Category Archives: Waldorf

Modeling Mondays

My darling Mairi Rose is many things, but easy to shop for is not one of them!  I confess to being entirely stumped as to a gift for her this Christmas.  No one else could think of anything either.  Believe me, I asked!  I finally settled on creating a kind of hand pottery set.  Perhaps not the flashiest of gifts, but it’s frankly been a beautiful experience that has added much to our homeschooling week.

To put together the kit I started with ordering 25 lbs of white air dry clay.  I can’t find the clay I bought, but I’ve heard good things about this one.  Lots and lots and lots for sharing and long-term use.  I re-purposed a caddy that we already owned.  I keep most of the clay in a closet in the original packaging and bring out five pounds at a time.  Even with at least three young people playing, this lasts a long time.  We’ve found that the best way to store it is in a ziplock bag with a damp paper towel and with as much air as possible removed.  We’ve had no problems with dry out when stored this way.  In addition to the clay I purchased a set of wooden sculpting tools.  These are great and just right for kid sized hands.  As well as some acrylic paint for finishing the dried clay pieces.  To these I started adding bits and pieces from around the house: doilies to roll prints onto the clay, a giant silicon baking mat that didn’t fit any of my pans to use as a work surface, toothpicks for poking holes and supporting larger and more detailed sculptures, a piece of sponge for smoothing the clay.  I found a flower mold ice cube tray at a library sale for 25 cents to use as a paint pallet.  Mairi discovered that empty thread spools make a pretty little flower print.  Rubber stamps, both with and without ink, are fun to play with and the kids really enjoyed embedding beads into their projects for Valentine’s Day.  We’ve also made a lot of prints of flowers and leaves (taken from our house plants at this time of year!), with beautiful results.

Every Monday afternoon we take everything out and create.  Right now just the clay is entirely satisfying, but now that this family rhythm is established I’ll be mixing it up at times to keep things fresh, swapping out clay one day for say modeling beeswax, home-made play dough, or kinetic sand working with different themes and projects in mind.

Since people are likely to ask, the candle above was made using this candle making kit which Mairi received for her birthday.  As you can probably tell, art supplies are our major expenditure when it comes to gifts for the children.  We spend very little on toys, preferring to make most of what they own, but we do try to ensure that they have quality supplies to work with.

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Summer Solstice

The children found a fallen and abandoned nest in the woods, nothing very out of the ordinary about that, but this one happens to be lined with a lock of Mairi Rose’s hair!

Breakfast fixin’s from the garden: garlic scapes, onion tops, sweet thyme, mint, pineapple sage and regular sage to season our sausage patties.  Lemon balm for tea.  Once the sausages were cooked I tossed all the greens from the bottom of the basket; collards, kale and the last of the bolting spinach, in the pan with the juices, added a bit of broth, then covered them and steamed.

 

We usually have a Solstice celebration.  Last week I was thinking about how I wanted to do something special, but I never really got beyond that thought.  The day of, on my way up to put the baby down for a nap, I told them all to come up with a plan while I was away.

This is what they came up with: A picnic dinner in the garden.  Burning the Swedish Torch that Iain made a few months back.  Baking and eating strawberry-rhubarb pie (as we are not currently eating any sweetener or grains and they made up the recipe themselves, this part was kind of gross, but they seemed happy with it anyway!).  And launching rockets.  I added a sun inspired craft and our celebration was complete.

 

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Mama Collaborative

I am so excited, pleased, honored and proud to be announcing the grand opening of Mama Collaborative!

A couple of months ago I was invited to join a group of extremely talented and creative mother-artisans in a virtual community of support.  Together we’ve quietly been working behind the scenes in preparation for our shop opening on March 1st!

I have to tell you, all week I’ve been watching drafts of listings piling up and I am just gobsmacked.  The beauty created by these women is mind boggling.

For our first stocking we had kind of a loose spring theme.  If you are looking for little toys to slip into Easter baskets, fresh accessories to wear for an Equinox celebration, decorations for your nature table or supplies for you spring crafting, look no further!

Email Address:  

*A note to gmail users: with the new gmail layout the newsletter may be delivered under your “promotional” tab.  You can drag it to your inbox so that future newsletters, full of crafty goodness, will be delivered directly to your inbox.  

You can also help us to get the word out by liking us on Facebook and following us on Instagram.  And please do stop by our shop on Tuesday, March 1st and see what all the fuss is about!

