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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

winter blahs and a waldorf circle time

snuggly babies waiting out winter on the couch...
 I totally have the winter blahs. Not depression or anything like that. Just like, blah. I don’t want to move. Don’t want to cook. Don’t want to be crafty. Don’t want to play outside. Don’t want to go on playdates. I just want to sit on my ass, occasionally getting up to either pee or to get the kids food and/or snacks and wait for winter to be over.

Can I do that?


Fine. I can’t. I know. FINE. (Said with a big sigh like a moody teenager)

So I had this big post planned on like preschool and what we were or weren’t going to do and then I am reading through it and actually thinking about next fall and OH MY GOSH. I have NO IDEA what we are going to do.

Dilemma is thus: Little man turns five the day before the kindergarten cut off. Our city does full day kindergarten. YIKES. I can’t even imagine putting him in full day kindergarten! So, then I was thinking, the nice little private Waldorf school nearby. They mix the pre-K and Ks together until age 6 ½. I love Waldorf. I love this school. But it is freaking expensive. So then I was thinking. I will find a Waldorf oriented play group and HOMESCHOOL for kindergarten. I mean, kindergarten sounds more stressful than anything (for me, not him HA HA) the whole transition, the whole getting up in the morning, scramble out the door. And for what? He knows letters, he sounds out words, he does basic math already, we go on playdates, he manages in groups like Sunday School just fine. So, why? (This is rhetorical - I respect and admire teachers! What a calling! My sister and brother in law are teachers, and really amazing people...It's more kindergarten itself. Eh.) But then…who knows what life will be like in the fall?? So, I think we will apply to the nice little school for 3 mornings a week, and make that decision when we come to it.

In the meanwhile. We have been doing, yes just me and the two kids, a Waldorf like story-time and circle time a few times a week and oh my goodness they love it! It makes me feel good too, that I can do a fun creative activity that they truly enjoy.

Why Waldorf? It just feels right for our family. Basic Waldorf educational theory, as I see is this: That children are not just minds needing to be filled. That they have a spirit and a soul that needs nurtured too. That childhood is special, magical. That imaginative play is important. That learning to read and write and other book work can wait. That more important to that is experiencing a peaceful rhythmic home life where they “work” and play and enjoy childhood.

And not that other schools/philosophies don’t do this for a child (my own sister is a fabulous teacher who works with preschool kids!), but I like the focus on it, with the Waldorf theory. The purposeful delay of book work in favor of counting acorns out in the yard and drawing pictures of them and turning them into little dolls to play with. They have 16 years to engage with books and formal learning, you know? Why push it? Probably also my liking of this is because in my own childhood I was obsessed with grades and test scores by the ripe old age of 7. I can remember crying because of getting a 92% on a test. (But mom, I GOT ONE WRONG!! SOB!) My parents chose to homeschool me and my sisters for various reasons and for me, the lack of focus on grades and competitive learning was a life saver. So, maybe this is why I want to delay this experience for my (very similarly competitive) son. More on Waldorf here.

the actors- mother nature, snuggling her seed babies, jack frost
(boy doll), waves (blue knitted fabric) clouds (wool)
mr. sun (candle), and the north wind (wooden statue)
In any case. Circle time. Or, “candle time”, as I have started calling it. First we gather around “the actors” as little man calls them, then we light a candle (everything is nicer with a candle lit!), then mama uses the actors to act out a story. One story per month. We started with an adorable story called “The Seed Babies” all about Mother Nature searching for a “blanket” to tuck in her seed babies for the winter.

It’s seriously so cute.

Then we do a few action/finger plays about the season.

Then we blow out the candle and transition to lunch time at the table.

Nice, huh?

Before hearing about this traditional Waldorf preschool activity I never would have thought to do this at home myself. But, after reading more (especially on this website, but also this one, and this one) I thought why not do that now? I had no idea how much the kids would love it! Now, there are a lot of Waldorf homeschoolers out there that are totally hard core about it. No TV. EVER. All wood or wool toys. All wool or cotton clothes. Again, nice ideal to attain to but I am not gonna kill myself trying to “be” that ideal. (Ha. The children are watching Blues Clues as I type. Although I feel guilty about that...sigh. It never ends, huh? That balance between managing, trying harder, and giving in to what is easy...but that is a topic for another post...)

Anyway. Here is the story and fingerplays we did. Go light a candle and give it a try!

"DEAR me," said Mother Nature, as she tucked the last of her seed-babies in bed, and spread over them a blanket of leaves, "King Winter will soon be here, and I am afraid this covering is not enough to keep my babies from his icy grasp. I must get them another blanket. What shall it be? Let me see. It should be something soft and light. And for babies, of course, it should be white." So she went to Mr. North Wind, and said: "Oh, Mr. North Wind, please bring to me
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies."

But Mr. North Wind said: "I cannot unless Jack Frost will give me some of his silvery powder." So Mother Nature called to Jack Frost: "Oh, Jack Frost, please give Mr. North Wind some of your silvery powder, that he may make for me
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies."

But Jack Frost said: "You must ask the clouds to give me some vapor, then." So Mother Nature called to the clouds, and said: "Oh, kind Clouds, please give Jack Frost some of your vapor, that he may change it into silvery powder, and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies."

But the Clouds said: "We must wait until Old Ocean sends us more vapor." So Mother Nature said to the Ocean: "Please, Old Ocean, send more vapor to the little Clouds, that they may give some to Jack Frost, that he may change it into silvery powder and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies."

But the Ocean said: "The Sun must send us some heat fairies, first." So Mother Nature said to the Sun: "Dear old Father Sun, please send some of your heat fairies to Old Ocean, that he may send vapor to the Clouds, that they may give some to Jack Frost, that he may change it into silvery powder and give it to Mr. North Wind, that he may make for me
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies."

