Children's Poetry Feed

Books in our Homeschool: September ❀

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Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday!

I've had a couple of requests for a list of the books we're currently using in our homeschool, so I'm here to share just that! Since it's a rather long list, today I'll just focus on the books we're using along with September's plans and seasonal themes. In future posts I'll share more of our general resources and curriculum. (Also, I want to note that all of the links below have an affiliate tag - and what that means is, if you end up buying something from Amazon after following my link, I get a small commission as part of an affiliates program. So thanks in advance if you do happen to make a purchase!)

I'll begin with the books we are using in coordination with activities for our seasonal homeschooling.* (These are usually my favorites!) Typically I display these books on a windowsill in the learning room, but some are also found in the seasonal book basket. Most of these books we own, but we do borrow a few from the library each week ...

 

✨🍎✨SEASONAL THEMES✨🍎✨

CROWS and CORN ...

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Crow CallThe Company of Crows: A Book of Poems, Corn, Raccoons and Ripe Corn

*Note: We didn't end up reading Crow Call, as its story was a little too melancholy for my fellas. The illustrations were beautiful, though. And since most of those books have gone back to the library and/or seasonal bin, I didn't have a "Crows and Corn" shelf to show you. I did however use that crow finger puppet for a little nature storytelling that week! :)

APPLES/AT THE ORCHARD ...

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Our Apple Tree, The Life and Times of the Apple, Apples for Everyone, The Apple CakeThe Story of Johnny Appleseed, My Little Golden Book about Johnny Appleseed, Cider Apples, How Do Apples Grow?

WELCOME AUTUMN!

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, Hocus Pocus - It's Fall!, The Four Seasons: Fall, Fall (The Seasons), Autumn Days, When Autumn Comes, Fall (Bright Baby Touch and Feel), Wild Child, Autumn, Herbst, The Story of the Root Children, Autumn: A Pop-Up Book, We Gather Together

AUTUMN SEEDS & WIND ...

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Woody, Hazel and Little Pip, Miss Maple's Seeds, The Story of the Wind Children, Squirrels, When the Wind Stops ... and (not shown), A Seed is Sleepy, Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move and Pippa and Pelle in the Autumn Wind

* Originally I was going to share the activities we did/will do with each seasonal theme, but then this post became a little bit of a beast (as my posts tend to do) so I decided to stick to books only. That said, I will try to take pictures as we go through this week (Autumn Seeds and Wind) to share in a post by week's end. Or over the weekend, more likely! I'm very excited for this seasonal theme, it's one of my favorites!

 

✨🍎✨SOCIAL STUDIES✨🍎✨

For social studies this year, I've set up a "global awareness" corner (see learning room post for more details) and outlined a plan for studying one country per month. This month we are learning about England so those are the books I've linked below - plus, I also found a couple of "apple" themed books that were perfect for global awareness. :)

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One Green Apple, Till Year's Good End: A Calendar of Medieval Labors, Enchantment of the World series: England, City Trails: London, St. George and the Dragon, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

 

✨🍎✨ SCIENCE✨🍎✨

For the subject of science this year, we'll be focusing on the following topics: the importance of science, famous scientists through the ages, zoology (animal life and classification) and backyard science (aka nature study). In addition, sometimes (oftentimes), a scientific topic pops up that is of particular interest - such as this month's hurricanes - and then we follow that "rabbit trail" as far as it takes us! The windowsill below reflects an introduction to what it means to be a scientist, hurricanes, a forest habitat and chipmunks.

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National Geographic Kids: In My Backyard Sticker Activity BookS is for ScientistsWhat is a Scientist?Scientists Ask QuestionsNewton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist (not shown - it's on its way from the library! Newton is our English scientist for September), Hurricane!, Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane

Here's a look at a little backyard science for this week - we'll be looking closely at the Eastern Chipmunk so very prevalent around here. I found an interesting fact page in a great book we've had for years, Fun with Nature, and a coordinating coloring page in Dover's A Walk in the Woods. The chipmunks are actually going NUTS (pardon the pun) these days as they scurry about preparing for a long winter's sleep. We've been feeding the chipmunks on our deck and this week we'll do a little "seed" experiment to see what kind of things chipmunks like to eat best. The coloring page will be filed in our family nature binder, alongside observations/photos.

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✨🍎✨LANGUAGE ARTS✨🍎✨

For language arts activities this month we are learning the alphabet, working on names, setting up nature journals, making homemade stamp pads, listening to an audiobook on the road, discovering seasonal poems, reading aloud to each other, and writing simple notes to friends. 

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Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book, Cyndy Szekeres' ABC, Bobby Bear's ABC, An Alphabet by Molly Brett, Eating the Alphabet, I Spy Little Letters

(Note: I couldn't find the Szekeres book on Amazon but I did see some at Etsy. Ms. Szekeres is one of my longtime favorite children's book author/illustrators. I had her books when I was little!)

Here is Little Bear contemplating the poetry corner ... β€

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Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, Flower Fairies of the Autumn, A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems (that's another one by Cyndy Szekeres!), First Poems of Childhood (illustrated by Tasha Tudor), A Child's Calendar: Poems by John Updike

(Poems of the moment: "September," by Updike, "The Children's Hour" by Longfellow, "Hurt No Living Thing," by Christina Rossetti)

Our September audiobook: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome ...

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(We mostly listen to audiobooks in the car but I'm working on having a set time during the week during which the boys will listen to the story while working on simple crafts, using play dough, coloring or painting, etc.)

Another favorite resource of mine for simple seasonal verse and songs, is a lovely set of Waldorf Kindergarten books. I've used all these books for years and they are just lovely. Here is Autumn: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children, alongside my tea and a beeswax pumpkin candle!

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(This week's selections will feature little gnomes leading Autumn seeds to bed, Mary walking in the Autumn wind, and St. Michael's bright shining sword. These I use during Little Bear's circle time and whenever possible while venturing outside.)

 

✨🍎✨✨🍎✨✨🍎✨✨🍎✨✨🍎✨✨🍎✨✨🍎✨

So there you have it my friends, a peek at our September book list! I hope you enjoyed it and please let me know if you have any questions. I will be back again soon(ish) with a closer look at how we do our seasonal homeschooling. It's going to be a busy week for us but I'm excited to share what we get up to! 

And I hope you are all doing well and that your Autumn is off to a great start! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ...

See you here again very soon!


A Peek into Our Sunny Schoolroom ... ❀

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Hello and Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your new (and Holy!) week is off to a great start. :)

So last August I mentioned that we were finally ready to turn our sunroom into a formal learning room. But I guess "finally ready" wasn't quite accurate ... more like, "we're nearly ready" or "it's time to make a list" or perhaps, "when we can find some spare time let's get a few things set up!" Meanwhile life carried on, learning and play happened, while the room slowly came together - taking time out to host Thanksgiving for 20 and a Christmas Day Open House - then shutting down completely throughout the coldest weeks of the winter, because, as a three-season room, it doesn't have its own heat!

Well, warm and sunny days are here at last and the room has come together rather nicely! So how about a tour? :)

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This is looking in from the family room ... through what used to be the back door of the house before the previous owners built this south-facing sunroom. Archie is relishing the fresh breezes and constant critter activity!

And as you can see, there are patio doors leading out to the ... well, patio. And just beyond that are the birdfeeders and herb garden - both important parts of our homeschool! Inside we have a portable greenhouse (aka "classroom garden") and a small fridge. The fridge was a Christmas gift to Bill for his "man cave" downstairs but this is as far as it got! It's actually pretty handy having it on the main floor, especially when entertaining.

On top of the fridge I have one of our favorite seasonal books open to the April spread, along with some spring flowering branches ...

