LifeWays North America Newsletter, Summer 2015
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Letter from CynthiaIntro

Dear (Contact First Name),

It is with much fondness and loving memories that I read the offerings in this summer newsletter. Thanks to all who contributed and to all who will read and enjoy learning more about how to bring joy and delight to our children through rhythmical songs and games.


As a kindergarten teacher, once I overcame the fear of learning the content of a seasonal circle, I experienced so much fun going on journeys with the children in my class. A favorite of mine was a romp with the fairies and involved an engaging obstacle course. I also learned how to "hold the moment" with children to create space for magic, pausing and looking around at just the right time, alternating robust movement with quiet secret-garden movements. Later, as I took up parent-child programs, I adapted the same circle for parent-child playgroup (copied at the end of this letter). As we are now in the high season of summer, it is a great time to introduce and/or deepen the children's relationship to the nature spirits who are so essential in helping humanity and our spiritual companions with the care and development of the Earth.

Read More.   

Introduction to our Theme, "This is the Way We...." 
Using Songs, Movement Games and Finger Plays with Younger Children or a Child at Home
     Hello Summer! How we have missed you so! I do hope this newsletter finds you sitting outside and sipping an ice cold lemonade and having a huge out breath.
     In this issue we are focusing on movement games and the many ways to incorporate them into your day. These articles are rich in resources to assist you in using finger plays, songs and movement games throughout the day and the week. "Circle time"-- although it needs to be adapted for children of different ages--can still be of value for young children to experiencing the activities of daily life or the moods of the seasons through movement and song. I always love reading everyone's different approaches. I hope you find beauty and inspiration in these wonderful articles.
     Have a blessed summer full of smiles and sunshine!

Love & Light,

Amy Gerassimoff, Editor

Dancing Hands and Frolicking Voices
By Lynn St. Pierre

With our fast-paced lifestyles and high levels of stress, we find ourselves asking, How do we relate to the young children in our lives? As they act out and are little barometers of the stress levels in our modern lives, we wonder, What has gone wrong? What are we missing? What is that we are failing to provide for the little ones?  


These are questions many parents, care givers and teachers are asking. This all brings us to a deeper question: What is it that the young child truly needs to develop fully? What can we offer the young child to bring healthy rosy cheeks and joy into their daily life......and our own?

Essentially, we can offer the young child warmth, love, clear boundaries and joy in a balanced rhythm that provides rich developmental opportunities. This requires that we meet the young child where they are -- providing ample sleep, nutrition and age-appropriate sensory experiences.

One therapeutic resource is the work of Wilma Ellersiek, who created developmental movement plays for the young child and their parents or caregivers.  
Transforming Circle Time 
for Mixed-Age Groups 
By Rahima Baldwin Dancy

I have found that the "typical kindergarten circle" learned in Waldorf early childhood training needs to be simplified and changed in various ways for a preschool group of two- and three-year-olds or for a mixed-age group of children. At Rainbow Bridge we had a mixed-age group of twelve children from ages 1 through 5 years. What worked would have been different if we had had only younger children, or if we hadn't had three adults.  


With both toddlers and many three- and four-year olds (and even one five-year-old most years), we tried to meet the needs of both the younger and the older children: First, we made the time shorter, simpler and livelier and saved the story or fairy tale for the lunch table, when the littlest children could be busy eating and just let the story wash over them. While we didn't emphasize the "form" of the circle (as one might in a kindergarten), we were also clear that everyone needed to participate and to sit up, with the youngest children often moving into an adult's lap.


Rainbow Bridge
The Play's the Thing: "Spontaneous Theater" with Mixed Ages 
By Faith Collins

What can we do to promote imaginative play in young children?  How can we encourage and facilitate children playing together in ways that everyone enjoys?  How do we help integrate the play of mixed-age groups?  How can we increase our enjoyment of spending our time with the children?  There are many answers to each of these questions, but one way I've found to affect all of these is to engage in what I call "spontaneous theater" with the children.


During free-play time, I find myself coming gently in and out of the children's play.  When things are going well, I make myself "invisible," folding the laundry, working in the garden, or sitting with a handwork project or a glass of iced tea.  When the children need a little extra help interacting kindly, I step in and make a suggestion ...  


Thoughts About Circle Time with Older Children
By Sharifa Oppenheimer

Circle Time has always been one of my favorite times of the day.  What I love is that Circle Time incorporates many of the elements we strive to bring to young children throughout the day, all in one lovely and lively experience!


