Waldorf Curriculum HOME

Curriculum for
the Preschool Years



Also, check out my other blog:
"The Reggio Experiment"

Homeschool Blog

Having tried unsucessfully to get Blogger.com to work for me, I suddenly realized that I can easily create journalling pages linked to my site without extra help. This is a very informal page with my personal notes as to how homeschooling is going for my family. Please feel free to email me with comments. Learn more about my preschool curriculum by visiting the links on my homepage.

Other Waldorf-inspired homeschool blogs you may want to check out include:

May 2006

May 31 - This morning Leah helped me weed the vegetable garden (considering that we just plunked three pepper plants down in a patch of grass, there are quite a lot of undesirable plants to remove) by taking everything I handed to her and throwing it out. I know it is irregular to plant the vegetables, put up the border, and then weed the garden but it actually seems to be working really well for the kids. Taking a bunch of bricks and saying, now we're going to make our garden -- when there are no plants in it -- doesn't make much sense and neither does weeding and clearing the spot first. They only can feel that it is a garden when there are plants in a defined space. So, anyway, this is what is working for us. At lunchtime, Natalie and Leah made butter (I put too much cream in the jar and had to pour some out because it wasn't seizing properly, so if you try this make sure you only fill the jar halfway full) and we used the fresh butter on our Colcannon (made with the kale I gathered yesterday at the farm) -- delicious! -- and the buttermilk is slated to go into our Strawberry Muffins. For the strawberries we picked yesterday. It has been a nice day, rather hot, so I'm not sure if we'll go down to the beach this afternoon as is our usual or just stay home and keep cool. I moved the hose from the front of the house to the backyard, near the vegetable garden, so we can always go outside and run around and play with the hose. Somewhere I have a sprinkler but it is still packed. Natalie doesn't have her bathing suit yet, anyway -- I ordered it but it hasn't arrived yet -- so maybe we will wait a few days for the beach and then go as a celebration when it arrives. I got her a matching hat (I always do, they are so proud of looking cute that it saves the fight over not wanting to wear the hat) and a beach towel, too, so she'll be really excited.

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I just placed a HUGE (over $1200) order with Bob & Nancy's Bookshop. I'm not looking forward to getting the credit card bill :-) but I think it's an important and necessary step to growing my business. There has been a lot of interest in my first grade curriculum and I am confident that I can sell enough copies to pay off the debt in about a year. Nancy Parsons and I talked for a while; she asked me some questions about what I'm doing and we had a really nice chat. She was so supportive! I worry that if I tell a real Waldorf person about what I'm doing they will say, you can't do that without any Waldorf training. But she said that if she and her husband ever founded a Waldorf school, one of the things they were determined about was that none of the teachers would have any Waldorf teacher training. Too many ideas are being passed down (one being that you have to have Waldorf teacher training to even talk about Waldorf) that are getting the method way off track from what was intended. She said that it's wonderful to have an approach that is new and fresh and keeps people from feeling like Waldorf is static and dogmatic; also that the homeschooling movement is her favorite aspect of Waldorf right now. So that made me happy. She said that she felt like what I was doing really spoke to her; that was the point where I got all teary-eyed. I have wondered sometimes about what merit my work has, being mainly self-taught (I have plenty of teacher training and classroom experience but with other philosophies -- not Waldorf) so to hear her say that was just so affirming. She said that it is important to have people feel like they have support in trying out Waldorf at home, and to feel like they can ask their questions without being shunned for not being "properly" Waldorf and that's just the approach I try to take. Anyway, I now have a massive library of Waldorf books and I'm so happy. I really feel like it's the right decision. One moment while I go update my
My Waldorf Library page...

May 30 - Today Steve built the compost bin with Natalie. Natalie and Leah also helped put down the edging to our new vegetable garden (after reading And the Good Brown Earth -- a book from the Rhythms unit). The Nature focus of that unit is the life cycle of plants and having a garden (and a compost pile) is a big part of that. I've always wanted to compost, so I'm glad we are taking the first steps. Next, after the kids wake up, we are all going strawberry picking as a family. Nice, huh? I'm glad to be able to put such heart-
warming things after my weeks of complaining that our schedule isn't working out. It's still not working out... but I'm trying to spend more time focusing on the things that do, rather than the things that don't. Also I'm at the computer because I have decided to take an old paid-off credit card and use it to invest $2000 in my business, buying books for writing new curriculum. So my Waldorf library will soon be growing. I'm so excited! It seems like a lot of money but I figure that to pay off $2000 I just have to sell 16 first grade curriculum packages. That's not too bad. I'm placing orders with Bob & Nancy's Bookshop, The AWSNA Bookstore, Mother to Mother Homeschool, Juniper Tree Puppets, Three Sisters Toys, A Child's Dream Come True, David Darcy, Amazon.com, and Bella Luna Toys. Steve is building me some new bookshelves. Soon I will have a real office! No more working off of the laundry-folding table in the laundry room!!! :-) Things are looking up.

May 28 - So much has been going on here lately. For starters, we went to church for the first time as a family! I'd love to say that it's because all of our children are now old enough to sit through a service but it has really mostly been laziness on our part. I feel really good about it and we had a wonderful time. The girls are going on a playdate with their boy cousins (1 and 3 years old) this afternoon. Yesterday we refilled our squirrel feeder and filled and hung our bird feeder. That ended up being a nice little project because we got some birdseed from my grandmother but the feeder isn't big enough to hold sunflower seeds so we had to spread all the seed out and sort out the sunflower seeds first. Natalie really liked doing that. Also, we made soap on Thursday -- I don't know if I put that -- just your standard melt and pour white soap but we added oatmeal and honey to it. 1 cup of oatmeal plus 3 T honey to 1 lb. of soap. It came out really nicely. I had always wanted to add honey to that kind of soap but I searched and searched online and no one ever mentioned it... so I was a bit afraid that maybe it would bubble or explode or who knows what... it didn't. It was fine. It's just melted soap, for heaven's sake, I don't know why I got so worried. Anyway, that was a success and we took a bar to Grammy and Papa on Friday. The other cute thing that we did recently was that we had a special breakfast (really a the-cupboard-is-bare breakfast) of bread and milk and blackberries on Friday and I was serving it to the children and suddenly I thought, "that's what they had to eat in Peter Rabbit" and I went downstairs and grabbed a copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (the link is to an online version, complete with the original illustrations) and sure enough, at the end of the story, the last sentence is "But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries, for supper." So I read that to Natalie for her naptime story and I just thought it was the cutest connection. I didn't say anything to her like "SEE that's what Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had to eat, just like you did!" -- I just read the story. I know that I own a lot of childrens' books, and sometimes even I think I've gone overboard (like when we're packing and moving) but then when something springs into my head and I can just go downstairs and grab the book and we can make the connection right away, I think that's wonderful. Makes it all worthwhile. And, by the way, I have to buy three more bookcases for my office because all my childrens' books are still in boxes. I have my four bookcases of teaching stuff and my Waldorf library out, but everything else is still all spread out on the floor. My husband brought me these four bookcases and he said, here, these are for your office and I said, I need more than that. And he's like, well, let's unpack and then we'll see. And who was right??? (Me)

May 26 - Today Steve blew up our new rubber playground balls for the children. I read "King John's Christmas" to them first; then we went outside and surprise! There were our red rubber balls. Natalie and I are going to try to make the flower crowns (from Earthways -- a project we've been trying to do for several weeks now) to wear to tea party today at 3 pm. They should look so cute and I know my grandparents will just love to see the girls in them. We'll make one for Leah, too, but Becca is too young.

