Library Lady's Corner
Saint Nicholas and Building a Capacity for Self-Reflection in the Young - A Waldorf Perspective December 05 2022
December 6 is the day marked to celebrate the legendary Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343)—the prototype for our North American Santa Claus. His feast day is often celebrated in Waldorf schools, though in some schools his celebration has been disapproved and removed for being too Eurocentric or too harsh for children. His legends are rooted in German lore and in Dutch stories (Sinterklaas* is his name in Dutch). But vestiges of this remarkable saint pop up in many places throughout Europe, Turkey, parts of Dutch-colonized African countries, North America and elsewhere.
Traditionally when Saint Nicholas appears to children, he wears the garb of an early Christian bishop* (so he wears a funny mitered hat, as some children would tell you) and he carries a large golden book. In this book are written all the good deeds children have done on one page, and on the opposing page, unfortunate deeds and challenges facing the child are written. Saint Nicholas addresses each child with these balancing facts of the little one’s life.
Martinmas and Lantern Walks in Waldorf Schools November 09 2022Many Waldorf schools host a Lantern Walk in November and around Martinmas, the feast day for St. Martin of Tours — also Veterans’ Day in the United States. St. Martin, the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, was known for his unassuming nature and ability to bring light and warmth to the impoverished.
Hallowe’en Part I: Samhain –– The Celtic roots of Hallowe’en October 27 2022
It figures that the land of Banshees, fairies and Leprechauns would be the starting place for a holiday like Hallowe’en. The Celtic word “Samhain” is actually pronounced “Sow-in.” This word literally translates as “summer’s ending.” After the harvest was gathered and stored, livestock had been sorted for slaughter or breeding, and the earth was perceived to have exhausted herself, this festival of Samhain was one of four high festivals of the Druid religion.
Leftovers from the harvested fields were piled up and burned. The rituals surrounding this festival had much to do with clearing away the old to make way for the new –– purging the old field to prepare the fields for new crops. It was also the last day of the Druid year and the day when all departed souls would return to their homes and when malevolent spirits were released as the earth gave up her strength and could hold these spirits back no more.
The bonfires offered some protection from these released unresting souls. The momentary instability of the boundaries between death and life made all sorts of spirits free to roam and haunt and frighten people. Fairies and leprechauns were not believed to be sweet and endearing beings but were untrustworthy and tricky sprites who needed to be outsmarted and watched carefully. “Changeling” babies could be substituted for one’s own child if the cradle were not carefully tended. Children were often dressed in disguises so that the fairies wouldn’t know who they were to steal them away and leave the family with some strange substitute for a little brother or sister. At Samhain, disguises were very important. Unattractive disguises, including downright ugly masks, drove the sprightly thieves away.
The Irish left food and treats out on the table to both appease these potentially unkind spirits, hoping that a show of hospitality might deter them from doing any harm or stealing any children, and also to welcome in the ancestors who might find their way home on this dark, important night. Also, parsnips or turnips (grown to bigger sizes on the Emerald Isle than in the USA) were hollowed out, carved, and lit with candles to shine the beloved home to the houses of their births, lives, and deaths. The traditions of treats and hollowed and lighted produce can been seen as starting here.
Farm animals were anointed with holy water to protect them through the night of roaming spirits. And unmarried girls would go blindfolded into the almost empty fields searching for cabbages. If they pulled up the first cabbage they stumbled upon and it had a lot of clay on the roots, the girl’s future husband would be rich.
Apples were considered a symbol of fertility and a happy marriage. Bobbing for apples or attempting to eat an apple on a string informed a girl of her future. She would keep the apple she first bit into and put it under her pillow that night. Tradition held that she would then dream of her future husband. Other blindfold games of Samhain included a table filled with varying objects. Blindfolded people would reach out and touch something and this would foretell the future. James Joyce’s short story, “Clay,” well describes this practice. A bowl of water meant emigration. A ring meant an impending wedding. A lump of clay implied death.
Orange and black were considered the colors of death. Irish famine immigrants brought these Irish traditions with them to America in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Book Review - Honey Bee Haven January 12 2022
Honey Bee Haven that is a real delight. Teaching ourselves and our children about the precious work done by pollinators, especially bees, has become a topic of some urgency in the last decades. With gloriously colorful pictures, done in watercolor paintings by the author, and the simple telling of how bees live and work, a penetrating story gets told in this little masterpiece of a book. It is about the significance of the work of honey bees, and about our part in making them feel appreciated, cared-for, and loved!
