Tag Archives: Rhythm

Friday Five: Books for Spring

I know spring may be slow in other parts of the country, but it’s here in California. My garden is getting going and the chickens are laying again. Plus the days are noticeably longer. Here’s a list of five books to help you welcome Spring in. For more books about spring check out this list on Goodreads. Many are about the four seasons and their circle, but many are specifically about spring. 

FloatFloat illustrated by Daniel Miyares

From Goodreads: A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him. So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat, and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

This is such a beautiful book that celebrates those rainy spring days. Don’t discount wordless picture books. They give your child a lot of freedom to tell the story and add in their own details. Float contains a lot of interesting details within it’s illustrations that give you clues about what is going on and what will happen next. Those provide a good opportunity for you to draw your child’s attention to them as you notice them by asking questions and having them make predictions and really read the pictures. These skills then translate over into reading harder, longer books. But really, just curl up on the sofa with this one on a rainy day and then head out to make your own newspaper boat. 

Happy DayThe Happy Day written by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Marc Simont

From Goodreads: The woodland animals awake from their deep winter’s sleep to discover the first sign of spring: a flower blooming in the snow.

This story builds up beautifully as the animals of the forest wake up one early, early spring day. They rush off to see a sight which is not revealed until the final page. It’s the first flower of spring, a herald of the season to come. Even though our first flowers pop up in late January we understand the anticipation of spring. The feeling of a breath finally being let out after being held for so long. I love how it celebrates that joy of the very first sign of the end of winter. 

Rabbits and RaindropsRabbits and Raindrops written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky

From Goodreads: It’s the first day outside the nest for Mother rabbit’s five babies, and all sorts of new creatures and adventures await them. But when a sudden rain shower sends the rabbits scurrying for shelter under the hedge, the other wild animals come to visit them!

Another story that celebrates the rainy season. The illustrations in this are glorious. There are some small details to notice in them, but it’s the colors that will draw you in and the incredible ability of Arnosky to render such accurate and realistic scenes. The focus on the babies and their wonder at all that is new to them I think mirrors the wonder of children and childhood and is very relatable to young children. 

SpringSpring illustrated by Gerda Muller

I think I plug these every time I do a season post, but they really are great books. As with Float, this one is wordless. This time around there is less of a story being told and more vignettes that show various activities through the season. I will say they skew pretty European (thatching the roof?!) and Christian, but they are very beautiful and certainly capture the magic of the season. My daughter loves to look at these during quiet time and remember times she has dyed eggs or played outside in the spring which is a nice way to make a connection between real life and books.  

 


PancakesPancakes for Supper
written by Anne Issacs, illustrated by Mark Teague

From Goodreads: When her family’s wagon hits a bump, golden-haired Toby Littlewood is hurled into the sky and lands deep in the snowy forest. There she meets a prickly porcupine, an enormous bear, and a hungry cougar, among other fearsome creatures. Cleverly, she talks each one out of eating her by offering up her fancy clothes. In the end, in a competition to be the grandest beast, the vain animals chase each other around and around a maple tree, where they turn into maple syrup!

This one is set during the early spring just as the snow is melting, it also ties in nicely with Fat Tuesday if you celebrate that. The story itself is a retelling of Little Black Sambo, a deeply deeply racist story. Thankfully this one is not and does a good job of updating the story and making it funny. I highly recommend reading it and then having pancakes for supper. The “information” about maple syrup isn’t quite accurate, but you could talk about how maple syrup is made after reading this too. 

Tradition: Candlemas

This is the first year we will be celebrating Candlemas on February 2nd. Traditionally (i.e. religiously) it is the celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the temple. Since we aren’t particularly religious we celebrate the more pagan tradition that I think the Feast of the Presentation is supposed to obscure- it’s the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Basically it means the days are getting noticeably longer.

I have noticed that out on our walks and in the evenings when I head out to take care of our flock and creatures outside. I’ve also noticed it in the mornings when I head out to take out treats and open the run for the chickens. I don’t mind winter at all, which is in part probably due to the mild winters we have here in Sacramento, but I’m always glad to see the longer days. 

