Library Lady's Corner
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!
What is the Winter Garden or Advent Spiral in a Waldorf School? November 29 2021
Garden of Light
In a Winter Garden,
Dark the Earth below,
Earth is waiting, waiting, waiting
For her seeds to grow.
Many young children are afraid of the dark. Actually, many grown ups are afraid of the dark too. Late autumn and early winter, when the days grow short and the darkness dominates everything, festivals help mark the time until the light begins to fill the days again.
First there is Michaelmas or The Feast of St. Michael: This is at Autumn equinox when day is exactly as long as night. The stories at this time help us gather courage. This courage serves us when Halloween comes and the earth breathes out its last of the year’s efforts of growth and the harvest is done. The quiet is absolute and scary! Death is apparent in all the fields. The day of the Dead in Latin cultures is at this time. Next is followed, in the United States, with Thanksgiving. Our hearts relax and experience gratitude when we realize the abundance of the harvest and the good fortune we have to be alive. Gathering with family and close friends to prepare for the winter season gives us comfort.
During the month of December, the days grow their darkest. In Waldorf schools, just after Thanksgiving, there is a celebration called the Winter Garden, or the Advent Garden. Advent means “To Come” and aside from this term used in some religious celebrations, it is meant to announce the coming of the light.
Karl König, anthroposophical doctor in the early part of the twentieth century, invented this celebration for Camphill Villages, to give community members a way to picture the need for light in the darkness, a way to anticipate mindfully the return of the light. Many cultures and religions have celebrations at this December time of year: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Druid Solstice ceremonies to name a few..
For the Advent Spiral or Winter Garden, children come into a darkened room filled with a spiral of evergreens on the floor. Teachers carefully prepare this spiral of living greens. The evergreens make a path for children to walk in a spiral to the center. The evergreen spiral is dotted with crystals, flowering plants, and other treasures. In the center of the spiral is a candle. Into the dark room comes one child carrying a lighted taper. Often this child is dressed in white like an angel. Walking slowly around the spiral to show the watching children how to do it slowly and mindfully, the "angel" then lights the candle waiting at the center of the spiral.
Then, one by one each child goes to the start of the spiral, receives from a teacher an apple with a candle inserted into a carved hole in the apple. The child walks the spiral with the unlit candle, goes to the center and lights the candle on the central candle that was lighted by the “angel” of the Winter Garden, the first child. Once the candle is lit, the child walks carefully back through the spiral and finds a place on the spiral to set the apple with the now-lit candle down. Then the next child comes and does the same thing. Each child has a turn until all the children have had the chance to light a candle and place it on the spiral. Music plays and fills the room while the children walk the garden and light their candles one by one.
By the end of the ceremony, the spiral is bright with light, illuminated with all the children’s candles. This offers the children a powerful picture of light in the darkness, of one’s candle contributing to the great light with others in the dark world, of the coming of light from each of us. It offers a reminder of the reliable turning of the sun from weakness to strength each year at the Winter Solstice. Waiting quietly in the darkness for the return of the light, contributing a little bit from each person to make the world bright, are important lessons to learn for life.
Few words and powerful pictures offer the best kind of learning.
Saint Martin of Tours and Martinmas November 10 2021The feast of St. Martin coincides with Veterans' Day which is fitting since St. Martin of Tours started as a conscripted soldier in the Roman army and quickly rose to a leadership position. Legend has it that St. Martin was much beloved by the soldiers he commanded for he tended to ride behind his men to ensure that no
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: Form Drawing October 11 2021
Form Drawing is a book about a subject unique to Waldorf schools. This book offers the best introduction to form drawing this Library Lady has ever seen! Form Drawing is full-color and bursting-with-illustrations—it is a must-have for understanding this powerful and engaging artistic subject!
Beginning on the first day of first grade, form drawing helps artistically to develop in children a sense of space, movement, balance, proportion,
Waldorf Grade 7 Book Recommendations February 25 2021Seventh graders are in the throes of the mighty force of puberty and the birth of the last of the “finer bodies” that some would call the “aura” of the human being. No births are quiet and the chatter in a classroom is the sound that begins in sixth grade and lasts through eighth and signals the arrival of a new birth, new capacities, and new challenges. The growth at this time in a young human being rivals the growth of a newborn and will not be repeated for the rest of life.
Waldorf Grade 6 Book Recommendations February 19 2021In sixth grade, the 11/12 year-old is usually beginning to experience the onset of puberty. Growth happens at an increasingly rapid rate and the child often goes through a time of alarm, not recognizing who he or she is anymore. Just as a single example, somewhere during the time of puberty a girl’s larynx grows to three times its original size and a boy’s, seven times its original size. This growth rate will never be repeated in the life span of human development.
Candlemas and Groundhog Day February 02 2021Today is one of those cross-quarter days. Some celebrate it as Ground hog day or the day when our hope of an end to winter might be divined by a groundhog. “Punxsutawney Phil,” from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has been the official weather groundhog, marking this day since 1887. 2016 marks his 130th year of predicting, with 100% accuracy, whether or not winter will be done in six weeks or will continue beyond that six weeks.
Waldorf Grade 4 Book Recommendations December 01 2020Youngsters 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 2020Following 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 2020Books 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 - Tatatuck’s Journey to Crystal Mountain October 07 2020Finding a story that has authentic imagination is a true delight and this story of a small gnome hero has just that! Tatatuck is an ordinary root pulling gnome who wishes to become a crystal mining gnome. He is small and so his dream seems highly unlikely to be fulfilled. One day he is asked if he feels brave enough to travel over the seven mountains to Crystal Mountain to bring back an important jewel for the gnomes.
Finding Indoor Ways! April 06 2020
Guaranteed Cures for Cabin Fever
There’s something about being told you have to stay indoors that creates an immediate urgency to get outside! If you are at home with children of any age, this urgency can become almost frantic at times. It’s important to re-orient our thinking to something along the lines of, “Ah! We get to stay in! We don’t have to rush to be anywhere at all!” And we have some ideas about how to help you actually enjoy this time.
The Importance of Rhythm
To the extent possible, build a new daily rhythm and stick to it, not rigidly, but at least approximately. After a few days, you’ll see that the family looks forward to “the next thing” they anticipate even if it’s not their favorite thing. Rhythm solves many “cabin fever” issues, you will see!
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: Bare Hand Knitting October 01 2019
Bare Hand Knitting — Tool Free Knitting at It's Finest
Aleshanee Aikin does not think as ordinary people do. She is multi-lingual, interested in everything, and endlessly busy with her creative hands. In her new book, Bare Hand Knitting, Tool Free Knitting at Its Finest, she applies these remarkably different ways of thinking to teaching us a technique known mostly by Waldorf kindergarten teachers: finger knitting.
Book Review: Exploring Shapes Creatively Through Pure Form Modeling September 01 2019Exploring Shapes Creatively Through Pure Form Modeling
Arthur Auer’s new book on modeling is a genuine launch into the unknown territory of creating form and knowing yourself better while exploring! He gathers thoughts from many before him, including himself! But the book casts a new look at using clay for modeling as a means to self-development and creativity. The book is big, chock full of strong ideas, with specific exercises to attempt, and worthwhile practices.
Book Review: Tending the Spark April 04 2019Tending the Spark: Lighting the Future for Middle School Students is Betty Staley’s latest contribution to better understanding child development to better educate the child. This is a book every parent and teacher of eleven to fifteen-year-olds must read! Tending the Spark covers a multiplicity of topics related to raising and teaching middle-schoolers. Everything from physical development, brain development, peer pressure, social media, and creativity are covered in this thorough sweep through middle school changes and realities.
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: 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.
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