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And a lovely sign I got at Home Goods a couple of years ago. :)

I decided this would be a monthly verse corner ... not really a nature corner because that would mean tiny treasures and hands-on, investigative projects. This is more of a seasonal (top of fridge) shelf with an illustrated poem on display which I'll change up each month. The water-filled vases are set just up and back enough to be out of the way of little hands and paws - so far, anyway. Knock on wood! I'll change this corner up for May with the first dandelions and violets, flowering crab or apple branches and one or two other seasonal flourishes. Later on there will be driftwood, beach roses and a jar of seashells maybe ... then in the fall a small harvest sampling - apples and pumpkins and branches of burnished leaves. ETC. :)

(Clearly this corner is meant more for ME than the boys, but hey - even teachers need their visual inspiration, right?)

Right now the classroom garden has plenty of sprouting seeds!

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(Catnip for our kitties ...)

Just inside the doorway is a spot for Little Bear's jackets, backpack and shoes ...

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(Plus Mom's boots!)

On the floor we have a few different area rugs. Some are for comfort and some are for scraping shoes! And some are for learning and play ...

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The US map rug gets a lot of use since this year we're studying American history! (Crackerjack takes a local homeschool class but Earlybird and I are studying US geography - with a focus on state birds and flowers - at home. In fact, this coloring book and this picture book - along with a favorite geography book as well as several kinds of maps - have really kept EB curious and on track! (I can go into further detail sometime if anyone would like. This has been a really fun study.)

Ok, here's the back wall of the schoolroom - it faces south and lets in a good deal of light!

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I use the window ledges to display the books we are using that week (tying into seasonal themes and study topics). So this week we have ...

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Eggs!

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Easter, rabbits and (from last week) rain ...

The rooster postcard I've had for years - it's part of a lovely set purchased through Nova Natural. And speaking of roosters, next week Petook will take its place on this shelf. How I love that Easter story! And the bunny is a finger puppet - he appeared in one of the boys' Easter baskets last year. I tie storytelling and puppetry into our homeschooling whenever I can. ❀ Fyi, our educational approach has always been a mix of Charlotte Mason and Waldorf philosophies, primarily. As you probably know, if you've read my blog for any length of time! :)

And here are books about our current read-aloud:

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The Spiderwick Chronicles were beloved by my older boys (and me!) back in the day - and since Earlybird really enjoyed Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone last fall, I thought I'd try this series. We listen to audiobooks in the car - a great way for EB to experience all kinds of literature! - and I'm happy to say he's really absorbed by the Spiderwick series as well. We are on book four right now, The Ironwood Tree.

And beneath these windows stands the train table ...

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We've had this train table forevah and it has really held up quite well! I think we got it for Crackerjack when he was ... um, two? So that's about 15 years! Both Little Bear AND Earlybird play here every single day. EB (15) is developmentally delayed so he still plays with a lot of what one might consider "young" toys. Plus he has loved trains since he was tiny. It's nice (most of the time) that both our younger boys enjoy playing trains because often (though not always) they play with them well together. (Though we do go through phases where the standing rule is one kid at a time. Complete with timers.)

I use baskets to contain the tracks and trains beneath the table. Much like the cars and trucks collection described in my "Tale of Four Carts" post, these are only a fraction of the tracks and trains we own. The bulk is downstairs and we switch things up from time to time. (Legos are handled similarly - or were since nobody plays with Legos at the moment.)

Next comes this great easel ...

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This was a roadside find last fall! It's beautifully made - the other side has a dry erase white board, but we pretty much just use the chalkboard right now. I use it to write questions for EB to figure out (usually during his therapy hours). Beneath the chalkboard is a crate full of "extraneous" books ... not currently connected to any topic or theme, but reserved for the future or books we like to return to on a regular basis. (The bulk of our books are stored ... wait for it! ... in the basement.)

Never one to let good storage space go to waste ...

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I have the On-the-Go Water Wow activity booklets tucked in a little basket here ... and oh my GOODNESS does Little Bear just love these things! They keep him busy for hours ... or you know, at least 10 minutes. We have a whole bunch of them and they are well-used and still work great!

Now, just behind the chalkboard you can see our faith and nature shelves ...

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Top to bottom:

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Liturgical resources - these are the ones I like to have close by - many beloved storybooks organized by feast day (more or less) and my most-used Catholic idea books.

Next shelf:

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My favorite seasonal resources - including ones I've had for years and re-read often even though I pretty much know them by heart! These are quite crafty and "Waldorf" in flavor. :)

Bottom shelf:

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Here is the location of our new nature shelf!

It's just the right height for Little Bear to observe and manage. Admittedly, it's pretty sparse at the moment - we're just coming out of winter so we don't have many "fresh" treasures to display! But I do have some preserved items here as well as a flower press, binoculars, and two of my favorite children's nature guides: Round the Year by Enid Blyton (a gorgeous and generous gift from my dear friend, Kimberly) and Nature Hikes - an OLD but priceless nature walk resource.

In the cabinet at the bottom of this bookcase I keep most of my nature study resources ...

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And in a small basket perched on a small table I have all our field guides ...

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Now, tucked in on the other side of the bookcase is our homeschooling cart:

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This cart holds ...

Top bin: Earlybird's go-to educational resources, as well as my homemade lesson planning notebook

Middle bin: my favorite early learning teacher guides, and a fun little "basics" book for Little Bear

Bottom bin: favorite flash cards, educational games and a toddler workbook for when LB wants to "do school" like his brothers :)

I love how this cart looks out here - but what I really love though is how easy it is to move around! I can wheel this cart out to my "teacher desk" in the next room when I'm lesson planning!

Next comes the learning line and more books on display ...

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The clothespins hold pages EB has used for his studies during the week. Some are photocopies of books we're using and some are coloring pages he's worked on. He is a very visual learner  - doesn't really care to talk too much about things but likes to look back at stuff we've done. I sometimes use post-it notes on these pages to prompt further connections. For example, on a state bird & flower coloring page I might ask EB to look up that particular bird in our field guide, or find the flower in our yard. On a human body coloring page about breathing, I might ask EB to do a simple science experiment involving his own breathing. And so forth ...

The books displayed here, from right to left, celebrate the themes of ...

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Spring!

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Colors!

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The World around Us!

I do have a lot of wooden toys and educational items out here - these are treasured items that we've been collecting for many years! And can I just say how much I LOVE Toot & Puddle? Thankfully, so do the boys. :)

In the next corner of the room I'm in the midst of organizing a geography corner ...

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It's still in need of a little work - for one thing, that pretty table (a yard sale find!) needs a new coat of paint (something more boyish) and for another, Little Bear's chair is a bit cramped here! But the heating element is on the wall just to the left and I really don't want him sitting here until it's turned off for the spring-summer-fall. (Which should be any day now - thank goodness!)

The other items here are a globe (which is a bit wobbly), a wooden US puzzle (which is missing Missouri), a small planets board book EB and I made for LB last year, and tucked in the far corner against the wall are several large, child-friendly atlases. These are GREAT for spreading out on the floor!

I would very much like to add some book ledges on this wall so I can display picture books about the current state or country we're studying. We've been using the Discover America State by State book series as we move from region to region and they have been a HUGE hit with Earlybird! I might also like to add a small bulletin board here so we can tack up articles about, and prayer needs for, the people and cultures of this great wide world.

Ok, turning the corner now ...

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This wall is mostly all Little Bear's toys ... and mostly hand-me-downs from his older brothers!

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Our collection of nature puppets - oh, how they have been loved through the years! (And please note the bandaids on several of them. This was Little Bear's doing some time ago when just about everyone had a "boo-boo" of one kind or another.)

More stuffed animals here ...

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And here ...

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And the wooden barn that I'm pretty sure I love more than anyone ...

