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~Developed by a Waldorf-Inspired Childcare Provider and Mother of Four Daughters

October 2009 Newsletter

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 Featured Sponsor:  Lifeways

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LifeWays' response is an innovative relationship-based vision for childcare and practical, hands-on programs for parents and grandparents to support and strengthen the growing child and family.
 
LifeWays is a multi-service organization providing consulting and training for family childcare providers, childcare centers and parents caring for children ages Birth to 6 years.
Volume 2 Issue 9
In This Issue
October's Featured Sponsor
Autumn Childcare Menu
Advertise with Little Acorn
October Sponsors
Pumpkin Finger Play
Nursery School News
How to Make Cornhusk Dolls
Children's Yoga: Three Sisters
Article: Connecting Your Child to Nature
Autumn Childcare Menu
summer menu
 
More Details!
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 Contact Us for Inexpensive and Effective Advertising in Our Monthly Newsletters!
 
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 Little Acorn Learning October Sponsors
 
Exhale Blog
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Enjoy the Autumn Season with
Our October Childcare Guide!
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warmth for children 

The Pumpkin
(a fingerplay that can be done while sitting at desk or table)
~ Maude M. Grant

Here is a long and trailing vine,
(Hands trailing over desks.)

Watch it and see the green stems twine,
(Hands twine in and out over desks.)

This is a pretty yellow flower.
(Hands curved to form flower.)

That blossomed one day in a sunny hour.
When one by one the petals fall,
(Hands drop to desks.)
 
And now we see a small green ball.
(Hands curved to form ball.)

The big sun shone so warm and bright,
(Arms curved to form sun.)
That the ball grew bigger and yellow, quite,

And yellow, and yellower still it grew,
Until under Autumn skies so blue,
It lay so still on the sun-warmed ground,
And lo! it was a pumpkin round!
(Hands and arms curved to form a large pumpkin.)
 
And then one frosty Autumn day,
The pumpkin was taken quite away,
'Twas cut by a knife from the shelf so high,
And mother made a pumpkin pie!
(Forefingers and thumbs curved to form pie.)

Little Acorn Learning
Nursery School News - October 2009
 acorn hand
Little Acorn Learning is a Nature Nursery School program located in a warm home environment in Brookfield, CT. Our program is a gentle transition from home to school. Emphasis is placed on practical life skills such as dressing, brushing hair, cooking, cleaning, washing, baking, crafting and gardening.  A respect and love for nature is fostered by daily nature walks, creating a seasonal nature table, gardening and pet care.   
 
**Attention Nursery School Parents**
 
Important Dates This Month:
 
October 3rd (Saturday) - Family Field Trip at Blue Jay Orchards: Apple Picking at 10:30 a.m.
 
October 12th (Monday) - Columbus Day - CLOSED
 
October 30th (Friday) - Little Acorn Halloween Party!  Come Dressed Up in NON-SCARY costumes! 
 
News & Happenings
 
This month we are going to have a family field trip and go apple picking at Blue Jay Orchards!  Please be sure to let us know if your family will be joining us!  We will also be having a Halloween Party at the end of the month - children can come dressed up in costume but please do not have children wear anything scary as it could frighten other little ones.
 
We have been having so much fun and the children are really enjoying the change of the season.  Last month we celebrated Autumn by doing leaf rubbings, making autumn placemats, going on nature hunts and learning how to zip up our jackets and dress ourselves when the weather is chilly!   Ms. Kristin has been doing an amazing job and the children just LOVE her.  We look forward to another fun month ahead.
 
 Reminders
Half day pick up is at 1:00 pm and full day pick up is before 4:30 pm each day - late fees will be applied for pick ups after that time unless previously arranged.  Tuition is due the Friday before the week ahead.
 
If you are a new parent and have not yet submitted your two week deposit and first week's tuition, please do so before your first day.  You must also have all paperwork and files completed and turned in before starting school. 
 
Weekly Themes & Scheduled Activities -
Please Mark Your Calendars Appropriately!
 
