To the left is your standard-issue Coleman white gas stove.  To the right is a StoveTec rocket stove.

Kitchen4

Cooking our breakfast in my monkey pajamas!  We usually fire up both stoves to cook a meal.  The rocket stove gets pretty sooty, so we have pots designated just for rocket stove use.  In the background, you can see that we’ve laid some planks down in the blue house for a covered dining area.

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This tent trailer is our temporary home – so cozy and wonderful.  But the most important part of this photo is to the right – our Sun Oven.  Sun Ovens are absolutely incredible. I have made stews, rice, quinoa, and heated hot water, just by taking advantage of the beautiful sunny days we’ve been having.  The only disadvantage: Sun Ovens really don’t work on a cloudy or rainy day like today.

Thanks for joining me on this tour of our new outdoor kitchen. If you have any questions, please ask away!
Teri

 

Shared with The Backyard Farming Connection, Homestead Bloggers Network, and Homestead Barn Hop.

Out the Front Door

 Join me in celebrating the beautiful, crazy, messy life that happens right outside our front door: Post a link to a moment you’d like to share in the comments below,
or share it on the Homestead Honey Facebook page.
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*** We’re moving on to the land tomorrow – for real this time!  I need a bit of extra energy focused on setting up our kitchen and sleeping space, so I’m going to take a few days away from this space.  Wishing you a wonderful beginning to your week!  – Teri