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Please check out Little Acrorn Learning.  Owner Eileen Straiton encourages you to sign up for her monthly e-newsletter, all the while receving a FREE 23 page guide to March.  I cannot begin to describe all the books, wonderful ideas, crafts, menus and inspiration all piled into one.  Good stuff here for Spring!

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Becoming a storyteller has found interest in my heart.  I have built a steady rhythm within my family~home.  Within this rhythm, space has been built for stories.  Stories can become part of daily ritual, as well as apart of any adventure.  Providing yourself with practice is the only way to learn.  Pick short stories to start.  Tell your kids the story on a Monday, and watercolor a scene from the story.  Re-tell the story the next day, or Wednesday (depending on the age) and bake bread.  You could even shape the bread to be something other than a loaf.  A letter of the week.  F is for Fish.  We read McElligots Pool, by Dr. Seuss, with fish for supporting characters.  The next time re-tell the story and do some modeling.  We have been using playdough for several years, and other doughs or modeling clay.  Recently we have gotten into beeswax modeling.  The wax melts and shapes in your hand, and the aroma is very uplifting.  Molding the beeswax strengthens the kids hands and prepares them for hand writing.  Kids need movement of the body to fuel learning.  I Witness this daily.  Doing these activites mentioned strengthen the memory experience, and the story goes along with it.  We will eventually add more structured (albeit loosely) theater play.  We have many props and fabrics for costuming.

Please take a look below at Marsha Johnson’s beautiful insight on becoming a storyteller, through rhythm.  Below is a picture of a beautiful Pendleton blanket that I have had my eye on;  maybe some day after much practice storytelling, I can receive this blanket.  Mrs. Marsha Johnson can be found below on Waldorfeducators yahoo group. 

Many younger parents today have difficulty with memory, this is most likely related to the arhythmic lifestyle of the past few decades, when it is the steady strong rhythm of life’s days, weeks, months, seasons, years, community, that build and strengthen our memory body (etheric or life body which is freed in the 7th year for use in memory and academic lessons…).

So you must begin to memorize and practice. Each day, for example, at a certain time, say 7 am, do some innocent activity, this does not need to be significant, just steady each day, say at 7 am, you will clap three times.

This can be at any time during the day.

If you forget, well, do it when you remember. And try again tomorrow.

Strengthen and grow your memory body in this way, for say, a period of 1 year perhaps. Yes, for 365 days, you can clap 3 times at 7 am or 12 noon or 6 pm or whenever you decide.

At the end of this period, we can speak again of this task and see how your memory is coming along. Also many other interesting things may happen along that tiny journey….

Now for the stories, you must read them first. For at least 3 nights in a row, just before sleeping. Take those stories and go into your sleep life with these tales, and by the 3 day, after the 3 nights, you will be able to tell that story. It will be there, living in you like that brilliant blue center of the warm candle flame…it is be inside you now, like an organ in your very center, that you can draw on and enjoy the process, too, as it passes out again into the world of spoken language, of sounds and tones, with hues and shades of colors and lives, that story will be in your very warm breath of life, as you tell your most precious children, these significant tales.

In this way, it becomes alive again! This is why some stories are like literal food, nourishing body and soul, past and future, healing illness and dysharmony, stories can carry deep magic and deep meaning, if told in this way.

Some stories are like cotton candy, hardly worth the effort to take into one self, they pass through with meaningless impact, and simply in a sense steal away time and space in our worlds…..

We must learn to recognize a good ‘story’ in the way we learn to know what good bread is….what is good soup….what is fresh water….clean air….clear thinking….balanced colors….. composition of self and other, awareness of what we are giving to the children and to ourselves at the same time.

This is the LEAST TRIVIAL work we will do. We plant the seeds of the future with our stories and their content will carry the children and humanity far into the future, streaming onwards in all direction, for those who listen nearby, invisiable, for those who snuggle warm selves into us, for those yet born, those who hover nearby, choosing the right time, the right place, the right family.

We use stories as medicine, friends, and this is why you need to make it one of your top priorities: memorize and learn the stories of the Waldorf Way, the critical pieces of knowledge, the golden keys that will unlock the Gate of Humankind and allow to flow forth, the River of Shalom.