May 25 - Yesterday we did everything we set out to accomplish. The planting and making plant markers (I wrote the words and Natalie drew a picture of a bell pepper on each), the sanding and polishing of Becca's high chair, the visit to the beach, sorting laundry and making the recipes. It was a really busy day. The two little ones went to sleep right away but Natalie stayed up until 10 pm. Too tired to sleep? Who knows what's going on there. Today we are going to makes some soap for the childrens' bathroom, put new corn on the squirrel feeder, and make bread and churn our butter. I have a poem picked out to go with the butter churning, from When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne -- a superb collection of children's poetry -- which is "The King's Breakfast." Yesterday we read "Sand-Between-the-Toes" and "Nursery Chairs." My mother had this book and the companion, Now We Are Six, and I devoured them as a child. My family's absolute favorite was "Disobediance" (where it's the mother who didn't follow the rules and got lost in the big city) but I also loved "Bad Sir Brian Botany." Justice served! Try this collection with your second & third graders, I promise they are not too old for it. I still get a tear in my eye every time I read "King John's Christmas." I guess I just really like the long story ones, where you could get to know people. Actually, we can read that one when our red rubber balls get here! I can't wait to have a lively and fun playground here. Right now, you give my kids a large chunk of space and say, go run around and play, and they just sit right down on the ground and start minutely examining the plants and soil. Which is fine in its own right, but you can't neglect the large motor skills.

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For her nap story, I chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar for Natalie. She was fascinated by the caterpillar we saw at Mount Vernon and has been pointing out more to me as she sees them. I don't think she even remembers last year when we did the Insects unit and hatched caterpillars into butterflies. At least, when I said, he's going off to find a tree to climb and turn into a beautiful butterfly, there was no spark of memory. I didn't think at the time that she understood the metamorphosis, which is fine because she was a little young and there's no reason (I knew) why we can't do it again when she's older. So next year we'll do butterflies again when we do the Insects unit with Leah and she will love it! I don't want to just put it in the Rhythms unit because if you pack something too full of stuff it loses all meaning. I think the life cycle of a plant is enough for Rhythms. Like I said, the Insects unit will come again; also, we can do the life cycle of the frog, which has another metamorphosis, when we do Weather. Leah got a poem from When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne which was "Halfway Down." She really liked it; that girl really loves stairs. After the kids get some rest, we'll do our school activities. I'm just taking a minute at the computer because I haven't been really recording a lot of stuff lately and I don't want to forget. I never put here that Rebecca took her first steps. It was last week. Yesterday when we were saying good-bye to the river, she started waving and saying "bye-bye" so that was cool. She has a lot of new words. She is signing more and eat and down. But she will also say eat and bread. She'll say hi. This is big news for a girl who didn't have any words three weeks ago and is WAY behind in that, and every, department. She covers her mouth when she coughs, though, which is hilarious. How did she ever pick that up?

May 24 - forgive the long hiatus. we have kind of hunkered down here and just put the focus on family and establishing the best daily routines possible, especially helping the kids sleep properly. Sunday we all went as a family to the Maryland Faerie Festival which was a big disappointment. I had been hoping to get my hand carders there but none of the weaving people carried them. So we haven't really gone too far in the working with the raw wool department. My beeswax rub came yesterday, though, so today we'll be getting out the sandpaper and tackling Rebecca's high chair. Other things for school are sorting and putting away laundry, planting bell pepper in the vegetable garden (we got one plant each of red, yellow, and orange from our co-op yesterday), and cooking. We have a lot of recipes lined up! I think that today will be Gingered Applesauce (a favorite recipe from Nicole Routhier's Fruit Cookbook) for snack, and Mozzarella and Ham Panini and Cherry Tomato Salad from Everyday Food magazine for dinner. other than that, it's still a lot of resting. I threw my back out last week and have had a hard time moving around, lifting things, or driving anywhere. hopefully soon we'll get back on track, though! June is almost here and there will be lots of fun summer activities to do.

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Note to self: this soil is really rocky. The kids had a hard time digging. Next year, when we put in a vegetable garden in earnest, not just because someone gave us three free plants, it will have to be a raised bed. That will also help keep Steve from mowing it down by mistake. How to Build a Raised Planting Bed: this says that the best time to build it is in the fall. put that on the September to-do list.

May 18 - my kids ALL slept from 8 pm to 10 am. amazing! and kind of weird. I guess the beach was too much for them. N woke up and threw up first thing. too much sun? or maybe they are all getting sick. I'll have to keep a close eye on them.

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okay, this week for school I am getting the playground balls ($33.40), Clapham's beeswax salad bowl finish (an edible finish suitable for children's toys) and a block of pure beeswax for candlemaking, and some baskets for the playroom. also, tile and grout and whatever else goes along with building our wall. Steve is making us a compost bin on Saturday which is fantastic. I was looking at one from Gardener's Supply Company but he said he can build it easily. And the benefit of that, of course, is that Natalie can help him. I'm so excited! I have a little diagram of how I want the back yard to be set up. in a few weeks, I'll be digging the clay pit. wonder where you find a hundred pounds of clay? they have it in the cliffs here, of course, but it's not safe to dig in the cliffs.

