September Circle Time

Our first day of school was on the late side this year, partly because of our Labor Day vacation, and partly because I just wanted to enjoy the last days of summer.  I’ve been steadily planning and gathering resources both for our Waldorf-inspired homeschooling cooperative, and also for Kindergarten with Ella (and Preschool with Everett), and we officially began just before the Fall Equinox.

Our first day of Kindergarten was really sweet, although I have to admit, the first 5 minutes were a total disaster. Everett was crying, Ella was pouting, and I tried to “keep calm and carry on.”  After a few songs we got back on track, and by the time I lit the story candle, we were all having a great time. We worked on a craft – a dragon puppet that we used during our simple Michaelmas celebration at school (inspiration from Mamaroots).  We made the body with a simple fingerknit strand, and hand-sewed the head and tail from scraps of wool felt. With some assistance cutting the felt and preparing the needle and thread, Ella was able to work on this project fairly independently, leaving me to work on Everett’s beloved dragon.

DragonPuppets

The circle I will share below is the same one that I am leading with our homeschool cooperative.  This year we have a group of 10 children, ages almost-three to six years old.  We meet in the home of one of the families, and they have a beautiful, large, Amish built home and farm that is just perfect for our group’s needs.  We have circle time and story in the living room, flow into the dining area for hand washing and snack, and then go outdoors for games, activities, and free play.

Last year I received feedback from some of the parents that their children (particularly the 5 year old boys) needed a bit more active energy in the circle, so I’m working to bring in a balance of high energy movement, quiet fingerplays, active songs, and centering verses.  My resources are Freya Jaffke’s book Celebrating Festivals with Children, Donna Simmon’s Joyful Movement, and the Enki Kindergarten Curriculum.

September Circle
(themes: spiders, apples, seed pods, Michaelmas)

Opening
Good morning dear Earth, good morning dear Sun
Good morning dear stones, and the plants every one.

Good morning dear animals, and the birds in the trees
Good morning to you, and good morning to me!

Verse
As days grow short, hearts grow bright.
Saint Michael with his sword
Shines out against the night!

Fingerplay
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song
Way up high in the apple tree
Two little apples smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
and down came the apples
Mmm, they were good!

Verse with movement
Here stands the apple tree, strong and green
Here are the apples that hang between
A strong wind blows and knocks them to the ground
Here is the basket to take them all to town

Active Song (sung to tune of 10 little Indians)
Hop on one foot and then the other (x3)
That’s how we hop together

Step and hop and step and hop now (x3)
Soon we will be skipping

Skip and skip around around the circle (x3)
That’s how we skip together!

Fingerplay
In a milkweed cradle, all snug and warm
Tiny seeds are hiding, safe from harm
Open up your wings now and hold them high
Come Mr. Wind and help them fly

French Circle
One of the member’s of our group is fluent in French, and leads a 5 minute French immersion with greetings (Bonjour, Ella!), songs, and movement.

Story
Our Michaelmas story was very sweet, and was drawn from this incredible resource -a free downloadable eBook, entitled An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten.

Waldorf Homeschool Planning Thoughts

Happy Friday!  It is another gorgeous Missouri summer day.  We have been so blessed by the weather this summer – days in the high 70’s, clear skies.  While I do wish for a bit more rain to fill our water catchment barrels, I am so grateful to be living outdoors in comfortable conditions.

SunsetSunflower

In fact, this morning, there was a bit of a chill in the air, and I found myself putting on long pants, wool socks, and a hat!  A tiny hint of fall.  And no matter how many years its been since I was last in school (not really all that long ago!), cool crisp fall-like weather always gets me thinking about school. This year, I will be doing kindergarten at home with Ella (and Everett gets to tag along).  I had many good intentions to start last year, but with the move and house-building, I just never really did much.

This year I am committing to 2 sessions per week of Kindy, and to help me plan and implement, I just signed up for Lisa at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life‘s Planning e-Course, which starts next Monday.  My general plan is to create weekly or bi-weekly themes, such as “Tomatoes”, “Apples”, “Fall Leaves”, and to center stories, songs, crafts, food, and excursions around these themes. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten, and I’m really looking forward to this course as motivation to get some solid details in place for the fall months.

Our little Waldorf-inspired homeschool cooperative has not yet manifested our perfect teacher, so this weekend we parents will begin the process of planning and preparing for the year ahead.  It is an exciting time, open to new possibility, and also a bit daunting – how will we successfully meet the needs of each of the 11 children, ranging in age from 15 months – 6 years? How will we busy parents find the time to coordinate and create an experience that is meaningful and rich for the children, and for ourselves?

I am a subscriber to Carrie’s blog, The Parenting Passageway, and I love the gentle wisdom and encouragement she shares.  I found this post on How to Grow a Homeschool Group so helpful.  Our group is just at the point that Carrie talks about – oldest child is 5 or 6 years old, and folks are antsy to get started.  Our members are highly skilled in consensus decision-making and non-violent communication, and we use these tools in our meetings to get us through any challenging moments.