Practice. Don’t look back, keep your face to the sun, and practice….begin with what you can do and be open to change. Sometimes stories take on a life of their own and that may be just what is needed. I have had times when I tell a story and the next day the children tell me new parts I did not say, and this story grew in them and took them into further details and I am glad.

I hope this helps. You can do it, I know you can.

Think in pictures and let go of your ‘intellect’. Tell the story from your heart self, not the head self.

Mrs M

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The kind people at Earth Scouts have generously featured my blog, time and again, so I would like to direct attention their way.  Earth Scouts is a wonderful organization;  a flagship program of the Earth Charter, U.S.  I hope it grows and grows!  Recently, I joined the Badge Developement Discussion Forum.  We will be creating activities for earning badges.  See what badges already exist in this .pdf below!

EarthScoutsBadgesandPatch

A “scouting-plus” program which gives a way for children and youth to become empowered in their homes, schools, and communities in positive ways.

Did you know that you can make paper yourself? For many years paper was made by hand and therefore was very expensive. People treated it with great care, and never threw it away. They always saved it after they used it, and made new paper from it. Paper can be made from wood, cotton rags, linen fabric, grass, and many other natural products. It can also be made from old newspaper. Here’s how.

Vocabulary
■Pulp – small pieces of paper mushed up with water
Time:
■Set up: 45 min
■Activity: 24 -48 hours
You will need:
■Two and-a-half single pages from a newspaper
■A whole section of a newspaper
■A blender — Ask one of your parents or your teacher to help you use the blender.
■A measuring cup
■Five cups of water
■A big square pan that’s at least 3 inches deep
■A piece of window screen that fits inside the pan
■A flat piece of wood the size of the newspaper’s front page
Here’s What You Do:
1.Tear the two and-a-half pages of newspaper into tiny pieces.
2.Before you use the blender, ask your parents or teacher to help you. Don’t use your blender from home without your parents’ permission!
3.Drop the pieces of paper into the blender.
4.Pour five cups of water into the blender.
5.Put the top on the blender. (You don’t want to have to scrape newspaper mush off the walls!).
6.Switch the blender on for a few seconds. The paper will mix with the water and become what is called “pulp.”
7.Turn off the blender.
8.Open the newspaper section and spread it on the floor or table top.
9.Pour about one inch of water into the pan.
10.Put the screen on the bottom of the pan.
11.Measure one cup of blended paper pulp into a measuring cup and then pour over the screen.
12.Spread the pulp evenly through the water over the screen with your fingers. Feels mushy, doesn’t it?
13.Lift the screen so that the pulp stays on top of it. Let the water drain.
14.Place the screen with the pulp on top on half of the spread out newspaper section.
15.Close the newspaper section so that the edges meet again.
16.This next step is very important. Carefully flip over the newspaper section so that the screen is on top of the paper pulp.
17.Place the board on top of the newspaper and press to squeeze excess water out of the paper pulp. The newspaper section will absorb the water.
18.Open the newspaper and carefully lift the screen . The pulp will stay on the newspaper section.
19.Leave the newspaper open and let the pulp dry for at least 24 hours.
20.The next day, check to make sure the pulp is dry.
21.If the pulp isn’t dry, leave it until it is.
22.If it is dry, it is paper again. Carefully peel it off the newspaper.
23.Now you can use it to write on!
Questions to Answer
■Was it easy to recycle paper?
■How could you use the paper you made?
■Next time you go to the store notice what paper products are made from recycled paper.
■Are there any recycled products that you can use for school?
■Does your family use recycled paper products?
■How many trees are used for every person in the United States every year? (The answer is in this web site somewhere!)
■How many things can you do that will save trees?
Extension Activity – Learn more about recycled paper. What is the difference between pre-consumer recycled paper and post-consumer recycled paper?

Books

Trees To Paper
A Tree Is Nice

Re-posted from http://earthscouts.ning.com/profiles/blogs/be-your-own-paper-recycling?commentId=4791315%3AComment%3A4222&xg_source=msg_com_blogpost

Originally posted by Earth Scouts Network Administrator!

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Gung Hay Fat Choy everyone! (Wishing you happiness and fortune in your new year!)  I want to give you a link right off the bat.  Have your speakers and volume ready.  http://www.nancymusic.com/Gunghayplay.htm  
You will hear a song about Chinese New Year!   The song is perfectly calm and went right along with all the creative processes we were taking part in. 

