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.


Hallowe’en Part 2: Through a Waldorf Lens October 28 2022

Our Own Children Now on Hallowe’en - Through a Waldorf Lens
Hallowe’en is meant to be fun, of course, but it also holds opportunities for us to allow our children to experience that death, too, is a part of life. Skeletons, ghosts (Ireland for a century or two kept a census of ghosts as well as of the living), and the barren fields after the harvest all speak to the human heart of the end of life. Children are no different and they sense on a deep intuitive level that this is true. It isn’t necessary (or beneficial) to frighten children, especially under the age of nine or so. Young children will experience the feelings around Hallowe’en without undue prompting.

A Waldorf Halloween


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.

Waldorf Halloween

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.

Halloween Samhain Waldorf Publications


Book Review: Waldorf Book of Blessings from Around the World June 07 2022

Waldorf Book of Blessings from Around the World is now available!

Gratitude! What an uplifting attitude of soul to cultivate and maintain!  It can be difficult to find in today’s contentious world; yet here it is in abundance in this little book by Warren Lee Cohen. It is overflowing with gratitude for the food we eat and the friends and family with whom we share our meals. All around the world, families and friends ask for blessings on their meals with a spirit of quiet peace. So many different cultures and languages are represented in this powerhouse collection!


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.


Waldorf Grade 5 Book Recommendations December 15 2020

The fifth-grade child is reaching the height of childhood. Capacities have solidified and consolidation runs through the whole fifth grade year. The child begins to realize what he or she knows and can do. Rudolf Steiner said that fifth grade is a year of balance. Though this is true, it can be misleading. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the fifth-grade year is without any problems. This balance is most clearly true for the physical maturing of the child, as a child. For the first time the breath and heartbeat reach adult proportions. Each breath is now accompanied by four heartbeats.

Waldorf Grade 4 Book Recommendations December 01 2020

Youngsters in grade four are now ten years old and have past the nine-year-old shift in consciousness but are still smoothing this out in their understanding of the world. Their new independence means a bit of separation from parents and teachers and some cantankerousness as this adjustment settles. The curriculum brings...

Waldorf Grade 2 Book Recommendations November 02 2020

Following Waldorf Grade 1 recommendations, here comes Waldorf Grade 2! Remember that books for general self-development and foundational work for teaching were offered in a previous writing. Also note that there are too many books in all these lists to presume that anyone should read them all, but knowing what books are available can help in deciding about the one or two or three books (or more!) that might prove useful as a guide both for teachers and students.

Waldorf Grade 1 Book Recommendations October 19 2020

Books for general self-development and foundational work for teaching were offered in a previous writing. Now we will offer grade by grade book recommendations. There are too many books in all these lists, remember, to think that we are advising that anyone read them all.

Book Review: Immersion Learning - A Travelogue July 31 2020

by Franz Lutters in conjunction with Leiden University, the Netherlands

What is this unusual practice in Waldorf schools around the world, that has teachers, day after day, two hours each day, week after week for, sometimes, four weeks teaching the same subject?! It is called “block teaching,” with a single subject the consistent focus for three, four, and sometimes up to six weeks, depending on the teacher and the goals for the class.

Book Review: Growing Up Healthy in a World of Digital Media January 02 2020

Growing Up Healthy in a World of Digital Media: A guide for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents

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: The Four Temperaments May 23 2018

Helmut 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: The Invisible Boat and the Molten Dragon April 20 2018

One genuinely marvelous thing about this second book in Eric Mueller’s Invisible Boat series is the steady stream of pictures of how nature looks behind the curtain of beauty we see. The creatures and the palaces, and the gardens and the light, are all resplendent with imaginations that ring true and lift the heart with a feeling of what’s happening on this living Earth of ours!

These pictures are charming, sometimes breathtaking, and ofttimes startling. Through these images, we are drawn closer to the earth.


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.


Why a Class Play in Waldorf Schools? February 08 2018

For almost every grade in most Waldorf schools, there is a class play. This is an exciting event and means a great deal to everyone: the teachers, the students, the parents, the extended families of students. Interestingly enough, Rudolf Steiner never indicated that every year should have a class play! This is a tradition built in the ensuing decades of the last 100 years of Waldorf education. Doing plays is a happy tradition, but not a necessity in the curriculum!

How Do Children Learn to Write and to Read? October 13 2017

Literacy 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 2017

Waldorf 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.Save

Book Review: Award Winning "Helping Children on Their Way" August 16 2017

Waldorf 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

 

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Book Review: Difficult Children – There is No Such Thing May 16 2017

Today "difficult children"—children with attention deficit disorder, high levels of anxiety, restlessness, aggressiveness, and other emotional and behavioral problems — are a major challenge for parents, educators. and therapists. Once the child has been diagnosed and labeled as having ADD or autism or some other condition, the standard approach is to use psychotherapy and/or psychotropic drugs to change behavior. Millions of children today, for example, take the drug Ritalin for attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.  Continue reading...

 


Coming Soon– Several New Waldorf Publications on the Way! May 05 2017

Check out the new titles arriving just in time for summer reading!

Book Review: Active Arithmetic! and Math Lessons for Elementary Grades April 28 2017

Are you concerned about your child’s math skills?  Are you wondering how to bring a math idea to your class in an unusual, memorable way?  These books are indispensable! Perhaps the best thing about these books is that they turn your mind from the drier approaches to teaching arithmetic, and open the faucet of your own imaginative ideas for teaching math.