We all know how critical movement is for the young child's balanced development.  In Circle Time we can offer them large and small movements, forward and backward, expansion and contraction, all within the context of song and games.  In a fall circle, they can reach high to pick apples, or bend low to dig potatoes.  In winter they can go walking with a giant's feet or tip-toe like a winter's gnome.  In spring they can huddle close like doves in the dove-cote and at dawn be released to fly into the blue morning, then be called back to sleep again...  

Resources and Practical Tips
by Regin Dervaes

I started working on the autumn circle in July that I would do with the adults and children in my program. I copied the lyrics in a journal, writing them down in the order I wanted to bring them to the children, taking into consideration transitions into the next song, and allowances for large movement and moments of quiet pause. I practiced the circle for weeks--in the car, in the house, even humming at the grocery store. I felt confident in the words, notes and movement of my circle, but could I lead a group of families as well as the children?


A summer tipi at Sara's

Circle Time Tips 
by Sara Michelson
This past year, I had a group of  2- to 4-year-olds.  While circle time had its challenges, the following contributed greatly to a delightfully evolving and very enriching time for the children:
  • being fully present with them
  • soft eye contact with them
  • lots of smiles, but also a firm look as needed with particular children to guide them to be present with the group              Read more....  


Using Finger Plays at Snack or Lunch
by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

With one- to five-year-olds, our group of 12 children would finish eating at different times.  So we would often do finger plays at the table, which would give the slow, serious eaters time to finish and keep the quicker ones occupied.  Special favorites included anything that called out children by name, such as "Five Sticky Buns in the baker's shop, good and sweet with honey on top.  Along came (Jason) with a penny one day, he bought a sticky bun, and he ate it right away!" 

Sometimes we would tell an ongoing-story instead, about the adventures of Pirate Jack, or Mauie, a cat our family had many years ago.  She became a favorite of the children's, and was a much better cat in imagination than she ever was in real life! We would end with "Red Bird" (a felted bird on a stick, in the photo), dismissing each child from the table while everyone sang, "Red Birth, Red Bird who will you choose?"


Songs and Finger Games from Mothering Arts 
Recorded by Kerry Ingram 

Looking for some new songs to sing? Head on over to  Mothering Arts 
to check out their beautiful collection of songs to sing along with full audio clips.   
Listen to recording of this simple song by clicking above:
It's raining, it's raining, the roots are getting wet.
It's raining, it's raining, the roots are getting wet.

The rain it helps the flowers bloom, 

the mud we'll sweep out with our broom.

It's raining, it's raining, the roots are getting wet.





This is the Way  We Wash-a-Day

Songbooks by Mary Schunemann


Most LifeWays students are familiar with at least one of Mary Schunemann's ten songbooks. Wonderful songs, games, and Mary's beautiful singing on the accompanying CDs.  Learn more and order at



News from LifeWaysNews

NEW BOOK from LifeWays North America--Available Now!


Life is the Curriculum

Exploring the Foundations of Care for Young Children through the Insights of Rudolf Steiner, Founder of Waldorf Education


By Cynthia Aldinger


"Here is a book that reaches out with an inviting hand to walk with you through the gently unfolding landscape of early childhood. It will likely leave you smiling and with a renewed reverence for the path of parenting, but most of all Cynthia's depth of vision gives voice to our own parental instincts and leaves us with a feeling that 'I can do this.'"--Kim John Payne M.Ed, author of Simplicity Parenting, Beyond Winning and The Soul of Discipline


Transform your experience with young children by exploring how the best curriculum for the young child springs from life itself. Learn how Life, the Child, the Adult and the Environment all form the perfect learning ground for the young child, whether at home or in childcare/preschool. Cynthia describes the principles behind LifeWays childcare with numerous examples and shows how they grow out of Rudolf Steiner's indication to "take home as the model" to meet the needs of young children. A practical book for parents, childcare providers and early childhood teachers from across the spectrum of approaches today.


Janni Nicol, author and editor of KINDLING, The Journal for Waldorf Early Childhood in the United Kingdom writes about Life is the Curriculum:

"An engaging, insightful and inspiring book that encourages an 'I can do it, too'

attitude in the reader. Filled with clear guidance, practical examples and inspiration

from Rudolf Steiner, you will be encouraged to form your own program or adapt

your lifestyle. The 'ponderables' at the end of each chapter give practical guidance

and help us on a path of self-development. Building a curriculum around the child

requires that we become open to nature, that our senses become alive; we will be more

in the moment, and life will become as joyful for us as it can be for children



Available now! 96 pages, with photos. Only $11.95 plus $4.00 shipping and handling (96 pages).  Pay with a credit card (through Paypal) or use your Paypal account.