When I first meditated on doing a block about Chinese New Year, my first instincts were to enter into the immediate Now.  I began cleaning my home.  I began sweeping out the old, and making room for the new.  We went through our clothes.  We went through our kitchen cabinets.  We went through our supplies, art and food.  Somehow I found myself living this process.  Then, I got to take a trip to San Antonio and really let go.  I thank Creator for arranging all this for me.

Upon returning we picked up our children.  They had spent the first couple days of February in a blizzard, up north, with Grandma.  My goal was to pick them up and ground in to our home.  Warmth, baking, soft music, aromatherapy, warm baths and beeswax candle dipping.  Transitioning from travel with children I have come to realized is an art form.  Especially if you are homeschooling.  And, even more so if you are presenting life to your children holistically.

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac (prints one page)

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/the_story_of_the_Chinese_zodiac.pdf

Here is a coloring page to go with the story.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_zodiac_story_coloring_page.htm

Anything Chinese New Year here.  Look for the Rabbit though.

http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/chinese_new_year_coloring.htm

I had fun watercoloring a silhouette of the rabbit, along with the sign for double happiness.  I did notice Wolfsion writing on our foggy kitchen storm door the chinese symbol for Happiness.  He was inspired by a stone sculpture we have.  And, we made a paper chain of red and purple.  Here is a picture of us dipping the beeswax candles together.  Dad captured the moment.

I don’t know if you can see what I can see, but there’s magic in this picture.  The magic of the candle making in the background.  The secret, the chemistry.  And in the front, River is just full of Light.  Filled with magic.

Ok, I can show you the candles now.  We are so proud of our discoveries.  I mean aren’t we bringing light to our lives?  The cool thing about all of this is being creative and happy with the mundane.  That aspect of the journey is very hard.  It is the only way to joy though, because it is a part.

Our faithful bookmobile lady also brought us the book Chinese New Year~Cultural Holidays, by Katie Marsico.  I most like the circular illustration of the moon phases.  We discussed the celebration beginning on the new moon, and ending on the full moon.  Wolfsion has already expressed the moon phases in his drawings and sketches.

To explain, I use a soft approach with this information.  The kids have been around the wheel a few times, but they are slowly waking up.  At this point, I work with their observation aspect in a soft way.  I don’t delve too too deep yet.  However, they come to me with very deep and simple findings.  Today we painted each others faces after nap time.  For Samantha she was the perfect bunny-girl.  A super hero.  And River was doing his bunny hop.  Which makes me happy and I note his movement development.  Joyful Movement is the name of a curriculum resource I have by Christophorus.  I have just began to peek inside and really integrate more movement to assist with developement.  Everytime there is new movement or strength, there is an immediate transferrence to their waking up…the brain.  It is amazing being a Witness in this human pathway.  Ok, so here’s some little bunnies.  They are far happier than they look, they are only in fear of smearing their paint.  Ayla Bear, our beautiful black dog licked Samantha’s paint right off!

The Year of the Rabbit is our destiny this Chinese New Year.  We have a nice nature table set up with white silk fabric draped over wood chunks forming a den for our rabbits.  Wolfsion has been long friends with one rabbit, who goes by Bunny Rabbit Dance.  Well this is Bunny Rabbit Dance’s family.  We take care of them by checking their stores, and even adding a stone sculpture with the Chinese writing of Happiness.  Thanks Magic Man!  The boys great uncle gave that to us at our wedding.  I would show you a picture of this landscape, but Bunny Rabbit Dance and his family are off making tracks.  It is the wrong time of day, they aren’t home.

If you don’t mind e-books though, here’s the link. 

http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/chinese-fables/load.htm?f

We enjoy different kinds of presentations, because our world is filled with many mediums.  In traveling, I like to expose the children to low/moderate amounts of things.  We do not over-expose tv, computers, or phones, but it very much is in this world.  I do believe I am protecting the boys senses, but also slowly opening them up to things that exist.  I can’t imagine traveling to Seattle, or Germany and the boys not having been exposed previously to any of those three categories.  Storytelling, free-play, crafts, music, baking, nature and community, with the thread of Spirit ,weave together the majority of what we are made of.

