Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple Traditions










This year was our 4th year going apple picking and our 3rd year picking at Carter Mountain. The first two years that we picked there, we went with my best friend Anya and her kiddos. Ironically both times we went one of us was pregnant. Yeah we're just kinda crazy like that. We did co-op together for 2 years as well. She moved this past summer to Northern VA- so she's about 2 1/2 hours away. Which just bites, but it could be worse. My other best friend Courtney lives in NY, which is even harder. Gah. But I digress. While I had a great time picking, needless to say, I missed my friends.

I wanted to pick sooner in the month but the apples took longer to ripen this year. So we ended our month of September with apple picking. It was nice to go and have the kids spouting off what they learned about apples or tellings stories about them. At one point Deirdre was convinced that she saw September and heard Mrs. Brambley sing- from our monthly book "Christopher's Harvest Time". 




Jonas was no nonsense about picking. I think he ate close to 5 while we were there and then 2 more on the way home. That boy loves his fruit. Brynna on the other was in food heaven. She just kept gobbling up the apples happily. She immediately knew what we were doing and was more than happy to help pick and add to mama's basket, as well as sneak a few out! Deirdre was more fastidious. She wanted to save her apples for pie, candy apples, and applesauce. God bless her. She takes preserving our food seriously and worries about how much we'll have for the winter, ha! 

Not that I don't. My goal has always been for the past few years when we go picking is to save as much as we can so we don't have to buy fruit out of season. I'd love to get to the point where we can pick all of our fruit but we're not there yet. We blew through our frozen cherries, strawberries and blackberries- even though I picked more than I ever have this past year. We have one big bag of frozen peaches left. We also have only 2 of the dozen jars of strawberry preserves left thanks to my sweet husband who I think has a jam addition. I mean who puts jam in their drinks?? Gah! That's what i get for cutting out juice. Oh and the blueberries didn't even last a month! Jonas broke into the freezer one night and polished off almost half a bag. 

But we should have lots of apple goodies to help us through. We've already made apple pie, apple, pancakes, apple cobbler, and candy apple slices. The rest I have hidden for applesauce and butter! Both of which I make totally in my crockpot! 





So how do you all make your applesauce or butter? Do you have Fall traditions each year? If so what are they? I'd love to know and share! Also I'd love to hear any nighttime photos tips you all might have. My nighttime photos alway looks so yuck!

PS: I am linking up with Linda at Natural Suburbia  Nicole S at Frontier Dreams, and Carrie at Crafty Moms Share. These are also some of my favorite blogs so hop over for a look! 

Until next time,

Monday, September 9, 2013

Apple Crafting









We are now 3 weeks into our new school year. We're still focusing on apples, squirrels/chipmunks, and Autumn over here. And boy is it fun!!

Each week I try to make 1 big craft and then smaller ones each day. Our smaller ones might including painting, modeling beeswax, baking bread, or  paper crafts. A big one is more involved, costs a bit more, and last longer. 

Our first week we made an apple print burlap banner. We cut open our apples, talked about the star, cut the burlap, made our prints, and then sewing and glued the banner. 

The second week we made wooden play apples. We learning that apples only really come in 3 colors or a combination of them. We learned about Johnny Appleseed. And then we painted our own apples and made them felt leaves with real stems. 

This week we'll be making apples pot to hold treasures- or treats. I will be back later on to show them to you. 

Thankfully it is also starting to look like Fall here. Some leaves are falling and beginning to change. It is less humid and a tad cooler. Our science unit this season is on trees. I personally am sick of not knowing what kind of tree I am looking at for the most part when I am out on a walk. So I thought Autumn is a good time to learn the tree in our neighborhood and we could do it together. We bought a Fandex Family Field Guides: Trees to help us. It is a GREAT tool for kids. I like field guides but it is hard for them to use at this age. The fandex is easy and they love it. Deirdre is always taking it out to play in case she finds fallen leaves to identify which tree they came from! 

Ah be still my little heart!

PS: Linking up with Linda at http://www.naturalsuburbia.com/  and Nicole at Frontier Dreams this week! 

Until next time, 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Creating Our Waldorf & Reggio Inspired Atelier









From time to time, I pick up a book that really really resonates with me. Playful Learning by Mariah Bruel is one of those books. I read it cover to cover in a day. I was so inspired by it that I decided to re-do our dining room so that the kids would have a better learning and creating space apart from their playroom. 

I used to have all of their art supplies out in the playroom but we kept having accidents with them. The dining room is more central and therefore it is easy for them to be more self directed yet closer to me, when they want to create and do while I am about my mommy work- ie chasing Brynna.

