Thursday, March 4, 2021

My Bucket List from 9 Years Ago

Today I was going through old stuff. I found this bucket list from 9 Years Ago. If I went to write my 2021 Bucket List, it would be pretty much the same. What strikes me most is how simple it really is.

Goodbye COVID, hello Spring.  

What's on your list?

2012 Bucket List

- Meet my grandchildren

- Live to be an old woman

- Make a difference in this word

- Travel abroad

- Write a letter to each of my children and my future grandchildren

- Grow my own food

- More dogs

- Hot air balloon

- Create more art

- USA road trip  –RV?

- Complete scrapbooks for each of my 4 daughters

- Become a beekeeper

- Go kayaking

- Sheep or alpaca, maybe goats.

- Complete a will

- Learn to play guitar

- Write a novel

- Raise healthy and happy girls

- Write children's books

- Find true love

- Open a children's center

- Be a foster parent

- Become vegetarian for good

- Raise chickens

- Build a habitat for humanity home

- Go to Ireland each year or two

- Lose weight

- Stick to an exercise program

- Donate blood each month

- Take a lot of photos

- Have a house in the woods

- Be financially secure enough

- Send all of my daughters to college

- Go on archeological digs

- Go white water rafting again

- Knit/crochet socks

 


Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Lenten Spiritual Journey, Regardless of Your Faith

Lent, the forty days leading toward Easter, is a sacred season of reflection for many Christians as they remember Christ retreating into solitude for forty days and forty nights where he resisted temptation and stood true to his connection to Truth and Light.
What is your truth? What, in your life, is tempting you? What is pulling you away from joy and light in your life?
Christ sacrificed his own popularity and acceptance by continuing to spread his teachings, which eventually ended in the ultimate sacrifice of his own life upon the cross.
“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” ~Mahatma Gandhi on Jesus Christ
Many spiritual leaders walk the path of Salvation through Sacrifice. The Buddha abandoned his family to find his Truth. During the process, he too, avoided temptation of evil but through the demon, Mara. To find spiritual truth, the Buddha detached from all material wealth and attachments including comfort, food, family and most human contact. He fasted and sacrificed these luxuries, not to bring pain upon his earthly body but to move away from the greater pain of attachment to the material world.
“The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy. The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him.”
In both examples, Jesus and Buddha went off into solitude to find their path to spiritual enlightenment. We are unable to connect to our Source without the silent solitude necessary to feed our souls. We need time alone, time to meditate, time to reflect and time to feel God or our Inner Light.
When do you find quiet time for yourself? Have you made it a priority to give yourself and those you love this sacrificial gift? When we take the time to care for ourselves, we are more able to care for those we love.
Regardless of your own spiritual or religious beliefs, this time leading up to Spring is a good time to consider your relationship to ‘things’ and emotions that are no longer serving you.
What are your attachments in this life? Can you let go?
During Lent, we often hear of individuals ‘giving up’ worldly things such as television watching, chocolate or bad habits. And while these are all good tests of our will and free us to focus on more spiritual work and healthy lifestyle, we should also include a Lenten sacrifice that can be looked upon as more of an act of service, or joyful giving.
This Lent, we can be aware of the hold material things have on us. Many of the comforts in life can consume us and keep us trapped, away from the true beauty of simplicity. These forty days and nights, we can work toward freeing our spirits from attachment and allowing unselfish love to flow into our lives.
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” ~ Buddha
We can begin simply by giving others more than we give ourselves. This type of a ‘giving sacrifice’ can be in the form of a clothing or food donation, volunteering in our community or just simply turning off the computer or television and being present with our families. It is impossible for us to truly be with our loved ones or even hear the silence and be alone if we are constantly ‘connected’ to some form of technology.
In these modern times, are we ever really alone? Aren’t we constantly connected to something or someone via text, phone, computer, television or radio? Can we sacrifice the noise in our lives to lead us toward greater spiritual truths?
Those of us who yearn to find ourselves more deeply must first allow ourselves to be alone, free from material attachments and constant connections. At first it can be uncomfortable to be alone or sit in silence – but it is essential to our spiritual growth and physical health. Meditation and prayer are wonderful tools and especially fitting during Lent. You may also consider journaling each day of Lent as part of your Lenten ‘sacrifice’.
“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are.Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.” ~Mother Teresa
While the depth and meaning of this sacred time is not something we bring to the children with our words, the reverence we show in our homes this Lent will absolutely feed their souls. In addition, the sacrifice (or gift) of silent reflection and simplicity frees us to truly ‘be’ with the children each day… loving, eating, playing, learning, warming and sleeping.
What more do any of us truly need?