ORDER NOW ($11.95 plus $4.00 s/h) 


New Additions

Ethan James Gordon was born June 14
8lbs 5oz. 21 1/2 inches @ 1:42pm


Congratulations to Serenity Gordon and her family!  Serenity has taken a break from  doing her in-home program in Southern California, and writes: "I do care for two sweet little sisters during the week though, so between my four and the girls I have a happy house full of giggles most days. I do look forward to doing a more formal program in the next year or so since my older two will be in school."


News from LifeWays Graduates   


Send us news about your programs and other accomplishments! 

Employment Opportunities

        Pear Blossom Early Childhood Center is a Steiner-based early childhood center opened in February of this year in Easton, Pennsylvania. Pear Blossom offers a safe, loving and nurturing environment that shelters the child from the "too much, too soon, too fast" world in which we live. Here, we intentionally slow things down for the benefit of our children, and have created a haven where the joyfulness of childhood is respected and celebrated.

       We are growing steadily, and are looking for qualified Teachers and Caregivers to join our community!  We are accepting applications for immediate openings for Teacher, Caregiver and Administrator positions. The ideal candidates will have a deep love for children, a solid understanding of the developmental needs of children from birth to age 7, and knowledge of LifeWays Principles and Practices, Waldorf philosophy or interested in learning a new, holistic approach to caring for young children.  Candidates with LifeWays or Waldorf certification are strongly preferred.    

        Please submit your cover letter and resume by email to

Online Courses and Upcoming WorkshopsWorkshops
Online Course to be offered again in January
"Home as the Model -
      Life as the Curriculum" 

with Cynthia Aldinger and  Mary O'Connell


Our first online course started April 6th with 83 students and ran through May 4.  It is based on themes developed in our newest book, Life is the Curriculum, which is available now. 


Students in the course explore how the best curriculum for the young child springs from life itself.  This interactive multi-media course consists of four weekly lessons that provide an introduction to how LifeWays nurtures children and families.  Students will be learning how Life, the Child, the Adult and the Environment all form the perfect learning ground for the young child, whether at home or in childcare/preschool.  Ideal for parents and for childcare providers and early childhood teachers (CEUs available).  


Next Course: Wednesday, January 13 to Friday, February 12, 2016

Online registration opens September 1, 2015


LifeWays BlogBlog
Did you catch our recent posts on
Transformation and Change?
Read about

A New Room by Sandra Schmidt

Change by Tammie Treviranus

Upcoming LifeWays Training ProgramsTraining
Inspire your life with young children!

Completing the LifeWays® Early Childhood Certification Program can open new opportunities for you--both  professionally and personally.  
  • Our one-year, part-time curriculum includes over 200 onsite hours
  • independent study and personal mentoring between sessions.
  • It can prepare you to open or transform your own in-home program, classroom or early childhood center. 
  • Many parents also enroll for inspiration in the Living Arts. 

Find a LifeWays Training Program near you!  

      Click here to request an information/application packet. 


Alaska, October 2015 - July 2016, NEW DATES!  Learn more 
Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley, Alaska (alternating sessions)
Lori Berrigan, Student Services Director, 907-315-4030. 

Asheville, North Carolina   NEW! Dates now available. 
February 2016 - March 2017.  Learn more.
Ashley Masters, Student Services Director, 828-989-9189.   
Marianne Alsop, DIrector, 415-453-9122.

Canada, meets monthly, starting in March, Vancouver, B.C.  Learn more.  
Margo Running, Director. 604-375-2959.

Colorado, May 2015 - June 2016, Boulder, Colorado.  Learn more.   
Suzanne Down and Mary O'Connell, Program  Directors; Faith Collins, Student Services
Northeast,  dates and new location to be announced (2016-17)

Oregon, July 31, 2015 - June 2016, Portland, Oregon.  Learn more. 
 Anne Kollender, Student Services Director, 503-786-6010,

Pennsylvania, March 2015-April 2016 , Kimberton, PA.  Enrollment full.

Marianne Alsop, Director, 415-453-9122,

Southern California, Starting in November, San Diego Area
Dates and location to be announced. Learn more.

Kelli Hoisington, Student Services, 512-971-2223,

Bridget Shetty, Student Services Director, 414-476-5149,

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