And now let me introduce you to my partners!  I suspect you’ll recognize a couple of them as some of your favorite bloggers…

Kim: I am a homeschooling mama to one, a writer, nature lover, dreamer, foodie, lover of all things handmade, and a creative doer. I am happy to be here with these other inspiring mamas. Kim blogs at www.motheringwithmindfulness.com

Melanie: Home school mama to five in New England. We spend our days together creating all sorts of things, attempting to garden, reading good books,and observing the natural world, where we draw much inspiration. www.ourashgrove.blogspot.com

Tonya: So happy to be working with these other women to share our creative pursuits. As a mom of seven children, I find joy and beauty in the daily ordinary of raising a family, keeping up with our homestead dreams, and helping to run a family business. Tonya blogs at http://www.naturalearthfarm.net/blog

Jules: Hello, I’m Jules and I’m delighted to be with these inspiring women. I am a mama, a wife, and a shepherd who loves all things woolly. We are raising our three kids on a farm in BC, trying to make as much of our own food, clothing, and furniture. www.alittlecraftynest.com

Kris: I am a mama to four and farmer’s wife who loves all things handmade. We live on a small farmstead in Vermont where we attempt to grow most of our food and raise veggies, milk, eggs, meats and maple for our community. http://www.oldgatesfarm.com/

Elizabeth: Mama to three unschooled boys :: Tiny house living :: Off grid homesteader :: Lover of wool :: Maker of natural goods :: blogs at http://www.thesittingtree.net/

Taisa: I am a mama to three, living in a cabin in the mountains where we homeschool, make stuff and grow a weedy little garden. I am delighted to be joining these amazing, creative mamas in this collaborative. http://heartfullearning.com/

Kirsten: http://littlepennycress.blogspot.com/

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Backwoods picture by Steve.  As a treat to himself upon completing a chainsaw safety course, Iain has invested in a chainsaw of his own.  After much research he went with this one, which he has been very happy with.  He’s been helping Steve to clean up some dead and down wood on our property, with Elijah along to assist.

We’ve recently come to the conclusion that the boys have outgrown the wilderness program they have been attending for the last year.  Together we have decided that for now they will continue to immerse themselves in nature after a more self directed fashion.  We’ve set aside one full day out of the school week where, after the basic daily math practice and language arts have been completed, the rest of the day is theirs to devote to often experimental, adventurous, passionate, outdoor education.  For now I’m letting them go where they will with this, but from time to time I’ll have assignments for them; things to look for, to think about, to explore, to hopefully inspire.  So far the older boys have been devoting the bulk of their time to gathering wood for sugaring off in the spring.  As you can see, the wood gathering mentality has proved contagious and is trickling on down through the ages.  That little one there?  Never one to be left behind, she scaled the wall one day when she heard them off in the distance!

They are all very excited and pleased with our new plan.  Today I watched Galen make a tidy stack of shingles for a structure he has in mind.  Given support and space, I’m always awed by their creativity and determination.

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pack basket 2.0

I was looking to start the school year off with a bang.  And well, if nothing else, this project sure had a lot of banging!  You literally pound the log all over with a mallet.  Then you are able to peel off strips as the growth rings break apart.  Pretty amazing stuff.  Also, thoroughly exhausting for the record.  My seriously hearty, extremely active kids were tired and I mean truly tired, after taking long shifts pounding splints.

The kids were taking part in a wilderness program this year (which they kind of, sort of, already aren’t all doing anymore- it’s a long story and probably beside the point).  Most of their backpacks did not survive last year’s adventures.  I got it into my head that it would be an incredible experience for them to use materials sourced from the wild to build their supplies for venturing out into the wild.  Me and my big ideas.  Steve felled the tree for us.  Black ash is supposed to be the very best wood for this type of project, as this wasn’t an option for us, we settled on white ash.  I think our technique could use some serious work.  I feel like there is some magical element we’re not privy too that would just take it too a whole new level.  We learned a bit from one basket to the next, but if we continue at this rate, we will have to make approximately one thousand and four baskets before we get anything that looks right.  It is functional at least.  It was so much work!  I think Elijah is the only one who’s still keen on trying to make baskets for everyone.  Maybe in time.  Spring, when the sap is rising is a good time for harvesting.  Perhaps we’ll try again then.  Which gives me two seasons to try to figure out what we’re doing wrong!  Or if not exactly wrong, at least not quite right!

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Week in the Life, Monday

By breakfast time they had managed to bring the total number of taps up to 50, with another 15 added before lunch.

She believes me to be superfluous.  Clearly, she is completely capable of dressing herself.

Dancing our way through chore time…

She calls Elijah, “Lila” and Iain, “EEEE!” (usually while standing at the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs yelling for him to let her up).

This in one determined little person!  She spent a large portion of the day practicing walking, mostly on her own, but occasionally with some assistance.

The weather was just right, so I planned for a light morning of book work in order to get outside early to work on the igloo we are building as a part of Galen’s native peoples studies.

The trampoline is clear!  Most of the snow on it went towards igloo building.

She insisted on turning her single hard boiled egg into a deviled egg.

Back at it.