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The barn sits on a sweet red children's table that belonged to me when I was little - and my mum before me, and my great aunt before that! It was soft yellow when I had it, but my mother painted it this cheerful red after Little Bear was born. The basket beneath the table holds our wooden figures collection. I am so pleased Little Bear has taken a real interest in these. I bought most of these when Earlybird was young (and I was just getting into all things Waldorf-inspired) but EB didn't really take to them. (Imaginative play was and still is a challenge for him.) 

Then we have a couple of wooden stools and an unfinished cubby holding an assortment of toys ...

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Favorite wooden puzzles, an alphabet abacus and a farm-themed tin filled with a bunch of favorite board books. All years-old and well-used! (Are you sensing a theme here, lol?) Little Bear got the tool set for Christmas (does this boy ever love to "help" Daddy with his work!) and the red basket underneath holds play-doh stuff. The lower cubbies hold (l-r) Duplos, a wooden tea set (in the woodland box) and story stones (sea animals and wooden puzzles are stacked in bins just behind). The wooden bin on the right holds yet more wooden puzzles!

(We have always been big on puzzles around here! Bookworm used to like doing them upside down. I kid you not.)

And then we have the treehouses ...

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Also several years old but Little Bear enjoys both of these toys - hooray! Mostly it's the dinosaurs that live in the wooden tree fort (they were off somewhere else when the picture was taken) and the soft tree stump is usually stuffed full of wooden alphabet blocks. Go figure.

Finally, our work table ...

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And it is truly a worktable as you can see from the picture above! A bit of a mess, yes - but beloved, as it once sat in my grandparents' kitchen. It's hardly in the pristine shape in which they kept it, but I like to think they'd be pleased their great-grandsons have all spent a whole lot of time around it ... learning, crafting, playing, snacking. In the middle of the table I have a tray holding a basket of crayons and the day's paperwork.

And now for my favorite part of the whole room ...

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A view of the rest of our "schoolroom" ... which lies just outside these big windows! β€

Well I guess I'd best wrap up now ... but I hope you enjoyed this not-very-brief tour of our schoolroom! I took all these pictures over the past week or so - waiting for sunny days so the light was good! - but tomorrow I am dismantling a few areas to make room for Easter dinner tables. Thankfully this room is still versatile enough that we can use it for entertaining when needed. :)

So thanks as always for stopping by ... and my best wishes to you and yours as the Easter holiday approaches ... and to those who celebrate, Happy Passover!

And of course, a Joyous Springtide to all! β€

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Welcome, February! ❀

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Good Thursday morning, my friends! I hope your February is off to a great start! We've been busy here with homeschooling and home projects and some of us are nursing a head cold, while a couple of others are just getting over feeling unwell. (I'm happy to say, I'm in the latter group!) Currently I am working on a post about the February section of my planning binder but computer time is a wee bit scarce right now ... so it might be another day or two. Still, I thought I'd pop in and share a few photos from our week so far. This is one of my favorite weeks in the year because it's just rich with "deep winter" goodness - St. Brigid's Day, Candlemas, Groundhog's Day ... not to mention, the Superbowl! (Go Pats!)

Anyhoo ... as I type up this post (late on Thursday, nearing teatime) the snow is flying! It's been sunny all morning (though chilly), but just now the skies got very dark and then suddenly the flakes were falling fast! We're all home now - including Bill (the one with the head cold) - so I don't mind one bit. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ... seems the groundhog was right after all!

Speaking of groundhogs ...

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I made this for the boys today and they got such a kick out of it! (Not to mention they were thrilled for a cake out of the blue!) I saw a variation of this idea on Pinterest and had to add it to the week's "crafts and comforts." It's just an 8x8 vanilla snack cake (Trader Joe's) topped with homemade cocoa frosting - mounded in the middle to resemble a groundhog's den. Then I stuck a Teddy Graham in the middle (taking on the role of the groundhog here, popping up to look for his shadow) and sprinkled the "ground" with crushed chocolate cookies (dirt), green sugar (grass) and tiny white candies (snow). Cute to behold, but even more importantly ... really delicious with a cup of milk after lunch!

Also in the kitchen today ... I have several potatoes baking for tonight's shepherd(ess) pie. Don't potatoes in the oven just smell amazing? In a bit (meaning, once I finish this post) I will put the kettle on and get the younger boys to help me make a loaf of Irish soda bread to go with tonight's dinner. And do you know what we will have on that bread ... ?

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Yes, our very own homemade butter! ❀

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We've been making butter on the feast of St. Brigid (patroness of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle and midwives) for many years, but this was Little Bear's first time with the project! And he was pretty impressed - if not much help with the actual shaking. He's only three, so I cut him some slack!

Also for St. Brigid's Day and Candlemas (yesterday and today, respectively) ... winter citrus candles!

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I like to melt beeswax and make candles on Candlemas, but this year I kept it a bit simpler. As crafts go, this was pretty quick and easy! The trickiest bit is getting the orange flesh away from the orange shell neatly. So I just hollowed out an orange and split it in half ... pressed a small star-shaped cookie cutter in one end and stuck whole cloves all around the opening. Then I placed a beeswax tealight inside ... smelled SO amazing. Even after the orange peel started smoking. Oops!

(Of course, it goes without saying, I keep burning candles well out of reach of the children and I never leave them unattended. It's nice to light them while you say a verse or prayer - then quickly snuff them out.)

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I thought the star shape was reminiscent of Brigid's cloak as described in this story - one of our favorite February books! There are so many wonderful picture books to enjoy all through the year ...

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I try to organize mine by seasonal flavor. I have huge baskets in our basement with books filed by season. Right now we have our "deep winter" books up in the schoolroom ... and I must admit - as much as I enjoy them, I'm itching to get to those "early spring" titles!

But there is joy and value in every season, and winter certainly has us in its grip ...

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Now that I have a "real" camera again (a birthday present from Bill and the boys) I am always hoping to get outside and snap photos. I particularly love the early morning ... although this (pre-sunrise) picture is dark, I like how it represents the harsh beauty of winter. I also just love rosehips, period. :)

Back out in the learning room (aka the sunroom), I have a nature corner set up and this is our verse for the month ...

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Lovely words from Be Blest: A Celebration of Seasons, one of my favorite poetry books. β€

Another family tradition at Brigid's Day/Candlemas (nevermind what the groundhog says!) is to organize and bless our spring seeds ...

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I have all kinds of grand plans for the gardens this year! Last year it was all about building the coop and settling our hens, but this year I hope to expand our gardens - flowers, herbs and veggies. Maybe some fruit bushes. Clearly, there will be plenty of morning glories ... ;)

Another quick craft for February ...

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I cut out hearts from pretty scrapbooking paper and made up a garland for the library mantle ...

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I had the grapevine balls on hand (they came off a string of lights) and threaded them with the paper hearts on a length of twine, then hung the garland just beneath the lip of the mantle. Meanwhile, up above ...

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A boxwood wreath - the last of our "Christmas greenery," which was supposed to come down today  - is sporting several Victorian valentines. (Barnes & Noble has the loveliest, old-fashioned notecards for each holiday ... reasonably priced, too!) And just below the wreath is a message for the month (craft store letters painted robin's egg blue ... need a second coat!) and some red beeswax tea lights. I'll be making salt-dough candleholders with the boys for these tealights later this month. The jar candles on either end were made last Candlemas.

Oh, and finally!

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I saw an idea on Facebook - and I cannot remember its origin now! - but it was to use post-its as little love notes for your child(ren) ... one a day leading up to February 14th. I found these cute heart-shaped post-it notes on Amazon (actually, with Lent in mind but they work well here) and embellished a plain craft board wreath with a "Love" banner. (Glittery adhesive stickers against scrapbook paper cut into a banner shape.) Each day I will add a note, filling the whole wreath, with all the different ways we love. Maybe something to love about life, about the world around us ... or maybe something we love about each other. They're not personalized but something I hope each family member enjoys reading each day. Thinking about all the ways we are blessed by love in our life!