Week Five, September 
Apples, Patience 
Wednesday, September 30th - Apple Stamping
Thursday, October 1st - Homemade Apple Sauce
Friday, October 2nd - Cardstock Apples
 
Week One
Birds, Showing Kindness
 
Monday, October 5th - Homemade Animal Treats
 
Wednesday, October 7th - Bird Watching Binoculars
 
Thursday, October 8th - Pinecone Bird Feeders
Friday, October 9th - Outdoor Bird Table
 
Week Two
Woodworking, Honesty
 
Monday, October 12th - CLOSED Columbus Day
Wednesday, October 14th - Stick Log Boats
 
Thursday, October 15th - Stick Sorting & Twig Art
Friday, October 16th - Wood Block Games
 
Week Three
Cornhusks, Humility
 
Monday, October 19th - Bake Cornbread
Wednesday, October 21st - Watercolor Painting
Thursday, October 22nd - Cornhusk Dolls
Friday, October 23rd - Cornhusk Suns
 
Week Four
Pumpkins, Illumination
 
Monday, October 26th - Bake Pumpkin Bread
Wednesday, October 28th - Make Pumpkin Playdough
Thursday, October 29th - Glow Lanterns
Friday, October 30th - Halloween Party!  Paint Pumpkins!

Cornhusk Dolls
**This activity can be difficult for small children - be sure to work with them closely and allow them to be 'helpers' during the more difficult parts. 
 
In some Native American traditions, making cornhusk dolls and doing corn dances were a way to give thanks and celebrate harvest time.
 corn husk dolls
Supplies Needed:
Cornhusks -  You can buy these in bags at craft stores or ask the produce department of your local grocery store if you can take some.
String or Yarn
Scissors
Pail of Water
Hot Glue
 
Have the children place the cornhusks in the pail of water until they are very soft and easy to bend.  Separate the husks.  (Each doll requires 10-15 husks to complete.) 
 
Begin with four husks approximately the same size and lay them on top of one another.  With your yarn, help the children tie the pointy ends of the husks together to close the top and bottom.  This is the body of your doll.
Take two husks in each hand and fold them over the yarn so the string is inside.  The fold is the top of the doll's head.  Pull a string around the husks and tie to make the head.

Take another husk and smooth it flat, cut the pointed end straight with a scissor.  Roll the husk into a tight tube to make the arm.  Do this again for the other arm.  Tie each end of the arm tube with string.  Put the tube between the body right below the head.  Tie a piece of string around the body right below the arms to hold them in place.  Wrap another husk around the back of the neck and criss-cross it around the chest to make shoulders.  Tie it around the waist to stay on the doll.  To make legs, separate the body husks into two equal parts below the waist... tie each section at the ankle to complete.

These dolls are meant to have no face.  Hair for your doll can be made with additional husks, yarn, silk or twine and added with hot glue.  Remember to make clothing for your doll today or on a day this week when you need to engage children in an extra activity.

Children's Yoga Fun :: The Three Sisters
 
This is a nice sequence to explore at harvest time. The Three Sisters are three plants - corns, beans, and squash - that grow very well together. Each Sister brings a special gift to the garden: Corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for a pole; beans add nitrogen to the soil and keep the corn from blowing over in strong winds; and the squash spreads along the ground, shading the roots of the other plants and keeping weeds from growing.
 
*** *** *** ***
Begin by guiding children into poses to represent each of the Three Sisters using this rhyme:
Sister Corn grows tall and strong.
 
{Mountain Pose - strong legs, belly buttons pulled in, arms reaching way up to the sky.}
 
Sister Squash grows across.
 
{Lie down on the ground and stretch your body out as long and wide as you can.}
 
Sister Bean grows in-between.
 
{Wiggle your fingers. Stretch your body out in all directions, as if looking for something to climb on.}
 

 Repeat this sequence several times allowing the children to feel the unique nature of each plant - the strength of the corn stalk, the low creeping energy of the squash plant, and the weaving and winding of bean plant - in their bodies.

 Next divide the children into groups of three and invite them to create the poses together. One child stands straight and tall as Sister Corn. A second child lies on the ground at the corn plant's roots as Sister Squash. And a third, Sister Bean, weaves and wraps herself around Sister Corn.