Reinforcements!  Thank goodness.  I was beat.  This project has been rather intense at times.

I left construction in their capable hands and took my girls for a little walk.

More trouble with the roof, causing dinner to be served much later then intended.  I think we have it under control now. (fingers crossed!)  Followed by a good deal of late night cooking in preparation for a very busy day tomorrow!

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baby love

These two little darlings are the best of friends.  I’ve never known a baby of her age to be so attached to a doll.   She gets so excited when she spots her little dolly, I sometimes worry she might hyperventilate!  And if you do not realize right away what it is she’s wanting or if for some reason she must be separated from her beloved, say while putting arms into shirt sleeves, the crying is most pitiful.  I’ve taken to hiding her at meal times.  Waldorf dolls and yam covered hands do not mix!  When they are reunited she says, “ahh-ah beh-beh! (baby)” and kisses and cuddles her up.  Every once in a while she will thrust baby into someone else’s arms while making kissing sounds on the understanding that the recipient is to kiss and cuddle baby before promptly returning her to her wee mistress.  If she wakes from a nap and baby is not there, she cries.  It baby is there, she sits, with baby in her lap, babbling her little secrets and patiently waiting for someone to come and fetch them both.

Baby has a little bonnet and dress set, but as you can see, they are often discarded.  Seraphina likes to take them off, but try as she might, she has yet to manage getting them back on, at least in any manner which they are likely to stay on.

Juliette, as most of us call her, we have something of a tradition of middle names being taken as dolly names, was a first Christmas gift and her making has a funny story behind it.  I thought I would do something terribly clever and fancy.  I got to looking at all of these techniques that I had never tried before.  I started experimenting with different methods of sculpting the face.  The first head I did was horrifying!  I’m laughing now as I picture it.  I would share a photo, but I’m afraid of frightening you.  I wanted a very sweet, baby-ish little doll and what I created looked like an ugly and disgruntled old man.  Ah, but I forged ahead, telling myself that once I added pretty blue eyes, rosy cheeks and rose petal pink lips it would be totally transformed and all would be well.  And what a transformation it was!  Into what looked like an ugly and disgruntled old man in drag!  After which I started over, sticking to the basics.  Whenever will I learn that simple is better?

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back to it

Balloon in a Bottle*

Mentos Geyser Experiment*

Screaming Balloon*

Folding Egg*

Mini Smoke Rings*

Mairi built a bird feeder and rolled candles.  Galen started sewing himself a pair of Woodland Indian style moccasins.  Iain got a soldering iron and built a siren, a Christmas tree and a mini traffic light.  He dismantled an old phone for parts.  Steve helped the big boys to take apart an entire computer, piece by piece, explaining all the parts.  We started getting back in the habit of a daily walk and then stopped walking entirely as a cold went through our house.

During the holidays I altered our daily rhythm.  We abandoned our regular school day, save for math practice and a few little daily reports.  Instead we worked on projects together, either holiday related or not.  I checked out a stack of books full of experiments and building projects and another big pile of books just for reading.    The holidays don’t officially end for us until the 6th, the day after our big double birthday, which means that tomorrow it’s time to start trying to find our way back to every day life.

I feel like I need some sort of reverse advent so that putting everything right again doesn’t seem quite so over-whelming.  So instead of hang stockings or get out Christmas dishes, we would wake up to a note telling us to take down the stockings or pack up the dishes.  Something tells me this wouldn’t catch on quite as well.

*Some of the many experiments we tried from the book Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes by Steve Spangler.

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aglow

Oh, Mr. Bear, shouldn’t you be slumbering??  Not lumbering through my garden, clawing at the snow?

clementine candles; star lanterns; borax snowflakes; gingerbread cookies with cinnamon icing

We’ve had so much snow already this year!  Our Solstice celebration was magical.  The music!  There was music everywhere; banjos, mandolins, an accordion, penny whistle, voices singing out into the candle lit night with powdered sugar snow sifting through the clouds.

There have been so many magic moments this holiday season.  Hardships too of course, but so much beauty to compensate.  Last week everyone was invited to watch Galen and Mairi’s ballet class.  Unbeknownst to us, their teacher had invited a violinist to play Christmas carols for them to dance to.  It was marvelous.  Such a simple little thing, but so moving.

Will I ever get over the heart-aching joy of watching Iain perform, just as poignant each and every time?  Somehow I don’t think so.

And now I must be off!  There is still much baking, sewing, wrapping and merry making to be done!

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autumn days

Here in New England September and October are the months of county fairs and harvest festivals, cider pressing parties and bonfires.  Iain often dances at local events and 4-H (did I mention the big boys joined 4-H?) draws us out to others.

Can you tell this post has been a long time in the making?