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Head, Heart & Hands Subscription Box Program!

 Be one of the first customers to join our Head Heart & Hands Monthly Subscription Box program!

instagram-box.png

Each month you and your child will receive a 10x10x10 box delivered to your home filled with love, creativity, crafts, lessons, toys and surprises!

Inspired by natural living and Waldorf Education, each box will be curated with love at our family-run business JUST for you and your child.

We help make staying at home magical and we also keep YOU, the caregiver, in mind - you will be JUST as excited as your child about what is in each month's surprise box!

Our program is brand new and any orders placed before January 31, 2021 will be shipped out before February 10th.

We will continue to ship our boxes before the 10th of every month for orders placed by the last day of the prior month. (for example orders placed by February 28th will ship by March 10th) New orders placed after the 1st will be sent out the following month before the 10th (orders placed March 1st - 31st will be shipped by April 10th, etc.)

*Please Note* We can only accommodate a certain number of new customers and will maintain a waitlist once spots are filled.

Some answers to common questions:

The boxes are not age-specific but would be most appreciated by children under age 8 and their siblings and family. We work hard to also keep the parent in mind and also include things that all ages can enjoy. Some months there may be items that are best for a certain age but not the contents of the entire box.

Boxes will vary and cannot be seen before shipment. We will offer examples of types of boxes in photos and show some examples of month's prior.

Boxes and content are not returnable or exchangeable.

You can cancel your subscription at anytime just email us direct at info@littleacornlearning.com 

10 Black History Month Books to Share with Your Child this February

Black History Month begins tomorrow and we think it is extremely important for parents, teachers, and homeschoolers to take this opportunity as a way to teach children about the central role African Americans have played in US history as well as their struggle, suffering, and strength navigating a world that has often been harsh and unjust to people of color. Below are 10 books to help you bring these important history lessons into your home or classroom this month. 

1.  

Meet extraordinary black heroes throughout history―biographies for kids ages 8 to 12


You’re invited to meet ancient Egyptian rulers, brilliant scientists, legendary musicians, and civil rights activists―all in the same book! Black Heroes introduces you to 51 black leaders and role models from both history and modern times. This black history book for kids features inspirational biographies of trailblazers from the United States, Egypt, Britain, and more.

Discover where in the world they lived, and what their lives were like growing up. Learn about the obstacles they faced on the way to making groundbreaking accomplishments. You’ll find out how these inspirational figures created lasting change―and paved the way for future generations.


2.    

Learn about amazing Black women in science―15 fascinating biographies for kids 9 to 12

Throughout history, Black women have blazed trails across the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Black Women in Science brings something special to black history books for kids, celebrating incredible Black women in STEM who have used their brains, bravery, and ambition to beat the odds.

Black Women in Science stands out amongst other Black history books for kids―featuring 15 powerful stories of fearless female scientists that advanced their STEM fields and fought to build a legacy. Through the triumphs of these amazing women, you’ll find remarkable role models.


3. 

Follow along with two girls as they find themselves in the middle of a civil rights demonstration, and find out how the fight for equality changed the country forever.

Joyce Jenkins has recently moved to a new town with her family, and she will soon be attending a segregated school for the first time. Meanwhile, Connie Underwood is trying to figure out what her twin brothers are planning in secret. Readers (Ages 7-9) will follow along with the two girls as they find themselves in the middle of a civil rights demonstration, and find out how the fight for equality changed the country forever.


4. 


This beautifully illustrated New York Times bestseller introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world.

An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

5. 

Author-illustrator Vashti Harrison shines a bold, joyous light on black men through history in this #1 New York Times bestseller.

An important book for readers of all ages, this beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume brings to life true stories of black men in history. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.

