Friday, October 22, 2010

Making the 'school' fit into your 'house'

A fairly normal looking living room. The scene of (sporadically) organized chaos. Some people have whole rooms dedicated to school, others have houses with some school stuff thrown in. Now traditional preschool waldorf says you don't need more then your real house with your real stuff but... Well we are all parents in the 21st century and we all feel pressured to make with the 'offical'. So how do we fit our school into our houses without it taking over our space?

Workboxes. For me I use this plastic drawer thing from Krogers.

Inside I put the daily 'school' activities. I use one box per year of age for preschool years. This particular day I have a magnifying glass, workbooks, a craft project, and some grass hopper puppets with a verse.

We, as many homeschoolers do, have books that have books that have books. Our books are on several shelves throughout our house. They are in storage containers, they are on the sofa, they are under the sofa. They are shoved into the space between the bed and the wall. The bottom shelf though in the living room are 'resource' books for general use. I figured if I put them out in the living room the children would 'discover' them. (Recently actually this has happen as Loch has discovered there are pictures/info of dinosaurs in the encyclopedias.

A set of Encyclopedia Britannica from my childhood, a newer Usborne Encyclopedia, dictionaries, and a few 'stuff to do when you're bored' books.

The painting board and 'hows the weather?' board I got from Funshine Express Thought they would be perfect for visually saying what the letter, color, and number for the week is. As well as practicing observation of daily weather patterns.

Black board has a drawing for this weeks theme. I'm a little ashamed to post this one, last weeks was fabulous and much more waldorf-y but that one disappeared into Neverwhere. I promise to atone by doing a post about blackboard drawing later.

The world map lives over the toy bins. Really it should be lower as the kids actually can't see it by themselves but... well.. it fits there and the baby can't eat it. Map was free from

Bullition board is over the dinning room table. Contents change weekly. Sometimes it's the theme for the week ,(here is Fire Saftly and hexagons) sometimes kids art.

Our nature table sits on the windowsill. It makes use of a very lovely space only about 3 inches wide so otherwise completely useless.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If you could only have 6 books for your preschooler

Let us pretend you can only have 6 books for your preschooler. (It's okay, take a breath. We are only playing pretend here.)
What would you choose? Would you choose classics? Classic picture books? Books from your youth? Fairy tales? More 'academic' books?
Being a curriculum addict I have gone through a lot of preschool programs. I've bought a lot of them too. I've looked at everything from Anabaptist, Christian, Secular, Muslim, and Pagan recommendations for what to teach your children. At least for now I have chosen the 6 books I feel are MUST HAVES. - Okay well really Sonlight choose them but I'm seconding the motion. and I'll even tell you why.- see amazon widgit for links

  • 20th Century Children's Book Treasury

  • 44 stories in one book. Many classics like Goodnight Moon & Where The Wild Things Are. This book is being picked out again and again by my kids.

  • A First Book of Fairy Tales

  • All those fairy stories everyone should read in a young children friendly book.

  • Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

  • Another book of books with only one stories overlapping with other treasury. Full page pictures.

  • Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm

  • An older book that continues about the animals from A year at Maple Hills Farm. My preschooler loves it. Can't get enough of this book. Has enough detail that new discovers can be made as your child gets older and more preceptive.

  • Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?

  • What do fireman do? How do you build a road? In true Richard Scarry style gives fun overviews of many jobs in our world.

  • The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book

  • Detailed book of the bodies functions but colorful and fun enough to capture the younger crowds attention. Children wont outgrow this book for several years.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Corn husk Dollies

So... despite every website or blog I came across explaining how one makes a corn husk dolly assuring me that any craft store will carry dried corn husks they in fact do not carry such a thing here in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Rather then give up my chosen craft for the coop Thursday Waldorf group I chugged along and bought 'fresh' corn at the grocery store. I striped and dried then re-wet this morning as it had dried to a brittle-y mess overnight. And today we made dolls! Not bad if I do say so myself. Now I found plenty of sites that have corn husk dolls using anywhere from 6-20 pieces of husk. Some had bonnets and bodices and were really works of art but alas as an Alaskan my ability to turn this foreign substance known as 'corn' into art is...lacking. So for a more younger crowed and newbie friendly version I give you a photo tutorial.

Start with 6 husks 4 larger ones and two smaller ones.

Place the four large ones together, these will form the head & body of your doll. Double knot some yarn or twine near the top.

Carefully peel the husks back over the knot you just made. You fillip in over onto itself.

This is what you get after you have turned it inside out.

Tie another double knot just under this so it forms the head.

take your two smaller pieces of husk and place them together and tie them at the ends. This makes your dolls arms and hands.

Separate the dolls body with two husks on each side and slide the arms you just made in.

Tie another knot of yarn just under the arms giving your doll a waist. Now if you are making a girl doll trim the husks and yarn as you desire and you're done! If making a 'boy' doll separate the bottom husks and tie off legs just like you did above with the arms.

Be prepared to also be asked to make airplanes or rocket ships! ;D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Preschool - But what do i DO?

One of the most common questions on homeschool forums is what do I DO with my preschooler.
Well.... there are two main answers, There is the 'academics / three R's' and there is the 'better late then early' and there are several in-betweens but still what does one do with their 2/3/4 year old?

Okay so we have the basics. Let them help you cook, clean the house, pick out food for dinner, maybe sew a little. Read to them. ( and read to them, and read to them, and read to them...) Have them help around the house and be part of real life and play I think everyone reconizes the power of play these days and no one wants to deny children the wonder it is to be a child but aren't we missing something? Shouldn't there be more?

Well..... So besides the above go ahead and do a little more. If there is interest in workbook type activites go ahead and use them. - Kumon First Step Workbooks are nice once to try out. But many kids can't yet do workbook activities or don't like them. Now what?

Pick a theme.... moons, knights, fall, christmas, apples, choose something that works for the time of year you're in (well I suppose you could do butterflys in January but really, why?) and something your child has interest in. From there you can find any number of things to do for 'school.' Take Dragons. Bake bread and make it the shape of a dragon. Make / sew a dragon or knight constume and do some imaginative play. Count the number of princesses your dragon eats or the number of dragons your knight slays. READ books about dragons. Draw some pictures either from your play or the books you read together. Do a dragon craft activity..... Really the list goes on and on for any subject. If you have trouble thinking of things just type in -your subject here- + crafts into google and I promise you there will be more ideas then you ever thought of!
Little Acorn Learning has two sample weeks to give you a very good idea of how a weekly rhythm might go or consider buying a month or two of their program until you feel comfortable with doing preschool on your own. (Really I swear I don't own stock in them or anything I just love their curriculum. Best preschool program I have ever seen.)

Need more? start with a basic spine or outline of the things you want your child to learn or improve on for this year. Place in fun projects that help accomplish those things. I suggest 1 'school' activity per year of age but lets not forget that life is also school and sometimes teachable moments happen at non school times. The trick is to have the little list in your head so at least you feel like you did school.