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Well my friends, I'd best wrap up now ... this post has gone on MUCH longer than I intended ... teatime has arrived and the sun is shining once again! So as always, I thank you for your time and attention and I wish you a pleasant evening (or day as the case may be). I hope all is well with you where you are ... and I hope to be back again in just a few days to talk more about my February planner ... and plans! :)

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Martinmas Day with My Boys πŸ’›

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Happy Weekend, my friends ... I hope you all had a good week. Or at least, I hope your week was not so bad. Or maybe things got better as the week went on? I know this is a tough time for a lot of us - and I am not going to talk politics here (never have, never will) - but I just want to say, I'm wishing all of my friends peace and hope. I myself am focusing on all the good things in my life that, God willing, will always be here for me and my loved ones no matter what's going on in the world ...

*deep breath*

Ok, on with my post! :)

So today I'd like to share some more November projects - a few of those craft supplies getting used up as we near the middle of the month. This week we had the feast of St. Martin of Tours (aka Martinmas) and if you have read my blog for any length of time you know this is one of our favorite feasts to celebrate with the boys. (You can read more about our traditions, here.) In the past we have baked horseshoe cookies and read stories and made glass lanterns to display in dark windows, but this year ... I baked a cake instead of cookies, we told stories instead of read them AND ... we crafted our lanterns - not out of glass but - balloons!

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(And didn't I buy the stubbornest worst tasting/smelling balloons ever made? Ugh. Oh well!)

I've seen lanterns done this way over the years and have always wanted to try my hand at it. Well, this was finally the year and as you can see I had a very eager little helper!

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Goodness, but does this boy love himself some GLUE!

This craft is a bit messy but very easy to do ... and best to start a day or two ahead of your celebration since the lantern will need time to dry. You simply brush an inflated balloon with layers of glue (thinned with water, about a 50-50 ratio) and overlapping pieces of colorful tissue paper. You might also slip autumn leaves in between layers ...

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... and you might cut some of the tissue into shapes like pretty stars.

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While Little Bear worked diligently on gluing his balloon, I did about five or six layers of tissue paper on mine.

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Once finished, we left them to dry in the dining room. Here's mine hanging over the table.

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Meanwhile, the boys played outside, enjoying the misty autumn weather ...

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(That's a meteor shower suncatcher in Little Bear's hand.)

Next morning ...

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There were some packages on the kitchen table for the boys ... 

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Recalling the story of Martin's kindness, each of my boys received a gift of warmth and comfort - pajamas (Earlybird) and slippers (Crackerjack) - while Little Bear also received a new prayer book in addition to some superhero slipper-socks. :)

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(Bookworm will get his new flannel PJs when he's home for Thanksgiving break.)

Then it was time to check on the lanterns!

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Mine is on the left and Little Bear's is on the right. We kept his balloon intact since it was pretty much all that was holding it together! (For all the glue he used, lol ...)

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The glue seemed to be dry so I popped the balloon and was left with (more or less) a colorful lantern! Really neat to watch that balloon pull away from the lantern interior!

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I trimmed the top and punched holes along the edge for twine.

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Love all the autumn colors and shapes!

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I've read instructions which describe using a real candle inside this lantern but for what I think are obvious reasons we went with something more child-safe.

Side note: Below is a lovely passage from a book I've had for years called, Lifeways. This quote is from a chapter called "A Walk through the Year with the Festivals," something I re-read quite often for seasonal inspiration ...

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How lovely is that?

Now, there are usually special foods tied to feast days and Martinmas is no exception. In the past we've made horseshoe-shaped oat cookies on this day, but this year I decided to try a recipe my grandmother made for years, something called "Poor Man's Cake." Rather fitting for the day, as St. Martin is the patron of the poor ... plus, this cake is full of autumnal flavor.

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My grandmother made this cake quite often - it was a favorite of my grandfather's - and I believe she found the recipe during the Depression. You can read more about the cake (including its recipe) in this post of mine from 2007.

It's quite dense and moist - "a good bake" if I may say so myself! But you know who loved the cake best? Bill - it really is right up his alley. (He hardly cares for chocolate, he's more a ginger-and-spice kind of guy.) The boys however were all ... hmmm. I dunno, Mom ... raisins?

Outside we go boys!

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Another Martinmas tradition (especially in Waldorf schools) is to have the children participate in a lantern walk. In the gathering darkness of a late autumn afternoon, the children set out with their shining lanterns all together, singing special lantern songs. The symbolism here is that we all must tend our own little light, so that we might carry it forth into a world that can often be quite dark and cold ...

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(Page from Festivals, Family and Food, by Diana Carey and Judy Large)

We were a very small band and there was only one working lantern - and we didn't sing of course, because Earlybird has sensory issues - but I did recite the above verse to my sweet little lantern-carrier as we walked through our woods!

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It was SO windy and chilly yesterday and since some of us are fighting a cold, some of us headed in for another piece of that cake and a hot cup of tea. A bit later on, as the darkness surrounded us, Bill and Little Bear came inside at last, all pink-cheeked and bright-eyed. Then I hung the lantern in the dark dining room for the rest of the night ...

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Down with darkness, up with light;

Up with sunshine, down with night.

Each of us is one small light,

But together we shine bright ...

 

(E. Amarin)

Before I go, here's today's page from Little Bear's new daily prayer book ...

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I can't tell you how much I love this book ... we are weaving it into our weekly rhythm. Short and sweet, with a special daily prayer to share, reflecting each day's rhythm and grace. πŸ’›

Well my friends, time to wrap up now, but as always I thank you for reading. Or maybe you just looked at the pictures? Well, that's nice too. I always appreciate your visit! :)

Please enjoy the rest of your weekend and take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I will see you here again very soon!


Reds and Greens and Orange and Blue ...πŸ‚

(And yellows and browns and black!)

Happy Friday, my friends! Here's a little bit of Autumn from my home & garden to yours ... πŸ’›

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Autumn is truly settled in around here as you can see - inside and out! The weather has been just glorious, as it tends to be in New England at this time of year: brisk, bright and OH the colors! Although ... we are expecting a brief return of summery weather this week - 80s even! - but since St. Luke's Day is this Tuesday, I'm not one bit surprised. ;)

Why you might wonder? Well, have you ever heard of St. Luke's Little SummerAccording to The Old Farmer's Almanac ...

Lovely, summerlike days that occur around October 18 are called St. Luke’s Little Summer in honor of the saint’s feast day. In olden days, St. Luke’s Day did not receive as much attention in the secular world as St. John’s Day (June 24) and Michaelmas (September 29), so to keep from being forgotten, St. Luke presented us with some golden days to cherish before the coming of winter, or so the story goes. Some folks call this Indian Summer, but that officially occurs between November 11 and November 20.


This brief warmup may be unseasonable, but it will be nice ... because any day we can throw open our windows and spend time outside comfortably is a gift. Dark and gray days are coming, I am ever aware! I can feel my internal clock slowing down, taking its cue from the world around me. The crickets are still chirping but more slowly, and the breeze is a noisy rustle as crisp leaves shake from their branches and head for the ground. I don't mind this slowing down though - in fact, I relish it. It's all part of life's rhythm and, after all, we humans are part of that great cycle, even if we can ignore it with all our modern conveniences! I feel it's a good thing to embrace the season's changes ... I've been turning more of my attention to the inside of our home (and the inside of my head), concentrating on domestic comforts and inner lights - cooking, reading, writing, planning, nesting ... preparing my family for the long winter ahead.

Anyway, speaking of domestic appreciation, here's my dinner menu for the coming week. It's been way too long since I've shared this (and to be honest, it's been too long since I've been consistent with meal planning)!

