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

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.

EndofSchoolCeremony2

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.

EndofSchoolCeremony1

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.

 

Creating a School!

For the past few months, I’ve been part of a group of parents that are working together to create a Waldorf-inspired homeschool cooperative.  This year we have been meeting once a week and taking turns leading circles, songs, stories and crafts for nine children, ages 2-5.  Next year, our numbers will grow a bit, and we began to wonder how we could best meet the needs of our children as they enter kindergarten.  While we’re all committed to homeschooling, we also wanted to create regular, structured opportunities for the kids to learn and create together.

After much visioning and communication, we have decided to hire a part-time Waldorf teacher for next school year.  We are so excited to move forward with this plan, and have created a job description that we’d love to circulate far and wide. It’s a unique position in that we’re able to offer room, board, and many opportunities for learning homesteading and simple living skills at the various family farms, permaculture education centers, and radical simplicity projects in the area.

I’d like to share the job description here, in hopes that perhaps you might know someone perfect for the job!  Or perhaps you might know someone who could connect me with someone to connect me with someone!  Thank you.

An Extraordinary Teaching Opportunity
Waldorf-Inspired Homeschool Cooperative Seeks a Part-Time Teacher
for the 2013-2014 School Year

 The vision of our homeschool cooperative is to create a dynamic and inspirational learning community that embraces the holistic philosophy of Waldorf Education, fosters a deep love of all living things and a connection with the natural world, and incorporates ideas of simplicity, service, and sustainability while developing the unique gifts of our children.

We seek a loving, collaborative, creative individual to plan and implement a Waldorf curriculum and act as lead teacher in a Waldorf-inspired homeschool cooperative.  Two days a week you will teach a four hour Kindergarten program for 8-12 three to six year old students. In addition, one day per week, you will organize and facilitate an outdoor/farm/wilderness enrichment program that is open to a wider community of children, and is taught in cooperation with parent volunteers. Expect to work 15-20 hours per week, 12 of which is with the children and the remainder used for planning and preparation.

The ideal candidate will have training and experience in Waldorf Early Childhood Education, is enthusiastic about sustainability and homesteading, and has a desire to share his/her gifts while learning simple living skills.

We offer an incredible opportunity for personal development and professional creativity, with benefits including:

  • Private room on a small family farm
  • Delicious, non-vegetarian, mostly organic meals
  • A monthly stipend of $400
  • Access to a wide variety of classes and learning opportunities including: organic gardening, animal husbandry, permaculture, non-violent communication, restorative circles, food preservation, indigenous skills, natural building, and handwork/crafts

This is the experience of a lifetime for someone self-motivated that wants to work creatively, building a new learning community in Northeast Missouri.

For more information, contact Teri at: laplatahomeschoolcoop@gmail.com

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)