Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Are you doing something to celebrate the arrival of Autumn, today? Fall is my favorite season; it always has been. There's just something magical about this time of year. You've heard the term Magic Hour, referring to the first and last hours of sunlight, where it almost seems as though the air is laced with silver? That's how I feel about Autumn. I think it is the year's Magic Hour. The air just has a certain magical quality about it. It's almost palpable. 

It also brings with it some more of my favorite things: sweaters, beautifully colored falling leaves, hot cocoa and fresh pressed apple cider (not to mention the Fall drinks at Starbucks!), and a shift from the outer light of Spring and Summer to the inner light of Fall and Winter. It's a time of reflecting, a time of deep thoughts. A time of finding light within ourselves. A time for allowing that light to shine for others, a theme that repeats itself often throughout the two seasons. Think of all those who volunteer at homeless shelters and women's shelters during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Salvation Army Santas on the street corner ringing their bells. The numerous Angel Trees you see at Christmastime. How many of you have ever adopted a family in need for the holidays and left anonymous gifts for them on their doorstep? Autumn and Winter are very much the seasons of giving, and I believe it's because we instinctively start to look inward during these seasons.

N will be four in November so, while he's still quite young, I think he's old enough to begin to understand some of this. We're starting today by celebrating the Autumn Equinox, using the lovely Ayla's guide, found HERE. She has broken down the story of Sir George (I like this better than referring to him as St. George, for various reasons that are too much to explain here) slaying the dragon (a story of looking inward for courage and strength in order to face our own dragons) into bite sized pieces for each day of the week between now (Autumn Equinox) and next weekend, culminating in the telling of the whole story all together for Michaelmas. She also has suggested activities to go with each portion of the story. Tonight I'll tell him about how the people of the land (I haven't quite decided where the story will be located) are busy harvesting  the crops that they've toiled over all spring and summer, and to celebrate the harvest, they have a big feast. To go along with it, after the story, N will help me make a stew full of fresh local veggies (we've been sick, so we weren't able to get to the farmer's market this week, but I'm going to make a run to Whole Foods, where they have a pretty large selection of local produce), and grass fed beef (plus a little pot with just veggies for me, the crazy vegetarian). While we're making the stew, we'll talk about where the vegetables and beef came from, how they're raised, how they're harvested, how they make it from seed and calf to our big pot simmering on the stove.

Tonight, after our bedtime routine, we'll read Giving Thanks, by Jonathan London. I had planned on reading a different book for this day, but the sickness that's going around our house prevented me from getting to the library and I think this one will work just fine (it's all about being thankful for animals and nature). We may read Apple Cider Making Days as well, simply because it's one of N's favorites right now and it shows how apples are harvested and made into cider, so it's pretty fitting as well.

So, what are you doing to celebrate Fall?

Much Love and Kindness,


*I had planned on doing an original water color painting to go along with each portion of the story, but again this debilitating monster of a cold has prevented that from happening (yet). Perhaps I'll find the energy to do it tomorrow. If I do, I'll update with the artwork.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autumn Circle Time (Leaves and Halloween)

I think I've finally put together our Circle Time for Autumn or, more specifically, late September and October. It will remain mostly the same until December when we switch to Winter (which I've got to start on soon, if the amount of time it took me to come up with this one is any indication!), but I will trade out any Halloween related items for Thanksgiving items in November, and add a few celebration-specific items around Michaelmas, Martinmas, and any other holidays that I'm forgetting right at this moment. I'll post those changes when I make them.

I used several sources for putting the Circle together. Kristy, from the yahoo group Waldorf Home Educators, was a big help by sharing her own Circle, which I used for the framework. The rest was gleaned from various sources all over the internet. I wish I had noted where I found everything, but I didn't. Next time I will, not only because I want to give credit where credit is due, but because I want to be able to go back to those sources for more.

So here it is. Feel free to use it as is, or as a base for creating your own. If you post it anywhere (and please, do!), just be sure to link back to here.

Morning Circle:


(standing, join hands and walk in a cirlce)
Autumn is here and the world goes round
Autumn is here and the world goes round
Autumn is here and the world goes round
The world goes round and round and round.

(Hands are leaves fluttering to the ground)
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
Autumn is here and the leaves fall down
The leaves fall down upon the ground.
(repeat first verse)

Centering Verse:
The Earth is firm beneath my feet
(bend down to touch the ground)
The Sun shines bright above
(hands reach up to the sky)
And here I stand so straight and strong
(step each foot into the ground)
All things to know and love.
(cross arms at chest)

I can reach so high, I can touch the shy
I can reach so low, I can touch my toes
I can turn myself around and around
And sit down quietly on the ground

Short Story/Poem
(use red and yellow silks)
The North Wind came along one day,
So strong and full of fun.
He called the leaves down from the tree
And said, "Run children, run!"
They came in red or yellow dress,
In shaded green and brown,
And all the short October day
He chased them round the town.
They ran in crowds, they ran alone,
They hid behind the trees.
The North Wind laughed and found them there
And called, "No stopping, please!"
But when he saw them tired out
And huddled in a heap,
He softly sang, "Goodnight, my dears,
Now let's go to sleep."