S - (Full Hunter's Moon) Hunter's Stew (A chicken-sausage/sundried tomato dish served with rice - one of Bill's specialities!)

M - (Practice night) Baked ziti, meatballs, garlic bread, salad

T - (St. Luke's Day) - Burgers on the grill, corn-on-the-cob, farmstand salad, fries

W - (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on TV tonight!) - grilled cheese with tomatoes and ham, chicken soup, apple-pumpkin dump cake & steamed almond milk w/spiced pumpkin marshmallows

T - meatloaf, roasted multi-color carrots, stir-fried broccoli & whole grain rice

F - (Practice night & Bookworm home for the weekend!) - crescent dogs, baked beans & brown bread, tater tots

S - (Family Anniversary Lunch) - leftovers since we'll be eating a big lunch!

Well I guess I'd best wrap up now, as this post is getting rather long ... but as always I thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and would love to hear how your autumn is unfolding if you have a chance. In an upcoming post (hopefully sometime this week) I will give you a tour of my new desk and chat a little about how I'm keeping organized these days. I am also working every moment I get on the next set of seasonal planning sheets. I'm hoping to have Late Autumn pages available to you well before the end of the month!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

p.s. Don't forget to watch that moon rise tonight! πŸŒ


Gray Days

Now, I am not complaining ... I am definitely not. I can't be anything but glad that we are finally having a reprieve from the brutal weather pattern of late. Not only is it dry today (save for some melting), but the temperature hovered right around 40 degrees. FORTY degrees, my friends! I only wore my winter vest over a sweatshirt jacket today - and no gloves!

And yet, it was one of those gray February days ... you know what I mean about the late winter landscape? The snow is no longer pretty, it's just dirty and gray. The skies are gray, the ground is gray - it's all just GRAY! 

This post came to me on our way home from the library this afternoon, when I swung into the grocery store to pick up a few things. I was already musing over the very dull grayness of the day when, as we entered the parking lot, THIS caught our attention ...

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That's pretty ugly, isn't it, lol?

February may not be the prettiest of months, but it IS at least the shortest. And it does have all those good things I mentioned in this post ... but a day like today makes me think of this poem:

When Skies are Low and Days are Dark by N.M. Bodecker

When skies are low
and days are dark,
and frost bites 
like a hungry shark,
when mufflers muffle
ear and nose,
and puffy sparrows
huddle close -
how nice to know
that February
is something purely
temporary.
*

As I finish up this post, Earlybird just plucked one of his library books off the nature shelf. It's called, ironically enough, Colors. See, there was a method to my madness when I chose "Light and Color" as our nature theme for February! It's always lovely to find a little light, a bit of color, in our day, but especially in the midst of all this gray!

(Quick note - as I searched Amazon for the link for the book above, I stumbled across this little gem:

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I promptly cross-checked with my library system and sure enough, my local branch has a copy. What a nice way to spend another gray February day - running to the library to pick up a book all about the COLORs of the year!)

Oh, and one final happy note, our snow thrower finally made it out of New Jersey!

UPS delivered it today ... 

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This was taken moments ago ... worked like a charm!

*knock on wood*

The forecast for tomorrow is light snow throughout the day, 2-3 inches or so. That's not so bad, really ... and at least things will be white again for a while! 

Have a great Monday night, everyone! See you all again sometime soon.

:)


Monday Menu & Moon Talk

Bill's off from work today for the MLK holiday, so our homeschool has the day off too. :) It's going to be bitterly cold here (21 for a high!) so we probably won't spend much time outside. I do plan to run to the grocery store for a few items (and maybe The Paper Store too - I have a gift certificate from my birthday to use), but before I head out I'll be starting a beef & vegetable soup in the crockpot. It will cook all day and we'll have it tonight with crusty bread (made in the breadmaker) and a simple tossed salad. For dessert (yes, we do always have dessert, lol!) I'll make use of the leftover raspberry sauce ~ serving it over cups of peach frozen yogurt. The raspberry-peach combination might make me think of the summer ... so, so far away. 

In nature news, aside from the bitter cold and a messy storm coming on Tuesday, we have the Full Moon rising midweek ...

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Can you guess why there's a wolf puppet on our nature shelf?

The weather chills,

 the night is long,

wolf lifts his head

in lonely song.

His notes float high,

his notes drift low,

mournful in the 

moonlight glow.

~ from When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year by Penny Pollock

****

I hope you all have a great Monday ~ see you again very soon! :)


June's Full Strawberry Moon ...

Don't forget to look for it tonight!
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We have such a fun day planned tomorrow ... bright and early in the morning Crackerjack has some orthodontic work to get out of the way, but after that, Bill and I are taking the boys to an Audubon Sanctuary for a walk in the late spring woods. (Pictures forthcoming of course!) When we return, I have a strawberry lunch planned in honor of tonight's full moon - The Strawberry Moon. It's cloudy here tonight, so we'll "moonwatch" tomorrow! ;)

So in honor of this month's moon - and one of the first fruits of the season - may I ask for your favorite way to eat strawberries? Do you pick them in the field, pick them up at the store, or grow them at home? When I was little, my grandpa grew wonderful strawberries in his garden - then later, he picked-his-own at the farm every year. Bill and I always helped him pick - though we never lasted as long in the field as Pa did. He'd pick enough to eat, some to freeze and lots and lots to enjoy over ice cream all year long.

Strawberrytea Tomorrow, when we return home from the hike, our lunch at home will consist of much strawberry goodness - peanut butter-strawberry sandwiches (sliced berries with a drizzle of honey) and freshly brewed strawberry tea. Before we leave in the morning I'll brew up a pot of hot tea, let it cool and then place a pitcher of tea in the fridge. Ice cube trays will be filled with strawberry slices and water - a nice touch, I think. For dinner - after broccoli-steak stir fry, spinach-strawberry salad and rice - there will be fresh pound cake and strawberry rhubarb sauce - with dollops of freshly whipped cream. Yummy!

Tomorrow will be one of our "family days" we take through the year. We don't really vacation per se - for a myriad of reasons - but these special days taken here and there through the seasons really keep us in touch with nature and each other. Special meals always round out the day. :)

Now, while I'm here, I'll answer a few questions left for me after the Learning Room post.
  • The grapevine ball lights were purchased at Target.
  • The colored "tree" pencils were purchased at a local agricultural store. I will stop in tomorrow to get the name (and hopefully a website).
  • The boys' summer reading journals - well, I'll post more about those very soon. :)
  • The flower parts poster was part of a bulletin board set I bought at a local teacher's supply store. They are made by Mark Twain Media, but I can't find them online. I would suggest asking at your own local educator supply shop. 
  • The monthly nature prayers we display in our nature corner can be found in this lovely book.
  • The soft puppet tree I found YEARS ago at LL Bean. They have not sold it in a while, but I know there is a similar one sold here.
As always, thank you for all your questions and your very kind comments. Thank you too, for your patience while I struggle to find time to post.

Speaking of posts, would anyone object to yet another file crate post? I know I've posted about it a-plenty, but at this time of year, as I refresh the crate with brand new folders I tweak the system a little. Every year I come up with something that works just a tiny bit better. At the very least, it's fun to revel in all those new office supplies! ;)

Ok, off for now - there's much to do before bed. I hope you've all had a wonderful weekend. I'll be back again just as soon as I can! :)

The Full Pink Moon

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Its hard to tell from this picture, but last night's moon rose - truly - in Easter egg pink!

So very lovely.

The boys noticed it around 7 p.m. while watching the BoSox with Bill, and naturally, they called it to my attention.
So I put down the dishcloth and headed for the backyard ...
and spent the next several minutes outside taking pictures.

Listening to peepers.
Watching ducks fly overhead.
Peering into the dark woods.
Shivering in the cold.