To celebrate we are going to read two poetry books that I got from the library that celebrate the passing of the seasons. A Circle of Seasons and A Brighter Garden. I am also going to put out candles during dinner and we may even read the books solely by candlelight. 

Spring is coming!

Night Rhythm

I mentioned a few weeks back that we started a bedtime routine. We haven’t previously had one and I haven’t ever felt like we needed one, per se, but in my Waldorf reading I was inspired to have a poem, story, and candle at bedtime.

Night Rhythm

So far it’s been going really well. We have an order written out which is more to help remember what the pieces of the rhythm are than a set plan of action. Cam knows all the pieces and is especially fond of snuffing the candle (she calls it “nuffing”). Just this week I’ve begun asking her to choose the story for the night and she is relishing that too (as am I). I do reserve the right to add in or switch stories if there is a particular story I want to read (to, say, emphasize a problem we’re having).¬†Even though Cam can’t read, I’ve written out the routine and her nighttime poem and posted it above her bed. She is aware that the sheet has the poem and routine and she looks at it from time to time.

The one thing I really don’t like about the routine is that it takes time! Cam used to just go to bed when it was time. We gave her warnings that the time was approaching and then we’d go climb into bed and go to sleep. It’s not that she fusses now, it’s just that I need to be more aware of what time it is in the evening so I can be sure to get the ball rolling. A minor complaint for something that has made our evenings special and magical.

A New Daily Rhythm

As I noted in my last post I’m working on creating a better daily rhythm. At this point I feel like I have a handle on the breathing in and out rhythm of the day. Now I want some anchor points in the day and week (laundry on Friday, cleaning on Thursday, and the like). Cam is also trying to involve herself in some of my activities so I need to find ways she can help and include them in the schedule.

There are two aspects to a written agenda and to-do list, though, that I am trying very hard to resist. The first is becoming a slave to the clock and the second is becoming a slave to the to-do list. I would like to have a schedule that allows extra time if we’re having fun, not one that requires we shut things down to get on to the next thing on the list. I also feel myself getting too tied to the to-do lists I’ve been creating. I need to write down what needs to be done becauseI forget, but it can really drive me to forget to do other things like connect with Cam.

So, I’m going for a few words that will guide our days and the idea that at the beginning of each day I can reflect on what needs to be done, when I will do those things, and what our daily words will look like (i.e. bike on driveway for “go outside”).

Daily Rhythm

Thinking About Family Vision

Between my reflection posts, reading about Waldorf education, and the feeling of freshness and renewal of springtime I’ve been thinking a lot about reexamining our daily routine and our approach to the week. Sometimes I feel like I can get hung up on crossing off the to-do list and that we get in a rut. I was pleased to see someone else must have been thinking along similar lines, because one of the Waldorf blogs I follow, Lavender’s Blue Homeschool, started a series this month on creating a Waldorf-inspired home preschool. It’s really gotten me thinking in a helpful way.

Per the first post in the series, I am working on creating a vision for our family. The post suggests making a vision board or artistic representation, writing a formal mission statement or even simply a journal post. Nothing so formal or artistic for me, but since my blog is rather like a journal I thought I would share it here.

I think I like this idea so much not because I feel like we’re floundering or don’t have direction, but because I think it will help guide our decisions about our homeschooling, how we teach Cam and what we teach her. It will help develop our family traditions and rituals and it can serve as a guide when we need to make decisions about what to do as a family.

I want our family to be:

  • warm
  • calm
  • curious
  • creative
  • grateful
  • aware
  • compassionate
  • gracious

We appreciate:

  • that there is time for everything
  • nourishment (for body and soul)
  • what we have, not what we want
  • natural beauty
  • connection (with each other and the world)

Breathing In, Breathing Out

Heaven on EarthA few months ago I read a wonderful Waldorf parenting book, Heaven on Earth. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to give you a sense of what Waldorf parenting looks like and also want some concrete ways to parent in that way.