Book Review: Bare Hand Crafting - the sequel to Bare Hand Knitting November 01 2021
If you loved Bare Hand Knitting, here is Aleshanee Akin’s next volume, Bare Hand Crafting 2! It is filled with more advanced techniques using yarn, thread, and your own two beautiful hands! Many have asked about this upcoming treasure trove of creativity and now it is here! In addition to learning how to knit without needles, you can learn to hand knit in three dimensions, and to crochet, embroider, and combine all your skills to make lovely things to wear, to play with, and to enjoy.
Book Review: Xavier Sings Stories of His Alphabet Friends January 12 2021
Technology has opened vistas galore on the science of brain development. One remarkable discovery for Waldorf teachers and parents is how potent music is in developing memory. All of us are much more likely to remember something if we learn it in song.
This isn't surprising in one significant way: music often makes us feel, sometimes very deeply. It cultivates a mood, and we are more likely to recall the mood than the content. If something is very funny or very sad or very moving or very shocking, we are much more likely to remember than if there is no mood at all. Once the mood is evoked, the content then follows.
Using Our Hands Has a Calming Effect March 25 2020Certainly, in these times of being housebound for preventing the spread of illness, the uncertainty and fearful anticipation can cause nervous restlessness, particularly in children whose rhythms are disrupted. Establishing new rhythms can be very helpful, and so can using our hands (after washing, of course) in constructive activities.
Book Review: Growing Up Healthy in a World of Digital Media January 02 2020
This is an essential and timely book that addresses the dangers of screen time, addiction, and EMFs on human beings, especially on young ones. It helps empower parents and teachers to be mindful and vigilant. The overwhelming acceptance of digital media (digital everything!) happened as if without Input from us, parents, teachers, everyone! Schools, businesses, and ordinary people were, within a decade, all managing, reading, learning and communicating on wired, digital devices. Only recently have the deleterious effects of free-range use of digital media become well-known. Behavior disorders, depression, addiction, loss of concentration, and general feelings of malaise or unhappiness have been traced back to screen time for many. The younger the user, the more powerful the impact.
Book Review: Matt McFlack and His Flyaway Kite July 26 2018Here comes a darling children’s book about a little fellow who spends his wealth on a kite, blue yellow, and white. Through rhythmic verses, the story is told of Matt’s difficulties with a kite that demonstrates it has a personality of its own and takes train rides, wind rides, and long sails away from his little friend.
The illustrations are beautifully rendered with colors that express the friendship of the kite and the boy very well.
Book Review: The Four Temperaments May 23 2018Helmut Eller’s new book, The Four Temperaments gives us a fresh new look at the four temperaments — sanguines, melancholics, cholerics, and phlegmatics. Eller goes into great depth in examining all the implications of the tendencies in youngsters (and in people) of one temperament or another, giving teachers and parents powerful means with which to reach children and to help them to find their way as they grow.
Book Review: Painting at School April 16 2018
Dick Bruin and Attie Lichthart have devoted their lives to painting and the teaching of painting. In their new book, Painting at School, they express a deep understanding of color and joyful devotion to painting and its value in the lives of individuals, especially in children.
Their original work, now almost twenty years in the world, Painting in Waldorf Schools, is still rich with insights about painting as soul food for children (and adults) and valuable in its suggestions about approaching painting lessons. The original book came with a CD of paintings.
How Do Children Learn to Write and to Read? October 13 2017Literacy has been made an urgent issue in the last decade. As parents and teachers, we worry, often deeply. Back in the 1900s, we didn’t worry so desperately. Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, and T.V.’s “Sesame Street” were ever present to reassure us that ways were there for children to learn to read. Maybe these extrinsic tools for children to learn to read and copy writing laid the foundations for the worry — if these tools did not do the trick, perhaps there was something wrong with the child.
Book Review: The Moon Prince and the Sea August 21 2017Waldorf graduates like Daniela Rose Anderson often carry a global consciousness. They often volunteer for service in unlikely places with the greatest needs. Daniela did such volunteering and came to know a boy named Sumit and a girl named Marina Both were very young and both had terminal leukemia. The heart of Daniela linked the two hearts of the children who shared the same illness from faraway places.