I look forward to sharing my progress in the coming months, and I am truly interested in hearing from you as well!
Warmly,
Teri

Late Winter Waldorf Circle Songs

One of my favorite times of the week is Friday morning, when our little Waldorf homeschooling cooperative gathers together.  Six parents and eight children crowd in a tiny living room to share songs, stories, snacks, and crafts.  Our older children are 4-5 years old, and a few of us also have 2-3 year old children in tow.  So, we’re in essence creating a mixed ages kindergarten.  It works remarkably well.  The younger kids follow right along with their older siblings, with occasional breaks for cuddling or nursing.

Each parent is responsible for a portion of the morning’s activities, and I am generally the leader of the circle time, which consists of a few verses, some fingerplays, and lots of singing. (Of course!  So perfect for my Musical Theater-loving self!)  I try to create about 20 minutes of circle activities, balancing some new material with old favorites that the kids know by heart.

I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite songs (and movement suggestions) here on the blog.  I’d love to hear some of your favorite seasonal songs for children!

Late Winter Circle Songs:

The North Wind Doth Blow (Traditional)
The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,  (swing body, arms wave side to side rhythmically)
And what will the robin do then, poor thing?  (bird hands)
He’ll sit in the barn, to keep himself warm,  (sit down, fluffing wings out)
And hide his head under his wing. Ah! (hide head under arm, open both arms on AH!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the dormouse do then, poor thing?  (little mouse hands near mouth)
Rolled up like a ball, in a nest snug and small,  (curl up into a ball and sleep)
She’ll sleep ‘til the warm weather comes.  Ah! (jump up, arms up on Ah)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the squirrel do then, poor thing?  (hold a nut)
She’ll climb up a tree, and look out to see,  (pretend to climb, look out)
And nibble on all of her food. Ah!  (eat food, arms up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the raccoon do then, poor thing? (mask)
He’ll waddle around, leaving prints on the ground,  (waddle around yourself)
And find a warm burrow to sleep. Ah!   (curl into a “burrow”, jump up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the rabbit do then, poor thing?  (ears)
She’ll jump and she’ll hop, she won’t want to stop,  (hop around)
‘cause that’s how she’ll keep herself warm.  Ah!

 

Gnome Series (adapted from Wynstones)
(sing) Listen closely to the sound!  (put ear to the ground and listen)
Listen closely to the sound!

(Chant rhythmically) Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

 Is it the squirrel scampering so? (holding a nut)
Collecting acorns to and fro?  (scampering movement to left and right)
No! It’s not the squirrel!  (wave finger)

Then…Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Is it the giant so big and bold?  (arms up like showing off big muscles)
Stomping around in the winter cold.  (stomping)
NO! It’s not the giant so big and bold!  (wave finger)

Then….Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Listen closely to the sound! (put ear to ground again)
Listen closely to the sound!

Behold the dwarfs inside the hill–
Their tiny hammers are never still.
They sing and work deep underground,
And as they tap the rocks resound:

Crack, crack, the rock we hack (begin to pat ground)
Quake, quake, the mountains shake (get a bit louder)
Bang, bang our hammers clang (louder still!)
In caverns old, we search for gold!

 

Chickadee (May Morgan/German Folk Song)
Trees are bare, everywhere  (arms in a V)
Snow is deep and skies are grey.  (circle arms over the “field of snow”)
Yet one bird can be heard on the coldest day.  (bird hands)
Listen close and he’ll reply, (hand to your ear)
Cocking up a rogueish eye:  (put fingers up to eye like you’re lifting eyebrow)
Chickadee!  Chickadee!  Chick –a-dee-dee-dee!  (bird hands fluttering away)

Sewing together

Ella and I have embarked on a slightly more structured homeschooling journey this year.  While I’ve always had a Waldorf-inspired home, with lots of song, outdoor time, natural materials, open ended creative play, and child involvement in homemaking, this year we’ve been making time to do more formal Waldorf “school” which usually involves circle time, a story, and crafting or handwork.

Last week, I came home from the library with Amy Karol’s book Bend the Rules Sewing, and flipped through the pages with Ella, who instantly wanted to create something.  Napkins seemed like the easiest idea until I realized that the hem would provide a challenge to me (I am really quite new to sewing and don’t like anything smaller than a 1/2″ seam allowance!).  So we decided to create a place mat together.  Nothing is more fun to this five year old than to be let loose in mama’s fabric bin.  She held up endless combinations of background and accent material, until we narrowed it down to a purple plaid and turquoise floral!

It was Ella’s first time using an iron, and she was somewhat hypnotized by the process.  Over and over the fabric she would go, smoothing it out just so, and then flipping it over and doing it all over again.  I cut the pieces to size, she ironed and ironed and ironed.

Ella sews2

Piecing the place mat together was relatively simple, so she and I worked the sewing machine together, with her on my lap.  After an hour or so, we had it finished!

Ella sews

It’s a tiny bit crooked, the seams are definitely not even, and heck, it’s not even centered!  But we created it together, it looks beautiful on our table, and I didn’t even let my creative control freak side get the best of me!

What are your favorite crafts to do with kids?

 

** Joining Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On today.  Head on over there for more crafty fun!