6.      

A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.

Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday -- his first day of freedom.

7.      

The inspirational true story of Ruby Bridges.

The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her. Told with Robert Coles' powerful narrative and dramatically illustrated by George Ford, Ruby's story of courage, faith, and hope continues to resonate more than 60 years later.

8.      

No one knows where the term Underground Railroad came from--there were no trains or tracks, only "conductors" who helped escaping slaves to freedom. Including real stories about "passengers" on the "Railroad," this book chronicles slaves' close calls with bounty hunters, exhausting struggles on the road, and what they sacrificed for freedom. With 80 black-and-white illustrations throughout and a sixteen-page black-and-white photo insert, the Underground Railroad comes alive!



9.     


A lyrical picture book debut from inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long

"I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don't fear change coming,
And so I sing along."
 
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by inaugural Youth Poet Laureate and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.


10.   


The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. In Heart and Soul, Kadir Nelson's stirring paintings and words grace 100-plus pages of a gorgeous picture book—a beautiful gift for readers of all ages, a treasure to share across generations at home or in the classroom.

Heart and Soul is about the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.



 


Friday, January 15, 2021

Homeschooling Diversity Lesson - Learning About Different Religions: Buddhism

I've been so extremely busy with Little Acorn Learning and while I love each and every moment of it, it is a challenge juggling my time between writing, adding new products, advertising, and now launching our Head, Heart & Hands Monthly Subscription Boxes

Sometimes I wonder if blogging is still worth the time and effort with everything really on social media now, but I've written in this space for so long that it is hard to let it go. It also provides me with a larger platform to share lessons like this below. So for now, I will continue. I do hope it reaches and helps some of you. 

Yesterday and today I put most of my energy into continuing to write the Second Grade Curriculum. I am working very hard to create my curriculum in a way that fosters love, tolerance, acceptance and unity...  as our world needs it oh so badly and the truth of the matter is that it will eventually be up to these little people now in our care. All we can do is provide them with as much as we can now to prepare them. 

In addition to all of the regular Waldorf second grade academics and activities expected in the curriculum, I have tried to bring more diversity to Little Acorn Learning. I spent a week on learning about a different Native American Tribe in detail and now, I have begun focusing on a different religion each week for the parent or teacher to bring to the child. So far, we have covered Judasim, Islam, Christianity and this week I am writing about Buddhism. It really is amazing to learn how much these religions have in common.. MUCH more than they differ. My hope is that is not only speaks to our children but also to you. 

I try not to share too much of the curriculum in this space but I do feel this is such an important task we have as caregivers of children. How do we put aside our own bias and prejudice (recognized or unrecognized) and bring truth about people who are different than us into our homes? I hope I'm doing my little part to help with these difficult topics. 

Below I will share some information about how to bring this diversity learning into your teaching and also two stories. One is a story for older children called Siddhartha and the Swan that I am including in the Second Grade program. The other is a simple little tale for little ones called The Six Swans. While it is not Buddhist, I thought it would be nice for families with mixed ages to have a similar theme.

Also here is a link to make Paper Swans with your children. 


Have a beautiful weekend.

Eileen

Learning About Different Religions: Buddhism

Bridging differences in our world is so very important. Teaching our children to respect and understand those who are different from them will help foster tolerance, understanding, and empathy.

Begin by talking more about your family’s belief system. You may already belong to a church or have religious customs that your child is aware of. If you are not religious, you may have some more spiritual or scientific beliefs that you can share with your child or that you already incorporate into your life together.

What is religion?

Ask your child what they think religion is. Take out your dictionary and see what the definition is.

Religion is basically the belief, faith, worship, and service of a higher power. Many people call this higher power “God” but not all do. It is a way that individuals explain the many mysteries of life and where we came from.

What is worship?

Again, look up this word with your child. Worship in religion is often prayer, going to church, ceremonies, celebrations, and looking within and without of ourselves to find the connection with this higher power or God.

If you are atheist or do not agree with a certain faith, do not be afraid to still share these lessons with your child. We are not trying to instill a certain belief with these discussions, we are trying to instill tolerance, understanding, and love.