Waldorf is very focused on creating and celebrating rhythms. Rhythms of the year, rhythms of the home, rhythms of the heart. (I talk a bit about rhythm here and give some other wonderful resources.) One suggestions Heaven on Earth makes is to look at your daily rhythm as breathing in and breathing out. Expanding and contracting.

I understood it to mean, and Oppenheimer suggest it can mean, that as we go through the day, Cam and I come together and then move apart in our activities. Cam is a very independent, busy toddler and she is very good at engaging in activities where she doesn’t need me to be looking over her shoulder (although she spends a good amount of time talking to me during these independent activities), but she is also still only two and a half. She needs cuddle time, time that I focus primarily on her or an activity we do together like baking.

We start by breathing in. Cuddles when she wakes up and breakfast together. A little chat or two. Then we move apart to get clean up and washed up and play a bit. From there we spend the rest of the day breathing in and out. Sometimes one period is longer than it wasthe day before. I observe Cam for indications on how she’s feeling and what she needs and adjust accordingly. Those days when I push it, I can I tell in her behavior that I’ve taken too long to come together (or break apart!). She’ll get fussy and clingy or push me away.

Waldorf Banner.jpg

It’s such a simple idea, but it works really well for us. Using this breathing in and out rhythm has worked wonders for creating a smooth, calm, happy day for us. Not that our days were horrendous before, but it’s really streamlined our rhythm.

Our Home Rhythm

I don’t know if it’s the quiet reflection Fall alway inspires in me or if it was something that had been coming on longer, but I’ve found myself seeking out calm. I got tired of feeling pulled in many directions, tired of feeling like the housework was overwhelming me, and tired of feeling like I didn’t know where our day had gone.

I have also been working very hard to establish some family traditions, especially ones that de-comercialize the holidays and the seasons. I want Cam to simply enjoy the rhythm of the seasons and look forward to holidays throughout the year that mark special times for our family to come together and reflect on life.

With all this in mind, it suddenly became much easier for me to let things go, prioritize better when it came to getting things done around the house. I suddenly felt okay saying, that won’t get done today. Sure, there’s the occasional day when there is something pressing, but I let everything else go. I still like having a neat and tidy home, but if we leave out some of Cam’s art supplies it isn’t the end of the world.

I recently came across several Waldorf blogs that had some lovely posts about creating a home rhythm and I found those posts to be quite inspiring (especially this one). I realized we had been working toward several Waldorf principles and decided not only to create a home rhythm, but also to revisit Waldorf principles. Through Happy Whimsical Hearts I found a reading list and got ahold of a few of the books.

The most inspiring to me was Heaven On Earth, and I may write up a whole post about my thoughts and notes on that book. I also tried out Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, but wasn’t as enthralled by that one. What I did take away from that was the idea of “breathing in” and “breathing out” in a home rhythm, which is when you come together and then break apart for activities and time. This really plays into the toddler desire to both cling to you and be independent. We were already doing this to some degree, but now I am making a conscious effort to “breath in and breath out”.

I also read through a copy of Project-Based Homeschooling and was really inspired. This concept of totally child-directed learning that delves deeply into a topic of interest just really resonates with me. (This may be apparent from my Homeschool Manifesto and also my discussions of how I like the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.) In the past I complained about how Reggio resources can often feel very theoretical, and Project-Based Homeschooling is the antidote to that. It is very practical advice on how to approach what is essentially a Reggio education without telling you exactly how to do any lesson. I am now working toward introducing Cam to a variety of materials and creating a much better atelier/learning space. This reexamining of her learning spaces has also lead to a much better rhythm at home in that we really spend conscientious time in our spaces.

So, I suppose all this is to say I feel much more present and peaceful since the Fall started. I know I haven’t blogged much lately, but I think that’s just par for the course at this point. While I really want to be sharing what I’m doing and documenting what Cam is learning, I’m also not going to stress myself out over writing up posts. Please continue to join us on our journey even if I’m not around every week.