Depending on the size of your group, you could do this all together or let each group of three perform their interpretation of the poses for the rest of the group. Repeat until everyone has had a chance to be each plant (if they choose to).

Optional Follow-up Activities:

Additional information:
The Three Sisters (Wikipedia) -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(agriculture)

Erin Barrette Goodman is a writer, yoga teacher and mother in Southern Rhode Island. She blogs at

Connecting Your Child to Nature

Our children are in grave danger of losing connection with nature and the four elements.  The emphasis in American schools is on computer skills and literacy.  Some programs say they bring children outside for a good while, but when pressed the reality is the children are going outside for perhaps 20 to 30 minutes a day and only if the weather is good. 

In fact, a whole best selling book has been written about this topic.  It is called "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv.  I highly encourage you to read this book for the sake of your children.

Our European friends are attempting to do something about this.  In Scandinavia and Germany, there has been a recent  explosion of Kindergarten programs that take place in the woods all day - not just that the children go outside for part of the day, but that the children literally have their program outside. I have a friend who experimented with this at home and you can read about her experience on her blog at this link: http://naturesrhythm.blogspot.com/2008/11/wood-kindergarten.html
Mothering Magazine (www.mothering.com)  recently covered the topic of forest kindergarten programs in the article, "Forest For A Classroom" by Andrea Mills in the November-December 2009 issue.  In this article, Ms. Mills writes:  "American parents and educators can learn a lot from the Waldkindergarten.  The media ensure that American families are plagued by fears of strangers, bug, sharp items, and other threats, both real and imagined.  Technology makes it more likely that our children will be spending their free time plugged into TV's, computers, or other media."

We recently spent several hours outside at a Nature Center.  Typically attendance slows down in the winter months because not every family feels the way we do - that there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Despite the chill in the air, we got outside every day for 2 to 4 hours.  It is that important to the life of a small child (and to the grown-ups as well!).
 
Here are a few excellent reasons to get your children out more:
 
"The four elements, earth, water, air and fire, are the basic elements which children are nourished by and from which they grow. No shaped toys-be they wood or plastic-can compete with these materials. The seriousness with which the children play, the deep concentration speaks for itself, and shows how important this "playing" is. Nobody needs to fight about anything -there is plenty of mud for everybody." -You Are Your Child's First Teacher, page 184

"Young children are close to the realm of nature because they are natural beings. Because their consciousness is not yet parted from the environment, because they still live in the consciousness of oneness, of unity, they still belong to the natural world.....The process of separating from the parents and from the environment buds only around age seven.." -Heaven On Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, Sharifa Oppenheimer, page 99.

Rudolf Steiner wanted the children to be able to connect to and feel at home on the land, to feel at one with the cycles of the year and the cycles of night and day, to really care for the land and he wanted the children to be able to work together socially and value the work that was done before them so that the children understood we all depend on the work of others  (Adapted from -Gardening With Children Audio CD, informedfamilylife.org).

So, if you are trying to think about creating your own playspace, perhaps in your backyard or somewhere wild you have access to ,  here are some thoughts of things to include:

-flat grassy areas
-a hill of some sort
-natural screens (bushes, hedges, places to hide)
-building materials
-play structures - tipis, igloos, houses. 
Sharifa Oppenheimer talks about letting your child add things to the igloo or tipi structure - give hints for adding things to the structure - "When I was a small girl, we used to put pine needles on the floor as a carpet." Or "I wonder what it would be like to put a few seashells around the outside, as decoration." - page 102, Heaven On Earth

-classic structures such as swings, slides, seesaws, hammocks
-sand play
-water play
-mud play - digging is important
-sensory play area inside or outside.......Some children need these sensory areas and inputs more than others. Waldorf kindergartens rarely have a "sensory table" available, but this may be something to work with at home, and it could be a way to bring the outside in if you have no yard. I have a dear friend who taught in a traditional three year old classroom for over ten years before having children of her own, and she volunteerd some of her wonderful sensory table ideas as follows -For example, a sensory table could be filled with:

sand-add water, shells, sticks, (sand will mold if it left very wet and covered), animals

beans-start with one kind and over time add different varieties-

water-add color, bubbles, funnels, waterwheel, clear plastic containers of all sizes, animals

soil-add rocks, sticks, acorns, etc.  It is fun to add in lima beans or corn kernels as they will start to sprout in the moist soil when left for a few days
For autumn-Indian corn, acorns, seed pods, colorful leaves, pine cones, cranberries