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is based on the teachings of a man named Siddhartha Guatama (the same boy in our story this week!). He is often now referred to as the Buddha which means “Awakened One”. He was a man who believed that the way to peace is to learn how to overcome suffering by letting go of desire and attachment. He was full of great wisdom and compassion.

The Buddha lived sometime in the 5th to 4th century in Ancient India.  He taught for around 45 years. Buddhism began in India and spread to southern and eastern Asia. It is one of the major religions of the world and has now spread widely beyond these territories.  

Buddhists aim to follow the Four Noble Truths:

1. Life involves pain and suffering. 

2. Suffering is caused by our desires and attachments.

3. We can be free of desire and attachments and, in turn, free of suffering. When a person is completely free of these desires, they are in a state of nirvana.

4. The way to be free and achieve nirvana is through the steps of the Eightfold Path (also called the Middle Path). The middle path teaches that people should not overindulge in pleasure, material items, etc. but they should also not deprive themselves of these things completely. It is about finding balance.    

The Eightfold Path consists of: 

Right Understanding: Committing to learning and growing at a balanced pace

Right Thought: Realizing and understanding the Four Noble Truths 

Right Speech: Speaking and communicating in an honest, compassionate, and truthful    way 

Right Action: Avoiding actions that cause harm to anyone, including oneself

Right Livelihood: Choosing work or making money in ways that do not harm

Right Effort: Continuing to try to improve and become a better person

Right Mindfulness: Working toward seeing things for the truth of what they are with    compassion - slowing down to notice and act appropriately

Right Concentration: Focusing on the right things, letting go of ego and reaching            enlightenment

Take time to go over each of these. Ask your child how they feel about each of them. 

People who are Buddhist also believe in what is called Karma. Karma refers to the good or bad actions a person takes during his or her life. Good karma brings happiness in life. Bad karma will bring unhappiness.

Buddhist also believe in rebirth. They believe that karma dictates where they will be reborn. This can become a very complex conversation, especially for young children, but one thing that is easy to comprehend is that Buddhist believe to be born human is the highest privilege and a special chance to reach nirvana. They believe we should cherish our life and our time here on earth and work to do good. 

There are two types of Buddhism: 

Theravada: This is an older type of Buddhism and more conservative. These Buddhists believe that they must focus on their own life to achieve nirvana. 

Mahayana: This groups of Buddhist people believe that nirvana can be reached by living a life of good work for others.  

What things did you learn today that are different from how your family believes? 

What things are similar? 

Tale of Six Swans (Kindergarten +)

Monday, January 11, 2021

Easy In-the-Round Ribbed Hat - Beginner Knitting Project - First Grade Curriculum

This week in our First Grade Curriculum, many children (and their parents!) are learning how to knit in the round. For those of you teaching your child to knit this year, I recommend using size 10 circular knitting needles and bulky weight yarn for this easy ribbed hat pattern. 

This simple pattern is a wonderful way to teach your child to learn to knit in the round while following a pattern with more than one stitch. It also knits up very fast, making it an enjoyable project for both children and adults. 

I had purchased a pom pom maker a long time ago and finally got to use it. This hat will look very cute with one or two of them added when it's done. I'll post photos when I finish it but thought I'd share it with you now if you and your child would like to knit along with us! 

Be sure to familiarize yourself with how to 'join in the round' before trying to teach your child and remember to have patience. It is very hard to learn a new skill and there is no rush. It isn't easy teaching children how to knit but take your time and keep trying.. they will get it!

Here's the pattern:

Easy Knit in the Round Ribbed Hat

Supplies Needed:

Size 10 Circular Knitting Needles 16" in Length 
(length matters to be able to make the proper sized hat)
Bulky Yarn (I used this amazing Filges Plant Dyed Wool Yarn... it's my absolute favorite yarn and it comes in so many nice colors)

Cast on 90 stitches 

Place a marker, then join in the round – before doing this, be absolutely sure your stiches are not twisted. Look carefully making sure all loops are facing the same direction on your needles before joining the row together.

K2, P2 to marker

Continue K2, P2 around, making ribbed pattern until hat measures approximately 9”. Be careful not to get off pattern. The knits should go into knits and the purls should go into purls, all the way around.