Have you ever thought you wanted one thing, but when you got there, you realized that you already possessed the truer sense of what you were searching for to begin with!?  If you like wonder, magic, dragons and faraway places then you will like the book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  I got it from a beautiful blog.  This lady is an awesome teacher and student of life.  There is much inspiratation here for the family in 2nd grade.  I realized after receiving this book from my AWESOME bookmobile lady, it would only be a preview for my eyes only.  The book is just not quite for Kindergartners.  I didn’t know that, but I am very glad I had the opportunity to read it myself.  Timing is everything.  I felt able to apply the story to my life in the Now.  I hope you get to read the story about Minli too.
http://ancienthearth2.blogspot.com/2011/02/chinese-new-year-year-of-rabbit.html

“D” is for Dragon.

 In our journey we also watched a video of the Lion and Dragon dance.  We give Microsoft a shout out, because Uncle Thomas works there in Seattle, and we found this video by accident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzvmzfxx3pA&feature=related

One of the funnest things we did though was sit at a low table on pillows.  The menu was fish and rice, chopstick style.  We happened to pick the chopsticks up in San Antonio, so the boys were happily suprised…perfect timing.  We decorated our table with a bright red tablecloth in honor of the celebration.  Nian the dragon would not be stopping by for dinner, but the Ancestors would, so we left a Spirit Plate out.  Our centerpiece was a dipped beeswax taper, set in sand.  And, there you have it.  We took about 3-ish weeks to move through all of this process.  Thanks for stopping by~

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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Stoking the Gratitude Fire

We started by giving Gratitude.  Remembering Gratitude first is a way to settle us into our natural states of being.  Happiness.

Drumming up the energy

When in ceremony it is also important to bring up the vibration to a higher place.  Drumming will make the ancestors happy.

Primitive art-making with fire and sticks

Wolfsion needed no prompting to began art-making.  Expression is apart of us.  How do you express yourself?  Do you see ways to express yourself, but hold back?  Or, do you jump at the chance for expression?

See the man? By Wolfsion

When we were each ready, we each placed our Gratitudes in the fire.  As our creative Gratitudes on paper burned, the smoke carried them to Creator.

Getting the indoor garden set up

The process of sending our gratitudes and the ritual of Stirring the Seeds is a process.  It took several days.  Above is our garden stand that will hold our plants, as we watch them grow.  I am dissapointed we have to use grow lights, because we do not like to waste electricity, BUT the only south facing window is the boys room.  Pots of dirt ain’t gonna happen there! 

Planting our intentions

After dinner last night I began writing what intentions we wanted to put forth to the Universe.  I wrote them on tiny pieces of paper, and rolled them up.  Next we were ready to put them in the bottom of our pots.  We then planted herb seeds over top of the intentions.  The point of this exercise is to have an inner and outer experience unfold before us.  As we tend the inner seeds that are stirring within us, we also tend the herb seeds.  We want to harvest these intentions, as we harvest the herbs.   We set goals for ourselves and the family.

All set up and ready for sprouting!

I will share a couple of those intentions with you, so you may have a better idea.  Wolfsion wants to make a blackberry pie this year.  I want to travel more.  I would also like to continue rhythm in my home, along with keeping an organized unschooling approach flowing.  River wants to sing more.  And Ryan wants to be creative, design and build more this year.  One last intention I am setting forth is to say and tell less, be and sing more.  That is one of the more important intentions for me. 

One last bonus to this exercise is that it is beginning science, but we won’t mention that to the kids, till a later date.  I just want them to observe the process.  We can make it academic in the future.

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Watercoloring

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Step One:  Redeem Michael’s gift card wisely. 
I went to Michael’s after the New Year, with coupons in hand.  I got quite a bit for less than $50.  Buy one, get one free, Strathmore Watercolor Pad, 11″x15″.  Also, I got a small sketch pad, by Strathmore, BOGO (buy one, get one) for Wolfsion to begin free-sketching in.  I also bought a couple fancy paint brushes.  One was a fan brush, and the other was a one inch brush.  The hardest part was deciding on the watercolors.  I just can’t pay for the Stockmar brand right now.  I am hoping for frugality with certain aspects of home education.  So, I opted for a whole set of watercolors, for 8.99.  We aren’t talking Elmo colors here, but a higher grade of watercolors.  However, not even close to top of the line.  We are venturing into Fine Arts, Kindergarten style.  I also got two Eric Carle 8″x10″ watercolor pads, for $1.50, over Christmas vacation!  The suprise that came with those pads was a color mixing guide and color wheel chart, which is pictured in the slideshow.