Book Review: Award Winning "Helping Children on Their Way" August 16 2017Waldorf Publications is proud to be recognized by Mom’s Choice Awards with Helping Children on Their Way
Elizabeth Auer has assembled a remarkable group of educators to write about many aspects of supporting children in their different and varied “stuck places” along the road to a balanced development for life.
Math and Arithmetic in a Waldorf School May 24 2017
Children learn arithmetic in school. Most of what we call “math” is arithmetic — the skills of computation and calculation. When we do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, times tables, square roots, calculating area — for examples — we are doing arithmetic. Arithmetic is a division or department of mathematics. Geometry, algebra, and calculus are other branches of mathematics.
Teaching children skills in arithmetic tends to be a cause of anxiety in our culture. Comparative studies accomplished in the latter part of the last century, comparing the attitudes of Japanese parents and American parents about arithmetic skills was revealing. Read More
Traditional Tales Retold by Kelly Morrow April 20 2017
Lazy Jack; King Thrushbeard; The Prince and the Dragon; and Sylvain and Jocosa
When class teacher Kelly Morrow’s search for first readers appropriate and challenging for her students proved fruitless, she created her own. The four little books range from 18 to 38 pages. Each book tells a folk story in a simple, clear, but interesting way, and each story is enriched by a moral truth. The cover of each is an engaging color illustration, and there are black and white drawings throughout.
Waldorf Publications and WECAN Form a More Perfect Union February 26 2017
Here in the land of publishing it’s not always easy to tell what is happening beyond the borders of a completed book process. During the journey of publishing a book there are proposals from authors, committee decisions about those proposals, backs-and-forths with authors, decisions about the age range of the book’s usefulness, permissions from other publishers, decisions about illustrations where needed, layouts, font choices, size of the book, cover decisions, edits, proofreading, biographies of authors, sometimes translation issues, and then the actual lining up for printing of the book before going to press. Read More...
There’s No Minute Like the Last Minute! December 16 2016Waldorf Publications and the Research Institute for Waldorf Education have many fine possibilities for thoughtful gifts when thoughtfulness in the hectic season becomes hard to muster.
Consider the caliber and depth of some of these gifts — remember, books and subscriptions keep giving long into the future!
Happiness is Winning the World Series after 108 Years November 04 2016Just ask the Chicago Cubs what happiness is and they will tell you. Winning the World Series for their team and their community after 108 years of no participation in the Series or championship wins is the “sweetest thing, with no words to describe it,” one elated team member said to a journalist when the last inning was completed and the Series was won.
That word, “happy” or “happiness,” is a mysterious word, overused in the USA. Deviating from the sports arena for a moment — the word happiness is used frequently about schools and teachers and education. Recent surveys done by private schools indicate that many parents....
Belly Laughs September 09 2016
The first grade class teacher kiddingly told the first grader that he was “full of soup,” that he was tricking her and she tickled him as she challenged his playful trick. The little boy let out a deep belly laugh as he conceded that he was caught out and that he was indeed playing a practical joke on the teacher.
The laugh gave the teacher a reason to pause. It was almost December and she had never heard this child laugh like that before. He lived in a difficult home situation and there had been questions around the boy’s placement in first grade. He was repeating first grade following the decision of the previous teacher and so was new to this class.
In the first days of the second time at first grade, the teacher noticed that the boy’s voice had a disembodied quality.....
First Grade Readiness and the Waldorf School Plan
A parent of a kindergartner asked a teacher this question one day, “What’s the big deal about teeth in a Waldorf school?” It’s a good question as Waldorf teachers take seriously the changing of teeth, from milk teeth, or “baby teeth,” to the new growth of adult or second teeth.
Deciding whether or not to declare a child ready to move from kindergarten to first grade is a weighty decision to make.
The Waldorf School and the End of Year Report May 27 2016Assessment is a “hot topic” in the news and in educational debate. In Waldorf schools assessment takes many forms, none of which includes standardized testing.
During the year, concentrated “blocks” of study might include an end-of-block assessment. A block might be three or four weeks long and concentrate study on one topic. After a botany block in the fifth grade an outdoor “treasure” hunt to find, for example, a monocotyledon, a pistil, a tap root, a deciduous conifer branch, a dicotyledon, and so on, might be the "test.” Read More...
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