The dining room is now I bit more cluttered but I like it. It's more colorful and fun. It was like Christmas day at our house when I unveiled the atelier. Both kids, 3 and 5, sat for house coloring, painting, stamping, cutting, gluing...

Everything has its own place too so when crafting is done, they themselves put it up and clean up. It really is true that if you buy them nice things and show them respect, they will reflect it back to you and treat their toys and art supplies with respect too. 

There are still more little tweaks that I'd like to make to the room. I'd love to replace the plastic shelves with nicer ones. I'd like to add more field guides and binoculars to our nature area. But it will come to us when it is supposed to. Bit by bit. 

Until then, I am happy with our atelier. The kids are ecstatic. And we are learning so much together and having lots of fun too. 

Linking up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams this week as well as Crafty Moms Share and Natural Suburbia! 

Until next time, 
xoxo

Friday, August 30, 2013

Autumn Good Morning, Summer Good Night












Yellow the bracken, golden the sheaves.
Rosy the apple, crimson the leaves.
Mist on the hillside, clouds grey and white,
Autumn good morning, summer good night.

~Our verse for September


We've been busy here the past week and half. Happily we began our school year last week. It was a bit early but we are planning on going out of town with our family next week so I wanted to have a bit of flexibility in whether we do school on vacation. 

Our circle time theme this month- which for us is September- will is apples. Stories about them, songs, verses, Johnny Appleseed, and a bit of how they grow and what they're used for. We also will overarchingly be talking about Autumn and saying goodbye to Summer. Our puppet "Squirrely" is helping us do that and is the center of many of our stories and plays about apples and Autumn.

During the 3rd week of the month we'll take a break form Apples to celebrate Michaelmas. I am so excited for it this year. Jonas is really into dragons, so I am sure he'll be rapt with attention for it all.

Later this week I will go into more detail on how our circle times flow and I use them in our daily rhythm. They really are the linchpin of my teaching. 

We use puppets a lot and books. Sometimes I read them, sometime I tell my own version of them and sometimes the kids retell their version of the story and act it out. 

I hope this finds all of you well! Thank you for all the toe love. It's healing- slowly- but I do feel much better. I also am so glad that you all liked my home school planning calender. I hope it is helpful! I will get back on in the morning to answer your questions about it. 

PS: Linking up with Linda at http://www.naturalsuburbia.com/ this week! 

Until then!
Blessings,



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Little Waldorf Crafts Through the Year



I am in the thick of this upcoming year's home schooling planning. Last year we used Oak Meadow, but we won't be doing it again. I have learned so much from that process and about myself as a mother and teacher. While I think Oak Meadow is great for some, it was not the right fit for us. 

Primarily because as I was going through it I realized, I had already been doing what they were planning for us. None of it was new or innovative for me. I did not gain anything from it. Maybe that's because I am a trained teacher or that I have worked in pre-schools. However it wasn't worth the price, if I could just as easily do it myself. (As a side note, I do recommend Wee Folk Art's free curriculum guides for older preschoolers if you're new to doing school on your own at home. I also have used Little Acorn in the past- you do have to pay- and have liked it. Just don't try to do ALL of it. She packs a lot in there and you can get overwhelmed.)

My other issues was that it wasn't really Waldorf. Honestly I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just re-read 'You Are Your Child's First Teacher' and saved my money! Now I can see myself when Deirdre is in the upper grades, and not a true Kindergartner, getting some help in the form of curriculum. But it won't be Oak Meadow. (Again this is not an attack on OM, I think they are a lovely company and school and great for some- just not us).

This year, armed with helpful guides, I will not be using a formal curriculum rather I will be making and using my own Waldorf one. I am very excited about it. It is very simple honestly because truly it will be just Jonas and Deirdre. Both of them would be in a Waldorf kindergarten class together (which has ages 3 1/2 to older 5s in them). Daily life is really all the learning they need at this age. We will be having fun, learning stories, rhymes, songs, and doing crafts. We'll be baking more and doing lessons less. For Deirdre as she shows interest we'll be working on reading and some math (Deirdre learned to read this year) but I won't be pushing either since in a true Waldorf school she would not be formally learning either for another year. 

It is more work in a way to make my own, but better in many many ways. Cost is one, confidence is another, as well as being able to really tailor it to what I think works well for us and trying to incorporate more rhythm into our days. We, myself included, could be more well rounded in our lives. In that way I end up wasting less time by re-tailoring it our needs like I was doing with OM. 