Winter-build dens from bark, there are directions for making snow in the Earthways book, wooden snowflakes, ice cubes (freeze a dish of water for pond)

Spring-soil, seeds, small gardening tools, new leaves, flowers from trees, buds to explore

Summer-water, sand, green plants, wild flowers,
Thank you to my dear friend!
Think about equipment:

-small shovels, rakes, wagon, basket of tools (including hammers, wrenches, paintbrushes, pliers, nails), nails half driven into a log or stump for the children to hammer. There are also more ideas in that little book Toymaking With Children.
how about using your GARDEN as a playspace?

-"Care of plant life is a fundamental lesson in outdoor play." -from Heaven On Earth

-Make a child-sized scarecrow in the fall or even early spring as you are planting

-Choose seeds that have a short time until maturity - lettuce, radishes, berries, snow peas

-try potatoes, pumpkins, corn
-make a bean tipi
-think about gardening with bees and butterflies in mind, with night blooming
flowers for the moths
-encourage backyard wildlife - bird feeders, bird baths, bird houses, squirrel feeders, bat house, hummingbird feeders, owl houses, toad hotels
-Think of exploring the garden with all 12 senses!
 
Steiner discussed the importance of agriculture within the Waldorf curriculum, and "Being a teacher, we should avoid botanizing, taking the botany drum into class and showing the plants to the students. We should rather take the children outside to really emphasize the understanding of the context between the plant kingdom, the earth and the radiant sun." - Steiner, Dornach, 1921-22. (Gardening usually occurs between the 6th and 10th grades as a yearly subject, but more and more Waldorf teachers are bringing beekeeping, composting, gardening etc into their classrooms as early as Kindergarten and First Grade).
Bring the Outdoors Inside!
 
-Try raising tadpoles, butterflies, praying mantis, ant farms, ladybug houses
-Try bringing play equipment inside - swings and small trampolines
-Try container gardening inside
-Try sprouting sunflower seeds and other seeds and beans
 
Other Major Ways to Connect Your Child to Nature:
 
Spend time outside every day, no matter what the weather - there is no bad weather, only bad clothes!
 
If you take a daily walk, focus on exploration, not distance, and have a basket to collect small treasures
 
Assign parts in fairy tales to dramatize which include the natural elements of the story - ie, children can be the trees, streams, etc. in different tales.
Celebrate FESTIVALS (see blog post regarding Changing Your Rhythm with the Seasons).
 
Celebrate the moon and phases of the moon - some Waldorf teachers have made hats with the moon phases on it for different fairy tales where a moon phase is mentioned
 
Have a color of the month that connects it to nature - ie, March is the color green and grow wheat grass on your nature table
 
Which of course, leads to the inevitable :Have a nature table!
 
Celebrate the elemental beings - gnomes who take care of the earth, fairies, etc. in circle time or fairy tales
 
Think about joining a CSA or going to farmer's markets so children can meet farmers, beekeepers and other folks who work with nature and love it!
 
Crafts should involve natural items, playthings as well!
 
Experiences with Nature connect us with the Mysteries of Life and help the young child learn wonder, awe, reverence and respect!
 
For More Ideas See the Following Books, CD's and DVD's:
-Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots - Sharon Lovejoy
-Sunflower Houses - Sharon Lovejoy
-Gardening Classes At The Waldorf Schools - Krause
-Gardening With Children: The Waldorf Curriculum - Carolyn Brown, Audio CD from the Children, Nature and Us Conference  -Available from www.informedfamilylife.org
-"Creating a "Kindergarden" for Young Children by Betty Peck, DVD from the Children, Nature and Us Conference - Available from
www.informedfamilylife.org
 
This article was graciously provided by Carrie of The Parenting Passageway... Visit her blog for more wonderful writing: 
www.theparentingpassageway.com
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