May 17 - okay, an update. first, yesterday's outside play time (and today's) worked wonders. besides "getting their yells out" and being able to run, Natalie and Leah got an interesting new environment to explore, removing the boredom problem. And then they napped like a charm. Finally, I can shower again! I'm working out a new schedule and revamping the homeschool & home environment. we haven't really done a lot of work here since we just moved in, and sometimes so much of getting your home Waldorf-friendly is removing things (taking away the plastic, the TV, etc.) and not really about putting things in. So that's my focus right now as a parent and a teacher. What do I need to put in to the space to make it work? I'm also starting a new project called "The Reggio Experiment" (you can follow along with my notes by reading my new blog here). I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate the rich art experiences and emergent curriculum and project approach concepts without undermining the theory of child development which is at the core of Waldorf education. Are they compatible? We can only wait and see. The only way I can feel my way through a theory is to try it, so keep checking back with the new blog if you are interested. Mount Vernon was fantastic. We saw a log of farm animals -- didn't do the house tour at all, just explored the grounds, the house would be meaningless to them at this age -- including a horse, a donkey, two cows, three pigs, a rooster, and the sheep which were being sheared. The sheep shearing was outside in a shed all surrounded by the gardens -- Washington was experimenting with a countless number of crops, a real pioneer in some of his farming ideas -- right on the Potomac River. They take two hours to shear each sheep because it is done by hand by a volunteer with a docent there to help hold the sheep and answer questions. We stayed for a long time, then slowly walked along the paths and enjoyed ourselves. It was a very laid back day. We saw Martha Washington but didn't stop to talk to her because it suddenly broke out in a downpour so that was that. Natalie and I also saw several squirrels and birds and a caterpillar inching his way across the dirt path, which fascinated her. We stopped in the gift shop and purchased some linen dish towels for Natalie to use when she helps me dry dishes. Also, the ABC dice that I had on my curriculum design wish list. So now I have them! For our new mealtime routine, the children have a low cabinet which is all theirs (I had plenty of extra cabinet space in my kitchen -- in fact, this was a cabinet which I just discovered a few days ago, never even knew it was there, it was just sitting empty -- and it's at the edge, right by their table, so there is little chance they will venture farther into the kitchen and get hurt, or be in the way, if I'm cooking -- also, it's right by the dishwasher so I can have Natalie help put their dishes away when I unload it and then I'm not reaching down and straining my back. It's at their level not mine, that's the whole idea) and they have two bamboo placemats, two bowls and two plates in there. I will add silverware once the new items are incorporated into our routine (and I find a basket), cloth napkins, and a vase or some other decorative item as we progress. the placemats are wonderful (I got ours from Target) because you can roll them up, carry them outside with your crumbs contained, and brush them off on the deck, then roll them again to put them away. easier than folding and they love it! even Leah who is two can unroll and set up her place setting. it's been nice. Right before a breakthrough in creativity comes a crisis point, then you are whoosh! through to the other side and everything is easy again. That's just the way of the world. I've planned more outside play for later today, too. We're going to the park this afternoon instead of the library -- I can go to the library by myself -- and play in the sand and water at the beach again. It's extremely healthy for them (sand play is excellent for developing the will) and today is a nice warm day.

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Our outdoor play time went really well. We parked closer to the river, now that I know my way around the park, and took a nice stroll through the woods, across a field, and down to the beach. On the way back we discovered a small pond near our parking lot and spent some time there. Four different habitats! Natalie and Leah brought home bouquets of wildflowers that they picked as we were going through the field. I had to show Natalie some things she needed to be careful of today including a jellyfish, a rose bush, and poison ivy. I hope now she doesn't think that everything in the wild will sting or harm her! We scared two little brown bunnies as we were walking along our path; I saw them but the children didn't. Hopefully next time we can walk a little quieter. Natalie brought upstairs Neighborhood Animals for her nap story which was a good choice. It has real photographs and a few facts about a variety of animals, most of which we encountered on our walk. The animals are: dog, cat, bird, rabbit, mouse, ladybug, duck, and frog.

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Guess what fell into my lap today? Just as I am spending some reflecting on how to make our outdoor play space more creative and inviting, here comes Spring: Nature Activities for Children in the mail. The perfect book for the Rhythms unit (I'll have to get the others in the series also), the entirety of the April chapter is on setting up the outdoors. Wonderful ideas! Even directions for building a clay pit, such as is suggested in Educating the Will, another new favorite and fascinating book. Time to write the Rhythms unit! It sucks that I'm so far behind, writing the second Spring unit in May but there's nothing I can do about us having to move, I'll just work on it and get it out as quickly as I can. Then over the summer, I want so spend some time on Texture and Rhythms and my Reggio Experiment; in Autumn we'll just have to see what direction I'm heading in! I'm not writing Kindergarten until next year, when Natalie is five, since I want to do First Grade first in order to make sure I have my thoughts clear on where we're going. That means I can reuse the curriculum from The First Year (since Leah will be old enough to start school in the fall) and the existing newsletter topics. I could take a whole year off from publishing! And just work on custom unit design and other pet projects. That's the nice thing with a donation-run business; I have the luxury of not writing if I don't want to. I always have the luxury of writing new things too! And yes, it is a luxury. Because it is so much fun for me. :-) Who else gets to just sit down each day and do as much curriculum planning as she wants? And I may feel I need to write new things in order to successfully do a mixed-age "class." However, I have to say it will be nice to have that flexibility each week, to use an existing topic OR choose to write something new. Next year should be a lot of fun. Very relaxed.

May 16 - still at crisis point here. none of the children are sleeping in the new house and the discipline problems are mounting. Natalie also is not eating anything except prepared food. I had gone from convenience food back to cooking now that I have a dishwasher but I may have to switch back just to get the child to eat. I'm concerned about her. She started sucking her thumb (which she didn't do as a baby) after the last move, the one before this one, so now we have a whiny disrespectful child who sucks her thumb, can't fall asleep and won't eat. Forgive me, everyone who is waiting for the Texture unit, because Natalie is the primary thing on my mind right now. Steve is also in crisis because he feels like we have lost our way. Without spanking or yelling we appear to have no discipline strategies at all (which makes me wonder if we were ever parenting before, because those aren't really parenting strategies, more management) and he thinks the kids have just been set adrift. For example, this morning I asked Natalie to turn off the light in the bathroom. She didn't. Just didn't. So what do I do with that? Do I decide it's not a big deal? No, I asked her to do it so she should do it. There's not a choice here. But I can't send her to her room -- she will just walk back out. We've always had locks on the childrens' doors and Steve wants to put them back on so that when we tell them to take a break, they have to stay put until we come to get them. Right now, they just open the door and come back out. I think locking the children in their rooms as a parenting strategy is a horrible idea, close to neglect, and will ultimately achieve nothing. Like spanking. We didn't teach them how to not misbehave, we just refused to deal with the problem. So we are rethinking the entire daily schedule with more outside play and movement -- these kids need to get their energy out, instead of always being told to be more quiet (there's a terrible echo in the new big empty house) -- more Art, like art therapy kinds of things about expressing feelings, clay modelling and painting -- more baking and other large motor activities which are rhythmical and soothing, and more emphasis on routines throughout the day to help with transitions. For example, when I tell them, go sit on your stools for breakfast, they have just finished playing in their rooms while I walk the dog so they are racing down the hall and then can't sit still on their stools, still wiggling and talking loudly and that just means that they are more prone to get in trouble for not sitting quietly and waiting for their food. Meals are a big problem here, I have kids yelling at me "I want more" and "I'm done with this" and I can't eat at all. So I am thinking a cabinet in the kitchen with cloth napkins and their dishes, they can set the table nice and neatly while I get the food ready, that way they are helping to make the space beautiful and will respect it more, it will promote good manners, gives them something to do other than just sit and wait and be bored, and makes our meal together a more community experience. We can even set out a vase of flowers -- we always do at tea party each week and they love it. Just something in the way of a transition. When I realized from my documentation that I was losing my temper every 2 hours, the first thing I thought was transitions. I'm handling transitions badly. So Steve and I had a long talk last night and rewrote the schedule and I got up this morning and just felt so tired. It's all on my shoulders. I have to redo our day, set up all these new systems and routines, be one step ahead constantly in the game of preventing discipline problems AND when something does go wrong, I have to figure out how to handle the infraction in an appropriate manner. That's parenting, huh. Didn't know that when I first got pregnant. I was just thinking about having a baby. They don't stay babies!!!! I have a feeling that when I look at the expectations I have for my children, I am sending them the message that the way to be "good" is to be silent and obediant. I don't want that! I don't want them in abusive relationships when they grow up because they believe that they have no voice. I want them to grow up balanced and healthy and loving. Yet I'm the parent. How do I be in charge and make it clear that they have to do as they're told... while simultaneously not squashing them as people... yet not awakening them too soon with too many choices and too little structure?