The full moon was amazing -
- but ten minutes later it was gone.
Hidden beneath a thick cloud cover.

I'm glad we looked when we did. :)

Check it out this evening, if you have a chance;
the April moon is full, technically, tonight.

The Frog Moon
Frogs sit in the marshes,
throats bellowed tight,
feeling quite romantic,
calling through the night.
Come my love, my love, my love,
Come be mine tonight.


~ An Early Spring Garden Surprise ~

Just look what we found today, growing in the shade of the chimney:

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A Snowdrop!
And not just one, but three!

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Aren't they lovely?

I cannot tell you how ridiculously excited I am to find snowdrops in our garden! I have always wanted to grow snowdrops - Anglophile that I am - but it was only last autumn that I finally made certain to purchase the bulbs. One blustery day last October Bill planted them for me ... but then he couldn't remember where he planted them! So I've been watching the ground for signs of these tiny spring heralds, and had just about given up hope, when Bill spied the above beauties this morning while raking the yard. Lol, he called me at the supermarket to tell me! The first thing I did when I got home (after putting away the frozen things, of course) was to run outside and take pictures. :)

And now, naturally, it's time for ...

The Song of the Snowdrop Fairy

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.

Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

(From The Flower Fairies of the Winter by Cicely Mary Barker)

Now see, this poem makes much more sense in the UK where (I believe) snowdrops pop up from the late winter ground. No matter ~ I will happily welcome these little blooms in whichever month they so choose to awaken - but I'll admit I'm glad there's no snow for them to stand in. 

And now I am sorely tempted to dig out our copy of The Story of the Snow Children - though a decidedly winter tale (and therefore stored away with the wintertime books) - it does feature snowdrops on each beautifully illustrated page. But I'm still working on digging out the Easter books, so instead, I'll just enjoy this little tale I found online: The Snowdrop by Hans Christian Anderson. How did I ever miss this? What a sweet story!

I have to represent the snowdrops, our Merry Maids of March, at our nature table in some way. I'd love to make a Snowdrop Fairy - maybe something like the simple one described in All Year Round - because I could never hope to make one as pretty as this. A reasonable facsimile could be attempted, however, and now a quick trip to the craft store might be in order for tomorrow ... ;)

What have you found in your early spring garden? 
Any surprises to share?
I hope you're all enjoying the weekend. I will see you all again sometime soon!

Poetry Friday ~ The March Sap Moon

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Cold nights,
warm days,
sap is sure to run.
Moon looms in
the branches,
waiting for the sun.

Did you see the full moon last night? It was breathtaking!
Technically, the moon was "full" on Wednesday, but it was raining here then. Last night was clear and beautiful, though, so I stood out on our deck, taking pictures through the darkness. I could almost hear the peepers in the woods ~ they won't start stirring for another couple of weeks, but it was fun to imagine.

This past week was a busy one - it really flew by! - and next week brings lots of fun. St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day, our Maple Sugaring trip and the First Day of Spring! I will post our plans for next week over the weekend. I'm still nailing down all the details. :)

Dont' forget, tomorrow is National Pi Day! (3.14) Are you going to have a little fun with it? Today I'll pull out the Sir Cumference book, and on Sunday we'll make individual pizza pies for lunch and enjoy a delicious grasshopper pie for dessert. I'm going to try to make a chocolate "pi" symbol on the top of the pie. Fun, right? :)

Well, I hope you all have a great weekend ~ I'll check back in again sometime soon!
Happy Friday (the 13th)!

p.s. I just looked out the window and noticed this in the western sky:

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Sorry about those pesky telephone wires, but I had to show you the morning moon, too. :)

Squirrel Nutkin ~ A Wintertime Nature Study

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But Nutkin was excessively impertinent in his manners. He bobbed up and down like a little red cherry, singing ~ "Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tote!"

It was an exciting day in the Riverwood yesterday ~ we were visited by not one, not two - but THREE little red squirrels! I took lots of pictures of the cute and crazy little things -though I couldn't get them all in one shot. While one was eating happily at the top of the cage-feeder, the other two were fighting like crazy, chasing each other all around the rhododendron bushes, lol!

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Grasping a seed in his tiny paws.

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Diving back down for more ...

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The perfect perch for a squirrel of this size.

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And the tray feeder fits even better!

The red squirrels now visit our feeders at least twice a day (not always three at one time, but often, two) and they are such a delight to observe! They are fast and furious little creatures! The boys and I keep our eyes on the windows as we work through the day and if one of us spies a "Red Tail" (as we've named them) we sound the "alarm." Pencils are put down and books are dropped - we dash to the windows to observe. 

Squirrels, red or gray, are a perfect winter-nature study subject; they're active and highly visible at this time of year. Red squirrels are not as common in America as they are in England, but if you are at all familiar with the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, then you know a little about them. They are much smaller than a gray squirrel, with coppery-brown fur and a fiery personality. They move fast and make a lot of noise when agitated (chuck-chuck-chuck-chuuuuck!). Really, they're a riot to watch. If you live near a conifer woodland you most likely have red squirrels living nearby; they are just harder to spot than the plentiful grays.

The following suggestions are geared towards younger children, but more advanced activities could be added for including older kids in the study. Most homeschoolers I know are teaching multi-ages at once - for me, I am tailoring this study to my kindergartener (Earlybird) and 4th grader (Crackerjack). My 8th grader (Bookworm) will tag along just for fun. :)

~Notes for a Squirrel Nutkin Nature Study~

 Read The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, first and foremost.

Look for squirrel tracks in the snow. This book shows the difference between a gray squirrel's tracks and a red's. (It's mostly the size.)

Learn about red squirrels online.
Find lots of information at Wikipedia.
Here's a neat kids' page by the Kluane Red Squirrel Project.

Make up an observation chart to keep track of squirrel visits and behaviors. (If I can figure out how to do it, I will link you the chart I made up for the boys - tracking red or gray, time of day, and behavior.)

On a blank map of the world, color in the areas that are inhabited by red squirrels. If you are reading The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, locate The Lake District in England.

Older children could research the plight of the red squirrel in the UK.

Read about how Squirrel Nutkin came to be in the pages of The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter.

Write a little nature story in a letter to a friend. (You could have the children draw pictures and then write in the storylines they dictate.)

See how many squirrel names (like Nutkin, Twinkleberry, etc.) you can come up with.

Make little twig or bark boats to sail across a lake. (Or pond, stream or a good size puddle, even.)

It would be fun to make little sacks with which the children could go "gathering nuts." (These could be simple drawstring bags made of cotton or felt.) Use acorns (real or wooden) to count and sort. Hide them around the house and have the children go on a nut hunt.

Red Squirrels are very fond of spruce cones. See if you can identify - and differentiate - pine trees from spruce trees in your yard, neighborhood or nearby park. Use a good tree field guide to do this, or ask a ranger to help you.

Host a "Squirrel Nutkin" tea for your friends (or family members). Serve treats reminiscent of those mentioned throughout the Potter stories. Ask each guest to name which Potter story is their favorite, and why.

A few great books featuring red squirrels:

(This is a chapter book, a great family read-aloud. I did a Book Group lesson on this last year.)

Read the wonderful tale of "Furry," Anna Comstock's pet red squirrel. You can find it, along with a very informative chapter on red squirrels, in her Handbook of Nature.

If your children are into puppet play, Audubon makes wonderful nature puppets including a red squirrel and owl. They're not technically puppets, but can be used in dramatic play or storytelling. When you squeeze their bellies they "chuck" and "screech" accordingly.

We happen to have the tip of of red squirrel tail on our nature table! (It's not as gruesome as it sounds - read the full story here.)

Nutkin antagonized Old Brown owl with riddles. Check books of riddles out of the library to enjoy together.