I’m often asked what a typical homeschooling day looks like for us.  That is very difficult to answer because of course there is no “typical”.  Another question I’m frequently asked is how we balance schooling so many children of different ages.  The answer to that one is a little more straightforward.  While each individual child has a nice balance of work and play, free time and structured time, I pretty much “do school” all day long.  It’s a little unconventional, but I don’t mind and it works for us.

I thought I would try to post how this plays out on a random day, with a few disclaimers.  One: there is no way I remember every last detail, so this is not a comprehensive account, more a general over-view.  And secondly, I’m going to try to just mention the school specific activities, but honestly our home life and education are so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends because really in most cases they are one and the same.

On this morning Iain (age 14, grade 9) and Elijah (age 12, grade 7) both had their math completed before breakfast.  We’ve recently started using the “Life of Fred” series in addition to the “Key To” workbooks that we’ve been using for years.  This allows them to do the majority of their math work independently.

Iain is an early riser.  He likes to get as much of his school work and chores out of the way as early in the day as possible to leave time for other things later.  After he had completed most of his chores and math he settled in to read The Adventures of Robin Hood to Galen (age 8, grade 3), while Galen knitted.  He’s working on a pair of mittens for Mairi for Christmas.  Shh!  don’t tell!*

Over breakfast we all played Timeline.  I’m a huge fan of games as an educational tool.  This one involves trying to place various inventions in chronological order.

After breakfast and after-meal chores, Iain and Elijah set to work making a Albertian Veil for their perspective drawing lessons.  Then Iain went out to work on a landscape drawing, utilizing the veil, while Elijah worked on a writing assignment, then they switched.  Galen made his Weather Journal entry for the day.

When I returned from settling the baby for her nap, Mairi (age 5, Kindergarten) was dressed in a mouse costume.  My plan had been to do some sort of creative movement/story telling exercise with her.  I made sure to incorporate the mouse theme, knowing that would draw her in right away.  First we tidied and swept the playroom, to make space to work, while singing cleaning songs (including one about a mouse tidying her house!).  I started in on a story about a little mouseling being rocked to sleep by her mama (using the rocker board to rock her and singing a “mouse lullaby”) as the story progressed, the little mouse had a dream about being a seed that got buried under layers of leaves, rain, snow, etc (playsilks), many animals ran over the seed without even knowing it was there (massaging her in different ways to show different animals….a rabbit hopping, tiny nail tip bird claws, etc).  We continued on like this…the seed grew to be a tree, stretching towards the sun, being blown about by the wind and so forth, until the whole thing came full circle with that tree creating a seed, which she became.  That seed dropped to the ground, all curled up, whereupon mama mouse gently work her slumbering mouseling.

Time to check in with my other scholars.  The bigs boys shared their drawings.  I looked over their writing and gave them a few suggestions/corrections to be made.  I looked over Galen’s Weather Journal.  Since it was a cloudy day, I gave him a book on clouds to read aloud.  He read the story part.  We looked at the pictures together and I explained about the different types of clouds, their names and so forth.  This information is in the back of the book, but the presentation is a little too technical so I paraphrased.  I set Galen and Mairi up for painting.  Galen painting different types of clouds (at my request) and Mairi painting whatever she wanted (it started out as a mouse, but then she decided she didn’t like it and turned it into “blobs of color” instead).

Occasionally Iain and Elijah go to the stables early to get a couple of hours of extra work in before their riding lessons.  This was one of those days.

After they left Galen and I worked on his math together.  Afterwards I took the three little ones for a nature walk where they identified tracks, scat and trees and played in the woods for a while damning up a stream among other things.

Back at home I had planned on having them help me bake pumpkin bread to go with the soup I was serving for dinner.  They asked if they could try to make it themselves.  I said, “yes” and instructed and supervised them while preparing my own contribution to the meal.

Everyone was back home by dinner time.  After dinner we went through the usual bedtime routine with Mairi (which involves reading a book, singing songs, my writing what she dictates into her journal and saying a blessing).  Steve played a game with the boys during this time.  Then Galen went up.  He’s working on writing a story as a gift for Steve and I (side note: he’s been working really hard on this and I can’t wait until I finally get to read it!).  I try to make sure he has some quiet time set aside to work on it.  He usually writes for half an hour or so before going to read.  I insure the right kind of books get into his hands and he’s more then happy to take care of the rest.

Everyone 12 and up watched an hour long documentary together, followed by the big boys going off to bed to read for a while.  At this point I assign them a book a week.  They read a lot so they have no problem accomplishing this in addition to whatever pleasure reading they might do.

And that was our day.  More productive then some, less productive then others, just a little glimpse at what a random day might look like.

*This is a perfect example of time that I consider to be educational and productive, but that they would never think of as school time.  It’s just the way we live life.  Really there is a lot to be said for a lifestyle that’s conducive to learning!

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