Seasonal Fingerplay
Five little leaves so bright and gay (hold out hand, flutter outstretched fingers or use pressed leaves)
Were dancing about the tree one day (sway hand in rhythm overhead)
The wind came blowing through the town OOOO (put other hand to mouth and blow)
One little leaf came tumbling down (sway hand from side to side while folding appropriate finger towards palm, repeat entire verse 5-4-3-2-1-0)

Seasonal Fingerplay
Autumn leaves are floating down, (float hands and arms up and down)
They make a carpet on the ground. (move arms back and forth towards the ground)
Then swish! The wind comes whistling by (quickly "swish" hands back and forth in front of body)
And sends them dancing to the sky! ("dance" hands upward)
All the leaves are falling down, (flutter hands downward)
Orange, green, red, and brown. (continue moving hands downward)
If you listen, you will hear them say, (cup hands around ears)
"Wintertime is on its way." (whisper)

Seasonal Movement Silly Verse/Large Motor
I traveled far across the sea, I met a gnome and old was he
I said to him, "where do you live", And this is what the gnome told me
Come with me to jumping land, jumping land, jumping land
If you wish to live with me, follow me to jumping land
...running land
...stomping land
...skipping land
...tiptoe land
...running land
...hopping land
...crawling land
...sleeping land

Reflection Verse
Let us greet this day with kind words, calm voices, gentle hands and an open heart.

Stories for Late September/October:

Evening Circle: 

Little light up in the sky
(holding up two fingers to the sky)
Twinkling to and fro
(flicker fingertips)
Sending me your little light
(flicker fingertips down to the top of the head)
In the day and in the night
(day-hands open with fingers wide/night- hands under head like sleeping)
Until I rise once more.
(Stand on word-rise)

Song (written by Katie Yeh, hand motions by yours truly)
(to the tune of I'm a Little Tea Pot)
I’m a little pumpkin, short and fat (put your arms out to your sides, curved around like you're a pumpkin)
I’m going to be a jack o lantern, how about that? (put your hands on your hips)
Just carve me out a mouth and nose and eyes (run your finger along your mouth, the point to your nose and eyes)
And light me up on Halloween night! (place your hands, tips of fingers touching the tips of your thumbs, near your cheekbones, then open up your hands and move them away from your face, as though you're illustrating light coming out of the jack o lantern)

Verse (to transition us to listening to the story)
An owl sat alone
(Sit down, and hold up one finger)
On the branch of a tree.
He was as quiet
(Hold finger to lips)
As quiet could be.
It was night
And his eyes were round like this.
(Make circles over eyes with thumbs and index fingers)
And when he looked around
Not a thing did he miss.
(Look from side to side)

(Right now we're reading Little House in the Big Woods. I usually read one chapter each day, so I'm just moving that to evening time, here.)

Quiet Verse (to transition gently to our bedtime routine which starts with bath, so we'll do this as we walk to the bathroom)
Softly on his tip-tip-toes
(Your child's name) through the forest goes. Sh! Sh! Sh! (repeat)

And here are the books we have in our Autumn book basket right now, in case you need some ideas/inspiration:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Autumn 2012 Plans

I've been busy lately. Busy because I have two littles to take care of. Busy because we've had quite a few guests as of late. Busy because money has been tight (thankfully a temporary thing), so I've been making more meals from absolute scratch.

Busy because we are starting our first year of Waldorf Preschool this month. I'm still working on creating our Circle Time for this month (two weeks in; ha!), so I think I'm just going to make it into the October Circle. I recently joined the Waldorf Home Educators yahoo group, and it has proven already to be an invaluable source of information, as has Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. I really have to watch how much time I spend there, and when. I think, if I allowed myself, I could spend an entire day just perusing all of the Waldorf-y pins, which would kind of defeat the purpose of living a Waldorf style life. I try to limit myself to an hour or so during naptime or after N has fallen asleep at night.

Here are some of the things we've done to get ready for Autumn, so far.

We made our Seasonal Tree. This will stay here from now on (though I may make a new one when I can get a hold of some brown poster board as the closest I've found so far was find was a piece with gold on one side and silver on the other), changing with the seasons. Right now it has colorful leaves, acorns, and apples on it. There are a few pumpkins at the bottom, along with two cute little foxes, all dressed up for Fall. N's pince cone collection has taken up residence there, as well. The little table they sit on is going to be our Nature Table, but most of the items I want to put on it are still in storage in Colorado, so as of now it's just the pine cones.

I made a Season Calendar. I actually messed it up by painting the season ring, and then turning the paper without realizing it, so when I painted the tree, it was not lined up with the correct seasons. Oops. I fixed it (kind of) by painting the month sections in seasonally appropriate colors. So really, the red should have been Autumn, the blue should have been Winter, the green should have been Spring, and the yellow should have been summer. Oh well. I still like how it came out. On an unrelated note, I really need a better camera.

I changed our Rhythm Chart to one with seasonal colors, but I don't know if I'm going to keep it that way, as I really really like the rainbow chart. We'll see.

Now I just have to complete the Circle for October, and plan a few seasonal activities. I'll post the Circle when I have it finished (I'm hoping that will be tomorrow). I have started a Waldorf playgroup in our new area, after realizing that there was absolutely nothing like there here already, and I have around a dozen families interested right now. We'll be meeting up for the first time at the end of the month, and I'm hoping we'll be able to plan some really awesome activities for Autumn for the kids. I'm thinking a lovely Lantern Walk in November, and Advent Spiral in December, and things like that. I'm so excited about it!

The last thing I'm working on right now is putting together our play room (which is actually N's room, but it's a good size, and we only have two bedrooms, so it has to double as the playroom).  At this point, due to finances, it's all just planning and dreaming, but in a month or so I'll be able to start putting it together. I know it's going to be the perfect place for N and E, and any other littles that happen by to play. Just thinking about it makes me happy. 

Happy almost Autumn!