Friday, January 29, 2016

A Journey Through Time in Rhythm and Rhyme

This is it, the one poetry volume you need from pre-school to high school and beyond. It contains a beautiful selection of classical poetry as well as poems and verses you may never have heard before. There are ballads that last for pages on end for older children to learn, finger-plays, blessings for meals and teachers and everything in-between; a Wordsworth, easy to memorize and digest, poems about trees, about parts of speech and numbers.

Because, did I mention? It is written for use with a Waldorf curriculum through all the grades. It does not specifically say so, but what other collection of poetry starts with morning verses and works its way through farming and building, gems and minerals, meandering through history, imagination and ends with "prayers, praise and contemplation?" As well as including verses by Rudolf Steiner for morning, seasons, teachers and more?

The cover is lovely, a slightly haughty pied piper dressed as a court jester leading an array of prettily-clad children around the back of the book. (The piper's stockings look hand-knit, so, naturally, I find them irresistible.) If that is not enough to entice you, there is also a verse from Roy Wilkinson that I particularly love; "Hymn to Prometheus," and Hymns to Osiris and Ra from "The Book of the Dead." The thing I find so fascinating about ancient prayers is their absolute similarity to the ones we use today, the language, the sentiment, the form.

Here is the book on amazon: I have an affiliate account with them, so if you order directly leaving this page, it earns me a small commission, which is much appreciated. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January Lesson Ideas, Fun Experiments and Encouragement

When the weather is dismal and energy levels inspire more to crawling back under the covers than to deep study and hard work, the homeschool blues or dropping it all seem to be the only options. Courage, fellow homeschoolers, the season will soon be turning and you will be glad that you have persevered and finished up the lessons you intended to complete before the weather turns beautiful again and outdoor adventures beckon. You can do it!

Think of:
All the books you ever wanted your kids to read. Make a list, start with your very favorites, and curl up for reading time, out loud or individually. We are into the second book in "The Wrinkle in Time" series for one of our read alouds. Another is a history series that they are all enjoying; "A History of US," by Joy Hakim, Oxford Press. I take advantage of the lack of enthusiasm to venture out in the winter months to spend lots of time reading, and a little extra on writing and doing math. 

Science...move on to an experiment once a week. The Waldorf method is to do the experiment one day, not discussing it, just letting it sink in until the next day when it gets explained, analyzed and recorded. Some fun online sources: from the Chicago Science Institute: how to build an electric motor,  mix up chemicals and create explosions, (recipe at the end): Genius Joe or here: for a tutorial on how to make stalactites from hand warmers, super cool, according to the kids.

Foreign language burn-out? Try music from another country...and dancing to it. If they are old enough, give Duolingo (on phone or computer) or a similar ap a whirl; our library system has one we can sign up for called Mango. I love it! This is not a complete course, but it can be a fun supplement, or intro to a new language. In Latin, Charles and Valentine and I have found that the program we prefer is the Cambridge Latin Course, so we are sticking with that one. We turn to Wheelock's Latin for more in-depth explanations of grammar at times, or different texts. In Spanish, we have gone back to a basic CD in order to improve pronunciation. I dug out a high school text book to show them that they are doing well; they had at least heard and attempted to use most of the vocabulary in the book already.

For opportunities out of doors, look up your local environmental organizations. Around here, even in below zero temps, there are eagle-watching days, hikes at the marsh and snow-shoeing, all for free. Bundle up and head out to a museum or the library just to be somewhere else for a day. 

In our home this week:

At school, Valentine was bored to tears in math and consistently at over 100% in her class. After much deliberation and reassurance from our tutor, she decided to join the honors class. She is her father's child where this subject is concerned. I am happy for her. 

Gael is making progress in spite of himself. His reading and writing are coming along to the point, not of grabbing a book and reading it, but to where he has the confidence to try to read aloud to me and will actually look at the words on the page instead of saying, "I told you I don't get it. I don't know. I can't." I write new little rhymes for him each day, or silly stories, adding on to the lines from the day before. He does copy work from known poets too. This week's poem is "The Oak and the Reed," by Margaret Morgan. I find most of the poems I use from the book in this week's book review: "A Journey in Time Through Verse and Rhyme." 