To close up the hat:

K2, P2 together to marker

K2, P1 to marker

K2 together, P1 to marker

K1, P1 to marker

Continue K2 together all the way around until there are only two stitches left on the needle.

Finish off, pull yarn through last stitch and weave into hat. 

Add pom-poms if desired to top or with braids on each side. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

6 Winter Waldorf Festivals to Celebrate in December

Advent

The period beginning four Sundays before Christmas that is observed by most Christians in preparation for the celebration of Christmas Day. In Waldorf homes, Advent is recognized by representing the kingdoms of our planet each Sunday:

The first Sunday of Advent we recognize minerals and stones.
The second Sunday of Advent we recognize the plant kingdom.
The third Sunday of Advent we recognize the animal kingdom.
The fourth and last Sunday of Advent we recognize humankind.

We have so many beautiful ways to share with you on how to bring this sacred festival into your home or school in our publications:


December Afterschooling Book (Ages 6+, teens and adults)


St. Nicholas Day, December 6th

Celebrated on December 6th (December 5th elsewhere) in many European countries to honor the Christian saint as the bringer of gifts. Boys would sometimes dress as bishops to give to the poor. Many children would wait for treats to be left under their pillows or shoes that were left out. In Waldorf homes and schools, this celebration continues with children leaving their shoes out the eve before (December 5th) to wake to small treats inside including chocolate, coins, fruits, nuts and sometimes a small toy. 

Where to find ideas for this beautiful celebration:


Santa Lucia Day, December 13th
The Feast of St. Lucia or Santa Lucia is a festival of light, as are many of the celebrations this time of year. In some countries she is represented as a lady in a white dress with a wreath of candles in her hair. Many celebrate this special day by having the oldest daughter in the family wear a wreath in her hair and offer sweet buns or cookies to others. Boys also share a role by wearing star boy caps or dressing as St. Stephen. The procession is said to help all move forward with light into the deep, dark winter days ahead. 

In my Kindergarten class, we often made St. Lucy Buns as well as crowns and star boy hats for the children and had a walk around our playground and school. In the Little Acorn Learning guides we offer complete instructions for these activities as well as some more unique ideas such as planting indoor wheat for St. Lucia Day.


Hanukkah

This beautiful Jewish festival is often called the Festival of Lights. It is observed to recognize the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem. Often a menorah will be lit each evening for eight nights to represent the rededication of the Jewish faith and to spread the light to future generations. A fun game played during this time is the spinning of a dreidel and sometimes small gifts will be shared each of the eight days of spiritual acknowledgement. While my family is not Jewish, I always recognized this special festival in my classroom as the light of hope reaches beyond all faiths and backgrounds. 

Our Winter Festivals Book includes a beautiful tutorial on making a menorah with found nature items, a Star of David banner, as well as a paper menorah. We also have recipes and songs to share.

The Winter Solstice/Yule, December 21st 
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. This day marks the winter season which continues until the Spring Equinox. Yule was celebrated before the conversion to Christianity in many cultures and this ancient festival still holds strong roots in all we see in the Winter Solstice as well as Christmastime. 

Celebrating the solstice is a magical time in Waldorf homes and schools. All of our books bring this warming festival into the lives of your children with warm recipes, songs, crafts and meditations. Creating a Yule Log was always a favorite in my classroom.


December Afterschooling Book (Ages 6+, teens and adults)



Christmas Day, December 25th 


The day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in many Christian faiths (Eastern Orthodox faiths celebrate on January 7th). The four Sundays of Advent lead up to this sacred day.

In our home we have a beautiful tradition of an Advent Spiral calendar as well as other advent traditions such a nativity, advent wreath, mistletoe and Christmas tree. Culturally on this day, many children wake up to gifts from Santa Claus who travels the world to bring joy to those who believe. The tradition of Santa Claus stems from the long rooted tradition of celebrating St. Nicholas, the saint of giving. Many non-Christians still enjoy decorating and sharing gifts this time of year to share love and light with one another.


Which of these December festivals do you celebrate? We hope we have inspired you to weave your own family traditions and customs into your winter celebrations and also try incorporating new ideas from some of the examples above.