So I wanted to share with you some of what we ended up doing last year from January to May (when we gave up on Oak Meadow). These are mainly just kid crafts that I snapped a photo of in the middle of making them. They're not great photos but I was on the run! They also aren't overly Waldorf. We watercolor paint, model beeswax, finger knit weekly and do one big project once a month. The rest of the days we do little bitty fun crafts. Ones that I mostly find from pinterest. Here are a few:









January: Winter, Animals in the Winter (Epiphany)
February: Winter, Clouds (Candlemas/ St. Valentines)
March: Spring, Mushrooms (St. Patrick/ Lent)
April: Spring, Frogs (Lent/Easter)
May: Spring, Butterflies and Flowers (May Day)


What sorts of crafts do you do through the year? If you home school, what do you use and how do you plan it? I'd love to know!

Until next time-
Blessings,
Nicole


Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pure Play and Our Knitted Farm Mat



The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day,
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs,
In sunlight shining clear
I revere, Oh God,
The strength of humankind,
Which Thou so graciously
Has planted in my soul,
That I with all my might,
May love to work and learn.
From Thee stream light and strength
To Thee rise love and thanks.
~ A Waldorf Morning Verse~



We've been busy here since our last post. Homeschooling is quite consuming, in a good way. Interesting I feel as if our days flow more easily now that we have a stronger rhythm. Even on days when I have no special crafts or stories to do, the children still crave our school rhythm. We also have gone totally TV free at home for the past 3 weeks. It has been a long time coming here. A gradual wean of sorts. While we've never been big on TV here, I have come to realize that we really have no need or place for it when it comes to the children. Apart from the occasional family movie night, they haven't watched a drop. A say this not as a combination for anyone who is not there yet or doesn't want to be there, rather as an encouragement to those whom want to reduce. It is possible. 

On that note however it means that we all have had more time. With that time I have used it to simplify our play space a bit and rework it. Since they kids are playing much more, it made sense. I also have been reading a lot more on how children learn and play- which inspired a few changes of my own. 

I reworked our playroom so that there was more open space to play in. We moved out our black play bench, play kitchen, and cleaning set. We set the kitchen and leaning supplies up in the dining room- near our own kitchen- so that they could be playing kitchen while I was cooking. They also can then easily clean up after their meals. I was worried at first that if I moved it out of the play stand, which they use primarily as their house, then it might hamper their house play. Rather, they just moved it. Now their house is under the table. We also set up our nature table in the dining room again after having it up high in the playroom. It did not work out well there since it was not as interactive. 






In place to the kitchen in the play stand, Craig and I made a play bookshelf. I have to say it was a super fun project- one of my first wood working ones. I have been admiring the palumba simple bookshelf for age. However the price was a bit high for me. Instead of $169, all it cost us was $40 in wood, stains, and brushes. It looks nice, right? On the book shelf we set up of gnomes house and all their furniture. 












In the now free corner we put the children's school table there. They kids love it so much more there. It is not as cramped. It's light and clear near the window. 





I moved the sling book case to where the table used to be and added our old rug. It's a nice little reading homeshcool corner. Many many times I have come in there now and have seen the kids laying down there skimming our books. 






In the far corner of the room we now have our baby doll corner, castle, and our new farm! We are farm people at heart. I have been skimping and saving up for the farm for years now. We also added a baby doll changing table. What really tipped the scale sin being able to add these treasures to our playroom was EBAY. I went through all our toys and purged. And then purged some more. And then went through the garage and even their old clothes. Not only were we able to get these goodies but we also were able to make a bunch more which went to other things (like bills!). 



















With it I finally sat down and finished our knitted farm mat. Back almost a year ago I participated in a knitted farm swap hosted by Carrie over at Crafty Moms Share. Those lovely squares sat and sat. I just did not know who to bring them all together. Some of the sizes ended up not being 12x12, while others were. So after playing young with it in my mind for a bit I decided I would just sew it together like a quilt. That's right, I used my machine. I joined up each row and then stitched them all together. Then I basted, backed, and binded them! I used the sweetest vintage flower fabric for the backing that make sit look like a field of flowers. I am so pleased with the finished product. (By the way I knitted the dark green cable fields- you can even tuck veggies and chicks into the cables!)

So that's our new playroom, dining room, and farm mat. It is really just the tip of the what we've been doing. More fluff and fun that substance. However I have been reading more Steiner and some other great books and my love of Waldorf has been deepening. If you haven't dug into Steiner yet but are intimidated. Please don't be! I promise to be back soon to share some of what I am learning.

Blessings and Light, 
Nicole