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okay, researching outdoor play equipment. I really want real rubber playground balls; did you know they sell them at Amazon? Made by Mikasa, you can order them in 5 inch, 6 inch, 8.5 inch, and 10 inch sizes. Rubber balls are available from Magic Cabin as well, but I don't like the black and white designs. The red rubber ones are much cuter and I think I'll order all four sizes, a good range for kicking and throwing. We were going to try to go to a store today to buy some balls but spending all of our outdoor play time in a car driving to get outdoor play time toys is just silly. They can enjoy running around in the yard for a while and in a few days when that pales the balls will have arrived to add a new element. Going to order them quickly and then out we go to get some fresh air!

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Texture unit is done. I'm going to get the kids up for snack. This morning went really well; I'll come back and fill you guys in later. I also forgot so say how great Mount Vernon was.

May 12 - no school today. want to know why? Natalie wouldn't eat. it took her from 7:30 am to 9:30 am to eat a bowl of cereal, by which point we had to go to the bank and then nap before lunch. at lunch it took her from 1 pm to 2 pm to eat her plate of pasta. we played a little in the playroom before going to tea party at 3 pm then we came home and rested before dinner (mostly because the kids were so cranky and awful at tea party; probably from being bored out of their minds all day long. we all just sat and waited for Natalie to eat. we couldn't go downstairs to play and leave her alone so we just did nothing). that was it! that was our day. so I called my husband and asked him, what should I be doing when she won't eat? he said, let her not eat. I'm like, she hasn't eaten more than a few mouthfuls of food each day for weeks. we talked for a long time about what battles are the important ones and what is no big deal. when I'm on the phone with him, I'm saying "Leah don't play with the lock on the door" so I asked him: what do you think about Leah playing with the lock? he says, why shouldn't she? I said, Natalie locked me out of our old house on a few occasions when she was that age. and he said, that's your responsibility. to have an extra key hidden someplace. then I said, "Leah, don't play with the dog's food" and I asked him, what's our position on this? he said, that's a choking hazard if she leaves it open and Becca gets into it. so put it someplace where she can't get to it. that's the first time we've ever done that, just gone through a bunch of scenarios. usually I'm parenting on my own during the day and I don't know what is important to him and what is not. I know we only want to have a few rules, I know I want the house to be set up so it helps the kids be successful, but making a house kid-friendly is more than just child-proofing it. it's making the entire house revolve around your kids, not just having everything be adult-sized and at an adult-height. there's a lot about this in the Reggio books. anyway, I told him that someone had posted to the group that their family had just a sort list of rules which they reviewed at every family meeting. we talked about what was important -- and what wasn't (most of it) -- and came up with our list. here it is:

  • Take good care of your body.
  • No one in this house gets hurt.
  • Always act with love.

Always act with love is something we're still working on the wording of (not that it isn't a perfectly good rule). We want something about respect but Steve thinks it is too abstract of a concept. Anyway, the idea is that I simply say them to each child when I tuck them in at night (for N, before her bedtime verse) and then each time there's an infraction, I repeat it. like, Natalie, the stove is hot. don't touch it. take good care of your body. That's it, done. If the behavior doesn't break one of the "rules" (more like expectations) then I don't worry about it. Kids running up and down the hall and yelling? No problem. It's not hurting anyone. I've always wanted to be a very laid-back mom but it's easy to spend your day nagging and repeating tons of little reminders. What is harder is to keep it simple. Also, I didn't really know how to work more in conjunction with Steve. today's phone call helped. just get on the phone and narrate to him every thing that is going on and every parent decision I am making and hear his perspective. it was very interesting. anyway, the rules are for grown-ups too, so I'm going to make them a little mantra that I recite at bedtime and first thing in the morning. I put them on an index card for the table by my bed. I want the rules to be something I want my children to internalize and which will help them throughout their childhood, teenage years, and later in life. Hope this is it!

May 11 - another laid back day. it's raining. everyone is tired -- Steve has been doing some work on the laundry room when he gets home in the evenings and we just discovered that Natalie is staying up and watching him through the grate in her bedroom floor. so she's not sleeping. I guess we'll be putting her down in our bed to fall asleep and moving her when we go to bed later. Natalie helped me glue together the lid for our bird feeder yesterday so when it stops raining we can hang it. I'm not sure if I still have some millet; I may have to buy some. today when I put her down for a nap, I was looking for a book to start talking about sheep shearing. She's already heard Pelle's New Suit a million times; I thought we'd take a break from that (we read it a lot last year, it's part of the Color unit) so I read her a new book called Pete the Sheep-Sheep. it's kind of a different twist on the whole sheep shearing thing. much more light-hearted. I invited my MIL to come to Mt. Vernon with us on Sunday and she really got excited; she's going to a wedding so she couldn't make it but I promised to find another sheep shearing event that she could come with us to. She says, hang out with Rhoda and you learn new things! she really loves how enthusiastic I am about homeschooling and how I am always looking for new things to do with the kids -- it makes me feel good to have that positive support. She's excited that I taught myself to knit, too, and I've promised to teach her. so, anyway, today for school we are making Coffee-Cake Muffins for snack, repotting the tomato plant we got from the co-op, and I'm finishing up the baby bird finger puppets so I can do some of those verses with her. even if we never get to many of the Baby Birds activities, it'll be good to have the finger puppets on hand for next year, or I can give them to the children for creative play. Making more teaching materials is never a waste. They'll always turn out to be useful somehow! My husband got a stain on one of his shirts and brought it to me, he's like this is really nice fabric, can you use it somehow in a project? So I was happy that he's starting to get that mentality too. When you make a lot of your own toys, bits of fabric always come in handy. Or I can use it in our quilt which I am eager to start. Just have to finish up the assembly of the zoo toy bag... and I'm ready to put my knitting needles down for a while! Put that on the list for today, too, when the kids are napping.