The current issue of National Geographic Kids (February) has a wonderful article about Heinz, a baby red squirrel who was rescued after a storm.

I happen to love this dear little poem by Marchette Chute called "Politeness." It would be easy for a young child to memorize.

I met a squirrel the other day
And spoke to him in a friendly way.
I couldn't pat him on the head
But I gave him several nuts instead.
He took them from me one by one
And waved his tail when he was done.
And he was happy, I could tell.
We both behaved extremely well.

***

If you have a neat squirrel story, picture or activity to share, please let me know. I'd love to compile them and share them here at my blog! And of course, I'll be sharing our own Nutkin adventures as this little study unfolds. :)

In the meantime, have a wonderful day. It's just starting to snow here - we're in for several inches by day's end.
A good day to keep our eyes on the feeders!
See you all again soon!

~*~The January Nature Shelf~*~

Now that the holidays are over and the learning room is, for the most part, back on track, I was able to spend some time refreshing the nature corner:

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There's not a lot going on in nature right now ~ it's as if the world has stilled itself, like it's holding its own frosty breath. We're not outside nearly as much as usual so there aren't a lot of "treasures" to display; January is a bare month, and so its corner reflects that.

But, as you can see in the picture below, we've added a new facet to our nature display:

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Note the picture frames on the wall! 

Do you know how long I've wanted to get these up here? I think I told you about these maybe a year or so ago, but we haven't had a chance to get them up till just now. I bought plain unfinished wooden frames at the craft store and we printed out current nature photos to hang above the shelves. Each month we'll change them up. These will always be pictures we took ourselves, relfecting our own "habitat" and the changes that take place through the seasons ...

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So as you can see here (barely I know - the light is so bright) we have pictures of a snowy treetop, a titmouse, a chickadee and a red squirrel. Ideally these pictures will also feature our nature study focus of the moment (winter birds and wolves right now). Obviously, it's easier for me to get bird pictures than wolf pictures in these parts - thank goodness!

In the far left corner I always prop open a book featuring a seasonal inspiration:

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Often I choose a book of nature poems, but this month I really wanted to show the January spread in Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep. The words and illustrations evoke a simpler time of soft, frosty nights and old-fashioned delights. Just the right mood for this month.

"Oh, there were lots of joyful times. On the last day of the old year the children built a bonfire. We all danced around it and shouted Happy New Year. Then we had a party supper with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and apple pie and ice cream and cheese."

Now from left to right, let's take a look at the top shelf ...

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First, we have a few birch logs from our woods. (Taken from felled trees we found along the bike path.) I once read about a Celtic Calendar of Trees, one for each month, kind of like Native American moons. Birch, I believe, is assigned to early January. I like their wintry beauty and symbolism - birches are the first trees to grow back after a forest has been razed. Also, the Gaelic word for birch means beginning. Rather fitting, don't you think, for the first month of the year? But we mustn't forget our conifers! Standing nearby is a giant pinecone from out west (purchased last winter at Whole Foods) as well as a collection of ceramic and stone birds, and a geode with glittering crystals inside ...

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Centered in the shelf is a new book I bought to share with Earlybird as we explore trees this winter: The Happiness Tree: Celebrating the Gifts of Trees we Treasure. (I'm going to do a review of it in the near future - but suffice it to say, I cannot recommend it heartily enough.) Also shown, The Big Snow, Animals in Winter and Tracks in the Snow.

 In the lower left corner is a photocopy I made of a page in the Winter Flower Fairies book ~ the Song of The Pine Tree Fairy; it's perched right next to a woodland tealight (battery-op!):

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A tall, tall tree is the Pine tree,
With its trunk of bright red brown ~
The red of the merry squirrels
Who go scampering up and down.
*
There are cones on the tall, tall Pine tree,
With its needles sharp and green;
Small seeds in the cones are hidden,
And they ripen there unseen.
*
The elves play games with the squirrels
At the top of the tall, tall tree,
Throwing cones for the squirrels to nibble ~
I wish I were there to see!

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Next we have a pretty ivy wreath I bought at Trader Joe's last week, with a tiny chickadee perched on top. (You can buy silk-feathered birds at craft stores for a few dollars a piece. The bird in the nest there is also from the craft store collection.) By the way, here are directions for making your own ivy topiary at home - a lovely Valentine's gift!

And finally, a glimpse of yet another book display, this one reflecting our current nature studies ...

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Lots of wolf-related books as you can see. Our field trip to the wolf sanctuary has been postponed, actually. It was supposed to take place today, but the weather here is so very bitter (18 for a high) we've put it off until next week when hopefully we might enjoy slightly warmer temperatures. (Maybe even a January thaw? Wouldn't that be nice?)

Well, I'm going to leave it there for now because I've talked your ears off for too long! I have to get going anyway ... the day is unfolding and I've got many things to do. First off, I have to run to the registry to renew my license (groan) - keep your fingers crossed for me the lines aren't too long!

Thanks for stopping by - hope you're all keeping warm and well. See you all again sometime soon. :)

The Full Wolf Moon ...

... is tonight! 

So don't forget to take a peek out your window and admire the midwinter moon in all its celestial glory. In fact, the January full moon will be the biggest of 2009 - 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal!

You might even invite your children to "howl" at tonight's moon, so named because Native Americans believed the wolves became restless at this harsh time of year. Here's a little poem from When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year:  

The weather chills,
the night is long,
wolf lifts his head 
in lonely song.
His notes float high,
his notes drift low,
mournful in the
moonlight glow.

This will provide the perfect copywork for the cover page of our Winter Wolf Study - which we kick off this week! 

As you can see from the sidebar on the left, we have lots of books on loan from the library for our study. (A few we do own, but most are borrowed. How I love inter-library loans ...)

Here are a few more notes on our upcoming study:

Field Trip ~
  • With our Nature Study Club we'll visit a local wolf sanctuary. (Bill and I actually took our boys there years ago, but they hardly remember it - I believe Earlybird was in a sling!) 
Map-work ~ 
  • Where do wolves live in our world?
  • Where does tundra exist? 
Art ~
Science ~
  • We'll discuss the concept of a food chain; Wolf Island illustrates this nicely.

Social Studies ~
  • We'll research the history of wolf-related environmental legislation. (The Wolves are Back gives a lot of good information.)

Music/creative writing exercise ~
  • We'll listen to Peter and the Wolf, and the boys will create their own versions of the story - in which the wolf is just seriously misunderstood. :)   

Nature Study ~
  • We'll look for animal tracks in the new snow - some might look canine. We'll check them against a field guide that shows the tracks of wolves, coyotes and dogs. 
  • We'll look at (possibly howl at) the Full Wolf Moon.

Literature ~

Puppet Play ~
  • We have a cute set of arctic-theme puppets for Earlybird (it includes a wolf, a bear, a musk ox, a puffin and an Eskimo). We'll read Mama, Do You Love Me to go along with our puppets.
Etc. ~
Those are a lot of plans for the next few weeks, but for tonight, we'll just watch the sky. We might not get a glimpse of the moon though  - the sky is thick with cloud cover. Instead, we'll keep our eyes peeled for the first flakes of snow, due to arrive any minute now ...

Well, I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. See you all again very soon!

Kinder Themes: Stars, Light and the Letter G

Window_star2

Autumn's winding down ~ the days are fading and the nights are growing long. As nature's light dwindles, we must kindle our own inner lights. Well, this week we're exploring the themes of stars and light in our homeschool, and I thought I'd share a few of my ideas with you all. (Remember, I'm not going to try to do all of them! I'll see what strikes Earlybird's fancy as the week goes on.)