Some people begin with just the color red.  But, we began with brillant red, lemon yellow and ultramarine blue.  All the primary colors.  I wanted the boys to see if the colors bled together, what would happen.  To help this along, I soaked the paper for 15 mintues.  This assisted with the colors bleeding.  I never knew one could do this, so I am learning bunches.  It is called Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting.

Where I made my mistake was putting too much water with the watercolor paint.  OOOPPS!  I won’t make that mistake again!  All is well though, and more paint can be added to the already very light watercolors we’ve mixed up.  I have stored the mixed paints in Ball jelly jars.

Tomorrow is another watercolor day.  I hope whatever we paint can be turned into lanterns for our Chinese New Year Theme.  I am going to see if Wolfsion will be able to replicate the Chinese sign for double happiness.  He is pretty good at drawing.  Maybe I will even throw in a silhouette of a rabbit and see what happens.  We have a pack of rabbits (cute and stuffed, not real) on our nature table now as well, for inspiration concerning the Year of the Rabbit.  They are in hibernation mode, in a sweet little burrow we made with wood and white silk fabric, representing snow.  I think we will practice drawing rabbit tracks, since we see so many, and put them on our nature table.  Tracking is apart of our Outdoor Nature Study.  Working sketching and drawing tracks into our lesson is apart of the near future.

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A few posts back I gave some photo~love to my youngest Shamus River, as he turned 4.  I am now ready to share some of the bits and pieces of how his celebration unfolded.  First off was the making of his crown and cape. 

This particular crown is made from felt, puchased from Michael’s Craft Store.  It is not 100% wool, as I would have perferred, but I was on a monetary and time budget.  I was inspired with this project, by the blog Frontier Dreams.  I however made up my own pattern, theme and stitching sequence.  Growing up my grandmother did not use too many patterns, but instead sewed as was necessary.  This was my approach.  I bought one stiffened piece of white glittery felt, and a plain, softer piece of white felt.  A bit of soft blue fleece for the band, some elastic, and blue felt to outline the buffalo.  Beautiful snowflake buttons jumped out at me, whilst shopping, so those found a home on the crown.  The snowflakes were a nice Winter touch to go along with the theme of Buffalo. 

Buffalo to us represents the Spiritkeeper of the North, on our Medicine Wheel.  The buffalo represents right-action and right-prayer.  The buffalo also represents give-away, balance and harmony.  The time of Winter is a time when Mother Earth’s energy goes inward to her roots, where energy is stored or gathered.  For us, we turn inward and assess our strength, and take stock of what is needed and what no longer serves us.  The time of the buffalo is a time of the Warrior, the Spiritual Warrior, One Who Stand In His Power.  Power not being an anglo-word, but a native word meaning Gifts, or Medicine.  We hope to teach Shamus River his strengths, and we use the buffalo as a means.  The buffalo is his ally.

I began by placing the felt up to Shamus’ head long-ways.  The length of the felt from the store was perfect.  There will be no trimming long-ways.  Then I simply took a sharpie and drew points of the crown.  I cut both pieces of felt together, to match. 

Next, the buttons were sewn on, evenly spaced.  I added the buffalo and light blue stripe, via a hot glue gun.  Afterwards I added the softer white backing.  This softer backing will be against the childs head and provide a softness suitable for wearing.  After pinning the backing and the front together, I sewed up the fleece band, and ran the elastic through, then attaching the elastic and band to one side, then the other.  Finally, I proceeded with blanket stitching all the way around the crown.  I had been wanting to practice this stitch, and felt I had done a good job.

In one of the pictures you can see I had a good model of a white buffalo by Wolfsion.  He was wearing one of my old shears, and the new sheep skin we got for Christmas.  He really Shapeshifted into the buffalo.  I was drawing in that energy as I sewed.

In the end, I took some light-blue poly-silk material and tied one end in a knot.  I wished I had time to purchase some china silk, but with all the planning it wasn’t in my time budget.  Instead of placing the cape around the neck, we draped the silk over one shoulder.  If I had bought more than one yard, I could have tied knots on either end and made more of a silk-like royal jacket.  Shamus doesn’t like things too tight or near his neck.

Enjoy this tutorial, and if you have questions, let me know.  I will be glad to answer questions.

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