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finally, a TV dinner and a chance to sit down! I'm sitting here with my Amy's Santa Fe Enchilada Bowl and a bottle of water. the kids are all down for naps. we just came back from an emergency trip to the grocery store. next I'm making them Coffee Cake Muffins for snack as a special surprise -- today for school we ended up doing a bunch of stuff, mostly not what I had thought. but that's fine. I got Natalie up from her morning nap (another night w/o sleep meant another extra early nap) and we potted up the tomato plant in a large container the previous folks had left behind. I even had a tomato spiral from a mistaken attempt at vegetable gardening a few years ago. I don't mind having just one plant, though; it'll be an adventure. Then she still seemed to be doing well so I introduced Baby Birds by looking at Bird Egg Feather Nest with her. I did it like this: first I just silently set the book down next to us and took it on my lap, keeping it closed. I said, now it is Spring and the birds are all building... and turned to the first page and she said "nests with eggs in them". And I said, inside the eggs are... and she said baby plants. so I told her close, inside the eggs are baby birds. All kinds of birds lay eggs and we turned through some of the pages and I just simply named what was shown "blue birds, the blue-footed booby" etc. (I tried to keep my talking to a minimum and really let the book do the speaking). Birds lay eggs of all different sizes (there's a page for this), colors (black, blue, green, speckled, going through the pages), and shapes. etc. The book proceeds in a pretty logical progression. Then I went to the back and said Mama birds build their nests out of all different things to keep their eggs safe, soft and warm. And we looked through some of the pages and I pointed out moss, bark, twigs, then there's one page of the book which is a double-spread specifically about the wide range of materials and there is a magnifying glass showing a closeup of a butterfly wing woven into a nest then you read all around the border and it lists and illustrates, string, twigs, paper, aluminum foil, dragonfly wings, and so on. We read through the list and I pointed to each thing. Then I closed the book. And I opened up my arms to encompass the outside which you can see from where we are sitting and I said, every different kind of bird in our backyard builds a nest to lay eggs in. And we are going to help them by putting baskets of soft materials outside for them to use. Here are three baskets (I had some nesting baskets from Gardeners Supply Company -- they don't sell them anymore but there are directions for how to weave some of your own in the Families unit) we are going to fill with soft wool and bits of yarn. So first she took large pieces of unspun wool and put them in the bottom of the baskets. Then I gave her three skeins of wool yarn and a pair of scissors (her first time using scissors!) and let her cut off pieces all different lengths and fill the baskets. She was very careful but if I had seen her concentration slip and she began to look like she was going to carelessly cut herself, I would have immediately ended the project. As it was, it held her attention for quite a long time. And she was talking later about how careful she was and what a big girl she was, she was so proud of herself. Of course, I told her when I gave them to her that she could only use them when a grown-up was around and I repeated it again when I went to put them away (I'm putting these away now because you can only use them with a grown-up. Scissors are not a toy. very simple, not a lecture.) When the baskets were full we set them aside to hang when its not raining. She's very proud of herself -- and I thought it went well -- I kept the Sing Through the Seasons book in reserve but we didn't seem to need it. The lesson progressed well enough on its own. You never know when a topic is full enough to move along under its own steam, or when you'll have to bolster it with another element. we can sing our song after we hang the baskets. I have been torn between using Bird Egg Feather Nest to introduce and Sing Through the Seasons to wrap up or Sing Through the Seasons to introduce and Bird Egg Feather Nest to wrap up. So I kept them both out on my teaching desk and just went down there today and picked up what felt natural. Natalie has Bird Egg Feather Nest now for her afternoon nap and she's really enjoying looking at it. It is a big book but she is carefully going through it page by page. Because of our grocery store trip, everyone is ready for some quiet time; otherwise, I'd have her help me with the muffins (my original plan). But I think I will go make them myself as a special treat and then she can help me make something tonight after dinner. I think we'll have a special breakfast tomorrow morning, so she can help me make the Canadian-Bacon Strata. It's easy enough, layering ingredients and then whisking together a sauce. Then we start tomorrow morning off right with a hearty homecooked breakfast. I'd like to get to where I'm ahead of the game instead of constantly adjusting for peoples' tiredness levels. Although a certain degree of that is natural when you're homeschooling (or any time you're working with kids).

May 10 - taking a break from school for today -- I'm doing some internal work and reflection. One thing I love about Waldorf is that it puts so much emphasis on parent inner work. As opposed to a lot of methods which let you say, oh it's just a phase, when your kids misbehave. Waldorf puts it on your shoulders, what am I doing to cause this? So I'll do some handwork (making the little felt birds for our rhymes -- from Around the World with Finger Puppet Animals by Suzanne Down, mending the bird feeder which got smashed in shipping, and a lot of cooking -- we got carrots, kale, garlic scallions, popcorn from Clagett Farm yesterday, also some basil and tomato plants so I can pot those up). That keeps my hands busy and lets me think. I have a notebook out on the kitchen counter and I'm writing down every time I lose my temper (what child, what happened, time of day). That helps me feel like I'm getting a handle on things. I've gotten lots of suggestions from my Group members about my discipline question so I have more reading and website links to check out in the evening. In the next few days I hope to make a page for the website under The Waldorf Family about discipline strategies, books and websites, Yahoo groups, and other support resources; also how to prevent problems before they begin, etc. Hopefully it will be a good resource for everyone and I can have all the information in one place to turn to when I'm at my wit's end. One thing about being a homeschooling parent, you can't send them to the principal or the guidance counselor... or even home to their parents... when they misbehave! It's all you.

May 9 - today is our first pick-up date for the CSA at Clagett Farm! we were waitlisted for a while but there was a cancellation so we squeaked through. so excited! that's for our PM school time -- 3 to 4:30 pm. morning is the beginning of Baby Birds. we'll be looking at Bird Egg Feather Nest, doing a Nature walk to look for bird nests, and hanging baskets of wool and bits of yarn. if we find any feathers on the ground we will put them on our Nature table. I found a lot of songs about birds and Spring and so on in Sing Through the Seasons but I can't read music so I haven't decided if I'll make up my own tune and we can sing on as we hang the baskets (we'll need to walk quietly for the part where we are searching for nests) or if I'll just chicken out and skip it. I really need to learn to read music! I wish there was some kind of parent class for homeschoolers who need to teach music theory. I'll have to ask around. It really is hampering us, the fact that I'm afraid to really sing or do any kind of music with them. I got a pentatonic xylophone but I don't know which key is which so I can't play any of the songs (I can read the letters on a simple piece of written music -- I remember that from grade school -- but I have no idea what each note sounds like). Not to mention that I am, I have been told, completely tone deaf. So if I can tap it out on an instrument I have a ghost of a chance of being able to sing it. But I need the instrument as a bridge between the written page and the ear. Perhaps my goal, then, should be to find another musical instrument which is easy to play and make sure I get one where the notes are labelled this time!!!!