And the Sun said: "Gladly!" and sent forth a host of little heat fairies that called the vapor from the Ocean to the Clouds, and the Clouds gave some to Jack Frost, and Jack Frost changed it into silvery powder, and gave it to Mr. North Wind, and Mr. North Wind made for Mother Nature
A blanket pure and white,
Soft as down, and sparkling bright,
To wrap my little seed-babies.

(Notice too how the story subtly introduces the idea of weather and cloud and snow formation, but in a lighthearted, non-scientific way. This story came from this amazing database of stories. )

Then we read this poem and talk about seeds becoming flowers…someday…when spring comes again…(sniff sniff)

Little brown seed, oh! little brown brother,
Are you awake in the dark?
Here we lie cozily, close to each other:
Hark to the song of the lark—
"Waken!" the lark says, "waken and dress you,
Put on your green coats and gay,
Blue sky will shine on you, sunshine caress you—
Waken! 'tis morning—'tis May!"
Little brown brother, oh! little brown brother,
What kind of flower will you be?
I'll be a poppy—all white, like my mother;
Do be a poppy like me.
What! you're a sunflower? How I shall miss you
When you're grown golden and high!
But I shall send all the bees up to kiss you;
Little brown brother, good-by!
Then this finger play…
A chubby little snowman (puff out cheeks)
Had a carrot nose (point to nose)
Along came a bunny (hopping two fingers like ears)
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny was looking for some lunch
He saw that snowman’s carrot nose
And went nibble, nibble, crunch! (grab at your nose)
That chubby little bunny hopped into the woods. (hop away your fingers)
He wiggled his ears as a good bunny should. (wiggle your fingers)
He hopped by a squirrel, he hopped by a tree. (hop in a zig zag)
He hopped by a bird and he hopped by me.
He stared at the squirrel. He stared at the tree. (make your finger bunny look in different directions)
He stared at the bird and he made faces at me.(make a funny face!)
Then this action play:

Snowflakes, snowflakes, dance around (dance!)
Snowflakes, snowflakes, touch the ground (touch the floor)
Snowflakes, snowflakes, on my nose (touch your nose)
Snowflakes, snowflakes, on my toes (touch your toes)
Snowflakes, snowflakes, twirl around (spin around)
Snowflakes, snowflakes, touch the ground (whispering, fall to the ground)

(these and more winter fingerplays and verses here )

Then we usually do ring around the rosy, because little miss really likes it. Insert smiley face guy.

Fun huh? Let me know if you have any favorite stories or rhythms to add to this!!


  1. Sara that is a very nice idea! I really like the whole candle idea too! Glad you had fun with that. I should give you some of the books i have with other ideas. If you want that is. Love ya.

  2. Have you ever read anything by Charlotte Mason? I suspect you might like her approach to education, even though she came up with it about 100 years ago.

  3. I was driving to target today thinking about your blog name- thinking about how nice I do look in yoga pants and how i don't look like a loser mom in lame jeans that don't fit because of my muffin top. anyways, i homeschooled emilia for 6 months- you are awesome if you have the patience. I do not. Turns out they needed to know sight words before actually reading and they needed to count to 20 or more which she didn't know. So, we are playing catch up with school now and oh half day is like 3 hours. Full day is like 5, not 8, during the school day, I barely get to workout, take care of the other kids at home and run some errands then I have to pick her up. I sometimes wish it was a bit longer, so I could get more done :)

  4. cari - that would be great!
    tammy - i have and there is a little school of that slant nearby...another prospect down the line...
    lynne - lol! yoga pants rock. i cant wait till its warm enough to wear mine again. how old is your little one? mine can count and has sight words, but really i am not worried about that, i was homeschooled and several of my siblings couldnt read well until they were older than the norm...and it didnt kill them at all...its more wanting what is just right for him and our family, educational philosophy wise i guess...we shall see how it all pans out...(although i am jealous you get to work out. i keep meaning to but...maybe in the spring... :) )

  5. Hi Sara! My little one is 18 months and the other one is 4 and then the other one is 5. I was surprised because we sorta unschooled while we were living on the road so we did what she wanted to learn. She loved learning about snakes and spiders - she learned to read a little and can sound things out but we never sat and did stupid sight words - did we learn that in kindergarten? I don't remember! Anyways, I'm not thrilled with her first public school experience, it's a rush you through the system kinds of thing that I don't appreciate and I might look into a different school if I can. I haven't worked out since last week cuz I'm pmsing and I don't wanna. :)

  6. lynne - ha ha! sounds a lot like my philosophy with working out...although i do love a good run...maybe i just want his intro to school to be just right, you know? (i can be a bit of a control freak too so there is that. HA)
    hope you figure out something better for next year! and fun getting to know you!!

  7. Sara, I'm a little behind on your blog, but I really appreciated this post.

    Schooling has been a dilemma for our family too, particularly since both my husband and I took breaks from our careers to be full-time parents during kiddo's first three years, and now we're back to offices, we both really love working full-time.

    We started at a Montessori school that wasn't very Montessori at all, then we tried a Catholic parochial school which was just so grown up (but less expensive and perfectly safe and nurturing). We moved cities and tried a Jewish Reggio Emilia curriculum (loved it!), and now kiddo is in public school, which is bilingual but otherwise surprisingly similar to the Catholic school.

    My little one is 5 and attends a full day of school. She's tired at the end of the day, but I think she needs the social stimulation (she's an only child with no extended family nearby) and we need the childcare. So it's working for now.

    Good luck with your decision.


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