Fun Things to Do:

  • Watch for the Taurids (meteor showers, fireballs or aka shooting stars).
  • Gaze at the November night sky; look for autumn constellations.
  • Make window stars - like this (seen above) or this.
  • Look for star shapes in nature (inside of an orange or apple, starfish, star anise).
  • Make felt star sachets to give as holiday gifts.
  • Paint wooden stars for Christmas.
  • Hang glow-in-the-dark stars on the bedroom wall.
  • Practice drawing stars.
  • Bake star-shaped ginger cookies:

Star_cookies

Good Books to Read:

A Pretty Poem to Learn:

I’m glad the stars are over me

And not beneath my feet,

Where we could trample on hem

Like cobbles in the street.

I think it is a happy thing

That they are set so far;

It’s best to have to look up hight

When you would see a star.

        ~ Anonymous

A Letter to Know (G):

*Cut out a green construction paper "G" and decorate with iridescent star stickers.

Science to Learn:

Thanks for stopping by today ~ I hope your day is a good one! :)


In the KinderGarden: Seeds & the Autumn Wind

Right now we're exploring the seasonal themes of wind and seeds, so I thought I'd share a few of my ideas with you on this fine autumn morning. I hope something here might be useful to you, whether you're teaching your own children, or just looking for ways to tap into the rhythm of the natural year ...

And remember: I'm not planning on doing all these things with Earlybird! I just can't contain my enthusiasm for the seasons ~ I always brainstorm more than I could possibly do. ;)

Books to Read ~

Fun Things to Make and Do ~

  • Make and float bark boats on a stream.
  • Find milkweed pods growing along the roadside or in a field.
  • Pick and make wishes on "fairy clocks" (dandelions).
  • Go on a seed scavenger hunt.
  • Organize a seed collection in an empty egg carton.
  • Look for and collect acorns:
    • Set out a pile for squirrels.
    • Plant one acorn in a little pot. (Tall oaks from little acorns grow.)
  • Hang sunflower heads for birds to eat.
  • Open various fruits and vegetables and look at the seeds inside.
  • Roast pumpkin seeds (lightly tossed with butter and cinnamon-sugar - yum).
  • Find the magic star inside the apple.
  • Lie on your backs and find shapes in the clouds
  • Make seed-folk out of natural materials; add them to the nature shelf.
  • Make seed ornaments for the Christmas tree.
  • Go kite-flying on a windy day.
  • Make simple pinwheels.
  • Make potpourri (to give as holiday gifts).

A Poem (or Three) to Know ~

In their husks, their shells and clusters,

In their pods, the seeds on high,

Wait to hear the Autumn whisper

β€œLittle seeds it’s time to fly.”

Then they lightly leave their branches

Pop and burst and tumble down,

Hasten, hurry, rush and scurry,

Hide in Mother Earth’s warm gown.

              (J. Mehta)

In a milkweed cradle all close and warm,

Little seeds are hiding safe from harm.

Open wide the cradle now, hold it high.

Come along wind, help them fly!

(A fingerplay from Earthways by Carol Petrash)

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by

(Christina Rossetti)

And now I'm off to tend to my boys who are in the midst of preparing themselves breakfast while their mum sneaks in a few more minutes on the computer ... :) Thanks for stopping by this morning ~ I hope you all have a wonderful day!


Fun Days Ahead!

Pooh1

January 18th is the birthday of A.A. Milne, the beloved author of the Winnie-the-Pooh tales. (Another neat tidbit from this book.) I thought over breakfast on Friday, we might read aloud a chapter or two of the above book, and then, just for fun, light those balloon candles in our corn muffins! (Remember the story with the bees?) For the muffins, I'm going to follow a recipe from Earthways, one that uses honey as a sweetener. After blowing the candles out, we'll slather the muffins with honey butter, and to wash it all down - English Breakfast Tea! (Decaf, of course, with lots and lots of milk.)

And then Saturday brings us National Popcorn Day! What, you didn't know? ;) We'll read The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola, revisit this poem from last year, and I really want to try this adorable cake I saw at Cherry Hill Cottage last month. I had forgotten all about it, but I found the print-out of her post in this week's folder. (You know, sometimes I really love my file crate, lol.) Do take a peek at the cake - it looks so yummy, sounds quite easy and what a fun Saturday project for the kids! I think we're going to see the new Veggie Tales movie that day (haven't told the boys yet, but it looks like a go) so it will be a popcorn day all around!

Well, I've got to run ... the day's getting away from me! I've barely got the school stuff put away, and don't even ask about the kitchen! (Wednesday is, technically, kitchen day.) And the doorbell just rang and a friend's here to play with the boys, so that's my cue to get going ...

Have a good night, everyone!


Poetry Friday: The Owl and the Brownies

Owlintree

An owl sat alone on the branch of a tree,
And he was as quiet as quiet could be.
It was night and his eyes were round like this
He looked all around; not a thing he did miss.
Some brownies crept up on the branch of the tree,
And they were as quiet as quiet could be
Said the wise old owl, "To-whoooooo, to-whooooo."
Up jumped the brownies and away they flew.
An owl sat alone on the branch of a tree.
And he was as quiet as quiet could be.

(I found this sweet poem by Maude Burnam here.)

And by the way, brownies are tiny magical creatures, sprung from Scottish legend and folklore. As I'm part Scottish - and a former Brownie myself - I've always had a soft spot for these helpful little sprites. ;)

And speaking of brownies ... have you ordered your cookies yet? It's time, it's time! Contact your local Girl Scout and get your order in before it's too late!

(P.S. Thin Mints are my favorites - how about you?)

Happy Friday! :)


Poetry Friday: Christina Rossetti

*Christmas Daybreak*

Sunrisewinter5

Before the paling of the stars,

Before the winter morn,

Before the earliest cock crow,

Jesus Christ was born:

Born in a stable,

Cradled in a manger,

In the world His hands had made,

Born a stranger …

*

Jesus on his mother’s breast

In the stable cold,

Spotless Lamb of God was He,

Shepherd of the fold.

Let us kneel with Mary Maid,

With Joseph bent and hoary,

With saint and angel, ox and ass,

To hail the King of Glory.

A few days ago we set up our Nativity Corner. Here's a quick tour:

Mantel4

On the tabletop are favorite nativity books:

*Not shown are the three books I picked up at the library yesterday: The Friendly Beasts by Tomie de Paola, A Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith, and The Cobweb Curtain by Jenny Koralek (a Christmas Mosaic book).

Underneath the book display is where we keep the boys' nativity set:

Mantel5

A small basket holds all the soft dolls - shepherds, wise men and angel:

Mantel7

And inside the sturdy wooden manger we find the Holy Family:

Mantel6

We are looking forward to seeing the beautiful creche set up at church, but what has the boys really excited is Parish Breakfast this Sunday! Me too, but oh, sometimes it's hard to concentrate on Mass when the fragrance of maple syrup and sausages is thick in the air! ;)

On a side note, last night Bill and I caught the very last scene of The Nativity Story on HBO. The cinematography (not sure that's the right term) looks gorgeous, and I see the movie's rated PG. But I'm not sure it's suitable for children, so we'll try to catch it sometime this weekend and preview it ourselves. (If you saw it, what did you think?)

Well, I'm off now to start my day (in the up-off-the-couch sense of the word). So far it's just me and Earlybird, and the sky is still dark in the east. (He's not called Earlybird for nothing, lol.) We're breakfasting on cold pizza (him) and coffee (me) and while I do my morning blog-thing, he's watching a show all about Mars - whoops, make that Jupiter. I stand corrected. ;) (Oh, the boys loves his planets!) He's all talk about "moon rocks" and the "snow" glitter I mentioned casually between sips. Fridays at home usually mean crafts, but I'll need a good deal more coffee in me before I break out the glitter and glue!

I haven't yet tracked down who's hosting the Poetry Round-Up this week, but I'll update this post when I do. In the meantime ...

Happy Friday!