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well, I just went to check on Natalie and she's sound asleep. this morning she was very cranky and whiny -- you know how it is, you can tell from the minute they wake up -- and I decided to put her down for a nap right after breakfast and skip her morning playtime. I told her that she needed some more rest and I would get her when I put her sisters down for their naps and then we could do school. but she is fast asleep and I'm certainly not going to wake her! she obviously needs it and we can start on our baby bird stuff tomorrow. don't forget in doing all this planning that it's just a plan. and plans change. sometimes I get stressed out because my little pile of index cards is piling up with things we didn't do still marked on them from the day before. and some activities get worked back in naturally and some get dropped. We have this whole week to do birds and then Sunday we start the transition into Texture. there will be baby birds next year :-) so if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. The nice thing about writing the newsletters is that if I go to do this topic again, I don't have to feel stressed out that I lost my ideas. They are all still there, waiting for me. I checked through Sing Through the Seasons and I had originally picked "All the Birds Sing" to do on Sunday after the mummers play, as part of welcoming in Spring. But there is also a nice song, which might suit better later in the week, about a mother bird sitting on her nest; it is called "Spring Secret." We can either sing it after we find one or look at the illustration and sing the song at circle time before we go out looking. I'm not sure how many of these songs are in the new edition, though. It's gone in and out of print and been revised several times. The one I have is very old and it is 99 songs. the 1972 version. the one Bob & Nancy's has is 73 songs. same with my copy of Sing Through the Day which I also bought used and is from the same vintage (1968). it has 90 songs whereas the new version has 80. I don't know what was cut out but I'm sad. These books are simply gorgeous. illustrations abound on every page, the music and words are hand-lettered. they are compiiled and edited by the Society of Brothers whereas the new ones are compiled and edited by Marlys Swinger (she arranged the music in my books). They are published by the Plough Publishing House. the illustrators have changed in the new versions too; they are much less attractive. anyway, I would say if you want a CD to go along with, the new ones would be a better choice (mine are from before the days of CDs!) but if you want the older books the ISBN info is here:
    Sing Through the Seasons 0-87486-006-7
    Sing Through the Day 0-87486-107-1

When Natalie wakes up, we will simply make our lunch recipe -- Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna -- from Everyday Food (here's the complete list of recipes) and then she won't feel like she missed out on school. We can make the salad, wake her sisters for lunch, play on the deck and then have our smoothies for snack and hop in the car to head up to the farm. I have to remember to pack grocery bags for carrying our produce in. Maybe this is the occasion for a new tote bag :-)

May 8 - Well, I get up today and it's raining. Seems to have settled in for the long haul, a slow but determined steady pitter-patter. That's great, actually, because of our housewarming party on Saturday where we planted lots of new flowers and shrubs. Even a tree (still waiting to go in the ground) which my grandmother grew from seed from one of the trees at our wedding (Osage Orange -- really huge amazingly old ones that were at the place where we got married). She gathered a few fruit to use as decorations for our wedding day and then successfully raised one into a little tree child. Isn't that a wonderful thought! I'm petrified that it will die, I don't have much of a track record with plants, but it was so nice of her that I'm hoping it thrives. We'll need to call her to get advice on the best location for it. So, Saturday was the party and Natalie and Leah and their cousins had a grand time digging in the dirt and watering the new plants. Yesterday she put together and hung the Squirrel-Go-Round with her papa and they read their squirrel book (Miss Suzy) together; also, we went to see The Spring Mummers which was fantastic! I didn't know what to expect from a youth theater company but they really did a good job. We saw White Summer and Black Winter in a duel (the Green Man came in with his herbal medicines to help each time she was struck down), a reenactment of the legend of Robin Hood, and there was lots of song and merriment. Also there were vendors selling nice heart shaped woven baskets with live plants growing in them (Leah got one of those and we hung it on our front door as a May basket and to bless our new home), fresh eggs (Natalie picked out 8 and we used them in the Cream Cheese Frittata she helped me make for dinner that night), also there were live baby chicks and baby goats to see and touch and lots of dried herbs for sale and little muslin bags so you could make your own sachets, but I didn't do that. It was a really nice afternoon. Started to rain last night and here we are! So today we'll do some catch-up things, like scrubbing the kitchen floor and reading Pippi Longstocking (I read the first chapter to her yesterday at nap, but the scrubbing the floor chapter is chapter 6 so we haven't gotten there yet) and then tomorrow if it's nice we can begin with our Baby Birds newsletter activities. I don't mind the rain, it makes things nice, and maybe if N is up to it (and she loves wearing her rainboots and raincoat) we can do a special rainy day Nature walk and look at all the puddles and things. It's a nice way to explore our new yard. I see a bird here looking for worms on the ground so there's plenty to see and do even when it's wet. I should write a newsletter topic called Rainy Day with some good fill-in activities when it's blah out. Not that there aren't plenty of existing family traditions: play board games and drink hot cocoa, go splash in the puddles, etc. It makes for a nice painting day so we'll still do our watercolor work today. I had planned the poem "Lady Spring" from Painting with Children but I'll probably take a few minutes here to choose a rain poem instead. Not that raining isn't Spring-like... but it would be fun to do a special rain one. We can also sprinkle some powdered tempera paint on paper and set it outside for the rain to paint a picture (an activity from the Weather unit, or draw a picture with watercolor pencils and set it in the rain to see what happens. Let's see here, rain poems... isn't there something about rain making a rainy sound? no, here it is: "The wind has such a rainy sound" is a poem by Christina Rosetti from Sing-Song (see it online here but that's a little depressing and not really what I'm looking for. what else? Oh, here's our absolute FAVORITE from Talking Like the Rain, a wonderful collection of poems... it's called "Weather" by Eve Merriam. This would be really good for painting, I think we'll use it. (if you don't have the book, number 1 -- you should and number 2 -- here is the poem online... but you really should buy the book as well). Sounds like a fun day!

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some notes about this morning. the extra prep time to choose the Weather poem paid off, we had a great art session. it was very interesting. I can't find our tube watercolor paints so we used the homemade ones Natalie and I made in the first few weeks of homeschooling waaaay back when and then never tried. the recipe works great! found it in a Family Fun magazine. I read her the poem (had her close her eyes all the way through) and asked her to paint me a picture of the rain. first color she chose was green. she started and said "is this rain?" interesting that she chose green, of course, that's the predominant color of a rainy Spring day. then she added purple so she got a nice greeny grey. It did look a lot like outside! covered the whole page, she did a nice job. Then I told her we were going to draw a picture with our special pencils (that's our watercolor pencils) and the rain will paint a picture for us. she again started with green and drew one line straight down from the top of the page to the bottom and said, look, it's a piece of rain. which it was, no kidding. then she carefully drew lines of each color -- she went from the middle to the left hand side then said, it's full, there's no more room. I'll have to do that side now. and then went from the middle out to the right hand edge. When she was done she took each pencil and held it by the color stripes to see if she had done that color. She was very intent on using them all and checked her work very carefully. It was interesting, she had a little trouble telling orange from red but eventually concluded she had done both. I stayed out of it, just quietly watched. She was very much in her own world. I did pull out the white and black though and hid them back in the box. Then we took her drawing and set it on the deck for the rain to do its part and I tucked her in for nap. It was fun but she was really exhausted. I don't know if it's because they went to bed late last night, too tired from the play in the park, or if she was too much in her head today and it just wore her out. I don't think it was too intellectual, she was just exploring the material. Anyway, we'll check our pencil painting after lunch and then scrub the kitchen floor. by the way, I put the recipe for the Homemade Watercolor Paints in the Color unit so you can find it there. I can testify, they last for years! Just let them dry completely before storing in a closed container. We used a set of dye reinkers from Posh Impressions and made six (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple -- we got the EarthTones set though, not the Floral Brights, so they're not too harsh) and mixed them in the lids of those little Yankee Candle jars -- 3.7 oz size -- and store them in a clear plastic box which closes tightly -- an old Stampin' Up stamp set box. We used a set of 12 watercolor pencils by Kimberly (I think you can find these at WalMart) and the watercolor paper I like is Montval Aquarelle (by Canson, I think I got it at A.C. Moore, again not too hard to find) in a 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch pad. It's a nice size, not too overwhelming for kids to try to cover the whole page with color -- a goal in a Waldorf painting -- and they are microperforated so you can tear one page off at a time to give to the child. When we started with Waldorf, I used the Strathmore pad that came with our Oak Meadow painting kit and the pages weren't perforated, so the entire pad soon got messy and wet. I like this better and I can make notes on the back as to the subject and date and any special observations and store them in her portfolio after they dry. I realized when I got everything out that I didn't have a painting board (still getting organized after the move) so we used a blank canvas that had gotten smudged up and wasn't suitable for painting on. it made a great lightweight painting table and absorbed the one little drip we did have instead of having paint on the carpet. I liked it a lot better than just chucking down some newspaper, it was obviously a special painting space. it was part of a 2 pack of 16 inch x 20 inch stretched canvas I got from Michaels (seriously, you don't have to spend a fortune here) and worked like a charm. I think we'll keep using it. It'll slowly accumulate all kinds of little markings and drips. Then one day I can hang it on the wall as a testament to all those special paintings, once she's all grown up and gone away. We can call it "Backdrop."