Happy Winter!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Home Yoga

With a wicked snow storm assailing our eastern coast in the U.S. and the ground in the Midwest converted to a frozen tundra, not to mention the air that turns boogers to icicles, the urge to leave one's home for anything has dwindled away to not very great at all. It is the time of private yoga once again. 

My favorite online, free resource for yoga video workouts of all levels:     Do Yoga With Me

See below for how to use a yoga video.

You don't necessarily need a season for a yoga home practice, but for me, this is when it all begins again each year. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!!!

I wish you a joyful, peace-filled, healthy, prosperous new year, from my family to you and yours. May the light of a hundred suns shine gently upon you, filling your days and mind with happiness, fresh ideas and love. 

I write to you with a brand new pair of eyes today; or rather, the left one is new, the right one is adjusting to the cataract operation that altered the left. I have been away from the screen, from reading, from exercise, for what seems like a string of eternities, but has really only been since Tuesday last. 

In the interim of the holidays and surgery, there has been so much going on.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Joy is in the Air...

...and I love it all; the Solstice, the dark, the candles, Yule, Santa and the manger waiting for Baby Jesus. The tree is up, there is chocolate bread baking in the oven, cookies made and it is 22 degrees, so it is feeling more like the holidays are almost here. 

I am not writing with news of great lesson accomplishments or new break-throughs in teaching. A big, bad cold has wound its way through each and every child the past week and slowed things down, except for the oldest who was in the middle of finals at college. 

No, today I am writing to pause and give thanks.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

St.Nicholas and Christmas Crafting

Plodding Away

Plodding a big old farm horse, not real sexy or going anywhere fast, but some progress is still progress. That is what the past week of homeschooling has felt like, and what it may be like for the next couple of weeks of December. This is my favorite time of the year. At home. When I don't have to run all over god and the goddess's green earth. When it is snowing and everyone is in bed by 8. New reality; the kids are older, I have a job and they are in a whole bunch of stuff that they need to get to.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Craftsman Afghan (Knit-Too-Loose) Repair

This is called my "Fix to a Loosey-Goosey Blanket". I am tying it on to a piece of fleece with yarn and needle. I've spread it out neatly on the floor and with a little patience and application, I am stitch-tying (many) key parts of it to the bottom fleece blanket. I made this Knitpicks Craftsman Afghan a few years ago for Cate, but the needles I used made a looser-than-desired fabric. The result was less than satisfactory and I knew, with age, that it would not improve. My fix, and my early-20th-century chick-lit reading, as posted on Small Things Yarn Along.

Yarn: sport-weight or worsted split in half. Needle: one big embroidery needle. Difficulty: 0

And, done!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank You

I am curled up in a warm, furry robe, the only one awake, which is, in itself, a reason to be grateful. They are all in their beds, at home, safe and snug, and I am happy for them to be there. Saturday we were so happy to host the family Thanksgiving meal, and at the same time, saddened that the snowstorm left two of my three siblings and their families stranded. We missed you!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Waldorf Wednesday

Halloween: (in which literary-based costumes rule: Alice and the Mad Hatter)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sleep and Loopiness

Or technically; preventing dementia through early rising and enough sleep. This particular bit of advice is both to myself and to validate the habit of early bird exercise and activity. (Or; "I'm not nuts now, but YOU may be later.")

Saturday, November 14, 2015

French and Paris

There is something simply incongruous about returning home from an exam (French) to which I gave all of my energy for two months, to hear that Paris is under attack. My thoughts and prayers today are with Paris and France as they face this nightmare and future challenges.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Detox for Fall and the Fallen

I present this post in all humility, for the sole reason of reaching out to anyone it may help. This is my long, twisted path to health through nutrition, mindfulness and movement. I am the anti-diva in this domain, the sugar-addict, the one who will always choose pleasure over discipline. The believer in the "Life is Too Short" mantra. But...sometimes it takes a wake-up call followed by a little inspiration. Years of painful, disfiguring eczema and debilitating doses of prednisone have led me here; ready, finally, for a viable (in every sense of the word) solution.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Must Dust...Here's Why

One reason to dust this morning: in order to be the first one to find the pretty gourd that changed colors like the leaves outside and grew itself to your mantlepiece. I am fairly certain it would be just as revolting were it on your bookshelf or bedside table.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Country Roads

This is an annual event; huge chili dinner at grama and grampa's, we all feast like the recently starved, and then go walk it off at the pumpkin patch. The same pumpkin patch. Every year.