Library Lady's Corner
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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
Can Morality be Taught? June 08 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...
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Buy Nothing Day 2016 November 24 2016
The Friday After Thanksgiving is celebrated at Waldorf Publications and the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, RIWE, as “Buy Nothing Day.” The sweetness of the Thanksgiving holiday is its absence of commercialism. Food, family, gratitude, gathering are all that need be pondered and enacted. Read More...
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.....
Twelve Senses: Not Just Five in the Human Being – Part III August 24 2016The four senses that become the focus of development in a young person’s high school years are sometimes called the “higher” senses. All the senses must be cared for and developed with equal care. Development of all twelve senses is important all through a child’s life. However these final four senses flower in a particular way in high school that is a wonder to behold if the work done on the other eight is deep and thorough.
The Truth About Age Twelve June 20 2016The age of twelve is remarkable. As childhood comes to its end, the twelve-year-old can feel accomplishment and mastery of many skills in jump rope, running, reading, arithmetic, high jumping, memorization, writing, logic, and reasoning. Just as the sense of mastery peaks, the child’s body begins to change. Though the first changes are invisible, the child feels them with a growing sense of alarm at what the changes might be. Read More...
Being Nine Years Old June 16 2016
The teacher knelt before the boy to explain how to cross the street carefully and to check to see if he felt uneasy about crossing without a teacher holding his hand. The boy’s mother was taking a job in the area and she wanted her children in a Waldorf school. The boy had come to visit the second grade that day. He had, up till then, been home schooled, and there was a question about whether or not the boy belonged in second grade or third grade because of his age—older than the youngest in the third grade and younger than the oldest in the second grade.
After the teacher had completed explaining carefully how to cross the street without a teacher helping him, the teacher asked, “Can you do that?.....
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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