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A note to myself. Apparently we just missed (as in, by one day) the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It was held the first weekend in May. Here's the website; hopefully we won't miss it next year. It's always the first weekend in May -- I have to remember that! I'll have Steve put it in his Palm Pilot. :-) What a bummer, though. I'm looking around for a sheep shearing to take Natalie to to introduce the Texture unit. I have a WC member donating some raw wool (thank you!) for us to wash and card and spin. But it would be great if she could see it come off a sheep too. I'll keep looking, I know I haven't missed the time of year entirely. Steve says they shear a sheep at the park here for part of Children's Day on the Farm but that's not until June. We can use it in a pinch (or to see a sheep being sheared a 2nd time) but I'd like to find one which corresponds better to my timeframe. The kids are all down napping; scrubbing the kitchen floor really wore us all out! Fun, though. I'm trying to finish my zoo toy bag which I knitted for my MIL to give her on Mother's Day (since I missed her birthday by a long shot); then I'll start making my quilt for this year. See, not everyone forgets what their New Year's resolutions are. I might not make it by the end of December, though. Too many things between then and now, who can tell what may unfold? Back on track... let's see... "sheep shearing demonstrations MD." Aha! Here's one. "Mount Vernon's Sheep Get a 'Haircut'! During the month of May at Mount Vernon watch sheep-shearing demonstrations at the Pioneer Farmer site, Fridays through Sundays at 9-11:00 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Learn about the role sheep played on George Washington's farm." That's perfect, we can easily go to Mount Vernon. Mark it on the calendar! we'll do it this Sunday and Monday we can start the Texture unit. which is perfect since I had already planned to begin it the 15th.

(And I already had Steve put a reminder in his palm pilot for the middle of April next year, so I won't miss the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for 2007. so there)

May 5 - This morning my mom did school with the children, making the Radish Tea Sandwiches with them while I took the dog to the vet. This afternoon our 3 - 4:30 pm block will be tea party with my grandmother, which the children always enjoy. Afterwards I'd like to set up the squirrel feeder and read Miss Suzy with Natalie. Today I've been trying to put together some thoughts about Reggio and Montessori and how they differ from Waldorf, as well as how elements of each approach can be successfully woven into Waldorf homeschooling. I think that there can be a lot one can take from each approach as long as it is integrated into a way which is compatible with the beliefs about child development which we are all working with. For example, a lot of what the teacher does in Reggio and Montessori can be assigned to a student -- although perhaps not until much later on, like in high school. But I think that children can benefit from being in charge of their learning. I'm looking at a Montessori activity where the teacher spends hours setting up the materials and making control cards and thinking, a student would get a lot out of doing that. Not completing the activity, making the activity. Anyway, I have to give it some more thought. I was going to put some Montessori things into later curriculum -- making a pink tower, for example, which I think is an excellent activity for third grade -- again, not just being handed one but making it yourself -- making the sandpaper letter cards in first grade, building dressing frames (which I'm considering for the Rhythms unit) and so on. I love looking through the Nienhuis catalogue because, no matter what you believe, you can't deny that they are great learning materials. The question is strictly what you think is appropriate when. I think that both Reggio and Montessori take the early years of a child's life as being a prime time to boost them with early learning materials and skill building, whereas Waldorf doesn't think that way BUT if you take what they do in the early years, in trying to form a rich stimulating learning environment, and move it up a few years you've got some great stuff. Just because it's a "preschool" exercise doesn't make it ineffective or babyish at a higher level; in fact, I don't think children would see the activities as babyish at all. Anyway, I plan to write a few articles on this when I get it all sorted out in my mind so look for that in the future. And feel free to write to me to say you disagree, if you do! Dialogue makes all of us better teachers. Reggio places a lot of emphasis on professional development and inter-teacher dialogue... just because we are homeschooling doesn't mean we have to feel isolated and doing all this on our own. It's a community where we push each other, also encourage each other... I hope!

May 4 - Today is breadbaking day. I only just unpacked my copy of The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book so I'm not sure if we have the ingredients on hand to make any of the recipes; I'm a little unprepared. Although many of them are extremely simple. I'm going upstairs now to check and see if there's something we can bake; otherwise, we will just make butter since I was prepared for that one and got heavy whipping cream last night at the store. Also, we are doing spiders today -- which there are plenty of in this house, so that won't be hard to find -- and making a pasta salad for dinner.

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Be Nice to Spiders was a big hit. It's a cute book, with a great message, and someday I'll have to make an Amazon list of favorite books about the zoo, since there seem to be so many good ones. Anyway, I pretty much went with the flow of Natalie's interest this morning; she was out on the deck while I was eating breakfast and commented on a spider web, was pointing out birds and squirrels, and asking me questions about the bumblebees. So after that, it would have been a little artificial to go around inside the house looking for signs of animals, since we had already begun to focus on the animal life outside in the yard. So we took a nice long Nature walk and found lots of different animals -- then came back inside and read our spider story. After lunch we'll do the breadbaking. Tomorrow and the next day are also about animals which live outside so we'll just repeat the Nature walk and focus on squirrels tomorrow (and set out our new squirrel feeder) and birds Saturday (and set out our baskets of wool for nestmaking). I was thinking of making next week's newsletter topic "Baby Birds" since I have so many cute materials for that topic. Suzanne Down especially has some cute verses and puppetry ideas; she even sells a Mama Bird and Babies in a Nest Finger Puppet Kit which looks adorable and we'll probably buy it. The nest is soft wool roving, the birds are pure wool felt and she always sells such high quality materials... the whole thing is just $14.95 and comes with a story poem to act out. I don't know if we missed our window of opportunity for actually seeing any birds hatch -- and we certainly haven't seen anyone building a nest yet -- but I think it's still good to study that sort of thing at this time of year as a metaphor for Spring and renewal.

