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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Fun in the Smokies

On an early summer road trip home from Oklahoma, we stopped to visit friends at Great Smoky Mountians National Park. Visiting state and National Parks is one of the easiest ways to teach children to appreciate nature and there are many opportunities to learn about preservation of our nation's wonderful resources. If you plan on visiting a National Park with children, don't forget to ask about the Junior Ranger Program. At the end of the program, the kids can earn a badge or patch from that specific park and have fun while doing it.

As we see the end of summer coming and prepare for the upcoming academic year, let's all slow down, explore nature, and take in the beauty of the world around us.

(For more ideas and inspiration on enjoying the summer, join us at Little Acorn Learning's Slow Summer Series.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Around the Sun and a DIY Birthday Ring

My goodness, it has been a long time since I last posted.  I have been preoccupied trying not lose myself amid the stress of living in an over-crowded, underfunded home for months on end, but I feel myself coming back to my true self.  One of the catalysts for me to find my way back was my eldest son's recent birthday. Now he has traveled nine times around the sun. 

We are full on in what the Waldorf community calls the 9-year change. I watch it happening as my son pulls away from us looking for independence, questioning our authority, and wanting to know why things are the way they are.  While at times it is frustrating to be challenged by my child, it is also a relief.  For many years he has been so compliant and it is good to see that he is developing a sense of self beyond what we direct. (The Sunrise School has a wonderful post about the 9-year change.)

We threw a huge birthday party (39 kids and adults!) but the special time for me was the evening before the party when it was just family singing happy birthday as he blew out the candles on his birthday ring.

Do you know about  the birthday ring? It is a simple wood circle with holes drilled to fit ornaments that reflect the child's interests or adventures over the past year as well as a few candles to blow out. Since we tend to do Waldorf on a budget, we made ours out of wood train tracks, homemade ornaments, and beeswax candle we rolled ourselves.

To make your own birthday ring, you need eight 3.5 inch curve track, such as these by Brio. (If you do not have them on hand, you can often find them for a great price at garage sales or on Ebay.) In each track, use an electric drill to make a 3/4 inch wide hole 1/2 inch deep. For the ornaments, I bought unfinished wood pieces from our local craft store and painted them using watercolors. I purchased beewax sheets from A Toy Garden some time ago to make large candles, so we made small candles from the scraps. I purchased brass candle holders from a local Waldorf school and used bits of wax to hold the ornaments in place, although it can easily be done without the candle holders.

Now every year around the sun, my boys know it is a special moment as we gather around the birthday ring where everyone stops to show that we are glad not for cake (although we do that too), not for gifts, not even for a fun party, but simply glad that this child is a Gift from God to this family and we celebrate who he is.

I linked up at Frontier Dreams. It is such a lovely blog. Head over for more inspiring craft ideas.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Tribute

A few days ago we joind our Cub Scout Pack and placed flags at the grave sites of veterans at a local cemetery. About one fifth of the sites date back to the Civil War. It proved a great opportunity for the boys to learn American history as the boys asked about the wars and what life was like. 

Last year we made a paper poppy centerpiece that reminded us of the cost of freedom and the beauty of that freedom.  http://howthesunrose-lalagirl.blogspot.com/2013/05/making-poppies.html

Monday, April 28, 2014

It is the little things

I don't know about you, but I am thrilled with the warmer weather after our long hard winter.  Our family is finding so much joy in the little gifts of spring that nature offers, especially bird songs, budding leaves, and bright cheerful flowers.

Happy spring!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day

On this Earth Day we cared for our feathered friends.  What about you?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Monet is Cheering Our Days

It has been over a month since I have written. A. Very. Long. Month.
This past winter the cold has forced us indoors more than I would like. However,our recent study on Claude Monet filled our learning area with beauty and cheered our days.
I started our Monet adventure by printing a variety of his paintings from the Claude Monet Gallery website. (Transferring them to a Word document allowed me to customize the size.) Then we hung the pictures on our little clothesline at the desks. This worked out very well as my boys (ages 8 and 5) absorbed the painings and would talk about them throughout the day and occasionally make up stories about what is going on in rhe painting.

We also read Who Was Monet. I read the book first so I could offer open-ended questions as Aidan narrated what he learned after each chapter. The Who Was /What Was books are great for the third grade level being factual and filled wirh compelling details.

Aidan also made his own masterpiece. 
First,  we used painters tape to tape down watercolor paper then using the wet-on-wet technique, he painted it blue. Meanwhile, I cut out tissue paper lily pads and wrapped little bits of pink, white, and yellow tissue paper around a pencil eraser to make little flowers. After the paint dried, he glued on the lily pads and flowers. Voila - Monet's lilly pads.

Toward the end of our Monet studies, we wentto the National Gallery In Washington DC to see original paintings. What a wonderful experience for us all!

Thank you Monet for cheering our days.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter's Day

Here in central Pennsylvania, we are at the beginning of what promises to be a lengthy snowstorm.  Last night I made sure our feathered friends would be well fed and they have been flocking to our deck all morning.

 Are you getting pounded with snow as well? Don't forget to catch the snowflakes.
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