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Well, I have to say today ended up being a bit of a dud. After lunch I was confident that we'd do naps and then bake bread. In fact, Natalie crashed and burned and was a total pill. So we never were able to reestablish our day and get back to school. I know that breadbaking is supposed to be very therapeutic and can be used to calm down an unruly child as they take their aggressions out on the dough, kneading and punching it. But I have to say I just wasn't up to covering our kitchen in dirty dishes on the off chance that it might make Natalie less cranky. Tomorrow we already have a lot on our plate so I guess breadbaking will wait until next Thursday. It's too bad, actually, because just when I was looking around for a recipe I got a big box from Amazon which included Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven which has a simple bread recipe on the back. I was going to bring the book out for Natalie as a surprise after nap and then we could make the bread. But that never happened... oh well. You can't predict everything! I thought maybe we could at least do butter and have fresh butter on our English muffins tomorrow morning but that didn't happen either. Maybe we can do it first thing tomorrow, so we can have it on our muffins, and to reassure her that tomorrow is a new day, blank slate. Not that her behavior of today was going to be held against her. I have to take the dog to the vet tomorrow so my mom is coming to babysit and we won't get our usual morning block of school time. So if we do the butter in the early AM and then make our Radish Tea Sandwiches for lunch and then in the afternoon school time do the squirrel thing, that should be okay. As Scarlett O'Hara says, after all... tomorrow is another day. Did you know that Clark Gable was told early on he'd never be a movie star because his ears were too big? They stick out, too, in case you hadn't noticed... Just goes to show what some people know (not much).

May 3 - Today was library day. Here is what we got:

River Story is the first one we picked to do; we'll be going down to the river this afternoon for our Nature walk. This book is excellent -- it's worth finding a used copy. Nice text and a glossary in the back, a good blend of picture book and nonfiction reference later (for elementary grades studying landforms). A definite must-have for homeschoolers.

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We had a marvelous time at the river. I didn't know this, I thought the park just had a view of the river, but you can actually walk down a path to a small secluded beach. So we played in the sand and enjoyed the weather. It was 78 degrees, so not too hot, and no mosquitos or jellyfish yet. Absolutely perfect. The park has archaelogical sites too, for Maryland history including Native American artifacts, and Natalie actually stopped along the way at some of the signage and asked me about it. So that was neat, that she took an interest in it, and can participate in archaeology programs there when she's older. I absolutely love this location! We're pretty far from DC and I was feeling like we'd be missing a lot of cultural stimulation but I think there are interesting things around no matter where you live, it's just a matter of finding them. Sometimes you live in an area for years before you discover its hidden treasures. In this case I'm lucky, because I grew up here, so I know the area pretty well. But until I had kids I never really paid attention to a lot of the stuff that goes on here. Now I'm aware of all the farms which have agri-tourism programs (of course, when I was growing up that was an industry that didn't exist, it's only come into being with the death of the tobacco farming business) and there are a few nature centers and museums. But mostly I didn't realize how much history was in the area so in 4th grade when we study local geography & history, I'll be prepared!

May 2 - Our morning block of school was the program at Kings Landing Park, which lasted from exactly 10 - 11:30 am so that worked out perfectly. it's amazing how many things start at 10 am & 3 pm. I had forgotten about today's program until after I had written the newsletter topic for this week; then I went upstairs to change the calendars to May and there it was, already penciled in. so we ditched the farmer's market and vegetable soup making and did this instead. I think you should be pretty flexible about adding things at the last minute (after all, flexibility is one of the big advantages of homeschooling) as long as it goes along with your general course of study. In this case, we were celebrating May Day this week and taking walks in the woods to observe animals. so that tied in well with today's "Ribbons for the Trees". they are also having a Spring Mummers Play at the park on Sunday at 3 pm which we will go to. Natalie really loved the bells she got to carry into the woods today when we went to hang ribbons on all the trees around the ampitheater, and so I think I'll make her and Leah some to wear around their ankles for the play on Sunday. there are instructions on how to do that in All Year Round. this afternoon's block of time will be the Strawberry Gelatins and the corresponding story, a real favorite in our house! The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. It's nice that there are so many parks and programs around here, the only problem is (I hate that I always complain about this but it's true!) the quality is sometimes lacking. Make that more than sometimes. Often lacking. Today we had Ranger Jackie who has been working with children for 30 years. But I thought her performance raised some eyebrows. For example, she told the children that we were going to celebrate Spring the way they do in the Old Country, where we all come from (lucky that the entire audience was white). Then she explained that before we lived here there was nothing but animals (um, the Native Americans????) and then we came over on boats and began to live here and build houses and have farms. I was pretty offended at her entire attitude. She kept saying this is how people used to celebrate (not that I was expecting it to be an introduction to the Pagan religion) but it was confusing because weren't we there celebrating it that way today? So if I was confused, I can imagine that the children were. We had a nice time walking through the woods and tying ribbons on trees, though, and she gave us bubbles to blow and we had snack. It was very pretty. The children will be so excited to show their dad the ribbons they hung (you know how kids are always, see that one. that one is mine. that's the one I did. see, I did that one.) and the play should be neat. there will be "Old World" hot cross buns and Welsh tea cakes and apple cider and other refreshments and I guess general music and merrymaking.

May 1 - I'm so happy to be back to work! And homeschooling again (at last). We didn't do our watercolor painting this morning because I can't find our supplies so instead we spent the morning quietly with Natalie helping me unpack boxes of school and teaching stuff. After her nap we'll make the Banana Bread and read Flip and the Morning. Hopefully next year when the children are all older we can do May Day baskets for family members. tomorrow is a May celebration at a local park: "Children of ages 3 to 5 can join a ranger at Kings Landing Park to celebrate trees on May 2 at 10 a.m. Long ago, people would tie ribbons on trees to welcome in the month of May. Participants will find and decorate some special trees in the park." So we will go and do that. I think this week will be fun; we are doing a topic called Early in the Morning which includes some nature walks and just sitting and listening to the animals we observe around us. Saturday I discovered a red-tailed hawk which lives in the woods right next to our house and this morning I saw some deer running down to the ravine. So we definitely will have wildlife to learn about. Haven't seen any rabbits, though. Maybe that's the hawk's fault. We moved on Thursday and I found a great poem to read to Natalie when I put her down for her first nap in the new house; it's called "Song for a Little House" by Christopher Morley. I thought it was just wonderful! I found it in Favorite Poems Old and New but you can find it online, of course. Then, the next day, we picked out our recipes to make for school this week (from Everyday Food magazine) and made up the grocery list. Then Saturday and Sunday we unpacked the moving truck and got settled. And now today is Monday, May 1st! Steve gave me a squirrel feeder and some corn so we will do that Friday instead of our flower fairies because I can't find my wool felt and other flower fairy supplies. That's fine, actually, because we are going to the Maryland Faerie Festival later this month (May 20th) so we can do our fairy stuff then. I got Natalie the book Good Night, Fairies (a real favorite when we got it out from the library) and a friend made her a fairy house for her little wee folk, so maybe we can do a huge fairy bash that week.

May is the month of fairies, after all!